Friday 30 December 2016

Once again it's that time of the year where we chew over our 2016 blogging efforts. Our 2016 Book of the Year / Publisher of the Year Awards!

It's almost time to say "So Long 2016, We Hardly Knew Ye!" and though in some respects it's been a bit of a sucky year (particularly for how many awesome celebrities we lost during the year) it's been one heck of a bumper year for books. Again. Honestly, we just do not know how you authors, artists, publishers and PRs do it.

So this is our chance to pay it forward a bit, summarising all of the Book of the Week winners, naming our Publisher of the Year and then (drum roll) our own personal choices for Book of the Year.

So without further ado, let's get this show under way with a few interesting numbers and stats for the year.

Our 'Most Read' Blog Post of the Year was a post about Deborah Patterson's awesome "Write your Own" series of books with 503 unique hits.

Blog total hits per month average at around 17,503 - varying greatly during hot weather (which we TOTALLY get - I mean who wants to be stuck indoors reading blog posts when you can be outside sunning yourself!)

October was again our busiest month with 58 reviews and articles. (October seems to be the busiest month every year, probably because of the big publishing "Back to School" push and prep for the Christmas run-up.

In total we've read and reviewed at least 600 books this year (that's obviously just the stuff we've covered on the blog - amazingly we do find time to read other books too!)

This year we put 90 Books in our hallowed 'Book of the Week' slots. Sometimes we had to double or triple each week's winners purely because there were just too many good books to miss any out.

A stunning 42 publishers / imprints published the books that made the 'Book of the Week' slot. (Many for the first time or with their first published titles so a huge well done to all the newcomers).

Fiction Titles blitzed it this year though a significant number of 'Book of the Week' winners were excellent non-fiction titles (though to be fair, on balance, we do receive more fiction than non-fiction titles).

A number of Recipe Books made the list for the first time - in fact this has been the first year we've seen significant growth in the number of child-friendly cook books being published by major publishers (a trend we hope continues in 2017)

We had our first YA Book of the Week Winner. We will be increasing our coverage of chapter books for middle grade and Young Adults in 2017.

Overall, many of the 'Book of the Week' winners were comics and graphic novels for kids - with the quality getting better and better every year thanks to publishers like Drawn and Quarterly, David Fickling Books, Titan Publishing and First Second. Again this is a trend we hope to see continuing in 2017.

Pirates and Princesses seem to be about done - but never say never! Space books were also (sadly) less in evidence this year though there were still one or two corkers in our overall list.

We predict that Natural History titles and Science / STEM titles will be big again in 2017. The quality of NH and Science books has been getting better and better with lots of new imprints and publishers scoring success with their fantastic books this year.

Books for Girls / Books for Boys look to be pretty much dead in the water. Let's see if we can make it through the whole of 2017 without seeing any more!

OK, on with the winners!

All our Book of the Week winners for 2016: 


"How to Find Gold" by Viviane Schwarz (Walker Books)

"Ralf" by Jean Jullien and Gwendal Le Bec (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

"The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens" by Phil Szostak (Abrams)

"Rabbit and Bear Book 1" by Julian Gough and Jim Field (Hodder Children's Books)

"Tamsin and the Deep" by Neill Cameron and Kate Brown (David Fickling Books)


"Don't Call me Choochie Poo!" by Sean Taylor and Kate Hindley (Walker Books)

"Study Halls of Justice" by Derek Fridolfs and Dustin Nguyen (Scholastic)

"Little People Big Dreams Coco Chanel / Frida Kahlo" by Isabel Sanchez Vegara, Ana Albero and Gee Fan Eng (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

"The Chief Cellist" by Wenhua Wang, Amann Wang and Yu Yan Chen (Balestier Press)

"Mr Horton's Violin" by Wenhua Wang, Amann Wang and Yu Yan Chen (Balestier Press)

"Bod and Breakfast" and "Bod and the Cake" by Michael and Joanne Cole (Egmont Publishing)

"Little Home Bird" by Jo Empson (Child's Play)


"Miro's Magic Animals" by Antony Penrose (Thames and Hudson)

"Knight and Dragon" by Matt Gibbs and Bevis Musson (Improper Books)

"Lionheart" by Richard Collingridge (David Fickling Books)

"Claude: Going for Gold" by Alex T. Smith (Hodder Children's Books)

"Lois Lane: Fallout" by Gwenda Bond (Curious Fox)

"Polly and the Puffin" by Jenny Colgan and Thomas Docherty (Little, Brown)

"Veronica" by Roger Duvoisin (Bodleian Library Press)


"Albert's Tree" by Jenni Desmond (Walker Books)

"Red's Planet" by Eddie Pittman (Amulet / Abrams)

"Von Doogan and the Great Air Race" by the Etherington Brothers (David Fickling Books)

"Asterix and the Missing Scroll" by Ferri and Conrad (Orion Children's Books)

"Swap" by Steve Light (Walker Books)

"The Forest Feast for Kids" by Erin Gleeson (Abrams Books)

"Dear Greenpeace" by Simon James (Walker Books)


"The Bear and the Piano" by David Litchfield (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

"Alison Hubble" by Allan Ahlberg and Bruce Ingman (Picture Puffin)

"Sir Charlie Stinky Socks and the Mummy's Gold" by Kristina Stephenson (Egmont Publishing)

"Chineasy Everyday" by Shaolan Hsueh and Noma Bar (Thames and Hudson)

"Harold's Hungry Eyes" by Kevin Waldron (Phaidon)

"Nara and the Island" by Dan Ungureneau (Andersen Children's Books)

"The Sky Guys" by Madeleine Rogers (Mibo)


"Mega Robo Bros Book 1" by Neill Cameron (David Fickling Books)

"How to Look After your Human" by Maggie Mayhem, Kim Sears and Helen Hancocks (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

"Claude All At Sea" by Alex T. Smith (Hodder Children's Books)

"Maisy Goes to Bed" by Lucy Cousins (Walker Books)

"The Cantankerous Crow" by Lennart Hellsing and Poul Stroyer (Thames and Hudson)

"Can I build another me?" by Shinsuke Yoshitake (Thames and Hudson)

"Under Earth, Under Water" By Aleksandra Mizielinski and Daniel Mizielinski (Templar Publishing)


"Bunny vs Monkey Book 3" by Jamie Smart (David Fickling Books)

