Wednesday 12 August 2020

All Good Things...

Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Probably had a pretty good library...
So here we are then. 12th August, ten years (and a day) since we began our book blogging journey, armed with little more than a Blogger account and an armful of picture books from our local library.

It's been an amazing journey, and one that has surprised all of us here at ReadItDaddy Towers with the places it's taken us, the wonderful people we've met through book blogging, and the truly lovely community that exists around a love of children's books. We've spent 100 days looking back at just some of the stunning books we've reviewed in our #Booky100Keepers articles,  and it's been amazing taking a look at all those books again, remembering why they caught our eye.

But all good things come to an end and today is our blog's happy birthday and death day all in one.

After a lot of soul-searching and discussion at home we've decided to retire the blog with a jaunty little wave goodbye and a shy smile, and of course a huge "THANK YOU" to everyone who has dropped by to read what we've written about books and bookish things, and an even bigger thank you to all the publishers, authors, illustrators and hard working PR folk who have helped make this blog what it is.

Ten years ago we didn't really set out to achieve anything but always thought it'd be good to do this for as long as it was fun, maybe notch up a few hits (just shy of 2 million the last time I looked, wow), perhaps find a way to turn writing about books into a regular (even paid) gig (hah, yeah right!)

Instead, chipping away at our review pile in our spare time has been hugely satisfying - but the tiny amount of spare time we devote to book blogging has slowly been eaten up by other things over the past decade. A  busy tween and an equally busy dad both struggling to fit even a part-time blog into the mix of a hectic daily life just doesn't compute sadly, and again there's no point doing a blog if you're not going to do proper justice to the books.  For a while I did consider just going on alone, but despite all the lovely things people have said on Twitter, I don't really think anyone wants to read an adult's lone opinion on children's books really, this blog was founded on being about C's opinions on books not really mine.

So what happens next?

Well you're in good hands, you know you are. When we started out, book blogging was a thing - sure it was - but there weren't that many 'dad' book bloggers out there as there are now, and the quality of blog content has skyrocketed way past the point of folk just tapping out "We really like this book, it's great" on a loop.

Book folk really are amazing and they are extremely passionate about the things they write about and the way they share the books that are rocking their world with you. Here's some of the blogs you should be reading if you aren't already...

Take "Father Reading Every Day" for example. We love this Dad and Son reading duo, setting out much like we did all those years ago, but really putting a huge amount of time and effort into their blog and the way they talk up their favourite books. Can you think of a more amazing way to chronicle your child's reading journey? Watching them grow up, their book tastes change, and having so much fun? Am in total admiration of this blog, it's just fantastic and reminds me of the way we set out on our own book blogging journey 10 years ago.

Then there's Lily and the Fae - Fairly new to book blogging but producing one of the loveliest parenting / book blogs out there. No wonder they're winning awards! Again a brilliant place for book news but also just a really fantastically and passionately written blog by someone who loves books.

Book Lover Jo is another fabulous booky person who I've been lucky enough to meet a few times and I'm in awe of her energy, her knowledge and her ability not only to produce the most amazing reviews and articles, but also to find time to develop her own writing and stories herself. Quite simply an amazing lady!

BooksNest by Beth is another beautiful blog filled with amazing content for YA fans. Beth covers some of the trickiest issues facing tweens and teens and talks up books on those subjects too. A fine example of the way a book blog should be written to engage with a core audience who are wired into all different types of social media and content, but written with a whomping great bit dose of soul too.

ChildTastic Books is another beltingly good read, not just because of their amazing book reviews but the other articles they write about, making tons of interesting posts that will give kids (and their parents) the perfect jumping in point for more research on a wealth of different subjects. Again so brilliantly written.

Jake over at has the sort of blog I personally envy a great deal. One where posts may be few and far between, but are written with such a clarity of vision and such a deep understanding of the importance - and the splendour - of children's books that we're always in awe of what he writes. If we were going to carry on blogging at all, we'd definitely be taking a leaf from Jake's book.

And a blog friend who we've followed and who has been there as long as we have, the awesome Catherine over at StorySnug who still writes one of the best blogs out there.

There are so many more we could list - so many! As we said, you are truly spoilt for choice now.

We've also noticed the marked rise in attention that kidlit is getting in the entertainment and media sector of the press - at flipping last. It feels like there's still a long way to go, the coverage of children's books is still a way off where we'd like to see it, and I know that a lot of authors, illustrators and publishers would like to see 'mainstream' pay as much attention to children's books as it does to adult books, but you're spoilt for choice for where you get your book news from. It feels like children's books (particularly non-fiction books which were in a bit of a wasteland when we first started out) are being taken more seriously by everyone, and that can only be a good thing. Still progress to be made though. Will that ever change?

Twitter is a good place to find awesome book folk to connect with too, and once you start to look around at the different approaches people take with their love of books, you'll find so much awesome coverage out there - and lots of inspiration if you too are beginning your own book blogging / book loving journey with your kids. We'll still be on there of course - and you know we'll still like and retweet cool book stuff and talk about any books that we get sent (assuming we don't get dropped by all the PRs and publishers overnight! Even if we do, we'll still be talking about stuff we purchase ourselves). A lifelong love of books of all shapes and sizes doesn't disappear overnight, even if a book blog does so do keep following us on Twitter (@readitdaddy) because we will still be talking about books and book-related stuff there.

After ten years there are so many people we'd like to thank - So many hard working PRs who slog their guts out for their publishers, agents, authors and illustrators, booksellers and other book bloggers promoting fantastic books and bringing them to our attention every single day. You know who you are and you are without doubt the unsung heroes of the industry and deserve our most heartfelt thanks. The creatives, the all important engine under the hood of the children's publishing industry. Not just the authors and illustrrators but book designers and content creators, editors, translators and proofreaders who can take a few rough sketches or plots and encourage the most beautiful work out of the authors and illustrators they work with.

We'd also like to thank all the authors and illustrators who've engaged with us over the years, the wonderful ones we've met too who have been so kind to us, and inspired my daughter to love books even more, and in particular those who've taken the time to write us an email telling us how much they like what we've written about their books.

Thanks to my ever-patient wife, whose idea this was really, who supported the blog in her own quiet measured way, doing a wonderful job of instilling a love of reading in our daughter (and ensuring that she read a hugely varied collection of different genres and subjects, not just the stuff "daddy" likes).

And a huge thanks to my daughter C, whose opinions fuelled this blog, inspired me to write it and whose love of reading kept us going for ten years and will keep us reading forevermore.

We're leaving the blog in place. It would be crazy to delete it, instantly and swiftly removing ten years of work - and we're also still going to be kicking around on Twitter as we said,  though perhaps not as frequently as before. But one day, you never know, you might get another notification email in your inbox as we can't resist the lure of covering a new book - or a tweet about beautiful books we've been sent or have bought.

For now the daily coverage will cease and we'll miss being in the loop, even in the small way we've been involved in kidlit. But as the strapline to this article says, all good things must come to an end.

With all our very best and thank you so much for reading us, befriending us, and treating us so well over the years.

Ali, Phil & C @ ReadItDaddy, signing off...

