Thursday 30 June 2016

We love scribbling, doodling and drawing - A ReadItDaddy Editorial

When we're not wrapped around a good book, more often than not Charlotte and I find ourselves scribbling, doodling and drawing.

I've had a lifelong passion for drawing and sketching, branching out into dabbling in digital art (thanks to a speedy little Mac mini, a copy of Manga Studio 5 and a Wacom Intuos Pro Medium tablet). Charlotte has drawn and painted from an early age and it struck me the other day just how damned GOOD she is compared to what I could draw like at her age.

At 8 years old, she's on the brink of moving between the two states that I believe artistically minded folk exist in. On the one hand, there's that blissful child-state of not caring a bugger about proportions, anatomy, perspective, form, composition, colour or realism. I wish with all my heart that artists could stay locked into that state. Some do manage it, some are extremely skilled at being able to draw like kids do, without stressing, without constant reworking, and completely carefree when it comes to criticism.

Cool cartooning stuff from Chris!
Charlotte loves to develop her own ideas and like me she often draws from her imagination. She loves tutorial books too (Chris Hart's utterly fantastic books in particular) but hasn't quite got to the stage of wanting to take things further and start applying those (horrible, in some cases) rules of form, anatomy and composition to her own drawings. However she's completely addicted to Christopher Hart's fantastic 'tutorial' books and has been working her way through these little beauties to get her cartooning skills up to scratch:

Chris Hart's books make drawing cool characters a real breeze!

I also love that she doesn't stress about what she draws with, or on for that matter. When I consider how much time I've spent trying to find the perfect pen or pencil to draw with (the Rotring Tikky range is a current fave and I also love Pilot's Frixion range if I'm going to ink something and need the safety net of being able to rub out. I also adore ink and nib just like great great great unc!) it's refreshing to see Charlotte dig any old stubby pencil or leaky pen out of her pencil case and just get on with it. Why do we adults always assume that our kit will somehow magically imbue us with more talent when really we should be able to do as she does and just knock out great art with a crayon!

With a couple of years of formal art training, I can honestly say that what I learned during two years on a foundation in art and design DID actually help me to appreciate and develop my (latent) skills but I really wish I'd finished my formal art education because I still slip into terrible bad habits. It was useful to see other people's work, hear their experiences and share the joy and pain of working on a piece to see it either triumph or fail when exams rolled around. Nowadays, Twitter is a godsend for providing that 'art class' type of community of like-minded scribblers (and professional artists who make us DROOL daily with their sublime work). All the topics like Sketch_Dailies, #ShapeChallenge, #Finishthescribble, #Colour_Collective and so many other art prompt tweeters really do help break the monotony of staring at a blank page and muttering "So what do I draw next?"

I wonder if Charlotte will carry on with art. I hope she does. Art has been an inspiration and at some points in my life it's actually saved my sanity, been like a soothing balm to rub on my mental wounds, I've filled sketchbooks and hard drives with work and over the last few years I've drawn more than I ever have at any other time in my life (and I can honestly say that if there's one piece of advice I'd give anyone, it's that you CAN draw but you'll need to do it daily to maintain any kind of consistency and style - the minute you stop, even for a short period of time, you'll really feel like you're getting back to square one once you do get back into it so draw daily, draw lots, draw anywhere!)

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The Truth According to Arthur by Tim Hopgood and David Tazzyman (Bloomsbury Children's Books)

Now here's a neat story that warns of the snowball effect of telling a tiny fib...which quickly spirals out of control...!
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Wednesday 29 June 2016

A fab set of observation books with tons of fun puzzles in the new "Spot the" range from QED Publishing

Sharp eyes are required! A new range of fantastic 'spotter' books has just been released by QED Publishing, with various fun themes and tons of amazing facts packed between the pages.

The "Spot the" range kicks off with "Spot the Mummy at the Museum" - A cheeky Mummy hides in every scene so it's up to you to find him as he enjoys all the exhibits and scenes spanning world history.

As well as the Mummy, you'll need to find a whole brace of other interesting objects and artifacts - all while enjoying the historical facts and figures that describe each period of history in more fun detail.

"Spot the Mummy at the Museum" is out now, written by Sarah Khan and illustrated by Joelle Driedemy.

