Friday, 28 September 2018

ReaditDaddy's YA / Adult Comic of the Week - Week Ending 28th September 2018: "Crowded: Issue 1" by Christopher Sebela, Ro Stein, Ted Brandt, Triona Farrell and Rachel Stott (Image Comics)

This week's Comic of the week is strictly for YA / Grown-ups but it's a whip-smart slice of brilliance I really don't want you to miss out on...
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ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 28th September 2018: "The Key to Flambards" by Linda Newbery (David Fickling Books)

Our Chapter Book of the Week this week is a book that...oh my, evoked such a powerful set of childhood memories it genuinely took my breath away.
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ReadItDaddy's Second Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 28th September 2018: "Power to the Princess" by Vita Murrow and Julia Bereciartu (Lincoln Children's Books)

This week's second picture book of the week - An anthology of mighty princesses to show the Disney lot how it's really done? Where do we sign?
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ReadItDaddy's First Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 28th September 2018: "A Stage Full of Shakespeare Stories" by Angela McAllister and Alice Lindstrom (Lincoln Children's Books)

It's sometimes amusing how Book of the Week winners can arrive for review just as we're discussing their particular topic on Twitter...
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Thursday, 27 September 2018

Once again we're backing #PicturesMeanBusiness with ten common misconceptions about artists and illustrators - a ReadItTorial

(Credit: Sarah McIntyre. See how easy it is to add illustrator credit?)
The fantastic #PicturesMeanBusiness campaign moves into its second phase, taking on extra staff to ensure that the publishing industry (and other branches of the media) begin to understand just how important it is to ensure that illustrators, artists, designers and creative folk are properly credited for their work.

From the blogger perspective, time and again we find ourselves forced to do a lot of extra work trying to find information on particular artist credits.

When you write a blog in your spare time, you're effectively wasting a huge amount of that spare time hunting around for information that publishers and PR folk could quite easily provide for you in press information and releases. Yet time and again, and not just in PR stuff but in other aspects of producing information about books (such as ads and catalogues) ILLUSTRATORS AND ARTISTS ARE NOT PROPERLY CREDITED, OR IN SOME CASES NOT EVEN MENTIONED AT ALL!

So we're left digging through books often to find the easily missed single line where the cover or interior artist is briefly mentioned in tiny print somewhere inside the book or frantically googling around to see if the author or the publisher has mentioned the artist elsewhere (answer: usually no!)

Sarah McIntyre AKA @jabberworks has been tirelessly campaigning with her #PicturesMeanBusiness initiative for many years, and with phase two about to begin, I thought it'd be a good idea to wrap together ten common misconceptions about being an illustrator / artist both from my own (failed) attempt to become one back as a surly twenty-something, and from direct observation of the way creatives are treated during our 8 years of book blogging.

1) "You get paid to draw pictures all day? What a dossy job!"

Oh my god, if there's a statement designed to result in someone being stabbed in the eye with a Bic biro (no self-respecting artist would ever use any of their 'good' pens or brushes for such a task) it's this one.

Again through my own direct experience of folk completely failing to understand what illustration is, what artistic talent involves, and how UTTERLY AND COMPLETELY HARD IT IS to become a professional artist or illustrator, statements like this show that the ignorance goes deep. Most people seem to equate artists and illustrators with the "kid in class who was always doodling or drawing" and quite a few folk also seem to believe that doing this day in day out for a living is something of a dream job.

Far from it - most artists really do struggle to crack the market in any meaningful way, and rely heavily on a lot of foot slogging and promotion of their work - which again is where the whole #PicturesMeanBusiness campaign stems from - if publishers and people employing artists made a better fist of helping their creatives out, perhaps the public perception of the job of being a professional illustrator may change too.

It's not just that - it is supremely difficult to be disciplined enough to work day in day out creating something from nothing. Imagine what it's like as an office drone when you wake up on a monday morning and can't be bothered to turn in for work. Now imagine if you're tired, or ill, or have sore eyes, or worse yet - have a complete creative block, but rely on getting up and working on something creative despite all that - and often for very little reward. Easy is it?

2) "Wow, I bet you get paid a fortune!"


Again, from the direct experience of quitting an IT job with decent pay, going away to art college for two years, emerging with a bunch of qualifications and a portfolio - and then taking on any illustration jobs I could find (when I could even get someone to pay me at all, often at a rate that was worse than performing manual labour or even shop work, the majority of artists do not earn anywhere near a fortune.

While at college I worked various jobs to fit in around classes and studio time just so I could live (and by 'live' I mean 'scrape by on less than minimum wage per week'). For a lot of professional creatives that's also their reality. Very few can earn a solid living purely from illustration, and either have to take on other jobs (often more than one), or extend their illustrative or creative work out into other forms (such as workshopping or experience stuff at schools etc). Authors will gladly tell you how little they earn from each book sale. Consider that in a lot of cases illustrators will also earn a pifflingly small amount and have to subsidise their incomes in other ways too.

