Friday, August 30, 2019

ReadItDaddy's Graphic Novel of the Week - Week Ending 30th August 2019: "Hilda and the Mountain King" by Luke Pearson (Flying Eye Books / NoBrow Press)

All good things come to an end. Sometimes the greatest things, and if you're the sort of person who doesn't like it when our "Book of the Week" reviews go in a bit heavy with the praise, you might just want to bail out now.

Because "Hilda and the Mountain King", the final graphic novel in Luke Pearson's mesmerising and absolutely vital series is drawing to a close in possibly the most perfect way possible.

We're anxious not to spoil anything for new fans who might have just joined in with the Hilda love, off the back of the hugely successful and universally acclaimed Netflix "Hilda" series (which was, to be quite honest, absolutely a zillion times better than we could have possibly hoped for). But in the last book we were left on one heck of a cliffhanger.

Spoilers ahead folks...if you haven't read "Hilda and the Stone Forest" time to look away....NOW!

Right at the end of the last book Hilda woke up dazed, but realising something rather strange had happened. Hilda was no longer human - in fact Hilda had become...a TROLL!

In her new-found body Hilda is at first horrified, but soon realises that being a Troll isn't all that bad after all - in fact it's almost like getting a whole new raft of superpowers. She feels strong, she can leap tall pine trees in a single bound, and her roar fills the forest.

Most importantly Hilda begins to realise that Trolls aren't just the lonely denizens of the mountains and forests. They have a whole community, and that community is under serious threat.

Meanwhile her poor long-suffering mum has to put up with a rather strange house guest, a baby troll who is even grumpier and moodier (and far more destructive) than Hilda herself!

As you've probably come to expect from Luke, this is a deliciously dark tale, and we're soon introduced to a new set of antagonists - there are forces afoot led by the mysterious arch-mansplaining Ahlberg (a fantastic character who feels like the comic embodiment of every Brexit-voting Gammon you've ever had the misfortune to run across on Twitter) who absolutely will not stop until he and his 'safety patrol' have wiped Trolls from the face of the earth once and for all - including any Troll-shaped girls who just happen to get in the way.

It's up to Hilda to save the day!

We've read this. We've read it again. We've read it so many times just savouring every single morsel, clinging on to it, trying to stave off the inevitable - and the end of a story that, without any exagerration, has become the graphic novel series that I shove in the face of anyone (teachers or otherwise) who claim that comics and graphic novels aren't "proper" reading.

We will, of course, have the second series of the Netflix show to look forward to - giving Hilda a whole new world to play in and expand in, and perhaps there may be the promise of new exciting stories kicking off in the accompanying middle grade novels. But with this, the very last and easily the best of the Hilda graphic novels, we really will have a huge Hilda-shaped hole in our lives if there really aren't to be any more.

Then again, there's the prospect that we have whatever Luke cooks up next to look forward to. Seeing his sterling work and involvement with "Adventure Time" fills us with confidence that, whatever he does, it's going to be awesome. For now though, the Hilda series stands as one of the best ways to show kids that comics aren't just about prat-falls and pies in the face. They can be truly inspirational, glorious and just so durned vital too.

Sum this book up in a sentence: Absolutely unmissably essential reading, and if you've never read or encountered a Hilda book before, we almost envy you, get started with book one and work your way through to this and you'll be experiencing some of the best comic book action on the planet - for kids or grown ups!

"Hilda and the Mountain King" by Luke Pearson is out on 1st September 2019, published by Flying Eye Books / NoBrow Press (kindly supplied for review). 
Read More

ReadItDaddy's Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 30th August 2019: "The Golden Cage" by Anna Castagnoli, Laura Watkinson and Carll Cneut (Book Island)

Time for yet another "WOW" book from those lovely folk over at Book Island, again combining the considerable talents of Anna Castagnoli and Carll Cneut (with translation by Laura Watkinson).

"The Golden Cage" is exactly the sort of brilliant tale we want to see more of in children's picture books, one that doesn't slather on the moral message at its heart like too much butter on too little bread - but one that weaves a story world that is enticing, captivating and draws you straight in (again, largely thanks to Anna's utterly amazing writing style and Carll's truly sumptuous and luxurious illustrations.

The story centres around Valentina, the Emperor's daughter who is a rather spoiled and over-privileged girl. She wants for nothing, yet sends her servants off around the world to collect all manner of birds of all shapes and sizes, colours and hues.

Despite her amazing collection one type of bird completely eludes her grasp.  A bird that talks.

Her long-suffering servants search far and wide to fulfill her impossible quest - and she beheads those who fail.

In Valentina’s palace, heads roll every day! Will the golden cage ever be filled?

We won't spoil the end, suffice to say that Valentina might just learn her lesson. If you adored Carll's illustrations for the gorgeous "The Witch Fairy" (written by Brigitte Minne) you know what to expect with the amazingly details panels in "The Golden Cage" - truly a feast of a book.

Sum this book up in a sentence: Absorbing, captivating and gloriously visual storytelling with a moral tale deftly woven like the finest silk. 

"The Golden Cage" by Anna Castagnoli, Laura Watkinson and Carll Cneutt is out on 26th September 2019, published by Book Island (kindly supplied for review)
Read More

ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 30th August 2019: "The Inner Child" by Henry Blackshaw (Cicada Books)

We're always instantly attracted to new picture books that have a bit of quirkiness and eccentricity about them, particularly if they present something original and fun.

"The Inner Child" by Henry Blackshaw absolutely sings out to all those parents who (like me) love messing around with lego with their kids, or getting messy with finger painting, or (ahem) love new toys and gadgets and absolutely MUST have them.

Henry's fun book presents this as a self-help manual for kids, informing them of a fact they may have completely missed. Inside every adult there is also a child - and quite often that child springs out at unexpected moments.

Sometimes our inner child expresses our fears and anxieties (but honestly, who could possibly be scared of such adorable kitty cats as the ones in this book?)

Sometimes people's inner children are horrible shouty poopy-butted monsters (again as deftly demonstrated by Henry in this book).

But above all, now and again, it's good to let our inner kids go on the rampage a bit. Have fun, enjoy life, and enjoy the world - you only get one shot at this so even if you get a second chance at enjoying a second childhood, you grumpy adults, just do that thing! A philosophy we can all get behind!

Sum this book up in a sentence: A quirky, original and brilliantly presented story of how we adults aren't always quite as grown up as we pretend to be.

"The Inner Child" by Henry Blackshaw is out now, published by Cicada Books (kindly supplied for review). 
Read More

Thursday, August 29, 2019

ReaditDaddy's Chapter Book Roundup - August 2019

Welcome, welcome to our August Chapter Book Roundup. Yes I know the summer holidays are almost over, and you're probably thinking about starting back at school (arrgh!) or starting school for the first time (eeeeeek!) but our book sack is filled to the brim today, so let's delve in and see what chapter-laden treats are in store.

First up is "Moonstruck: Poems about our Moon", a new poetry compilation from Roger Stevens, with illustrations by Ed Boxall.

This glorious collection contains new poems about our moon from up-and-coming poets, and also contains some fabulous classics from the likes of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Emily Bronte, proving that the moon has long been a divine source of inspiration for poets and creatives throughout the generations.

