Friday 30 November 2018

ReadItDaddy's Third Book of the Week - Week Ending 30th November 2018: "The Bandit Queen" by Natalia and Lauren O'Hara (Picture Puffin)

Our Third Picture Book of the Week this week is a scintillating and thoroughly mischievous future classic from an incredibly talented duo...
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ReadItDaddy's Adult / YA Comic of the Week - Week Ending 30th November 2018: "The Mental Load" by Emma (Seven Stories Publishing)

We'll kick off our "Adult / YA comic of the Week" review with a simple "not for kids" warning - though this is something that most of us will be absolutely dying to share with them once they're a bit older
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ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 30th November 2018: "The Adventures of Catvinkle" by Elliot Perlman and Laura Stitzel (Pushkin Children's Books)

Our Chapter Book of the Week is more than your average animal yarn. Meet a cat who knows how to cut a dash...!
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ReadItDaddy's Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 30th November 2018: "Timelines of Everything" (Dorling Kindsersley Publishing)

Wow, our second book of the week is an absolute MAMMOTH book that captures the history of our planet from Big Bang to Big Badaboom!
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ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 30th November 2018: "The Funniest Book Ever" by various Authors / Artists (David Fickling Books)

Our first Book of the Week this week should come with a paper bag to hyperventilate into, if you find yourself laughing until you can barely breathe...
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Thursday 29 November 2018

Making your Christmas Book Shopping List? Checking it twice? How about a brilliant book from Pan Macmillan or Egmont Publishing with something for everyone!

We make no apologies for being well and truly into the christmas spirit. It tends to kick off early at ReadItDaddy Towers and we're already eyeing up the Christmas Decorations, readying ourselves for the festive season.

Book wise we've seen SO MANY brilliant christmas books that we're devoting our entire run-up to Christmas to them, but before that let's take a look at a gorgeous selection of books from Pan Macmillan and Egmont Publishing, each and every one of which would make a perfect gift for the book lover in your family.

First there's the utterly adorable "Grandpa Christmas" by Michael Morpurgo and Jim Field. A master storyteller, an illustrator who charms us to bits with his glorious illustrations, it's like the best christmas present ever! "Grandpa Christmas" tells the story of Little Mia who, along with her family, love to read their Christmas Letter from Grandpa every year.

Grandpa's letter urges everyone to think about how we can look after our beautiful world, and treasure all the wonderful things in it. At a time of year when it's so easy to take things for granted, this poignant christmas message is a truly wonderful piece of work from two immensely talented superstars in kidlit. Put it at the top of your picture book buying list this christmas!

"Grandpa Christmas" by Michael Morpurgo and Jim Field is out now, published by Egmont. 

Fortnite? What's that? Pff, we still prefer the delights of Mojang's Minecraft, and Egmont have all your survival needs covered in the stupendous "Minecraft Survival Collection" - a bumper selection of Minecraft books to keep you busy worldbuilding (and surviving) over the yuletide season.

With exclusive tips from the developers at Mojang, the Minecraft Survival Collection might just save your life! The Guide to Exploration will teach you how to thrive in the Overworld. The Guide to the Nether and the End will teach you how to survive in each of these dangerous dimensions. The Guide to Enchantments and Potions will teach you how to enchant your equipment and brew useful potions. The Guide to Farming will teach you how to be self-sufficient in everything from food to hostile mob drops (plus, if you're like us, who can resist building a huge farm full of cute animals and their babies

It's absolutely essential stuff for Minecraft fanatics. "Minecraft: The Survival Collection" is also out now, published by Egmont. 

Those crazy Mr Men and Little Misses have a whole heap of festive fun for you in a huge selection of brilliant new books from Roger and Adam Hargreaves. 

Starting off with the classic "Mr Men: The Christmas Tree" by Roger Hargreaves. 

Mr. Forgetful is not at all good at remembering things, so it is hardly surprising that this Christmas he has forgotten to buy a tree.

Christmas with no tree! Where will Father Christmas leave the presents?!

And so begins a very funny and forgetful tale of Christmas trees, presents, snow and a plump, jolly man who might just be able to save the day. 

But that's not all...there's also a huge range of titles including "Mr Men Meet Father Christmas", "Mr Men and the Twelve Days of Christmas",  "Mr Men The Night Before Christmas", "Mr Men: A Christmas Pantomime", "Mr Men Meet Father Christmas", "Mr Men: A White Christmas", "Mr Men Christmas Party Story" and our real favourite "Mr Men: All Aboard for Christmas" (I think we've got them all, phew!) all filled with these charming and timeless characters that I loved to bits as a kid, and now my daughter loves just as much too. 

"Mr Men Christmas Books" by Roger and Adam Hargreaves are out now, published by Egmont. 

