Monday 30 April 2018

A fabulous reprint of two children's classics, with amazing illustrations from Robert Ingpen. Here's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "The Jungle Book" (Palazzo Abridged Classics)

The Palazzo range of children's classics sees a couple of brilliant reprints, featuring the glorious artwork of Australian artist Robert Ingpen...
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The Match by Russell Ayto (Bloomsbury Children's Books)

In this World Cup year, you can expect a huge flood of amazing books about the beautiful game - but sometimes the best books are the ones that play things a little closer to home...
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Friday 27 April 2018

ReadItDaddy's Second Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 27th April 2018: "Looshkin Book 1" by Jamie Smart (David Fickling Books)

Our second Picture Book of the Week poses the most important question you may ever face in your entire existence as a human being on this planet. "Do you like Dog Cheese?"
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ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 27th April 2018 - "Beyond the Odyssey" by Maz Evans (Chicken House Books) @chickenhsebooks

I think our emotions ranged from excited anticipation to wild mania when we saw this week's Chapter Book of the Week...
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A Fantastic "This or That" with Daisy Hirst, author of our superb Book of the Week winner this week, "I Do Not Like Books Anymore" (Walker Books)

To celebrate the launch of Daisy Hirst's new book "I Do Not Like Books Anymore!" we're putting Daisy under the spotlight for another fantastic "This or That" set of questions. So without further ado, let's get right on that...

Chocolate or Cheese?

Pens or Pencils?

Star Wars or Star Trek?
Star Wars

Cats or Dogs?

Seaside or Countryside?
Oof that’s hard! Argh. Countryside.  

Tea or Coffee?

Gym Bunny or Couch Potato?
Gym Potato?

Summer or Winter?

Writing with a pen or typing on a keyboard?
With a pen.

Marmite lover or Marmite Loather?
Marmite lover.

Bonus SuperDuper Difficult Question: Alphonse or Natalie :)
Umm, Banana.

"I Do Not Like Books Anymore" by Daisy Hirst is out now, published by Walker Books.
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ReadItDaddy's First Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 27th April 2018 - "I Do Not Like Books Any More!" by Daisy Hirst (Walker Books) @BIGPictureBooks

Our first Picture Book of the Week sees the return of Daisy Hirst's brilliantly busy little siblings Alphonse and Natalie for a second adventure - this time inside books!
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Thursday 26 April 2018

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Creative Writer - A ReadItTorialThis tom

Once again I found myself enrolling for the fantastic FutureLearn / Open University "Start Writing Fiction" course recently, in order to try and jumpstart my own flagging writing.

I'd attempted the course once before, got about half way through before realising that the short story I'd been working on was, for want of a better description, utter tripe. Like having the rug yanked out from under me, it more or less caused a complete collapse of interest in completing the course and as the end of course deadline approached, I was like a rabbit in the headlights, unable to pull one final effort out of the bag in order to finish.

This time though, I vowed things would be different.

The course (which is repeated a few times a year, and is WELL worth going on - go check out does get you into several areas that children's picture book writers, middle grade writers and YA writers all have in common as typical writer 'problems':

1) Character building. The course REALLY pours it on when it comes to characters, and it needs to really because our characters underpin, define, direct, star in and are crucial to the development of our stories. The course really gets you thinking about the sources for characters. Do you draw on yourself? Your own experiences, your own characteristics and traits? Your own emotional responses to situations? Is it not just more fun to make the whole thing up and create characters that are wholly unknown to you or drawn from decent amounts of research? I really admire how this part of the course has been structured and if you do the course for any single reason, do it to partake of the excellent character building stuff for sure.

2) World / Situation Building. Of course characters are fine but without a setting or a stage, where are they? What are their  motivations? What external forces direct or shape their actions? I've long been in total awe of anyone who can construct a book 'world' from scratch, possibly why I am most drawn to science fiction and fantasy, where anything is possible. Again the course delves into worldbuilding in great detail and starts your thinking and writing processes off by getting you to observe the world around you, seeing how you can subtly tweak and perhaps totally reinvent it for your own storytelling aims.

3) Secondary / supplementary characters (I always, as a lapsed videogamer, refer to these as "NPCs or Non Player Characters" - Sometimes I get completely carried away with the creation of NPCs to the detriment of the key character or characters in a piece. Again the course gently reins this in, asks you to give your characters a lifespan, a curve all of their own to follow, perhaps sometimes only defined by a few key traits or entirely defined by their interactions with your main characters.

