Saturday 29 July 2017

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book Roundup - July 2017

Summer is in full swing, and it's time for our July Chapter Book Roundup. We're cramming in even more booky loveliness this month than ever before so let's start with a fab follow-up to "A Library of Lemons".

Jo Cotterill's "A Storm of Strawberries" is the perfect accompaniment to hot sunny days, so if you've got a favourite shady spot to indulge in reading a thought provoking book, you definitely should check this one out.

Darby loves summer on her family's strawberry farm - but is the weather about to turn?

Darby's favourite things are listening to music - preferably The Beatles - picking strawberries on the farm and spending time with her big sister Kaydee.

She is looking forward to doing all three over the long weekend, but when Kaydee has a friend to stay and the sunshine disappears, everything gets turned on its head. 

When the storm clears, will Darby find everything is back to normal, and what is 'normal' anyway?

A life-affirming book of growing up and all the changes that take place in a young life, "A Storm of Strawberries" by Jo Cotterill is out now, published by Piccadilly Press. 

Switching gears entirely now, here's an action packed epic that barely leaves you enough time to breathe.

Tamsin Cooke's "Stunt Double" introduces Finn, not your ordinary everyday type of chap.

Finn is a free-running black belt, with a talent for acting-but when his big break arrives, it's not the role he was expecting at all.

Recruited as a stunt double, he's pushed to his limits-scaling walls at high speed, jumping from dizzying heights, and diving into rocky waters-all without any safety gear.

He's determined to push himself, but as the stunts get more dangerous, the lines between movie and reality are really starting to blur, and it becomes clear that he'll be luckily to escape this shoot with his life.

Suitable for ages 9+, this is a fast and furious read from the author of "The Scarlet Files".

"Stunt Double" by Tamsin Cooke is out now, published by Oxford Children's Books. 

Now, what would you do if you had ONE BILLION POUNDS?!?!

Tom McLaughlin poses exactly that question in the fantastic "The Accidental Billionaire", the fab follow-up to Tom's hilarious "The Accidental Prime Minister"

Jasper is one clever lad. Innovative and inventive, Jasper has come up with the latest must-have device, the Cat-Chat 2000, completely by accident in his inventing shed. Poor Rover (Jasper's long suffering cat) is the unfortunate accomplice - who thanks to Jasper's crazy inventing skills now finds himself with the ability to talk.

With everyone completely obsessed with their moggies, people are forking over fistfuls of cash for Jasper's only working invention to hear what pearls of wisdom their own cats will come out with.

With his new found wealth Jasper can finally live the life he's always dreamed of - buying a mansion, a sports team, and producing a Hollywood blockbuster.

But (and there's always a but!) is there a huge price to pay for bringing talking cats to the world, and money won't be able to solve a rather awkward problem the Cat Chat 2000 has unwittingly caused.

Brilliant, hilarious and hugely original, this is just about every kid's dream come true - but can it swiftly turn into a nightmare once things get out of control?

I've always said, if a book makes Charlotte snort with laughter it's a winner, and this definitely did! She couldn't put it down and proceeded to nag all of her friends at school into picking up their own copies (even buying a copy for her teacher who is a bit of a fan of Tom's).

"The Accidental Billionaire" by Tom McLaughlin is out now, published by OUP / Oxford Children's Books.

Phew, how could we possibly follow that one! Well, with something completely and entirely different of course - and hugely original to boot...

"The Murderer's Ape" by Jakob Wegelius is one of those books that just grabs your attention as soon as you see the cover (and the illustrations are even better inside the book itself).

It's the story of plain ordinary Sally Jones - well, we say plain and ordinary but Sally Jones is actually a gorilla.

Entirely devoted to her best friend "The Chief", she has the uncanny ability to move amongst humans while dressed as a mysterious maharaja. She and the Chief are happy-go-lucky comrades who operate a cargo boat.

One day they take on a job that they are offered, which pays big bucks, but the deal ends badly, and the Chief is falsely convicted of murder.

For Sally Jones this is the start of a harrowing quest for survival and to clear the Chief's name. Powerful forces are working against her, and they will do anything to protect their secrets. Can Sally prevail?