We also took a look at "Spot the Bird at the Building Site", again a really fun book showing all the different stages of building everything from a library to a high-rise skyscraper. This time you're on the look-out for a cheeky pigeon who hides out in each scene, and once again there are loads of interesting facts about buildings and architecture to read. Did you know that the lifts in the Shard move so quickly that you can get to the top of the building in just over a minute! Stomach-churning stuff!

"Spot the Bird on the Building Site" also by Sarah and Joelle is also out now.

QED have more in the range so if you're on the look-out for a fun and challenging set of books to keep your little one occupied over the summer, take a look at the rest of the "Spot the" range as they're really brilliantly presented, full of colourful and fun illustrations and well worth closer investigation!

Find out more about QED's awesome range on the Quarto Knows website.

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ReaditDaddy's Chapter Book Roundup - June 2016

Welcome to Flaming June's chapter book roundup with another delicious and diverse selection of chapter books to win you over on lazy summer days sitting under your favourite tree, basking in the shade and reading a superb story.

We'll kick off with a book that celebrates our wild spaces and details what happens when a gang of kids realise that theirs is under threat.

In "The Wilderness War" by Julia Green (out now from Oxford University Press) we meet Noah and his friends who spend long idyllic summer days making dens, camping under the stars and toasting marshmallows on camp fires.

Unfortunately "The Wilderness" has been sold off to developers, and the dens torn down to make way for houses. But Noah and pals are determined to fight for their green space, can a gang of kids really make a difference?

We loved this book - mainly because green issues are something that we've always been keen to get Charlotte interested in. Thankfully she was utterly hooked and actually couldn't wait to tuck up in bed reading this every night, so a thorough and resounding thumbs up from her. I remember her loving OUP's awesome "Biff, Chip and Kipper" story called "Save Pudding Wood" which went along similar lines (albeit in a far simpler and less richly involving way) so it was obvious Julia's book was going to strike a chord.

"The Wilderness War" was released on June 1st by OUP.

A new book in Alex Milway's awesome "Pigsticks and Harold" series is our next candidate...

In "Pigsticks and Harold and the Pirate Treasure" you can expect plenty of peg-legged punnery and hilarity as Pigsticks (the pig) and Harold (the, er, well we think he's a Hamster but Charlotte swears blind he's a beaver who lost his tail) embark on a nautical adventure full of mysterious maps, creaking ships and of course a goodly dose of pirate booty.

Pigsticks (the rash one who always engages limbs before brain) and Harold (the quiet brainy one) have run into Pigsticks' arch enemy Sir Percival Snout, who claims that Tuptown is his - and it's time to bring in a wrecking ball to flatten the place and build it to his own designs.

Pigsticks' grandfather was a pirate, and his lost treasure has never been found. Can the dynamic duo retrieve the stash of gold and buy off Sir Percival before Tuptown is turned into an ugly block of flats?

Chock full of knockabout humour, perfect for kids getting their teeth into more wordy books than their usual picture book diet, this is a fabulous story series that will win just about everyone over.

"Pigsticks and Harold and the Pirate Treasure" is out now from Walker Books.

From pigs and hamsters to some seriously superb superheroes...

Floris Books have a knack for publishing fantastic and original books, and Paul Bristow's epic "The Superpower Project", mashing together mech-based mayhem with an unlikely duo of would-be superheroes.

An ancient and mystical force is under threat from a nefarious industrialist and his army of transforming robots, cunningly disguised as modern art installations. Megan and Cam are tasked with saving the world, staying in school AND also racking up some vital training with a rather grouchy were-tiger. Thankfully they've at least got some extra help from a clanky steampunk robot designed by none other than James Watt!

Hugely original, buzzingly energetic from page to page and cracking along at the sort of pace that will leave you gasping for more at the cataclysmic climax, "The Superpower Project" is definitely one to watch.

"The Superpower Project" was released by Kelpies / Floris Books on Feb 18th 2016.

More, more you say? Well who are we to deny you BRILLIANT BOOKS. How about a chapter book for middle graders that combines a bucketload of sass with...Yoga. Yep you heard us right...

Meet "Cici Reno #MiddleSchoolMatchmaker" in this fantastic and brilliantly observed new book from Kristina Springer. Cici is the queen of sass and she's also a bit of a Cyrano De Bergerac if truth be known. Her BFF is shy and retiring but has a huge crush on someone with absolutely no idea how to make the first move.

It's up to Cici to inject the situation with some seriously cool philosophy and plenty of flexible yoga-skilling into the bargain.