4) Advice on reading. Yes indeed, as much as you may think you can write, if you don't read - and read a lot of other work in your chosen field or genre as well as researching well outside of that field, you're going to end up making a lot of mistakes or perhaps constructing stories that just don't hold water, won't pass muster and won't get an agent giving them a second glance.

As different as the main 'kid / youth' definitions are to read, they are very similar to write for and you really have to pay heed to the above, and many other storytelling elements in order to draw up a story. Critiquing other people's work is also covered in the course, and it's got me thinking about how I do this (on the rare occasions I'm brave enough to offer to read other people's fledgeling manuscripts). Criticism, knockbacks, rejections are all part of the writing process, and of course a more important part of the polishing, editing and refining process and those are the stages that most writers will probably tell you that they truly hate the most.

This time I completed the course early, doing pretty well in the tests / quizzes and written assignments aside from throwing it all away at the end with a bit of a crappy 1000 word story for critique / assessment. It was worth doing though and I'd thoroughly recommend it to others if you're struggling with any of the basics, or just want to freshen up your writing a bit.
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A fantastic delve into Russian Folk Tales with Sophie Anderson, author of the stunning "The House With Chicken Legs" (Usborne Publishing) @sophieinspace @usborne #HouseWithChickenLegs #BlogTour

The House with Chicken Legs Blog Tour

"Fifteen Russian Fairy Tales and What They Mean to Me" by Sophie Anderson, Author of "The House with Chicken Legs" (Usborne Publishing)

We're delighted to be joined by Sophie Anderson this morning on our stop on the fabulous "The House with Chicken Legs" blog tour. Sophie has spun a superb version of the classic Baba Yaga folk tale, adding an impressively atmospheric new twist to this well-loved classic.

Sophie has joined us to talk about another Russian folk tale as part of the tour, so take it away Sophie!

4. The Death of Koschei the Deathless (on untold stories)

‘In a certain kingdom in a certain land …’

The Death of Koschei the Deathless or Maria Morevna is a Russian fairy tale,collected and published by Alexander Afanasyev in 1855.

In the story, Prince Ivan’s parents die, and his three sisters marry and leave the kingdom. Prince Ivan becomes lonely and sets off to visit his sisters. On the way he finds an army, slain by the warrior queen Maria Morevna.

Maria takes a liking to Ivan, marries him, and takes him to her kingdom. But after a while, Maria decides to leave Ivan at home while she goes off to make war again.

Before she leaves, she tells Ivan not to look in a particular closet …

Of course, Ivan looks in the closet, and finds Koschei the Deathless chained up. Koschei begs Ivan for a drink and Ivan gives him some water. This restores Koschei’s strength and he breaks his chains, runs off, and takes Maria prisoner.

Ivan sets off to rescue Maria, visiting his three sisters along the way and leaving a piece of silver with each one. He finds Maria and attempts to take her home while Koschei is out hunting. However, Koschei catches him up and steals Maria back.

This happens a second time, and a third, and on the third time Koschei cuts Ivan into tiny pieces, throws the pieces into a barrel, and casts the barrel out to sea. The pieces of silver Ivan gave his sisters blacken, so they know something bad has happened and they send their husbands to find Ivan.

They do find him, piece him back together and revive him with the water of life.

Determined to rescue Maria this time, Ivan steals a super-fast horse from Baba Yaga and whisks Maria away. But once again, Koschei catches him up. However, this time Ivan’s super-horse swings a hoof and smashes Koschei’s head, and Ivan finishes him off with a mace.

‘Thereupon the prince gathered together a pile of wood, made a fire, burned Koschei the Deathless, and scattered his ashes to the wind.’

This story fascinates because of all the untold stories it contains.

Firstly, how did Koschei the Deathless end up chained in Maria Morevna’s closet?

Considering that, at the start of story, Maria is a warrior queen capable of slaying armies, my theory is she captured and imprisoned Koschei herself. This is an untold story I would like to hear!

Secondly, why does Maria Morevna, this amazing warrior queen, turn into a damsel-in-distress half way through the story; allowing herself to be captured by Koschei and waiting at his castle – even when Koschei is out hunting - for Ivan to rescue her?

