Friday 29 September 2017

ReadItDaddy's YA / Adult Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 29th September 2017 - "Electric Dreams Volume 1" by Philip K. Dick (Gollancz)

We'll swiftly slap a "YA / Adult Only" label on our Chapter Book for this week, a delicious slice of hard-fi that will set your senses ablaze...
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ReadItDaddy's Second Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 29th September 2017 - "The Little Red Wolf (Le Petit Loup Rouge)" by Amelie Flechais (Lion Forge Books)

Our second Picture Book of the Week this week is something truly special, proving once again that the French really know how to create stunning children's books...
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ReadItDaddy's First Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 29th September 2017 - "Winnie and Wilbur: The Naughty Knight" by Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul (Oxford Children's Books)

Oh wowsers, this week's first Picture Book of the Week is a real blast from the past, quite literally...!
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Thursday 28 September 2017

Celebrating the recent International Hobbit Day! How one book and an amazing teacher really got me hooked on reading as a kid - A ReadItTorial

September 21st is "International Hobbit Day", a celebration of the original publication of J.R.R Tolkien's amazing piece of work.

We narrowly missed the deadline but I didn't want it to pass without saying something about this incredible book, mainly because it was one of the first 'proper' books I read as a kid, and one that definitely played a huge part in making me want to read for pleasure.

Stretching back to junior school, I would have been quite a bit younger than Charlotte is now - in fact without trying to sound too smug or precocious about it, the main reason I ended up reading this book at the tender age of 5 was because I was lucky enough to have an incredible teacher who, these days, would probably have been disciplined for what she did.

Miss Cox was my class teacher and English teacher, and recognised early on that I was struggling with my reading. Not because I had problems reading, I just had problems reading the sort of stuff I was supposed to be reading at that age.

Most kids in the class were beginning their first reading journeys, years before phonics were a thing. I'd been taught to read in a pretty harsh way. Without going into detail I should have actually been put off reading for life at a time when children are beginning to first find their love of stories and tales.

Miss Cox realised why I wouldn't read classroom books, and switched me onto "The Hobbit". I still have no idea whether this was an experiment in 'bringing me down a peg' or whether she actually did so because she somehow knew this book would appeal. The effect on me though was electric. The copy had the cover you see in the article above, and even the cover made me want to find out more.

Separate to the other children going through the Ladybird books and "Peter and Jane / Janet and John" books she encouraged me to read the book in class, and (unheard of at the time) let me take the copy home to read there too.

I did exactly that, in fact I read it through 3 times before I'd let her have it back. It became a subject of discussion and it also became part of projects I was given in class based around reading, to the point where I felt so familiar with Bilbo and Middle Earth I had to voraciously track down and read just about everything else I could get my hands on in the fantasy genre (including, of course, the rest of Tolkien's books). Thank gawd that back then libraries were still commonplace, both in school and outside of school as we had little or no money to buy books with back then.

All in all, Miss Cox started a lifelong love of books and reading that has stayed with me and I now pass on to my daughter, often with the same books that I was won over by all those years ago.

Why "The Hobbit" though? For me it was the fact that Tolkien, for all the various criticisms levelled at his work over the years, could build book worlds like no other. He drew on his own experiences of the local countryside and places he visited to bring an air of believability to fantasy realms. Likewise with his characters, he introduced all of the human strengths and weaknesses into the mix, even with the non-humans. Vanity, covetousness, hope, resilience - so many qualities extend across the amazing folk found in his books that everyone can identify themselves, or people they know, amongst the likes of Bilbo, the dwarves or perhaps even Gandalf himself.

I still love the book and still treat myself to a re-read quite often, and it always seems to manage to feel fresh and vibrant, original and yet still has the ability to delight and surprise me just as it did at the tender age of 5.

I hope one day if you've never read it, you discover it and can get a taste of what I mean from it too. In the meantime, I am always indebted to Miss Cox and many other amazing teachers out there who fully understand, nurture and encourage a love of stories and books in their pupils, far beyond league tables and statistics-driven expectations.

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Bugs by Simon Tyler (Pavilion Children's Books)

Ever fancied becoming an Entymologist when you grow up? Studying insects all day long? Well here's a great place to start your journey - a fantastic new book on bugs!
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ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book Roundup - September 2017

Welcome, welcome to our September Chapter Book Roundup. By now most of you will be back at school (boo hiss!) and the long summer days are starting to change as our favourite season Autumn is ushered in. We've got some great books to tuck yourselves up with, so let's get started right away.

First is a new tale from Gill Lewis, author of "Sky Hawk" and recent fave "A Story Like the Wind"

"Sky Dancer" is the story of young Joe. He has always loved the moorlands above his home: the wildness, the freedom, the peace.