I don't think I've ever actually come across a book that heads out with every chapter with a rather hilariously described yoga move. If you can do some of these while reading the book at the same time (presumably with your feet or nose) then you're a superhero par excellence.

Funny, cool and deliciously fourth-wall-breaking in places, this is one of the freshest MG books we've seen in a long time and Charlotte absolutely lapped it up! Hopefully there'll be more from Cici soon.

"Cici Reno #MiddleSchoolMatchmaker" was released on 7th May by Sterling Publishing

What's left in the book bag superchamps?

Oh boy, this one was greeted with a whoop of delight which slowly turned to a bit of a sad and bittersweet moment as we both realised that this is the last book! Cressida Cowell's utterly brilliant "How to Train your Dragon" series reaches its 12th and final book with "How to Fight a Dragon's Fury" as the chronicles wind down with a truly cataclysmic battle.

This time Hiccup Horrendous Haddock The Third is out to prove he is the rightful heir to the kingdom of The Wilderwest. Unfortunately for Hiccup he stands alone, as the evil and downright stinky Alvin the Treacherous has snatched all of the king's things, proclaiming himself to be the king not Hiccup.

As regular series readers will know, Alvin's evil scheme could see an end to the bond between humans and dragons and in fact the death of dragons entirely. Can Hiccup overcome insurmountable odds to triumph over Alvin and his nefarious Dragon Guardians of Tomorrow?

This book seizes you by the talons and doesn't let go. Exciting, page turning and at times quite heart wrenching stuff. Be prepared for the end when you'll need a new set of nerves and probably quite a few hankies...don't say we didn't warn you!

"How to Train your Dragon: How to Fight a Dragon's Fury" is out now in Hardback and Paperback from Hodder Children's Books.

"Bake Off" is responsible for inspiring a lot of books and here's another corker...

"Billy Bramble and the Great Big Cook Off" by Sally Donovan and Kara McHale features a rather unlikely (and hideously unlucky) hero. Young Billy never seems to be able to do anything right, and in his own words, he's the bad luck champion of the world.

It's not really Billy's fault, it's mostly down to Billy's invisible dog Gobber who seems to choose the most inopportune moments to interfere, cause chaos and upset the applecart (or in this case, the flour bag).

Billy has had enough, it's time to dig in his heels and see what he can do about this miscreant mutt.

Sally has written a rather subtle and beautifully observed book that will instantly make kids who feel that they're somehow less than perfect feel a heck of a lot better about themselves. It's witty, funny and deliriously chaotic so keep an eye out for Billy, he's sure to win your heart!

"Billy Bramble and the Great Big Cook Off" is out now from Jessica Kingsley Publishing

Ding the bell Charlotte, what's up next?

Ooh hello! Nick Sharratt, picture book superstar has come up trumps with his very first chapter book, an amusing and gorgeously illustrated tale. "The Cat and the King" tells the tale of a gentle king and his extremely clever cat (has anyone ever met a daft cat? We haven't!)

The poor king finds himself in a very odd situation after a nasty dragon burns down the royal castle. Now ensconced at Number 37 Castle Close, the king suddenly finds that real life is a bit trickier than he'd imagined. Thankfully the cat is on hand to help out, but when the fire-breathing dragon returns, The Cat and The King must join forces to get rid of their arch enemy once and for all.

Nick's storytelling is brilliantly funny and he's made the transition from picture to chapter books with ease. An absolutely perfect title for younger kids cutting their teeth with their first proper reading books, "The Cat and the King" is out on the First of September from Alison Green Books.

Uh oh, hide your valuables, I don't like the look of the fellas coming up next...

"The Bad Guys" by Aaron Blabey introduces a devilish gang of thoroughly bad eggs. Mr Wolf, Mr Snake, Mr Shark and Mr Piranha have a bit of a bad reputation but they're trying to change all that and become a force for good.

Their first mission, to free 200 dogs from the maximum security dog pound doesn't quite go as swimmingly as expected (imagine drowning in 200 puddles of dog drool for starters!) so the gang must re-evaluate their tactics and even figure out if it's worth changing your spots to become a good guy after all.

Fully and brilliantly illustrated, Aaron's new book series kicks off with this hilarious first story with Book 2 (Mission Unpluckable) also out by the time you read this roundup.

"The Bad Guys Episode 1" was released on 7th April 2016.

Our book bag is almost empty. I did say almost. I've got a feeling there are a few more in there so reach in and dig deep...