New poems from  Roger Stevens, Brian Moses, Valerie Bloom, Mandy Coe, Grace Nichols, Liz Brownlee, James Carter, Jay Hulme, Tony Mitton, Sue Hardy-Dawson and Rachel Rooney are the core part of this glorious book, and there's truly something for everyone in this brilliant piece of work, curated by Roger.

"Moonstruck" curated and edited by Roger Stevens and illustrated by Ed Boxall is out now, published by Otter-Barry Books.

More hilarious fun next from awesome author David Solomons and his new book "My Cousin is a Time Traveller".

Meet Luke, a young ordinary lad with a rather extraordinary cousin - who just happens to be able to travel in time.

She's awesome, amazing and has a keen brain - but has a message for humanity, or at least Luke anyway. Machines in the future have become far too intelligent, and have taken over the world! YIPES! It's up to Luke to fill in the gap left by Zack, who has recently sworn off all his superpowers to become a normal teenage nerd.

Can Luke help his cousin to quell the rise of the machines? Hugely original and entertaining, with lots of laughs along the way, this is an epoch-jumping adventure in the making.

"My Cousin is a Time Traveller" by David Solomons is out now, published by Nosy Crow.

Next, another rather amazing compilation - not of poetry this time, but of short stories written by some of our favourite middle grade and YA authors of the moment.

"Return to Wonderland" is a glorious celebration of the bookworld and works of one Lewis Carroll, and his most amazing creation Alice - and her adventures in Wonderland.

Now, modern authors have used Lewis' original works as divine inspiration for a huge collection of tales, each one building on that world and its amazing characters.

Choose from tales from the likes of Peter Bunzl, Pamela Butchart, Maz Evans, Swapna Haddow, Patrice Lawrence, Chris Smith, Robin Stevens, Lauren St John, Lisa Thompson, Piers Torday and Amy Wilson (phew!) - One heck of a roster, I'm sure you'll agree!

Tumble down the rabbit hole again to find out what happens in Wonderland without Alice there. Is the Queen of Hearts still ruling with an iron fist? Does the Mad Hatter still have to go to tea? And will Tweedledum and Tweedledee ever resolve their argument?

More than 150 years since Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was first published by Macmillan, revisit Carroll's amazing cast of characters – including the Queen of Hearts, the Mock Turtle, the Dormouse, the Cheshire Cat and Alice's Sister in these brand-new stories, that will bring a new generation of readers to Wonderland.

"Return to Wonderland" by various authors, is out now, published by Macmillan Childrens Books. 

Time for a slice of septuagenerian silliness now from a completely crazy grandma.

"Grandma Dangerous and the Toe of Treachery" is the third book in a completely madcap series from Kita Mitchell and Nathan Reed.

Ollie's grandma really is completely crackers, and danger is her middle name (not really, it's actually Maude!) and together with her hapless hound Piper, it's time to embark on an adventure to the sultry deserts of Egypt, where there's a grand mystery to solve. A mystery involving bandages, balloons and a manky Mummy toe (methinks the author must've seen the Mummy's toe at the Pitt Rivers museum near us!)

Fans of David Walliams will love this brilliant mix of mirth, mystery and mayhem, courtesy of the diminutive titular little old lady with a taste for excitement and adventure.

"Grandma Dangerous and the Toe of Treachery" by Kita Mitchell and Nathan Reed is out now, published by Orchard Books. 

Next up is the latest in a fabulous and successful sparkly series with everyone's favourite mythical beasts playing a huge part in the "Unicorn Academy" adventures.

"Matilda and Pearl" by Julie Sykes and Lucy Truman is the latest book in the series.

Imagine a school where you meet your own unicorn and have amazing adventures together!

That's what happens for the girls at Unicorn Academy on beautiful Unicorn Island.

Matilda and Pearl are having a fantastic time at Unicorn Academy. They both have big imaginations and are great at telling stories. They're the perfect partners.

While camping in the woods, Matilda, Pearl and their friends discover that magic is draining from the oldest tree on the island. They're sure someone is up to no good but they'll have to think fast to stop them!

Huge mighty girl appeal for this one, another brilliant entry in the hugely successful Unicorn Academy series.

"Unicorn Academy: Matilda and Pearl" by Julie Sykes and Lucy Truman is out now, published by Nosy Crow. 


A scintillating eco-thriller next, with "Where the River Runs Gold" by Sita Brahmachari.

Set against the backdrop of a world where dwindling natural resources are severely under threat, and the insect population has been decimated, the tale of Shifa and her brother Themba unfolds.

The siblings live in Kairos City with their father, Nabil. The city is a sprawl, with the lauded few living in luxury in amazing apartments downtown, while the rest huddle together in stinking crowded compounds, most drafted in to working for the indidious "Freedom Fields" - a globe-spanning organisation who will look after you as a worker - for a price. Your entire life. 

Shifa and Themba work as poorly paid labour on crop farms, pollinating crops by hand so that the entire nation can eat. The farm Shifa and Themba are sent to is hard and cruel. Themba won't survive there and Shifa comes up with a plan to break them out. But they have no idea where they are - their only guide is a map drawn from the ramblings of a stranger (a map you'll find at the start of this stunning book, and boy do we ever love books that start off with a map!)

The journey ahead is fraught with danger, but Shifa is strong and knows to listen to her instincts - to let love guide them home. The freedom of a nation depends on it. 

At once thought-provoking and utterly timely, this has 'win' written all over it. 

"Where the River Runs Gold" by Sita Brahmachari is out now, published by Orion Children's Books. 

Next up, something for lovers of "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" and "Tom Gates" - A new hero beckons, in the shape of Omar. 

In "Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet" by Zanib Mian and Nasaya Mafaridik you'll find out exactly why Omar always seems to have trouble following him around like a faithful puppy. 

Omar's parents have just moved house, and moved him to a new school. Familiar Middle Grade territory so far, but Omar at least has Eid to look forward to with all its feasting, presents and happiness. Assuming of course that Omar can avoid the class bully first. 

Can Omar stay in his mum and dad's good books long enough to get exactly what he wants for Eid?

A fabulous middle grade story full of awesome cultural references that's perfect for kids who want to find out what life is like as a young Muslim, filled with a quirky mix of imagination and humour. 

"Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet" by Zanib Mian and Nasaya Mafaridik is out now, published by Hodder Children's Books. 

Something thoroughly original next, and a setting and theme that reminded me of my favourite type of stories from childhood. 

In "Swimming against the Storm" by Jess Butterworth you'll meet sisters Eliza and Avery, who have lived their entire lives in a small fishing village on the coast of Louisiana, growing up alongside turtles, pelicans and porpoises. 

But now, with sea levels rising, their home is at risk of being swept away.

Determined to save the land, Eliza and her younger sister Avery secretly go searching in the swamp for the dangerous, wolf-like loup-garou. If they can prove this legendary creature exists, they're sure that the government will have to protect its habitat - and their community.

But there's one problem: the loup-garou has never been seen before. And with a tropical storm approaching and the sisters deep, deep in the swampland, soon it's not just their home at risk, but their lives as well. 

A truly brilliant eco-adventure with a touch of mystery and magic about it, as atmospheric and absorbing as it sounds. 

"Swimming Against the Storm" by Jess Butterworth is out now, published by Orion Children's Books. 