"Club Life in Moomin Valley" by Tove Jansson (Drawn and Quarterly)

"Anna and Froga Out and About" by Anouk Ricard (Drawn and Quarterly)

"Natural World: A Visual Compendium" by Amanda Wood, Mike Jolley and Owen Davey (Wide Eyed Editions)

"They All Saw a Cat" by Brendan Wenzell (Chronicle Books)

"The Kew Gardens Children's Cookbook" by Caroline Craig and Joe Archer (Wayland)

"The Truth About my Unbelievable Summer" by Davide Cali and Benjamin Chaud (Chronicle Books)

"The Art of Loish" by Lois Van Baarle (3DTotal Publishing)

"Modern Cartooning" by Chris Hart (Watson Guptil)

"Fox and Goldfish" by Nils Pieters (Book Island)


"Lost Tales" By Adam and Lisa Murphy (David Fickling Books)

"Vincent's Starry Night and Other Stories" by Michael Bird and Kate Evans (Laurence King)

"Sleeping Beauty" by Lynn Roberts-Maloney and David Roberts (Pavilion)

"Cool Mythology"  by Malcolm Croft and Damien Weighhill (Portico)

"I Can Make my Own Accessories" by Georgia Vaux and Louise Scott-Smith (Thames and Hudson)

"The Deluxe Collection Volume 1 and 2" by Lorenzo Etherington (Lulu)

"The Dragons Hoard and Other Stories" by Lari Don and Cate James (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

"Home Lab: Exciting Experiments for Budding Scientists" by Dr Robert Winston (Dorling Kindersley)


"Ada Twist, Scientist" by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts (Abrams Books)

"Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World" by Kate Pankhurst (Bloomsbury Children's Books)

"Pinball Science" by Ian Graham, Nick Arnold and Owen Davey (Templar)

"Hilda and the Stone Forest" by Luke Pearson (Flying Eye Books)

"The Storm Whale in Winter" by Benji Davies (Simon and Schuster Children's Books)

"The Raven: Popup Edition" by Edgar Allan Poe, David Pelham and Christopher Wormell (Abrams)

"Botanicum: Welcome to the Museum" by Professor Kathy Willis and Katie Scott (Big Picture Press)

"The Pressed Fairy Journal of Madeline Cottington" by Brian and Wendy Froud (Abrams Books)

"Pablo and his Chair" by Delphine Perret (Princeton Architectural Press)

"The Velveteen Rabbit" by Margery Williams and Sarah Massini (Nosy Crow)

"How to Hide a Lion at School" by Helen Stephens (Scholastic)


"Ludwig the Space Dog" by Henning Lohlein (Templar Publishing)

"Illuminature" by Rachel Williams and Carnovsky (Wide Eyed Editions)

"Highest Mountain, Deepest Ocean" by Kate Baker and Page Tsou (Big Picture Press)

"Lesser Spotted Animals" by Martin Brown (David Fickling Books)

"The Pharaoh's Fate" by Camille Gautier, Stephane Vernet and Margaux Carpenter (B Small Publishing)

"The Dragon Keeper's Handbook" by Katie Haworth and Monica Armino (Templar Publishing)

"That's Not How You Do It" by Ariane Hofmann-Maniyar (Child's Play Publishing)

"Home and Dry" by Sarah Smith (Child's Play Publishing)


"Pandora" by Victoria Turnbull (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

"Migloo's Weekend" by William Bee (Walker Books)

"Ada's Ideas" by Fiona Robinson (Abrams Books)

"The Liszts" by Kyo Maclear and Julia Sarda (Andersen Children's Books)

"Good Dog, Bad Dog: Double Identity" by Dave Shelton (David Fickling Books)

"The Ultimate Book of Space" by Anne-Sophie Baumann and Olivier Latyk (Twirl Publishing)

"Warren the 13th and the Whispering Woods" by Tania Del Rio and Will Staehle (Quirk Books)

"Great Grammar Book" and "Terrific Times Tables Book" by Kate Petty and Jennie Maizels (Walker Books)

"The Land of Nod" by Robert Louis Stevenson and Robert Hunter (Flying Eye Books)


"Raven Child and the Snow Witch" by Linda Sunderland and Daniel Egneus (Templar Publishing)

"The Queen's Present" by Steve Antony (Hodder Children's Books)

"King Baby" by Kate Beaton (Walker Books)

"Klutz Crazy Lego Contraptions" by Doug Stillinger (Klutz Publishing)

PHEW! Hopefully I didn't miss any!

So on to our Publisher / Imprint of the Year award. This traditionally goes to the Publisher or Imprint that has snagged the most Book of the Week winners in a given year and this year was very hotly contested and extremely closely fought.

There can be only one winner in this category though. This year we'll run the top three in reverse order so in JOINT THIRD PLACE: 

Congratulations to Abrams Publishing and Frances Lincoln Childrens Books each with 6 Book of the Week Winners in 2016.


Huge congratulations to David Fickling Children's Books with 8 Book of the Week winners in 2016

But our Publisher of the Year with a whopping 9 Book of the Week winners in 2016. Huge huge congratulations to WALKER BOOKS!

Now to our Book of the Year choices. Each year both Charlotte and I choose a particular book from our Book of the Week list to crown overall winner.

This has been SO TOUGH TO DECIDE and it never seems to get easier each year we sit down with our colossal list.

So first my choice. A book that actually could have easily been the Book of the Year for both of us - it's that good. Striking a gothic pose with a very peculiar but utterly awesome family and their mysterious visitor...

Ladies and Gentlemen, Daddy's Book of the Year is "The Liszts" by Kyo Maclear and Julia Sarda (Andersen Children's Books)

Well done Kyo and Julia and congratulations to Andersen Children's Books!

Now the most important choice - Charlotte's Book of the Year. She ummed and ahhed, cogitated, mused and muttered over which book to choose but this was an early favourite and she stuck to her guns for pretty much the whole year despite some very stiff competition from other gorgeous books.

The strips in The Phoenix Comic have consistently got better and better, raising the sort of issues that comics are so brilliant at dealing with in a way that makes kids (and adults) take notice. Best of all, as Charlotte points out, this is a comic that feels like it was written for her, hitting spot on the sort of issues that are prevalent in school and at home (though we're thankfully blessed in not owning a Sartre-quoting depressive robot penguin!)

Charlotte's Book of the Year Choice for 2016 is...