This has never felt quite right to me, and I can’t help but feel something else is going on. Perhaps Maria willingly went with Koschei … perhaps they had a history together… perhaps she was testing Prince Ivan. Or perhaps this part of the story has been completely altered by a patriarchal storyteller.

I would like to hear this part of the story told again, from Maria’s point of view, and from Koschei’s point of view, as I think they may provide a more realistic and balanced version of events.

And thirdly, how on earth is Koschei the Deathless killed by a blow to the head? Koschei the Deathless is immortal, and according to other fairy tales, can only be killed by finding his death (or his soul) which is hidden far away …

‘in the sea there is an island, on that island stands an oak, under the oak a coffer is buried, in the coffer is a hare, in the hare is a duck, in the duck is an egg, and in the egg is my death.’

I have always been fascinated by the idea of Koschei hiding his soul to become immortal. It is another untold story I would love to hear. Why did Koschei hide his soul?

Untold stories like this are rife in fairy tales, and one of the reasons they provide endless inspiration for writers. Fairy tales beg to be told from different point of views; the hero’s, the villain’s, and the damsel-in- maybe-not- as-much- distress-as- all-that’s.

It is immensely satisfying to pick at the threads that don’t feel right, and to reimagine the story until it makes more sense in your heart and mind.

And there is a lesson that carries over to real life too; about not making judgements on someone, or accepting them as a villain, without hearing their side of the story.

There is an upper YA / adult reimagining of this tale, Deathless, written by Catherynne M. Valente, published by Tor.

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ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book Roundup - April 2018

We're off to a roaring start with our April Chapter Book roundup. Let's dip in to "Big Foot and Little Foot" by Ellen Potter and Felicita Sala to get things under way.

Hugo is a young Sasquatch who longs for adventure.

Boone is young boy who longs to see a Sasquatch. 

When their worlds collide, they become the unlikeliest pair of best friends. At the Academy for Curious Squidges, Hugo learns all manner of sneaking--after all, the most important part of being a Sasquatch is staying hidden from humans. But, Hugo dreams of roaming free in the Big Wide World, rather than staying cooped up in caves. 

When he has an unexpected run in with a young human boy, Hugo seizes the opportunity for grand adventure. 

Soon, the two team up to search high and low for mythic animals, like Ogopogos and Snoot-Nosed Gints. Through discovering these new creatures, together, Big Foot and Little Foot explore the ins and outs of each other's very different worlds but learn that, deep down, maybe they're not so different after all.

A superb tale of friendship and accepting that different can sometimes be really cool, "Big Foot and Little Foot" by Ellen Potter and Felicita Sala is out now, published by Amulet. 

Next we'll delve into a truly cosmic comic shop in "The Uncracked Code featuring Komodo Jones" - Book 1 in an eventual comic-flavoured trilogy from Tamara Macfarlane and Eugene Ramirez Mapondera. 

Friends Coco and Zac are at the heart of this awesome adventure, inspired by their favourite tough comic super hero, Komodo Jones to become mystery solvers and crime fighters.

They love hanging out at the cosmic comic shop and cosmic cafe, but one day mystery finds them before they can even get into their first case. Can the two pool their talent and resources and get to the bottom of a ticklish enigma? 

A fantastic book with brilliant presentation, absolutely top appeal to comic fans who want to get wrapped up in a set of cool cases. 

"The Uncracked Code Featuring Komodo Jones" is Book 1 by Tamara MacFarlane and Eugene Ramirez Mapondera. Out now from Troika Books. 

Next, a fantastic and deeply immersive story set in the midst of the Second World War. 

"The Buried Crown" by Ally Sherrick is spine-tinglingly brilliant, just the sort of book I loved getting wrapped up in when I was a kid (and still the sort of book we both love now). 

Britain is on the brink of invasion.

Londoner George has been sent to live in in the countryside while his brother and guardian, Charlie, fights overseas. 

But the war is closer than he thinks. An ancient burial ground nearby contains a priceless treasure, a magical Anglo-Saxon crown Hitler is desperate to possess as he scours the earth for religious and mythological artefacts to boost his power.

Alongside Kitty, the granddaughter of a Jewish archaeologist, George must find and protect the crown from the Nazi invaders before it's too late. Could this artefact truly turn the tide of war in Hitler's favour? The two must stop at nothing to thwart Hitler's insane plans. 

Utterly gripping, highly original and full of the same sort of amazing WWII atmosphere childhood favourites like "The Machine Gunners" and "The Owl Service" had, this is absolutely brilliant stuff. 

