Tuesday 28 February 2017

My Mum is Fantastic by Nick Butterworth (Walker Books)

Here's an adorable little board book that might be an early shoe-in for a surprise Mothers Day pressie very soon!
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Monday 27 February 2017

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book Roundup - February 2017

Good Morning, good morning! It's the end of February (wow, the time passes by so quickly!) and we're here once again with another fantastic roundup of chapter books, catching up with all the books we haven't managed to squeeze onto the blog in our Book of the Week slots.

First up, a new book from Pete Begler and published by Curious Fox. It's a fantastic mighty-girl dose of mythical magic in "The Fearless Traveller's Guide to Wicked Places" and it's the sort of dark mystical book that we're instantly drawn to!

The book begins with twelve-year-old Nell Perkins who grows up in a world where magic is the norm.

Nell's mother is taken by witches and turned into a bird - and so begins an epic quest to get her mother back, even if it takes her deep into the Wicked Places - the frightening realm where Nightmares reside. 

It's up to Nell to break the spell and stop the witches from turning our world into a living nightmare!

Exciting and dark stuff, full of characters that you're never sure you can quite trust - and storylines that grip you and have you turning pages of this book late into the night, "The Fearless Traveller's Guide to Wicked Places" by Pete Begler is out on 9th March 2017, published by Curious Fox. 

Cor, that was dark stuff. Anything light-hearted to follow it with? Oh yes indeed, you bet...

Ally Kennen's "The Everything Machine" is a technological marvel. Imagine having a machine that could 3D-Print just about everything you could wish for, like having your very own Replicator from Star Trek.

That's exactly what falls into the hands of eleven year old Olly. A 3D printing machine, stamped with PROPERTY OF M.O.D and BRITISH SPACE AGENCY. WARNING. DO NOT TAMPER. 

A machine which has magical powers!

A machine that even has a name! It speaks, and it can print ANYTHING Olly asks it to - a never-ending supply of sweets, a swimming pool in the shed, the only limit is Olly's imagination. 

But Olly has a special wish that even the amazing "Everything Machine" might struggle with... his dad, who has separated from his mum and moved out of the family home. 

Cue the creation of Dad-Bot - he looks just like Dad (on a good day) but is totally chaotic - and his antics tip Olly and co into a heart-racing and heart-warming adventure!

One of the most original ideas for a children's book that we've come across in ages, "The Everthing Machine" is a funny and bittersweet book that deals with the tricky subject of what happens when your parents break up in a hugely original way. 

"The Everything Machine" by Ally Kennen is out now, published by Scholastic. 

What's next? Book two of a series we've really enjoyed giggling at...

Andy Riley's "King Flashypants" is back for book two, and this time he's facing a new threat to his throne, and to Edwinland itself!

It's large, it's dark, it's hairy. No it's not Theresa May in a gibbon suit, it's the nefarious Creature from Crong! Argle!

King Edwin Flashypants decides that, to be a proper king, he needs to go and fight the creature. The only problem is that Edwin is a bit of a wuss, and couldn't fight his way out of a wet chip wrapper! 

Emperor Nurbison, however, siezes his chance to prove his worth and usurp Edwin from the throne once and for all. He figures that the Gizimoth might just be the key to squishing Edwinland flat, leaving the door wide open for a whole new Nurbison-themed realm. How pooey!

Gird thyself knave! Hold tight for another thrilling Flashypants adventure, with jousting, vegetables, fire-breathing toads and plenty of FOO-HOO-HOOing so prepare your best heroic book-reading stance (buttocks in, chest out!) and your best evil cackle. 

"King Flashypants and the Creature from Crong (King Flashypants Book 2)" by Andy Riley is out now, published by Hodder Children's Books. 

Uh oh, something stinky this way comes...

Gareth P. Jones and Steve May are back for a new Pet Defenders book, and this time the world is under threat by a pongy invader!

"Attack of the Alien Dung" sees super animal detectives Mitzy and Biskit ready to save the world from alien invasions – just so long as they can stop fighting like cat and dog for long enough to do it!

Secret agent Biskit is not happy when he discovers his new partner Mitzy is a cat – everyone knows that cats and dogs don’t mix. But saving the earth from alien invasions must come first and the planet is under attack! A cluster of cow pats has flown into town and they’re whipping up a stink… It’s time for Biskit and Mitzy to put aside their differences and kick some alien butt!

Chock full of scatological humour and a brilliant frisson between the main characters, it's a riot for kids who love a bit of poo-based gigglesome fun.

"Attack of the Alien Dung" by Gareth P. Jones and Steve May is out now, published by Stripes (Little Tiger). Don't forget to wash your hands after reading!

Now, the sequel to a stunning and dark book full of witchcraft and magic...

"The Witch's Tears" by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr is the stunning follow up to their "The Witch's Kiss", once again pulling us into the world of teenage witch Merry.

Just like every other teen, she’s drowning in textbooks and rules set by the coven, drowning in heartbreak after the loss of her true love Jack.

But Merry is not the only one in the family whose fairy tale is over...