3) "Can you draw this for me? We don't pay but can offer you great exposure!"


I think we've gone over this one many, many times on the blog and on Twitter. We've seen a lot of illustrators and artists we follow on Twitter each with their own stories of folk who've approached them for work, with no intention of paying a cent - but offering some level of coverage that isn't really worth a bean to an artist who has bills to pay. If you're trying to employ an artist for any work, and your up-front discussion doesn't come with a fee offer, pack up, go home, go find another job because you're obviously terrible at the one you're doing. Or, at the very least, don't be surprised or get aggressive when that person calls you out on it, and makes you look like the penny pinching meanie you are.

(See also: "Competition to design our new logo! Win the chance to see your work on every billboard and sign away all your creative rights at point of entry")

4) "It's all about word of mouth".

Not exactly, though word of mouth can be very useful for an artist - and recommending their work to others can help an artist find even more work. But it goes deeper than that. If you cannot also show that you value the work that the person has done for you by properly listing and crediting them throughout a project (regardless of the type of creative project we're talking about here - not just book illustration but even something as simple as designing a logo for you) then you're only doing half a job.

Many professionals in all other aspects of children's book publishing do get to know talented artists through word of mouth and reputation, but if someone has to hunt around for information on a specific cover or interior artist for a book, they won't hunt for long in my experience - and may just take on someone else, thus losing the first person a job. That's so flipping wrong and just should not be happening in this information-led age.

5) "Artists are so difficult / demanding to work with though".

I remember hearing this a few times while hawking for gigs after graduating from college. Artists are often imbued with the unfair reputation of being fairly narrowly focused, not adaptable and quite difficult to deal with professionally. If you feel like that, you're obviously taking the wrong approach (probably the approach already detailed in the previous four points above).

Artists want to work, and they may want to work with you. But any creative process is a two-way street so if you instantly set up a confrontational and 'bossy' approach to dealing with a creative, don't be surprised if they dig their creative heels in and push back.

Again it stems from the way a lot of artists are treated by folk higher up the food chain in a particular company. I remember being in a planning meeting in one gig where I'd managed to secure illustration work in-house for a company, and being told to shut up because "I wasn't being paid for my opinion, I was being paid for my work" - purely because I assumed I was there as a professional whose opinions would be feeding into the creative process - not a pencil-pushing drone.

Back to the original line and most artists will tell you that the most difficult folk to work for are creative directors who have no concept of give & take.

6) "Rights? What rights? You're getting paid, aren't you?"

This is a tricky one, particularly if you're working in-house as you may end up having to sign a contract effectively waiving your rights over your own work.

Many artists have wildly differing experiences of this. Some retain absolutely no rights at all to their work and are not even allowed to use it in their own portfolios (again, I have direct experience of this but the industry may have (hopefully) changed in the last 20 years or so). Some are given more slack and allowed to use their work for their own promotional means. It's vitally important for an artist to be able to show and name clients, work and aspects of a project in order to get more work so please for goodness sake don't choke off that chance.

7) "So what if it's 2AM. I thought you liked drawing?"

Maybe a smidge of exaggeration, I don't think many artists have been woken up in the middle of the night to finish off a piece of work - but many artists and creative will indeed have worked an all-nighter to finish off a project, or put their own physical (and mental) health at risk when under pressure from tight timelines on a project.

This again is unreasonable treatment, and assumes that creatives don't have their own lives. Imagine the life of a freelancer illustrator who has to account for every minute of their working day, but also needs the benefits other employees get in all other forms of employment. Yes they need downtime, they need holidays, they need a pension, and dammit they need to be able to live and exist. So when your company announces its next quarter profits in the millions, yet the employees and creatives, freelance or otherwise are barely scraping by, how do you sleep through 2AM?

8) "We cut your bit so we don't need to credit / pay you"

Again, back when I was trying to make a living as an illustrator I took on a job providing a set of graphics for a web company. I spent about three weeks designing headers, logos, link indicators and all manner of other screen furniture for a look and feel for the site.

Though I was (miraculously and luckily) paid for the gig, the company eventually ditched my stuff in favour of an in-house creative who put together an alternative look and feel for their site.

Because I wasn't allowed to use the material in my own portfolio (see "rights aren't important" above) and because I had no credit anywhere in the site, I had no proof that I'd ever done the work - which again meant that I had nothing to take to my next job to secure work along similar lines.