We suspect that Llamas might have actually taken over from Unicorns as everyone's favourite animal for 2018. In fact Llamas are just about everywhere (which is fine by my daughter, as she absolutely ADORES them). 

The Llamas in "Where's the Llama? A Search and Find Adventure" are a little bit better at hiding in plain sight though, it's another fantastic spotter book for observant kids who have far better eyesight than me. 

Find the hidden Llama in every busy and super-detailed scene, with fun illustrations on just about every holiday subject you can think of (yes, including a gorgeous Christmassy Winter Wonderland!)

You'll need your wits about you for this one, and no cheating by looking at the answers, OK? 

Totally funny, totally absorbing, totally one for your Xmas shopping list!

"Where's the Llama? A Search and Find Adventure" is out now, published by Egmont. 

Last but not least, a trilogy of books for those of you who like to spend your yuletide period in a galaxy far, far away...

Kicking off with the biggie, the absolute zenith of amazing information on the Star Wars Universe. It's the updated edition of "The Star Wars Geektionary: The Galaxy from A - Z" which is a mammoth and beautifully presented hardback encyclopaedia covering just about every aspect of the Star Wars Universe (yep, even the extended universe) that you could possibly think of (yes it even tells you what a parsec is, I think!)

Dive into a sumptuous and luxurious hardback book that is absolutely essential for all Star Wars Fans, sorting out your Banthas from your BB-8s, your AT-ATs from your Anakin Skywalkers. Each spread is packed with tons and tons of characters, spaceships, planets, robots, monsters and the whole kit and caboodle from Lucasarts / Lucasfilms (and of course Disney too). 

Luxuriously presented in a gorgeous foil cover (that's no moon!) this is a superb collection of info on our fave movie series. 

"Star Wars Geektionary: The Galaxy from A-Z" is out now, published by Egmont. 

If (like us) you want a bit more detail on the weird and wonderful creatures in the Star Wars Universe - and you're an older geek who remembers those absolutely amazing Letraset rub-down Star Wars transfers (which I really wish I hadn't wasted by rubbing down onto our old fridge) then you're really going to love the "Star Wars Alien Archive: A guide to the species of the Galaxy" which has that same brilliant art style as those old transfers, but a ton more detail on some of the stranger inhabitants in the Star Wars universe. 

From cuddly ewoks (who might just invite you to dinner - with you being the dinner regardless of whether you're a charming scoundrel or not) to hard-working Banthas, to terrifying denizens of the Mos Eisley Cantina, to some truly villainous bounty hunters. They're all in here, in a fantastic 'lost journal' of a book that reads like an incredible spotter's guide to the galaxy's lifeforms. 

Again presented in glorious hardback with full colour illustrations, this is utterly brilliant stuff. 

"Star Wars Alien Archive: A Guide to the Species of the Galaxy" is out now, published by Egmont. 

Last but not least, one that's absolutely perfect for map fans like us...

"Star Wars Galactic Atlas: Maps & Star Charts & Battle Scenes and Timelines" will help you find your way across the busy galaxy, as you home in on the desert wastes of Tatooine or perhaps end up on the giant ice cube planet of Hoth. 

How about the steamy jungle swamps of Dagobah where a certain wizened old Jedi Master spent his last days? 

Or the civilised centres of Naboo and Alderaan, with wild cityscapes giving way to lush green grasslands. 

It's all in this book, beautifully detailed and presented in full colour with tons and tons of information to compliment the super-detailed and wonderfully rendered maps. 

Find out just how long it'll take you to do the kessel run in your favourite piece of space junk. 

"Star Wars Galactic Atlas" is out now, published by Egmont. 

Whichever book you choose we're sure you're going to have plenty of fun and lots to read over the festive season! Enjoy!

(All books very kindly supplied for our roundup by Macmillan / Egmont). 

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Why it's vitally important that kids from all social circumstances get access to books - A ReadItTorial

Once again we're preparing our wares!
It's the time of year where the publishing industry traditionally enters complete overdrive, in order to promote and push books they'd really love you to buy your little ones over the Holiday / Festive period.

We were recently contacted by the lovely folk at Bushel & Peck Books who have recently taken on a huge task over in the US - to ensure that kids from all social backgrounds and circumstances get access to dazzlingly brilliant books.

David and Stephanie Miles have a fantastic idea to address the fact that for every 300 kids in certain poorer neighbourhoods stateside, there's only one book owned. That's a pretty shocking statistic, particularly when you consider it's A) very similar here in the UK and B) like the UK, stateside library services are also suffering from cuts and a gradual decline as other services are seen as more important in poorer communities.

Bushel and Peck's Kickstarter is live, and we think it's a cause worth supporting so hop on over there and give David and Stephanie some support, whichever side of the pond you live on.