Big brother Leo is falling apart and everything Merry does seems to push him further to the brink. And everything that happens to Leo makes her ache for revenge. So, when strangers offering friendship show them a different path, they’d be mad not to take it…

Some rules were made to be broken, right? But are the consequences too high a price to pay?

A smart and vivid read. "The Witch's Tears" by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr is out now, published by HarperCollins Children's Books. 

Time for a fabulously fresh and original story now, that will make your heart soar...

In "Nelly and the Flight of the Sky Lantern" meet plucky girl Nelly and her slow but clever sidekick Columbus.

Nelly unravels a mystery when she returns home one day to find her mother has disappeared. Not one to sit around and mope, Nelly gathers up Columbus and sets off to find out what has happened to her dear old mum.

She'll stop at nothing to discover the truth behind her mum's disappearance. Climb to the tops of the clouds in a laundry basket? Why not? Dive to the depths of the ocean in an oversized tin can? Of course! Leave her turtle, Columbus, behind? CERTAINLY NOT!

Together Nelly and Columbus will find the answers!

Hugely original with tons of fun characters and an instantly loveable heroine in the shape of Nelly Peabody, this is a fantastic adventure from Roland and Ella.

"Nelly and the Flight of the Sky Lantern" by Roland Chambers and Ella Okstad is out now, published by OUP / Oxford Children's Books. 

Next, a delicious trio of books from Nosy Crow, starting with this one...

The second book in Lyn Gardner's awesome mystery series is out now. In "Rose Campion and the Curse of the Doomstone" expect the unexpected as Lyn weaves a magical tale of mystery and suspense.

Business has never been better for Campion's Palace of Variety and Wonders - and the music hall is about to open its doors to its biggest act yet: the Illustrious Gandini, the stage magician known as the Great Wizard of the North. 

It vows to be a scintillating spectacle but when the Doomstone Diamond - a priceless jewel with a disturbing history - is stolen during one of Gandini's performances, Campion's finds itself under threat once more, and Rose Campion and her friends will need all their wits about them to find the thief and uncover the secrets of the magician's mysterious past...All is definitely NOT what it seems! 

Don't forget to look out for "Rose Campion and the Stolen Secret" - book 1 in the series too!

"Rose Campion and the Curse of the Doomstone" by Lyn Gardner is out now, published by Nosy Crow. 

Sticking with the Crow for now...more mystery and suspense from a grand master of children's literature...

Christopher Edge follows on from his stunning "The Many Worlds of Albie Bright" with a new story that's sure to wow space-nutty kids (just like Charlotte). In "The Jamie Drake Equation" we'll find out just how amazing it would be to have a dad who's an astronaut. 

Rocket launches, zero gravity, and flying through space like a superhero, Jamie Drake's dad is orbiting the Earth in the International Space Station. 

By rights, Jamie ought to think it's cool but he just really misses him and spends a lot of time hanging out at the local observatory just to see if he can get a glimpse of "dad" as he streaks by.

One evening, Jamie picks up a strange signal on his phone. It looks like alien life is getting closer to home. But space is a dangerous place and when his dad's mission goes wrong, can Jamie prove that he's a hero too? 

With a suitably starry cover illustration by Matt Saunders, "The Jamie Drake Equation" is a brilliantly original and truly stellar book. 

"The Jamie Drake Equation" by Christopher Edge is out now, published by Nosy Crow. 

One more from the Crow and the biggest beard on Twitter is back with a hilarious new book. 

Philip Ardagh's "The Secret Diary of John Drawbridge" (with art by Jamie Littler) is an honest to goodness true story. You believe us, right? 

Young hero John Drawbridge has moved to Widemoat Castle to learn to become a knight. And there is a LOT to learn...How to charge with a lance on horseback without falling off. Why the spiral staircases always go up in a clockwise direction. How to defend the castle against invading parties. Why the plates served at banquets are made of stale bread (and why you shouldn't eat them...).

There's much, much more to learn too so it's no wonder that John decides to keep a diary (even if it is only an imaginary one...) of his time at the castle. 

Things REALLY liven up when the castle is attacked by an invading Welsh party - but can John foil their plot before it's too late...?

A fabulously written book that feels like a medieval version of "The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾" but with added dung and saddle sores. "The Secret Diary of John Drawbridge" by Philip Ardagh and Jamie Littler is out now, published by Nosy Crow. 

Something gorgeous this way comes with our next book...

"Diva and Flea - A Parisian Tale" comes from two of the mightiest talents in children's fiction. Mo (Pigeon) Willems and Tony "The Spider and the Fly" DiTerlizzi have teamed up for a gorgeous tale of a dog called Diva, and a rag tag streetwise cat named Flea. 

For as long as she could remember, Diva lived at 11 avenue Le Play in Paris, France. For as long as he could remember, Flea also lived in Paris, France - but at no fixed address. When Flea flaneurs past Diva's courtyard one day, their lives are for ever changed.

Together, Diva and Flea explore and share their very different worlds, as only true friends can do.

Set against the sumptuous backdrop of Paris, this is a fabulously written and illustrated tale of friendship and adventure as Diva and Flea's very different characters compliment each other as each tale unfolds. 