Blog Facts and stats

Blog lifespan - Ten years (12th August 2010 to 12th August 2020)

Number of articles: ~ 5000+ (as new ones are still being added at the time of writing)

Amount of time spent reviewing: 1666.66 hours (roughly - averaging out 20 mins of writing per review)

Number of unique hits on the blog: 1.928,101

Number of (legitimate non-spammy) comments: 850

Number of blog followers: 58

Number of Twitter followers: 9224

Most popular article / review: The Man with the Violin by Katy Stinson and Dusan Petricic (Annick Press) (1860 unique hits)

Most popular region for blog readers: US (1), Alaska (2), UK (3), Russia (4)

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Tuesday 11 August 2020

#Booky100Keepers Day 100: All the wonderful art books

Looking through our bookshelves, it's clear that one type of book is almost in danger of completely taking over. They're usually thick weighty hardback tomes, filled to the brim with delights a-plenty, they're books that are read and re-read again and again, and they are books that are definitely keepers - in fact some of them predate our blog by a considerable number of years.

Art process books, such as the gorgeous "The Art of Zootopia" pictured to the left (or "Zootropolis" if you're over here in the UK) are always pretty expensive, but utterly luxurious - like trading up your Arctic Roll for a sumptuous tub of Italian Gelato.

As a pair of doodlers, both C and I love these books, just to gain a tiny insight into what it's like developing an idea from a few rough sketches, into a finished and highly polished rendering which may (or may not) one day make it onto the silver screen.

I am particularly obsessed with the later run of "The Art of Star Wars" books. Quite often, even if the movie is a bit poo (we shall not speak of "The Rise of Skywalker"), the art books are well worth the entry fee. With these you get a whole gamut of artistic inspiration, from the backgrounds and planetary landscapes, to the amazing spacecraft, robots and other machines, through to the characters, their costumes and the weird and quirky creatures designed for these movies.

Costume is a big thing for C, and she's particularly obsessed with designing her own stuff - so any luxurious art book that shows off fashion designs from movies is an instant draw.

We've bought the majority of these ourselves (review copies of huge expensive art books are usually few and far between) but now and again we've been sent some brilliant ones.

"The Art of Hotel Transylvania 2" was a review copy, filled to the brim with gorgeous character art depicting our favourite thing - monsters - and showing once again just how talented these concept artists are, often hitting the exact look and feel of a character fairly early on.

Through all these books we've learned about some of the best artists in the biz, and though our own meagre skills will never match up to these amazing folk, we always love to see those processes all the same and how polished those final images become after months (if not years) of painstaking work.

Illustrators and artists are often given the thin end of the wedge in children's publishing so it's always great to see them gaining proper recognition and a showcase of their work in these books.

Original review links. 

ReaditDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 15th January 2016 - "The Art of Star Wars - The Force Awakens" by Phil Szostak, with foreword by Rick Carter (Abrams)

ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 6th July 2018: "The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi" by Phil Szostak and Rian Johnson (Lucasfilm / Abrams)

ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 20th July 2018: "The Art of Solo: A Star Wars Story" by Phil Szostak. Foreword by James Clyne and Neil Lamont (Abrams Books)

ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 16th October 2015 - "The Art of Hotel Transylvania 2" by Brett Rector (Titan Books)

ReaditDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 3rd October 2014 - "Sketches from a Nameless Land" - The Art of 'The Arrival' by Shaun Tan (Hodder Children's Books)

ReadItDaddy's Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 30th October 2015 - "The Art of Wreck-It Ralph" by Jennifer Lee and Maggie Malone (Chronicle)

Disney's "The Art of Inside Out" (Chronicle Books)

ReadItDaddy's Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 21st June 2019: "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse - The Art of the Movie" by Ramin Zahed and various artists (Titan)

 "The Art of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" by Lucasfilm Ltd / Josh Kushins and Various Artists (Abrams)

Disney's "The Art of Zootropolis" by Jessica Julius, Byron Howards, Rich Moore and various artists (Chronicle Books)

ReadItDaddy's Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 22nd July 2016 - "The Art of Loish - A Look Behind the Scenes" by Lois Van Baarle (3DTotal Publishing)

"Rise Up - The Art of Protest" by Joanne Rippon, Foreword by Chris Riddell (Palazzo Editions)

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 31st January 2020: "The Art of Disney Costuming" by Rebecca Cline and Jeff Kurti (Disney Editions)

ReaditDaddy's Book of the Week - Week ending 5th September 2014 - "The Art of Frozen" by Charles Solomon / Various artists (Chronicle Books)

ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 26th October 2018: "The Art and Making of The Greatest Showman" by Signe Bergstrom (Blink Publishing)

Sketch! By France Belleville Van Stone (Watson Guptil)

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Monday 10 August 2020

Out Today - "100 Things to do in a Forest" by Jennifer Davis and Eleanor Taylor (Laurence King Publishing)

As we enter the final week of our blog, we wanted to review the heck out of a book that offers a quirky, sometimes rather eccentric view of something that we - in lockdown over the last few months - have been dying to do for ages. Thankfully as the lockdown rules are eased, and the hordes of ruinous barbarians who have dumped litter all over our green spaces have instead retreated to the shops and pubs that have reopened instead, we can finally return to a few of our favourite woodland haunts.

"100 things to do in a forest" by Jennifer Davis, with beautiful illustrations from Eleanor Taylor dances between the sort of outdoorsy book we've seen quite a few times before, but also comes up with some rather quirky and - as we said - slightly eccentric things to try the next time you find yourself winding your way through the trees of your favourite green space.

Some of the book's ideas are obviously aimed at children and of course we're all over those, but there are others that feel aimed at adults / parents too, so it's good to not be left out for once!

Things you can eat while out for a walk. Ever tried Hawthorn berries and leaves?
Both my wife and I have always encouraged our daughter to enjoy being out in the countryside as much as possible, and we're very lucky where we are that we have wild spaces almost on our doorstep. Jennifer's humorous but knowledgable text takes you through some simple ideas at first, but then really brings on the controversy in a couple of cases, for example highlighting that as much as we've always been taught to tread lightly through the countryside and not pick wild flowers or break branches off trees, nature can take it - and it's quite an outspoken view but we can almost see what she's getting at here, that we're in danger of teaching our kids to treat green spaces almost like shrines rather than really getting involved with enjoying them to the max (that's not to say you should encourage your little darlings to run rampant through your local forest glade, trashing the place of course!)

The other slightly controversial section in the book is the one about knives. Sometimes when we go out, we take one with us for whittling or forest crafting but always with that strange sense of guilt that carrying a knife around brings. "TISH AND POPPYCOCK" says Jennifer (not literally, but in attitude), there's nothing wrong with taking a carbon-steel bladed knife with you when you go out for a forest bathe, don't be such a wuss! Local authorities may of course see it slightly differently, as they would about lighting fires in forest spaces too (so always check with local bylaws and certainly make sure you check and gain permission from landowners before you go setting up the perfect campfire).

Light a fire and make some campfire bread (but check with landowners and local bylaws first!)
There you see, we've already gone onto the backfoot of being slightly 'nannyish' about the book's content, but this is a fantastic resource if - like us - you love trekking and enjoying the amazing green spaces we have in our country, so perhaps we all need to take the safety wheels off, particularly after months in isolation, and really enjoy this book and its fabulous suggestions to the full.