But when Joe's father dies, everything changes and the moors are no longer a place of refuge, more a place of darkness and gloom, foreboding and grief.

Now the whole community is divided over the fate of the hen harriers that nest up there in the heather - and Joe is stuck right in the middle, with a choice to make, and a huge secret to keep.

Joe can't do what's right for everyone. But can he find the strength to fight for what he really believes in?

With wonderful reminders for me of books like "Tarka the Otter" and "Kes", Gill has wrought a beautiful tale of loss, expectation, and change - with an important and thought-provoking environmental message.

Definitely one for bird and animal lovers, "Sky Dancer" by Gill Lewis is out on October 1st, published by OUP / Oxford Children's Books.

We just couldn't wait to dive into our next book. Maz Evans' utterly fantastic follow-up to "Who Let the Gods Out" is now with us, and you know what? It's "Simply the Quest!"

(We mean best! Best!)

Rejoining young protagonist Elliot Hooper, we pick up the story directly from the first book and Elliot's troubles are far from over.

Mum is still ill, in fact her health is getting worse. Elliot's grades are also tanking at school as other distractions firmly get in the way of any dwindling academic leanings he had. Oh, and there's that tiny matter of a bunch of crazy Greek gods who have taken up residence in Elliot's house. Most distracting of all is teen goddess Virgo, who has 99 problems of her own (and Elliot isn't one).

As if all that wasn't enough to be dealing with,  death-daemon Thanatos and his scary mum are also at large. More immortal allies and enemies emerge as Elliot's story continues. Can Virgo and Elliot learn how to be heroes?

Our description might not make this sound like the funniest book ever written, but once again Maz's amazingly fine tuned humour bursts out from every page with enough moments to make you grin like an idiot and perhaps mumble 'ew, gross' quite a lot at the same time. Utterly perfect!

"Simply the Quest" by Maz Evans is out now, published by Chicken House Books. 

Next, a girl full of joie de vivre, and something of a YouTube Superstar. Let's meet Mango!

"Mango Delight" is the stunning debut from author Fracaswell Hyman, with brilliant cover and illustrations from Frank Morrison.

Mango Delight Fuller is one lucky girl.

When she gets the lead in the school musical and becomes a YouTube success, she attracts the attentions of the school's queen bee, Hailey Jo. 

But when conflicts with Hailey arise, Mango finds herself having to make tough choices about the kind of friend she wants to have...and wants to be.

Absolutely full of the sort of things most middle graders will be able to identify with, and for me a story that was quite reminiscent of teen dark horror "Heathers" (without the dark horror, obviously!) this is a fabulous book full of moral decisions, friendship issues and cliques with more than a few twists up its sleeve. Mango is definitely one of the freshest characters in children's middle grade books for a long time, so this one is sure to be a huge success. 

"Mango Delight" by Fracaswell Hyman and Frank Morrison is out now, published by Sterling Children's Books.

Uh oh, wrap your neck up in a big thick scarf before we dive into this next one...

We're very happy to catch up with Little Tiger / Stripes' new chapter books and here's "Vlad, The World's Worst Vampire" by Anna Wilson and Kathryn Durst, ready to suck your blood this Autumn.

Vlad has a lot to live up to. He's the youngest member of the infamous Impaler family (lovely!) but Vlad is, for want of a better word, a bit of a wimp. He's scared of just about everything including the dark. Not great for a budding Vampire really!

Vlad sometimes feels a bit neglected and pushed out by his family, but having just that one awesome friend would make all the difference. Perhaps there's one to be found at...HUMAN SCHOOL!

Taking his pet bat Flit along for company, Vlad begins Big School and is instantly faced with a challenge. How on earth do you keep being a Vampire a secret? Moreover, how do you keep school a secret from your platelet-swilling family?

This is a hilarious vampire romp from Anna and Kathryn, tons of fun for kids who love stuff like Dork Diaries or Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

"Vlad: The World's Worst Vampire" is out now, published by Stripes Publishing. 

Sticking with the supernatural, let's catch up with a rather pongy old witch...

Children's classic "The Pongwiffy Stories Book 1: A Witch of Dirty Habits and The Goblins Revenge" by Kaye Umansky is back for a timely reprint with an all-new (and VERY un-witch-like pink cover and awesome illustrations from Katy Riddell). 

Originally published back in the early 90's, Kaye's spooky series was hugely popular, so it's great to see it make a comeback in fab new clothes. 

Pongwiffy has just moved into a new cave, and it's dirty, smelly and damp - in other words it's perfect for a witch like Pongwiffy!