It's one of the freshest most original voices we've read in a children's chapter book (and this is one MIGHTY tome - we love big books and we cannot lie, after all). A stunning mystery full of delicious twists and plot turns and one of the most engaging central characters you'll ever meet.

"The Murderer's Ape" by Jakob Wegelius is out on September 7th, published by Pushkin Childrens Books. 

Next, time to blow your nose...this book might turn you green around the gills, landlubber!

Paul Whitfield's hilarious "Pirate McSnottbeard in the Zombie Terror Rampage" is a mucus-filled mix of mayhem and bogies on the high seas.

A rib-tickling barnacle-scraping pirate romp for fans of Mr Gum and Barry Loser. Packed with comic art and more gags than you can wave a kipper at.

Meet Emilie and her brother William, who set out to rescue their parents from the horrible and smelly pirate king McSNOTTBEARD.

Whisked from the high seas, through prehistoric lands, into an evil wizard's castle and finally to the PIRATES' clifftop hideout, they must tackle dinosaurs, zombies, angry parrots, and at least one warlock...all in a day's work really when you're a kid.

I have no idea why, in my head, I read Pirate McSnottbeard with the same voice as Rick Sanchez from "Rick and Morty" but there you go, he's THAT nasty!!

"Pirate McSnottbeard in the Zombie Terror Rampage" by Paul Whitfield is out now, published by Walker Books. 

We're so glad to see a huge upsurge in poetry collections for children, so our next book is the perfect anthology of what it's like to grow up in the big smoke...

Joseph Coelho's perfectly timed "Overheard in a Tower Block" takes me right back to my early life, growing up in London and moving from a gorgeous house in a leafy suburb, displaced to a tower block in Islington.

Joseph's verses, illustrated beautifully by Kate Milner, really capture how your childhood imagination adapts and fits itself around your (sometimes really grim) surroundings, and though the poems are mostly light in tone, there are a few that are heart wrenching and thought provoking - particularly in light of the terrible events that happened at Grenfell Tower.

Joseph has a strong voice and has won a ton of awards. I'm pretty sure that more are to follow on the heels of this book too.

A superb slice of urban life depicted from many different points of view, "Overheard in a Tower Block" by Joseph Coelho and Kate Milner is out now, published by Otter-Barry Books.

Next up, a new title in the "Chloe's Secret Club" range...

"Chloe's Secret Fairy Godmother Club" by Emma Barnes focuses on Eliza.

She's not sure about the news that she is going to be a big sister, but when her friends Chloe and Aisha say that they can practise by becoming fairy godmothers, a new club is born: The Secret Fairy Godmother Club!

The three friends soon find out that being a fairy godmother isn't easy, especially when their homemade love potion goes wrong and their magical makeover doesn't turn out quite so magical after all.

Can the Club fix everything in time before the new baby arrives

Light-hearted, fun and quirky, these stories are perfectly pitched for girls who love a sprinkle of glitter and magic in their stories.

"Chloe's Secret Fairy Godmother Club"by Emma Barnes is out now, published by Scholastic. 

Next, the thrilling conclusion to an epic story...

"Fenn Halflin and the Seaborn" follows on the heels of "Fenn Halflin and the FearZero" and rounds off Francesca Armour-Chelu's fantastic and magical series with a satisfying conclusion.

The thrilling conclusion to the epic Fenn Halflin series, is perfect for readers of Percy Jackson and Artemis Fowl. 

Fenn Halflin is on the run from the brutal Terra Firma. 

His survival depends on finding the last of the Resistance, said to be hiding in an ancient, flooded forest. 

Accompanied by his faithful mongoose, Tikki, Fenn must embark on a journey that will take him deep into the treacherous marsh and closer to the secrets of his past. 

But as the water levels continue to rise, his mission to unite the Seaborn people has never been more desperate.

It never stops to draw a breath, this series, but is fast paced and darkly magical. 

"Fenn Halflin and the Seaborn" by Francesca Armour-Chelu is out now, published by Walker Books. 

Next, a real treat from a supremely talented author whose books are always hotly anticipated...