"The Buried Crown" by Ally Sherrick is out now, published by Chicken House. 

Next we'll take a look at a new middle grade novel series, spawned from a comic book series we already love...

"Lumberjanes: The Moon is Up" by Mariko Tamaki and Brooklyn Allen brings together all the fantastic characters from the well-loved and critically acclaimed comic strip.

Welcome to Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types. 

The five scouts of Roanoke cabin―Jo, April, Molly, Mal, and Ripley―love their summers at camp. 

They get to hang out with their best friends, earn Lumberjane scout badges, annoy their no-nonsense counselor Jen . . . and go on supernatural adventures. 

That last one? A pretty normal occurrence at Miss Qiunzella’s, where the woods contain endless mysteries.

As the camp gears up for the big Galaxy Wars competition, Jo and the gang get some help from an unexpected visitor―a Moon Pirate!

Book Two will focus on Jo, the ingenious inventor of the group who also happens to be trans. This novel follows on from the fantastic book 1: "Unicorn Power!" also by Mariko and Brooklyn. 

"Lumberjanes: The Moon is up" by Mariko Tamaki and Brooklyn Allen is out on the 10th May 2018, published by Amulet Books. 

Let's take a look at a stunning new series from blog favourite Anne Booth, whose new novel series shows off the beauty and diversity of the bird kingdom to awesome effect...

In "Magical Kingdom of Birds: The Sleepy Hummingbirds" meet 
Maya, a young girl who is given a truly amazing gift. 

When Maya receives a special colouring book - The Magical Kingdom of Birds - she is transported to a beautiful realm filled with magnificent birds and their fairy friends.

But the kingdom is in trouble - evil Lord Astor has a plan to capture and cage the tiniest residents, the hummingbirds - and as Keeper of the Book it's up to Maya to protect them. 

Can she enlist the help of her new found friends to protect these adorable creatures from Lord Astor?

Packed with beautiful illustrations, information on the real birds that inspired the story, and includes two special colouring pages!

It's a lovely series for kids who love birds and mythical creatures in equal measure, tinged with a touch of sparkle and magic. 

"Magical Kingdom of Birds: The Sleepy Hummingbirds" by Anne Booth and Rosie Butcher is out on the 7th June 2018, published by OUP / Oxford Children's Books. 

Next in our book bad, even more magic!

"Polly Diamond and the Magic Book" by Alice Kuipers and Diana Toledano unleashes the power of words. 

Polly loves language and she really loves writing stories.

So when a magic book appears on her doorstep that can make everything she writes happen in real life, Polly is certain all of her dreams are about to come true. 

But she soon learns that what you write and what you mean are not always the same thing! 

Funny and touching, this new chapter book series will entertain younger readers and inspire their own writing talent, perhaps taking them on a magic book journey of their own. 

"Polly Diamond and the Magic Book" by Alice Kuipers and Diana Toledano is released on 1st May 2018, published by Chronicle Books. 

Next we're playing catchup just as Isla Fisher's newest adventure for larger than life Aunt Marge arrives on bookshelves.

"Marge and the Great Train Rescue" by Isla Fisher once again catches up with everyone's favourite babysitter.

Aunt Marge is loud, vivacious and has rainbow hair. Most of all Marge loves a mystery or an adventure and drags her poor hapless niece and nephew Jemima and Jakey along for the ride.

Things do SOMETIMES go off the rails when Marge is around but Jakey and Jemima don't mind that. 

After all, no one else could rescue a train, help Jakey's wobbly tooth or cause chaos at the zoo!

These stories are brilliantly written, full of family-friendly humour and Marge is the sort of character we truly love to see in children's books.

Don't miss "Marge and the Great Train Rescue" by Isla Fisher, out now from Piccadilly Press with Isla's new Marge adventure "Marge and the Secret Tunnel" arriving on bookstore shelves on 17th May 2018. 

Next, a book with a whopping huge heart that will make you feel all warm and cuddly - and quite possibly emotionally drained at the end...

Sarah Moore Fitzgerald's fabulous "The List of Real Things" is a poignant and big-hearted story about love, loss and believing in the magic of the imagination.

Grace knows the difference between what's real and the strange ideas that float around in her little sister's mind.

Their parents died - that's real.

A secret hotel on the cliff-top where their parents are waiting - definitely NOT real.