All desirable residences come with problems though, and in this case it's the neighbours - a horde of noisy Goblins.

These irritating idiots drive poor Pongwiffy to distraction until she can bear it no more. Enlisting the help of her best friend, Witch Sharkadder, she's soon on the hunt to find somewhere else to live. 

That's when the problems really start!

In the second story in this fab first book, the Goblins are back and up to their usual tricks! But this time Pongwiffy also has to deal with a badly behaved broom, a bonfire disaster and a strange genie....

Tons of fun, humour, witchiness and some great little illustrations from Katy Riddell, this one was spot on for Charlotte and is sure to win over a whole new generation of fans. "The Pongwiffy Stories" by Kaye Umansky and Katy Riddell is out now from Simon and Schuster Children's Books. 

Sticking with Kaye, let's talk about her fantastic new witchy series too...

"Witch for a Week" introduces Elsie Pickles, who truly believes she has what it takes to be "Witch for a Week". However, the witch she's understudying isn't quite what Elsie was expecting. Magenta is superior and aloof, and pretty much ditches her new charge with just a scruffy dog companion and a squawking talking raven who is a bit of a know-it-all. She's also left with a book called "Everything you Need to Know" - but can Elsie somehow achieve her heart's desire and achieve grand witchiness?

If there's one thing Kaye knows how to write it's a fabulous hubbling bubbling tale. Check out "Witch for a Week" by Kaye Umansky with illustrations by Ashley King when it arrives on the 5th October 2017, well in time for Halloween!

Now, an author illustrator who we utterly ADORE. She's got a fantastic detective series for younger middle grade readers which is now on its fourth book and we think it's absolutely brilliant...!

"Dotty Detective: The Lost Puppy" by Clara Vulliamy catches up with Dot, her best friend Beans, and her dog McClusky - who all love sniffing out a good mystery

It’s the last week of school term and the children are looking forward to the School summer fair. Dotty and best pal Beans will be looking after pet’s corner, starring McClusky and his two canine pals: Geoffrey and the little sausage dog puppy, Chipolata (who, I think it's fair to say, totally stole the show for Charlotte! She ADORES Dachsunds!)

But just days before the fair disaster strikes – Chipolata has gone missing. Spinning sausages, whatever will Dot and Beans do?

Can they solve the mystery of the missing puppy? You bet they'll try their hardest when a lost puppy is involved.

We love everything Clara does, and this is no exception. A brilliant pup-fuelled romp to gladden the heart!

"Dotty Detective: The Lost Puppy" by Clara Vulliamy is out now, published by HarperCollins Children's Books. 

From lost puppies to dastardly murder in the blink of an eye. We're back for more with the fantastic "Goodly and Grave" series, this time with a foul deed indeed.

"Goodly and Grave in a Deadly Case of Murder" by Justine Windsor and Becka Moor catches up with the oddly mismatched but hugely intelligent pair as mysterious thefts are occurring all over the place.

Just when G & G think they know whodunnit their prime suspect turns up – murdered!

Will Lucy be able to track the real villain without putting herself in deadly danger…?

A page-turning mystery with a magical twist, it's deliciously dark stuff that will keep you reading well into the night (but don't have nightmares!)

"Goodly and Grave in a Deadly Case of Murder" by Justine Windsor (with fantastic illustrations throughout by one of our fave artists ever, the supremely talented Becka Moor who REALLY SHOULD HAVE GOT A COVER CREDIT, C'MON!!!) is out now, published by HarperCollins Children's Books. 

Something rather special next...a fabulous inclusive tale of friendship transcending different cultures and languages...

Cas Lester's fabulous "Do You Speak Chocolate" sees the start of a new school year with new girl Nadima. Nadima does not speak any English, but Jaz quickly finds a way to develop a bond with Nadima -  by offering her a chocolate bar.

Nadima grins and offers back some Turkish Delight, the ice is broken, and a special friendship begins.

Jaz is outgoing, rebellious, gumptious and a little bit bolshy - but it doesn't stop her from finding it hard that she doesn't have a best friend at school any more. Not since Lily went off with Kara ... She's not one to get down about things, though - and things start to look up when Nadima comes into their classroom.

Before long the girls are firm friends, even when Nadima, recently arrived from Syria, can't speak much English. The path of true friendship doesn't run smooth, though ... Jaz, ever the entrepreneur, cooks up a plan to sell Turkish Delight at school, with disastrous results. A drama project with Nadima about family history proves impossible to manage. And Charity Challenge Week puts the icing on the cake as Jaz puts every foot wrong possible.

Can she find a way to put things right, and restore the wonderful and unique friendship that she has with Nadima?

Glorious, touching and compelling, this topical tale is beautifully written and definitely proves that the language of chocolate is near universal.