Here at ReadItDaddy we're about to pack up our review copy surplus again for our Annual Book Sale in aid of our local church's charities. We always have a lot of fun doing this, but more than that we get a huge, huge kick out of seeing kids walking away with a prized book that they may not have been able to afford otherwise. We mark our books down accordingly, and though the aim is to raise money for the charities mentioned, it's definitely hugely satisfying when a child comes along with a bit of their pocket money, or parents on a low income come along to pick up a bargain or two - hopefully getting as much enjoyment out of those wonderful books as we do.

There's a clear link between children having ready access to their own books at home and their development / learning journeys in school being positively affected by this. Something that's been charted and talked about for many years in fact. Both my wife and I know that reading aloud to our daughter means that she can cope with the language and literacy workload at school when others in her class / year are still struggling. But it should never have to be about how much money you have, or whether you can afford books - books should be available to all kids in copious amounts, and our library services (who are often the only places kids can go and grab a massively diverse range of books) should be supported and well funded.

Do drop along to our book sale if you're in Abingdon on Saturday 1st December 2018 - at 35 Ock Street! We'd love to see you!

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ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book Roundup - November 2018

Welcome, welcome to another fantastic fantabulous book-busting roundup of amazing chapter books for your early chapter readers and middle graders.

This month we've got a humungous list of books that we've been enjoying as the inevitable pre-christmas rush continues, starting with a hugely prolific author who seems to be able to turn her hand to just about every subject you can imagine.

"Evie's War" by Holly Webb is the heart-melting and poignant tale of a girl living at the time of the outbreak of the First World War.

Set in the gorgeous seaside town of Whitby, the story of Evie and her family begins with a terrible tragedy as Evie's beloved younger brother Alexander dies unexpectedly.

As Evie's mother and father struggle in their own ways to come to terms with their loss, Evie's older brother David distracts himself with the ever-growing threat of war and Evie and her sister Kitty find ways to keep their spirits up.

But when the threat of war turns into reality, David unexpectedly enlists in the army, Evie's mother is truly heartbroken. And as the family does their best to contribute to the war effort, they also struggle with the sacrifices each of them are forced to make.

Atmospheric, heart-wrenching, emotional and thoroughly absorbing, it's another brilliant story from a hugely talented author.

"Evie's War" by Holly Webb is out now, published by Scholastic. 

More mighty girl awesomeness from our next book too...

Matilda Woods' gorgeous stories are always a treat, and she's back with a tale that's perfect as the wintry weather bites deep. 
"The Girl, The Cat and the Navigator" is an enchanting and atmospheric story of bravery on the ice-tipped ocean. 
Oona Bright is curious, and always wants to learn more about her world. She's as sharp as a pin, and daydreams of perhaps one day setting sail across the ocean with her father, a ship's captain who has braved the briny deep many times. 
Oona has read many mythical stories of a magical creature - the Nardoo - who swims through the stars at night. Restless and impatient, Oona stows away on whaling boat called the Plucky Leopard for an adventure full of myths and marvel among the icebergs and frozen waves.
Full of adventure and a whopping great big heart, reminiscent of the excitement of the "Little Tim" stories with a girl protagonist who embodies all the qualities we love to see in our main characters, Oona really is amazing and brave. 
"The Girl, The Cat and the Navigator" by Matilda Woods is out now, published by Scholastic. 

On the centenary of the end of World War 1, there have been quite a few books on the subject - including our next title...
"The Button War" by Avi, with illustrations and cover by David Dean once again tackles the subject of how ordinary children were affected by the outbreak of war, and sometimes how divisions began to materialise within communities as to which side was good and which side was evil.

Twelve-year-old Patryk has never left his Polish village and doesn’t know much about the outside world. Then one August, with the clatter-clatter of an aeroplane, the Great War explodes into his village.

As the Germans and Russians fight for control, Patryk and his friends begin their own battle to find the best military button. It starts as a dare, but soon the boys find themselves trapped in a dangerous war.

Just how far are they prepared to go to win?
Reminiscent of the excellent "The Machine Gunners", this is a powerful tale. 
"The Button War" by Avi and David Dean is out now, published by Walker Books. 
I've a new-found respect for authors who write funny books for children. It's far harder than it sounds, so here's a gigglesome and quite adventurous new series from a debut author whose first "Shiny Pippin" book appeared back in February.

We're just playing catchup with "Shiny Pippin and the Broken Forest", an excellent introduction to a mighty girl character who is anything but ordinary.

But at first that's exactly how Pippin sees herself. Just an ordinary girl living with her granny in a fairly ordinary town called Funsprings.