Fun for emergent solo readers next, with a cool pair of characters on their debut caper. 

"Agent Weasel and the Fiendish Fox Gang" by Nick East begins with sheer and utter chaos. 

Strange things are happening in the United Woodlands. Rabbit warrens have been peppered with itching powder. Squirrels' nuts are missing (owch!) 

Even Badger's bottom has been shaved (what? NOOOO!) All the clues point to the Fiendish Fox Gang.

It's time to call Agent Weasel, woodland super-spy. But before they can even finish their stakeout picnic, Weasel and his trusty dormouse friend Doorkins are captured by the villainous Vixen von Fluff.

Can our heroes escape? Can peace be made in the United Woodlands? Will they get afternoon tea and biscuits? Does Agent Weasel have a clue what's going on?

A brilliant mix of hilarity and great illustrations in a spy caper with a difference. Fab stuff!

"Agent Weasel and the Fiendish Fox Gang" by Nick East is out now, published by Hodder Children's Books. 

Corking YA stuff now for older kids, let's meet Dinah!!

In her first YA novel, Costa-shortlisted Kit de Waal responds to classic Moby Dick by tearing the power away from obsessive Captain Ahab and giving it to a teenage girl.

Dinah's whole world is upside down, dead things and angry men and cuts all over her head that are beginning to sting....

Seventeen-year-old Dinah needs to leave her home, the weird commune where she grew up. She needs a whole new identity, starting with how she looks, starting with shaving off her hair, her 'crowning glory'. She has to do it quickly, because she has to go now.

Dinah was going to go alone and hitch a ride down south. Except, she ends up being persuaded to illegally drive a VW campervan for hundreds of miles, accompanied by a grumpy man with one leg. This wasn't the plan.

But while she's driving, Dinah will be forced to confront everything that led her here, everything that will finally show her which direction to turn...

Sizzlingly original, a brilliant take on the classic story but tweaked and twisted into something thoroughly on-point, this is truly awesome stuff.

"Becoming Dinah" by Kit De Waal is out now, published by Orion Children's Books. 

Last up, and another truly brilliant slice of fantasy from a publisher who really knows how to sign up the most amazing book series. 

Book one of the Shamer Chronicles is "The Shamer's Daughter by Lene Kaaberbol. 

Dina has inherited her mother's gift: she is a Shamer, able to see a person's most guilty secrets just by gazing in their eyes. 

It sounds like the most extraordinary gift, but for Shamers, the gift comes at a price. No one wants to be friends with someone who can look directly into their souls and unearth their deepest darkest secrets. 

When Dina's mother is called to Dunark Castle to uncover the truth about a terrible crime, Dina must come to terms with her power, and quickly or let her mother fall prey to the vicious dragons of Dunark.

A glorious example of sublime world and character building, deftly translated and presented, this is sure to be a huge hit with middle grade / YA kids who like their fantasy complex and intertwining. 

"The Shamer's Daughter" by Lene Kaaberbol is out now, published by Pushkin Children's Books. 

Now for a chapter book version of a seriously brilliant comic series that we absolutely love to bits.

"Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power!" by Mariko Tamaki and Brooklyn Allen catches up with the mighty girls of Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's Camp for Hardcore Lady Types (you can see why they're better known as the Lumberjanes, right?)

The five scouts of Roanoke cabin Jo, April, Molly, Mal, and Ripley (our fave!) love their summers at camp.

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

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

Today is no exception. When thrill-seeking Molly leads the girls on a hike up the TALLEST mountain they've ever seen, things don t go quite as planned. For one, they didn t expect to trespass into the lands of the ancient Cloud People, and did anyone happen to read those ominous signs some unknown person posted at the bottom of the mountain?

Also, unicorns.

We do absolutely love the graphic novels but these middle grade adventures are a lot of fun too. Start collecting the series starting with "Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power" by Mariko Tamaki and Brooklyn Allen, out now and published by Amulet. 

One final one we're sneaking in, as we do love these publications from The History Press...

"Buckinghamshire Folk Tales" by Terrie Howey delves into our neighbouring county of Buckinghamshire, a county as much steeped in history as the subjects of the other books we've covered on the blog - and of course a country famous for some distinctly dark tales gathered together and curated expertly by the author.

In this county you'll find Roman forts, legends of nefarious highwaymen who patrolled and lay in wait for unsuspecting victims, right up to the modern Buckinghamshire with its motorways and urban myths.

Look out for witches and dragons, mind all those roundabouts (particularly in Milton Keynes, a place where we never seem to go in and come out the same way, no matter how hard we try), and whatever you do – don’t eat the stew!

Find out why in "Buckinghamshire Folk Tales" by Terrie Howey, published by The History Press and out now. 

...and not to be outdone, let's shift counties for the next collection of folk tales from The History Press.

"Dorset Folk Tales for Children" by Tim Laycock, with illustrations by Zoe Barnish is a kid-friendly collection of amazing folk tales collected across one of our favourite counties (and favourite holiday destinations too!)

Dorset is an amazing county of contrasts from amazing forests and rolling hills, down to the rugged coastlines and sandy beaches - all waiting to host tales to tantalize young minds.

Meet an old man of the sea, or read a sizzling adventure centred around an old map.

Or best of all, read the tale of Granny Parsons and the Dorset Dumplings - a giggle-fest perfect as a bed-time story. There are 14 brilliant tales in all, in another winning collection of stories curated by Tim.

"Dorset Folk Tales for Children" by Tim Laycock, with illustrations from Zoe Barnish is available now, published by The History Press. 

(all books kindly supplied for review) 
Read More

Five fantastic new books to kick off a superb Autumn release schedule from Oxford Children's Books / OUP.

We're delighted to bring you five new books in OUP / Oxford Children's Books Autumn release schedule.

So let's start with a fantastic cross-generational celebration of how awesome grandparents are in "Tibble and Grandpa" by Wendy Meddour and Daniel Egneus.

Tibble absolutely adores his Grandpa, but sometimes lately Grandpa seems a little distracted.

Grandpa has stopped talking, and sometimes he gets a strange faraway look in his eye.

Tibble is frustrated, because he wants to talk to Grandpa NOW - but he comes up with a brilliant plan to get Grandpa talking again. A fantastic game of "Top Threes" - and before long, Grandpa is reminiscing and remembering - and telling Tibble awesome tall tales once again.

A delicate and brilliant story helping kids understand growing old, even touching on themes of dementia. "Tibble and Grandpa" by Wendy Meddour and Daniel Egneus is out on 5th September 2019, published by OUP / Oxford Children's Books.

Next up, a cool tale with a thought provoking message at its core, the superb "Jazz Dog" by Marie Voigt.

In a divided world of cats and dogs - where dogs only play dog music and cats only play cat music - one little dog chooses to follow the music in his heart, and that means jamming with the cats!

Jazz Dog just wants to play, and enjoy the sensations that playing with friends can bring - but will the world adapt to the idea that dogs and cats can live together in harmony after all (Ray, Egon, Peter, Winston, you stay out of this OK?)

Brilliant stuff celebrating diversity, inclusivity and friendship. 

"Jazz Dog" by Marie Voigt is out on 5th September 2019, published by OUP / Oxford Children's Books. 

