Thursday 31 March 2016

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book Roundup - March 2016, especially for Dorks and Superstars

Welcome to our Chapter Book roundup for March 2016 and we've got some tempting treats to serve you as your little ones start reading chapter books.

We're starting out this month with a timely reminder about a fabulous book series that has won Rachel Renee Russell a huge army of devotees across the world.

Charlotte is currently reading "Dork Diaries - tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life" and "Dork Diaries - Party Time", starting back with the original books that sparked this publishing phenomenon.

The book's central character is Nikki Maxwell, an ordinary girl leading a very ordinary life but with dreams of becoming more than just a meebly dork. Nikki starts a new school and moves house, perhaps there's finally a chance to become a little less of a nerd and perhaps more of a social superstar. As if!

Dork Diaries are laid out with brilliant little illustrations and Rachel Renee Russell absolutely nails the dialogue and snappy scripting of Nikki's diaries as she tries (and quite often fails) to navigate life with ease.

In book two, Nikki is invited to a party - and normally this would be a good reason to celebrate, dress up in something fancy and enjoy a brilliant time with your friends. Only Nikki is a dork, and dorks don't usually fare so well in situations such as this.

The hilarious second book will have girls (and quite a few adults) cringing with recognition, because - let's face it - everyone's a bit of a dork at heart and parties can be utterly and truly terrifying if you've got all the social graces of a slightly nervous Meerkat!

Charlotte loves these books (and I even found them highly amusing though I'm really not the target audience, obviously). Perfectly paces and full of hilarity and originality, you've got some catching up to do if (like us) you're just starting out as there are LOTS of books in the series and they just get funnier and funnier. It's awesome to think that Rachel's daughters help out with a bit of illustration and editing so do not miss "Dork Diaries" from Simon and Schuster Children's Books.

Now something of a treat for fans of edgy, dark but truly awesome sci fi.

Malorie Blackman - YA superstar - has a new book out on April 21st but we've been taking a sneaky early peek at "Chasing the Stars" and are utterly and completely hooked (and I'm sure you will be too!).

Olivia and her twin brother Aidan are the far flung survivors of a deadly virus, limping back to earth aboard a stricken starship.

Nathan is a headstrong teen heading in the opposite direction, heading out into space with a rag tag bunch, just trying to survive. As their paths cross in an unexpected way, Olivia and Nathan find unlikely love and become hopelessly entwined. But is there more to their 'chance' encounter, and why does their love cause such turmoil and uproar?

Dipping into Shakespeare's "Othello" for inspiration, Malorie has once again created a tightly constructed book world that you will become completely hooked into within a few chapters. We can't say too much more about the book before release but you don't have very long to wait, so get your preorders in for the 21st April! "Chasing the Stars" is published by  Doubleday Children's Books.

What's that you say? A new book series by Tom Percival? Wherewhathowwherewhywhere!

 A new highly illustrated and fun series of books conjures up magical fantasy worlds populated by characters we know and love, and a whole new bunch of cool little folk to get to know too!

Tom's "Little Legends" kicked off with "The Spell Thief" which was released on 11th February 2016. In this teensy tale you'll meet  Jack (of beanstalk fame), his talking chicken Betsy, Red (who has a rather familiar hood!) and newcomer Anansi who holds a deep dark secret. When Jack spots Anansi chatting to a Troll in the woods, he leaps to conclusions - because everyone knows that trolls spell trouble and troll friends are equally troublesome. Perhaps though Jack might find out a bit more about Anansi and realise that there's more to this twisty tale than meets the eye.

The series is perfectly paced for young readers who are just progressing from picture books but still love plenty of illustrations.

And there's more! Yes indeed, you can now pick up book 2 in the Little Legends series - The Great Troll Rescue which was also released on 11th February. This time Jack and Anansi are joined by Rapunzel and Red for a tale of trolls, witches and magical fairies.

Enlisting help from the Witch's servant Ella (as in Cinder!), the brave friends must formulate a plan to rescue all of the magical creatures and folk that the witch has locked up before the nasty old crone catches wind of their plan.