Jacqueline Wilson's fantastic "Wave Me Goodbye" (with illustrations by Nick Sharratt) takes us back to the outbreak of the Second World War, and the hugely complex plan to evacuate children from various cities out into the safer environs of the countryside to avoid the blitz.

One such child is Shirle, who is sent away on a train with her schoolmates.

She doesn’t know where she’s going, or what’s going to happen to her when she gets there. All she has been told is that she’s going on ‘a little holiday’.

Shirley is billeted in the country, with two boys from East End London, Kevin and Archie – and their experiences living in the strange, half-empty Red House, with the mysterious and reclusive Mrs Waverley, will change their lives for ever.

Award-winning, bestselling and beloved author Jacqueline Wilson is more renowned for her bang-on-target contemporary pre-teen and teen fiction but here she turns to this period of history for the first time with an expert observational eye. This is a beautiful, moving story of friendship and bravery against the backdrop of the worst conflict the world has ever known.

An utterly thrilling and emotional read. Despite the size of this, Charlotte devoured it and now wants to know more about the evacuees (so there's plenty to catch up on over the summer when we have some time to dig into the subject in more detail).

"Wave Me Goodbye" by Jacqueline Wilson is out now in hardback, published by Doubleday Children's Books. 

Phew! Our book bag is quite full this week, so let's crack on...

A fabulous follow-up to a cracking read is next up in our chapter book roundup.

"The Smoking Hourglass" by Jennifer Bell is the second book in "The Uncommoners" series (following swiftly on from the fantastic "The Crooked Sixpence".

We catch up with Ivy Sparrow and her brother Seb straight after their discoveries in The Crooked Sixpence, and it's time to set foot once again in the mysterious underground city of Lundinor

This time they both know that something has changed. Where there were once cobbled streets, now the squares and lanes between the city’s enchanted shops are lush with spring blooms

Everything seems to have worked out just fine after all, but something dark is stirring just below the surface, and uncommon traders are uneasy.

Ivy and Seb have stumbled into a plot that could condemn every uncommoner to a disastrous fate! Eeek!

With the help of Valian, their extraordinary friend – and some exceptional uncommon objects – can Ivy and Seb put a stop to the sinister Dirge’s plans?

This is a thrilling fantasy read with the sort of twisty-turny plot that might well make your head spin, but will have you completely and utterly hooked just as the first book did. 

"The Uncommoners - The Smoking Hourglass (The Uncommoners Book 2)" by Jennifer Bell is out now, published by Corgi Children's Books. 

Phew, more you say? Oh go on then, just because we like you!

One of our favourite comic and illustrator superstars has brought her considerable skills to bear on a new cover for Terry Pratchett's fantastic younger reader, "The Wee Free Men". 

I've looked for an introduction to the Discworld for Charlotte for some time, something that just sublimely captures the chaos, comedy and complete insanity of Pratchett's amazing creation - and this is about as good a jumping-in point as you can get. 

The first book to feature haphazard but serious would-be witch Tiffany Aching pits our hero against ominous foes, but also teams her up with unexpected allies.

As Tiffany confronts the Queen of Fairies and battles an ancient, bodiless evil, she is aided (and most ably abetted) by the six-inch-high, fightin', stealin', drinkin' Wee Free Men!

As you'd expect from the late Terry Pratchett (a sadly missed colossal talent indeed), there's tons of laugh-out-loud humor and breathtaking action combined. The first in a series, this is the book that launched the unforgettable adventures of a determined young witch and her tiny but fierce blue friends.

"The Wee Free Men" by Terry Pratchett (with cover art from Laura Ellen Anderson) is out now, published by Corgi Children's Books. 