Sum this book up in a sentence: 100 amazing ways to really get the most out of your favourite forestial habitats, with loads of activities and ideas for young and old.

"100 things to do in a Forest" is out today, 10th August 2020, by Jennifer Davis and Eleanor Taylor, published by Laurence King Publishing (kindly supplied for review). 
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#Booky100Keepers Day 99: The books of Julia Donaldson

One thing we've noticed in ten years of book blogging is that huge success, and becoming a best-selling author also sometimes means that a particular author will end up being placed in the dock, accused of market saturation - their success almost being used against them as a blunt instrument to point out all the things that are wrong with the children's publishing industry.

I think Julia Donaldson has had her fair share of flak over the years, placed firmly in the centre of this over-critical vortex of ill feeling from other authors who feel that her books are often used as the default in any children's book marketing push, that her books automatically leap to the top of any best sellers list whenever their released, that her books are always favoured by TV companies looking to make a few extra bucks at Christmas by releasing a timely feelgood animation of a particular story, alongside a metric ton of accompanying merchandise.

Yes, all those things are true of Julia Donaldson's books (particularly those she collaborates on with Axel Scheffler) but there's no denying that kids absolutely LOVE these books, and the sometimes hateful and cynical bile against them largely comes from adults who should bloody well know better.

We picked up a copy of "The Gruffalo" swiftly followed by "The Gruffalo's Child" and these became bedtime book regulars. Julia's rhyming is pitch perfect, her use of repetition and clever observation and description of her characters immerses a child instantly in the story, and the fact that her rhyming meter is perfect makes these really easy / pleasurable to read aloud.

Ask any kid to describe The Gruffalo and they'll instantly remember the terrible claws, the terrible teeth, the nasty great wart on the end of its nose - and of course owl ice cream, roasted fox and scrambled snake!

We liked both Gruffalo books but it was actually "Stick Man" by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler that cropped up on the blog the most, with the most positive reviews.

There's just something about it - the atmosphere generated by Julia's descriptions and Axel's illustrations, the almost crisp christmassy feel to the story, and the whopping great big euphoric feeling you get right at the end of the book when Stick Man is reunited with his Stick Lady Love and his family, overcoming seemingly insurmountable situations in order to get back home to safety.

We also particularly loved Julia's collaborations with Rebecca Cobb (who we've already mentioned in our #Booky100Keepers list, as one of our all time favourite author / illustrators). JD has also worked with some of the greatest names in kidlit illustration from Charlotte Voake to Nick Sharratt, from David Roberts to Lydia Monks.

If there's one thing I really won't miss about our peripheral involvement in children's publishing, it's that hate-filled cynicism we constantly see on social media whenever a children's author or illustrator makes a massive success of what they do. It's rubbish, quite frankly - and it feels like it's something that we do way too much in the UK. Quite rightly JD took up the mantle of Children's Laureate and spoke of the importance of children's books, and how they're largely overlooked in the media. She spent her tenure as a vociferous spokesperson for the industry and the creatives who keep it alive, and yet still gets tarred with the 'saturation' brush.

Honestly, I really do not understand people sometimes.

Regardless of popular opinion, we've kept most of our Julia Donaldson books, purely because even though C has outgrown them, they're always the books demanded by her little cousins when they come over to stay - and we still think that there's room on the broom for a switch in opinions on JD. Being successful and prolific shouldn't be something we look down on.

Original review links: 

Wake up do, Lydia Lou! By Julia Donaldson and Karen George (Macmillan Children's Books)

Charlie Cook's Favourite Book (10th Anniversary Edition) by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (Macmillan Children's Books)

Departing Children's Laureate Julia Donaldson says "We don't take Children's Books seriously enough" - Oh but we do, we do!

"It's a Little Baby" by Julia Donaldson and Rebecca Cobb (Macmillan Children's Books)

What the Jackdaw Saw by Julia Donaldson and Nick Sharratt (With support from Life and Deaf children's charity) - Published by Macmillan Children's Books

Tales from Acorn Wood - Rabbit's Nap by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (Macmillan Children's Books)

The Scarecrow's Wedding by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (Alison Green Books / Scholastic)

Princess Mirror-Belle and the Dragon Pox by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks (Macmillan Children's Books)

The Further Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat (Book and CD Edition) by Julia Donaldson and Charlotte Voake (Bloomsbury Publishing)

Joining a fantastic Blog Safari to celebrate the release of "The Ugly Five" by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (Scholastic)

"Spinderella" by Julia Donaldson and Sebastien Braun (Egmont Publishing)

Booky Advent Calendar Day 16: "The Snail and the Whale" by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (Macmillan Children's Books)

The Flying Bath by Julia Donaldson and David Roberts (Macmillan Children's Books)

Charlie Cook's Favourite Book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (Macmillan Children's Books)

Celebrating another important book birthday with the 20th Anniversary Edition of "The Gruffalo" by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (Macmillan Children's Books)

ReadItDaddy's Festive Book of the Week - Week Ending 18th December 2015 - "Stick Man" by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (Scholastic / Alison Green)

Booky Advent Calendar Day 22 - "Stick Man" by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (Alison Green Books)

The Singing Mermaid (Special Edition with Mermaid Toy) by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks (Macmillan Children's Books)

ReadItDaddy's Booky Advent Calendar Day 13 - 13th December 2013 - "Stick Man" by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (Alison Green Books)

The Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson and Rebecca Cobb (Macmillan Children's Books)

The Troll by Julia Donaldson and David Roberts (Macmillan Children's Books)

A Squash and a Squeeze (20th Anniversary Edition) by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (Macmillan Children's Books)

Gruffalo Crumble and Other Recipes, based on "The Gruffalo" stories by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (Macmillan Children's Books)

Stick Man by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (Alison Green Books)

The Highway Rat

Fox's Socks

The Gruffalo

The Rhyming Rabbit by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks (Macmillan Children's Books)

Julia Donaldson is the new Children's Laureate

Room on the Broom


The Gruffalo's Child

"Flights of Fancy: Stories, pictures and inspiration from ten Children's Laureates" by various authors / illustrators (Walker Books)

The Princess and the Wizard

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Sunday 9 August 2020

#Booky100Keepers Day 98: "We're going on a Bear Hunt" by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury (Walker Books)

As our #Booky100Keepers list nearly draws to a close, I had to cast eyes back over the entire list to make sure I hadn't already featured this one. Any children's book list of recommendations will have certain books that folk will firmly get behind, and "We're going on a Bear Hunt" by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury seems to have escaped the usual "We love it / we hate it now / we love it again / no we definitely hate it now and it's not cool any more" thing that book folk go through from time to time with beloved children's titles.

But let's face it, this book bounces along, it has an entertaining story, it has an imaginative twist or two in it, and it's just so filled with alliterative read-aloud fun that it's nigh-on impossible to resist.

We bought this way back in 2012 when C was still knee high to a grasshopper and it swiftly ended up being a bedtime favourite. Back then we probably used to read at least 3-4 picture books a night to her, and this was always somewhere in the mix.

A family jaunt out into the great outdoors is filled with swishy grass to wrestle your way through, squishy mud to wade through, trip-tastic forests to navigate and then at the end, a cave...but what's inside? Or more likely who...