If you're looking for an utterly brilliant new book series for your kids who are ready to revisit some of the best loved fairy tale characters of all time in a new and innovative set of stories, it's time to check out "Little Legends" (and be quick, there's a third book on the way - "The Genie's Curse" - coming in July!

Phew! With all that excitement, we've probably still got room for a couple more books. What's left in our book sack?

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"Cutting libraries in a recession is like cutting health services in a plague" - A ReadItDaddy Editorial

Once again, severe cuts to public services have hit the headlines and once again we find ourselves shaking our heads in disbelief that library services are again in the firing line, inevitably and eventually leading to closures where libraries have already been squeezed to death.

Several organisations (such as and have been actively campaigning to save our libraries from further cuts, and to try and make successive governments understand the importance of libraries and why - as the headline quote (not mine alas) states - cutting libraries in a recession is like cutting health services in a plague.

Most booky folk will already know that your children can become members of your local library as soon as they're born, and take away armfuls of lovely, lovely books. Libraries are vital for those on a low income who wouldn't have access to a wide variety of reading material in any other way.

Discovering whole new worlds through books (fiction or non fiction) is most definitely a key part of a  child's development and one of the best investments in terms of time that you as a parent can make.

When you read headlines about the constant testing and pushing that children are subjected to in the name of education, you have to wonder how education ministers systematically fail to make the link between reading (and learning) for pleasure and a child's educational development.

Without meaning to turn this into one long political rant, the current government seems to be worse than others at promoting the idea that education should become an extremely 'classist' and divisive area through the systematic degradation of 'learning for all' in favour of 'learning for those who can afford it'.

Because of this, libraries are like a lifeline when folk can't afford their own books, and won't get that vital first step up the ladder of a (hopefully) lifelong desire to further their knowledge.

Children are curious, children aren't just little memory banks waiting to have information stuffed into them by force to be retrieved through soulless testing at a later date. In my opinion, there's absolutely no point whatsoever in treating kids like that, certainly not at the age they're subjected to it currently.

We use our library to discover books we might have missed, books we wouldn't normally see and a whole host of non-fiction books that cover such a hugely wide range of diverse subjects that we couldn't possibly ever exhaust them. Until, that is, the fateful day that our own library buckles under the intense pressure of just trying to keep their heads above water and ends up the latest victim of cuts. Abingdon Library was (and still is) key to the way Charlotte's love of reading was nurtured, and of course key to how this blog came into being. Without it, we would have still bought books but being granted that wider choice and being able to choose armfuls really got Charlotte's reading journey off to a fantastic start.

There's a chilling passage in John Christopher's "The Guardians" where Rob Randall makes his way into the only library left in his home town. A dank, dusty and long forgotten building, books long fallen out of fashion. Rob goes to the library to borrow books to escape the drudgery of "The Conurb" - the vast cityscape he lives in. Escaping to worlds created by Alexander Dumas and Jules Verne, Rob's books become a symbol in the story on how we need that vital escapism as well as the opportunity to sate our thirst for knowledge. Will all libraries end up like the neglected building in that story? Not if we shout loud enough and add our voice to the campaigns.

Please take a moment to visit some of the links in this article and below, and please do comment and add your own library campaign links:

Library campaigns on 38 Degrees

Save Our Libraries tags on Twitter

Public Library Campaigns
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Where do Garbage Trucks Go? (A Good Question Book) by Benjamin Richmond (Sterling Publishing)

This is an absolutely fascinating fact-filled book about something that most of us take for granted. Find out more about your rubbish in "Where do Garbage Trucks Go?"
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Wednesday 30 March 2016

Ah-Choo! By Lana Wayne Koehler, Gloria G. Adams and Ken Min (Sterling Publishing)

A tempestuous tale of fur and fuzz and a little sister who just can't stop sneezing. Ah-Choo!
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Do You Remember by Helen Docherty and Mark Beech (Faber and Faber)

Becoming a parent was life changing, no doubt about it. I'd never shown much interest in having kids but wondered if I would if the right person came along...
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Tuesday 29 March 2016

Teeny Tiny Toady by Jill Esbaum and Keika Yamaguchi (Sterling Publishing)