One for older kids now from author Chris Russell fusing together YA coolness with boyband fanboism...

In "Songs About a Girl" you'll meet Charlie Bloom, the ordinary everyday girl next door who is quite happy to stay out of the spotlight and nurture her talent as a photographer.

When she's asked backstage to take photos of hot boyband sensation Fire&Lights, Charlie's life changes immeasurably and she's thrown headlong into the world of the paparazzi, of creative tension within the band and an inevitable tussle over matters of the heart.

Charlie's inquisitive nature leads her to a dark discovery, a deep secret within the band hidden in plain sight, actually in the lyrics of their songs. How can Charlie live with knowing that the band millions idolise are not at all what they seem?

A fantastic observation of the PR machine in action, the hype and excitement of the music industry and the inevitable heartaches when the perfect polished world peels apart. Tightly and tensely written and sure to be a big hit with 12 yrs and up, "Songs About A Girl" is out on 28th July 2016 from Hodder Children's Books.

Another fantastic YA novel for older kids (with a strong language & content warning, I should add) - particularly fans of grimy and dark conspiracy theory stories...

In "The Hatching" by Ezekiel Boone , a seemingly random series of mysterious events rocks the globe. A group of US tourists and their guide are seemingly devoured by an unknown force deep in the Peruvian jungle, China unleashes a nuclear weapon on itself in a freak nuclear accident and strange seismic readings are registered in other parts of the world. Somehow all these events are connected and time is running out as scientists and politicians struggle to piece together the clues and maintain order as the world goes to hell.

Sweeping and cinematic in its world building, it's no surprise that the book has already been optioned for a movie by Joel Schumacher. "The Hatching" is gripping page-turning stuff, veering from deep dark mystery to political machinations, and written as tightly as an overwound bolt. "The Hatching" arrived on shelves on the 5th July 2016.

Phew! After all that tension we could do with something a lot more lighthearted and summery...!

Enid Blyton's Summer Stories collects together a fabulous sunny collection of her short stories, perfect for lazy reading splayed out on a picnic blanket in your favourite spot beneath some shade (don't forget the sun cream).

Timeless classics all, it's a new collection to compliment the previous anthology (Holiday Stories) and perfect for fans of Enid's fabulous "Famous Five" books and other collections.

"Summer Stories" is released on 28th June 2016 from Hodder Children's Books. Anyone for an ice cold ginger beer?

Don't run off just yet, we're still dipping into our summery book bag and I'm sure we can squeeze in a few more.

So how about more summery goodness, with rib-tickling humour and an enviable collection of authors contributing to an awesome story compilation? See, we told you it was worth sticking around for...

"Holiday Ha Ha Ha!" is a collection of 8 hilarious stories by a hugely talented bunch of authors including Joanna Nadin, Jonathan Meres, Steven Butler and Steve Cole. Perfectly pitched for those beachy reads (though don't get sand in your book, it's almost impossible to get that stuff out!) "Holiday Ha Ha Ha!" is a gigglesome collection covering a completely bonkers set of subjects.

Crazy grannies, terrible car journeys (yep they're usually part of our summer whether we like them or not), and gruesome ghosts all feature amongst the 8 tales of holiday woos and woes.

A perfect collection to work away on in between building sandcastles or wolfing down whelks, or to devour in one huge summery sitting when you find the perfect shady spot to laze in.

"Holiday Ha Ha Ha!" is released on 30th June 2016 from Simon and Schuster Children's Books.

One more, one more, g'wan then...

In Jo Franklin's rib-tickler "Help, I'm an Alien" a boy called Daniel is suffering
from a bit of an identity crisis. Daniel is convinced he's actually not human, but an extra-terrestrial, stolen away from his home planet to live with a fairly weird human family. His sister convinces him that he is indeed an alien. His mum doesn't seem too sure either. Whereas Daniel is tall, gangly with brown hair the rest of his family are blonde, blue eyed and diminutive so is Daniel really a cuckoo in the nest?

A fantastically funny and sharply observed story of family, friendships and that weird feeling that we all get from time to time - that we're different but not always in a good way. I remember being a rather cruel older brother to my little sister, convincing her that I was indeed an alien who had replaced her real brother so this book appealed to me and Charlotte found it furiously funny too!

"Help I'm an alien" by Jo Franklin is out now from Troika Books.

And we're done, really done this time! Phew, that was a big one. Tune in next month when we dip into July's big ol' book bag and see what's tickling our fancy.