Congratulations to Neill Cameron and The Phoenix / David Fickling Books who have put comics firmly at the top our agenda during 2016. It was a very very tough choice this year with so many books from our Book of the Week schedules easily being stunning enough to be BOTY winners. But we could only choose one each so here we are!

So another year down - and we're looking forward to 2017 with renewed gusto! A huge thanks to all the hard working PRs, the publishers, and of course the authors and artists, designers, photographers and all the other wonderful booky folk who make children's publishing what it is - and make blogging about children's books such a huge joy every single year.

Congratulations to all and we'll see you next year!

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Saturday 24 December 2016

Bonus Christmas Eve Booky Advent Calendar - "Snow Day" by Richard Curtis and Rebecca Cobb (Picture Puffin)

It's Christmas Eve, and you get a double dose of Booky Advent calendar today, a bit like that extra-big choc or picture you get on your proper advent calendar.

We're returning to a book we reviewed back in 2014 because we dug it out again recently. I was probably a bit unfair in my original review because I'm actually allergic to Richard Curtis (and I've got a medical certificate to prove it) and the inevitable Christmas showing of "Love, Actually" is to be avoided at all costs (even though my lovely wife will try and tempt me into watching it).

But both Charlotte and I ADORE Rebecca Cobb's work, and her books have been a staple part of Charlotte's growing up.

In "Snow Day" something quite miraculous happens (well it'd be a bloomin' miracle if it ever happened here, let's put it that way). The world awakens to a thick snowfall, and as everyone gets a text message or an email to tell them that the school is closed, two folk miss the memo and head off into the snowy town as usual.

One is a teacher, a fairly strict fellah named Mr Trapper. The other is a boy called Danny, who is Mr Trapper's least favourite pupil (and vice versa, Danny really doesn't like Mr Tapper at all).

The teacher has to stay in school because there's a pupil present, and Danny has to stay in school because his parents are away and his aunt has already left the house. So the two of them are stuck in a snow-bound school enduring the day's lessons.

At least that's how it starts out, but as soon as Danny rushes into the playground to build a snowman at playtime, Mr Trapper comes out of his shell, showing Danny the "proper" way to make a snowman.

From thereon in, the lessons change - they raid the science class to eat all the jelly babies holding together the atom models, they go skating and skiing on books from the library (HERESY!) and build a fabulous igloo.

All too soon the day is over, and the next day all the snow is melted so both are back at school along with all the rest of the teachers and pupils. Mr Trapper seems to have reverted to his normal grumpy self, but as soon as he puts Danny in detention for slouching, the "Snow Boys" reunite and their bond of friendship is once again shared over some rather special plans for the next snow day (we won't spoil things too much for you on what they build!)

You can read our original review here. It was fantastic to find that this story had actually stood the test of time, and Charlotte still enjoyed it. I might be slightly biased but I think the whole thing hangs off Rebecca's brilliant illustrations, though the story is a rather heartwarming snowy one that's perfect for this time of year.

"Snow Day" by Richard Curtis and Rebecca Cobb is out now, published by Picture Puffin (and kindly sent for review). 
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Booky Advent Calendar: Christmas Eve - "ANNUALS!"

Every single year without fail from about the age of 0 to about the age of 15 I got an annual for Christmas...
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Friday 23 December 2016

Booky Advent Calendar Book of the Week - Week Ending 23rd December 2016 - "Klutz Lego Crazy Action Contraptions Book Kit" by Doug Stillinger (Klutz Publishing)

It's Christmas Eve Eve and we've got a rather special Booky Advent Calendar Book of the Week for our penultimate review of 2016...
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Thursday 22 December 2016

10 Booky New Year's Resolutions we might have to make in 2017

New Year's Resolutions suck don't they? Every year it's the same old stuff. Eat healthier (poo to that), lose some weight (yawn), get fitter (waves hand indeterminately in the air). We'd much rather make some resolutions about books so here's 10 resolutions (five of the best from both of us) that we're going to try and make in 2017.

From Charlotte first...

1) Finish more books

Little Madam can't resist diving into a new book the minute it arrives. The problem with that is that I virtually have to hide ALL NEW BOOKS until the current favourite is done and dusted.

To be fair, Charlotte gets through a ton more books than I do, and definitely far more than I did at her age so this should be a really easy new year's resolution for her to stick to. Picture books? Pah, easy peasy, bring on the big thick wordy stuff!

2) Read less at the table

Hmm, this is a tough one as Charlotte nearly always likes to read over breakfast, mostly through
lunch, over dinner.

Food and books can be fun, but food on books? Not so much! Also it means that sometimes it can take her half an hour to eat a bowl of cereal and enjoy her morning mug of cocoa - while the rest of the house are frantically trying to get themselves together for the school run and work run.

This is going to be a tough one, because if there's one thing I really hate doing it's discouraging reading - even while you're scoffing!

3) Ditch the junk books

You know the ones. Those books (and magazines / comics) that your child will always make a grab for in the bookstore or supermarket.

Most of them don't hit the blog for one reason or another but we might just dig a few of them out for 2017 as I'm determined that we're going to balance the good and the bad a bit more.

As much as I hate those really awful plastic tat or TV / Movie based mags, Charlotte still has a guilty affinity for them so I'm going to try and wean her off them and onto cooler stuff during the year.

4) Unleash my creativity

I love drawing and painting. Charlotte loves drawing and painting. We draw and paint a lot but 'real life' has a habit of getting in the way (have you seen the insane amount of homework kids get these days?)

The pressure is on at school to achieve greatness in everything related to sport and other subjects but art always gets shoved to the back of the shelf. Along with Charlotte I'm going to put aside more time for drawing and painting, and hopefully do some classes or courses together outside of school. Hooray!


Well this one's going to be the easiest of all. Polishing off more than 600 books last year, and with the overall number of books reviewed on the blog fast approaching 3000, it's going to be a breeze to better that number next year.

(The only problem is poor Daddy having to type all those reviews up!)

Now Daddy's 5 New Years Booky Resolutions

1) Read outside my comfort zone

I am notoriously bad at this but one or two books have fetched up this year that are books that I normally wouldn't have touched with a 50 ft barge pole but have enjoyed immensely.

Sticking to a fairly rigid diet of Sci Fi and Fantasy stuff, but also dabbling with crime noir, I could do with reaching for something outside those genres from time to time just to remind myself that the greatest stories are often the ones you least expect to find a path through.