Last but not least, the return of two of our all-time favourite children's characters in an all-new adventure. 

"Winnie and Wilbur: The Bug Safari" by Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul is a truly superb story featuring the hapless witch and her long-suffering moggy sidekick. 

This time Winnie and Wilbur shrink down to miniscule sizes in order to go on a super bug safari around their garden, meeting all manner of fascinating minibeasts and bugs on their travels. 

But some of those bugs aren't quite as friendly as others. Will Winnie and Wilbur survive?

...and how will Winnie work her magic when her wand is 50 times bigger than she is?

Superb stuff, and it's so fantastic to see Valerie and Korky still producing such utterly brilliant and amazing stories (and we are still completely hooked on Korky's scritchy-scratchy art style so chock full of detail). 

"Winnie and Wilbur: The Bug Safari" by Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul is out on 5th September 2019, published by OUP / Oxford Children's Books (all books kindly supplied for review). 

Older readers needn't miss out, as there's a pair of fantastic early middle grade readers to tempt you with too!

"Isadora Moon Puts on a Show" is the latest brilliant adventure for Harriet Muncaster's fab half vampire / half fairy.

It's almost time for the vampire ball, and Isadora can't wait! There's just one problem: she's got to compete in a talent show with the other vampire children. Isadora's talents aren't very vampire-y, what if the audience laugh at her? The show must go on, but will Isadora be brave enough to perform. . . ?

With irresistible pink and black artwork throughout by author/illustrator Harriet Muncaster and a totally unique heroine with an out-of-this-world family, this is a beautiful, charming, and funny series of first chapter books.

Perfect for fans of Claude, Dixie O'Day, and Squishy McFluff, Isadora Moon is the ideal choice for readers who want their magic and sparkle with a bit of bite!

We love this series, as it's not your usual 'girly' Fairy stuff, definitely for little girls who love their female characters with more tenacity and verve!

"Isadora Moon Puts on a Show" by Harriet Muncaster is out on 5th September, published by OUP. 

Finally, get ready for another rollicking round-rumped romp with a plump little pony!

Following on from "The Legend of Kevin" comes Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre's latest adventure for the rotund little hoss, in "Kevin's Great Escape".

Kevin is a roly-poly flying pony. He has everything he needs - a constant supply of biscuits (Custard creams please!) and his best friend, Max.

Misty Twiglet is a famous pop star. She has everything she needs except for a perfectly quirky, one-of-a-kind pet. The roly-poly flying pony kind. You can see where this is going, right?

When Kevin is kidnapped, Max and his sister daisy come to Kevin's rescue, and there's no way they're giving up on him without a fight.

Brilliantly funny storytelling with Sarah's absolutely peerless illustrations, this is a fab new adventure in the series. 

"Kevin's Great Escape" by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre is out on 5th September, published by OUP. 

(all books kindly supplied for review). 

Read More

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Out Today: "Old Man of the Sea" by Stella Elia and Weberson Santiago (Lantana Publishing)

We see an awful lot of books that nod and acknowledge the special place that grandparents have in their grandchildren's lives, but in "Old Man of the Sea" by Stella Elia and Weberson Santiago, there are layers and layers of story tucked in between the brilliantly observed cross-generational relationship described here.

At first, Grandpa is a bit of a closed book to the little boy in the story, but as they begin to spend more time together, Grandpa begins to tell stories - real life stories of his exploits as a sailor, and his love of the sea.

The two form a close bond over these stories, for a child the amazing adventurous exploits of their elders aren't always something that it's easy for them to imagine, but in coaxing those stories out of their grandparents, they learn so much about them - and perhaps a little bit about themselves too.

Certainly in this story the boy begins to imagine all the amazing places Grandpa has visited with all the familiarity of a favourite person, as his elder relates tales of falling in love with Europe, Asia, Australasia and the Americas, but each time - except for the last time - returning to his first love, the ocean.

Stella and Weberson work beautifully together on a book that is tinged with summery hues, and just draws you right in.

Such beautiful stuff, pretty educational for little ones too and perfect to share with your own grandparents if you're staying with them over the summer.

Sum this book up in a sentence: "A truly brilliant cross-generational deep sea dive into the relationship between grandparent and grandchild, and all the glorious places there are to visit in our amazing world where stories help to draw both characters together in a heart-melting way."

"Old Man of the Sea" By Stella Elia and Weberson Santiago is out today, published by Lantana Publishing (kindly supplied for review). 
Read More

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

"The Wonders of Nature" by Ben Hoare (Dorling Kindersley)

Ahead of those "Back to School" blues there's still time to indulge in a spot of luxurious book love, and in particular this gorgeous tome filled with the most amazing things from across our planet.

"The Wonders of Nature" by Ben Hoare is a sumptuous collection of animals, plants, minerals and other fabulous things, beautifully captured in fine detail with a series of gorgeous colour plates, and Ben's expert descriptions and facts about each object.

There are over 100 remarkable items from the natural world, from orchids to opals and lichens to lizards, everyone will find something to be captivated by. 

Each plant, animal, and rock is shown both photographically and illustrated. It's the sort of book that children will be absolutely rapt by, with a fabulous attention to detail in each page spread.

Not just a cold book of facts, there are also storybook descriptions that let you discover the myths and legends surrounding both organisms and gemstones, as well as key facts about their natural history. 



Find out how the prowling jaguar uses spots to avoid being spotted, why a sticky sundew means big trouble for insects, and what on Earth a radiolarian is. This beautiful treasury lets you find the things that interest you and uncover new favourites along the way. With reference pages packed with information you'll go away knowing something you didn't before, and you'll return time and again. 



With foil on the cover, gilded edges, and a ribbon for keeping your place, The Wonders of Nature makes an attractive gift for children who can't get enough of nature. With engaging information and absorbing images, this book is perfect for kids to explore by themselves or for bedtime stories.

Sum this book up in a sentence: A truly fabulous treasure trove of natural objects, plants and animals to pique children's curiosity and help them find out more about our natural world. 

"The Wonders of Nature" by Ben Hoare is out on 5th September 2019, published by Dorling Kindersley (kindly supplied for review)
Read More

"Small World" by Ishta Mercurio and Jen Corace (Abrams Books for Young Readers)

Oooh we like this one. A delicious exploration of the way a child sees their world, and how that world slowly begins to expand until it stretches past the horizon.

In "Small World" by Ishta Mercurio and Jen Corace, meet curious little girl Nanda.

When Nanda is born, the whole of her world is the circle of her mother’s arms. Safe, comfortable and warm.

As Nanda grows, her world grows too and begins to expand outwards. It begins with her family, then friends, the city and then out into the countryside - and Nanda's curiousity and interest grows with it. Nanda notices all the small details, the subtle nuances, colours, smells, tastes and sensations of that world as it continues to grow and grow.

Eventually Nanda is destined to break the boundaries of the world entirely - as she becomes an astronaut her view of the world - as the small blue thing in an inky cosmos - changes forever.

Sum this book up in a sentence: This is beautiful stuff, poetic, beautifully illustrated and a lilting tale to read before bed, thrumming with all the potential kids carry inside themselves as they begin to take their very own place in the world - and perhaps beyond!