It's not easy being the smallest sibling sometimes, but "Teeny Tiny Toad" proves that even the small can be brave...
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Dozy Bear and the Secret of Sleep by Katie Blackburn and Richard Smythe (Faber and Faber)

It's not often we recommend books to you that are purposely designed to send you to sleep, but that's just how "Dozy Bear and the Secret of Sleep" will hopefully make your little ones feel.
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Monday 28 March 2016

Mabrook! A World of Muslim Weddings by Na'ima B. Robert and Shirin Adl (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

A wedding book with a difference! We celebrate muslim weddings around the world in style with "Mabrook!" by Na'ima B. Robert and Shirin Adl...
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Friday 25 March 2016

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 25th March 2016 - "Veronica" by Roger Duvoisin (Bodleian Library Press)

Bodleian Publishing continue to bring back some truly stunning titles into print, including our Book of the Week this week, the glorious "Veronica" by Roger Duvoisin...
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Thursday 24 March 2016

Going on Tour. Musings and thoughts about blog tours - A ReadItDaddy Editorial

We rather like being asked whether we'd like to join book blog tours. The problem is, we haven't really got a flipping clue what you do!

Today's editorial is a bit of a musing session on the humble (and not so humble) book blog tour.

Previously on the blog we've seen some brilliant guest posts from people we're actually deeply in awe of who really go the extra mile to produce wonderful and informative articles. We've also joined in with various publisher-organised tours and it's been great to visit other blogs on the tour to see what they've come up with.

We don't really have much of an idea how blog tours are perceived by our readers though. Do people tune in for artistic wisdom? That's certainly what we get out of it - but is there also a perception that you're being 'hired' to promote something that you would not otherwise endorse?

Again we're back to the age-old question of blogger ethics. Being included on a blog tour comes with the assumption that the organisers will promote your 'slot' on the tour, and thus drive a little traffic to your blog.

Picking through our stats for the last month (which were a record high at 22,984 unique hits - THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!) I noted that blog tour posts were indeed the most popular posts for the given week, but not overall the most popular for that month.

Puzzlingly, the stats for 'all time' see blog tour posts languishing way way behind the types of articles we write and publish here. Top hitters are reviews, naturally. Second are articles, normally seasonal articles (for example, a post from 2012 about buying books instead of easter eggs is the second most popular post on the blog of all time). Third are editorials (aha, so SOMEONE reads them!) and last are blog tour related items.

We try not to turn down any opportunities to join book blog tours, mostly because we're rather tickled to be asked but also because we respect the PRs we work with and know how hard they have to work to put together a tour. Of course we're also in it to 'pay back' some of the wonderful artists and authors, offering them a bit of our blog space to strut their funky stuff on.

I am genuinely intrigued to hear how others feel about blog tours. Do you love 'em or hate 'em? Do you join in on your own book blog or do you think they're a bit of a waste of time? The comments are open, drop one in the box below!
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Puffin Rock: Hello Little Egg! - An Oona and Baba Adventure (Picture Puffin)

Adapted from the TV series, here's the first Puffin Rock picture book - with fave characters Oona and Baba encountering a very odd egg!
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Wednesday 23 March 2016

Superbot and the Terrible Toy Destroyer by Nick Ward (DFBees / David Fickling Books)

A cracking and fast paced adventure story with a solid anti-bullying message. "Superbot and the Terrible Toy Destroyer" is here to save the day!
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Tuesday 22 March 2016

Art History: Paper Dolls by Kyle Hilton (Chronicle Children's Books)

Here's a rather neat way of serving up a slice or two of art history in a hugely attractive way...
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"It's a Little Baby" by Julia Donaldson and Rebecca Cobb (Macmillan Children's Books)

I was a bit apprehensive about approaching Charlotte with this one. The moment she saw the cover, I could see her expression setting into that "I'm not reviewing THAT!" look. But...
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Monday 21 March 2016

Life is Magic by Meg McClaren (Andersen Children's Books)

Izzy Whizzy let's get busy reviewing a rather splendid book filled with magic, bunnies and amazing feats of prestidigitation (phew, love that word!) After all, "Life is Magic"
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The Big Book of Bugs by Yuval Zommer and Barbara Taylor (Thames and Hudson)