Michael Rosen is usually quite quick to point out that this isn't his work entirely, and the rhyme existed long before the book did. He's also very quick to point out that a large part of the success of this book is down to Helen Oxenbury's utterly perfect illustrations, filled with energy and youthful vibrance and it's these that are always the biggest draw for me, marvelling at how her sparse lines and glorious watercolours depict a living breathing landscape for her awesome family of characters to inhabit.

This was one of the books that we used to read whenever we did read-aloud events (sadly that never turned into a regular gig, which is a shame as they were always so much fun to do but lacking any silly props or daft hats I guess no one wanted to book a baldy 50-something to read aloud to their kids). What always struck me is that kids who had never heard of the book before (and yes, there were a surprising number) always got quite scared at the bit at the end. The book goes silent, wordless as the chase between the bear and the family kicks off - with the bear chasing them right to the front door of their house. I found that quite interesting, that the dark twist elicited that response, but the 'damping down' at the end as the lonely bear trudged back off to his cave always brought those kids around and turned the bear from a menacing foe into something of a sympathetic character really.

Like / hate it (and I'll be brutally honest here, the animated TV version was pretty terrible and left us utterly cold due to the liberties it took with the original story) it is without doubt one of those revered and hallowed books that you really ought to have on your kids' bookshelves. A real classic.

Original review links and articles: 

Come to Discover for a brilliant Bear Hunt spectacular from October 2015

Don't miss out on the biggest "Bear Hunt" reading in history!

Three new fantastic books for lovers of nature and the great outdoors. Perfect for Spring and Summer - out now from Walker Books

ReadItDaddy Reads aloud - Mostly Books and Usborne's 40th Anniversary, the perfect time for storytelling fun!

We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury (Walker Books)

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Saturday 8 August 2020

#Booky100Keepers Day 97: "The Rescue Princesses" and the other fantastic books by Paula Harrison (Nosy Crow)

I think it's fair to say that this fantastic joy-filled book series, showcasing kindness and a love of animals, was the first series C became a superfan of.

Prolific and hugely talented author Paula Harrison wrote the fantastic "Rescue Princesses", with a fab collection of positive stories with mighty girls at their heart, each with their own special abilities and affinity for particular animals.

We were lucky enough to meet Paula fairly early on in our blogging career and she's just wonderful to talk to, and fully engaged with C - probably made her a bit star-struck if we're honest. C collected the entire Rescue Princesses series and devoured each one (though as we mention in our reviews - linked below - quite often the arrival of a new book would mean that C would re-read the entire series over and over before polishing off the new title - that made scheduling the reviews a little tricky!)

Paula has since written so many excellent middle grade series, and her books are perfect for emergent readers who are taking those first steps into the world of chapter books. The cream on top of the cake for C was getting a book dedication from Paula for her awesome "Secret Rescuers" series, something that we hugely appreciated and are still completely thrilled about even today.

Of course, time moves on - and the reading tastes of a cynical tweenager often change. But wait...what's sitting on C's bedside reading pile at this very moment in time, completely coincidentally?

(alongside equally awesome and prolific Holly Webb's "Maisie Hitchins" series).

So there you go, sometimes kids really do take to a book series to the point where they become their go-to when they want something familiar, comforting and pleasurable to read. We can't thank Paula enough for producing such brilliantly inspirational stories to instil a love of reading in C.

Original review links: 

#ReadItMD13 Theme Week - "The Importance of Early Readers - bridging the gap between picture books and chapter books"

A fantastic Robyn Silver themed guest post from lovely Paula Harrison, author of this awesome new Middle Grade series.

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 12th October 2018: "The Rescue Princesses: The Star Bracelet" by Paula Harrison and Sharon Tancredi / Artful Doodlers (Nosy Crow)

Booky Advent Calendar Day 15: "The Snowy Reindeer (Princess of Pets Series)" by Paula Harrison (Nosy Crow)

A huge, huge thank you to awesome Paula Harrison for Charlotte's first ever book dedication!

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 7th July 2017 - "Robyn Silver Book 2: The Darkest Dream" by Paula Harrison (Scholastic)

Charlotte and Mummy's Book of the Week Part 2 - Week ending 8th Feb 2013 - The Rescue Princesses: The Secret Promise by Paula Harrison (Nosy Crow Books)

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Friday 7 August 2020

ReadItDaddy's Second Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 7th August 2020: "Marvellous Magicians" by Lydia Corry (Thames and Hudson)

Magic! As a kid I was obsessed with magic, always asking for magic sets and always closely scrutinising magic shows that would appear on TV (why oh why have these died out? It's such a huge shame).

I've also passed on this love of magic to my daughter so imagine our delight when this book showed up for review. We absolutely had to squeeze it onto our blog in our hallowed "Book of the Week" slot, as it's something quite special and quite unique.

It's not going to give away any secrets, that really isn't something the "Magic Circle" would want, but it's a superb historical delve into the roots of modern prestidigitation and many of the illusions that have become infamous and well known, plus a lot of truly awesome modern tricks, illusions and magic that will make your eyes pop out.

Beautifully designed, curated and presented by Lydia Corry, you'll spend long hours flicking through this book as there's so much detail in here, it really is a labour of love.

So let's have a look inside...!

Richard Potter, a massively influential conjuror! Enchanted eggs!
Amazing facts and figures about some of the most influential conjurors, illusionists and magicians of the past two centuries and even further back in history too...

Your eyes can play tricks on you!
Sum this book up in a sentence: All in all this is a real treat - an absolutely brilliant book that deals with its subject matter, the amazing magicians of past and present, in glorious detail.
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#Booky100Keepers Day 96: The fabulous Etherington Brothers

Oozing with talent from every pore, and a pair of creative geniuses who do something that you seldom see in the world of children's publishing or illustration - paying their awesome success forward by helping others with an awesome creative blog and sizzling set of tutorials.

What more can you say about Robin and Lorenzo Etherington, long-time contributors to the mighty Phoenix Comic (which we've already covered in our #Booky100Keepers list), and creators of many books that are almost set up in a mini-shrine on our shelves.

Lorenzo's truly fantastic "How to Think when you Draw" and Robin's utterly brilliant "How to think when you Write" are books that we both find ourselves dragging off the shelves on a regular basis, to pore over, dip into and consume nuggets of glorious golden advice from.

We're not just addicted to their tutorial books though. I really love the back-burner-bubbling "Stranski" stuff, something that feels like a long-term obsession for the guys that hasn't quite been worked up into a finished story / graphic novel, but feels like something the world needs - a glorious fusion of film noir, adventure, gangster movie and kick-ass lion-tailed ladies ready to take on the world.

They've taxed our brains with the awesome "Von Doogan" series, they've twisted the afterworld inside out in "Long Gone Don" and have made us giggle like goons with "Monkey Nuts". They've made a success out of going down the crowdfunded / self-published route for a lot of their books (including restoring Monkey Nuts to the original large graphic novel format it so richly deserves).

We were fortunate enough to meet the guys and were delighted that they knew who we were, and actually thanked us for all our support over the years. They really are the bees knees, borne out by the fact that every single thing we've reviewed of theirs has hit the "Book of the Week" slot. Pretty nice going, guys!