"Do You Speak Chocolate" by Cas Lester is out now, published by Piccadilly Press. 

Definitely one to tickle your fancy if you're a budding scientist next...

"Al's Awesome Science - Egg-Speriments" is book one in a new and innovative science story series from Jane Clarke, with illustrations by James Brown.

Al's wacky experiments have the most unexpected and messy consequences in this new science-based adventure series. 

Al is experimenting to invent a time machine which would also be really useful to get him out of trouble! 

As a young scientist who never gives up Al is surprised to find out that his 'egg-speriments' can lead to very sticky situations!

Full of real-world science spliced deliciously with fiction, this is an engaging new series for middle graders everywhere.

"Al's Awesome Science: Egg-speriments" by Jane Clarke and James Brown is out now, published by Five Quills. 

More dazzling detective stuff now, the fifth in the brilliant Laura Marlin Mysteries series from Lauren St John...

"The Secret of Supernatural Creek" catches up with eleven-year-old ace detective Laura Marlin, who is back for her next exciting adventure.

With her arch-nemesis, Mr A, safely behind bars, Laura Marlin can't wait to relax on a school trip to Australia.

But hours after arriving, the appearance of a threatening supernatural message makes her fear for her safety.

As the group tours the Northern wilderness, mysteries and near-disasters haunt them, but only Laura believes they're connected.

Can she figure out what's realand what's an illusion ... before it's too late?

Brilliantly paced stuff for children who love stuff like Nancy Drew or Enid Blyton mysteries, this is a corking good read.

"The Secret of Supernatural Creek (Laura Marlin Mystery Book 5)" by Lauren St John is out now, published by Orion Children's Books. 

One last book to squeeze in before we go, and we've left our favourite till last.

"Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend is an utterly mesmerising new series, perfect for fans of Harry Potter or Neil Gaiman, with that same frisson of magic and energy running through the story like a bolt of lightning.

Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on Eventide, the unluckiest day for any child to be born, she's blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks--and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday.

But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor.

It's then that Morrigan discovers Jupiter has chosen her to contend for a place in the city's most prestigious organization: the Wundrous Society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each boasting an extraordinary talent that sets them apart--an extraordinary talent that Morrigan insists she does not have. To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests--or she'll have to leave the city to confront her deadly fate.

This is the sort of world-building we love to see in children's middle grade books, the sort of book world you just can't help but love enveloping yourself in. 

"Nevermoor: The Trials Of Morrigan Crow" by Jessica Townsend is out on 12th October 2017, published by Orion Children's Books. 

Another stunning roundup of chapter books, we think you'll agree. Tune in next month when we'll be gearing up for Halloween with all sorts of amazing chapter book goodies and maybe a few bumps in the night to boot!

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Wednesday 27 September 2017

A fantastic guest post on the blog today from Sarah Baker, Author of "Eloise Undercover" published by Catnip Books

"Eloise Undercover" by Sarah Baker (Catnip Books)
We're delighted to welcome author Sarah Baker to the blog today, to talk about her exciting new World War 2 adventure.

"Eloise Undercover" is the story of a plucky young girl who is in hiding during the Nazi occupation of France in 1944.

12 year old Eloise’s father is missing.

Eloise is desperate to find out what’s happened to him, and joins the French Resistance movement.

It's the begining of a dangerous adventure in a story full of secrecy and suspense.

Full of emotion all the way through, and perfect for middle grade readers who love books like "The Silver Sword" or "The Owl Service", we'll now hand over the blog to Sarah to tell you a little bit more about her writing and inspirations for the story.

Eloise Undercover – from idea to finished book

I first had the idea for a story set during WW2 when I was about 12.

We were studying the war in history class and I’d been set a project, which I was researching. 

I’d chatted to my great-uncle who’d been a spitfire pilot and read a lot of books like When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr and The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico. 

I also read many accounts of children not only surviving, but helping the resistance. It gave me an idea, which all these years later, I’ve turned into a book.

After writing Through the Mirror Door, I wasn’t quite ready to leave Maison de Noyer, and loved the idea of discovering more about the house and the families who’d lived there. I’d already shared my idea for Eloise Undercover with my agent, Bryony Woods, and publishers, Catnip Publishing, so a provisional date was set for delivery…

"Through The Mirror Door" by Sarah Baker (Catnip Books)

…then I had a baby!


My son was three months old when I started writing Eloise Undercover.

I would pop him in a sling; balance my laptop on the kitchen counter (he seemed to notice if I sat down) and started typing.