This must be how it feels for artists who don't get their work credited on children's books. Imagine trying to convince someone that your illustrations and designs were used on a book if you were soaked up as part of a creative team who weren't credited individually - and were also denied the rights to your work for portfolio purposes?

9) "We really can't possibly list absolutely everyone who worked on this book!"

Bizarrely, some forms of publishing do go the extra mile - where nearly all aspects of the design of a publication are credited in some way either in the publication itself or in the listing for that item in catalogues or e-shops or websites.

Comics. Colourists, letterers, even layout artists often get credited by DC and Marvel and rightly so.

Would it not be feasible and appropriate for all children's books to also similarly credit everyone involved in a publication? I'd love to see that happen, particularly for a lot of non fiction titles.

If you think that it's appropriate to miss your cover artist out, imagine what your book would look like with a plain cover, and how many copies it would shift. Cover art (and not just in kidlit, in all forms of publishing) can often be the difference between an impulse sale at first sight, or someone passing your author's book by, so never underestimate the worth of an artist's work on covers.

10) "We don't need talented artists, we'll just hire anyone. It's just a kid's book after all!"


I don't know if any of you remember that episode of "The Apprentice" where the vacuous folk involved in the programme were tasked with producing a children's book. But the assumption above is just so wrong on so many levels.

First, any author will tell you just how difficult it is to write for children. Any illustrator will also tell you how utterly brutal and withering kids are when it comes to critiquing your illustrative work. If you're an artist and you've got kids of your own (or nieces, nephews, younger sibs, cousins etc) you'll know just how precise they are in their requirements for what constitutes as 'good drawings'.

When we started blogging 8 years ago, I remember how difficult it was to woo my daughter away from visually impactive books that had dreadful stories - and conversely how difficult it was to get her to love a book that was beautifully written and had a gorgeous story, but had illustrations that sucked donkey biscuits.

The whole package has to be utterly faultless and professional for kids, from start to finish, from cover to end papers, through internal illustrations and back again (purely talking about the illustrations here but the same rules apply to the stories / text too).

The publishers that do well are the ones that fully understand this, and take no half measures with either. Don't ever assume that just because an illustrator is drawing or painting for kids, that they'll somehow be fine with cutting corners either because experience kidlit illos will absolutely KNOW that kids are super-picky and won't accept just any old tosh.

Bonus Point: "We didn't want to put the artist's name on the cover, because it would detract from this being the Author's book"

(Had to sneak this one in as a final extra point). Yes, I have actually heard this used as an excuse why a particular set of books featured no cover art / interior art credit. You see, the intended audience were supposed to magically believe that the author in question had magically acquired some seriously amazing art skills, in fact art skills that looked EXACTLY LIKE ONE OF OUR FAVOURITE ARTIST'S! Obviously after a bit of digging and surreptitious tweets to the suspected artist, we did eventually find out that it was her work - but she'd accepted the contract knowing her work wouldn't be flagged. So wrong on multiple levels as the artist in question's work was utterly fantastic and absolutely essential to how well received the books were.

Stuff like this is wrong, yet it seems to happen almost on a daily basis.

These are just a few points I wanted to draw our readers attention to under the umbrella of support for #PicturesMeanBusiness.

 I probably could've written another ten easily. Suffice to say that my own artistic experience is fairly limited when it comes to working on commercial stuff, yet the stories and anecdotes I hear again and again from artists and illustrators involved in kidlit have an air of sad familiarity about them, and are very similar to my own experiences. This seems to demonstrate that very little has changed in the last 20 years and that makes me sad because it means the very reasons I couldn't cut it and definitely couldn't make any kind of a comfortable living at illustration are still true to this day.

Perhaps it's a good thing that we have superheroes like Sarah McIntyre and #PicturesMeanBusiness fighting for the creative corner, to ensure that folk get a far better deal and are far more fairly treated by the children's publishing industry. Maybe one day there will actually be a way that creative folk can earn a crust from something they're passionate about after all.

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ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book Roundup - September 2018

Welcome, welcome to another fantastic Chapter Book Roundup. With it being September, and September usually meaning a complete TRUCKLOAD of new children's book releases, you'd expect our postbag to be bulging - and it is!

So let's kick off with a book by an aptly-named author. "Good Knight, Bad Knight and the Big Game" by Tom Knight is a medieval romp with a ton of spookiness.

At Knight School, last term Berkley Paggle ( AKA Bad Knight) defeated a dragon at the end-of-term jousting match.

When Berkley comes back to school, he discovers that his dragon battling abilities have made him the most popular kid in class. 

He loves the attention and coasts on his fame, but his cousin, Godwin (AKA Good Knight), is not impressed when Berk lets his popularity go completely to his head. There's a new menace in town, and a battle royale on the horizon and it might be time to join forces!