Original review and article links:

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 7th February 2020: "How to Think When you Write" by Robin Etherington and Lorenzo Etherington (Kickstarter / Self Published)

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

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)

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

ReadItDaddy's Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 2nd August 2019: "How to Think when you Draw Volume 2" by The Etherington Brothers (Self Published)

ReadItDaddy's Comic of the Week - Week Ending 23rd February 2018 - "Monkey Nuts (Volume 1 and 2)" by Robin and Lorenzo Etherington (Lulu Self Publishing Platform)

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 Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 19th August 2016 - "The Deluxe Collection - Volumes 1 and 2" by Lorenzo Etherington (Lulu Self Publishing)

ReadItDaddy's Book(s) of the Week - Week Ending 24th August 2018: "How to Think when you Draw" and "Deluxe Collection Volume III" by Lorenzo Etherington (Lulu / Self Published)

ReadItDaddy's Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 28th July 2017 - "The Art of Stranski" by Lorenzo Etherington (Kickstarter / Self Published)

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ReadItDaddy's First Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 7th August 2020: "Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast: Short and Sweet (Book 4)" by Josh Funk and Brendan Kearney

On the bittersweet occasion of our last Picture Books of the Week we wanted to share a book filled with giggles, with joy and of course with our favourite subject - yummy scrummy food!

"Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast: Short and Sweet" is the fourth book in the series from awesome creatives Josh Funk and Brendan Kearney, and this time the two heroes aren't quite feeling themselves.

In fact, with a bit of foodie magic Lady and Frenchy have been transformed into mere shadows of their former selves, turning back into the cutest pair of kids you've ever seen this side of the fridge door.

Professor Biscotti's nutty invention must be reversed but the two toddler treats are petrified of the now gigantic Baron Von Waffle. How on earth can Prof and Baron lure the two out of capering around and hiding, restoring them to adulthood?

Oh no, what can be done to restore our heroes to greatness?
There's a ton of brilliant and inventive stuff in this new adventure, bouncing along with Josh's trademark mighty fine rhymin' style, and Brendan's tummy-rumblingly brilliant illustrations!

Behold! The cutest pair of treats you ever did see!
This series has gone from strength to strength, and kids just can't resist any tale where they get to live a mischievous vicarious capering chase through familiar surroundings - I mean who wouldn't want to go on a grand adventure through their larder or fridge?

You have a bit of a wait on your hands for this one as it's not going to be hitting shelves until November, but we wanted to shout about Josh and Brendan's fab book before we retire so a big salute and hats off to Lady P and Sir FT!

Sum this book up in a sentence: Possibly the best adventure for Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast yer, transformed into naughty mischievous toddlers by a mad professor, leading us on an energetic bouncing rhyming caper par excellence!

"Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast: Short and Sweet" (Book 4) by Josh Funk and Brendan Kearney is out on 28th November 2020, published by Sterling (kindly sent as a digital ARC to review). 
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Thursday 6 August 2020

Kids will never tire of stories, no matter how old they are. The final ReaditDaddy #ReadItTorial

The very last #ReadItTorial is saved for something that may worry those of you whose kids are getting to the point of eschewing their bedtime book reading session with you, in favour of doinking around on their mobile phones or catching up with a bit of late night telly, or any other number of distractions that mean they're no longer the starry-eyed little would-be reader that you used to cuddle on your lap when reading them the latest Julia Donaldson book.

One thing I've observed, even with a near-teen in the house, is that kids never get tired of stories.

They still crave them, in fact. Though stories may take different forms, their tastes are ever evolving after all, stories to kids can mean any number of things.

Sometimes it can be as simple as rediscovering a book you thought they'd grown out of (and one of the reasons we don't clear out our collection even more savagely than we already have) is because that cycle of rediscovery is a constant delight and one we secretly encourage.

Sometimes it may be seeking stories in different forms. C is currently obsessed with the 'storification' of some of her other interests. Developing her own narratives and a real 'plot' to Scratch games she writes, or inventing potted biographies for her Animal Crossing characters still shows signs of an interest in storytelling.

Mostly though it's the discovery that, as clued up as you are on books, sometimes one will come along that feels instantly new, original and fresh - like nothing you've ever read before, and thankfully we've managed to pick up a few books recently in our glorious local indie bookstore that have breathed new life into C's interest in upper middle grade novels, something I feared was wavering somewhat under a slew of very samey books hitting the bookstore shelves.

As this book rides off into the sunset, there's a comforting word for anyone who may feel that they're too wondering how long they've got left in book blogging, or bedtime reading, or just that brilliant connection that you can develop with your kids over the love of books and stories. The answer is "a lifetime" - it may change, may evolve but thankfully it will never disappear entirely.

Stay safe, keep reading and the biggest love to all of you who put in the hours and the effort to share stories with their kids.
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#Booky100Keepers Day 95: "The Apartment: A Century of Russian History" by Alexandra Litvina, Anna Desnitskaya and Antonina W. Bouis (Abrams Books for Young Readers)

Russia has always fascinated me. There's just something about this amazing nation that draws you in from its often turbulent history, to its triumphant and successful space program, and its rich and diverse culture.

Finding books on Russia that aren't dry and boring isn't that easy but "The Apartment: A Century of Russian History" takes an entirely different approach to most non-fiction books that is so brilliant and ground-breaking I would dearly like to see it become 'the norm' for a lot of non-fiction subjects.

Inside the apartment, the lives of several families are chronicled over the space of an entire century, from the revolutionary Russia of the early 20th Century, right through to the present day.

As the apartment changes and evolves to meet the needs of each new set of tenants, we find out a little bit more about Russia in each decade, through the first and second world war, and through to the eventual fall of the Iron Curtain, and a relaxation and more ready acceptance of some of the western influences that have worked their way into Russian culture in later years.

Alexandra and Anna have done an amazing job here, packing in so much detail and so much anecdotal history that there's something new to discover every time you read this book.

We also absolutely loved the format of this. It's a huge hardback tome, the sort of book we describe in our reviews as being made for sprawling out on the floor with and we learned so much from it, from what Russian people ate and what they did during harsher times, through to their subversive counter-cultural reactions to some quite often harsh laws.

Like most of our keepers, this is something that is read again and again on a regular basis, and there's no surprise it was a book of the week and indeed one of our picture books of the year last year.

Original Review Links: 

ReadItDaddy's Second Book of the Week: Week Ending 1st November 2019 - "The Apartment: A Century of Russian History" by Alexandra Litvina and Anna Desnitskaya, translated by Antonina Bouis (Abrams Books)

Our Picture Book, Chapter Book and Comic / Graphic Novel of the year winners for 2019

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Wednesday 5 August 2020

#Booky100Keepers Day 94: "The Legend of Sally Jones" and "The Murderer's Ape" by Jakob Wegelius (Pushkin Children's Books)

We couldn't possibly miss these books off our #Booky100Keepers list, purely because A) they're so damned good and B) they almost give me hope that the children's publishing industry isn't going to collapse under a tsunami of samey books.

"The Murderer's Ape" by Jakob Wegelius is quite unlike anything else you'll find in the children's section of your local bookshop.

For starters, I doubt many kids would be that familiar with the whole 'film noir' genre, and certainly not many kids would have a clue who Humphrey Bogart or James Cagney were. Yet here, in this utterly mesmerising, huge and satisfyingly thick novel is a divine kid-friendly nod to all that stuff, centred around a character whose life has been tinged by tragedy.