I probably still won't read any more Dan Brown though. Sorry, but that ship has long since sailed.

2) Get out and meet more book folk

I probably make this booky new year's resolution every year and work / life always has a habit of getting in the way.

We did manage to meet some lovely folk in 2016 (was awesome to finally meet Neill Cameron, Author / comic illustrator of such awesomeness as Mega Robo Bros and Mo-Bot High) but we could do better in 2017, we will do better and we might even brave the massed throngs at a book fest or three.

3) Get podcasting

Vlogging? Hah that's for prettier folk than me but for a while we've been talking about putting some Podcasts together for the blog.

Would anyone want to listen to us talking about books?

I've been slowly piecing together some bits and bobs to use in a podcast or two so early in 2017 we're going to give it a go, and work through a pile of books talking about them, being silly and serious about them, and hopefully you might just tune in!

4) Less tweeting, more Dadding

Sometimes in the evening, our scene of domestic bliss consists of Mum (on her phone), me (on my phone) and Charlotte (nose buried in a book). I made an attempt to switch my phone off as soon as I got home from work last year but it dwindled off into the mists of good intentions.

I (well, WE) need to get back on that in 2017 because it's no way to spend the few precious hours we get in an evening when work and school are on the go. Ditch the mobile, stop tweeting rubbish, get on that dad thang!


Yeah, we can do this. I can do this too! I've covered a few "Daddy After Dark" books on the blog as well as the children's books, so I can stop procrastinating and start polishing off my own booky pile of shame too.

I'd imagine quite a few children's book bloggers often neglect their own reading because they're working their way through children's stuff (particularly when you start covering chapter books), so making more time for books that I haven't read yet that are still on my 'to do' pile is a must!

I hope you've enjoyed our New Years Book Resolutions - have you got one? Feel free to tell us about it in the comments below!
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Booky Advent Calendar Day 22: "The Polar Express" by Chris Van Allsburg (Andersen Press)

Day 22 on our Booky Advent Calendar and the big day is SO CLOSE now..!
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Wednesday 21 December 2016

Booky Advent Calendar Day 21: "Katie's London Christmas" by James Mayhew (Orchard Books)

For Day 21 on our Advent Calendar, a magical trip to one of our favourite festive destinations...!
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Tuesday 20 December 2016

Booky Advent Calendar Day 20: "When It Snows" by Richard Collingridge (David Fickling Books)

For Booky Advent Calendar Day 20 we're revisiting a book that we've included in our Christmas round-up every year since it was published...
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Monday 19 December 2016

Booky Advent Calendar Day 19 - "Home Alone - The Classic Illustrated Storybook" by John Hughes and Kim Smith (Quirk books)

There are certain movies that just 'have to be done' around this time of year...
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Sunday 18 December 2016

Booky Advent Calendar Day 18: Norton and Alpha by Kristyna Litten (Simon and Schuster Children's Books)

We're on Day 18 of our Booky Advent Calendar and though we've been straying away from festive books we're still dead set on bringing you brilliant books to stuff in a stocking...
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Saturday 17 December 2016

Booky Advent Calendar Day 17: "I Love you Baby" by Claire Freedman and Judi Abbot (Simon and Schuster Children's Books)

A super special preview of a title that's not actually out until March 2017 is our Booky Advent calendar title behind door number 17...
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Friday 16 December 2016

Booky Advent Calendar Book of the Week - Week Ending 16th December 2016 - "King Baby" by Kate Beaton (Walker Books)

We're sneaking this one in as a bit of a cheeky Nativity reference. Our Booky Advent Calendar Book of the Week this week is "King Baby" by Kate Beaton...
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Thursday 15 December 2016

Bonus ReaditTorial: Ten things that may happen in the bookworld in 2017...

I know, I know. I said last week's ReadItTorial would be the last one of 2016 but we're rubbing our crystal ball and casting our eyes forward for some fun faux predictions about children's books that may or may not happen in 2017.

Without further ado, and in no particular order, let's roll 'em on!

1) POTUS will write a children's picture book that will only sell 3 copies. 

Yes indeed, we're talking about the current President Elect, soon to be President, the most orange man on the planet (apart from "that bloke off The Only Way is Essex that we can never remember the name of") will pen an amusing children's tale called "Yosski the Russian Black Bear", a touching and somewhat bittersweet tale about a bear who becomes a successful businessman by eating everyone else in the forest and stealing all their things.

Publishers HarBarNarNar were pitched the title late in 2015 before Donald Trump's political success but the book was fast-tracked to cash in on Trump's popularity with younger voters and parents.

Trump's publishing tour comes to an abrupt end when a toddler unceremoniously punches POTUS in the presidential happy sacks after a disappointing storytelling session at a Washington State Ed school.

(Predictably, the book's illustrator doesn't get a credit on the cover or in any ad or PR material).

2) Someone writes a middle grade fiction title where a child actually doesn't move house, start a new school and make a new friend that's actually an enemy but ends up as a friend. 

Lucy Gorman-Hyde's "I'm just an ordinary kid" is a runaway success, something of a sales phenomenon as children immediately identify with the main character Sessie, a girl who lives in the house she grew up in, has been comfortably at the same school for the last umpteen years, has normal friends and shows no aspirations to becoming a child detective.

When interviewed in May alongside the book's release in paperback, Lucy attributes the book's success to children identifying with Sessie's completely normal and utterly mind crushingly boring life of attending school, doing shedloads of homework, never having enough time to play in the evenings (let alone become a junior detective) and spending weekends collapsing in an exhausted heap in front of countless 80s movies reruns on ITV2.

3) The world's first "lift the flap" sex education and health title for children is published in conjunction with the UK Government. 

Part of a Department of Health initiative to tackle "Abhorrent Sexual Health Teaching Practices", the illustrated non-fiction title "Hoo Hoo Dilly and Cha-Cha: Together at Last!" is published. The book uses a set of fictional characters to cover important matters such as what type of Gooseberry Bush babies can commonly be found under, the post-natal role of the stork, and how you'll basically burn in the eternal fires of damnation if you see a lady's ankle or a man's unshaven chin before marriage.

Government-sponsored agency-obtained sales statistics published in the summer claim the book is a runaway success and has genuinely made a huge difference in schools.