"Good Knight, Bad Knight and the Big Game" by Tom Knight is out now, published by Templar Publishing. 

Next, a hugely impressive and touching story of one girl's struggle to realise her potential amidst colossal odds. 

In "Amal Unbound" by Aisha Saeed, life is quiet and ordinary in Amal's Pakistani village, but she had no complaints, and besides, she's busy pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher one day. 

Her dreams are temporarily dashed when - as the eldest daughter - she must stay home from school to take care of her siblings. 

Amal is upset, but she doesn't lose hope and finds ways to continue learning. Then the unimaginable happens - after an accidental run-in with the son of her village's corrupt landlord, Amal must work as his family's servant to pay off her own family's debt. 

Life at the opulent Khan estate is full of heartbreak and struggle for Amal - especially when she inadvertently makes an enemy of a girl named Nabila. 

Most troubling, though, is Amal's growing awareness of the Khans' nefarious dealings. When it becomes clear just how far they will go to protect their interests, Amal realises she will have to find a way to work with others if they are ever to exact change in a cruel status quo, and if Amal is ever to achieve her dreams.

A story of hope and bravery, "Amal Unbound" by Aisha Saeed is out now, published by Nancy Paulsen / FMcM Publishing. 

Next, another slice of hairy-footed fun in "Big Foot and Little Foot: The Monster Detector" which is book two in Ellen Potter's fabulous series, with art by Felicia Sala.

Hugo is a young Sasquatch. 

Boone is a young boy. 

After an unlikely encounter, they’ve become an even unlikelier pair of best friends. After saving up his Monster Card wrappers, Hugo sends away for a special prize in the mail―a Monster Detector! 

Using the watchlike device, Hugo quickly spots a monster right in his own cavern. Spooked, but still excited about his prize, Hugo heads to school and finds yet another surprise―his friend Boone! 

Boone announces he wants to go to Sasquatch school, but no human has ever gone before, and not everyone is as happy about it as Hugo. Boone’s first day of school gets off to a rocky start, but Hugo doesn’t have much time to worry before he makes another monster sighting and takes off after the creature. 

What follows are even more surprises, ones that have Hugo rethinking what it really means to be a “monster.”

A great little middle grade series with a rollicking adventure and a huge dose of friendship, "Big Foot and Little Foot: The Monster Detector" by Ellen Potter and Felicia Sala is out now, published by Abrams Books. 

A dose of mystery and magic in our next story, "A Tangle of Magic" by Valya Zinck.

Penelope lives with her mother after the sad loss of her father who died years ago. 

She has always been different from other children: for example, her hair has been grey since she was born, and there's always an air of magic about her. 

But one day, Penelope wakes up with sparkling red hair and her mother confesses the truth: her father is not only still alive, he's a wizard and it looks like Penelope has inherited his powers. 

The plucky young girl is about to realise her destiny - to track down her father and find out more about her mysterious powers, and how to use them for good.

"A Tangle of Magic" is the type of middle grade fantasy we absolutely love - driven by a strong female character, both inspirational to girls who admire characters with a ton of bravery and pluck, yet an air of enigmatic mystery about them. 

Full of atmosphere and charm, "A Tangle of Magic" by Valya Zinck is out now, published by Chicken House.  

Next, the follow-up to a blisteringly funny debut from author Kate Wiseman and new publisher Zuntold. 

"Gangster School: The Brotherhood of Brimstone" by Kate Wiseman is another awesome slice of mayhem. 

Trouble is brewing at Blaggard's School for Tomorrow's Tyrants.

Sir Byron's Brain, a priceless legendary diamond, has gone missing.

 If it leaves the school grounds, Blaggard's will be destroyed forever and the head teacher obliterated! 

Could the evil Brotherhood of Brimstone - an ancient secret society - have anything to do with it? 

Once again it's up to best friends Milly and Charlie to find out. 

They swiftly discover a web of evil plots involving Gruffles, Charlie's stinky dog, and Wolfie, the robot dog turned invisible superhero. 

On top of this, Blaggard's is expecting a school inspection from the mysterious Dr X - Chief Inspector of Criminal Schools.

 He could turn up at any time, and no one knows what he looks like. Time is running out for Milly and Charlie. Will Dr X appear? And can our heroes defeat the evil Brotherhood, rescue their canine companions and save the day? 

A fantastic follow-up full of character and a ton of giggles, "Gangster School: The Brotherhood of Brimstone (Gangster School 2)" by Kate Wiseman is out now, published by Zuntold. 

Here's a new adventure series that's bang up to date with one of the hottest trends in tech in recent years. 

Kids who love drones will absolutely love "Drone Racer" by Andy Briggs, master of gadgetry and mystery. 

Introducing Carson and his friends who absolutely love racing drones.