See you in July!

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Tuesday 28 June 2016

Be a Friend by Salina Yoon (Bloomsbury Publishing)

Silence is golden, and so is this adorable little story from Salina Yoon...
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The Little Caillebotte by Catherine De Duve (Happy Museum)

Another glorious art exploration now from Catherine De Duve as we take a closer look at the life and work of Gustave Caillebotte...
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The Olympic Games Sticker Book by Susan Meredith and Galia Bernstein (Usborne Books)

Celebrate the spectacle and ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Games with a fantastic new fact-filled Usborne book.

"The Olympic Games Sticker Book" is perfect for rainy days indoors with over 100 stickers to keep kids occupied while they learn about the history of the Olympics, and catch up with the modern events that have shaped the games as we know them today.

With fantastic insights into the sportsmen and women who will take part in the events from Athletics to Sailing, from Fencing to Diving, there's a ton of amazing and interesting information.

Of course, the stickers are the main draw for Charlotte. Usborne thoughtfully perforate their sticker pages so you can take them out to work your way through the book (so many sticker books seem to demand that you practically destroy the entire book just so that you can use it effectively - Not the case here).

As usual, a fantastically high quality activity book from Usborne. Out now.
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Monday 27 June 2016

Dinostars and the Planet Plundering Pirates by Ben Mantle (Macmillan Children's Books)

Here's an excellent idea to draw in reluctant readers, and serve up an original mix of dinosaurs, space adventures and pirates..!
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Friday 24 June 2016

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 24th June 2016 - "Under Earth, Under Water" by Aleksandra Mizielinski and Daniel Mizielinski (Templar Publishing)

The fabulous duo behind the award-winning and truly glorious "Maps" books have once again come up trumps. Our book of the week this week is "Under Earth, Under Water" by Aleksandra Mizielinski and Daniel Mizielinski.
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Thursday 23 June 2016

50 Things You Should Know About Space by Raman Prinja (QED Books)

QED's "50 Things" books are a staple part of our non-fiction book collection...
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A fantastic exhibition and a dazzling show coming to Seven Stories and the Live Theatre in Newcastle

Newcastle book-lovers are in for a double treat in July as Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children's Books is curating a new exhibition celebrating the work of Michael Morpurgo starting on Friday, 1st July 2016.

The author of War Horse, Private Peaceful, Kensuke's Kingdom and a host of brilliant children's books will have his maniscripts and notebooks on display at the centre as well as photographs and correspondence spanning Michael's writing career.

Coupled with an atmospheric soundscape to set the tone, and lots of child-friendly exhibits and interactive elements including propper and dress-up opportunities, the exhibition will run until June 2017 so there's plenty of time to dash up to Seven Stories and catch it. More information on the exhibition and other great events at Seven Stories can be found on their website:

Staying in Newcastle, David Almond's child-friendly play "The Savage" begins its run at the Live Theatre, Newcastle on the 30th June running until the 23rd July.

This exciting and absorbing play, suitable for children 9+, is full of dazzling visuals, amazing music and brilliant choreography.

You can find out more on the Live Theatre Website (including ticket prices):

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Father's Day - Sport, Booze and Socks - a ReadItDaddy Editorial

I do love my wife and daughter, and the fact that they put up with a geek child-man whose idea of paradise is a blank sketchbook and a scribbly pen or pencil, a couple of decent sci-fi flicks and perhaps a smorgasbord of Sushi.

Wherefore art though Geek Dad in the imagined gift lists that most supermarkets and retail outlets were advertising a week ago though?

The Waitrose Magazine - that paragon of idyllic lifestyle-and-grub guidance that seems to exist on an entirely parallel plane inhabited only by beautiful people with perfect lives - suggested that Dad isn't that difficult to buy for. All dads love sport, all dads are relentless alcoholics, all dads love barbecues and all dads cannot get enough socks (it even said so on the front of the very magazine I took issue with). So that's OK then.

My fathers day presents were the best. My wife pre-emptively warned me that she wanted to book an 'event' and normally the very sound of anything like that would have me screaming and running towards the nearest tree. But in this case I'm willing to put up with a sushi-making course with Charlotte in tow watching (and scoffing) the things I make.

Charlotte produced the goods. The things I crave the most. A hug, a kiss, a hand-drawn card with a worryingly accurate portrait of me dressed in a Cthulhu T Shirt, wearing a pair of shorts covered in sewn-on badges, and with that vague / slightly daft smile I often wear. Oh and a lollystick coaster (if you don't know what a lollystick coaster is, I genuinely pity you. Every man should have one).