It's the sort of ordinary little town where nothing extraordinary happens - well, until it does - and Pippin finds out that her diminutive little Granny isn't ordinary at all, in fact Granny used to be a crime fighter - and it looks like she and Pippin are about to take on a new case - investigating the curious case of drained water supplies and missing animals.

An exciting introduction to a madcap caper where nothing is quite as it seems, a story that gets its hooks into you right from the get-go serving up mystery and mirth in equal measure. 
"Shiny Pippin and the Broken Forest" by Harry Heape with illustrations from Rebecca Bagley is out now, published by Faber and Faber. 
If the first adventure whetted your appetite, then there's also "Shiny Pippin and the Monkey Burglars" again by Harry with illustrations by Rebecca Bagley. 

This time there's a twisty-turny mystery involving expertly prepared snacks, a host of miscreant animals, a love story and some truly cringe-making (but hilariously funny) poetry as Pippin embarks on her second case with an all new detective agency righting wrongs and chasing down ne-er do wells in the sleepy town of Funsprings. 

We wish we'd picked this up over the summer as it's a breezy sunshiney read perfect for sprawling out on the beach with. Never mind though, curl up in a warm blanket next to your favourite heat source and soak up Harry's brilliant chaotic sense of humour in this second excellent book in the "Shiny Pippin" series, which is fast becoming one of C's fave series of the year so far. 
"Shiny Pippin and the Monkey Burglars" by Harry Heape and Rebecca Bagley is out now, published by Faber and Faber
Forget Doctor Dolittle, our next hero definitely has the gift of the gab when it comes to all the animals he meets. 
"Zoo Boy" by Sophie Thompson and Rebecca Ashdown is the story of young Vince, who suddenly realises he has that particular very special gift quite by accident.
The problem is, Vince really can't stand animals. Dad works at a zoo (unfortunate) and Mum has run off with a lion tamer (owchies!)
But on his 8th birthday Vince's life changes forever. He discovers he has "the gift" and really wishes he hadn't. If you think humans have a whole raft of 'issues' then that's nothing compared to demanding penguins, primadonna flamingos and picky-eater owls. 
They won't rest until Vince does their every bidding - when all the poor lad wants is an ordinary birthday with cake, presents and perhaps even a smidge of mum and dad's time perhaps? 
This is a brilliantly observed story from Sophie, with a truly relatable central character who'd do anything for an ordinary life and perhaps even a bit of peace and quiet now and again!
"Zoo Boy" by Sophie Thompson and Rebecca Ashdown is out now, published by Faber and Faber. 
...and if the first book rocked your world, there's also "Zoo Boy and the Jewel Thieves" by Sophie Thompson and Rebecca Ashdown. 
Once again poor Vince is dashing around all over the zoo, trying to meet the demands of the picky and annoying animals who constantly clamour for his attention (and snacks). 
But there's a criminal on the loose - so Vince, aided by his furry, feathery and fuzzy animal sidekicks - must track down the ne-er do well before any more valuables go missing. 
Will they be able to reveal the secret identity of the daring jewel thief? 
There's a delicious twist to this second adventure from Sophie and Rebecca, perfect for kids who love completely madcap off-the-wall humour (and of course cute and sometimes thoroughly annoying animals). 
"Zoo Boy and the Jewel Thieves" by Sophie Thompson and Rebecca Ashdown is out now, published by Faber and Faber. 