Bugs, bugs, bugs! They're not just good for lunch! (What do you mean you don't eat bugs for lunch?) Learn all about them in this fabulous new book from Yuval Zommer and Barbara Taylor...
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Friday 18 March 2016

ReadItDaddy's Book(s) of the Week - Week Ending 18th March 2016 - "Polly and the Puffin" and "Polly and the Puffin - The Stormy Day" by Jenny Colgan and Thomas Docherty (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

We're not sure how we missed the first of these books, but we're catching up - so here's a double Book of the Week for the utterly adorable "Polly and the Puffin" and "Polly and the Puffin - The Stormy Day" by Jenny Colgan and Thomas Docherty...
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Thursday 17 March 2016

This is (possibly) the greatest "read out loud" children's book in the world! - a ReadItDaddy Editorial

This week's editorial is actually a sneaky excuse to re-review a book that was a Book of the Week winner way back in 2012.

The reasons we wanted to trumpet about this book all over again are numerous but there's one very important reason why even now, some four years on and with Charlotte rapidly moving on from picture books and moving towards more independent reading on her own, we just cannot get enough of Rebecca Patterson's sublime "My Big Shouting Day".

It is, without a doubt, the greatest children's book in the world to read out loud.

Loud being the operative word here, because Rebecca's acute observations of toddler behaviour are brutally spot on. Bella, the little girl in this story, is like a mad ogre on the rampage. Waking up one morning and definitely getting out of bed the wrong side, Bella proceeds to spend the entire day like a seething ball of rage.

Bella is having what we parents often politely describe as "A mare of a day"
Nothing is right for Bella, everything is wrong. Her food is wrong. Her little baby brother's seemingly innocent behaviour is wrong. Shoes are wrong. Going shopping? WRONG! Bella makes no bones about telling the entire world AS LOUDLY AS POSSIBLE just how wrong everything is.

There are so many genius observations in this that you almost want to cuddle the book and cuddle Rebecca for recognising all the things that parents put up with when their toddlers are on the rampage. Mum in the story somehow (mostly) remains an ocean of calm, quietly and patiently dealing with Bella's behaviour. Bob (probably the most adorable younger sibling in children's picture book history) seems completely bemused by Bella's behaviour, an innocent bystander wondering just what all the fuss is about.

Other peripheral characters are also rather amusingly drawn into the story as Bella's boiling point is swiftly reached and we get to one of the greatest spreads in the book...

This is the point where grandparents usually make a helpful comment like "Ooh, someone's tired!" - NO KIDDING!
I love reading books out loud to Charlotte, and we read this one an awful lot. I just can't help it - as a piece of performance art, stepping into Bella's shoes (assuming you can find them after she's thrown them off in disgust) is cathartic and soothing. Getting just the right balance of shoutiness and anger into your reading is ridiculous fun, and of course it helps serve as a bit of a guilt trip for your children if they suddenly recognise that at times, they are Bella and they have big shouting days of their own (Charlotte does virtually every saturday morning at the merest mention of going out for the day, or at any time piano practice or maths homework is mentioned).

Rebecca followed up "My Big Shouting Day" with another book featuring Bella ("My Busy Being Bella Day") and has written many other children's books that are brilliant and well observed. But for us, "My Big Shouting Day" is that perfect example of a children's book that just works on so many levels that you just can't help - well - shouting about it!

"My Big Shouting Day" by Rebecca Patterson is published by Jonathan Cape Picture Books. 
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Tiger in a Tutu by Fabi Santiago (Orchard Books)

We do love a book where characters go crazy expressing themselves through dance. Move your body over this way and check out "Tiger in a Tutu" by Fabi Santiago...
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Wednesday 16 March 2016

Outside: A Guide to Discovering Nature by Maria Ana Peixe Dias, Ines Tiexe Do Rosario and Bernardo Carvalho (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

Frances Lincoln Publishing continues to scour the globe for the very best in children's books, this time with a huge weighty tome full of the joys of outdoors. Let's go outside...
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Tuesday 15 March 2016

I Have an Orange Juicy Drink by Andrew Sanders (Fat Fox Books)

We're always on the lookout for quirky books even if they're a bit 'young' for Charlotte...