They can't believe their luck when they stumble across a discarded one at a junkyard that just needs a little fixing up.

But this new find is full of surprises. When they power the drone up, it starts talking! 

What's more, it's fast. Really fast. They could win big prizes in the racing leagues. 

The trouble is, someone wants their incredible drone back, and they'll stop at nothing to get it. 

How can three kids protect their new friend?

As blisteringly paced as the sport of Drone Racing itself, "Drone Racer" by Andy Briggs is a thrilling new adventure series, published by Scholastic. 

Award-winning author Sally Nicholls offers up a fantastic thrill-ride next in "A Chase in Time" - fantastically illustrated by blog favourite Brett Hellquist.

The mystery begins with an old gilt-edged mirror, which has hung in Alex's aunt's house for as long as he can remember. 

The mirror holds a dark secret, it's not just a mirror at all.

Alex hardly notices it, until the day he and his sister are pulled through the mirror, back into 1912. 

It's the same house, but a very different place to live, and the people they meet desperately need their help. 

Soon they're caught up in car chases and treasure hunts as they race to find a priceless golden cup - but will they ever be able to return to their own time?

An utterly superb slice of time-travelling adventuresome stuff, "A Chase in Time" by Sally Nicholls and Brett Helquist is out now, published by Nosy Crow. 

With a sequel coming up soon, let's delve into the paperback edition of a cracking slice of good versus evil. 

"Night Speakers" by Ali Sparkes features three children who, night after night, wake at exactly the same time, with no idea why. 

It's messing up Elena, Matt, and Tima big time - and fracturing their lives . . . until they venture out into the dark and find each other for the first time.  

The sleepless trio realize their astounding power - they can speak any language; they can even communicate with animals. 

But something is happening over on the industrial estate-something which is emitting sounds that only they can hear, and killing any winged thing that crosses its path. 

There's nobody to fight it but themselves, for only they can possibly understand it and what it means to do.

A new edge-of-your-seat series from award-winning author, Ali Sparkes, with huge appeal for both boys and girls. Fast-paced action adventure about contemporary children with mysterious powers, told with Ali's classic humour and lightness of touch.

"Night Speakers" by Ali Sparkes is out now, published by OUP / Oxford Children's Books. 

Now a book bursting with originality and quirkiness, featuring a truly unique cast of characters. 

"The City of Guardian Stones" by Jacob Safer Weinstein is a thoroughly thrilling story as we join Hyacinth on a magical quest to save London in a uniquely hilarious and inventive fantasy adventure, the second in the Guardian Stones trilogy.

Hyacinth has just saved London, and possibly the world, from a magical conspiracy stretching back centuries. 

Not bad for a week of summer holiday. But why is her family linked to the ancient secrets of London? Hyacinth needs to find out, and when she discovers that Ancient Roman stones are being stolen from all around the city, it's time for another adventure with the help of friends new and old, including Oaroboarus, a giant pig in a swimsuit.

A fast-paced caper with a magical cast of characters including the dastardly Minnie Tickle whose skin is inscribed with powerful tattooes, a host of opinionated living stone sculptures, Hyacinth's new neighbour Dasra (who may or may not be trustworthy) and the Corkers: a police force made entirely out of cork.

Utter brilliance which we devoured completely. "The City of Guardian Stones" by Jacob Sager Weinstein is out now, published by Walker Books. 

Last but not least, a triumphant return for a series we've loved to bits on the blog. "Violet and the Mystery of Tiger Island" by Harriet Whitehorn and Becka Moor is the latest in the adventure series featuring the plucky girl detective. 

It's time to once again join Violet Remy-Robinson, an amateur Sherlock Holmes in the making, on her fifth adventure!

Violet and her friends can’t believe their luck when they’re invited to a wedding on a tropical island. But when old enemies the Du Plicitouses show up at the same hotel, and a valuable figurine goes missing, Violet is sure the sneaky family are behind it. It’s a race against time – and a hungry tiger – to uncover the truth and make sure the big day goes to plan.

Complete with two-colour illustrations throughout by Becka Moor, this is a fresh and funny mystery and readers will fall in love with Violet’s quirky charm.

Possibly our favourite mighty girl detective series, brilliantly written and Becka's awesome illustrations really bring this tale to life once again. 

"Violet and the Mystery of Tiger Island" by Harriet Whitehorn and Becka Moor is out now, published by Simon and Schuster Children's Books. 

Whoah, we've reached the bottom of the bulging book sack once again for this month. Tune in when we return with another fantastic selection in October. See you then!