So when grief strikes again, Grace is determined not to let her sister's outlandish imagination spiral out of control.

Sometimes though sisters need to stick together, no matter what.

A beautifully crafted story where the lines between truth and fantasy often seem blurred and complex, but with such a strong voice and an amazing message of hope despite loss, this is truly special.

"The List of Real Things" by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald is out now, published by Orion Children's Books. 

Witches next, always a rich source of inspiration when it comes to storytelling...and this next book really is a beltingly entertaining read...

"Get Me Out of Witch School!" by Em Lynas and Jamie Littler introduces a young girl who isn't too keen on all this magic stuff.

Daisy Wart may not be the greatest name in the world - but now Daisy is known Twinkle Toadspit, the witchiest witch of all. The only problem is that Daisy / Twinkle would rather be the world's greatest actress than a smelly old witch. 

How can she do all her school stuff AND tour her play? By doing all the magic spells really, really fast and without practising first, that's how! 

Even if it means CHAOS and DISASTER, the show MUST go on! 

This is the second in the spellbinding, spine-tingling school series in which Twinkle Toadspit tests out her new powers with MAGICAL results! Look out for Twinkle's first adventure, "You Can't Make Me Go To Witch School!"

"Get Me Out of Witch School!" by Em Lynas and Jamie Littler is out now, published by Nosy Crow

Now for something really original and stunningly immersive...

Ewa Josefkowicz's sublime "The Mystery of the Colour Thief"

Let's meet Izzy, a girl whose life is tinged with tragedy.

After a frightening car accident, Izzy's mum is in a coma. Her family is in pieces. Her best friend at school has dumped her. And her nightmares are haunted by a shadowy man stealing all the colours from her world.

She's trying so hard to be brave, but Izzy thinks everything is her fault.

hen she meets her new neighbour, Toby, paralyzed after a skateboarding accident, and together they find a nest of cygnets who need rescuing.

They take special care of the cygnest, particularly the odd one out, called Spike. Will saving Spike save Izzy? Will she and Toby solve the mystery of the colour thief and bring hope and happiness back to Izzy's life? A truly absorbing and compelling middle grade read that will resonate with a wide variety of readers young and old.

"The Mystery of the Colour Thief" by Ewa Jozefkowicz is out on 5th May 2018, published by Head of Zeus. 

One last one for April and it's the return of a stunning series that thrilled me to bits as a kid - this time with an all-new author taking up the fantasy reins...

Charlie Higson, author, actor, comedian and lifelong fan of the "Fighting Fantasy" series of books from Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone has now crafted his own adventure that will truly take your breath away.

"The Gates of Death" is part novel, part game, all fantasy as Charlie brings his own action-packed brand of page-turning plotting to Allansia. Expect the unexpected!

In this brand new addition to the multi-million-copy-selling Fighting Fantasy series, you - the hero - must respond to a call for help from the people of Allansia.

Your quest to the Temple of Miracles in the Invisible City will be challenging and dangerous, and your simple mission will soon take a darker turn as you face the legendary Gates Of Death.

On the other side waits the Queen Of Darkness, Ulrakhaar. To stop her, and save Titan from destruction, you will have to venture further than ever before... to the Kingdom Of The Dead. Arm yourself with a dice, a pad and a pencil and prepare to fight!

"The Gates of Death" by Charlie Higson is out now, published by Scholastic. 

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Wednesday 25 April 2018

"Frank the Seven Legged Spider" by Michaele Razi (Sasquatch Books) @SasquatchBooks

"But wait a minute, don't spiders have 8 legs?" asked C quite nonchalantly before we took a look at this fab picture book...
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Nature Origami by Clover Robin (Nosy Crow / National Trust) @NosyCrow

We love Origami and all sorts of papercraft - truth is though, we're absolutely hopeless at it...
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Tuesday 24 April 2018

"Everything you need for a Treehouse" by Carter Higgins and Emily Hughes (Chronicle Books) @chroniclekids

I think at one point or another, most people have wanted to either live in or build their own Treehouse...
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"So You Think You've Got it Bad? A Kid's Life in Ancient Egypt" by Chae Strathie and Marisa Morea (Nosy Crow / British Museum) @nosycrow

When is the best time to get your kids interested in history? I'm pretty sure you'll know our answer to this question...
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Monday 23 April 2018