Wow, that's quite a collection for July. Come on back in August when our book bag will be once again brimming with gorgeous books to cram in before you have to go back to school in September (boo hiss!). 
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Friday 28 July 2017

ReadItDaddy's Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 28th July 2017 - "The Art of Stranski" by Lorenzo Etherington (Kickstarter / Self Published)

Our Picture Book of the Week this week thrums along with its own internal soundtrack full of mysterious horns and jungle drums...
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Thursday 27 July 2017

Bunny vs Monkey Book 4 by Jamie Smart (David Fickling Books / The Phoenix Comic)

When the dust settles after our earth is burnt to a crisp, many aeons into the future (or - at the rate climate change is going, sometime after a week on Tuesday) I wonder if this crazy pair will still be battling on...
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Wednesday 26 July 2017

Two gorgeous new books for little ones from innovative Tate Publishing

Tate Publishing really do produce some of the most beautiful books on the market, and two new books for very little ones demonstrate their commitment to giving kids a visual feast right from their earliest book memories...
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Search and Find Pride and Prejudice: A Jane Austen Search and Find Book (Studio Press)

Enter the world of Jane Austen with a character-filled 'spotting' book with a difference...
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Tuesday 25 July 2017

Lumberjanes (Volume 1) by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters and Brooke Allen (Boom Entertainment)

I must admit, there are times when we really struggle to keep our heads above water when it comes to keeping up with the best comics out there at the moment...
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Monday 24 July 2017

"This Is Not a Fairy Tale" by Will Mabbit and Fred Blunt (Picture Puffin)

Oh yes indeed, we were cheering and hooraying at the core theme of this book. If there's one thing we can't stand it's drippy princesses!
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There Is No Dragon In This Story by Lou Carter and Deborah Allwright (Bloomsbury Children's Books)

We must admit, we were a bit puzzled by this book at first. Surely every story ever written would be improved 100% with the addition of dragons?
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Friday 21 July 2017

ReaditDaddy's Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 21st July 2017 - "I Dare You" by Reece Wykes (Andersen Children's Books)

It's been quite a while since a picture book has given us both that shocked and surprised 'O' of a face, and made us laugh out loud at the same time...So gotta be a book of the week then!
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ReadItDaddy's YA Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 21st July 2017 - "My Best Friend's Exorcism" by Grady Hendrix (Quirk Books)

Our YA Chapter Book of the Week may definitely not be for kids, but if you're a bit of an 80s addict and fancy a hairspray-and-synth-pop powered trip down memory lane, step right this way...
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Thursday 20 July 2017

Two more fabulous books to get you outdoors, with Nosy Crow and the National Trust.

Nosy Crow's fantastic partnership with the National Trust continues with a pair of gorgeous new books to encourage everyone to go exploring outdoors.

Starting with "Out and About: Night Explorer" this one comes with a fabulous little knapsack and torch, so that you can explore after dark safely.

This complete night explorer's kit not only encourages you to look up at the stars and see how many constellations you can spot, but also helps you keep a sharp lookout for all the animals and birds that come out at night.

Beautiful illustrations give you a head start in identifying various species, and also there are loads of hints and tips on where to look and how to look for your favourites.

"Night Explorer" from Nosy Crow and the National Trust is out now. 

If you're more of a daylight rambler, then this brilliant little hard-back activity book might be more your thing.

"Go Wild in the Woods: An Adventure Handbook" by Goldie Hawk and Rachael Saunders is a great little pocket-sized book to take with you when you next venture out into the wilds and woodlands (or even your local park).

Again, brilliantly illustrated with a ton of facts to help you identify interesting animal and plant species, this is the sort of book that's perfect for us when we go out on our weekend visits to National Trust properties (if there's one thing we're so glad we did, it's joined the NT a few years ago - you can guarantee that no matter where you live, you're never that far from an interesting NT property or park).

Pitched at slightly older children who will love making notes and seeing what they can see and do out in the wilds, this is a fab addition to the growing Nosy Crow / National Trust range.

"Go Wild in the Woods" by Goldie Hawk and Rachael Saunders is out now, published by Nosy Crow / National Trust. 

Look out for both books in the National Trust shops at any property.

(Kindly supplied for review).

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Mummy! by Lerryn Korda (Nosy Crow / British Museum)

Visiting the British Museum recently on a blisteringly hot sunny day was quite an experience...
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Wednesday 19 July 2017

What on Earth? Bees by Dr Andrea Quigley and Paulina Morgan (QED Publishing).

