Tuesday 30 June 2020

#Booky100Keepers Day 58: "The Diary of a Wimpy Kid" by Jeff Kinney (Puffin Books)

I'm not sure what it is about the diary format that appeals to kids but so many well loved works of kidlit use the diary format, how can you possibly say whether one is better than another?

Quite simply, "The Diary of a Wimpy Kid" broke the mould for the diary format - away from stuff like "The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole" and more towards "Dork Diaries" in making excellent use of visual markers, doodles and cartoons within the body of the text to drive a story along.

Jeff Kinney's best selling series is still as popular as ever, and new volumes have always been received with sheer delight here at ReadItDaddy Towers (C even has a soft spot for the movie versions though I think a lot of that has to do with just how utterly ADORABLE Manny's movie iteration is).

So this is the story all about Greg Heffley, his mildly dysfunctional family (including his older and younger brothers) and the plight of being the 'middle child', the trials and tribulations of school, of having a slightly eccentric bestie (let's face it, Rowley Jefferson is a bit of a scene stealer at times, and his own "Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid" is brilliantly funny stuff too) and of course all the dealings with girls, school bullies and embarrassing parents, brilliantly observed and chronicled by Kinney over his colossal series.

Like "Dork Diaries" these books speak to C in a voice she fully understands, and again despite the US location, fully identifies with (though hopefully we're not quite as embarrasing parents as Greg Heffley's mum and dad - well meaning though they are).

Original review links: 

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 10th November 2017 - "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Getaway" by Jeff Kinney (Penguin Books)

Kicking off the long summer break with a selection of super sizzling summery school holiday reads from Penguin Random House

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Monday 29 June 2020

#Booky100Keepers Day 57: The Mighty Phoenix Comic

For a lot of comic-loving parents, they will have a particular memory of "Their" comic, the comic they grew up with, stuffed rolled up inside a back pocket while riding their Raleigh Chopper off to some bit of scrubland, to scrutinise every page, thrill at the stories, marvel at the art and perhaps even doodle their favourite characters and strips in their spare time.

I wanted C to have that memory, probably a bit too early on in her reading journey if I'm really honest, but casting around for kid comics when she was really tiny had me coming up empty handed.

Then I found a copy of "The Phoenix Comic" in our local library and let her have a flick through. Back when we started reading it, it hadn't been going that long - born from the ashes (very Phoenix-like in fact) from the sadly departed / way-ahead-of-its-time "The DFC" but retaining a solid collection of awesome comic folk from that glorious tome, turning out a new kid comic that has gone from strength to strength, establishing itself as a firm favourite with kids across the land.

When C first started reading it, she was drawn to the 'funnies' - Strips such as Bunny vs Monkey and Evil Emperor Penguin. Later when she started solo reading, she started to get her teeth into strips like Von Doogan (brain-melting puzzling stuff with the sharpest art you'll ever see) and Pirates of Pangaea, mashing up dinosaurs and pirates in a truly glorious way.

At first we used to pick up our copies from Waitrose, who had the foresight to stock The Phoenix amongst all their hideous licensed character mags and plastic tat mags for kids. We used to re-arrange the shelves in Waitrose so that the Phoenix Comic was always brought to the front and spread out a bit, just so it would catch the eye of other kids.

I remember going to a launch evening for a stack of David Fickling-published titles, and listening to the man himself talk about The Phoenix Comic and what his aim was. He grew up reading comics like Eagle, and just like me, wanted kids to have something that awesome in their lives on a weekly basis.

Of course, putting together a weekly comic isn't easy - yet over the years we've been reading it, we're constantly surprised and delighted at the sheer variety, diversity and brilliance of the stories and strips that find a home within its hallowed pages. "Old timers" on the comic like Jamie Smart, Neill Cameron and Laura Ellen Anderson constantly come up with the goods of course, but newer folk like Robert Deas, James Stayt and Kate Brown are bringing awesome stuff in too (in fact Gorebrah is another huge fave with C and I'm constantly in awe of James' ability to work in weird pop culture references into his strips).

The highlight for C was getting to star as a background character in Neill Cameron's hugely successful "Mega Robo Bros" comic strip, after she cheekily cornered him at a book event and demanded that he included her as one of the schoolkids in Alex and Freddy's school (I think she did so quite politely and charmingly, and we were utterly delighted that awesome Neill made good on his promise and did indeed work her into a climactic battle scene in the school playground, complete with her weirdly patterned but very distinctive turquoise rain jacket).

We've met a few folk from the comic over the years. David and Tom Fickling are as charming as you can imagine, and extremely protective and passionate about The Phoenix (rightly so). Tom even turns his hand to writing stories for the comic itself. We were also delighted to meet Lorenzo and Robin Etherington at a separate event, great guys whose work just blows us away.

Oxford feels like a good place to be if you love comics, as two of the mightiest comic empires snuggle up to each other in this awesome city (my own childhood comic of choice, 2000AD, is published just down the road from the Phoenix offices).

Many parents have asked me how they can start their kids out reading, and some have even asked me how they can start them off reading comics - and this is where I inevitably point them.

Stand by for a LOT of review links...!

Links to Original Reviews and Articles: 

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 29th May 2015 - "Troy Trailblazer and the Horde Queen (Book 1)" by Robert Deas (David Fickling Books / The Phoenix Comic)

The Phoenix Comic by various lovely artists / illustrators (Phoenix Comics)

ReaditDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 29th January 2016 - "Tamsin and the Deep" by Neill Cameron and Kate Brown (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's Comic of the Week - Week Ending 13th July 2018: "The Phoenix Colossal Comics Collection Volume 1" (David Fickling Books)

Happy 200th Issue to the best kid's comic on the planet. The Phoenix bumper 200th edition ROCKS!