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"Charles Darwin: Little Guides to Great Lives" by Rachel Katstaller and Dan Green (Laurence King Publishing)

Here's a fantastic new set of extremely collectible non-fiction books detailing the lives of some of the most inspirational folk in history...
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Wednesday, 26 September 2018

More from the "How Rude!" Blog Tour with our review of this hilarious new picture book by Clare Helen Welsh and Olivier Tallec (Words and Pictures)

"Manners maketh the Man" or so the saying goes. But what of the duck?!
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Joining the "How Rude!" Blog tour with Clare Helen Welsh, and some fantastic writerly inspirations from childhood.

We're joined on the blog today by a very special guest. Clare Helen Welsh is here to talk about her favourite childhood picture books. It's an awesome read so take it away Clare...!

Hello! My name is Clare and I am thrilled to be writing a guest post today about childhood picture books that have inspired my career as a writer.

I must admit, my early years are a bit of a blur where books are concerned. But there are three that stick firmly in my mind.

1. ‘Burglar Bill,’ by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

Burglar Bill is one of my all-time favourite reads. It’s dangerous, just my kind of humour and the repetition allows readers to anticipate and join in with the story. This is certainly something I aspire to emulate in my texts. I also love the way that the dialogue reflects the characters. There’s no mistaking who is speaking; “That’s a nice toothbrush. I’ll ‘ave that!”

As a writer, this is something I don’t find easy. I work hard to keep my authorial voice out of my character’s dialogue. Here’s Sneaky McSqueaky from Aerodynamics of Biscuits, illustrated by Sophia Touliatou; “Climb aboard! Let’s get some cheddaaaaarrrr!”

2. ‘Peepo,’ by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

I also vividly remember reading Peepo at many a bedtime. Again, there’s the lovely language and repetition. But I also loved the interactive die cut hole, which is an important reminder of the reason I write picture books in the first place; to bring children and grownups together to share a special moment in their busy lives. I now use this book in schools to teach about the past! The detailed illustrations are a great talking point; coal shovels, bed warmers and war time uniforms.

If I can learn something from a book, then I personally love it all the more. I have a real interest in using books to help children deal with difficult issues. My first picture book with Little Tiger Press, The Tide, is a text to support children with a family member living with dementia. It publishes in the first half of 2019 and is illustrated by the incredible Ashling Lindsay.

3. The ‘Mr Men’ and ‘Little Miss’ Books by Roger Hargreaves

I remember my Nan having a whole set of these books! My favourite was certainly Mr Tickle, which I would come back to again and again and again. And what a perfect accolade for a book! To have created a plot so well formed and satisfying, that readers come back to it over and over.

How rude! illustrated by the amazing Olivier Tallec and publishing on 4th October with Words and Pictures, is also a character driven story, which uses humour to tell a tale of kindness, manners and friendship. It gets more and more chaotic with every page turn but has that satisfying ‘awwww’ moment at the end too. There are plans in the pipeline for more Dot and Duck adventures. I can only hope that these stories bring a snippet of the enjoyment I had from the Mr Men and Little Miss books.

So there we are… my top three picture books from my childhood.

But when I really think about it, I’m not sure I have ever really grown up!

I still have opportunities every day to immerse myself in a child’s world. Picture books are always a focus in my day job as a primary school teacher. In class, we bring stories to life and use the words and their settings to learn about the world. Some of our most used books include; Owl Babies, The Bear Hunt, The Tiger that Came to Tea, The Naughty Bus, Stuck! Stickman, Room on the Broom, Supertato, Oi Frog, Funny bones, Sally and the Limpet, Dear Greenpeace… the list goes on and on and on (But that’s a whole different blog post!) I count myself very lucky to be able to immerse myself in imaginary worlds every day. This exposure to many great texts helps me analyse what works, to then apply this in my own writing.

So, it’s been an interesting trip down memory lane. Thank you again, Phil and Charlotte, for taking part in the How Rude! blog tour (Our pleasure! - Ed)

I’m sure there are many books from my childhood I’ve forgotten about. I’d love to hear what yours were and why. They might jog my memory!

Clare is a primary school teacher and children’s author who lives in Devon with her husband and two children. She writes a range of different picture books, including funny and quirky and sensitive and emotional, but always hopes her books bring a little added something to story time. How Rude! publishing on Ocotber 4th and is available to pre-order here!

You can find out more about Clare here on her website or by following her on Twitter @ClareHelenWelsh. She also has a Facebook page. She is represented by Alice Williams at Alice Williams Literary.