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The Little Guide to Science by Catherine De Duve (KateArt Books)

As a pair of complete science geeks, we love anything to do with science and we particularly love a pint-sized book that offers insights into just about every branch of science available...
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Friday 11 March 2016

ReadItDaddy's YA Book of the Week - Week Ending 11th March 2016 - "Lois Lane: Fallout" by Gwenda Bond (Curious Fox / Capstone)

US Cover
 We're squeezing even more Book of the Week love onto the blog than ever before. No reason why older readers should miss out on book of the week fun, so we're introducing an occasional chapter book or YA Book of the Week alongside our Picture Book recommendations. You lucky people!

So let's kick off this new idea with a book that has been an utterly rivetting and fast paced read from start to finish, featuring a character I previously had absolutely no love for! "Lois Lane: Fallout"
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ReaditDaddy's Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 11th March 2016 "Claude - Going for Gold by Alex T. Smith (Hodder Children's Books)

Our second Book of the Week really does deserve a whopping great big gold cup. Here's Alex T. Smith's diminutive and adventuresome pooch and socky sidekick in "Claude - Going for Gold"...
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ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 11th March 2016 - "Lionheart" by Richard Collingridge (David Fickling Books)

This week's First Book of the Week is something we've been waiting for since we were utterly entranced by "When It Snows" - Richard Collingridge's second children's picture book is the magical "Lionheart"...
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Thursday 10 March 2016

Joining in with a super blog tour to celebrate the launch of "Violet and the Smugglers" by Harriet Whitehorn and Becka Moor (Simon and Schuster Children's Books)

Time for excitement and adventure on the high seas with our new favourite girl detective, Violet Remy-Robinson in "Violet and the Smugglers"...
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A very special guest post to celebrate the "Violet and the Smugglers" Blog Tour. Over to you, Harriet Whitehorn!

Harriet Whitehorn, author of the awesome "Violet" series including the latest book "Violet and the Smugglers"

Today we're handing over the keys to the blog to a very special guest. Joining us today is Harriet Whitehorn, author of "Violet and the Pearl of the Orient",  "Violet and the Hidden Treasure" and the latest amazing book "Violet and the Smugglers". You've read our review, now Harriet's here to tell us all about her favourite children's books! Take it away Harriet!

My Favourite Children’s Picture Books by Harriet Whitehorn

Like many children, I learnt to read with Dr. Seuss. Even now, when I re-read certain pages I have a strong, small-child memory of the look of the page, and the smell of old library books comes wafting back through the years to me. I also loved my mother’s collection of Beatrix Potter books - as you can see she was a great believer in mending books with sellotape - and I still get a little frisson of fear looking at the pictures of sinister Mr. Tod.

The wonderful Babar was another favourite, along with Richard Scarry’s What do People Do All Day? and Robert the Rose Horse by Joan

I was particularly obsessed with Robert, the unfortunate horse who can’t stop sneezing whenever a rose is near. I’m not quite sure why it inspired such fervent devotion but it did, and my original copy was destroyed beyond even my mother’s abilities with sellotape.

Years later, I had my own children, and, as many parents will tell you, one of the joys of parenthood is that you get to revisit your old favourite children’s books and to discover so many more fantastic new ones.

And I really do have so many favourites; The Jolly Postman, Each Peach Pear Plum, The Tiger who Came to Tea Hairy Maclary, Orlando (the Marmalade Cat), Madeline and the Mog books.

I could go on and on but I just wanted to focus on two books which I think are particularly brilliant. The first is the eccentric tale of The Elephant and the Bad Baby.

I love the subversiveness of the name ‘Bad Baby’, in our world where you must never label children as ‘bad’. The unlikely pair go on a shoplifting spree, chased by all the shopkeeper’s, until the Elephant has suddenly had ENOUGH of the Bad Baby’s lack of manners.