I'm well aware that I'm un-marketable-to, being a vegetarian teetotal non-sport-loving geek but I did giggle at the sheer lack of imagination Waitrose showed with their gift suggestion list. So what did you other dads get?
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Mini Makers: Crafty Makes to Create with your Kids by Laura Minter and Tia Williams (Little Button Diaries / GMC Publishing)

Once again, the fabulous Laura and Tia from the Little Button Diaries have come up trumps with another gorgeous little book full of awesome makes.
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Wednesday 22 June 2016

A couple of corkers from Maverick Books, meet George and Queen Fluff!

There are a couple of new corkers from Maverick Books ready to grace your bookshelves, both were released on 28th May so we're playing catch up and taking a look.

In "George and the New Craze" by Alice Hemming and Kimberley Scott, you can once again join in with George the Giraffe and his animal pals. This time George is wondering what all the fuss is about when all his friends seem to be completely obsessed with a new card game and at first George feels left out. But as soon as he joins in, he realises that playing with friends - even if you don't always win - can be a huge amount of fun!

A great little tale, nicely observed and full of glorious animal characters. "George and the New Craze" is out now.

There's also a rather prissy and posh madam to contend with in "Not Enough for Queen Fluff" by Rachel Lyon and Catalina Echeverri. Queen Fluff, a rather pompous bunny, has everything she could possibly wish for. The finest clothes, the most amazing palace, and of course the tenderest morsels of food that the world's best chefs can prepare. But Queen Fluff realises she is lonely and decides that she'll go and stay with some of the bunnies in her realm, but only if they can measure up to her exacting standards.

The bunnies are poor though, and they can't possibly meet her ridiculous demands - and they're not sure they even want her to stay with them anyway, so they hatch a cunning bunny plan to put a spoke in Queen Fluff's wheel once and for all! Will she ever see the error of her ways?

A fabulous rhyming tale with a moral lesson for us all! Rather brilliant, and with superb illustrations it's going to win over your demanding kids as soon as they flip the front cover.

"Not Enough for Queen Fluff" is also out now, both published by Maverick Publishing.

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Petunia Paris's Parrot by Katie Haworth and Jo Williamson (Templar Publishing)

What do you buy the girl who has everything? Let's delve in and meet Petunia Paris!
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Tuesday 21 June 2016

Charlotte and the Homeless Bumblebee by David Greaves and Danielle Callaghan (Friends of the Earth)

Here's a "Name" book with a difference that is supporting Friends of the Earth and a really worthy cause...
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Kings of the Castle by Victoria Turnbull (Templar Publishing)

Sometimes a book demands to be read several times, releasing its subtle message slowly, like the delicious smell of bread baking...
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Monday 20 June 2016

A guest post from Gimme Books, a brand new subscription box for awesome picture book fun launching today!

Gimme Books is a brand new subscription box, delivering quality children's picture books to your doorstep every month.

We're proud to announce the launch of our website is this week!

What is a Gimme Books box?

Good question. Every month there is a new theme to the box. You'll receive three books, two are picture books and the third is an activity book. These books are lovingly wrapped by us in colourful gift wrap and placed in our bright blue box, ready for delivery. You'll also receive a sheet containing information about the books we've picked and some useful tips on how to get the best experience from the books.

You can order a box at and select a plan which suits you best. You can go from month to month or save money by using a prepay plan.

For every three months you subscribe, we will donate a picture book to Book Aid International.

What is Book Aid International?

They are doing amazing work in getting new and used picture books to children in Africa. We think it's vital that children have access to books and wanted to be a part of it.

For every three months you subscribe, we will donate a brand new picture book to Book Aid International. We're hoping to have a massive pile to ship very soon!

Where did the idea for Gimme Books come from?

Having enjoyed a couple of subscription boxes in the past, we felt the excitement of not knowing what you'll get every month, would translate easily to picture books.

We've also been in the situation of staring at the large number of picture books available at a bookstore, and not knowing which one to pick for our child.

And then it clicked; we should do a picture book subscription box! It's an excellent way to gift the joy of reading!

We carefully curate our themed boxes so you're guaranteed quality picture books below the retail price. Our boxes are suitable for children new to picture books and for little bookworms. Rarely will we use classics or bestsellers: we wouldn't want you to get any duplicates!