A really gorgeous book this, and a great format for readers just starting out in solo reading, ready to embrace bigger books. 

"Diva and Flea" by Mo Willems and Tony DiTerlizzi is out now, published by Walker Books. 

We've been clamouring about this next one for a while on the blog and on our social media feeds...

Take a trip to the dark side of detective work with a new heroine! 

In "Rose Raventhorpe Investigates: Black Cats and Butlers" by Janine Beacham you'll meet young Rose Raventhorpe. 

Rose loves nothing more than wandering around Yorke with her beloved butler, Argyle, listening to the stories he tells about the city. 

But Argyle is murdered - the third butler in a single week to be brutally slain. Rose is spurred into action!

Rose's investigation leads her on a journey into a hidden world of grave robbers and duelling butlers, flamboyant magicians and the city's ancient feline guardians.

Knives aren't just for cutting cucumber sandwiches, you know!

For fans of Robin Stevens and Jonathan Stroud, soak up the magnificent atmosphere of this fabulous book. 

"Rose Raventhorpe Investigates: Black Cats and Butlers" by Janine Beacham is out now, published by Little, Brown Books. 

Finally for our February roundup, a book by the very talented uncle of one of Charlotte's classmates, no less...!

"The New Adventures of Mr Toad: A Race for Toad Hall" is an all-new entry in the series, reviving Kenneth Grahame's characters for a whole new generation and written by Tom Moorhouse - this time with illustrations by Holly Swain. 

Teejay (which stands for Toad Junior), Mo and Ratty are exploring the ruined grounds of Toad Hall.

After falling into a tunnel they discover something . . . someone in the ice house. It turns out to be Mr Toad and the children have found him in the nick of time: Wildwood Industrious (the shady operation run by the descendants of the Stoats and Weasels) is on the brink claiming legal ownership of Toad Hall! Yikes!

With outrageous antics from Mr Toad, action-packed adventure from the start, and stylish two-colour illustrations from Holly Swain that capture all the comedy, this is a fantastic package for young readers.

"The New Adventures of Mr Toad: A Race for Toad Hall" is out on 1st March 2017, published by OUP / Oxford Children's Books.

Two more then we're done! Here's a fantastic inspirational and truly dreamy book that's perfect for those of us (all of us) who need some escapism at the moment...

"Molly and Pim and the Millions of Stars" by Martine Murray is a glorious heartwarming book  Molly.
introducing a young girl named

All she wants is to be normal like her friend Ellen Palmer. Ellen, with her neat braids and a tidy house and a mother and father who are home for dinner every night.

But Molly's mum spends her mornings tramping through the woods, looking for ingredients for her potions. Their house is not neat, and their rooster, the Gentleman, runs wild in their yard.

And it is the Gentleman that angers their grumpy neighbors, the Grimshaws. So Molly's mum makes a potion that will grow a tree between their houses!

When Molly's mum accidentally drinks the potion and turns into the tree, Molly is determined to get her back.

But with the Grimshaws planning to cut down the tree branches that reach onto their property, time is of the essence. With the help of her mysterious classmate Pim Wilder, Molly sets out to save her mother and discovers the wonder that lies in the ordinary.

A touch of "The Girl with the Magic Finger" fused with a brilliant witchy brew of originality, "Molly and Pim and the Millions of Stars" by Martine Murray is out now, published by Text Publishing. 

Feeling small and overlooked? Maybe you need to read...

"Giant" by Kate Scott. Sometimes it's hard to measure up in a family with high expectations. But it's even harder when those people sometimes use you as an arm rest. And call you 'Peanut' - ew!

Anzo is 11 years old and very, very short. Mum, Dad and his two uncles are extremely tall but they're also high achievers, obsessed with fulfilling their lifelong ambition of opening a restaurant together.

Everyone has a role - chef, DIY, marketing, accounts - but where does Anzo fit in?

If only he could grow a few inches in height, then no one would be able to overlook him. Josh would stop teasing Anzo in school, he wouldn't have to play all seven dwarfs in the school play, and at home he could tell his parents about his drawing and the comic convention he's been invited to.

Then, overnight, Anzo starts to grow. Is life as a giant going to solve all his problems, or should he stop worrying and learn to just be himself?

A fun and original book about learning to be happy in the body you've been given, but also being realistic about ambition. "Giant" by Kate Scott is out now, published by Piccadilly Press. 

One more book because this one's a bit of a stunner...

"Jack and the Geniuses At the Bottom of the World" is the cool new book series from
award winning scientist and presenter Bill Nye and best selling author Gregory Mone.

The perfect combination to engage and entertain readers, the series features real-world science along with action and a mystery that will leave kids guessing until the end, making these books ideal for STEM education.

In the series opener, Jack and the Geniuses: At The Bottom of The World, readers meet Jack and his foster siblings, Ava and Matt, who are orphans. But they’re not your typical kind of orphans—they’re geniuses. Well, Ava and Matt are, which sometimes makes life difficult for twelve-year-old Jack. Ava speaks multiple languages and builds robots for fun, and Matt is into astronomy and a whiz at math. As for Jack, it’s hard to stand out when he’s surrounded by geniuses all the time.