I seem to remember I drank quite a lot of tea and because there was so little time for writing – I had to wait till my son was sleeping – there was no luxury of writer’s block or worrying about it. I simply wrote and wrote and, when I finished, I edited and edited.

Somewhere between three and six months, I sent the manuscript off to my agent, holding my breath because I wasn’t entirely sure if my brain had gone completely to mush. After all, I had been known to put socks in the fridge and forget that my glasses were on my head.

Luckily, the story was there, so the real work could begin…

Sarah's editing desk. 

… Editing is the bit I like most of all, which I still find funny because when I first started writing it was the part I struggled with the most. But, I‘ve been lucky to work with great editors and I have a fantastic agent (who is also an amazing editor) and now I relish the editing process.

Following a few months of editing, a few weeks of us all emailing suggested titles to each other (before the clever Georgina Hanratty of Bounce came up with Eloise Undercover), there were a few baited breaths as the proofs were sent out by Valentina of Catnip Books, and then the joy of receiving real live books on the day of the launch party.

Sarah signing copies of her book
Funnily enough it was seeing both books sitting together quite happily on the shelf of Clapham Books that made me realise I’ve actually written two books. Two books and one baby in the last two years. How on earth did that happen?!

Every author's dream. Seeing your books on a shelf in a book store. Awesome!
"Eloise Undercover" by Sarah Baker is out now, published by Catnip Books. 
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Tuesday 26 September 2017

You Choose in Space by Pippa Goodhart and Nick Sharratt (Picture Puffin)

Let's zoom out into the stratosphere in a colourful and vibrant journey of discovery - You Choose your adventure in "You Choose in Space" by Pippa Goodhart and Nick Sharratt...
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ReadItDaddy's Kid, YA and Grown-Up Comic Book Roundup - September 2017

Once again we're taking a deep dive into all things comic-flavoured with a triple-themed comic round up, celebrating the brightest, best and some of the newest comics to hit our review pile over the last month.

Kicking off with a comic series I've absolutely fallen in love with, now reissued in a new print run.

Neil Gaiman's "Marvel 1602" with art by Andy Kubert and Richard Isanove basically takes all the amazing Marvel heroes you know and love (or loathe, depending on your loyalty and allegiance, true believers) and dumps them back in time to the titular date.

Here we see well-known superheroes reinvented in such an amazing and engaging way that you (like me) will end up completely hooked.

The first chapter in the series, gathered together in a nice fat Graphic Novel format, begins in Elizabethan England. Strange things are stirring and dark forces are rising. In the service of Queen Elizabeth, court magician Dr. Stephen Strange senses that the bizarre weather plaguing the skies above is not of natural origin.

Her majesty's premier spy, Sir Nicholas Fury, fends off an assassination attempt on the Queen by winged warriors rumored to be in service to a mad despot named Doom.

News is spreading of "witchbreed" sightings - young men bearing fantastic superhuman powers and abilities. And in the center of the rising chaos is Virginia Dare, a young girl newly arrived from the New World, guarded by a towering Indian warrior.

Can Fury and his allies find a connection to these unusual happenings before the whole world ends? This awesome version of the stories collects together volumes 1-8 of the comics, and is dazzling and sizzling with originality and Gaiman's amazing storytelling. Art is also fantastic, so if you're a bit jaded with the whole MCU this might just reinvigorate your enthusiasm.

"Marvel 1602" by Neil Gaiman, Andy Kubert and Richard Isanove is out now, published by Marvel Comics. 

Sticking with Marvel for a moment, and ahead of the new Punisher TV Series upcoming on Netflix, it's time to take another look at the skull-t-shirt-wearing vigilante who is seemingly unstoppable. But what happens when The Punisher meets the Merc with a Mouth? Definitely not one for kids but rocking-cool stuff all the same.

"Deadpool Versus The Punisher" by Van Lente, Perez and Redmond begins with a man known simply as the Bank hiring Deadpool to kill Frank Castle.

Should be a relatively simple task for Wade Wilson to execute, right?

Except taking out the Punisher is a lot harder than Deadpool could have anticipated--especially since he likes the Punisher.

A straightforward job becomes a knock-down-drag-out fight as they trade shot for shot. But things get complicated when the mercenary and the merciless Castle wind up embroiled in a bigger, messier conflict with the Bank front and center.

The bloody and brutal fight never ceases regardless of what side Wade and Frank are on, even when it's seemingly the same side--just because they have a common enemy doesn't make them partners in crime. To the victor belong the spoils, but is there a clear winner here?

As the cover says, it's strictly NOT for kids, this one - but it's a riotous chaotic battle royale between two of the most deadly characters in the MCU.

"Deadpool Versus The Punisher" is out now, published by Marvel Comics. 