"Now Make This" by Thomas Barnthalter (Phaidon Publishing) @Phaidon

This is a "Make" book like no other. 25 of the world's top designers have collaborated with curator Thomas Barnthalter for something really special...
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"The Knight Who Said No" by Lucy Rowland and Kate Hindley (Nosy Crow) @nosycrow

Every parent on the planet will remember the exact moment their child first learned the power of a single word...
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Friday 20 April 2018

ReadItDaddy's Second Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 20th April 2018 - "HerStory: 50 Women and Girls Who Shook the World" by Katherine Halligan and Sarah Walsh (Nosy Crow) @NosyCrow

Our second Picture Book of the Week this week once again shows off a stellar selection of truly incredible women who made their mark on the world in amazingly inspirational ways.
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ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 20th April 2018 - "Ghost Boys" by Jewell Parker Rhodes (Orion) @orionbooks

Our Chapter Book of the Week this week is one of the most thought-provoking middle grade reads we've encountered in a long time, and couldn't be more timely if it tried...
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ReadItDaddy's First Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 20th April 2018: "The Story of Tantrum O'Furrily" by Cressida Cowell and Mark Nicholas (Hodder Children's Books) @hodderchildrens

Our first Picture Book of the Week this week is a superb little modern fable, full of originality and feline quirkiness...
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Thursday 19 April 2018

Why is engendered stereotyping sneaking back into children's books through the back door once again? A ReadItTorial #LetBooksBeBooks

This week we are mostly having a bit of a problem with a single word, that seems to herald a return to the bad old days of engendering children's books. This was first brought to light by wonderful Paula Harrison on Twitter, who makes a very valid point that suddenly it seems OK again to have girls for books and girls for boys. Wait, no it flipping isn't, what the hell is going on?

Regardless of the intent, we've seen recent titles offering up subjects that are being targeted as redressing an imbalance in the number of non-fiction titles (specifically those offering up biographical information on contemporary and historical figures of note) actually achieving the exact opposite.

The campaign around "Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls" (which, at the time, we though was extremely misleading due to a rather pointless promotional video cherry-picking story book titles from a bookshelf to show the number of male-oriented story books, something we pointed out at the time was definitely NOT our experience of children's books at all) quite rightly wanted to show that girls would be just as interested in learning about amazingly inspirational people as boys. The first book was wildly successful, spawning a sequel, and showing a brilliant collection of amazing women who are fantastic role models.

The real problem (aside from that original video) is the cover of this book. Instantly setting itself up as a gender specific title by using the word "for" (ie Good Night Stories FOR rebel girls on the cover rather than "about" or perhaps even "of").

Recent title "Stories FOR boys who dare to be different" (which takes a very close look and feel to
the above book) does the same, and Ben Brooks book (great as it is) once again seems like it's hauling the tug of war rope back towards the male side. Again there's the use of the word "For" on the cover, yet the people covered inside (all male, of course) again would equally appeal as inspirational models to both boys and girls.

So what's going on here? Simply put: a piece of clever marketing tapping into something that drives people absolutely crazy, with an almost "good samaritan" approach being rather cynically used to try and maintain the battle of the sexes (ie pointing out that a 'gross imbalance' exists on both sides and you should be annoyed about it - and should protest by buying a book for your girls / boys to shore up your beliefs).

OK that's a very simplified view of what goes on in a marketing meeting, but I swear, I would not be surprised to find that inane conversations like that really do take place - otherwise surely things like this wouldn't happen in the first place?

So I'm all for banning the word "for" for these types of books. In fact, you can do it, see how easy it is to produce a great title without engendering?

"Women in Science" covers similar ground to the other two books (albeit with more of a focus on science obviously), the book is a fantastic read and manages to have a brilliant and attractive cover that doesn't try and sneak in some "girl power" narrative or "boys are winning it back" level of hogwash either.

Let's not pretend that things are any better in fiction titles for children either. We still seem to see an awful lot of titles fetching up at ReadItDaddy Towers with press releases written up with strong gender bias implied (if not stated outright, in fact).

We tire of seeing titles being described as "A fantastic book to engage reluctant boy readers" (because of course there's no such thing as a reluctant girl reader, right? Girls are too smart for that) or seeing a title that covers a subject that (the author or publisher believes) still has a gender pin stamped on it.