When the kids try to spy on Dr. Hank Witherspoon, one of the world’s leading scientists, they end up working for him in his incredible laboratory. Soon, Hank and the kids travel to Antarctica for a prestigious science competition, but they find that all is not as it seems: A fellow scientist has gone missing, and so has any trace of her research. Could someone be trying to use her findings to win the contest? It’s up to Jack, Ava, and Matt to find the missing scientist and discover who’s behind it all—before it’s too late.

Integrating real science facts with humor and suspense, and featuring an ensemble cast of loveable boy and girl characters, this uniquely engaging series is an irresistible chemical reaction for middle-grade readers. With easy-to-read language presented in a fun, motivating, and accessible way, this series opener is a great book for both inquisitive kids and reluctant readers. The book also includes information about the science discussed and used to solve the mystery, as well as a cool science project about density that kids can do at home or in the classroom.

Bill Nye's brand new talk show series for Netflix, "Bill Nye Saves the World" is set to launch in Spring 2017 but "Jack and the Geniuses at the Bottom of the World" will be out on 4th April 2017, published by Amulet. 
Phew! Once again a packed month! Tune in for our March Roundup when we'll delve ever deeper into the booksack to bring you the lastest wordy lovelies! See you soon!


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Friday 24 February 2017

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 24th February 2017 - "Marge in Charge" and "Marge and the Pirate Baby" by Isla Fisher (Piccadilly Press)

A double header for this week's Chapter Book of the Week winner, in fact both books were a huge hit with Charlotte...
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ReadItDaddy's Book(s) of the Week - Week Ending 24th February 2017 - "The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Volumes 1 and 2" by Ryan North and Erica Henderson (Marvel)

Our Book (or books) of the week this week collect together the first 'modern era' 8 issues of one of the greatest superheroes ever to nibble a filbert...
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Thursday 23 February 2017

Sugar Free February - or "Why the HELL do they put SUGAR in THAT?" - A ReadItTorial

For the last few weeks we've been attempting to follow "Sugar Free February" - an idea kicked off by Cancer Research UK and picked up by the Chris Evans Radio 2 show, but also endorsed by health experts as a way to live a little better.

Food is something of an obsession for kids, and for folk in children's publishing, whether they be authors, illustrators or cake-scoffing PRs (c'mon, we know who you are!)

Let's face it, no one can quite read through a copy of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" without salivating at Roald Dahl's deliciously scrumdiddlyumptious descriptions of the various treats that Mr Wonka makes in his factory, and what book launch goes unaccompanied by a huge book-shaped cake? But is there really any way to treat treats as treats and live a better way?

We try to maintain a fairly healthy lifestye at ReadItDaddy Towers, mixing exercise and a good diet (being non-preachy non-smug vegetarians helps a little bit with the latter) but the no-sugar thing has been a startling revelation in so many ways.

The toughest bit was working out decent nice-tasting alternatives to the stuff we normally eat. Take your breakfast for example. Think you're eating a lovely healthy cereal just because it isn't dotted with hundreds and thousands or laden with chocolate? Think again because even the humble weetabix is stacked with added sugar (and if you are like I used to be, you can't eat that horrible stuff without adding even more sugar to it).

We started to eat porridge, purely because it seems to be one of the few breakfast staples that A) fills you up and B) doesn't have a truckload of extra sugar added to it (but of course you need to make that from scratch, which is huge fun when you're already stretched for time in the morning on a normal school day - YAY!)

Then lunches. The next big challenge was to find enough to eat, because anyone knows a tiny little salad pot really isn't going to cut the mustard in the middle of a working day. We kept the salad, opted for wholewheat pittas (again try finding THOSE without any added sugar, you can but you've got to looked DAMNED hard as virtually every single bread product has - yep you've guessed it - well over a gram of added sugar for every 100g).

One of the toughest changes - coming up with an alternative for this stuff!
Again we managed to do a mix of pittas, salad, low fat cheese, eggs and nuts (no added salt) to keep the nibbles away.

Dinners weren't a problem - the easiest way to cut sugar out of your dinner diet is to make everything yourself from scratch (I say the easiest way but again, who the hell has time to do all that in the few scant hours they get in the evenings after school / work?)

We've trialled lots of quick meal ideas and somehow we're not starving to death. Avoiding ready meals is a key change to this because again they're all flipping laden with added sugar, regardless of what you go for.

The effects have been quite startling though. Losing 8 lbs in the first couple of weeks meant that I had to reel in my belt a lot (coupled with HIT sessions and the usual exercise regime of making sure we walk our socks off at the weekends and always take a good screen break for a walk during the day helps keep the spare tyre down).

Weirdly also I noticed my skin was changing. Not quite so horrible grey and sallow, not quite so dry (though stuck in an office atmosphere it's extremely difficult not to get dry skin), almost glowing in fact (even my wife noticed, which really was the strongest indicator that there'd been some sort of a change as she's the poor unfortunate person who has to stare at my fizzog day in day out, poor woman!)