"Small World" by Ishta Mercurio and Jen Corace is out now, published by Abrams Books for Young Readers
Read More

Monday, August 26, 2019

"Take me to School: A School Journal for Young Explorers" by Mary Richards (Agnes and Aubrey / Tate Publishing)

We absolutely love these brilliant little journals from Mary Richards, and she's got you covered if you're about to start "big school" for the first time, and may have worries and anxieties.

"Take me to School" follows on from the brilliant "Take me to Museums" and "Take me on Holiday" (the previous titles in the series that were very well received).

This time there are lots of school subjects to think about, and as before, a brilliant journal to fill in as your learning journey begins.

A neatly sized book that positively invites you to write and draw in it? (Just don't do this with any of your new school books, OK?)
This innovative, interactive book is divided into five ‘adventure’ chapters. Children can start the book at any point in the school term.

Each chapter is designed to be completed in one week (though it not prescriptive), and is divided into themes that encourage them to explore their surroundings, record their thoughts and draw what they see. As they complete lists, create pictures and answer questions they are prompted to think carefully about their surroundings, engage with their friends and look at their everyday school environment with fresh eyes. With a ‘thoughts and feelings’ section in every chapter, the book encourages positive thinking and a growth mindset.

Quirky, easy to navigate and brimming with interesting facts about schools throughout history and around the world, this book is a must-have for every primary school age student – don’t leave home without it!

Table of Contents
All About This Book • Thinking About School • School Activities • School Day •
Classroom • Teacher • Friends • Mealtimes • Playground • Thoughts and Feelings
Blank section for recording notes

Sum this book up in a sentence: a fantastic pocket-sized journal that lays out your school adventure in easy-to-complete sections, stimulating your imagination and helping you along with your first tentative steps in your big school adventure.

"Take me to School: a School Journal for Young Explorers" by Mary Richards is out now, published by Agnes and Aubrey Publishing (kindly supplied for review). 
Read More

"The Boy Who Knew Nothing" by James Thorp and Angus MacKinnon (Templar Publishing)

Imagine being Jon Snow as a boy...well OK that's a bit of a stretch, but in "The Boy Who Knew Nothing" by James Thorp and Angus Mackinnon you'll meet a young boy who truly doesn't know anything at all.

From the day he was born he was always told his head was an empty vessel, but when the boy meets a new friend living in his wardrobe, he's determined to find out just what his new friend is.

Not even his parents know (and right there is the real crux of what this book is really about, there's a rather nicely subtle moral about how much attention we - modern parents - are NOT giving to our kids) so the boy and his new pal both set out on a grand quest of discovery!

James and Angus work together so well, delivering a bouncy rhyming slice of surreality that feels like a 1960s trip-fest (we've previously likened their books to the animated Beatles "Yellow Submarine" movie), with superb character designs, a great little twisty tale, and of course a ton of originality and charm. Superb!!

Sum this book up in a sentence: A great story that reveals where knowledge truly comes from, and a nicely subtle kick in the pants for helicopter parenting!

"The Boy Who Knew Nothing" by James Thorp and Angus Mackinnon is out now, published by Templar (kindly supplied for review). 
Read More

Friday, August 23, 2019

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 23rd August 2019: "Speccy Nation" by Dan Whitehead (Self Published)

Our Chapter Book of the Week this week is something that I'd had my eye on for a while, and picked up on a whim as a way of trying to explain to C why "Daddy" used to be completely obsessed with a cranky, often unreliable piece of gaming tech that became a huge, huge reason why a lot of folk my age ended up working in some form of computer-based job.

"Speccy Nation" by veteran games journalist and comic author Dan Whitehead might well have a few choice moments that you might want to filter out for your own kids, but it does give a rather personal view of what it was like back in the heyday of British gaming, when an entire cottage industry sprang up around geeky folk who could somehow make the Sinclair ZX Spectrum do some truly amazing things when it came to videogames.

Across the pond while Americans were still obsessing over the Atari 2600 and the NES, we were getting our teeth into typing out wobbly bits of game code from the back of magazines, or listening to the electronic screech of games loading into the black and rubbery machine via cassette tape.

Dan has drawn up an initial list of 50 games that truly defined that microcomputing era of greatness, ranging from the utterly sublime and surreal Manic Miner (a game that C has got mildly obsessed with beating, but can't seem to get past the Solar Power Generator - HAH!) through to the greats from game studios such as Ultimate Play the Game and Imagine Software.

Dan's anecdotal writing about these games mirrors my own experience of a lot of these titles, and his memories sound an awful lot like my own as well (and I'm pretty sure there'll be a lot of 50-somethings out there who will feel the same way). What I wasn't quite expecting was that C would find this book as fascinating as I did, though there were an awful lot of moments where she would shoot me the side-eye and call me an old saddo when I got that misty faraway look in my eye from remembering just how tough the phanton biker was to beat in "Wheelie" by Microsphere.

"Speccy Nation" might not be a historical book full of blow-by-blow accounts of how these games came to be, but it (and its follow up volume Speccy Nation 2) do bring back happy memories of a time when it felt like your imagination could blissfully fill in the sensorial gaps that modern games try and fill in for you, all courtesy of a machine cooked up by a true British eccentric in every sense of the word.

"Speccy Nation" by Dan Whitehead is out now. Self published (self purchased, not provided for review). 
Read More

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 23rd August 2019: "Ghost" by Kit Turley, Blaise Hemingway, Jesse Reffsin, Chris Sasaki, Jeff Turley and Pam Hsu / Illustratus (Chronicle Books)

Wait a second, this isn't supposed to happen is it?

We're constantly being told that children's books are being watered down, that we exist in some sort of weird nanny state where 'dark' children's books have fallen by the wayside to be replaced with saccharine-sweet stuff instead.

Yet our Book of the Week this week, "Ghost" by Illustratus isn't just one tale, but 13 darkly delicious and wholly spooky stories crammed into one of the most visually impressive and gorgeously presented books we've had the pleasure of reviewing this year.

The book sets out its table from the moment you see the front cover, and inside it continues to run icy cold fingers up and down your spine in 13 tales that - if you read the book in the darkness of the night - may well have you hearing more than just the odd bump or rattle of chains.

"Ghost" is perfect for folk (particularly kids) who love to think that there's more to our world than just the things we think we know. Something other-worldly, supernatural, spectral and Karen deftly plays on this with exquisite expertise in all of the writing tricks that differentiate a truly dark and mind-blowing book from just jump-scare fodder.

Stories, poems and folk-tale-like storytelling tied together by an impressive set of original illustrations from the talented Illustratus studio mark this book a cut above the rest, leaving the scariest stuff right until the very end.

If you get much sleep after this, we'd be very surprised (of course, unless, like us, you're the sort of person who yearns to spend a night in a haunted house!)

Perhaps not one for younger kids but my 11 year old absolutely ate this up. If you think that dark books are 'done' think again, this one's an absolute belter.

Sum this book up a sentence: A divine anthology designed to prickle your senses and tickle your curiosity about the supernatural, with tales brilliantly tripping deftly between the real and surreal.

