Monday 23 July 2018

Sizzling Summer Reads - The perfect antidote to long boring school holidays? A glorious selection of fabulous BOOKS of course!

Oh believe me, we really do feel for you parents, guardians, grandparents and carers who are now faced with a long hot summer of keeping your youngsters entertained. We've always found that during the quiet moments when C packs her bags for visiting her grandparents we always end up packing a book or two into her bag, as nothing passes the time than digging into a fantastic book or two.

So here's ten summery sunny smashers we'll definitely be reading this summer holiday.

Kicking off with a perfect upper-middle-grade / early YA  graphic novel that perfectly sums up the summer break.

"All Summer Long" by Hope Larson beautifully captures the bittersweet experience of spending summer without your besties, as we catch up with thirteen-year-old Bina whose usually meticulously planned "Fun List" of summer activities ends up blown out of the water thanks to her best friend.

Bina and Austin usually do everything together, but he's off to soccer camp for a month, and he's been acting kind of weird lately anyway (boys, tchoh!)

So it's up to Bina to see how much fun she can have on her own.

At first it's a lot of guitar playing, boredom, terrible English accents and bad TV, but things look up when she finds an unlikely companion in Austin's older sister, who enjoys music just as much as Bina.

But then Austin comes home from camp, and he's acting even weirder than when he left. How Bina and Austin rise above their growing pains and reestablish their friendship and respect for their differences makes for a touching and funny coming-of-age story.

"All Summer Long" by Hope Larson is out now, published by FirstSecond. 

From the sublime to the sublimely surreal and the awesome Shaun Tan's masterpiece "Rules of Summer".

Capturing the spirit of imagination and play, this is a glorious and weird exploration of the relationship between two siblings as they come up with a list of rules that touch on the adventures they have in a strange landscape filled with wonderful creatures - and danger!

It's impossible not to get completely wrapped up in Tan's bookworlds, as he inventively comes up with an amazing array of incidents and circumstances for his two boy characters to immerse themselves in.

Like all Shaun's books, it's a work of art in its own right and even if your little ones might be too young for the text, they'll absolutely love the art in this.

"The Rules of Summer" by Shaun Tan is out now, published by Hodder.

Summer wouldn't be summer without activity books, and there's nothing better than spending a few hours getting sticky with stickers.

Usborne's awesome "Sticker Dolly Dressing" range is just perfect and this holiday-themed edition is a bright and colourful book full of reusable sticker scenes.

Invent the perfect holiday outfit and scenario with a ton of brilliantly illustrated stickers and accessories for your characters as they spend long hot days lazing in the sun or splashing in the sea.

We've always loved these books as they're just so gorgeously produced and there's a huge range of them for both boys and girls.

"Sticker Dolly Dressing: Holiday" is out now, published by Usborne Publishing. 

More holiday picture book fun now, with something many many parents will identify with just before they've loaded up the car on their way to the family holiday this year...

"Fergus Barnaby Goes on Holiday" by David Barrow is a gloriously illustrated tale of a little bear who can't quite find all the things he needs to pack into his little suitcase as his family get ready for some summer fun.

All the things he needs to take with him - like his bucket and spade, his kite and his swimming goggles, are all out on loan to the various creatures he shares house space with.

Poor Fergus is exhausted before he's even started, as he has to dash up to the first, second and third floors to retrieve his holiday goodies.

He's not the only one with problems though, even when he's ready and packed - Dad is still a bit forgetful and he's forgotten possibly the most important thing of all (we'll leave you to find out just what - or rather who - that is!)

This is classic picture-book loveliness from David, with glorious illustrations, a fun theme and of course a funny twist too. It's a big lovely cuddly huge book for sprawling out on the floor with, and it's definitely been one of our favourite holiday-themed books.

"Fergus Barnaby Goes on Holiday" by David Barrow is out now, published by Hodder Children's Books. 

Next, probably one of the most important 'holiday' books we've had the pleasure of reviewing on this humble blog.

"Tilly's At Home Holiday" by Gillian Hibbs is something that unexpectedly really spoke to us, and me in particular as a kid who didn't have many family holidays. In this book Tilly and her mum plan a vacation with a difference, they stay at home and spend time together doing a multitude of fun things.

For kids in a similar position, this book is utterly essential - not everyone gets to jet off to a fantastic sunny location over the summer but that doesn't mean that spending time with someone special can't make a holiday just as awesome.

"Tilly's At Home Holiday" by Gillian Hibbs is out now, published by Child's Play. 

We can't possibly miss out awesome chapter book reads from our summer reading list this year, so let's dig into five truly awesome and distinctly different summer reads.

"Bone Talk" by Candy Gourlay is out on the 2nd August, just in time to become your new favourite YA obsession from this enormously talented author.

It's a totally immersive and truly original summer read, beginning with a young would-be warrior about to embark on a rights-of-passage like no other.