It feels like Jakob has used a very similar story mechanism to Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events" - in that the story of Sally Jones, a big-hearted but often mistreated Gorilla, isn't the sort of flowery happy tale you can smile through every page at. In fact there are points during this where you become so enraged at how utterly rubbish humans are, it makes you ashamed to be of that species.

But hold fast, because there's hope in this tale too - and there's Sally's indomitable spirit and strength of character to cling to as you read about her utterly fascinating life.

Jakob later revisited Sally's back story in the second book (which is actually a prequel), made more illustration-heavy and more suitable for younger kids.

"The Legend of Sally Jones" is again not the happy jolly cutesy-pie picture book that folk seem (weirdly) drawn to, but is absolutely brilliantly told, and like "The Murderer's Ape", a book that highlights just how horrible we humans are to the planet, to its animal life and to each other.

"But why do kids need to have books like this in their lives? Surely kids deserve to be happy?" I hear you cry.

 That's just the problem in kidlit, there's an assumption (certainly here in the UK at least) that children's books only serve two purposes - to deliver a moral message or a piece of sage advice on how to make the reader a better person, or to educate or convey information that (quite often) is so blatantly obvious or so rooted in common sense you'd flipping hope that by the time kids get to the stage of reading on their own, they'll have picked up that stuff themselves either from their parents or from school.

Mini rant over - these books do tick those boxes, but they're also blisteringly good reads. Dark, deliciously descriptive and not shying away from some pretty 'grown up' concepts - and filled with a cast of characters who you'll hiss at or root for at every turn of the page. But Sally is undoubtedly the star, encapsulating everything you'd want from a central character in a book, put upon, troubled, sometimes brooding and thoughtful but with a big whomping heart and a love for those who befriend her and try to see her through to a better life.

Absolutely love these books to bits. No surprise at all that both nailed "Book of the Week" (and Book of the Year for "The Murderer's Ape".

Original review links: 

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 2nd November 2018: "The Legend of Sally Jones" by Jakob Wegelius (Pushkin Press)

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 18th August 2017 - "The Murderer's Ape" by Jakob Wegelius (Pushkin Press)

Our Blog Roundup for 2017 - All our book of the week winners, our Publisher of the Year, Picture Book(s) of the Year and Chapter Book(s) of the Year Winners 2017!
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Tuesday 4 August 2020

Beat the "Back to School" blues by making some fabulous art with Marion Deuchars' new "Let's make Some Great Art" series of activity books (Hachette)

Aw, just the ticket for the long summer holidays but sadly not out until the 7th September. BUT a good way of beating the 'Back to school" doldrums for creative kids, with a new range of fantastic activity books from top creative Marion Deuchars.

Marion's tutorial and art books are always brilliant and we started off by taking a look at "Let's make some Great Art: Animals" which was very much my daughter's cup of tea, being mildly obsessed with animals of all shapes and sizes.

Learn how to draw, paint, collage and create a ton of brilliant animal-based art with easy to follow guides and lots of encouragement to get straight into drawing directly in the book (something we're always a little nervous of, but don't worry, this book positively begs you to do so but just don't get any ideas about doing that to your other books, OK kids?)

Tons of fun and some brilliant results made so easily that you'll feel like a "proper" artist!

"Let's Make Some Great Art: Animals" by Marion Deuchars is published by Hachette on 7th September 2020. 

Also out on 7th September is "Let's Make some Great Art: Patterns"...

Marion encourages you to let your mind wander by creating some truly awesome patterns and doodles with whatever art materials you have to hand.

Patterns appear all around us, in our lives, in nature, everywhere! So let's draw up a storm with some esoteric mesmeric designs that can be used for all sorts of things from purely decorative forms of art, to decorating your school books, project folders or even your top secret diary!

Marion's enthusiasm and effervescence really shine through in this book, and anyone with any artistic skills, whether beginner or experienced, will find an activity in this book to suit.

Brilliant stuff!

"Let's Make some Great Art: Patterns" by Marion Deuchars will be released on 7th September 2020, published by Hachette. 

(Both books kindly supplied for review)
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#Booky100Keepers Day 93: The Mighty Beano Comic

Oh dear, that whole "parental influence" thing again, responsible for C's absolute unending adoring love of all things Beano shaped.

The little miss and I were on a day trip to Brighton, strolling through the Lanes and looking through comic shops I'd been a regular visitor to when I lived down there.

One place had a huge collection of (surprisingly reasonably priced) old Beano annuals. I'd already given C the choice of buying any of the other comics or books in the store but she zoomed in on these, and we ended up picking up half a dozen of 'em.

The Beano has been in print since 1938, and is still going strong today, mostly because it's a comic that keeps true to its core set of characters but isn't afraid to respin and reinvent them from time to time (though we won't talk about the 'trendy' Dennis the Menace they tried in the early noughties, that was an unmitigated disaster).

With a fantastic pool of talent to pick from, the modern Beano (including the annuals of course) has now woven its way into our lives and our bookshelves, and it's very rare to find C scoffing breakfast without at least one of her annuals in front of her, even though she's practically read the print off them several times.

For a while we religiously bought the weekly comic as well, until we began to run out of storage space for them. Characters such as the Bash Street Kids, Minnie the Minx and of course Dennis and Gnasher are now such a colossal part of Brit comic pop culture, iconic characters that have ensured every new generation of readers that discover The Beano will find a fave character or strip to pin their colours to (C absolutely loves Calamity James when drawn by Tom "Tam" Paterson, purely because of the utterly ridiculous and hilarious jokes and details he weaves into every strip).

She's still collecting the annuals, and just like when I was a kid, they're an absolute must for her christmas stocking (do other parents still buy their kids annuals for christmas?) There's no finer thing when the house is busy and bustling with christmas preparations than being a kid who can escape the craziness by wrapping themselves up in a nice warm blanket with a copy of a Beano annual to escape into.

Original review links: 

ReadItDaddy's Booky Advent Calendar Dec 2nd: The Beano Annual 2014 - 75 years of Beano Brilliance! (DC Thomson)

Booky Advent Calendar: Christmas Eve - "ANNUALS!"

Nearly a century of mischief, mayhem and fun - Happy 80th Birthday to The Beano, the generation-spanning comic.

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Monday 3 August 2020

"Amazing Women of the Middle East" by Wafa Tarnowska with illustrations by Margarida Esteves, Hoda Hadadi, Sahar Haghgoo, Christelle Halal and Estell Meza (Pikku Publishing)

There are so many books out there that round up impressive historical and contemporary figures who provide such a huge inspiration to our youngsters.

It's about time there were books that stepped outside our own rather narrow view of figures that we consider inspirational, to examine those who are doing the most amazing things right across the world.

In "Amazing Women of the Middle East", Wafa Tarnowska has gathered together 25 stories of Middle Eastern women who have become famous for being the embodiment of "Girl Power" from the dawn of history right up to the present day.

It's such an unusual book, but a very welcome one where you'll learn all about amazing women from history such as Nefertiti, the Egyptian Queens, and of course Cleopatra - but also lesser-known historical figures such as Sheherezade and Zenobia.