It's had an impact on Charlotte too. All the rubbish you've always been fed about needing sugar for energy (mostly by well-meaning grandparents who say that sort of thing as a good excuse to stuff you full of junk) really is rubbish as she's got just as much get up and go as she's always had (more so in fact) and aside from the usual school-induced tiredness, she's weathered the no-sugar challenge quite well with only a few blips (worst thing about no-sugar February? Having two birthdays in February where you really do have to fall off the wagon - particularly as birthday this year involved a visit to Cadbury World!)

The real overall aim is not to become one of those horrid whiny preachy diet bores, but to slowly but surely factor in a lifestyle change so that sugar (if we eat it at all) becomes a rare thing, not an everyday thing. It has meant we've turned into label-staring zombies when we do our weekly shop but the health benefits are real, measurable and surprisingly become apparent very quickly indeed.

You can find out more about No Sugar February through the Cancer Research Campaign Website here: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/support-us/find-an-event/sugar-free-february
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The Unexpected Love Story of Alfred Fiddleduckling by Timothy Basil Ering (Walker Books)

Goodness me, this one's going to take you on a real rollercoaster ride of emotional highs and lows...!
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Wednesday 22 February 2017

Zeki Can Swim by Anna McQuinn and Ruth Hearson (Alanna Books)

Awww, how could you resist that gorgeous little smiler on the front cover of this endearing book!
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Tuesday 21 February 2017

That's Not a Daffodil by Elizabeth Honey (Allen and Unwin)

Kids absolutely love growing things, but sometimes it's difficult to be patient when all you're looking at is a big brown pot of soil...
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Monday 20 February 2017

Mary Hoffman and Jackie Morris's new book range tells the stories and fables of Jesus (Otter-Barry Books)

Two beautiful new books relating the stories of Jesus have been added to the gorgeous range available from innovative publishers Otter-Barry Books.

"Lost and Found" gathers together 8 parables from the stories of Jesus including A Tale of Two Houses,  Neighbours,  Lost and Found,  Fair Pay,  The Jealous Brother, Sowing and Growing,  Come to the Party and  Forgiveness.

Mary Hoffman retells the eight parables showing how Jesus used storytelling to explain God’s idea of truth, fairness and love.

With beautiful, atmospheric illustrations by Jackie Morris, this is a perfect introduction to the teachings of Jesus.

Also in the range is "Walking on Water: Miracles Jesus Worked"...

Once again Mary retells stories such as Water into Wine,  A Netful of Fish,  Weathermaster,  Through the Roof,  The Biggest Picnic in the World,  Is it a Ghost, Remote Control,  Saying Thank You and Back from the Dead. Some stories will be familiar to children, but some may also feel new and fresh.

The nine stories of the miracles Jesus worked, when he overturned the laws of nature, life and death to show God’s great love for humanity, are gorgeously presented in this luxurious book - again with beautiful illustrations from Jackie Morris. 

Whether you have any faith of your own or not, these are fantastic books for children, introducing them to bible stories in a surprisingly non-preachy way.

Even if (like us) you treat them as story / fable books, they're utterly gorgeous. 

"Lost and Found" and "Walking on Water" by Mary Hoffman and Jackie Morris are out now, published by Otter-Barry Books (kindly sent for review).
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Friday 17 February 2017

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 17th February 2017 - "The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters - The Jolly Regina" by Kara LaReau and Jen Hill (Amulet Books)

This week's Chapter Book of the Week contains all the sass, spice and influences of some of our favourite book series, but sets sail beautifully on its own tack. Meet The Bland Sisters...!
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ReadItDaddy's Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 17th February 2017 - "The Hamster Book" by Silvia Borando (Minibombo / Walker Books)

Awww, look at this adorable little fellah. Doesn't every kid want a hamster at some point in their lives? This week's Picture Book of the Week is "The Hamster Book"...
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Thursday 16 February 2017

Charting book trends or "How are we suddenly flooded with the same type of book from a multitude of different publishers?" A ReadItTorial

One of the things that constantly surprises (and sometimes delights) me is the subject of this week's ReaditTorial. Trends. Those weird mystic patterns of consumer behaviour that apply to just about anything you can spend your hard earned cash on, that feel like they're born of some mystic set of mathematical equations, or some amazingly complex marketing exercises involving truckloads of media exposure across just about everything you cast your eyeballs over.

This applies to children's books too of course, and over the years of writing this blog we've been quite often overloaded with a certain type of book which leads us to muse how interconnected the children's publishing industry and the network of commissioning editors, agents and publishers really are.

At the moment (hence the header image of "Harriet the Spy") it's all about the kid detective, the snoop, the curious child who just can't help sticking their nose into a mystery. We've seen many, many titles arriving this year all in a cluster, across both picture and chapter books and it certainly seems to be a white-hot topic for middle grade titles in particular.