Samkad dreams of becoming a mighty headhunter like his father, carrying his own weapons and etching tattoos across his chest to proclaim his greatness as a warrior.

His best friend is a girl his age, Little Luki wants to become a mighty warrior too ... except in their culture, girls don't grow up to become warriors. 

The two friends have no idea about the world outside their isolated mountain village until a boy from the Lowlands turns up ... a boy who can speak many tongues and who tells stories about the world outside that seem ridiculous and unbelievable especially the part about invaders called 'Americans' who are coming to take over the village.

A thought-provoking, heart wrenching and absolutely essential book to get thoroughly wrapped in over the summer hols. 

"Bone Talk" by Candy Gourlay is out on 2nd August, published by David Fickling Children's Books. 

More bang-up-to-the-minute stuff now from a blog favourite author who is leading the charge for a new startup publisher who is promising to shake things up in kidlit. We're already sitting up and taking notice of what Knights Of publishing are shouting about, and "Knights and Bikes" by Gabrielle Kent and Rex Crowle certainly seems to echo the promises made by this intriguing publisher. 

Welcome to the sleepy island of Penfurzy, where nothing exciting ever really happens. OR DOES IT?

Adventure awaits Demelza and her new best friend in the whole world, Nessa, as they explore the island and uncover the mysteries of the Penfurzy Knights. 

With a honking pet goose sidekick, quirky islanders and a legendary treasure to find, it's up to Nessa and Demelza to ride their bikes, solve the puzzles before them, and face down danger with frisbees, water-balloons, feathers .... and a toilet plunger. It's a rip-roaring summer read that's full of the sort of awesome diversity and glorious adventuring we love to see in books. 

"Knights and Bikes" by Gabrielle Kent is out on 2nd August, published by Knights Of. 

Another corkingly good read for the summer comes from Pippa Goodhart in the form of "The Great Sea Dragon Discovery" - new out from Catnip Books. 

Set during the 19th century as the world began to fall under the spell and magic of many scientific discoveries you'll find yourself pulled back to Cambridge in 1860.

Meet Bill. Bill is a boy whose head is full of questions and his constant curiosity always seems to get him into trouble. Especially when one of his experiments causes his father to lose his job. 

Bill gets a bit of money for his family selling interesting fossils he has found in his locale but they're barely scraping by and Bill soon finds himself drawn into a mystery that perhaps could solve all the family's financial problems once and for all. The only problem is that Bill's discovery puts forward such a controversial theory that it could completely change the world for good. 

Set against the amazing backdrop of fossil discoveries and the challenges to evolution, this is a rivetting read for kids (and adults) who love a bit of science mixed in with their fiction. 

Utterly believable and gorgeously written. "The Great Sea Dragon Discovery" by Pippa Goodhart is out now, published by Catnip Books. 

More historical awesomeness now with a fantasy twist for those of you who love complex and glorious worldbuilding, and utterly mesmeric characters. 

"The Book of Boy" by Catherine Gilbert Murdock is a truly epic and engrossing fantasy tale that kicks off with a brilliant map and features awesome black-and-white art by Ian Schoenherr throughout.

Boy has always been relegated to the outskirts of his small village. With a large hump on his back, a mysterious past, and a tendency to talk to animals, he is often mocked by others in his town - perhaps even feared - until the arrival of a shadowy pilgrim named Secondus.

Impressed with Boy's climbing and jumping abilities, Secondus engages Boy as his servant, pulling him into an action-packed and suspensful expedition across Europe to gather the seven precious relics of Saint Peter.

Boy quickly realizes this journey is not an innocent one. They are stealing the relics and accumulating dangerous enemies in the process. But Boy is determined to see this pilgrimage through until the end--for what if St. Peter can make Boy's hump go away? 

Riveting and fresh, this is amazing stuff. 

"The Book of Boy" by Catherine Gilbert Murdock is out now, published by Greenwillow Books. 

Aw, just enough space for one more...and this one will certainly make you chortle with glee!

Elys Dolan's "Wizarding for Beginners" might not feature a certain boy wizard with a weird scar on his forehead but it's absolutely perfect for emerging / solo readers who are just making their first moves away from picture books. 

Meet two of the oddest characters you'll ever meet. Dave and Albrecht!

Best friends always with a nose for adventure, Dave and Albrecht must go undercover to solve a mystery. They must disguise themselves as wizards to enter the notoriously secretive Wizarding Guild, in order to free their friends and stop the most evil wizard of them all - Terrence - who is the sort of baddie we just love to bits!

Luckily for Dave and Albrecht they have the perfect book to help them on their quest, the amazing, the brilliant, Wizarding for Beginners! What could possibly go wrong (apart from 'everything'?)

Brilliantly funny stuff from Elys. "Wizarding for Beginners" is out now, published by OUP / Oxford Children's books. 

Enjoy your fantastic summer reading adventure, stay cool and keeeeep reading!