ReadItDaddy's Comic / Graphic Novel of the Week - Week Ending 7th February 2020: "Gorebrah: The Mightiest Chef in the Universe" by James Stayte (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's Comic / Graphic Novel of the Week - Week Ending 4th January 2019: "Mega Robo Bros 3: Mega Robo Revenge" by Neill Cameron (David Fickling Books)

Bunny vs Monkey Year 1 (The Phoenix Presents Series) by Jamie Smart (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 3rd June 2016 - "Mega Robo Bros" by Neill Cameron (David Fickling Books)

The Phoenix Presents "Corpse Talk" by Adam Murphy (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's Comic of the Week - Week Ending 19th October 2018: "Bunny vs Monkey Book 5" by Jamie Smart (David Fickling Books)

The Phoenix Presents - Gary's Garden Book 1 by Gary Northfield (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 6th February 2015 - "Pirates of Pangaea - Book 1" by Daniel Hartwell and Neill Cameron (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 10th March 2017 - "Evil Emperor Penguin Strikes Back" by Laura Ellen Anderson (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 2nd October 2015 - "Evil Emperor Penguin Book 1" by Laura Ellen Anderson (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 15th December 2017 - "Mega Robo Rumble (Mega Robo Bros 2)" by Neill Cameron (David Fickling Books)

Fantastic comic creating fun with The Etherington Brothers - The Story Museum, Oxford

ReaditDaddy's Comic of the Week - Week Ending 1st June 2018: "The Adventures of John Blake: Mystery of the Ghost Ship" by Philip Pullman and Fred Fordham (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 15th April 2016 - "Von Doogan and the Great Air Race" by Lorenzo Etherington (David Fickling Books)

Long Gone Don Book 1 by Lorenzo and Robin Etherington (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's Comic of the Week - Week Ending 7th September 2018: "Corpse Talk: Queens and Kings" by Adam and Lisa Murphy (David Fickling Books)

The Phoenix Presents "Von Doogan and the Curse of the Golden Monkey" by Lawrence (Lorenzo) Etherington (David Fickling Books)

Bunny vs Monkey Book 2 (The Phoenix Presents Series) by Jamie Smart (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's Graphic Novel of the Week - Week Ending 5th January 2018 - "Tamsin and the Dark" by Neill Cameron and Kate Brown (David Fickling Books)

Bunny vs Monkey Book 4 by Jamie Smart (David Fickling Books / The Phoenix Comic)

The Phoenix Presents - Star Cat Volume 1 by James Turner (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week ending 3rd April 2015 - "Tales of Fayt - The Mystery of the Crooked Imp" by Conrad Mason and David Wyatt (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 30th November 2018: "The Funniest Book Ever" by various Authors / Artists (David Fickling Books)

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

ReadItDaddy's Comic of the Week - Week Ending 11th October 2019: "Claire: Justice Ninja" by Joe Brady and Kate Ashwin (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's Comic / Graphic Novel of the Week - Week Ending 4th October 2019: "Looshkin: The Big Number 2" by Jamie Smart (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's Picture / Comic Book of the Week - Week Ending 6th January 2017 - "Long Gone Don Book 2" by The Etherington Brothers (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 5th August 2016 - "The Phoenix Presents: Lost Tales" by Adam Murphy (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 18th August 2017 - "Corpse Talk: Ground Breaking Scientists" by Adam and Lisa Murphy (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's Second Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 23rd March 2018 - "Corpse Talk: Ground Breaking Women" by Adam and Lisa Murphy (David Fickling Books)

ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 28th August 2015 - "Corpse Talk Season 2" by Adam Murphy and Lisa Murphy(David Fickling Books / The Phoenix Comic)

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Sunday 28 June 2020

#Booky100Keepers Day 56: "The Books of Dr Seuss" (HarperCollins Children's Books)

These books are almost like family heirlooms! The late great Dr Seuss, one Theodore "Ted" Giesel himself is a master crafter of bouncy rhymes, outlandish characters and of course truly bad behaviour that kids absolutely cannot resist seeing in their picture books.

We started off reading these books fairly early on, hoovering up as many as we could clutch to our chests on our library visits, then later picking up three "keepers" ourselves.

The first we read and the first we bought was, of course, "The Cat in the Hat", the story of two children stuck in on a rainy day (shades of lockdown, anyone? Very surprised no one cashed in on redoing a version of this for lockdown tbh!) and a strange visitor who insinuates his way into their lives once their mother disappears to the shops.

The Cat in The Hat has some great ideas to stave off boredom. Unfortunately most of the ideas involve trashing the house or personal property, with only the family's pet fish acting as a voice of wisdom amidst the chaos. All the brilliant signatures of Seuss are here. Peerless pitch-perfect rhymes that tickle and dance off the tongue when you're reading this aloud. Outlandish characters, terrible calamities and inventive machines (the Cat's "tidy up" machine is still a marvel, we would dearly love a real one thanks very much!).

We also couldn't resist "Green Eggs and Ham" which was my fave Seuss book as a kid. This time Sam (I Am) finds himself fed up to the back teeth at the insistence of a friend that he tries the bizarre titular dish. How about in a box? With a fox? With some goats? On a boat perhaps?

The scenarios become more and more surreal and crazy as the book ramps up to a frenetic explosive chaotic finish before Sam decides it'd just be flipping easier to try the dish in question.

....and what do you know? He likes green eggs and ham after all (the lesson most parents will try and get their kids to take away from this book is that spinach, as gross as it looks, probably isn't really that bad so just give it a little lick!)

One thing about this book that always made C laugh were the strangely dead eyed expressions on the characters as their boat literally sinks out from under them after being hit by a train (it's a long story). As with "Cat" this one's a true joy to read aloud.

Then we come to our final Seuss "Keeper" which is NOT a joy to read aloud but I still relish the challenge anyway...

"Dr Seuss Makes Reading FUN!" claims the cover. No, actually Dr Seuss will make your mouth turn to mush, your tongue twist over itself, as you try to read "The Fox in Socks" out loud.

It used to be something of a challenge from C to me - to see how fast I could rattle through this book without making any mistakes. That is, of course, an impossible task particularly when you begin to talk of tweetle beetle battles in a bottle in a puddle, with a poodle and a paddle in a muddle.

Oh god, I can almost feel my anxiety rising...

Don't be put off though, this is still one of the best of Seuss many, many books and we've included a link to a few more below...

Original Review Links: 

ReaditDaddy's Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 11th October 2019: "Dr Seuss' Horse Museum" by Dr Seuss and Andrew Joyner (Penguin Books)

The Lorax by Dr Seuss (HarperCollins Children's Books)

The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss (HarperCollins Children's Books)

"...and to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street" by Dr Seuss (HarperCollins Children's Books)

I Can Read With My Eyes Shut by Dr Seuss (HarperCollins Children's Books)

Booky Advent Calendar Day 12: "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (60th Anniversary Edition) by Dr Seuss (HarperCollins Children's Books)

The Fox in Socks by Dr Seuss (HarperCollins Children's Books)

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week ending 21st June 2013 - "Green Eggs and Ham" by Dr Seuss (HarperCollins Children's Books)

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Saturday 27 June 2020

#Booky100Keepers Day 55: The "A Series Of Unfortunate Events" books by Lemony Snicket / Daniel Handler (Egmont)

We love dark books, we love books that also feature memorable villains - and could there possibly be a more memorable villain than Count Olaf?