You'll get a buzz from this one, we promise...It's the fantastic "What on Earth?" series, this time focusing on "Bees"...
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Swish and Squeak's Noisy Day by Birgitta Sif (Andersen Children's Books)

Shhh! Can you hear something? Listen, it's the sound of a rather delectable children's book...
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Tuesday 18 July 2017

"Have you Heard?" by Hannah Dale (Words and Pictures)

Here's a neat story idea, riffing on the whole "Chicken Licken" story mechanic of Chinese Whispers and rumour...
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My Digger is Bigger by Lou Kuenzler and Dan Taylor (Scholastic Children's Books)

Roaring engines, shifting dirt, we never get fed up with books about diggers...!
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Monday 17 July 2017

The Scariest Book Ever by Bob Shea (Disney / Hyperion)

It seems a bit strange to be reviewing a book that would be so brilliant for Halloween in the midst of a boiling hot summer, but hey, why not, it's a Bob Shea book...
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Fergal is Fuming by Robert Starling (Andersen Children's Books)

It's fair to say that having a fiery temper will come back and burn you on the bum before long...
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Friday 14 July 2017

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book(s) of the Week - Week Ending 14th July 2017 - "Saxon Tales" by Terry Deary and Tambe (A & C Black)

Our Chapter Books of the week are a selection of new history titles from someone who has arguably done more to get kids involved with and engaged with historical subjects than any other author...
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ReadItDaddy's Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 14th July 2017 - "Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast in The Case of the Stinky Stench" by Josh Funk and Brendan Kearney (Sterling)

We absolutely cannot resist this delectable duo, back for their second stint in our Book of the Week slot. Here's Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast in The Case of the Stinky Stench...
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ReadItDaddy's Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 14th July 2017 - "Big Brown Bear's Cave" by Yuval Zommer (

Our Picture Book of the Week this week is a zany and chaotic tale with a warm heart. Let's meet Big Brown Bear...
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Thursday 13 July 2017

Why is it always considered a sign of 'weakness' to be Mister Softy? A ReadItTorial

This is a true story about something that happened recently that, even if I think about it now, will make me need to pause for a moment and wipe my eyes.

Regular blog visitors will probably have guessed by now that I'm a complete softy. I hate that word, I really do hate that word because it's the sort of nasty word used by people who have concrete hearts and seem to bowl on through life slapping people hard on the back, clamouring "Cheer up mate!" or "Put a smile on it love!"

The story begins at Charlotte's school summer concert. I was already teetering on the brink of emotional breakdown anyway. There's something about seeing your children perform in public that sort of gives you that almost painful swell of pride vs wanting to burst into tears.

But before Charlotte's section of the two hour long show had even begun (yeah, they had a lot of kids acts to get through), there came a moment that...





One little girl was scheduled to sing a song from Les Miserables - this song in fact...

The music teacher introduced the piece saying that the girl was very nervous. She was, she came onto stage very slowly, and clutching a tissue in her hand, she began to sing.

For a brief moment what came out of her mouth was the most amazing sound. Now, I know you're probably doing the eye-rolling "Sure, kids can't sing, whatever" thing, but it was the purest most beautiful little voice.

Sadly, she got about half way into the first couple of lines in the song and burst into tears.

I did too, I was sitting at the back of the audience (thankfully) tucked away, and tears gouted from my face like geysers. I very quickly mopped my eyes while the teacher gave her a huge hug and ushered her off the stage. She explained the little girl was very nervous but wanted to give it a try anyway, bless her.

No wait, it's not quite finished yet.

There was an interval after the first half of the show (which was excellent, and such a pleasant surprise to see the school doing something like that in the first place as they never have before).

We all went for a biccy and a drink, but when we came back up, before everyone had finished shuffling in and taking their seats and the usual adult kerfuffle of people chatting and moving seats etc had stopped, the girl was there - standing next to the music teacher (more accurately, hugging her for dear life) - and once again she began to sing.

By this time I'd taken my seat but others hadn't, but the instant she started singing the whole audience went so quiet you could near nothing but her beautiful pure voice. She bravely got through the whole song - and at the end sort of half cried / half laughed with relief.






I was a complete mess this time. I'm usually pretty good at supressing anything like that in public but I was sitting there dabbing frantically at my eyes while shuddering with sobs.