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Tuesday, 25 September 2018

"What's For Lunch, Papa Penguin?" by Jo Williamson (Scholastic)

Penguins seem to lend themselves well to amusing little tales for younger readers. Well they're just so durned cute...!
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"Angry Cookie" by Laura Dockrill and Maria Karipidou (Walker Books)

So you think you're having a bad day? You've got nothin' on "Angry Cookie"...
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Monday, 24 September 2018

"Itchy Scritchy Scratchy Pants" by Steve Smallman and Elina Ellis (Little Tiger Press)

Everyone has a favourite pair of pants, be they hipsters, boxers, Y-fronts or frilly knickers...
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"SOIC and SOT - The Microchips" by Jeffrey C. Dunnihoo and Simona M. Ceccarelli (Pragma Media)

Way, way back in the mists of time when I had a crazy idea about going into Computing or Electronics as a career, I remember microchips the size of your mobile phone...
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Friday, 21 September 2018

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 21st September 2018: "The Wizards of Once: Twice Magic" by Cressida Cowell (Hodder Children's Books)

Our Chapter Book of the Week this week is a dazzling sequel to a book that hurls us headlong into a fabulous new fantasy world from the creator of "How to Train your Dragon"...
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ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 21st September 2018: "Franklin and Luna Go To The Moon" by Jen Campbell and Katie Harnett (Thames and Hudson)

Picture book perfection once again for our Book of the Week this week. The fantastic return of Franklin and Luna!
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ReadItDaddy's Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 21st September 2018: "The House of Lost and Found" by Martin Widmark and Emilia Dziubak (Floris Books)

This week's Picture Book of the Week touches on an amazing array of different subjects in a heartwarming story for all ages...
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Thursday, 20 September 2018

This week's Readitorial: "Ten children's picture books that would make far better Christmas TV adaptations than yet another Julia Donaldson / Axel Scheffler book"

We're still playing catchup a bit after a summer of laziness and not a lot of book news. But we did spot one article that once again had us inwardly groaning. 

As much as we've loved the BBC Christmas tradition in recent years of adapting and animating children's books, it's become a bit of a bust when we see the same Author / Artist 'getting the gig'. 

Yep, this year the 'gig' in question once again goes to Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler with a book that barely met with a 'meh' from C way way back in the infancy of our blog, when we still assigned number ratings to books we reviewed. It was a 2 out of 5. Not horrible or terrible, but by no means a book that stuck in the memory (in fact, and shout me down on this point if you do love it, I very rarely see it being discussed at all amongst picture book fanatics we follow / follow us on Twitter). 

So why scrape the barrel when there are far better children's picture books out there to adapt? Hell, when there are far better CHRISTMASSY children's picture books out there that would be equally glorious in animated form to gaze at while tucking into your tiny little tin of Quality Street. 

So let's gather together ten of the best - and cross our fingers next year that we don't end up with yet another animated christmas turkey from Auntie Beeb. 

This has absolutely all the right elements to make for a truly fantastic christmas story - but it's also a really fabulous story in its own right.

James Mayhew's glorious "Katie" series is never better than when Katie and her cousin Jack take a trip to London to help out Santa.

The poor old fellah has a thoroughly rotten cold, so he's going to need some help to deliver all the presents to children - so it's up to Katie and Jack to help save christmas for everyone.

In picture book form it's a slice of magic, and as an animated movie it practically BEGS to be recreated in that same fabulous flowing form that James' illustrations all have.

It'd be a christmas dream!

2) "This Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown" by Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton. 

The Christmas animation doesn't necessarily need to be "Christmassy" though (and in fact if you really did want to adapt an Emily Brown book you could go for the easy win of adapting Cressida and Neal's brand spanking new "Emily Brown and Father Christmas"). But we'll be honest here, this is by far the best book in the series - and the one we'd most dearly love to see turned into an animated classic.

The story of Emily Brown and her beloved Rabbit Stanley is just utterly timeless, and a book we've read (and indeed reviewed) again and again on the blog as the plucky kid adventurer resists the pleas from a rather naughty little queen to give up her favourite toy for all manner of (not very tempting) alternatives. Until of course the wicked queen resorts to nefarious means, and steals Stanley away!

If you've never encountered these books but are familiar with Cressida's "How to Train your Dragon" series, you'll know you're in for top-flight writing, and brilliant wibbly illustrations from Neal just add to the huge appeal of these books.

3) "The Storm Whale" by Benji Davies. 

Again, not christmassy - but this is just one of the many Benji Davies books that would make truly brilliant animated shorts. Benji's own book trailers for his books show just how fabulous this could look

The story of little Noi and his encounter with a poor baby whale who ends up beached on Noi's island is just utterly sublime and atmospheric.

We could also imagine "The Storm Whale in Winter" being a shoe-in for fitting the right wintry festive atmosphere for a christmas TV classic too. With such a strong visual look and a delightfully simple but utterly engrossing story, this would be an utterly brilliant choice.

4) "The Pirates Next Door" by Jonny Duddle. 