I cynically think a dangerous game is being played here, that we're not actually doing anywhere near as much as we should be to eradicate ANY battle / side taking / arguing which is better in this whole thing, we're just colouring the arguments slightly differently in order to still push bias, pigeonholing and neat little labels on readers / consumers with increasingly blurring lines of acceptance on what gender stereotyping looks like, even when it's done up in stylish and fancy clothes.

It needs to stop, even with books that (as well meaning as they are) purport to be doing something about it.
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"The Colours of History: How Colours Shaped the World" by Clive Gifford and Marc Peintre (QED Publishing) @QuartoKids

Here's a stunning book full of amazing facts, tons of colour and of course a whopping great big dose of history. We LOVE it!
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Gloria's Voice by Aura Lewis (Sterling Publishing) @sterlingkids

A fantastic book celebrating one of the most important feminist figures of the last 100 years? You bet we're up for reading that...
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ABC Mindful Me by Christiane Engel (Walter Foster Jr) @walterfosterjr

We're certainly seeing one particular trend surge to the fore this year...the subject of mindfulness in books for children and teens...
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Wednesday 18 April 2018

Golden Sparkles - An Introduction to Mindfulness by Catarina Peterson and Mateya Arkova (

Mindfulness is very much the "Topic Du Jour" at the moment, with an increase in popularity particularly amongst children...
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"Llamanoes" Illustrated by Shyama Golden (Chronicle Books) @chroniclekids

As well as being passionate book bloggers who love all things book shaped, we also really love fun family board and tabletop games...
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Tuesday 17 April 2018

"The Magic Garden" by Leminscates (Walter Foster Jr Publishing) @walterfosterjr

Most children will first encounter nature when they take their first faltering toddler steps out into the garden...
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Monday 16 April 2018

Mixed Up Masterpieces: Amusing Animals (Nosy Crow / British Museum) @NosyCrow

Time for another dive into the archives with the stunning collection of artefacts in The British Museum Collection...
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Bugs: Explorer by Nick Forshaw and William Exley (What on Earth Publishing) @whatonearthbook

A fantastic new book from "What on Earth Publishing" should answer just about every question you have about creepy crawlies!
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"Looking After William" by Eve Coy (Andersen Children's Books) @AndersenPress

I love the way this book pulls a gentle bait and switch on you, right from the front cover onwards...
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Friday 13 April 2018

ReadItDaddy's Comic of the Week - Week Ending 13th April 2018 - "The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Volume 7: "I've been waiting for a Squirrel like you" by Ryan North and Erica Henderson (Marvel Comics)

Our Comic of the week this week is, of course, "The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl" volume 7: "I've been Waiting for a Squirrel Like You". Sadly, all good things come to an end...
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ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 13th April 2018: "Iguana Boy Saves the World: With a Triple Cheese Pizza" by James Bishop and Rikin Parekh (Hodder Children's Books) @hodderchildrens

Our Chapter Book of the Week is a super-powered mashup of heroes, lizards and our favourite food ever...
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ReadItDaddy's Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 13th April 2018: "The Superhero Craft Book" by Laura Minter and Tia Williams (GMC Publishing) @GMCpublishing

Aha, now here's a crafting book we can really get behind! Faster than a speeding bullet, it's a superb Book of the Week from the Little Button Diaries folk!
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Thursday 12 April 2018

If only the rest of the world could adjust its view of growing old like children's books have - a ReadItTorial

Cast your mind back to when you were a child, perhaps when you were at school and you started to wonder what you'd be like when you grew up.

Can you remember what you wanted to be? What you wanted to do for a job? Can you remember looking at your own parents and perhaps even your grandparents and thinking "Oh man, I'll never be like that" or perhaps even "Oh wow, I'd love to still be able to kick ass and chew gum at the age of 66!"

Recently there's been a lot of Twitter buzz about the depiction of old people in children's books, particularly Grandparents.

Watching a couple of threads unfold, there seemed to be a general opinion that kids books needed to catch up with the 21st century vision of what folk over 50 are like now.

Recently coasting past the half century myself, I'm surprised to see children's books getting any criticism over this at all, considering most of the books we see and review on the blog regularly celebrate the diversity and most of all the renewed energy in our older generation and have done for quite a long time.

In general, children's books quite rightly portray a positive view of older folk and to me this accurately reflects the fact that the world has indeed moved on, people are in work and active a long longer, retirement - well, hah, retirement for most of us normal hard-working folk is a hilarious pipe dream unavailable or not an option anywhere this side of 80.