I think a lot of it was because I imagined how I'd feel (probably a thousand times worse) if that had been Charlotte and she'd been brave enough to carry on and have a second stab at it, having broken down so publicly on stage the first time. That took guts, and that was what broke me into bits. Just one of those wow moments.

The softy thing. This was what my wife called me when I admitted how much that had affected me. I am indeed the sort of person who can't get through "Jesse's Song" in Toy Story, or the last bit of Toy Story 3 where Andy gives away all his toys.

I sometimes have a bit of a problem watching ET

But oh man, that moment at the concert, that was almost the end of me.

Huge huge congrats to that plucky little girl for carrying on, and not just carrying on but knocking it out of the park. And congrats to my own little girl for also belting out a brilliant version of Faith by Little Mix along with her two friends.

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The Story of the Car by Giles Chapman and Us Now (Wren and Rook)

Ooh now here's a subject very close to our hearts as both Charlotte and I are a pair of real petrol-heads, who love nothing better than a trip to our local Motor Museum...
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Wednesday 12 July 2017

Creative Lettering for Kids by Jennie Doh (Sterling Publishing)

We do love an artistic book, one that encourages us to get out our pens, coloured pencils and paper and have a go ourselves...
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Tuesday 11 July 2017

"How Hot is Lava and other questions about Volcanoes" (The Good Questions Range) by Kelly Smith (Sterling)

Sterling's fantastic "Good Question!" range continues with a fact-filled book about a truly fascinating subject. Are you ready to fall in love with Volcanoes?
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Monday 10 July 2017

Doctor Who Origami by Mark Bolitho (BBC Children's Books)

By the time you read this, we'll have said a sad goodbye to Doctor Numero 12, the excellent Peter Capaldi - who really got into his stride just as the carpet was yanked from under him. With Steven Moffat also departing as showrunner, it's going to be exciting to see where the series goes next...
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The Best Chip by Kate Leake (Alison Green Books)

Now for a book that gave us a severe (and inappropriate) case of the rumbly tummies over breakfast one morning. Save "The Best Chip" till last...
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Friday 7 July 2017

A fantastic Robyn Silver themed guest post from lovely Paula Harrison, author of this awesome new Middle Grade series.

We have a fantastic guest post today from Paula Harrison, whose new "Robyn Silver" Middle Grade series is currently spooking our socks off!

Paula couldn't wait to talk about the most terrifying and entertaining monsters in "Robyn Silver: The Darkest Dream" so take it away Paula...!

Robyn Silver was born on the stroke of midnight and that means she can see monsters that are invisible to others. Inventing the monsters was one of my favourite parts of writing this second book. I wanted to keep some of the best beasties from book one whilst adding new ones. I’m so glad that readers get to see them illustrated in Dave Kurtz William’s Chime Monster Compendium at the back of the book. 

The Mimicus - Illustrations © Renée Kurilla

Most Ridiculous Monster
The prize for the most ridiculous monster goes to the mimicus – a creature resembling a huge misshapen jelly. Eyes on stalks can pop out from anywhere on its blob-like body and it has no legs so it simply slides along the ground. It can copy any voice it hears which is how it was given its name. 

The Trofflegurt - Illustrations © Renée Kurilla

Most Useful Monster
The least aggressive monster in the book is the trofflegurt - a small, stubby creature covered in grey hair that burbles to itself in a sing-song voice. A genius with technology, this monster has invented gadgets such as the ultrasonic blades which are used by more wealthy monster-hunters.

The Mara - Illustrations © Renée Kurilla

Most Terrifying Monster
The Mara is a monster that will literally give you nightmares. At a distance you might mistake it for a man, but it has ghost-white skin, a mouth full of shark-like teeth and blank eyes. The Mara has intelligence and ambition beyond the scope of most monsters and that’s what makes it so dangerous.