We're huge fans of Astrid Lindgren and also of Studio Ghibli's sublime animated features. The studio has recently taken Astrid's amazing stories and turned them into an utterly peerless animated series for Amazon Prime. 
This new paperback edition is illustrated with black and white artwork based on the series throughout, so it's a real treat. 
Ronja is the wayward and strong-minded daughter of the robber chieftain. 
She lives an idyllic existence, roaming the forest and hunting, fishing and having adventures - but she must always beware of the grey dwarves and wild harpies who live in the deepest darkest glades of the forest's depths.
When she befriends Birk, the son of her father's greatest enemy, it causes uproar. Ronja and Birk can no longer be friends . . . unless they do something drastic. Like running away . . . 
Suddenly they are fending for themselves in the woods, but how will they survive when winter comes? And will Ronja's father ever accept her friendship with Birk so they can go home? 
It's easy to see why Ghibli were attracted to the original stories, with so much depth and sublime fantasy elements that loan themselves really well to Ghibli's cinematic story telling. The book is, of course, an absolute pleasure to re-read with the new illustrations. This really is something very special indeed. 
"Ronja the Robber's Daughter" by Astrid Lindgren, illustrated by Studio Ghibli / Katsura Kondo is out now, published by OUP / Oxford Children's Books. 
Just in time to go on your christmas lists is a new fantastic compilation from Enid Blyton. 
Collecting together a massive selection of Enid's short stories from magazines and periodicals, "A Treasury of Bedtime Stories" (with illustrations from Becky Cameron) truly has something for everyone. 
This glorious new hardback edition contains over 300 pages of beautifully illustrated short stories to read and share at bedtime. 
Each short story stands alone and takes the reader on a brand-new adventure. From the pixie seamstress who makes dresses for the Fairy Queen, to the little boy who turns into a steam engine, meet a host of magic and memorable characters, brought to life by Becky Cameron's charming illustrations. 
It's a weighty tome but absolutely perfect if your little ones love stories that can be gobbled down greedily in one sitting (absolutely the best way, of course!)
"A Treasury of Bedtime Stories" by Enid Blyton and Becky Cameron is out now, published by Hodder Children's Books. 
It's the return of a decidedly strange (but good-hearted) duo now, Clare Elsom's next book in her fantastic "Horace and Harriet" series. 
In "Horace and Harriet: Friends, Romans, Statues" Lord Commander Horatio Frederick Wallington Nincompoop Maximus Pimpleberry the Third (or Horace, for short) has been a statue on a plinth in Princes Park for hundreds of years. 
But now he's friends with Harriet and every time he leaves his pedestal he's ready for all sorts of adventures!
This time the two meet up in Rome where Horace poses as a gladiator, impresses as a statue, and is reunited with a long-lost relative. 
Packed with splendiferous pictures this is a rollicking read for children of five and up who love a good time-hopping mystery, and a crazy cast of characters. 
We really love Clare's illustrations for the book too, a real treat!
"Horace and Harriet: Friends, Romans, Statues" by Clare Elsom is out now, published by OUP / Oxford Children's Books. 
Our next book is something quite unique, heartbreakingly honest and thought-provoking. In fact I don't think we've ever read anything quite like this. 
"Child I" by Steve Tasane is an all-too-real account of what life is like for children when they're incarcerated in refugee camps. 
The story concerns a group of undocumented children with letters for names who are living life in limbo at one refugee camp, with stories to tell but no papers or 'official' documentation to prove them. 
As they try to forge a new family amongst themselves, they also long to keep memories of their old identities alive. 
Will they be heard and believed? And what will happen to them if they aren't?

An astonishing piece of writing that will enchant and intrigue children; perfectly pitched at a 9+ readership - dealing with a very strong subject matter in a way that children will take to almost immediately, increasing their empathy, knowledge and hopefully understanding. Truly something really special, this one. 
"Child I" by Steve Tasane is out now, published by Faber and Faber. 
Last but not least in our Chapter Book Roundups for 2018 is a story that follows on from one of the greatest works of children's fiction of the 20th Century. 
Edit "E" Nesbit's sublime "Five Children and It" has an official sequel in the form of Kate Saunder's brilliant Costa Book Award winning "Five Children on the Western Front". 
The story opens on the eve of the First World War, and is particularly poignant in this centenary year of the end of hostilities. The five children have grown up - war will change their lives for ever.

Cyril is off to fight, Anthea is at art college, Robert is a Cambridge scholar and Jane is at high school.

The Lamb is the grown up age of 11, and he has a little sister, Edith, in tow. 

The sand fairy has become a creature of stories ... until he suddenly reappears. The siblings are pleased to have something to take their minds off the war, but this time the Psammead is here for a reason, and his magic might have a more serious purpose.

Before this last adventure ends, all will be changed, and the two younger children will have seen the Great War from every possible viewpoint - factory-workers, soldiers and sailors, nurses and the people left at home, and the war's impact will be felt right at the heart of their family.

Kate picks up from where Nesbit leaves off with an absolutely brilliant eye for how the characters would evolve and change as adults, and how the shadow of war will impact them all. Make sure you've got plenty of tissues towards the end of this one though, fair warning!
"Five Children on the Western Front" by Kate Saunders with an all-new cover by David Dean is out now, published by Faber and Faber.

More magical adveturing in a fantastic new book that was gobbled up super-quick by C...

"Unicorn Girl" by Anne-Marie Conway could almost have been written specifically for her. She's unashamedly in love with Unicorns (in fact the only thing better than a Unicorn is a Llamacorn - a cross between a Llama and a Unicorn) but let's take a closer look at this gorgeous and heart-warming story.

Ariella loves her grandmother very much, but when Granny Rae dies, she leaves behind a family heirloom, a precious Unicorn charm.

As Ariella slowly comes to terms with the loss of her beloved grandmother, something very strange and magical happens. As she looks out of her window one day she spies a Unicorn, a real actual real-life Unicorn, standing in the field at the bottom of her garden.

When Ariella goes to investigate, she knows she's made a brand new friend. This gangly-legged rather scruffy Unicorn is named Albert - who seems to see right into Ariella's soul with his piercing violet eyes.