4) First christmas title for Christmas 2017 received by book bloggers on Jan 5th. 

In a shock move, book bloggers receive the final release proofs of "Santa Banter" by Daphne Stewpot, scheduled for release on December 6th, 2017... on 5th January 2017! The story is an entertaining and chaotic tale of a cockney Santa and his unlikely sidekick, a Nandos-loving Turkey, and their quest to deliver presents across the world in a clapped-out Jaguar MK V. The book receives rave reviews, mostly thanks to the four bottles of Baileys Irish Cream bundled with the PR package.

5) Netflix makes a shock move into Children's Book Publishing. 

Netflix, online waste-o'-time streaming telly service gives the phrase "Netflix and Chill" a whole new meaning with the service's first foray into children's book publishing.

The initial publication lineup features a dazzling array of children's book series culled from favourite authors and illustrators across the globe, wowing book fans and reviewers but ensures that they only ever publish the first book in each series before letting newly formed Sky Children's Publishing hoover up the rest of the titles in the series to be sold at a ridiculously overpriced rate.

6) "Horrible Histories" skips the 2016 edition of the popular history series after complaints from parents that the book is too upsetting for children and adults alike. 

The popular humorous history non-fiction series removes a special "2016" edition from publication after many consumer complaints about horrific scenes far worse than "the one about medieval people eating dung". Terry Deary and Martin Brown unavailable for comment.

7) Tom Baker returns to helm "The Book Tower" - a revival of the classic children's TV show about awesome books. 

(Yeah I know, this is never going to happen but hey, at least we live in hope!)

8) The BBC announces its Christmas Children's Animation for Xmas 2017.

"The Lord of the Flies" by William Golding is the next children's book to get the animated christmas classic treatment. The story is heavily abridged, featuring the knockabout adventures of Piggy, Jack and Ralph on a fun-packed island full of cute furry creatures - which Piggy, Jack and Ralph proceed to hunt and subsequently eat, in tune with a selection of upbeat orchestral and dance numbers. Martin Freeman, Julian Clary and James Corden provide the voices of Ralph, Jack and Piggy.

The animated special is shown directly after the Queen's Speech attracting 13.7 million viewers.

9) Exclusive hipster clothing company YakaWaka announces line of children's picture book based fashion for "folk who know where it's at"

YakaWaka, famed for inventing the three legged trouser suit, roll out their lineup of children's literature-based clothing at the 2017 Paris Fashion Show.

Taking their inspiration directly from famous children's books, the team of talented designers have come up with a striped sneed (a cross between a snood and a scarf) based on the Dr Seuss Books, a grubby pair of shorts that wouldn't look out of place on Just William, and a T Shirt featuring all of the characters from "The Emperor's New Clothes" but selling for the extortionate price of £14,195 each (shirt does not include sleeves, front or back).

10) Heston's first children's cookbook panned by kid reviewers and book critics (panned? See what we did there?)

Famed culinary scientist and chef Heston Blumenthal publishes his first children's cookbook, carrying forward his core belief in combining odd food combinations as part of his quest to improve our appreciation of flavour.

Heston's recipes are criticised for "not being weird enough" by most kids, who are used to eating bacon-flavoured custard, choc ice and chips or curried fish fingers as part of their everyday diet.

One recipe for a simple vegetable casserole containing potatoes, carrots, onions and peas draws the most criticism, described by one 8 year old reviewer as "SPEW! I wouldn't even feed that disgusting combination to my pet rabbit BB-8!"

BONUS NUMBER 11) Book folk continue to be the most awesome force on the planet, and the most fun to follow or talk to on Twitter in 2017.

Well, we had to include at least ONE thing that had an outside chance of being true, didn't we?

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Booky Advent Calendar Day 15: "I Don't Know What to Call my Cat" by Simon Philip and Ella Bailey (Simon and Schuster Children's Books)

Cats and Dogs get almost equal coverage on the blog but today we're clawing one back for the kitties (did you see what we did there?)
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ReadItDaddy's last Chapter Book Roundup of 2016. Here's December's fun-packed book bag of win!

As the snow gently falls outside, and Santa is making his final preparations for "The Big Drop" as he likes to call it, we're delving into our book sack for one last final Chapter Book Roundup for 2016.

We're pulling out all the stops - all of them - to bring you book-sized brilliance and with a few days left of Christmas Shopping still left to do, we're pretty sure you'll find room for some of these in your stockings! Admittedly they might not all be festive christmas crackers but they're sure to win your kids over (and give them something that'll last beyond Boxing Day - which is more than you can say for that weird self-hatching egg thing you bought for them off Ebay for the price of a medium range sports car!)

So let's kick off with a couple of classic Christmas books from Scholastic!

First off, the man who pretty much invented Christmas as we know it. Charles Dickens' timeless classic "A Christmas Carol" is given a fantastic new cover as part of the Scholastic Classics range.

The tale of Ebeneezer Scrooge is well known and well loved, as the miserly old man battens down the hatches for Christmas - and is visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future.

Dipping into this one again for the purpose of the review, it's amazing how atmospheric and brilliant it still feels even after so many readings (I think I lost count of how many times this book was covered in school). It was a delight to introduce it to Charlotte (who actually found quite a lot of it spooky and scary).

It's a brilliant new version as plump as a christmas pud, and ready for a special yuletide reading.

"A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens is out now, published by Scholastic. 

Sticking with Scholastic and classic stories, there's also this festively coloured compilation of all the best Christmassy bits of many well-loved novels.

"Christmas Stories" gathers together tantalising snippets from tales such as Pickwick Papers, Little Women, The Gift and many many others.

Bound together in a glorious red and snowy cover, it's a delight to polish off one or two of these before hot cocoa and bedtime. We really enjoyed delving into this one and I'm pretty sure we'll manage to read a few more bits before the big day arrives.

Scholastic has a huge range of Christmas books but this is definitely one of our favourites, a really great idea though I think there's room for a more up-to-date version with bits of all our favourite modern christmas stories compiled in a similar way.

"Christmas Stories" from Scholastic is also out now. 

Next up, a kid detective with street smarts? How can you resist!

Meet "Howard Wallace P.I", a thrilling novel by Casey Lyall.

Twelve-year-old Howard Wallace lives by his list of rules of private investigation. He knows more than anyone how to work with what he s got: a bathrobe for a trench coat, a makeshift office behind the school equipment shed, and not much else least of all, friends.