There's actually nothing wrong with this, the majority of the books we've seen have been absolutely scintillating stuff - showing that at least the authors and illustrators behind the books aren't just stamping out a set of variables from a well-established mould. Each brings their own nuances to the kid detective / mystery genre, but we're definitely seeing a lot of commonality - for example (and again, I must point out that these are NOT bad things to see in kid books):

1) A huge huge upsurge in female lead characters as opposed to male. Picking a selection of books I'd guess there are around 80% that feature a plucky young girl as the main hero in the story

2) Again a huge rise in the number of historical detective tales, predominantly England / Scotland in the Victorian era / turn of the 20th Century being 'the place and time to be'

3) Most of the mysteries are beautifully intricate tales that keep you guessing. Very few are dry moral tales (hooray!)

4) There is a rise (but a woefully small one) in the number of young detective / mystery books featuring characters of colour rather than the usual staid boring white middle class cliches.

5) There is also a very small rise in the number of central characters in young detective / mystery books NOT being well-to-do. Working class or poor characters are featuring in greater numbers and this is hugely important for a lot of reasons - not least of all that children's books in general could seriously do with a class overhaul to avoid becoming too 'elitist' (but that's a subject for another ReadItTorial!)

These books are a huge hit with Charlotte mostly because girls and Victorian England feature in them (despite all our efforts to ensure that genre isn't an issue and to encourage her interest in other periods of history) but also because they are books that keep their cards pretty close to their chest until the very end in most cases - and this is great because it keeps her reading them until she's finished, something that's pretty difficult when you've got the distractions of new books arriving almost daily.

As we've 'grown up' with the blog, and passed through all the other trends (remember when you couldn't move for pirate books? Princess books? Books about kids and friendships?) we're always waiting on tenterhooks to find out what the next big blossoming trend will be. For the moment though we're happy that the world's obsession with Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie is subconsciously leeching into the world of children's books in a truly positive way.

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Chicken Nugget: Scrambled Egg by Michelle Robinson and Tom McLaughlin (Picture Puffin)

Michelle Robinson and Tom McLaughlin are back with their adorable little chick hero who's expecting a new arrival...!
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Wednesday 15 February 2017

"Princess Primrose" by Alex T. Smith (Scholastic Children's Books)

It's actually been a very long time since we've read a "Princess" book - but this is Alex T. Smith so we're prepared to make exceptions...!
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Tuesday 14 February 2017

This Bear, That Bear by Sian Wheatcroft (Templar Publishing)

Bouncing bear-flavoured rhymes abound in a new book by Sian Wheatcroft. Can there be anything better than a bear?
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Monday 13 February 2017

Sky Private Eye and the Case of the Runaway Biscuit by Jane Clarke and Loretta Schauer (Five Quills)

There's a mystery to solve, and this time the crumbs are distinctly...gingery? Call for Sky Private Eye!
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Two fabulous new books for tiny toddlers from awesome publishers Child's Play - New for 2017!

Child's Play always have an eye for fabulous books for early years and they're getting 2017 off to a very busy start with two brand new books for younger children.

In "My Tail's Not Tired" by Jana Novotny Hunter and Paula Bowles, you'll meet the most mischievous and adorable little monster ever!

Little Monster has a lot of energy and every single part of her body likes to move in different ways.

Children will love joining in as Big Monster and Little Monster wiggle and wriggle their way through the day, with a tail that won't stop waving to and fro, eyes that won't close, legs and feet that love to jump and bound, and of course a wiggly monster bottom!

But what happens when it's time for bed? Will Little Monster ever settle? Poor Big Monster is getting worn out!

A fabulous book for children to join in the actions with, and a fun read-aloud story.

"My Tail's Not Tired" by Jana Novotny Hunter and Paula Bowles is out now, published by Child's Play. 

We also loved "Quiet!" by Kate Alizadeh. It's a busy noisy house and one little girl can hear all the noises happening all around her.

Take a moment or two out of your busy day to stop, listen and hear all the sounds that the house makes. Is that the fridge whirring? Are the radiators singing? 

The text and sensory clues to be found in this enchanting, inclusive picture book allow us to experience our home through its many noises. Auditory landmarks help all children to become familiar with daily routines, and can be particularly important to those who are blind or partially sighted.

It's also another wonderful "join-in" book and younger children will love making all the noises in the book themselves. 

"Quiet" by Kate Alizadeh is out now, published by Child's Play. (Both books kindly supplied for review)
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Friday 10 February 2017

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 10th February 2017 - "Dave Pigeon - Nuggets" by Swapna Haddow and Sheena Dempsey (Faber and Faber)

This week's chapter book of the week comes with a huge glee-filled "YESS!" Dave is back!
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ReaditDaddy's Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 10th February 2017 - "Lots" by Marc Martin (Big Picture Press)

A few weeks ago we talked about this fantastic Book of the Week winner on our first ever Podcast. If you listened in, thank you SO much - and if you wanted to know more about the book here's our proper review!
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Thursday 9 February 2017

Make and Move Minibeasts by Sato Hisao (Laurence King Publishing)

We're huge fans of Origami - the whole family loves making paper models and the cleverer and more challenging the model, the better!
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Wednesday 8 February 2017

The Painting-In Book by Anna Rumsby (Laurence King Publishing)

Ahhh, now THIS is right up our street. If there's one thing both of us enjoy it's getting out the poster paints and creating great art...
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Mr Bunny's Chocolate Factory by Elys Dolan (OUP / Oxford Children's Books)

Hello there Easter Bunny. You're a little early aren't you, we're barely washing down the last of our Christmas cake!!
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Tuesday 7 February 2017

A fabulous interview with Sophy Henn, Author and Illustrator of "Edie", a wonderful new picture book published by Picture Puffin

A fabulous book full of joie de vivre, that's how we described Sophy Henn's wonderful "Edie"in our review (which you can find here just in case you missed it earlier!) and we're very lucky to be joined on the blog today by Sophy herself.