Soon Ariella spends as much time with Albert as possible, and he becomes her most trusted secret keeper as Ariella copes with all the normal everyday stuff girls have to put up with, from starting a new school or making a wish that Albert could somehow repair her baby brother's hole-in-the-heart.

Ariella also realises that her new friend is an outsider himself, and might need her help just as much as she needs his. So their friendship becomes strong, but it's a friendship that cannot possibly last forever - or can it?

C told me that anyone reading this might be ugly crying with happiness / sadness by the end of the book so consider yourself suitably forewarned.

"Unicorn Girl" by Anne-Marie Conway is out now, published by Silverwood Books.

Last but not least, squeezed in at the last moment purely because it's just come out, is the fantastic "Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow" by Jessica Townsend.

Catching up after the cataclysmic events of the first Nevermoor Wundersmith book, Morrigan has escaped her cursed life in Jackalfax to join the Wundrous society. For the first time ever Morrigan feels protected, welcomed and has a sense of belonging, all the things she's sought her whole life.

But there's a catch - the welcome is less than warm, and Morrigan Crow realises that being an all-powerful Wundersmith comes with the stigma of being feared as truly evil.

Can she rein in her power enough to convince her new friends that her powers can be used for good?

It's taut storytelling with a nice lick of dark humour here and there, and some utterly magical moments of triumph - but be ready for a real whump in the guts at the end of this one, and a bit of a wait until book 3 (which we're absolutely all-in for!)

"Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow" by Jessica Townsend is out now, published by Orion Childrens Books. 
(All books kindly supplied for review).

And that's it for 2018's Chapter Book Roundups. I think we ended with a brilliant selection, don't you agree? 
We will resume our Chapter Book Roundups in January 2019 - and until then you can keep up with all the very best chapter books in our "Chapter Book of the Week" slots. See you there!

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A gaggle of truly awesome Christmas titles to add to your Christmas Book Shopping List - courtesy of the fab folk at Nosy Crow

Santa's sack is bulging with amazing Christmas books this year, so before you start adding lots and lots of books to your wish list, we thought we'd show you a huge selection of gorgeous titles from one of our favourite publishers.

Nosy Crow's books are always of the highest quality, with engaging, endearing and enduring characters that will become firm Christmas favourites with your little ones. So let's dig right into that sack and pull out our first book!

"Pip and Posy: The Christmas Tree" by Axel Scheffler is a fabulous new story with everyone's favourite rabbit and mouse.

Pip and Posy are getting into the festive swing of things, and are decorating the Christmas Tree with a ton of lovely christmas decorations.

The only problem is, every time Posy leaves the room there seems to be one less decoration on the tree when she comes back.

It's only when she finds Pip lying on the sofa, looking rather rotund, and groaning about a tummy ache that she realises what's happened. Will Pip learn his lesson? A festive treat and a nice twist of an ending makes this utterly essential for little ones.

"Pip and Posy: The Christmas Tree" by Axel Scheffler is out now, published by Nosy Crow. 

Next in our book sack...

Something for really tiny tinies who may be enjoying their first Christmas.

The ticklishly fun "Where's Santa Claus?" by Ingela P. Arrhenius is beautifully designed to be a sensory experience for tiddlers who love "lift the flap" fun, and there's a mirror tucked into the story as well so they can truly feel part of the story.

Help Santa find all the christmas characters from naughty elves to fuzzy reindeer, and of course the most important christmas character of all - you!

It's a really superb little sturdy book this, perfect as a stocking filler for little ones who love bold bright colours and simple shapes, and lots of interactive elements in their stories.

"Where's Santa Claus?" by Ingela P. Arrhenius is out now, published by Nosy Crow. 

Next up, a rather special moggy indeed!

In "Sammy Claws the Christmas Cat" by Lucy Rowland and Paula Bowles you'll meet Santa's furriest little helper.

Santa's kitten Sammy will sleep absolutely ANYWHERE, and like most cats, that usually leads to trouble.

This time Sammy has ended up sleeping in a box on Christmas Eve - completely unaware that it's a present box.

Before he knows it, Sammy finds himself wrapped up as a Christmas parcel and bundled onto the sleigh with the other presents!


How will Sammy escape? And how will he save the presents from two robbers with plans to steal them all away . . .? A brilliantly exciting Christmas story perfect for cat lovers everywhere, with a truly adorable central character. Blissful!

"Sammy Claws the Christmas Cat" by Lucy Rowland and Paula Bowles is out now, published by Nosy Crow. 

Phew, after all that excitement, what's next?

The next book is a heartfelt and festive story of a lonely little boy and his secret wish - to find a friend. In "The Boy and the Bear" by dream team Tracey Corderoy and Sarah Massini, the lonely little boy receives an invitation to play written on a paper boat!