Stepping forward in time, contemporary figures who have fought for human rights causes such as Amal Clooney and Nadia Murad give their voices to fascinating mini-biographies of their important work and what drives them to support these vitally important causes.

You'll find a broad range of incredible talent and achievements in the book, from the sciences to the arts and beyond.

The book contains gorgeous illustrations by a talented team of middle-eastern artists too, giving youngters tons of fascinating information and a great place to begin learning more about these impressive women, their lives and their amazing journeys.

Sum this book up in a sentence: One of the most impressive biography books we've seen in ages, a truly fabulous collection of amazing women gathered together in one mighty tome.

"Amazing Women of the Middle East" by Wafa Tarnowska is out on 20th September 2020, published by Pikku Publishing (kindly supplied for review)
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#Booky100Keepers Day 92: The Asterix Books by Goscinny, Uderzo, Ferri and Conrad (Orion Children's Books)

Well we've already mentioned Tintin in our #Booky100Keepers list so it would be incredibly unfair not to mention Asterix.

Again, these were books that were hotly sought after at school. The stories of the diminutive but powerful gaul Asterix and his menhir-lugging bestie Obelix are still a huge draw even today, under the new creative ownership of Jean-Yves Ferri and Didier Conrad, who inherited Asterix from Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo and continue to produce all new stories with uncanny accuracy and due homage paid to the original creators.

It's difficult to explain why these are so great. Kids love them because kids spend a lot of time in school learning all about the Romans, so anything that pokes a bit of gentle fun at the all-conquering Roman Empire is an instant draw.

Then there are the many in-jokes, pop culture references and just downright hilarious puns and japes that are woven expertly into every story. Even back as far as 2017 in "The Chariot Race" the mysterious masked charioteer for the Romans is called...Coronavirus. Yep, go check, it's all true.

C loved these from the moment I introduced them to her, and goes back to the books quite frequently. She did point out something weird about them though. She actually found that in nearly every story, poor Asterix ends up almost playing second fiddle to every other character in the story, almost like he's too pint sized to be taken seriously, and ends up being shouldered aside. This wasn't something I ever noticed myself, but in stories where the creators are juggling with so many different plot threads and characters, perhaps she has a point. That's no criticism though, these are fantastic stories and we've included links to original reviews below...

Original Review Links: 

Asterix and Cleopatra (Book 6) by Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo & Translated by Anthea Bell (Asterix Publishing)

Asterix and the Secret Weapon by Albert Uderzo (Orion Paperbacks)

ReadItDaddy's Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 8th December 2017 - "Asterix and the Chariot Race" by Jean-Yves Ferri and Didier Conrad (Orion Children's Books)

ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 22nd April 2016 - "Asterix and the Missing Scroll" by Jan-Yves Ferri and Didier Conrad (Orion Children's Books)

Asterix - A Whole World to Colour In (Orion Children's Books)

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Sunday 2 August 2020

#Booky100Keepers Day 91: Herge's Adventures of Tintin (Egmont)

Back in primary and middle school, the "Tintin" books were always the most sought-after titles in the school library. You had to put your name down on a waiting list for them, and when your turn came, you'd end up with the most dog-eared copies (tsk, some kids just don't look after books and treat them with the proper respect).

Georges Remi Herge more or less jump started my love of comics and graphic novels (a term that didn't even exist back when I first started reading these). Tintin, the boy reporter with a nose for getting into hot water, his poochy sidekick Snowy, and the tipsy (well, some of the time roaring drunk) Captain Haddock and their adventures were a real cinematic treat, with Herge's gift for perfect panelling, superior draughtmanship (I STILL marvel at how many real-world vehicles you can recognise instantly in his stories) and of course fast paced action.

It goes without saying that I wanted to introduce these to C at the earliest opportunity, and we were lucky enough that our local library was extremely well stocked with Tintin books (and of course we ended up buying a load of them as well). They may have dated in places, and some stories have had to be sanitised a bit to remove some of the less politically correct elements that crept into them from time to time, but they still remain an absolutely incredible series to get kids interested in comics and graphic novels, and we still can't resist digging out our copies and reading through them a few times a year, just to remind ourselves how talented comic creators across the channel are. Weirdly, Tintin only crops up on the blog twice (I have no idea why we didn't review all the Tintin books we own) and those reviews are included below.

Original review links: 

Tintin in America by Georges Remi Herge (Egmont Books)

The Adventures of Tintin - The Cigars of the Pharaohs by Georges Remi Herge (translated by Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper)(Egmont Books)

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Saturday 1 August 2020

#Booky100Keepers Day 90: The fantastic non fiction books from Wide Eyed Editions

We love non-fiction and we've been very lucky during our tenure on the blog to see the rise and rise of absolutely top quality non fiction titles shouldering aside fiction picture books to establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with in engaging young readers with a lifelong love of reading.

Wide Eyed Editions (a Quarto imprint) stunned us with their first set of releases some years back, and it's been a delight to see the range maintain those high standards, gorgeous presentation and of course a serious amount of writing and illustrative talent contributing to their amazing range of books, covering a massively diverse range of subjects.

"The School of Art" was an early title that impressed the socks off us, taking the approach of involving the reader in a love of art - and showing them how they can draw on (pun intended) their own skills with the help of awesome art tutors who pop up throughout the book. It's a dazzling little title this, and such a great idea because kids instantly gain confidence if a book takes the right approach in showing them how to tap into their own creativity and imagination.

The "Illumanatomy" book with its innovative use of a red lens to show multiple pictures in the same page spread was also an instant wow.

One thing we always look for in non-fiction books are books that can serve up a ton of facts and interesting information but do so in a 'wow factor' kind of way, and this certainly fits the bill. Though kids are often lured away from non-fiction books by a wide range of interactive apps on mobile phones and tablets, it's been great to see books clawing some of those readers back, and inviting more reader participation and interaction as they convey their information.

These books have always gone down really well on the blog, and they're often the titles people ask us about when they're searching out books for their kids (adults, it seems, are more inclined to pick up an interesting non-fiction title for a child relative than they are a fiction title, I wonder why that is?)

Wide Eyed Editions' range is so impressive we even found ourselves drawn to books that featured subjects we'd normally run a mile to avoid.

"The Big Book of Football" for example. We're not remotely football fans but thanks to some brilliant art direction and some excellent historical information and a ton of info about the modern game, this actually ended up being one of our favourite sport-based books, and an absolutely essential purchase for young footie fans who want to read even more about the beautiful game.

We've been fortunate enough to review so many Wide Eyed books and we're including all of our reviews below (be warned, there are a LOT of them!)

See if you can spot how many times they fetched up in the "Book of the Week" slot, definitely an honour for a non-fiction title and proof positive that their range is absolutely top notch.