We've come up with a few questions for Sophy so let's get straight under way! We each came up with five questions so here are my five...!

Hi Sophy, thanks for talking to us!

My pleasure! Thank you both for having me!

Tell us a little bit about yourself

Heavens! Well, I am an author and Illustrator who lives in slightly sunny Sussex. I have a dog called Buster, and I am mainly a mum. I like reading, jumping around, Peanuts, rock pooling and chocolate raisins, among other things.

We’ve really loved reading Edie together. Was she inspired by anyone in particular? (She really reminds me of how I’d imagine “Amelie” from the movie of the same name being at around the age of six :)

Hooray! I am so pleased you enjoyed reading Edie and I LOVE that she reminds you of Amelie. It is such a wonderful film, I am now inspired to refresh my memory and watch it again almost immediately!

Edie is inspired by lots of little girls (though my little girl might have inspired the dressing up page!), all of whom have that utterly positive 'can-do' attitude. I've noticed that sometimes when children start to learn good behaviour from bad and how you go about doing things for yourself and others (around nursery/recption age) they can adopt this rather teacherly attitude, especially when they have a younger sibling to tell what's what! It's not bossy, and it's not nasty, it just seems to me to be a very excitable, joyful celebration of what they are working out about the world. Edie has buckets of that attitude, and it's that and her love of the people around her that drives her to be ever so 'helpful'.

Tell us a little bit about how you approach a new project. How do you go about creating a new character and story and do the visuals usually arrive before the story or vice versa?

When I started with Where Bear? it was definitely a case of the character leading the process, he popped into my head and onto a page before I had really thought about anything. A painting of a little, white bear in a deep, dark forest looking lost. Then the story followed, the same thing happened for Pom Pom Gets the Grumps. But then things changed a bit with Pass It On as I knew I wanted to make a positive, happy and empowering book for pre schoolers. Creating the character happened quite a way into the project, it's the same with the book I am working on at the moment. But with Edie, she really lead the way. Once she was in my mind all I had to do was put her in various situations and see what she would do!

"Where Bear?" by Sophy Henn

Coffee or Tea?

TEA. Sadly I can't dink coffee anymore, it's too much for me! The last time I tried, I managed half a cup of instant and had to go for a run I was so jittery. But I can safely swig upwards of ten cups of tea day! I LOVE it!

Can you tell us what your favourite books were as a child?

I LOVED Allan and Janet Alhberg's Cops and Robbers. I loved the rhythm of the story and the joyful wickedness of the Robbers wrong doings. And all the wonderful detail in the illustrations which kept me pouring over the pages long after my Mum had finished reading it. I was/am also a huge fan of Milly Molly Mandy and all the cosy goings on of her day to day. And there is a map at the front go every book, who doesn't like a map? 

Sophy at her desk, busy as ever!

"Pass it On" by Sophy Henn

...and five questions from Charlotte!

What’s the best way for someone like me to start writing stories? I’m trying to write something for the Radio 2 “500 words” competition at the moment and it’s really hard!

I agree, it is hard, but when you eventually wrestle those words into a story that works, it feels pretty amazing doesn't it? Stories start in lots of different ways for me (see above!), which I realise isn't ever so helpful. But however a story starts, once I have the idea, I find it really useful to map the plot out before I get down the actual story writing. Once I have jotted down the story's key elements, in the order they happen, when I get to the writing part it's a bit like joining the dots to make the story whole. I find that kind of planning especially useful if I have to tell the story in a specific number of words as it keeps me on track. I always write to much, but remember it's easier to edit it out than add it in! GOOD LUCK!

What’s your favourite animal (apart from Pandas, of course!) and will they find their way into one of your stories one day?

I honestly love all animals, I can't watch any nature programmes for fear of any being eaten (actually true). But I do have a very soft spot for guinea pigs (if you google guinea pigs in hats it will give you an insight as to why), and I would love to do a picture book filled with them. Though, obviously Olga de Polga is a bit of a superstar and Catherine Rayner's illustrations of her are utterly beautiful, so I would have make sure I was feeling confident! One day.....

What’s your favourite Disney movie? (Mine’s currently Zootropolis but I change my mind every few months!)