Why are you doing this?

It's as simple as this: if you read to your child at an early age, they'll enjoy books for life!

Picture books are amazing. They're visually stunning and cover a wide range of subjects. They're a fantastic way to share precious quality time with your child and to get them to discuss topics at a very accessible level.

We want children to get excited about books, and what better way than with a surprise box every month!

The Gimme Books website launches today, Monday 20th June. Head over to § and use the code 'READITDADDY' to receive 10% off your first box!

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"Now I can Sew: 20 hand-sewn projects to make" by Sian Hamilton (GMC Publications)

Here's a little-known fact about us. We're sewing bees. Yes indeed, even me!
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The Perfect Picnic by Ciara Flood (Templar Publishing)

Nothing tastes better than a glorious picnic! The thought of eating outdoors is one of the best bits of the summer...
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Friday 17 June 2016

ReadItDaddy's Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 17th June 2016 - "Can I Build Another Me?" by Shinsuke Yoshitake (Thames and Hudson)

Our second book of the week sparkles with originality, fizzes with fabulous details and is all about discovering the real you...
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ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 17th June 2016 - "The Cantankerous Crow" by Lennart Hellsing and Poul Stroyer (Thames and Hudson)

Our first book of the week this week is even older than I am. It's 60 years old in fact, but it's absolutely brilliant! "The Cantankerous Crow" by Lennart Hellsing and Poul Stroyer...
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Thursday 16 June 2016

UK Dads are the worst in the world (allegedly) - A ReadItDaddy Editorial

As Father's Day approaches at the speed of light, and once again many dads cringe inwardly at the thought of a novelty mug or a pair of socks, a new study has been published laying into UK dads as spending the least amount of time on shared childcare compared to any other country in the developed world (or at least the 15 countries that featured in the study).

The Independent covered the story with as non-biased a headline as you're ever going to read, and the report stated that UK dads spend just 29 minutes of time with their children for every hour their partners put in (naturally the report didn't cover same-sex marriages but when do they ever!)

Apparently dads fare slightly better on the domestic chores stakes, where we come 5th out of 22 countries surveyed as part of the Fatherhood Institute's "FIFI" (Fairness in Families Index) study. So what are devoted dads to make of these figures?

Sadly it still feels like there's no argument to be made here. Dads are, time and again, seen as the sleeping (or snoozing in front of the telly) partners in a relationship when it comes to childcare and there are a wealth of reasons (not excuses, reasons) for this. Some children are decidedly mum-centric, and are excessively demanding of their mums for one reason or another (In Charlotte's case, it's probably because mum is the 'Sensible' one and dad is a complete gonk most of the time, heart of gold or no).

We have always struggled to maintain a fair balance in our childcare duties and when Charlotte was very small, we split babycare duties as equally as it's possible to split them (obviously there's not much you can do as a dad when it comes to feeding time and your nipples don't work but boy-howdy I could change nappies at the speed of a formula 1 pit-stop by the time Charlotte was old enough to begin potty training).

An extreme example but if there's one change any parent can make for the better, it's to switch their bloody phone off during 'child time' - It drives me MAD seeing parents doing this. 
Even now we take it in turns for bedtime duties, alternating days. At 8 years old Charlotte can do most of the things she needs to do before bed but always needs some parental supervision to make sure teeth are brushed, faces are washed and of course there's no way on this earth we'd miss out on bedtime storytime and of course we both kiss / cuddle her goodnight. So where does the disparity in time actually come from? In our case I'd probably estimate that it's closer to 45 minutes than 29 and that's with a supreme effort on my part to ensure that I do as much as I can. I only get to pick Charlotte up from school once a week rather than twice, I don't directly drop her off in the mornings but during our tiny amounts of spare time I'd say I just about manage to catch up (of course the blog doesn't write itself so there's a lot of book time). There are just those moments when only mum will do. This doesn't mean that Charlotte is missing out at all, so the report seems to try and paint a rather black and white picture of a problem that in most cases just doesn't exist through some lack of attention or bone idleness.

The phone thing though. That is the one area where just about any modern parent could make a vast improvement. Each and every time we go anywhere, whether it's to the local sports centre or for a day out I lose count of the amount of parents (not just dads, both parents) who stare vacantly at their phone screen while their kids are merrily getting up to all sorts mostly unchecked or with a cursory and lax whiny "Tommy, stop dipping your little brother in that vat of sulphuric acid" before their attention is diverted straight back to that vastly important social media update about some mate's new barbecue or pair of shoes.