Original Review Links

ReadItDaddy's Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 8th July 2016 - "Natural World: A Visual Compendium of Wonders from Nature" by Amanda Wood, Mike Jolley and Owen Davey (Wide Eyed Editions)

A perfect trio of engaging books to stimulate your imagination from Wide Eyed Editions

Two truly beautiful books for your tinies from Wide Eyed Editions - "Colours" and "One Thousand Things"

Creaturepedia by Adrienne Barman (Wide Eyed Editions)

Atlas of Adventures by Lucy Letherland (Wide Eyed Editions)

Celebrating iconic musicians and fantastic scientists with a pair of glorious new books from Wide Eyed Editions

A fantastic pair of infographic-styled books introducing legends of Rock Music and Ancient Greece (Wide Eyed Editions)

Two stunning new titles full of inspirational people in a brilliant new range from Wide Eyed Editions. "Fantastic Footballers" and "People of Peace"

ReadItDaddy's Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 9th March 2018 - "Destination: Planet Earth" by Jo Nelson and Tom Clohosy Cole (Wide Eyed Editions)

How To Look After Your Puppy (Pet Cadet Series) by Helen Piers and Kate Sutton (Wide Eyed Editions)

The School of Art by Teal Triggs and Daniel Frost (Wide Eyed Editions)

More mapping fun and a ton of activities in "Atlas of Adventures Activity Fun Pack" coming soon from Wide Eyed Editions

Field Guide: Creatures Great and Small - 35 prints to Colour by Lucy Engelman (Wide Eyed Editions)

Nature's Day by Kay Maguire and Danielle Kroll (Wide Eyed Editions)

"Wild World" by Angela McAllister and Hvass & Hannibal (Wide Eyed Editions)

ReaditDaddy's Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 20th October 2017 - "Illumanatomy" by Kate Davies and Carnovsky (Wide Eyed Editions)

ReadItDaddy's First Spacetastic Book of the Week - Week Ending 19th July 2019: "When We Walked on the Moon" by David Long and Sam Kalda (Wide Eyed Editions)

"What do Animals Do All Day?" by Wendy Hunt and Studio Muti (Wide Eyed Editions)

"The Big Book of Football" by Mundial, illustrated by Damien Weighill (Wide Eyed Editions)

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 7th June 2019: Commemorating the 7th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings with the stunning "D-Day: Untold Stories of the Normandy Landings" by Michael Noble and Alexander Mostov (Wide Eyed Editions)

"Maps of the United Kingdom" by Rachel Dixon and Livi Gosling (Wide Eyed Editions)

"Voyage Through Space" by Katy Flint and Cornelia Li (Wide Eyed Editions)

ReadItDaddy's Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 7th September 2018: "Curiositree: Human World" by A.J Wood, Mike Jolley and Andres Lozano (Wide Eyed Editions)

EtchArt: Forgotten Jungle by Dinara Mirtalipova, A.J Wood and Mike Jolley (Wide Eyed Editions)

Step inside a world of scintillating art with the new "Art Masterclass" series from Hanna Konola and Wide Eyed Editions

Two fantastic new books to help you get to know our planet (and beyond). Life on Earth: Ocean and Life on Earth: Space by Heather Alexander and Andres Lozano (Wide Eyed Editions)

ReadItDaddy's Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 16th February 2018 - "Young Gifted and Black" by Jamia Wilson and Andrea Pippins (Wide Eyed Editions)

The Hello Atlas by Ben Handicott and Kenard Pak (Wide Eyed Editions)

Atlas of Miniature Adventures by Emily Hawkins and Lucy Letherland (Wide Eyed Editions)

ReadItDaddy's Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 7th October 2016 - "Illuminature" by Rachel Williams and Carnovsky (Wide Eyed Editions)

3,2,1...Draw! Reimagine your world with 50 drawing activities By Serge Bloch (Wide Eyed Editions)

ReadItDaddy's Second Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 14th June 2019: "Planet Fashion: 100 Years of Fashion History" by Natasha Slee and Cynthia Kittler (Wide Eyed Editions)

ReaditDaddy's Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 3rd July 2020: "I Am Not A Label" by Cerrie Burnell and Lauren Baldo (Wide Eyed Editions)

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 24th January 2020: "Search and Find a Number of Numbers" by A.J Wood and Allan Sanders (Wide Eyed Editions)

ReadItDaddy's Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 3rd May 2019: "Boy Oh Boy" by Dr Cliff Leek and Bene Rohlmann (Wide Eyed Editions)

Plantopedia: Welcome to the Greatest Show on Earth by Adrienne Barman (Wide Eyed Editions)

"The Alphabet of Alphabets" by A.J Wood, Mike Jolley and Allan Sanders (Wide Eyed Editions)

"What Do Grown Ups Do All Day?" by Virginie Morgand (Wide Eyed Editions)

Dinosaur Detective's Search and Find Rescue Mission by Sophie Guerrive (Wide Eyed Editions)

"Stars Before Bedtime: A Mindful Fall-Asleep Book" by Dr Jessamy Hibberd, Claire Grace and Hannah Tolson (Wide Eyed Editions)

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 14th February 2020: "Everybody Counts: A Counting Story from 0 to 7.5 Billion" by Kristin Roskifte (Wide Eyed Editions)

"Poems Aloud" by Joseph Coelho and Daniel Gray-Barnett (Wide Eyed Editions)

"Atlas of Ocean Adventures" by Emily Hawkins and Lucy Letherland (Wide Eyed Editions)

"Queer Heroes" by Arabelle Sicardi and Sarah Tanat-Jones (Wide Eyed Editions)

"Sounds of Nature: World of Forests" by Robert Frank Hunter (Wide Eyed Editions)

"Step Into Your Power: 23 Lessons on How to Live Your Best Life" by Jamia Wilson and Andrea Pippins (Wide Eyed Editions)

"A Year of Nature Poems" by Joseph Coelho and Kelly Louise Judd (Wide Eyed Editions)

ReadItDaddy's Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 23rd November 2018: "The Dictionary of Dinosaurs" by Dr Matthew Baron and Dieter Braun (Natural History Museum Books / Wide Eyed Editions)

"Atlas of Adventures: Wonders of the World" by Ben Handicott and Lucy Letherland (Wide Eyed Editions)

"All Aboard the Voyage of Discovery" by Emily Hawkins, Tom Adams and Tom Clohosy Cole (Wide Eyed Editions)

"Illuminatlas" by Kate Davies and Carnovsky (Wide Eyed Editions)

"Sounds of Nature: World of Birds" by Robert Frank Hunter (Wide Eyed Editions)

"Spot the Mistake: Journeys of Discovery" by Amanda Wood, Mike Jolley and Frances Castle (Wide Eyed Editions)

Atlas of Dinosaur Adventures by Emily Hawkins and Lucy Letherland (Wide Eyed Editions)

A beautiful pair of activity books to bring out your artistic side. "EtchArt Hidden Forest" and "Etchart Secret Sea" by A.J Wood, Mike Jolley and Dinara Mirtalipova (Wide Eyed Editions)

ReadItDaddy's Second Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 15th September 2017 - "Pirates Magnified" by Professor David Long and Harry Bloom (Wide Eyed Editions)

ReadItDaddy's Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 5th May 2017 - "Spot the Mistake: Lands of Long Ago" by Amanda Wood, Mike Jolley and Frances Castle (Wide Eyed Editions)

The School of Music by Meurig and Rachel Bowen, illustrated by Daniel Frost (Wide Eyed Editions)

100 Steps for Science: Why it works and how it happened by Dr Lisa Jane Gillespie and Yukai Du (Wide Eyed Editions)

Labyrinth by Theo Guignard (Wide Eyed Editions)

Atlas of Animal Adventures by Rachel Williams, Emily Hawkins and Lucy Letherland (Wide Eyed Editions)

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