So when a hot case of blackmail lands on his desk, he's ready to take it on himself...until the new kid, Ivy Mason, convinces him to take her on as a junior partner.

As they banter through stakeouts and narrow down their list of suspects, Howard starts to wonder if having Ivy as a sidekick and a friend is such a bad thing after all.

Perfect for kids who love a good mystery, and we actually think Ivy is a bit of a scene-stealer in this one so maybe she'll get her own detective series one day.

"Howard Wallace, PI" is out now from Sterling Publishing. 

Next on our Christmas list, a new Jaqueline Wilson book you say? Oh my, that's a cause for celebration...!

"Clover Moon" by Jaqueline Wilson (with illustrations by Nick Sharratt) could've almost been written exclusively for Charlotte as it contains two of her favourite things. One, a superb new girl character (Clover Moon herself) and Two, a Victorian London setting. Two things guaranteed to make her sit up and take notice.

So Clover's story begins in poverty and tragedy. Clover feels that there has to be more outside the life she's been dealt, but it could take making a huge sacrifice - and leaving her family behind - for Clover to realise her ambition and allow her imagination to be truly set free.

This is a big thick weighty tome that is perfect for first-time Wilson readers, or even better for long term fans of her brilliant books.

"Clover Moon" by Jaqueline Wilson and Nick Sharratt is out now in Hardback, published by Doubleday.

Another firm favourite is also back for more chaotic antics...

Jeff Kinney's zillion-selling series about an inept book hero is back in "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down".

Greg Heffley is a kid under pressure. His mom thinks video games are turning his brain to mush (What??!?!! We can't have that!) so she wants her son to put down the controller and explore his 'creative side'. Horror of horrors!

As if that's not scary enough, Halloween's just around the corner and the frights are coming at Greg from every angle.

When Greg discovers a bag of gummy worms, it sparks an idea. Can he get his mom off his back by making a movie . . . and will he become rich and famous in the process? Or will doubling down on this plan just double Greg's troubles? Jeff's trademark humour machine-guns its way into your heart as once again Greg struggles to do just what any wimpy kid would do under such circumstances. Curl up under the duvet and hope the world just goes away!

"Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down" by Jeff Kinney is out now, published by Puffin Books. 

More, more, we want more so let's delve deep into the book sack and pull out...

"The Arabian Nights" -a glorious gold-embellished luxury edition of the classic tales, translated by Sir Richard F. Burton. This illustrated edition of the stories would make an amazing christmas gift that would last a young reader well and truly into 2017.

Children may be familiar with Aladdin and his Magic Lamp, Sinbad the Sailor and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves but those are just three of the tales wrapped up in this gorgeous edition.

Over 20 stories in total are packed between these luxurious covers with monochrome and full colour illustrations by Renata Fucikova and Jindra Capek.

Rarely do you get to see a book that's so action-packed and full of adventure and eastern promise so tuck into a big box of Turkish Delight while delving into this fantastic collection.

"The Arabian Nights" by Sir Richard F. Burton is out now, published by Barnes and Noble. 

Have some tissues ready for the next one, it's a bit of an emotional roller coaster...!

Lisa Thompson's awesome "The Goldfish Boy" gets a shiny new cover and a paperback release in January 2017 so start saving your pennies, this one's very special indeed.

It's the story of a 12 year old boy named Matthew who spends his days trapped in his bedroom. Matthew suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and most of the time he can be found staring out of his window as the inhabitants of Chestnut Close go about their daily business.

Matthew soon gets to know all their comings and goings, and daily routines and largely they pass by without noticing him at all.

Until the day he is the last person to see his next door neighbour's toddler, Teddy, before he goes missing!

Matthew must turn detective and unravel the mystery of Teddy's disappearance - with the help of a brilliant richly hewn cast of supporting characters.

Press releases for this book compare it favourably to Mark Haddon's sublime "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" and it is definitely very similar in tone (perhaps a little more child friendly). But it's almost impossible to read without welling up (and you already know what big softies we are).

"The Goldfish Boy" by Lisa Thompson is released in paperback on 5th January 2017, published by Scholastic.  
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Wednesday 14 December 2016

Booky Advent Calendar Day 14: A Child of Books by Sam Winston and Oliver Jeffers (Walker Books)

Once again we're recommending a non-festive book for our Advent Calendar selection, but this one should find its way onto many a christmas list.

Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston have combined their colossal creative talent to write the perfect love letter to books.

Charlotte nodded as soon as she saw the cover of "A Child of Books" because she instantly recognised herself there. She is, indeed, a child of books and in this whirlwind journey you're joining the young girl in the story - just as you've joined Charlotte over the 6 years we've been writing this book blog - to discover the amazing worlds tucked between the pages of a really good story.

Mixing text from classic stories in with the book's minimalist but beautiful illustrations is a stroke of genius, concrete poetry for kids and what a great idea to do that (particularly in the end papers where we read through the massive list of stories there, noting which we'd read and hadn't read).

We were both children of books how could we fail to love this story!
Gathering up a friend to join her on her book journey, the girl whisks him away to lands afar, to challenge beastly monsters and explore distant castles. To rest a moment in a word-scape and calmly survey an amazing scene or two...

Our favourite page spread, just LOOK at that scary beast!
We both loved the contextual use of text in each page spread, delving into stories I love but Charlotte has yet to discover (but fingers crossed one day she will love Dracula and Frankenstein as much as I do!)

It's a feast for the eyes for sure, and a beautifully told homage to stories.

"A Child of Books" is out now, published by Walker Books (Kindly supplied for review)
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Tuesday 13 December 2016

Booky Advent Calendar Day 13: "Willy and the Cloud" by Anthony Browne (Walker Books)

We're mixing a selection of Christmassy and non-Christmassy books for this year's Booky Advent Calendar (mostly because it's a bit of a case of slim pickings trying to find great festive books for middle graders).

Nevertheless we'd still recommend any of our December book reviews as stocking fillers - including this utterly gorgeous new book from an Author-artist who really formed a huge part of Charlotte's early reading journey.

We've reviewed countless Anthony Browne books on the blog and we never tire of his amazingly detailed illustrations, cleverly observed themes and glorious characters.

Willy the Chimpanzee has been the star of many books and in the latest adventure, Willy wants to go out for a stroll and a picnic in the park.