Way back in the mists of time I picked up an anthology of "A Series of Unfortunate Events", not realising that the mammoth task of ploughing through all 13 volumes with C made our Harry Potter marathon look like a sprint in comparison.

However there's something completely intoxicating that draws you into the story of the Baudelaires, a happy go lucky trio of siblings who become orphans overnight as their parents perish in a fire at the family home. Lost and folorn, the oprhans are placed with their nearest living relative, the nefarious Count Olaf who has only one thing on his mind - the oprhans' massive inherited fortune, and how he can get his disgustingly unkempt fingernails on it.

Through the books, Count Olaf cooks up disguise after disguise, and some truly skin-creepingly grim tricks (even at one point trying to trick Violet Baudelaire into marrying him, ewwwwwww!) in order to secure the loot. But these plucky kids outwit him at every turn.

Whatever you might think about Handler, he can craft the sort of stories that keep you hanging on in there, at first because you feel that the orphans might find their happy ever after as each book draws to a close, and that Count Olaf might end up in prison, only for the reverse to usually occur as the slippery eye-tattooed miscreant evades capture once again.

C's favourite volumes are the ones that feature Olaf's equally unctuous sugar-bowl-obsessed partner in crime, Esme Squalor, a villainess to rival Cruella DeVille with the fashion sense to match. C also loved the Netflix show that arrived off the back of the books, lovingly crafted and brilliantly produced, and just like the books, a story that dwindles away to one of the most bizarre and unsatisfying endings ever captured in a popular book / tv series. Perhaps Lemony Snicket himself had the last laugh on us all, keeping us hanging on in there right till the bitter end...

Original Review Links:

Amazingly we never reviewed any of the books on the blog!
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Friday 26 June 2020

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 26th June 2020: "Love on the Main Stage" by S.A. Domingo (Hachette)

Sometimes when I hand over a book for 'the boss' to review, I'm never sure whether she's going to take to it or not.

But with "Love on the Main Stage" by S.A Domingo, she was in just the right mood for a summery and romantic novel with a beating pulse of musicality at its heart.

Nova is a girl who loves music and writing her own songs, and right now she's having the most amazing summer of her life. Going from music festival to music festival along with her parents who run a food truck, Nova falls completely in love with the music - but also Sam, a cute American boy who wants to be a musician just like her.

It feels like a fleeting romance, but guess who shows up at the next festival. Sam! But he's a secretive chap, so why can't Nova get him to open up about himself more? And how does Sam have backstage access to the VIP areas at the festival?

C absolutely ate this up, I think as much as writers everywhere are gearing up to write their own 'definitive' lockdown novels, more than anything else what young readers want is a slice of positive and joyful storytelling with a bit of romance thrown in for good measure. Essentially something that's going to make you long for the days when we'll all be able to go to festivals again and soak up that amazing atmosphere, and maybe meet that special someone there too?

Lovely stuff. 

"Love on the Main Stage" by S.A. Domingo is out now, published by Hachette (kindly supplied for review)
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#Booky100Keepers Day 54: The Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling (Bloomsbury)

Good grief, what is there left to write about the publishing phenomenon known as Harry Potter? We started to read the entire set of books about four years ago, and it took us nearly that long to get through them all.

At first I wasn't really sure what C would make of them, and I think it's probably one of my worst habits as a dad that I feel I want to get her as enthusiastic about stuff I love as I am. Bad bad habit, kids should really be able to find their own routes into reading.

Between watching the movies and reading the books I didn't actually have that hard a task convincing her that Harry Potter was a thing she would end up loving to bits, and as we read through "The Philosopher's Stone" the books began to sink their serpent's teeth into her - as did the world of Hogwarts.

Probably the most interesting thing about C's appreciation of Harry Potter is her intense dislike of the boy wizard himself, which holds quite the parallel to my own dislike of J.K Rowling, the creator of a world that won so many over with its appearance of appealing to hugely diverse audience, yet when you scratch the surface you find Rowling's blisteringly unpopular politics seeping up from the foundations of her bookworld like dry rot.

Like many authors and creatives, you've got a straight choice of distancing yourself from them and their work because of their outspoken beliefs, or you can choose to do what many others have done, and take the work and make it your own. We've had to do this so rarely on our #Booky100keepers list - we admire the work hugely, but the folk themselves are dumpster fires, best avoided when they're on a rant.

I didn't actually realise that it was a "thing" that quite a lot of Harry Potter fans are not fans of Harry at all. As we read the books C began to question just how HP ended up as "The Chosen One" at all. He seems to stumble his way through the books, saved again and again by his besties Ron and Hermione, or any supporting characters who just happen to come along at the time.

Think what you like about J.K. Rowling, but despite her outright thievery of just about every possible children's fantasy story trope, she somehow managed to concoct a book world that gets its hooks into you (and I still maintain that the movies have an awful lot to do with the colossal worldwide success she's enjoyed - and if there's one thing no fan would deny, it's the sheer amount of amazing work and effort that went into those movies - both by the actors and their performances, and the amazing art and special effects teams that worked on them to bring Hogwarts properly to life).

The books still inspire us, in that they feel comfortable when you dip back into them, that they spur our imagination (particularly our visual imagination, helped in no small part by the truly glorious illustrated versions we have with Jim Kay's beautiful work in them, and production books from the movies filled with awesome concept art and amazing props and costumes).

When we got to the end of our mammoth read of all the novels, I wondered if C would ever return to them on her own - to hoover up the bits where I skirted through chapters that weren't quite suitable for a ten year old - or bits where she might have missed some of the subtle allegorical stuff that J.K. managed to work in there, despite her sometimes really clunky dialogue and prose.

I sound a bit negative about these but let's face it, if a book series can have a huge effect on a child's love of fantasy fiction, who am I to deny that those books are keepers for sure? Damned shame about J.K though. All that money and she just can't keep a lid on her poisonous opinions (seems to be 'a thing' for rich folk in general, I guess).

Original Review Links: 

ReadItDaddy's Book(s) of the Week - Week Ending 22nd December 2017 - "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone / The Chamber of Secrets / The Prisoner of Azkaban" by J.K Rowling and Jim Kay (Bloomsbury)

'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them' marks J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros return to 'Harry Potter Universe'

"How can you NOT like Harry Potter, Daddy?" - A ReadItDaddy Editorial

Happy 20th (US) Birthday Harry Potter - A good excuse for a booky ramble...