"Ghost" by Illustratus is out now, published by Chronicle Books (kindly supplied for review). 
Read More

Thursday, August 22, 2019

"The Little Mermaid" by Hans Christian Andersen, retold by Geraldine McCaughrean with illustrations by Laura Barrett (Orchard Books)

Before all the controversy surrounding the Disney 'live action' remake of "The Little Mermaid" kicks off, let's immerse ourselves in a truly gorgeous version of the original Hans Christian Andersen story, retold here by Geraldine McCaughrean with glorious new illustrations from Laura Barrett.

"The Little Mermaid" tells the story of Ariel, a mermaid with a wanderlust and a natural curiosity about her world - and the world of humans.

When she falls in love with a prince, the little mermaid persuades an evil sea witch to replace her tail with legs so she can live on land. 

But the price demanded by the wicked sea witch is great: the mermaid's beautiful voice!

Here, Geraldine has adapted the story beautifully, using a rich seam of language that little ones may be unfamiliar with, but will love hearing read aloud to them. 

Coupled with Laura's gorgeous silhouette artwork, it's a book that does as much to engage little ones' imagination through the words as well as the illustrations. 

Sum this book up in a sentence: You're likely to see a zillion different versions of this arriving next year, so grab this version as it's out today in a stunning hardback edition, it's definitely one of the best versions of the story we've seen so far. 

"The Little Mermaid" by Hans Christian Andersen is out now, published by Orchard Books (kindly supplied for review). 
Read More

"Encyclopedia of Grannies" by Eric Veille (Gecko Press)

No matter what we call them, whether they're "Grandma" or "Nanny", "Nanna", "Grand-Mo" or simply that strange old lady who smells faintly of cauliflower, we do love our gorgeous grannies!

In the brilliantly funny "Encyclopedia of Grannies" by Eric Veille, newly translated by Gecko Press, here's everything you could possibly need to know about your grandmothers, Nannas, Grannies or Gransches.

Exactly how old are they?

What do they do all day?

Why do grannies always tell us to speak up? Why do they have creases on their faces? Are grannies flexible? How do you cheer up a sad granny?

...and one of our favourite questions (which really does need a proper answer) - Where are those busloads of grannies we always see actually heading to?

Eric explains all in such a charming, funny and completely chaotic way that we were chortling all the way through this one (particularly at the aforementioned 'things you'll find in a Granny's bed' section, which for some reason includes a cauliflower pong).

Utterly brilliant for kids to pick up before going to stay with their elders over the summer - and let's face it, we'd be absolutely LOST without grandparents who do this without grumbling or grumping, bless them! 

Sum this book up a sentence: A fantastic fact-filled fun book showing just how amazing grannies really are - they don't just knit shreddies all day, you know!

"Encyclopedia of Grannies" by Eric Veille is out now, published by Gecko Press (kindly supplied for review). 
Read More

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

"Lulu's First Day" by Anna McQuinn and Rosalind Beardshaw (Alanna Max)

Our favourite booky girl is back, and it seems like only yesterday Lulu was getting ready to head to Nursery.

But now, like a lot of children (and in particular one of C's cousins) she's ready for big school.

In "Lulu's First Day" by Anna McQuinn and Rosalind Beardshaw, Lulu is wondering what school will be like.

Will it be lots of play and lots of booky fun like Nursery?

Will she make new friends?

Lulu is excited but a tiny bit nervous as well, but luckily her family are on hand to reassure her - and everyone gets up super-early to make sure Lulu's first day is a special one.

For many kids, it's quite an anxious time moving from Nursery to Pre-School then eventually to school proper, and this book beautifully captures those moments with a huge huge dose of feelgood reassurance. School is going to be so much fun for our booky little girl!

Sum this book up in a sentence: A perfect introduction to school life for kids who love reading about plucky booky girls, and Lulu is definitely one of our favourite characters in early years books. 

"Lulu's First Day" by Anna McQuinn and Rosalind Beardshaw is out now, published by Alanna Max (kindly supplied for review). 
Read More

"Nits!" by Stephanie Blake, translated by Linda Burgess (Gecko Press)

It's almost impossible to hear the word "Nits!" without feeling your scalp itch. Even if, like me, you have a totally barren scalp, you still feel like the little critters are making their way through your lovely, lovely thatch.

But ah, here's a book that isn't just about nits, it's about that first crush.

"Nits!" by Stephanie Blake once again begins with Simon - but this time he's not quite the brash and effervescent character he normally is. Simon is quiet, thoughtful - and deeply and hopelessly in love.

The object of his affection is Lou, a girl in his class. She's beautiful, she has lovely yellow bows on her ears - but alas Lou is in love with Mamadou rather than Simon.

The thing is there's something else about Lou. She's absolutely lousy with nits!! Will this change the course of Simon's affections? Or perhaps provide him with a chance to prove that love conquers all, even nasty little insect infestations.

We enjoyed this, even though it's so short you can literally polish it off in 5 minutes flat before bedtime. Not as brilliant as Stephanie's other titles, but still awesome (itchy) fun.

Sum this book up in a sentence: A tender love story that will make you scratch your head furiously while reading it (or while typing up a review of it, in fact!)

"Nits!" by Stephanie Blake, with translation by Linda Burgess, is out now, published by Gecko Press (Kindly supplied for review). 
Read More

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

"The Language of the Universe: A Visual Exploration of Mathematics" by Colin Stuart and Zimo Abadia (Big Picture Press!)

"Oooh they've got a bit about Fibonacci sequences in here!" shouted C excitedly as she intercepted this latest book parcel.

"Fibo-whaaa?" I replied. I am number blind you see, to me, maths is one of life's great mysteries - and I'm really glad that C has not taken after her old man in this instance.

"The Language of the Universe: A Visual Exploration of Mathematics" by Colin Stuart and Ximo Abadia had succeeded in its first intention then, to hook in young readers who might (like me) hear the word "Maths" and run a mile.

C is actually extremely good at maths in school though it's probably her least favourite subject. This fascinating visual dictionary of the history of mathematics stretches back through time to Ancient civilisations who first developed a deep understanding of numbers and sums, right through to the modern day and our heavy reliance on algorithms, heuristics and formulae to make the modern world function as it does.

Colin and Ximo make good use of a ton of amazing mathematical facts, brilliantly illustrated in sharp graphical style, to win your kids over. Let's take a closer look inside at some of the page spreads to see what's cookin', maths-wise.

Truly the language of the universe, there are mathematical constants, even out in space. 
Kids are naturally curious, and this book does a fantastic job of stimulating that curiosity by describing the wonders of mathematics, and how even the simplest equations have rocked our world.

Maths even plays a part in the creative world. 
It's a brilliant all-ages book, a fascinating insight into a subject that many kids may not enjoy, but will find new fascination with after dipping into this.

Triangles, triangles everywhere!
Sum this book up in a sentence: A truly fascinating and brilliantly presented guide to mathematics, produced in a way that doesn't instantly turn kids off.

"The Language of the Universe: A Visual Exploration of Mathematics" by Colin Stuart and Ximo Abadia is out on 22nd August 2019, published by Big Picture Press (kindly supplied for review). 
Read More

"Life on Mars" by Jon Agee (Scallywag Press)

David Bowie once asked about it, and we've become increasingly obsessed about it too ever since the Curiosity Rover started making its trepidacious way across the rocky surface.