The point here is that for most kids, this is the view they have of their grandparents - they're actually secret superhumans who are capable of amazing things, can perform magic, can bake practically anything, make anything, are full of the most incredible wisdom and collected knowledge and are still capable of keeping up with their energetic machinations down at the local park or on a long ramble in the countryside.

We're lucky enough to still have two amazing sets of Grandparents with us, who C completely adores. On the rare occasions we get a book through for review that does depict the "1970s view" of grandparents as being wizened old grey things collecting dust in the corner while glued to the tellybox, she doesn't recognise those characters at all.

The whole "Old" thing is another matter. As a society, we are incredibly age-ist and there still seems to be an assumption that your life as a viable human being ends as soon as you tip over the brink of 40 (personally I find that completely ridiculous, technically I felt like my life actually began at 40 - the age C was born and so many changes rolled over all of us, not just me but of course my wife too). I've been on the receiving end of no end of cheap gags about getting old (mostly from friends and family, notably) and though I smile and chuckle politely, it really does bug the hell out of me if I'm honest.

As folk have kids later on in life, I wonder if they feel they're not really properly 'grown up' until they do have kids, and take on probably one of the most important responsibilities they'll ever have in life. No matter what your job is, your career, your business, I personally don't think any of that can equate to the life-changing and massively impactive decisions you will have to make as a parent. Argue me out that choosing a career and running your own business is more stressful and carries a greater responsibility if you like, but nothing will ever match being jointly responsible for another human being's growth, development and well-being IMHO.

I really am sick and tired of some of the Twitter chat about age though, coming from folk who think it's hilarious to make cheap gags about getting old - and who blissfully think that their 20s or 30s will last forever and that they'll still somehow remain cool and relevant forever too.

Even in my 20s and 30s I had a bucketload of respect for older folk (probably because I grew up around grandparents and older relatives) and the attributes I've already mentioned above, and I think it's incredibly sad that society doesn't always reflect the idylls we see in picture books, particularly when it comes to dealing with age and generational differences.
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Thinker: My Puppy Poet and Me by Eloise Greenfield and Ehsan Abdollahi (Tiny Owl Publishing) @TinyOwl_Books

Here's a fantastic poetry anthology that will really appeal to pooch lovers who can't resist a shiny nose and wagging tail...
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Wednesday 11 April 2018

Two superb new magazines serve up a fantastic mix of science and natural history. Let's take a look at "The Week Junior" and "National Geographic Kids"

We've been really impressed with the rise and rise in the quality of magazines for children, in particular those that ditch the 'horrible plastic tat' approach, ditch the ads and serve up a superb mix of topics for young inquisitive minds to dive into.

First up is "The Week Junior" which is a current affairs magazine for 8 to 14 year olds, with a strong emphasis on covering important news stories, amazing science topics and a huge dose of natural history too.

"The Week Junior" has a really approachable format, heavy on the illustrations and photographs but with informative level-headed text that doesn't "talk down" to kids. It reminds me a lot of the approach that old-skool "Newsround" used to take, covering important topics in a really cool way.

There's a fantastic offer on at the moment to pick up 6 free issues as part of a subscription.

You can find out all the details on The Week Junior Website:

We've also been taking a look at "National Geographic Kids" - a junior version of the grown-up magazine (which we really rate highly as well).

"National Geographic Kids" also serves up a fantastic magazine with tons of nature, science and environmental topics.

The mag DOES feature free gifts on the cover (though to be honest these usually end up in the bin at home) but the magazine itself is a really informative read, again illustration / photograph-heavy with some great articles to read, puzzles to do and overall a bit more for kids between 5-8 (though older kids like C also seem to enjoy it).

You can find out more about the National Geographic Kids magazine on their website:!/kids-services

For us, "The Week Junior" just edges out in front as the magazine we'd be most likely to take out a subscription to as it felt a bit more appropriate for C's age (10). Both are excellent though so check out the websites for pricing and availability.
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Tuesday 10 April 2018

Two stunning new titles from Otter-Barry Books to tickle the imaginations of younger children

Here's a couple of brilliant new books from Otter-Barry kicking off with a riotous and crazy set of stories about a very odd fellow indeed...
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Monday 9 April 2018

My First Book of Quantum Physics by Seddad Kaid-Salah Ferron and Eduard Altarriba (Button Books)

It's amazing what kids get into these days. LOL Dolls, Roblox, Quantum Physics...
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