When is the best time to introduce your child to the Harry Potter universe? A ReadItDaddy Editorial

Having the 'Bad Guy' Talk - What on earth do you do when your daughter loves Draco more than Harry? A ReadItTorial

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ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 26th June 2020: "Generation Brave" by Kate Alexander and Jade Orlando (Andrews McMeel Publishing)

This week's Book of the Week won't be around until October but once again we wanted to make sure we squeezed in coverage before we disappear...

...and wow, what a book! If anything has lit a fire under children's publishing over the last few years, it's the real-life stories of youngsters who are making a stand against the way they see the world changing around them, their world in fact - as Generation Z answers the rallying call to mobilize and get behind some of the biggest issues facing our planet.

From injustice to climate change, from gun control to equal rights, kids are more than ever showing a level of intelligence, bravery and determination to make our world a better place for everyone to live in.

"Generation Brave" is a truly fantastic book, highlighting some of the youngsters who have become synonymous with ecological, sociological and political (but always peaceful) protest as they seek to raise the attention of the world to the plight of our planet and the people who live on it.

Ordinary kids often placed in horrific and extraordinary circumstances feature heavily in the book from the Parkland School Massacre survivors, to Thandiwe Abdullah, strongarming the power of social media and other means to bring their causes to the attention of the world with clear and evocative protest, bravely standing up to adults who quite often seek to subvert or silence these youngsters.

Books like this are so important to kids like my daughter, showing how ordinary kids such as her can make their voices heard and make their points count.

Sum this book up in a sentence: Brilliantly presented and wonderfully illustrated, this is a rallying call for all kids to stand up for what they believe in.

"Generation Brave" by Kate Alexander and Jade Orlando is out on 15th October 2020, published by Andrews McMeel Publishing (kindly supplied as a digital ARC for review). 
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Thursday 25 June 2020

#Booky100Keepers Day 53: The "Dork Diaries" / "Max Crumbly" books by Rachel Renee Russell (Simon and Schuster Children's Books)

Every child eventually starts to read on their own, and will inevitably find their way into chapter books and middle grade fiction once they start moving on from picture books. In some cases though they still want plenty of awesome illustrations and doodles in their books, and they also want characters they can relate to.

I know that up to now we've concentrated largely on picture books in our #Booky100Keepers series of articles, but I would be hung up by my hamstrings if I didn't also include the mighty "Dork Diaries" books by Rachel Renee Russell.

Without a doubt, these are C's "Go To" comfort reads, taking up a huge amount of shelf space in her collection. She's read them all so many times she must know them off by heart, yet I still find her curled up with one from time to time when she's been told off for too much screen time, and she just wants to lounge around reading something easy.

The story of Nikki Maxwell, self-professed "Queen of the Dorks" is chronicled in this huge collection of books, covering just about every aspect of a tweenager's life, from a new school and new crushes, to the arch-frenemies Nikki picks up along the way. Rachel has a knack for writing stuff that girls C's age can just relate to, written in a voice they understand, and of course riddled with chortlesome humour that transposes quite well from its native US - so the setups and scenes though American-centric are just as funny for us stiff-assed Brits.

Rachel's other series, "Max Crumbly" attempts to bring the same sort of middle grade mayhem home for boys, yet C also loves this series (not as much as DD - I think Max secretly annoys her but she still kept all the books and still loves to read these as a quick read.

They're fun, highly illustrated and extremely funny. When asked directly for her opinion on Rachel Renee Russell all C would say was "She's the best. I want to be able to write like her one day" and that's pretty much a solid gold endorsement if ever I've heard one.

Original Review Links: 

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week: Week Ending 22nd November 2019: "Dork Diaries: Spectacular Superstar" by Rachel Renee Russell (Simon and Schuster Children's Books)

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 26th July 2019: "The Misadventures of Max Crumbly: Masters of Mischief (Max Crumbly Book 3)" by Rachel Renee Russell (Simon and Schuster Children's Books)

ReaditDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 23rd June 2017 - "The Misadventures of Max Crumbly - Middle School Mayhem" by Rachel Renee Russell (Simon and Schuster Children's Books)

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 16th November 2018: "Dork Diaries: Birthday Drama" by Rachel Renee Russell (Simon and Schuster Children's Books)

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 15th June 2018: "Dork Diaries: Crush Catastrophe" by Rachel Renee Russell (Simon and Schuster Children's Books)

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 17th March 2017 - "Dork Diaries: Skating Sensation" by Rachel Renee Russell (Simon and Schuster Children's Books)

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book Roundup - March 2016, especially for Dorks and Superstars


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Wednesday 24 June 2020

#Booky100Keepers Day 52: "The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl" by Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Derek Charm et al (Marvel Comics)

In my constant quest to lure C deeper and deeper into a love of comics, I wanted to find a Marvel or DC super-hero series that she could call her own. Luckily, as it happens, Marvel have been going through something of a radical reinvention over the past ten years, switching comics from being solely the 'territory' of white male stay-at-homes obsessed with boob windows and ultra-violence, more into the realms of super-kick-ass girl comics with clever heroes at their core.

"The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl" series may now be done and dusted (waahhhhh, boo!!!!) but over the course of Ryan North, Erica Henderson and Derek Charm's run, they've produced one of the best comic series Marvel have ever run.

Doreen Green, the squirrel-loving squirrel-powered superhero at the heart of the comic is exactly the sort of girl superhero I wanted C to seek out, and after picking up the first volume (the brilliant "Squirrel Power") she was hooked almost instantly. Doreen isn't some glamour-puss clad in Lycra, but she is unbeatable, sassy, utterly charming and completely wonderful in every way (we're still completely baffled why she doesn't have her own MCU movie but, yeah, Hollywood males failing to cast Shannon Purser in her own SG movie is one of the greatest injustices ever done to comic moviedom).

When we first meet Doreen she's enrolling in college for the first time, where she meets her bestie (and regular awesome comic sidekick) Nancy Whitehead, forming a friendship that also leads to some real heartstring-tugging moments later on once the series beds in (one story where Squirrel Girl and Nancy enter 'hypertime' and age rapidly / move more quickly than the world around them leads to one of the most touching moments I think I've ever seen in any Marvel comic full stop).

The other lure of this series is how Doreen interacts with and quite often bounces off other characters in the Marvel comics universe. Her Twitter exchanges with Tony Stark (Iron Man) are worth the entry fee alone, as is the adventure where Doreen's slightly evil but well meaning clone actually duffs up the entire Marvel universe is just sheer brilliance.