"Life on Mars" by Jon Agee is a brilliantly fun book that begins in the not too distant future, when a young astronaut decides to visit the red planet to answer the question once and for all.

So is there life on Mars? He brings a box of cupcakes just in case, but after a long wander around the (seemingly) barren landscape, the astronaut loses heart.

His friends were right, there's just nothing there.

But we, the readers, are in on the gag as a huge martian creature silently and surreptitiously follows the astronaut as he wanders, gets lost, then finally relocates his spacecraft - and his box of cupcakes, and jets off for home.

But hang on a minute, there's a twist...!

We, of course, won't tell you what it is - but it's a brilliant little moment and once again it's great to see Jon's titles coming back into print courtesy of Scallywag, this is a short but sweet little book perfect for bedtime astronautics.

Sum this book up in a sentence: A fab space adventure with a twist in the tale right at the end.

"Life on Mars" by Jon Agee is out now, published by Scallywag Press (kindly supplied for review). 
Read More

Monday, August 19, 2019

"Odd Science - Stupendous Body" by James Olstein (Pavilion Children's Books)

Bodies are amazing things, and in "Odd Science - Stupendous Body" by James Olstein, you'll get to find out just how incredible we really are. Yes even you!

So what makes us and our bodies so amazing?

There are tons of amazing facts crammed into this book.

For example, why do we get brain freeze when we eat cold ice cream?

How much energy do our hearts generate every day?

How much food will our bodies process in the space of our lifetime?

All these questions and many, many more are answered, with a cool sense of humour threading through the book, largely thanks to James' awesome illustrations.

Sum this book up in a sentence: Find out just how amazing your body really is in this fact filled and awesome book in the brilliant Odd Science range.

"Odd Science: Stupendous Body" by James Olstein is out now, published by Pavilion Children's Books (kindly supplied for review). 
Read More

"We Found a Seed" by Rob Ramsden (Scallywag Press)

Time for more fun in the garden, from the author of "I Saw a Bee!"

Rob Ramsden's awesome eye for colour and illustration, and his gentle storytelling encouraging kids to get outdoors once again comes to the fore in "We Found a Seed".

A little boy and girl are playing in the garden one day when they find something interesting. A tiny little seed. 

They play with the seed for a while before realising it's not going to do anything until it's planted. But what will it grow into? 

Time for a bit of tender loving care, and a lot of patience! 

But when the seed finally sprouts,  flowers and dies they're very sad - until they find it has left them lots of new seeds to plant! Hooray!

There's something quite magical about growing your own things in the garden - and this book beautifully captures that magic in a whimsical tale that's brilliant for muddy kneed green fingered kids everywhere. 

Sum this book up in a sentence: A superb little book for early years kids, encouraging them to try growing their own things to see what sprouts from the soil. 

"We Found a Seed" by Rob Ramsden is out now, published by Scallywag Press (kindly supplied for review). 
Read More

"The Truth About Dinosaurs" by Guido Van Genechten (Five Quills)

Wait a minute? Isn't this a book about Dinosaurs? So why is there a chicken on the cover?

Find out inside the brilliant "The Truth About Dinosaurs" by Guido Van Genechten, a brilliantly entertaining book for early years kids who absolutely love these prehistoric scaly beasts.

Guido is our tour guide on a time-travelling globe-spanning exploration of all things Dino, from the very first species that upped and roared around in swamps and wetlands millions of years ago, to the big and chompy dinosaur superstars that kids may be more familiar with.

It's a fun storified version of what life would have been life for different dinosaurs.

About that chicken though. Want us to tell you what that's all about?

We won't - because we'd rather you went out and bought this fantastic book instead and discovered the truth about dinosaurs for yourself!

Sum this book up in a sentence: A fantastic storified view of the rise and fall of the dinosaurs, from a genius storyteller and illustrator.

"The Truth About Dinosaurs" by Guido Van Genechten is out now, published by Five Quills (kindly supplied for review). 
Read More

Friday, August 16, 2019

ReadItDaddy's Comic / Graphic Novel of the Week - Week Ending 16th August 2019: "The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Volume 10: Life Is Too Short, Squirrel" by Ryan North, Erica Henderson (cover) and Derek Charm (interior and comic artwork) (Marvel Comics)

THE DEATH OF SQUIRREL GIRL! Yeah, thought that might grab your attention but in the fantastic 10th collected volume of "The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Life is Too Short, Squirrel" North and Charm kick you right in the hooblies from the get-go, opening things at SG's funeral.

But wait a second, who are those two mysterious guests dressed as giant bass?

Why is Tony Stark delivering a rather odd eulogy?

...and just where the hootin' heck did Brain Drain get that bloody awesome Human League T Shirt.

As you've probably guessed, and it's not much of a spoiler (I mean it's right there on the cover, for frick's sake!), there's an impostor at work and it's up to The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl to figure out this unholy mess.

Dovetailing quite nicely with recent events in the Marvel Movie Universe (and if that isn't a big enough spoilery-hint at who's really masquerading as SG), North and Charm pour on the brilliant in Marvel's flagship comic-that-still-stuns-us-that-it-hasn't-been-made-into-a-frickin'-movie-yet.

Both of us literally inhaled this comic in one glorious breath, and though we keep hearing those vicious rumours that The Unbeatable SG may well be hanging up her squirrely headband, and tucking her tail firmly into her pants for good at some point in the future, we're going to continue to enjoy these awesome comics as long as we can.

Sum this comic up in a sentence: Utterly brilliant from start to finish, one of the most intelligent and brilliantly written / drawn kid-friendly comic series out there just gets better and better (but yeah we still miss Erica Henderson, how could we not!)

"The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Volume 10: Life is too short, Squirrel" by Ryan North and Derek Charm is out now, published by Marvel Comics (self purchased - not provided for review). 
Read More

ReadItDaddy's Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 16th August 2019: "Nordic Tales" by Ulla Thynell (Chronicle Children's Books)

We are very much liking the trend at the moment for gloriously produced anthology books, particularly ones that tap straight into folklore and tales we're already completely fanatical about.

"Nordic Tales" by Ulla Thynell brings together 16 amazingly diverse and completely magical tales from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Denmark.

As you'd expect from that collection of countries, there's a rich heritage of both oral and written storytelling, and the utterly glorious landscapes you'll find in these places lend themselves well to mystical and atmospheric storytelling.

Working from translated and transcribed works from the 19th Century, Ulla has drawn the stories together with some utterly stunning illustrations as themes range from mystical princesses to brave warriors, mythical beasts to places where other worlds meet.

It's a thing of beauty this book, not just because of the stories or the illustrations but because of the presentation too. Cloth bound with a ribbon marker to keep your place, this is absolutely perfect for before-bed storytelling, perfect for children who want something a little different than the normal bedtime reads.

Stunning, stunning stuff!

Sum this book up in a sentence: A hugely atmospheric and gloriously imaginative body of work, bringing together classic folk tales from Scandi and Icelandic locations in one utterly brilliant book.

"Nordic Tales" by Ulla Thynell is out now, published by Chronicle Children's Books (kindly supplied for review). 

Read More

ReaditDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 16th August 2019: "The Runaways" by Ulf Stark and Kitty Crowther (Gecko Press)

Our first Book of the Week this week definitely shows what you can do if you break that horrid, horrid rule about '500 or so words' in a children's picture book.