We've covered this next fantastic graphic novel elsewhere on the blog but really wanted to make sure you caught it, so it gets a mention in our comic book roundup too.

"Spinning" by Tillie Walden is one of the most affecting comic memoirs we've read in a very long time, again establishing Tillie as one of the hottest new talents on the planet.

The story details Tillie's formative years as an award winning ice skater. Growing up, it was the same every morning. Wake up, grab the ice skates, and head to the rink while the world was still dark.

Weekends were spent in glitter and tights at competitions. Perform. Smile. And do it again.

She was good. She won. And she hated it.

Poignant and captivating, Ignatz Award winner Tillie Walden's powerful graphic memoir captures what it's like to come of age, come out, and come to terms with leaving everything you used to know behind. It was a well deserved book of the week here on the blog, so definitely grab it as soon as you can!

"Spinning" by Tillie Walden is out now, published by First Second. 

Definitely one for kids next (That's if they can wrestle it out of the hands of their parents, of course!)

"Adventure Time" is one of our favourite cartoons, and it's fantastic to see that the comic collections are every single bit as good as the show. 

In Volume 11 (gathering together issues from 2016) Finn and Jake have to save all of Ooo from a life-sucking ghost! 


ake just wants to have a nice relaxing weekend without any adventures. Not too much to ask for, right? Too bad the Governor of Ghost-A-Rica has plans of his own and that means releasing his ghost minions to steal the youth of all the citizens in Ooo. 

It's a battle for youth, literally!

A fantastic romp through Ooo, penned and illustrated by the talented team of Christopher Hastings and Ian McGinty. Catch "Adventure Time Volume 11", out now and published by Titan Comics. 

More amazing adventures for kids now in Volume 3 of the Hilo Adventures. 

"Hilo: The Great Big Boom" by Judd Winick catches up with this extraordinary kid. When we last saw Hilo, DJ, and Gina, Gina had been sucked into a mysterious portal to who knows where! 

But friends don't let friends disappear into NOWHERE! 

It's up to D.J. and Hilo to follow her. Will there be danger? YES! Will there be amazing surprises? OF COURSE! 

Will Gina end up being the one to save them? DEFINITELY! 

The trio will have to battle bad guys and face disgusting food, an angry mom, powerful magic, and more! Will they survive . . . and make it back to Earth before the portal closes again?!

These have been amongst Charlotte's favourite comics over the last couple of years and we're really excited to hear that Volume 4 is on the way next spring too!

"Hilo: The Great Big Boom" is out now, published by Random House. 

Last but by no means least we've caught up with a comic that everyone has been banging on about for so long that we finally woke up and took notice, and we're SO glad we did!

"The Unstoppable Wasp" volume 1 by by Jeremy Whitley and Elsa Charretier beautifully reboots a series that has bubbled along under the radar for most folk into the MCU. 

With the resurgence of interest in Ant-Man we'd always secretly hoped that The Unstoppable Wasp would get her own series, and she has - and how!

Nadia - AKA The Unstoppable Wasp has spent the entire first half of her life as a captive of The Red Room. Trained to become a super spy and combat specialist, Nadia is on her own for the first time. Now this teenage super scientist is ready to spread her wings!

Hank Pym's daughter has a lot of time to make up for and she's determined to change the world. 

You know, if she can get her U.S. citizenship first.

Whip-smart, bang on the nail for things going on in the world at the moment, and positively bristling with utterly fantastic dialogue and art, this is a series that (quite rightly) should win a truckload of comic awards over the coming year, and it's going from strength to strength in the weeklies / monthlies too. 

Get in on the ground level with "The Unstoppable Wasp" Volume 1, out now from Marvel Comics. 

More amazing comics for kids now, with a deliciously dark atmosphere...

"Suee and the Shadow" by Ginger Ly and Molly Park is an absolutely fantastic and original story idea.

Meet Suee: Twelve years old, wears her hair to the left in a point, favours a black dress, has no friends - and she likes it that way!

When Suee transfers to the dull and ordinary Outskirts Elementary, she doesn't expect to hear a strange voice speaking to her from the darkness of the school's exhibit room and she certainly doesn't expect to see her shadow come to life. Then things start to get really weird: one by one, her classmates at school turn into zombie-like, hollow-eyed Zeroes.

While Suee investigates why this is happening, her shadow gains power. Soon, Suee must confront a stunning secret that her shadow has been hiding under her own two feet - something very dark and sinister that could put Suee and her newfound friends at risk!
One for kids just moving schools, but definitely timed just right for halloween too, "Suee and the Shadow" by Ginger Ly and Molly Park is out now, published by Amulet. 