Don't forget to keep a keen eye out for these critters! "Robyn Silver: The Darkest Dream" by Paula Harrison with illustrations by Renée Kurilla is out now, published by Scholastic
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ReadItDaddy's Second Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 7th July 2017 - "Dogger (40th Anniversary Edition)" by Shirley Hughes (Bodley Head)

Oh my, has it really been 40 years since this brilliant classic first arrived on bookshelves? Our Second Picture Book of the Week is the sublime "Dogger" by Shirley Hughes...
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ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 7th July 2017 - "Robyn Silver Book 2: The Darkest Dream" by Paula Harrison (Scholastic)

Our Chapter Book of the Week this week is the second in the latest series by an author Charlotte has grown up with. Exciting middle grade adventures abound in "Robyn Silver: The Darkest Dream"...
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ReadItDaddy's Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 7th July 2017 - "On a Magical Do-Nothing Day" by Beatrice Alemagna (Thames and Hudson)

Our Picture Book of the Week this week sees one of our favourite children's author-illustrators make this whole picture book business look so effortlessly easy...
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Thursday 6 July 2017

Introverts need a whole new generation of role models, but also support at home and in school too - Today's ReadItTorial

Today's ReadItTorial was partially inspired by Abby Hutty, and her hugely inspirational speech about finding new STEM role models for kids to look up to - and partially by coming across the same problems again and again when it comes to how society deals with shyness and introversion.

Abby Hutty, one of the senior engineers responsible for the hugely successful Mars Rover project, is a self-confessed introvert, and though she rather bravely took to a public forum to put forward her cause, her words rang loudly in our ears.

For a long time, it's felt like there has been a none-too-subtle shift in the way the world enjoys pushing people to believe that success only comes through being wildly extrovert, pushy, sharp elbowed,  shoving your ideas, and your social media feeds on anyone and everyone until they damned. well. like. them (or at least follow you / fave you).

Abby's speech talked about the common STEM role models identifiable today. For each and every Elon Musk (who seems to love any talk about him being a "real life Tony Stark") or Bill Gates, or for that matter Mark Zuckerberg, there are more introverted folk who shun the public gaze and just flipping well get on with things. Quite often the real innovators, the real folk developing amazing technology, ground-breaking medicines or pushing the boundaries of science ever forward are not doing so while shouting "LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME!" through a megaphone.

One of the main reasons for today's blog is because this has parallels with what often happens at Charlotte's school.

Since she joined in Reception class, it's always been clear that the pushier parents with the shoutier kids are often favoured over those of us who like to hang back a little bit, let the teachers do their thing while we do our thing, and let the kids learn and enjoy learning at their own pace.

It sometimes feels like the school detests introversion to the point where they're doing the exact logical opposite of what you'd hope they would do.

Take as an example anything where the kids are expected to read out loud to their classmates (or even as part of school plays or nativities, to parents and other adults). You would expect that teachers and heads would work to encourage the quieter kids to take part, and allow them to try and overcome their shyness and introversion by being given roles in plays where they do get to read lines out, do get to perform, and do get to work on their introversion with a ton of encouragement.

It never really feels like this to us. It always feels like the school takes the easy way out, and just shoves the shoutier noisier more extrovert kids up there, letting them blare out their lines with no skill or finesse purely because these kids have taken cues from their parents, and never miss an opportunity to bray loudly at their peers wherever possible.

Sorry, getting into personal rant mode there for a moment.

Back to this idea that we need more positive (and perhaps not quite so showy) STEM role models, Abby's thoughts are well worth a listen. Looking at her talk, obviously passionate about her expertise and subjects, obviously a hugely inspirational person that you'd really hope your son or daughter would take cues from, but with that obvious 'ill at ease' look that all us introverts fix to our fizzogs whenever we have to do this kind of stuff, who could help but agree with her.
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"Maurice the Museum Mouse's Amazing Ancient Book of Facts and Jokes" by Tracey Turner and Mark Beech (Nosy Crow)

We're definitely all about history on this blog, particularly when a book pours on the facts and funnies in equal measure...
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"Play!" by Jez Alborough (Walker Books)

I remember distinctly the fuss Charlotte would make over Jez's "Hug" book whenever it was library time...
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Hip and Hop (You Can Do Anything) by Akala and Sav Akyuz (Oxford Children's Books)

Children's books can be so uber cool...seriously cool in fact, but what if an award winning rap artist penned a book and had an uber-cool artist illustrate it? It'd be so cool it'd be sub-zero..!
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