Strangely, as Willy steps out of his front door, the sun is shining everywhere and there's not a cloud in the sky - that is until Willy continues his journey and realises he's being followed. Followed by a cloud.

It hangs over his head, and follows him all the way to the park. Poor Willy must sit in the shivering shade while his Gorilla chums are all excitedly soaking up the sun.

Willy even tries to report the cloud to the police as it follows him home. I'm sure you can imagine how well received that was!

Poor Willy, what is he to do? Well there's only one thing for it - Sing and Dance in the rain!

Anthony Browne is gently alluding to many things in this story. At times it feels like he's writing about anxiety and depression, and Willy's expressions when the cloud is really dogging him reflect that perfectly.

Best of all is the moment when Willy finally realises what he needs to do - and takes those first faltering steps back out of the house. Those are beautiful book moments where you are left in no doubt that Anthony Browne is a master of his trade.

Hooray for Willy and hooray for books that are as touchingly brilliant and beautiful as this.

Charlotte's best bit: Expertly spotting influences of Matisse, Mondrian and William Morris in Willy's friends' clothing (I taught her well, it seems!)

Daddy's favourite bit: A gentle and delicately handled book about depression and anxiety, exquisitely detailed and beautifully told. We always expect brilliance from Anthony and we've never been disappointed yet!

(Kindly supplied for review)

"Willy and the Cloud" by Anthony Browne is out now, published by Walker Books. 
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Monday 12 December 2016

Write-on Wipe-off Learning Cards - Print Writing (Flash Kids Editors / Sterling Publishing)

Here's a fantastic idea to help your kids neaten up their writing, practice their letter shapes or just have some messy fun with a wipeable marker!
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Booky Advent Calendar Day 12 - "The Twelve Days of Christmas" by William Morris and Liz Catchpole (V & A Publishing)

For our 12th day of christmas books, how about a gorgeous version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas".

Taking William Morris designs and using them as the basis for the book, Liz Catchpole has brought her own artwork in and has come up with the most gorgeous illustrative plates for each page spread, beautifully synchronised with Morris's own intricate and detailed work, derived from national collections and of course the V & A's own exhibits of his craft.

I've long been a fan of William Morris (in fact on a daily basis I carry around a William Morris clipboard that my dear Nan gave to me as a kid, usually with a ton of paper clipped to it for sketching).

I love the fact that here was someone pioneering amazing graphic design long before anyone had access to a computer. His perfect eye for symmetry and detail work beautifully with Liz's glorious seasonal designs.

Two Turtle Doves!
As you can see, the Morris designs have been given a really nice textured look in contrast to Liz's sharp artwork.

Such a beautiful version of the traditional Christmas carol
Sumptuously and luxuriously bound in a wonderful cloth cover again mimicking Morris' style perfectly, it's a real Christmas winner that should delight your little ones.

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" is out now, published by V & A Publishing. 
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Sunday 11 December 2016

Booky Advent Calendar Day 11 - Time for some awesome colouring fun with two new Harry Potter-inspired titles from Studio Press

If there's one thing sure to keep kids busy over the festive period when the batteries in their other toys have run down (or been removed by parents who can't stand all the electronic beeping and burping), it's a fantastic colouring book or two.
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Saturday 10 December 2016

Booky Advent Calendar Day 10 - "Snowflake in my Pocket" by Rachel Bright and Yu Rong (Walker Books)

A delicious December-ey book now for our 10th day of Christmas...It's "Snowflake in my Pocket" by Rachel Bright and Yu Rong...
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Friday 9 December 2016

Booky Advent Calendar Book of the Week - Week Ending 9th December 2016 - "The Queen's Present" by Steve Antony (Hodder Children's Books)

Our second Booky Advent Calendar Book of the Week for 2016 is a rollicking romp that we just couldn't resist...
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Thursday 8 December 2016

The rise and rise of "reviews by proxy" sites - good news or bad news for book bloggers? A ReadItTorial

Competition, they say, is healthy. Competition promotes and provokes innovation and change, and can drive markets and individuals to improve what they do - sometimes by subtle force, sometimes not so subtle. Sometimes it can feel like drowning.

This week's ReadItTorial dips into the subject of community review sites which are a bit of a hot topic as more and more consumers come to rely on them to help them make informed purchasing decisions.

"Reviews by Proxy" sites aren't really anything new, in fact they're just about everywhere you look. If you consider a product, consider that somewhere out there on the world wide web someone will have come up with the genius idea of sticking together a reviews site for that product. Everything you spend money on, from getting your tyres changed on your car, to having some poor unfortunate individual unblock your loo invites you - the customer - to share your experience of that service online in some fashion.

Naturally there are lots and lots of book review sites (hey, you're visiting one now!) but the subject of our readitorial today are sites collectively known as 'review by proxy' sites.

Consumer reviews aren't really anything new. Amazon, to a great extent, has become the force to be reckoned with in global book sales not just on price but on the fact that each and every customer has the chance to offer up an opinion on a book (or a set of Pat Butcher fan-art plates) they've bought. It's as simple as logging into your Amazon account and clicking 'write a review' to submit a star-rated opinion of your new purchase.

Authors, artists and publishers have a wide range of opinions on the worth and validity of these reviews. Most authors and artists will find an Amazon review - a positive one at least - to be worth its weight in marketing gold whereas others might just wish certain reviews would evaporate and disappear. There's also a huge question about genuine reviews vs obvious 'seeded' reviews too but that's a whole other debate that we're not really aiming for here.

We've always chosen not to review stuff on Amazon for a couple of good reasons. 1) We run a book reviews blog site. Pretty much a no brainer that we'd rather you came here to read our reviews rather than go to Amazon and generate traffic for them and 2) we get the majority of our books for free so it seems a bit morally wonky to stick up a review of a 'purchase' when you didn't even buy the thing in the first place.

In any arena where the general public are allowed to have their say, you have to be prepared to take the rough with the smooth. Some Amazon reviews are brilliantly written succinct and authoritative pieces that would make any author or artist proud as a 'back of the book' quote. Some are like hurling a cage full of mynah birds down a long flight of stairs while letting your favourite speech recognition software try to distil the resultant squawks.

So it is with the newer 'review by proxy' sites. These are consumer review sites but are subtly different in their genetic makeup. Essentially they start off with a mass mailout to various folk to invite contributions - before establishing themselves as a fully automated method of sharing opinions that's entirely community driven.