At last, the brilliant sequel to one of our favourite comics of the last couple of years, we've been waiting for this one for so long and it was worth every minute...

"Red's Planet: Friends and Foes (Red's Planet Book 2)" by Eddie Pittman has really won Charlotte over with an eclectic mix of characters, and a red-haired mighty girl as its lead.

We pick up the story soon after Red's crash landing on a mysterious planet. Red finds herself in a new home surrounded by a host of odd and intriguing friends, including her clumsy companion, Tawee. 

But things get a little tough when the castaways run to Red for help settling in on this unknown planet. 

Suddenly, Goose and Red find themselves locked in the middle of an election to see who will lead the castaways. 

Meanwhile, Red and her new family come across an Uskok probe sent to search the universe for something--but what (or whom) could it be? And who will reign supreme on the new planet? With the imminent threat of the Uskoks, Red and Goose must join forces in order to protect the castaways and, ultimately, their friendship.

This series is fast becoming the 'go to' we recommend to folk who have middle graders looking for an entry point into comics. It's fun, brilliantly written and illustrated with a fantastic sassy mighty girl hero to really root for. 

"Red's Planet: Friends and Foes" (Red's Planet Book 2) by Eddie Pittman is out now, published by Amulet. 

Phew! Definitely something for everyone in that little lot. That's about all we've got time for in this month's comic roundup. Stay tuned in October as we search the planet for the best YA, kid and Adult comics to bring sizzling straight to your eyeballs. 
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Monday 25 September 2017

A fabulous pair of books featuring all creatures great and small, here's Yuval Zommer's fabulous "Big Sticker Book of Bugs / Big Sticker Book of Beasts" (Thames and Hudson)

We're huge, huge fans of Yuval Zommer's fabulous story books but he's also a very talented chap when it comes to non fiction titles.

We've previously enjoyed both "The Big Book of Bugs" and "The Big Book of Beasts" by Yuval, and now we're delighted to see a pair of accompanying books for your minibeast and big beast fans to enjoy and get involved with.

"The Big Sticker Book of Bugs" is a huge book full of the sort of delicious little details Yuval is famous for, this time with over 500 reusable stickers to stick down in various scenes and habitats.

Learn all about the insects of the world with this book that encourages children to go on their own investigative journey of the animals we share our living space with (whether we like it or not!)

Absolutely fantastic for Charlotte, who can't seem to resist cuddling woodlice or playing with ladybirds on her fingers.

"The Big Sticker Book of Bugs" by Yuval Zommer is out now, published by Thames and Hudson. 

If you like your beasts a big bigger, perhaps more furry and less inclined to crawl up your trouser leg then this one's for you!

"The Big Sticker Book of Beasts" features altogether larger prey, again with over 500 reusable stickers to place in all their different habitats and homes around the world.

Cuddle up to a Koala or two, stomp around the savannah with an Elephant or perhaps hibernate with some Canadian Grizzlies, there's definitely something for everyone in this fabulous activity book.

The books are of the highest quality, with easy-to-peel stickers throughout, and loads of lovely colour illustrations and opportunities for you to get busy with your own pens and pencils to create your own fun scenes.

"The Big Sticker Book of Beasts" by Yuval Zommer is also out now, published by Thames and Hudson (both books kindly supplied for review). 

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Pirate Baby by Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith (Otter-Barry Books)

More nautical naughtiness on the high seas, but this time the trouble is pint-sized...
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Friday 22 September 2017

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 22nd September 2017 - "Black Light Express" by Philip Reeve and Ian McQue (Oxford Children's Books)

Our Chapter Book of the Week continues a series I've completely fallen head over heels in love with. The sizzlingly brilliant "Black Light Express" by Philip Reeve...
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ReaditDaddy's Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 22nd September 2017: Kevin by Rob Biddulph (HarperCollins Children's Books)

I'm pretty sure just about every book blogger out there is going to kick off their review of our Picture Book of the week this week with "We need to talk about Kevin..."
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Thursday 21 September 2017

Why kids aren't allowed to draw on their imagination, and why this is putting tons of kids off art in school - a ReadItTorial

Without a doubt, one of the big lures for many kids when it comes to books is seeing brilliant cover or internal illustrations that let their imaginations fly to other worlds, or introduce them to amazing characters they could never have dreamed up themselves.

We've written many times in these ReadItTorials about the worth of illustrators in helping to convey stories effectively but all those illustrators have one thing in common - they use their amazing imaginations to produce those believable characters and worlds.

Most artists (including myself) will readily admit to using references, researching image libraries and sometimes to using models or maquettes to get a particular pose or illustration 'just right' but many just seem to have the knack of hacking into their own natural born talent with amazing works that look real enough to leap off the page and actually 'exist'.