 It’s a bit like a parent who has not had very much sleep and has been pushed a little too far. It has the dreaminess of repetition and rhyme which children love and the quirkiness of the tale is perfectly contrasted with Raymond Brigg’s beautiful illustrations. Rumpeta Rumpeta Rumpeta!

 My second favourite book is Julia Donaldson’s A Squash and A Squeeze. All of her books are amazing, and I have spent many happy hours reading The Grufffalo, The Magic Paintbrush and Room on the Broom.

But I think that A Squash and a Squeeze is a perfectly succinct study of human nature and its foibles, and I would urge you to read it if you haven’t.

It might just change your life.

Thank you SO MUCH Harriet for sharing some of your favourite childhood and children's books with us. We love your choices (and there are some new to us that we'll definitely be checking out!)

Don't miss the other stops on the "Violet" Blog tour, and definitely do not miss Harriet's awesome book "Violet and the Smugglers" with illustrations by Becka Moor, out now from Simon and Schuster Children's Books.

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Wednesday 9 March 2016

Cloth Lullaby: The Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois by Amy Novesky and Isabelle Arsenault (Abrams & Chronicle)

It struck me as I was reading this to Charlotte that Louise Bourgeois is just one of those artists whose works surreptitiously work themselves into your subconscious, and whose influence you see in so many of the works of art you love.
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"Are you Sitting Comfortably?" by Leigh Hodgkinson (Bloomsbury Publishing)

It's so very lovely to have Leigh Hodgkinson back. After taking some time off for a very good reason (bringing up a by-now very busy little 3 year old) she's back with a rather fabulous story about finding JUST the right spot to snuggle down with a good book...
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Tuesday 8 March 2016

"Some Birds" by Matt Spink (Abrams Appleseed)

Wow, this is a colourful treat for your tiny little chicks. The gorgeously illustrated "Some Birds" by Matt Spink...
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The Jungle Book by Robert Hunter, based on Rudyard Kipling's original classic (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

With a new live-action Disney movie based on Rudyard Kipling's timeless adventure, there's no better time to revisit the brilliance of "The Jungle Book" - but here's a version that's distinctly different!
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Monday 7 March 2016

Get busy with your little ones with a couple of fabulous craft activity books, perfect for Knights and Princesses

 Laura Minter and Tia Williams have created a fabulous activity, crafting and baking blog, "The Little Button Diaries", a veritable treasure trove of utterly brilliant ideas for things to do with your little ones.

Now Laura and Tia have turned their attention to distilling their fabulous crafting knowledge into a couple of awesome new activity books.

"The Knight Craft Book - 15 Things a Knight Can't Do Without" and "The Princess Craft Book - 15 Things a Princess Can't Do Without" bring together simple (and not so simple) craft project ideas in two attractive and fully illustrated volumes.

For would-be knights (whether girls or boys) you can create awesome castles, weapons (like bows and arrows or swords and scabbards) and even a trusty steed to ride into battle on.

Each project comes with a set of instructions and a list of the things you'll need to get your crafty little knights creating some truly brilliant props for costume play.

With "The Princess Craft Book" again princessy girls or boys can make some really amazing creations with more than a nod to some of their favourite princessy movies. You'll certainly notice a bit of a "Frozen" thing going on with this book so if your children just can't "Let it go" they'll be over the moon at some of these awesome makes!

Laura and Tia are hugely talented, and you can tell they really enjoy what they do as it comes across very well in these books. Clear instructions, brill photos (with kids really getting into the swing of things) and a range of projects from really easy 5 minute makes to some more complex and quite skilled makes, there's something for everyone in both books.

"The Knight Craft Book" and "The Princess Craft Book" are released on 7th March, from GMC Publishing.

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A gorgeous Wee Gallery range for your busy little toddlers, designed by Surya Pinto (QED Publishing)

How's this for an absolutely gorgeous little animal-centric range of brilliantly designed board books for your little ones. QED's "Wee Gallery" range, designed by Surya Pinto, are beautiful, bold and tactile little books with fantastic high contrast illustrations perfect for little peepers.

The range is available now so check out "Cat's Playgroup", "Dog's Day Out" and the other awesome books in the range. You can find out more information on the books on the QED Publishing website.
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