How mysterious! It seems that he has found the best friend he's been longing for - at last!

But Bear isn't quite the playmate the boy had imagined. If only he knew how to play games properly! But when Bear starts to build a treehouse, the boy is intrigued and a magical summer begins.

As autumn passes and the first winter snowflakes start to fall, the boy is left alone, and only then does he truly realise what he has lost . . . Until at last spring comes again and the friends are joyfully reunited with a very special hug!

A wonderful and touching story that stretches across the seasons, and makes us all wish we could hibernate like Bear! Magical!

"The Boy and the Bear" by Tracey Corderoy and Sarah Massini is out now, published by Nosy Crow.

Next, it's the welcome return of Jan Fearnley's timeless classic "Little Robin Red Vest" - presented in a very special 20th Anniversary edition with new artwork, but the same glorious wintry seasonal story that's a true christmas classic in every sense of the word.

The tale begins one frosty evening, a week before Christmas. 

Little Robin washes and irons seven warm vests for the chilly nights to come. 

As the days go by, he comes across lots of shivering animals and kindly offers them his vests to wear. 

But - oh no! - on Christmas Eve, Little Robin is cold and alone with no vests left! That is, until a special someone arrives to reward his kindness. 

A beautiful message about paying it forward and helping others - because you never know when you might need help yourself. Absolutely lovely!

"Little Robin Red Vest" by Jan Fearnley is out now, published by Nosy Crow. 

Finally a brilliant series for older readers who love a touch of icy Christmas magic...!

"Snow Sisters: The Crystal Rose" by Astrid Foss combines a fantastic magical adventure with engaging characters (everyone will have a favourite Snow Sister once they start reading these), animal characters and a classic battle of good vs evil. 

Evil in the form of the nefarious Shadow Witch who will do anything to stop the Snow Sisters from reaching the Everchanging Lights before her.

On their second quest, the girls face a dark, icy journey to find the crystal rose and the blue Everchanging Light. 

Will their magic be strong enough to overcome the Great Glacier and all the dangers hidden there?

Don't forget The Snow Sisters' first adventure, 'The Silver Secret'? and keep an eye open in 2019 for 'The Frozen Rainbow' and 'The Enchanted Waterfall'!

Fun, adventurous, exciting and of course full of wintry magic. "Snow Sisters: The Silver Secret" and "Snow Sisters: The Crystal Rose" by Astrid Foss are both out now, published by Nosy Crow. 

What a feast of books! Which ones will you add to your christmas list?

(All titles kindly supplied for review). 

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Wednesday 28 November 2018

Brush up your language skills with innovative publisher B Small and their fantastic "Hello French!" series of titles.

Learning other languages is now such a huge part of C's learning journey at school that we love any opportunity to also bring that work home.

For me it gives me a valuable chance to brush up my own (quite frankly terrible) French skills with the brilliant new "Hello French" series of titles from B Small Publishing.

They've kindly sent us a selection of books from their new range, so we'll dip into our book bag and take a look at a few of them.

First is the fabulous "French English Picture Dictionary" by Sam Hutchinson, Marie-Therese Bougard and Kim Hankinson.

This visual dictionary covers words in a selection of categories, with over 350 essential French vocabulary words to tickle your tonsils with, and brilliant tips on how to pronounce each word phonetically.

It's a great mix of words and illustrations, perfect for little ones who are just starting to learn French (or 10 year olds like C who just want to learn a whole set of new words for things).

Then there's "A Beginner's Guide to French" again by Sam, Marie-Therese and Kim - this time ramping up the language skills to the next level with an essential guide to forming phrases and sentences, and having fun while you do so.

This is the perfect book to accompany school starters as they learn French. 

Each expertly designed section encourages enthusiasm, builds confidence and gives young learners the basic French skills they will need as they grow. 

Learning through clear, fun and familiar examples will spark a lifelong passion for French, and it'll certainly help us decode some of those tricky but gorgeous French comics and graphic novels we love so much. 

Last but not least more fun in the next title...

"Colour In French" lets your creative side loose with lots of French-inspired scenes to break out your favourite crayons, pencils and colouring pens for - learning essential words along with the artistic and creative fun. 

This is a great little book for younger children who will learn through play, and hopefully still use the book as a handy little reference once they've finished adding their own colours and designs to it. 