As we've said in these articles, kids are spoilt for choice for brilliant comics - and the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl comics have a wide ranging fan base of all ages (including loads of kids like my daughter) who just can't get enough of whip-smart writing and gorgeous illustrations at the very highest level such as you'll find here.

Unbeatable? Unmissable more like!

Original Review Links:

ReadItDaddy's Book(s) of the Week - Week Ending 24th February 2017 - "The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Volumes 1 and 2" by Ryan North and Erica Henderson (Marvel)

Powering up with four recent comic acquisitions featuring thoroughly mighty women.

ReadItDaddy's Comic of the Week - Week Ending 10th August 2018: "The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Volume 8: My Best Friend's Squirrel" by Ryan North and Erica Henderson (Marvel)

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

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)

ReadItDaddy's Comic of the Week - Week Ending 1st February 2019: "Marvel Rising Volume 1" by Devin Grayson, Ryan North, G Willow Wilson, Gurihiru and various artists (Marvel)

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Tuesday 23 June 2020

#Booky100Keepers Day 51: The Little Tim Books by Edward Ardizzone (Picture Puffin / Frances Lincoln)

Sometimes a book's popularity with little miss would completely take me by surprise, as was the case with Edward Ardizzone's "Little Tim" series.

These are classic books, no doubt about it, but when lined up against modern picture books they look slightly quaint and out-of-date, and the core themes in each book are also so far removed from what children experience in their own lives, that you'd really struggle to understand why they appeal.

Of course, there's the answer. It's precisely BECAUSE kids can live vicariously through Little Tim's adventures as a would-be sailor, and experience the excitement of what life would have been like on the ocean waves over 80 years ago - when these books were written and set - and when most boys wanted to be one of two things, an Engine Driver or a jolly Jack Tar.

In "Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain" Tim wants nothing more than to go to sea aboard a ship. He's given his wish on a day trip aboard a fine vessel, with a sea captain friend to show him the ropes. But soon there's a massive storm and the ship is in danger - and it takes all the captain's nerve (plus a little help from Tim) to rescue the crew and set foot safely back on shore.

What we liked about these books are their length. Again I am here ranting about the length of children's picture books, and the bleated excuses that the reasons picture books aren't longer is purely because children's attention spans can't cope with wordier books. It has nothing to do with the economics of printing more than 32 pages / 12 spreads, oh nossireee!

These books are indeed long, their language may seem a bit prissy and old-fashioned but Edward Ardizzone's innate talent in both illustrating and describing the scenes within is why he's such a legend, and why he's cited as such a huge inspiration to a lot of authors and illustrators, even those whose work is popular today.

(One word of caution. If you're looking for copies of these, try and find the originals before they were 'messed around with' and recoloured. The colour versions are horrible, completely ruining the effect Ardizzone's original inky drawings had).

For sheer escapism if nothing else, these books are well and truly worthy keepers and the sort of future family heirlooms you'll want your own kids to pass on to theirs eventually.

Original Review Links: 

Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain (80th Anniversary Collector's Edition) by Edward Ardizzone (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

Exciting action and adventure on the high seas with the Little Tim series by Edward Ardizzone (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

Tim in Danger by Edward Ardizzone (Francis Lincoln)

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Monday 22 June 2020

#Booky100Keepers Day 50: "Anna and Froga" by Anouk Ricard (Drawn and Quarterly)

We make no apologies for ramping up the comic presence in our #Booky100Keepers as a lot of the books we can't bear to part with are comic collections. They're also the books that C reaches for again, and again, and again and I've lost count of how many times I've found her reading Anouk Ricard's utterly brilliant "Anna and Froga" collections.

There is a reason for that, of course. They are utterly hilarious. Imagine for a moment that someone actually made "Friends" funny, but turned Joey into a dog, Ross into a sausage-like worm, Phoebe into a cat (doesn't take much of a stretch of the imagination), Rachel into a sarcastic little girl, and Chandler into a frog - and you'd be almost on the right track here.

Anouk's simple strips beat with a pulse, are beautifully observed, and (worryingly) you'll see yourself a lot in the situations and social interplay that happens between this bizarre bunch of pals. They like each other, hate each other, are complete dickholes to each other, all beautifully captured by Anouk's hugely effective comic strip props.

Like most brilliant comics that hop across the English Channel from our gallic friends, these collections make us wish we had a better grasp of French just so we could hoover up all the native language editions of the strips.

That said, the two collections in our keepers list are just awesome so we're happy to wait to see if more arrive courtesy of D & Q (hope so!)

I asked C why she loves these so much and weirdly the character who causes the most amount of tension and annoyance among the group is the character she seeks out in every strip.

Bubu is the "That Guy" character in the strip, a self-aggrandising yet completely ineffectual individual who seems to exist purely to be a thorn in the side of everyone else in the gang, yet without Bubu these stories would be nothing. For example we see him:

  • Making a load of nasty cheapo home-crafted christmas gifts out of fudgcicle sticks (but eating all the fudgcicles as well, turning into a porker). 
  • Dragging the gang out to his friend's restaurant, only to be served slop because his friend is sick of his freeloading
  • Leaving train tickets in his suitcase on a platform, abruptly ending a day trip (and getting his case blown up by the police into the bargain)
  • Bragging about his art skills (when really he's been cheating by doing a 'paint by numbers' set instead). 
  • Dragging the hapless gang to a health farm that is a smidge away from a torture chamber
That said, the strips just work because of the interplay and 'bants' between the characters, each with their own little weird character traits, flaws and quirks. As with most of the comics that feature in our #Booky100Keepers list, this one is perfect for parents who want to get their kids reading, or into comics, and I guarantee that kids will read and re-read them as much as C has. 

Original Review Links: 

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Sunday 21 June 2020

#Booky100Keepers Day 49: "The Akissi Comics" by Marguerite Abouet and Mathieu Sapin (Flying Eye Books)

Some creative pairings are legendary from the moment they put pen to paper, or cursor to word processor. In the case of Marguerite Abouet and Mathieu Sapin, the creative gods were definitely smiling down on us all when they began to collaborate on their brilliantly funny comic strips, bringing "Akissi" to the world and being a huge part of what convinced my daughter that comics were well worth investing her reading time in.

"Akissi" tells the story of a little girl living in Africa, largely based on Marguerite's own childhood before she moved to Paris.