The fabulous "The Runaways" by Ulf Stark and Kitty Crowther might be a lot wordier and longer than your average 'before bed' book, but it's worth investing the extra time and effort in, just because it's such a brilliant and beautiful story.

The story examines the cross-generational relationship between Gottfried Junior and his cantakerous but beloved old Grandfather. As rough as the sea, but becoming more and more frail in his old age, Grandfather suffers a fall one day and ends up in hospital.

Grandfather hates being in hospital, and pleads with his grandson to do one more thing for him before he passes away. One last visit to Grandfather's old house to attend to one or two last things.

How could any grandson resist a plea like that? So the two hatch a grand plan of escape, intricately plotted but superbly clever.

As Grandfather's important tasks unfold, the story takes on a touching turn that will tug at your heartstrings in the emotional finale.

We've long campaigned for picture book and chapter book creators to 'ditch the moralising' but this story shows how you can create something truly magical that has layer upon layer of strong messages we can all identify with, at any age. Thoughts of our own youth and vitality, versus thoughts of our autumn years and our mortality, and the desperate need to 'put our house in order' before we go.

It's just so beautifully written, and of course you don't need us to tell you just how amazing Kitty Crowther's illustrations for Ulf's text are, she's colossally talented and the pencil-like illustrations here are just so deliciously rendered with exquisite detail and feeling.

Can you tell we're totally won over by this?

Sum this book up in a sentence: A truly wonderful and thought-provoking story that shows what you can do when you're given room to stretch your word count, describing every delicious little detail of a grand cross-generational adventure.

"The Runaways" by Ulf Stark and Kitty Crowther is out now, published by Gecko Press (kindly supplied for review). 
Read More

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Rebooting the planet - why you're to blame for the constant stream of "live action" remakes and movie reboots - This week's #ReadItTorial 2019


You. Yes specifically you. It's all your fault. For every person I hear moaning that Disney is A) taking over the planet (or more specifically, the entertainment industry and B) they're remaking / rebooting everthing, I feel like wrapping this article in a baseball bat and clocking them around the head with it...

The Lion King Has Edged Out Frozen As the Highest-Grossing Animated Film of All Time, More Proof That Disney’s Monopoly Is Inescapable and Nothing Mat...

Every time a new Disney project is announced, it's got to the point where I'm no longer surprised to find that the most hyped movies in their upcoming schedules are all ones that we've either seen before, or are seeing in a slightly different form - and the ones that make gigantic box office revenues are either sequels, remakes or reboots.

The animated-movie-remakes-into-CGI-snore-fests is a trend that seems to have garnered a fair amount of traction but so is mining the rich seam of every company's IP that Disney hoovers up in their land grab of the industry.

I used to think that it was worth making a fuss about the lack of middle grade and YA-based movies and TV shows being made, instead passed over for stuff like a new Home Alone franchise, a (god help us) new "Night at the Museum" film (when the corpse of the last one is still warm). The problem is you again, yes you movie-goers. You really don't seem to like movies based on cool books.

Why is that? Is it that there's a huge majority of readers like us out there who would rather read the worst book ever written than watch the best movie of that book they can make?

There have been some pretty high-profile movie 'bombs' based on utterly fantastic books ("Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" and "Mortal Engines" are just two recent ones that spring to mind) so it's easy to see why big studios are no longer taking risks. They hoover up the movie rights to books (mostly to stop their competitors from ever 'making bank' with them) but often those scripts stay unwritten, those movies never reach pre-production, and we're left with the situation as it is now.

Books are particularly problematic though. Even if an author or publisher has some involvement in a project, it's not often with enough influence to stop some really bad decisions being made in the execution of that movie. In one hand you've got the aforementioned fans of the book who absolutely won't entertain anything that doesn't fit with their own mental image of what a filmed version of that book should be like. On the other hand you've got a stack of cinemagoers who have no idea that the original book even exists, and need to be wowed by something that hooks them in. That's even before you get to the part where the original book is completely unfilmable, unless you've got infinite amounts of money to waste trying to explore the 6 or 7 movies, or the expensive TV show you'd need to make in order to do the original material justice.

It feels like the movie industry long ago realised that all people really want are more movies like the ones they've watched a zillion times before, which is why so many movie franchises long outstay their welcome (I can think of no other solid reason why we ended up with 5 (FIVE!!!!) terrible "Transformers" films.

So no more moaning about Disney's approach. I'm not defending them, I'm not sticking up for them, I'm telling you that you're very much part of the problem because you will keep going out and paying good money to watch this stuff.
Read More

"Somewhere Out There Right Now" by Gemma Wells (Ragged Bears)

Mindfulness (particularly for children) is definitely something of a hot topic at the moment.

Children's lives are increasingly fast-paced and energy-sapping, and sometimes kids are under a huge amount of mental pressure from early years onwards, as they strive to do well in school and strive also to form meaningful social relationships in and out of school.

In "Somewhere out there, right now" by Gemma Wells, the subject of mindfulness is covered in a gentle storified way, with the aim to encourage and develop that bond between parent and child, as well as introducing the core concepts of mindfulness to children through a whimsical and dreamy pre-bedtime tale.

With soothing muted coloured illustrations and gentle text, the story and book offers a neat wind-down for kids who find it tricky to settle down at night for a much-needed recharge and of course a good night's sleep.

Sum this book up in a sentence: Gentle and relaxing storytelling introducing early concepts of mindfulness for children in a way that they can understand and get on board with.

"Somewhere out there, Right Now" by Gemma Wells is out now, published by Ragged Bears (kindly supplied for review). 
Read More

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

"More Curious Jane: Science and Design and Engineering for Inquisitive Girls" by Curious Jane (Sterling Children's Books)

By now, if you're like us, the long summer holidays are driving you slightly stir crazy.

Keeping kids busy over the holidays is tough.

Even more tough if you're trying to get them to do something worthwhile, learning while they engage in fun and interesting activities designed to stimulate their brains and get them thinking about stuff they might also learn in school.

Your rescuers from holiday boredom are here, in the form of Team Curious Jane and "More Curious Jane" - a new volume in the fabulous activity book series from Sterling Publishing.

This book is fantastic for inquisitive girls (and boys) who want to set up and perform interesting experiments, do fun makes or get creative while learning a whole truckload of cool STEAM subjects by stealth.

Let's take a look inside the book at the contents page to get a flavour of what's in store, and the sort of things you'll need (mostly sourced from ordinary everyday home supplies).

Slime? Oh no, no no no no no!
I think without a doubt our favourite section was "kitchen science" as you get to eat most of your experiments (not the slime though!)

Making your own sweets!
Some of the experiments feature some US-centric ingredients and measurements (I had no idea for example what "half and half" was), but with a quick bit of googling you'll be able to work out what's what. 

Gather together a few home essentials and get busy making!
Curious Jane's crack team of crafters and science fans have once again come up with a really superb and diverse selection of things to stave off boredome. Check out the book and also go take a look at their website for more ideas!

Sum this book up in a sentence: Another fab volume of awesome experiments and makes from the Curious Jane team, perfect for staving off boredom during the long summer break. 

"More Curious Jane" is out now, published by Sterling Children's Books (kindly supplied for review). 
Read More