You can find out more about B Small's intuitive and wonderfully designed language ranges, covering French, English, Spanish and even Welsh over on their website: 

(All books kindly supplied for review)
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"The Mud Monster" by Jonnie Wild and Brita Granstrom (Otter-Barry Books)

Here's a fabulous story that's a little bit scary and spooky at first...
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Tuesday 27 November 2018

"Shhh!" by Barroux (Words and Pictures)

What makes the perfect bedtime picture book? Shhh, and we'll tell you...!
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"Boys who Made a Difference" by Michelle Roehm McCann (Simon and Schuster Children's Books)

As 2018 draws to a close, there's absolutely no doubt which type of book has really flooded the market this year...
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Monday 26 November 2018

"Who are you calling weird?" by Marilyn Singer and Paul Daviz (Words and Pictures)

It's quite often disappointing to see new non-fiction books about animals feature the same species over and over again...
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"Getting the little blighters to behave" by Claire Potter (Featherstone)

Claire Potter's awesome "Little Blighters" series is an absolute must for harried parents who just need a little extra help dealing with their own little Bs!
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Friday 23 November 2018

ReadItDaddy's YA / Adult Comic of the Week - Week Ending 23rd November 2018: "Beautiful Darkness" by Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoet (Drawn and Quarterly)

Our YA / Adult Comic of the Week should definitely be kept well away from your little ones, even if they like the look of the cute character coyly peeking out of the front cover...
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ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 23rd November 2018: "MIllions" by Frank Cottrell-Boyce with illustrations by Steven Lenton (Macmillan Children's Books)

This week's Chapter Book of the Week may not be new, but it's new to us - and we absolutely loved it so here we are with "Millions" by Frank Cottrell-Boyce...
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ReadItDaddy's Third Book of the Week - Week Ending 23rd November 2018: "Emmett and Caleb" by Karen Hottois and Delphine Renon, translated by Sarah Ardizzone (Book Island)

I rather liked the description from Sarah Ardizzone of this one. "A Fine Bromance!"
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ReadItDaddy's Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 23rd November 2018: "The Dictionary of Dinosaurs" by Dr Matthew Baron and Dieter Braun (Natural History Museum Books / Wide Eyed Editions)

Our second Picture Book of the Week this week is a truly stunning non-fiction book that does far more than dig into dinos...!
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ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 23rd November 2018: "The Boy - His Stories And How He Came to Be" by Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins Children's Books)

Our first Picture Book of the Week this week harks back to our very first forays into reviewing children's books...
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Thursday 22 November 2018

The beauty of "The Story Moment" is the key to giving my writing the kick in the pants it so desperately needed - This Week's ReadItTorial

Over the last 8 weeks of the "Writing for Children" course, we've learned a lot about "The Story Moment" in middle grade fiction. Our tutor, Nicola M. Brown describes it in a way that always reminds me of spinning plates, but it's actually been a revelation to fully understand just how important the story moment is, and how you need to support it by nurturing and feeding it with peripheral information as your story unfolds.

I've read Cressida Cowell's "How to Train your Dragon" series alongside my daughter (who actually prefer's Cressida's new series "The Wizards of Once" more) and in last night's classroom session it really began to  make a lot of sense how clever Cressida is at structuring her stories to keep that meter / flow needle from wandering too far away from the story moment.

Cressida Cowell's hugely successful "How to Train your Dragon" series, a masterclass in maintaining the moment!

So imagine your paragraphs and sentences as being like the dead centre of a measuring device (trying to think of a good comparison - say a set of weighing scales or an oscilloscope perhaps).

If your story maintains the 'story moment' then the reader is right there, in that moment, at that time.

Every time you move your needle away from dead centre (perhaps to go into an elaborate description of something, or a memory, a recollection or flashback, or a piece of world-building) you're taking the reader out of that moment and into a different timeframe where - alas - they can end up being bogged down.

Writing for Middle Grade doesn't always allow writers like me (who are completely in love with elaborate descriptions and metaphor) to get away with moving away from that story moment for very long.

Cressida keeps that meter more or less dead centre the whole time, but subtly feeds her story with the enrichment of character and world-building in tiny little nuggets of information that she slides in between the passages of dialogue.

One thing I've noticed in the time we've begun reviewing more middle grade books together, is that C absolutely craves stories that stay within the story moment, and it's amazing how many commercial middle grade novels break this rule very early on, leading to a story getting bogged down in the first chapter or so as the author struggles to balance those spinning plates in a way that will keep a child's attention locked on.

I think of all the sessions I've attended during this class, 'the story moment' was best described and made most sense last night. Writing fantasy stories is the most fun, and it's the genre I'm always drawn to in my own writing - but sometimes it takes someone else pointing out something that, on reflection, seems so simple to really revolutionise the way I've been thinking about and approaching writing for kids.

Absolutely brill, but now to put it into practice!!
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"The Big Race" by David Barrow (Hodder Children's Books)

Time for a modern update of a classic fable now, and an underdog (or should that be under-aardvark) story solidly delivering a message that's important to everyone - never give up!
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"Let's Talk About When Someone Dies" by Molly Potter (Featherstone)

Molly Potter is the author of many brilliant self-help books for helping children deal with difficult subjects...
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