Akissi is a kick-ass ball of energy who doesn't seem to sit still for more than 5 seconds, is usually up to mischief, usually drives her parents and teachers completely crazy, but quite often relies on the help of her friends (and her cute monkey sidekick Boubou) to get her out of mischief.

The first collected volumes of stories were translated by Flying Eye Books back in 2013, and we had a long wait for more - but it was well worth it (a further third volume of Akissi stories is coming from Flying Eye this year, and we just can't wait - in fact we may come kicking and screaming out of retirement just to talk about it if it arrives after we've gone!).

So what makes these strips so good?

They're so BUSY for starters. Full of movement, detail, brilliant (and extremely funny) dialogue, and characters that stick in the memory from Akissi herself to her long-suffering parents, her (teasing) brother Fofana and her school pals.

What we weren't prepared for was how immersive these stories were. You really do feel like you're seeing a piece of African township life in every strip. How people live day to day, what kids do at school, what they do for fun - but brilliantly entertaining and rib-ticklingly funny. We just can't get enough of them and like many of our #Booky100Keepers - particularly on the comic side of the house - these are brilliant if you have a reluctant solo reader who wants the added impetus of fantastic stories to draw them into a real love of reading. Forget the classics, this is where you need to start them off!

Original Review Links: 

Akissi by Marguerite Abouet and Mathieu Sapin (Flying Eye Books)

ReadItDaddy's Comic / Graphic Novel of the Week - Week Ending 28th June 2019: "Akissi Volume 2: More Tales of Mischief" by Marguerite Abouet and Mathieu Sapin (NoBrow / Flying Eye)

Five fantastic comics to get your kids interested in reading!

25 Comics and Graphic Novels that are a perfect jumping-in point for your kids - Part 1: Early Years and Middle Grade

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Saturday 20 June 2020

#Booky100Keepers Day 48: "The Flower" by John Light and Lisa Evans (Child's Play)

The practicalities of being a book blogger and living in a modest sized house mean that our #Booky100Keepers sometimes get stowed away safely in a cupboard or in storage only for us to rediscover them some years later.

That was the case with the utterly sublime "The Flower" by John Light and Lisa Evans.

It's the story of a young boy named Brigg who lives in a dark dystopian world. Brigg works at the library, looking after the 'forbidden' books, but one day discovers a book filled with the most amazing designs.

The book calls them "Flowers" and Brigg has never seen anything so colourful or amazing before. He sneaks the book home and can't stop reading it.

He searches his dark, dank world for a glimpse of one of these amazing things, but none are to be found anywhere. Until one day he chances by an old secondhand shop and spots a flower design on a strange little packet, nestled in the window of the shop. He has to buy it - and soon discovers that it's a packet of tiny seeds. Dutifully following the instructions, and patiently waiting, Brigg's heart's desire is realised - but some things are just not made to last...

We've always admired books that break all the usual (horrible) picture book rules / tropes, and if there's a publisher out there who can be relied on for publishing picture books that don't just break the rules for the sake of it, but do so in order to provide the most engaging, enchanting and poignant stories, it's Child's Play.

Brigg's world is dark, grey, polluted. Not a plant in sight. 
...but our hero is going to do something about that...!
We were delighted when John Light got in touch with us to talk about this book, how Brigg's world came about, and how the story evolved (you can see his reply in the comments of the review - and also check out his website and work, it's stunning!)

Another overlooked classic but one that you absolutely need to have.

Original Review Link: 

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Friday 19 June 2020

#Booky100Keepers Day 47: "While He Was Sleeping" by Ayano Imai (Minedition)

Yesterday in our #Booky100Keepers slot we talked about the wonderful "Pandora" and the story of a lonely fox who befriends a beautiful blue bird, which changes her lonely life forever.

Completely coincidentally, today's book "While He Was Sleeping" by super-talented Ayano Imai also deals with a lonely creature who finds a whole stack of feathered friends. In fact the two stories are so close that I'm rather tickled that the cards fell this way as it wasn't intentional! (If only I was that clever!)

ANYWAY this is a beautiful book. Right from the outset Ayano Imai's artwork will completely enchant you as we meet the rather fox-like bear who is quite happy to live a solitary existence. Dapper and polite, Bear feels like he wants for nothing. Until one day something rather odd happens to his favourite hat.

A bird takes up residence there. He thinks nothing of this until another bird moves in, and another, and then a whole stack of birds. Bear is a bit grumpy about this at first, but soon the beauty of their song, and the constant company actually adds a whole new dimension to bear's life.

But all bears must hibernate. What will happen to his birdy chums while he sleeps?

If you want to get a friend, get a hat
One thing we've noticed about Japanese picture book creatives is just how amazingly talented - and how amazingly underrated they are. Ayano's work is mesmerisingly good, setting high standards of illustration amidst the sort of gentle, almost mindful writing that draws kids in. One thing we always found about this book was that C loved inventing her own ongoing stories for Bear and his birdy pals. If any book is capable of inspiring a child in their own creative efforts, it deserves high praise indeed.

 I'm amazed to find that this book's a bit of a lost classic. It truly is stunning and well worth hunting down. I'm also including a link to the only other book of Ayano's that we read, the sublime Puss and Boots (this wasn't a keeper sadly, just a library loan but it's still stunning!)

Original Review Link: 

While He Was Sleeping by Ayano Imai (MinEdition)

Puss and Boots by Ayano Imai (Minedition Publishing)

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ReaditDaddy's Comic / Graphic Novel of the Week - Week Ending 19th June 2020: "Virtual Unicorn Experience" (Phoebe and her Unicorn Book 12) by Dana Simpson (Andrews McMeel Publishing)

You may have a bit of a wait on your hands for this one but we couldn't wait to talk about it anyway, so here it is!

We've admired the "Phoebe and her Unicorn" series from afar for a while, pulling a couple of titles out of our local library for a look. My daughter has got to that age where she casts a cynical side-eye over anything that's pink, looks vaguely cute, and features either unicorns or llamas but absolutely raved about PAHU - and was delighted to get the chance of an early look at the latest adventure for Phoebe and Marigold Heavenly Nostrils (because if you're going to name a Unicorn, you've gotta go all-in, right?)

Phoebe and her luxuriously maned pal are on a new adventure - this time in cyberspace! Imagine it, a virtual unicorn experience to match anything you can possibly imagine in the real or magical world. This is what Phoebe and Marigold find on a school visit to the Science Museum.

It sounds too good to be true, right?

There's also the small matter of a school talent show to navigate, and as usual Dana's humour is cute, funny but also whip-smart (with Marigold stealing practically every scene, of course!)