I've been struggling to come up with a catchy buzzword for these sites because it feels like they need one. (Proxviews? Revoxies? Come on, someone must be able to do better than me).

Collectively they're like a blog-o-matic machine, somewhere where you can submit an opinion without A) having to go through all the effort of starting a blog, B) having to establish an identity and a 'voice' for that blog, C) having to build a following and a reputation for that blog and finally D) going on bended knees to publishers to grab some books to review for that blog.

Sites such as GoodReads and Kirkus Reviews have been around for quite a while now. Both sites offer a huge number of reviews each day, covering the hugely diverse spectrum of adult and children's books from the very very beginnings of their reading adventures right through to the YA and grown up stuff they'll bury their noses in later on. Sometimes sites do this in conjunction with book charities and other reading organisations to promote diversity and variety, or to hone in on a narrower range of subjects so that they become the 'go-to' for recommendations of a fairly specific type.

Newer sites such as Toppsta have smartly recognised that the whole "Mummy Blogger" phenomenon is a reach seam of content generation to tap into. The site takes a slightly different approach, more like a social media site where each reviewer builds up a 'rep' and a social profile, group or network based around their reading and reviewing habits (which is a fantastic idea that you're probably surprised no one thought of AEONS ago - A facebook for books? How did no one see that sooner?)
For example, parents can write on behalf of their kids (like we do), or teachers can write on behalf of their pupils at school, grandparents for their grandchildren etc.

Each site relies solely on its contributors to provide content in the form of written reviews, which the site then categorises by various criteria.

The site provide the infrastructure but the content is purely down to the community's contributions and that's what makes it even more of a genius idea - ensuring that the site is always full of fresh reviews.

Folk who use the site can also follow each other, like each others reviews (or dislike them) and the whole thing perpetuates itself virtually. For "free".

So back to the original question, do 'review by proxy' sites damage book blogs? Will most book bloggers just end up chucking in the towel to take up residence on Toppsta or a.n.other reviews site instead? After all, why go through the effort of setting up your own blog and watching your hits dwindling to nothing year on year when you can (in 5 minutes flat) set up a profile on someone else's site, and get reviewing straight away!

It's a good question and one that's had us thinking long and hard. With several publishers actually advertising the fact that their titles are covered here (and on other proxy review sites), it feels like this is the future of book blogging - or at least book reviewing.

The main appeal of Toppsta is that a lot of the reviews are "written" by kids (I put "written" in quotes there simply because I know from first hand experience what it's like getting Charlotte to write a review. It's a long painful process so instead the reviews are still distilled from observations and notes made on what she thinks of books rather than watching her painfully peck away at a keyboard for several hours to come up with 50 words that basically say "I like this book, it's really good").

Kid reviews are both awesome and terrible. Some kids are capable of writing a really worthwhile opinion that's going to instantly tell an author, artist or publisher whether they're successfully hitting the right notes. Other kids are sweet and hilarious in what they write (and quite often brutally honest, which is always great to read on any reviews site).

But if there's one thing that review by proxy sites should establish early on, it should be some sort of  'reward programme' for its reviewers.

As an example, Toppsta (and I'm sorry if I keep singling them out but if you're the relatively "new" kid on the block garnering the most attention, that's the way the cookie crumbles alas) do offer the chance to win free books for the best reviews but it's not a done deal that your review will net you prize - though to be fair if you read Toppsta's FAQs they have made it abundantly clear there and have also laid out what their mission statement is plainly and clearly too (other sites should definitely follow by example).


Again with a but - there's one thing kids really do not need to 'get used to' though, it's working for nothing and reviews are work, no matter what your opinion is on the worth of the end result.

It feels exploitative in the same way internships can be in some companies, where an intern is basically brought in for little or no wage to gain some experience - but I guess no one would be quicker than me to point out that in the case of proxy review sites it's all entirely voluntary. No one's actually twisting your arm to write your content and you're free to come and go as you please or even (rather generously) propagate your reviews to other sites (which could lead to another question about the owner of your 'copy' but I wouldn't even want to try and legally pick that one apart).

It sounds a little selfish to imply that all parents and kids, teachers and grandparents should begin by asking "What's in it for me?" when someone asks you to write something for nothing, based on something you own. But let's get this straight. No site will survive without content, and you are providing that content and also giving up your most valuable commodity often for nothing.


Your time.

Your time which could be spent doing a multitude of other things - playing, climbing trees, riding a scooter or (heh) reading fantastic books. Without a huge willing free workforce to provide content, any site would be dead in the water within a very small space of time.

As well as asking "What's in it for me?" I guess you should also be asking "What's in it for them?" - After all they're footing the bill, going through all the hard work of setting up a site, registering with ISPs, hiring (we hope hiring) graphic designers and writers to make sure the site pops. So what IS in it for them?

Of course there is a buck to be made from advertising revenues, click-through 'buy a book' links (Again, very nice to see that Toppsta uses rather than Amazon which is a step in the right direction) otherwise sites just wouldn't bother would they?

So you can see the worth in establishing a brilliant social presence based on a love of books for all the other rewards setting up such a site will bring. Once again I really do wish to make it clear that there are many, many review by proxy sites out there all working towards the same aim of self-sustenance through content contribution and though I've mentioned Toppsta a lot here as one of the better examples of the direction you'd hope these sites will go in, you will find countless other sites doing a similar thing so I really don't want to single them out and sound like I'm being overly critical of what they're doing there. Not at all.

So, phew, there was a point to be made here somewhere - is this all good news or bad news for book bloggers? It really does depend on how much you're willing to "up your game". Some bloggers have been lucky enough to turn their passion into a career of some sort (hand up in the air, have failed miserably at this - no one wants an untrendy opinionated 48 year old baldy as any kind of a book person or children's reading consultant I'm afraid - unless you want to prove me wrong!) but quite a few will fall by the wayside when bigger sites eat into their hit counts, and I think that's a crying shame.

No one really wants to talk to an empty room though after all, and I think it'll be a sad day if the 'norm' becomes a proxy review experience rather than a beautifully written blog that someone's poured their heart and soul into (and we're not talking about ReadItDaddy, we do our best, but if you do want to find some real diamonds amongst the coal, go back to the front page and check out our Blog Roll of other fantastic book review sites that do a brilliant brilliant job in a far more personal way).

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