Here's another non-festive book that we still can't quite believe hasn't already had the animated treatment. Given Jonny's previous experience of providing awesome designs and input for the "Pirates" movie by Aardman Animations, we've already got a clear picture in our heads of how this adventure with the Jolley Rogers could look.

A timely and important tale for kids about tolerance as well as how utterly brilliant a life on the ocean wave as a scurvy pirate would be, it would be a brilliant slice of Christmas fun.

You could even get the man himself to narrate his own story - he did such a great job on the audio versions of these.

5) "The Bear and the Piano" by David Litchfield. 

This sublime and atmospheric story might've been surpassed a smidge by its sequel ("The Bear, The Piano, The Dog and the Fiddle) but the original "The Bear and the Piano" would make for such a heartwarming and gloriously atmospheric animation, again we're surprised it hasn't already been snapped up.

The story of a bear who discovers his love for music quite by accident, then becomes a huge globetrotting star - but never forgets his humble roots - ticks all the right boxes for being visually stunning, with a nice little moral but also a really fab little story.

We've loved David Litchfield's books and think it would actually be quite a challenge to adapt his stunning illustrations to capture that glowy rim-lit and atmospheric look and feel, but we'd love to see someone try. It could be truly magical.

6) "The Little Red Wolf" by Amelie Flechais.

We really wanted absolutely everyone on the planet to discover the glorious books of Amelie Flechais. Not very many get translated into English but in the case of "The Little Red Wolf", Amelie's utterly sumptuous artwork gave a children's classic fairy tale such a whopping great big shot in the arm that we come back to it again and again.

Imagining those amazing illustrations adapted either into a traditional 2D animation - or perhaps in the right hands a truly amazing 3D animated classic just makes us daydream happy daydreams.

It's a timeless tale of a little wolf finding an adventure in a world where the wolf and 'little girl' roles are subtly and neatly switched.

We love this book a lot and if you've yet to encounter it, we strongly suggest grabbing a copy.

7) Heapy and Heap's awesome "Very Little" series. 

You've got quite a few stories to choose from here, with a series that has always been consistently fun to read, beautifully well observed and again proving that adaptations of classic tales can be original and hilarious at the same time.

"Very Little Cinderella / Sleeping Beauty / Rapunzel" could all be adapted so easily into brilliant animations, retaining Sue Heap's fab watercolours into a flowing moving version.

We're waiting in anticipation for the next book but in the meantime we would dearly love to see at least one of these turned into a mini movie to enjoy with the family.

We're trying to think who'd make the best voice talent for this but C said she's more than up for the gig if it comes up!

8) Pretty much ANY Anthony Browne book.

Much as we love Julia and Axel's work, and the huge impact they've had on children's picture books, there's another Author / Artist whose work consistently blows us away.

Anthony Browne's books are always such a stunning treat, tinged with just the right sort of dark atmosphere we love to see in children's stories. A certain edginess but always with a subtle moral tucked neatly into a story that feels like it could leap out of the pages at any second, and completely engulf you.

Stuff like "The Tunnel" would probably be too dark for a cosy Christmas classic, but any of the "Willy" books would be ace, as would "Hide and Seek" - and if the animators could somehow reproduce that neat trick of hiding things in the backgrounds for kids to spot, these could be amazing adapted for screen.

9) "When it Snows" by Richard Collingridge. 

I've lost count of the number of people we've recommended this book to when they ask us for a festive wintry christmas book that ticks all the right boxes for being a brilliant story, full of glorious illustrations and a ton of atmosphere.

Again I remember the early book trailers for this book being beautifully animated and adapted - so it's very easy to imagine this glorious dash through the snow as a mini animated movie.

The tale of a boy's magical adventure through a snowbound landscape just oozes style and warmth despite its icy setting.

It's always at the top of our reading pile when we hunt out our Christmas Books for a re-read as December arrives so it'd be a brilliant choice.

10) "Black Dog" by Levi Pinfold. 

One look at the snowbound cover for this, and the thought of imagining a hugely talented studio (and they'd have to be hugely talented to capture the essence of Pinfold's work) working this brilliant modern classic into an animated short just sends shivers down our backs.

"Black Dog" isn't just in our top ten children's picture books of all time (somewhere near the top too, we might add, if we were ever foolish enough to try and compile such a list), it's another book we've recommended again and again to folk who want something more than twee and comfy little stories, but want something that's a fantastic story, is utterly visually perfect, and can be returned to again and again for kids of practically any age.

The story of a huge menacing black dog, and the tiny child who bravely stands up to the big shaggy bully to protect his family has so many neat twists, so many visual treats and would be a truly glorious choice.

So that rounds off our ten children's picture books that would be amazing choices to adapt to the small screen. Make it so, TV execs, you know it makes sense!

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