Dana's glorious skills in comic making hark back to the sort of strip-based stuff I fell in love with as a kid, and of course have shared with my daughter as her appreciation of comics has grown over the last few years.

Phoebe and Marigold's adventures also work in a good dose of very smart and very subtle character-building storytelling, ideal for younger readers looking for their first inroad into comics and solo reading, but also utterly brilliant for big pug-ugly grown ups like me who appreciate the finer points of Dana's humorous storytelling and illustrative strokes.

Sum this book up in a sentence: If you've ever loved stuff like Calvin and Hobbes, or Bone, then you're really in for a treat, this series shows absolutely no signs of becoming stale or irrelevant and this latest virtual adventure is one fine chunk of comic greatness.

"Virtual Unicorn Experience (Phoebe and her Unicorn Book 12) is out on 20th October 2020, published by Andrews McMeel Publishing (kindly supplied as a digital ARC for review)
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Thursday 18 June 2020

#Booky100Keepers Day 46: "Pandora" by Victoria Turnbull (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

Today's #Booky100Keepers entry was recently re-read and both of us were completely rapt with how beautiful this book is - both how it looks but more, the story it tells.

"Pandora" by Victoria Turnbull arrived at ReadItDaddy Towers long before the avalanche of 'eco' books, with the story of a lonely fox living in a strange post-apocalyptic world that reminded us heavily of "Wall-E" at times, but with a level of warmth and charm to it.

But also loneliness. The fox at the heart of this tale makes the best of life amongst the discarded rubbish of a long-departed civilisation. But one day she rescues a small blue bird with a broken wing, and nurses it back to health.

Pandora enjoys the company - and the way that the bird changes her life. But it's a brief interlude, for all things that fly must never be bound to earth, and soon the blue songbird whistles off into the sky once more.

But that's not where the story ends, of course...!

We've seen a few children's picture books with a similar theme (in fact one will also be cropping up in our #Booky100Keepers list very soon, see if you can spot it) but the way Victoria draws up a stark world which her character lives in, then weaves that into a more warming heartfelt tale is just sublime. We've spent hours looking at the illustrations in this one too, with exquisitely detailed page spreads complementing one of the loveliest foxes you'll ever meet in a children's story.

Original Review Link: 

ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 4th November 2016 - "Pandora" by Victoria Turnbull (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)
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Wednesday 17 June 2020

#Booky100Keepers Day 45: "Mary and Frankenstein" by Linda Bailey and Julia Sarda (Andersen Children's Books)

This one's a relative newcomer to our shelf of "Keepers" but you couldn't wish for a better combination of creatives to work on a book that chronicles the life of one of the most influential gothic horror writers that ever lived.

"Mary and Frankenstein" by Linda Bailey and Julia Sarda combines the fantastic life story of Mary Shelley with the truly fitting and utterly mesmerising illustrations of Julia Sarda in a biography that does a huge amount to raise the profile of Shelley amongst younger readers.

We've often championed darker books on the blog, and of course quite a few dark books are in our #Booky100Keepers list but when you consider just how amazingly influential Mary Shelley's Frankenstein actually was, and how even to this day it continues to inspire horror fans, writers, directors and illustrators, it's fantastic to find a children's book that really does Mary's story proper justice.

Mary was a daydreamer as a child but always liked to create stories, but while on retreat with Percy Bysshe Shelley (who would become her husband), John Polidori and her sister, Mary dreams up the horror tale to end all horror tales as a storm sweeps in across Lake Geneva.

The rest, as they say, is history. Mary and Percy's relationship may have been stormy but he acted as her agent, and ensured that "Frankenstein (or the Modern Prometheus)" became a publishing sensation - and of course a world famous tale of a monster and his master, brought to life in a truly terrifying way.

We've said it before in the course of these articles and we'll say it again. Julia Sarda can do no wrong, and with Linda's deft and descriptive writing, this is one of the best ways to give your kids a few chills down their spine, and a very unusual picture book well deserving of a place in our list.

Original Review Link: 

ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 5th October 2018: "Mary, Who Wrote Frankenstein" by Linda Bailey and Julia Sarda (Andersen Children's Books / Tundra Press)
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Tuesday 16 June 2020

#Booky100Keepers Day 44: "Hermelin the Detective Mouse" by Mini Grey (Red Fox Picture Books)

Oddly enough, I realised that we rather daftly had no Mini Grey books on our shelves except one - a book that has been returned to again and again, a favourite story that's as warm and cuddly and satisfying as curling up in a cosy cheese box at the end of a busy and stressful day.

"Hermelin The Detective Mouse" is just brilliant, building a story within the first few page spreads for observant kids who love picking out exquisite detail in illustrations that later contributes to (and in fact becomes a core part of) the story itself.

Hermelin is a mouse. Not just any mouse but a detective mouse who knows (and secretly looks after) all the people who live around Offley Street.

They're a strange and eclectic lot, but when several of their prized possessions go missing, it's time for Hermelin to swing into action and solve this tricky case.

Mini brings in elements of acceptance as the book begins to wind down, and the residents of Offley Street realise just who is responsible for restoring their beloved items - reacting with horror that a mouse, a MOUSE no less, could be the one to save the day. Only one little girl realises that it doesn't matter who you are or what you are, you're still a worthy soul - so Hermelin discovers a brand new friend, and perhaps even a partner for the next detective adventure.

We were very lucky to meet Mini once, busy with a fab workshop encouraging kids to make their own dioramas based around one of her fabulous books, and she was as warm, charming and brilliant to talk to as you'd wish - and made C feel like the most important person in the room, despite how busy she was. We've loved her books over the years (Traction Man was a particular fave series, and Biscuit Bear is also just SOOOO good!) so have included a few of the other review links below - but for us Hermelin is the cream cheese champion of the lot, and a worthy keeper.

Original Review Links: 

ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 28th March 2014 - "Hermelin - The Detective Mouse" by Mini Grey (Jonathan Cape PB Ltd)

Egg Drop by Mini Grey (Red Fox Picture Books)

Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey by Mini Grey (Red Fox Picture Books)

Traction Man Meets Turbodog by Mini Grey (Red Fox Picture Books)

Traction Man is Here! by Mini Grey (Red Fox Picture Books)

The Adventures of the Dish and the Spoon

Biscuit Bear

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Monday 15 June 2020

#Booky100Keepers Day 43: The "Hilda" books by Luke Pearson (Flying Eye Books)

You might be wondering why comics / graphic novels haven't fetched up in our #Booky100Keepers list up till now. The simple answer is that we could easily fill an entire set of 100 blog entries recommending comics to you, but wanted to try and cover as many different books from our shelves as possible.