I do love Disney and have lots of books on the artists that have worked for the studios. Do check out Mary Blair if you can, she was an incredible artist who worked at Disney in the 1940s-50s, her use of colour is incredible. But back to the almost impossible question....I think the only way I can answer is to divide Disney up a bit...so could we have three separate categories for live action, animation and Disney Pixar please? If so I would probably choose Mary Poppins for live action ( I know there is a little cartoon too, but by and large it's actual people). Aristocats for animation as I love the illustration style of the streets, Thomas O'Malley's voice is ever so soothing and it was my daughters favourite film for a very long time. And then choosing a favourite Disney Pixar is agony, but I would probably plump for The Incredibles as, among many other things, I LOVE the mid century styling. And the Mum superhero obvs!

If you could be anything else in the world other than an author / illustrator what would you want to be?

Definitely a tap dancer. Ideally in the style of Gene Kelly (check him out in Singing in Rain, he makes it look so easy - AMAZING!)

What’s your favourite food? (Mine’s pizza and pasta and chocolate but not all mixed together!)
You have some strong choices there, and I like all of them. But if I had to pick one favourite food it would be.....curry, not super hot but definitely on the hot side. I honestly think I could eat curry for almost every meal (even breakfast!).

Thank you so much for having me back on the marvellous Read It Daddy blog!

Very best,

Sophy x

"Edie" by Sophy Henn is out now, published by Picture Puffin. 
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Edie by Sophy Henn (Picture Puffin)

Sophy Henn is back with an all new character set to steal your heart. Here's "Edie" and she's lovely!
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Monday 6 February 2017

Get ready for adventure in a new thrilling detective series for young readers. Meet Rose Raventhorpe!

We love a fantastic and original detective yarn or two here on the blog, as you've probably noticed.

Doubly so if the detective in question is a mighty young lady who knows her own mind.

We're happy to share with you the new cover with art by super-talented Lisa Horton for "Rose Raventhorpe Investigates: Black Cats and Butlers" by Janine Beacham!

In the story, young Rose is drawn into a mystery as several butlers - including her own faithful man friday - are mysteriously murdered.

Rose must try and untangle a densely woven plot or two against the atmospheric backdrop of Yorke.

Can Rose get to the bottom of the mystery, before she too ends up like Argyle?

This stunning debut by Australian author Janine Beacham is definitely one for the curious, who love stories that are a little dark and a little different.

In Janine's own words, here's the story behind Rose Raventhorpe's debut adventure...

The story behind Rose Raventhorpe

When I was a kid I found a competition on the back of a cereal box. WIN A BUTLER FOR A WEEK, it said. ‘Tell us why you would like a butler!’

It sounded fun. I asked my mum if I could enter. ‘A butler would never come here!’ she said.

We lived on a dairy farm in Western Australia. We had haybales, cows, chickens, swooping magpies, and poisonous snakes. It was great, but it was not butler-like territory. The idea of a butler cleaning our house, serving a posh dinner, and saying ‘yes, Madam,’ appealed to me. We didn’t have a lot of posh things.

So I entered the competition. I wrote about the butler being able to help my mother. It wasn’t a very good entry. I didn’t win.

But the idea stayed with me. What if a butler did come to a house like ours? What would he do? What would my ideal butler be like?

I imagined a butler called Heddsworth. He would be English, because all the butlers in books and TV and movies were English. He would be very polite. He would call me Miss. He would polish the ute, and feed the farm dog from a silver bowl. And, I decided, he would be an excellent swordsman and shot.

I tried to write a story about this, but it lacked something. What I liked most about Heddsworth was his duelling skills. And he had nobody to duel on a farm. So I put the story aside.

Many, many years later, I read the Harry Potter books. They were inspiring. If JK Rowling could make such a success of a book about wizards, maybe I could write about duelling butlers!

So I tried a new version of the story. This time I set it in Victorian England. I needed a plot, and a young protagonist. A murder mystery would do. A butler would be killed – the heroine’s butler.

I had a new story, but it STILL wasn’t all that good. What was missing?

I went on holidays to the UK, and a friend told me I should visit York. I did. As soon as I stepped off the bus into the city, I saw a cat statue on a wall. And I had an epiphany. This was where I would set the book! My heroine would be called Rose, because she was from York. The butlers would live in an alternative version of York. Yorke with an E!

I added grave-robbers, and a magician, and underground tunnels and cat statues with eerie powers. I rewrote and polished and thought and wrote. And the story that came out of a cereal box became my first published book.

"Black Cats and Butlers" - Book one in the "Rose Raventhorpe Investigates" series is out on the 9th March 2017, published by Little, Brown. 
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Also an Octopus by Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Benji Davies (Walker Books)

What does it take to make us "Book Happy"? It's the new Hygge, I'm telling you...!
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Friday 3 February 2017

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 3rd February 2017 - "Knowledge Encyclopaedia - Space!" by Dorling Kindersley

Our Book of the Week this week may have been out for quite a while but it's a truly stunning non-fiction title that deserves another look...
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ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 3rd February 2017 - "Polly and the Puffin: The New Friend" by Jenny Colgan and Thomas Docherty (Little, Brown)

Our Chapter Book of the Week this week is the third book in a delightful little series about a girl and her best friend (who just happens to be a Puffin!)
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