A lot of that comes from things they may have learned from school, with a good art tutor who engages with the subject enough to want to teach as many different aspects of illustration, from the important stuff like perspective, observation and anatomy through to colour, arrangement and form.

What we seem to find - not just in school but beyond that into further education too is that folk who love to draw often say they're not allowed to or are frowned upon for drawing from imagination.

Quite often art lessons still seem to rely heavily on those dreadful old standards of sticking a bunch of objects on the work table, then getting kids to draw and paint them in order to understand the shapes, the way to depict objects with light and shade, and to get proportions and scale just right.

Yes - those are important skills and there's nothing wrong with them - but as we've found with reading, there's a huge gulf between drawing and painting to gather the requisite skills for illustration, and drawing for the sheer pleasure of just coming up with something from your vivid imagination.

Learn how to draw just about everything with Lorenzo Etherington, half of the incredibly talented Etherington Brothers

I guess what we're talking about here is more of a mix of disciplines when it comes to teaching drawing, painting and illustration to kids. For example, not just relying on the hoary old standards that have been in place for years, but perhaps engaging kids with more up-to-date artists, methods and means of producing stunning work. Does anyone know of any school that, for example, bothers to touch digital art at all, other than perhaps slinging a couple of photos into a package and messing around with them for posters etc?

Regular blog visitors will know that we're huge fans of The Etherington Brothers, and really love Lorenzo Etherington's art.

Lorenzo's the sort of guy you'd love as an art teacher, with an obvious passion for his work and sharing brilliant tutorials that go beyond the usual "Start here, then draw this, then draw this and VOILA!" approach

Lorenzo's tutorial series "How to Think when you Draw" which has been put together both for the Etheringon Brothers blog and for The Phoenix comic is exactly the right balance of imagination vs real-world art skills. It's the perfect mix to encourage kids to think before they draw, think while they're drawing, and think about how they can take the tips and tricks learned into their own works of art.

Angry faces! (C) Lorenzo Etherington
I really like the approach of letting kids loose on drawing from their imagination, but also encouraging them to think about the component parts of their drawings, those bendy 'rules' and also a little bit about the mechanics of the very thing they're trying to draw.

It's fair to say that Lorenzo does make it look easy (and believe me, it really isn't!) but with practice and determination, you can start to build up a whole new internal symbol set - and way of thinking about your drawing - that will stand you in good stead when you start to build up your own portfolio.

For kids, I think it's just as important to encourage and develop a love of doodling and drawing for pleasure as it is to develop a love of reading for pleasure. We've always, always made sure there are art materials around at home for Charlotte to use - and that there's always somewhere in our dwindling spare time set aside for drawing, painting, sketching and doodling together (and it's been wonderful to go out to museums and other places and draw alongside my daughter, as bonding experiences go, it really doth rock!)

It has worked wonders for art lessons at school too, as it means she actively engages with the subject, enjoys it - and also appreciates the way the lessons are taught (even though she shares my absolute hatred of drawing still life or landscapes - and is also pretty bloody minded when it comes to advice from her teacher that she doesn't agree with!)

But there's still loads and loads of room in schools to let kids just go crazy and see what they can dig out of their own internal symbol sets and their own imaginations - if for no better reason than to let them just chill out, take the brakes off and just have some fun.
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I Want to Go First by Richard Byrne (Oxford Children's Books)

It's not easy being the smallest in any family, just ask baby elephant!
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Iggy Peck's Big Project Book for Amazing Architects by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts (Abrams Young Readers)

Here's a fabulous companion activity book to one of our favourite books ever...!
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Wednesday 20 September 2017

Pug a Doodle Do by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre (Oxford Children's Books)

Now here's something we can really get behind - a fantastic activity book featuring a cast of completely chaotic characters, oh and of course a metric ton of snorty snuffly snuggly pugs!
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World Pizza by Cece Meng and Ellen Shi (Sterling Publishing)

Be careful what you wish for when you wish upon a star...but sometimes things have a habit of working out just fine in the end...
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Tuesday 19 September 2017

13 1/2 Incredible Things You Need To Know About Everything (Dorling Kindersley)

Once again, non-fiction experts Dorling Kindersley have come up with a truly stunning and superb fact-filled book to dazzle and delight you...
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Fidget Spinners Tricks Hacks and Mods by Cara Stevens (Orchard Books)

I must admit, I never really understood the whole fidget spinner thing...but kids are absolutely crazy about the things!
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Sam The Most Scaredy-Cat Kid in the Whole World by Mo Willems (Walker Books)

Dealing with childhood anxieties really isn't easy in a children's picture book...
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