BUT some comics / graphic novels are just too good not to feature in this list, so Luke Pearson's sublime and peerless "Hilda" series had to be here.

I actually bought "Hildafolk" (later renamed and rebranded as "Hilda and the Troll") on a whim while visiting a comic shop. I leafed through it and knew right then and there that this would be the comic that would be the perfect introduction to this amazing means of storytelling for my daughter, who was a tiny mite at the time and hadn't progressed to the stage of solo reading yet.

As any parent will tell you, reading a comic out loud to a bouncy toddler isn't the easiest thing to persevere with - but as soon as she started to read on her own, the "Hilda" books were the ones she sought out.

"Hilda and the Troll" sets things up quite nicely, introducing the girl herself, her long-suffering mum and all manner of weird and fantastic creatures living in and around Trollberg, including the menacing trolls themselves. Hilda loves to chronicle her findings as she roams the glorious countryside picked out by Luke's amazing eye for illustrative detail. It's an idyllic life but as we follow the book series, Hilda's life changes completely with a move to the city...

What we like most about the series is that the shift to a city-based life doesn't change the girl, nor the strangely surreal weirdness she encounters almost on a daily basis. She makes new friends, faces new dangers, even ends up turned into a Troll baby herself - but throughout each book you are given a beautifully observed slice of a young girl's life and the delicate interconnected relationship she has with her mum (a single parent) and her best friends (most of which are very weird creatures she 'collects' throughout her adventures.

It's not hard to see why Luke secured himself more work on brilliant shows like "Adventure Time" as a storyboard and intro artist. and like all good things, the Hilda books have now come to an end. However the stories live on as a Netflix show (with series 2 incoming very soon) and a series of middle grade novels (to be honest, we don't like these but much prefer the original graphic novels, luxuriously presented and absolutely immersive rewarding experiences that they are).

No better way to get kids reading comics. Nuff said.

Original review links: 

ReaditDaddy's Book of the Week Part 2 - Week Ending 3rd May 2013 - "Hildafolk" by Luke Pearson (NoBrow Press)

Taking another look at the brilliant "Hilda" books, reprinted and reissued by Flying Eye Books in sumptuous new bindings

ReaditDaddy's Book of the Week - Week ending 31st May 2013 - "Hilda and the Midnight Giant" by Luke Pearson (Nobrow Press)

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 8th November 2013. "Hilda and the Bird Parade" by Luke Pearson (Flying Eye Books)

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)

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 21st March 2014 - "Hilda and the Black Hound" by Luke Pearson (Flying Eye Books)

ReadItDaddy's Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 9th September 2016 - "Hilda and the Stone Forest" by Luke Pearson (NoBrow / Flying Eye Books)

25 Comics and Graphic Novels that are a perfect jumping-in point for your kids - Part 1: Early Years and Middle Grade

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Sunday 14 June 2020

#Booky100Keepers Day 42: "The Welcome to the Museum" Series (Big Picture Press)

It's about time we had some non-fiction in this list, and what better series of books to feature than the wonderful "Welcome to the Museum" series from Big Picture Press.

These gigantic books aim to recreate the thrill (for us at least) of visiting museums, checking the exhibits and hopefully learning something new.

The series kicked off with "Animalium", a thorough and meticulously curated guide to all the creatures that stalk, wade, swim or crawl across our beautiful planet.

If you've ever visited the fascinating (but quite grisly) Natural History Museum at Tring you'll probably feel right at home with a book that puts so many species in front of you, so many creatures both familiar and unfamiliar - and presents them like a classic Victorian reference book.

In fact that theme is common to all the "Ium" books, as they're just so beautifully put together, always with a team of experts and an amazing set of illustrators to bring the 'exhibits' to life.

"Botanicum" is another favourite, like a beautiful book-based version of some of our favourite destinations such as Kew Gardens or the Batsford Arboretum.

This time an amazing collection of plant life has been brought together, from the mundane to the exotic, showing just how vibrant and diverse the planet's plant life is, and how so many different species and sub-species contribute a huge amount to our world and the preservation of life that relies on these plants to survive (including us, of course!)

Once again though the book is lovingly crafted to look like those fabulously illustrated Victorian plant-collector journals, it's brought bang up to date with new scientific knowledge of plants and their benefits, and for us the section on Fungi is awesome (as we're a bit obsessed about them to be honest!)

Each book is massive, which helps the level of engagement when you're sprawled out on the floor with these, either just browsing through or looking up a nugget of information for a school project or a piece of artwork (they are really lovely reference books that will last your kids years!)

"Anatomicum" is our favourite by far though, turning its steely gaze on our own bodies and how incredible they are, thanks to a good dig through the Wellcome Collection.

Inside-out, the book is packed with detail about the amazing biological machine that is the human body, from our skeletons to our nerves, our vital organs and our skin.

We are amazing - and this book is too, illustrated with so much detail and, like the other books, really useful if your kids are studying Biology and need a really thoroughly researched reference book that doesn't talk its subject down to the simplest levels, yet is instantly child-friendly and approachable thanks to great design and fantastic descriptions.

All of the books in the series are worth checking out, and we feel very lucky to have quite a collection of them. Non-Fiction has had something of a golden age and a brilliant revival over the course of the last ten years while we've been beavering away at this blog. Stunning books like this just show how you can 'win kids back' from their screens if the source material in fabulous non-fic is put together in the most amazing ways.

Original Review Links: 

ReadItDaddy's Second Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 1st December 2017 - "Dinosaurium (Welcome to the Museum Series)" by Lily Murray and Chris Wormell (Big Picture Press)

ReadItDaddy's Second Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 25th October 2019: "Anatomicum (Welcome to the Museum Series)" by Dr Jennifer Z. Paxton and Katy Wiedemann (Big Picture Press / Wellcome Collection)

ReadItDaddy's First Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 19th October 2018: "Planetarium (Welcome to the Museum)" by Raman Prinja and Chris Wormell (Big Picture Press)

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 12th December 2014 - "Animalium - Welcome to the Museum" by Jenny Broom and Katie Scott (Big Picture Press)

ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 23rd September 2016 - "Botanicum - Welcome to the Museum" by Professor Kathy Willis and Katie Scott (Big Picture Press)

ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 23rd September 2016 - "Botanicum - Welcome to the Museum" by Professor Kathy Willis and Katie Scott (Big Picture Press)
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