I wonder if the Fatherhood Institute has ever considered conducting a study of the difference in parental attention in families who switch off the phone as soon as they get home, and leave it switched off (I now do this as a matter of course because I realised just how bloody RUDE it actually is to be sitting there using your phone while your child is busying themselves doing their homework or in those rare moments actually playing and being a child).

It is an interesting article but as I said at the top of this blog post, it is extremely difficult not to see that there are improvements to be made. So this father's day when your child presents you with a card they've poured their heart and soul into drawing for you, and lovingly bestows upon you a gift they've chosen themselves, make the day theirs rather than yours and reap the rewards of spending a day of quality time with your child (and FFS SWITCH OFF THE DAMNED PHONE!!!)

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Hiding Heidi by Fiona Woodcock (Simon and Schuster Children's Books)

An extremely well observed and luxuriously beautiful book? Meet "Hiding Heidi" by Fiona Woodcock...
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Mr Moon Wakes Up by Jemima Sharpe (Child's Play)

Child's Play have a fantastic reputation for publishing gloriously original books that draw you in and make you wish you could 'live' in that bookworld...
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A fab "Dad Book" roundup ahead of Fathers Day, 19th June 2016

Welcome to our picture book roundup with a batch of fabulous dad-centric picture books.

Dads often get a raw deal in books, it's quite often annoying (as a Dad) to see dads used as the comedy foil, the greedy guts, the "thicko" who always gets things wrong so this time we're on the lookout for books that ditch that rubbish old cliche and show dads like us, dads who get involved and parent, dads who are hilarious and funny without being stupid, and dads who rock!!

So let's kick off with "School for Dads" by Adam and Charlotte Guillain with illustrations by Ada Grey. A fun rhyming romp as Dads are drafted into "Dad School" - just to show that there's more to them than staring at their phones or watching the footie.

A wonderful and energetic book (and let's face it, just about every dad out there will confirm that being a dad means there's never a dull moment), "School for Dads" is out now from Egmont Publishing.

Another cool dad book, this one for younger readers...

"The Best Bit of Daddy's Day" by Claire Alexander is a really heartwarming and lovely book chock full of gorgeous illustrations. Dad and Pup head their separate ways at the start of a busy day. Daddy goes off to work on a building site as a crane driver, and Bertie goes off to school.

Bertie wants to drive trucks and big machines just like his dad when he grows up, and he loves climbing the climbing frame at school just so he can get a glance at Dad at work. Can he spot Bertie waving?

A perfectly lovely little story for dad to read to you before bedtime.

"The Best Bit of Daddy's Day" by Claire Alexander is out now from Egmont Publishing.

A brave dad next, and a brave bear cub are out for a very exciting adventure!

In "A Brave Bear" by Sean Taylor and Emily Hughes, a big burly grizzly bear and his adorable little cub decide to go on a journey of fun and discovery through the forest.

There are trees to be climbed, fish to be caught and even when little bear grazes his knee, Dad is on hand to kiss it better. The brave little bear cub doesn't let a little bump ruin their perfect day together, and they cuddle up for a well earned nap at the end of their day.

A really touching little book, beautifully written and observed with stunning illustrations from Emily Hughes.

"A Brave Bear" is out now from Walker Books.

One final one for our roundup, and we're sticking with bears for the moment...

"Amazing Daddy" by Rachel Bright features a lovely plump panda and his little cub, and is a riotous celebration of all the things that make dads great to be around, completely crazy and always full of energy.

The big bold illustrations are perfect for younger readers, and the easy flowing rhymes are awesome fun to read aloud.

"Amazing Daddy" is out now from Hodder Children's Books.

Whatever you and your daddy do on Father's Day, have loads of fun and work some brilliant books in there somewhere. You know we will be!

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Wednesday 15 June 2016

Open Up, Please! (A Minibombo Book) by Silvia Borando and Lorenzo Clerici (Walker Books)

Stimulating curiosity while imparting a nice moral message, here's "Open Up, Please!" by Silvia Borando and Lorenzo Clerici
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Max and Bird by Ed Vere (Picture Puffin)

Ed Vere's awesome kitten hero is back for a new book, and this time he's brought a friend along...
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Tuesday 14 June 2016

Home by Carson Ellis (Walker Books)

Where is home for you? Do you live in a house? a flat? an igloo?
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