BUT that's not to say it was a year when books took a downward turn, and though we only reviewed books up till early August, we've hauled out all our 2020 Book of the Week winners for one more airing, just to show you how many truly excellent books crossed our paths, and hopefully to give you some real last-minute book purchase ideas if you're looking for stocking stuffers or just fancied picking up some of the best of the best children's books for your collection.
So let's turn back the clock, wheel out the time machine and travel back in time to...
This month began with a truly stunning anthology, more or less a book-shaped love letter to children's books in the form of "The Art of Visual Storytelling" by Martin Salisbury and Morag Styles (Laurence King Publishing). Drawing together some of the best children's books since they emerged as their own genre, it's a meticulously researched and beautifully presented piece of work, with plenty of "Ooh I had that!" and "Ahhh, loved that book" moments to enjoy throughout. Martin and Morag are obviously passionate about the subject, and it shines through in this fantastic collectable book.
For more grown up readers, I took a trip back to my own misspent youth, re-reading the gritty and awesome "Third World War Volume 1" by Pat Mills, Carlos Ezquerra, D'Israeli and Angela Kincaid (Rebellion Publishing). A graphic novel way ahead of its time, eerily echoing the state of the world we know today but 20 years before COVID and the shambolic state of democracy. Rebellion will also be bringing volume 2 of TWW together in a new collected volume very soon so watch out for that!
Some brilliant chapter books made our January roster with the fantastically funny "Pests" by Emer Stamp (Hodder), "Darkwhispers" by awesome Vashti Hardy (Scholastic) and "The Cure for a Crime: A Double Detectives Medical Mystery" by Roopa Farouki (OUP) all getting a huge thumbs up.
Here's our full January "Book of the Week Roster" - Delve into January's Blog Archives to find all those and many more:
Children's Picturebooks - The Art of Visual Storytelling by Martin Salisbury and Morag Styles (LK Publishing)
Third World War Volume 1 by Pat Mills and Carlos Ezquerra, D'Israeli and Angela Kincaid (Rebellion)
The Moviemaking Magic of Star Wars: Ships and Battles by Landry Walker (Abrams)
A Giant Dose of Gross by Andy Seed and Claire Almon (QED)
The Cure for a Crime - A Double Detectives Medical Mystery by Roopa Farouki (OUP)
Search and Find a Number of Numbers by A.J Wood and Allan Sanders (Wide Eyed Editions)
Darkwhispers: A Brightstorm Adventure by Vashti Hardy (Scholastic)
The Art of Disney Costuming by Rebecca Cline and Jeff Kurti (Disney Editions)
Pests by Emer Stamp (Hodder Children's Books)
Loads of amazing graphic novels caught our eye in February, with "Gorebrah: The Mightiest Chef in the Universe" by James Stayte (David Fickling Books), "Glass Town" by Isabel Greenberg (Jonathan Cape PB) and Locke and Key Volume 1 by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW Publishing) all lighting up our reading pile with comic awesomeness.Louie Stowell and Davide Ortu's awesome middle grade series delving into all things mysterious and supernatural with "The Monster in the Lake" (Nosy Crow) knocking our socks off, and the fabulous "Sticky Pines: The Bigwoof Conspiracy" by Dashe Roberts (Nosy Crow) showing that the crow had a real nose for publishing intricate and fantastic genre stories to draw kids into the darker side of kidlit, hooray!
Here's our February roundup, complete with the rest of the "Book of the Week" winners, and here's a link to the February 2020 section of the blog:
How to Think when you Write by Robin Etherington and Lorenzo Etherington (Self Published)
Gorebrah: The Mightiest Chef in the Universe by James Stayte (DFB)
Sticky Pines: The Bigwoof Conspiracy by Dashe Roberts (Nosy Crow)
Everybody Counts: A Counting Story from 0 to 7.5 Billion by Kirstin Roskifte (Wide Eyed Editions)
Glass Town by Isabel Greenberg (Jonathan Cape PB)
Max and the Midknights by Lincoln Peirce (Macmillan Children's Books)
Felix after the Rain by Dunja Jogan, translated by Olivia Hellewell (Tiny Owl Publishing)
The Monster in the Lake by Louie Stowell and Davide Ortu (Nosy Crow)
Locke and Key Volume 1: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW Publishing)
Cinderella (Disney Animated Classics) with foreword by Mark Henn (Studio Press / Disney)
A Cake for the Gestapo by Jacqueline King illustrated by Isla Bousfield Donohoe (Zuntold)
Gamayun Tales Volume 1 by Alexander Utkin (Flying Eye / Nobrow)
Well what a weird month March turned out to be, with the nation going into lockdown. Despite COVID and some real strange medical stuff happening, we still managed to pour it on, reviews wise, notching up 34 articles and 10 "Book of the Week" winners were chosen from a bulging reviews sack."Professor Astrocat's Deep-Sea Voyage" by Dr Dominic Walliman and Ben Newman (Flying Eye / Nobrow) was a real treat, taking the successful formula of awesome facts and brilliant visuals from deep space to the deepest darkest parts of our oceans, serving up a slice of non fiction par excellence!
Dystopia-loving kids and their willing parental accomplices were also treated to sheer excellence in the second part of Tom Huddleston's fabulous trilogy (at least it had BETTER be a trilogy, Nosy Crow take note!), the awesome "DustRoad". Gritty, cinematic and effortlessly ticking all the right dystopic boxes for us, we couldn't get enough of it and truly hope part 3 happens - and soon! We have a whole class of kids who we put onto Tom's series who will be hugely disappointed if it doesn't. Crow folk, you know what to do!
Also worthy of special note in March was the return of fantastic Shinsuke Yoshitake with "Why Do I Feel Like this?" (Thames and Hudson) once again delighting us with a clever, funny and brilliantly illustrated tale explaining why we're such emotional beings. Couldn't have come out in a better year really, could it?
Here's our March roundup - with a link to all of our published reviews in March too:
Professor Astro Cat's Deep Sea Voyage by Dr Dominic Walliman and Ben Newman (Flying Eye / Nobrow)
Mulan (Disney Animated Classics) with foreword by Paul Briggs (Studio Press / Disney)
The House on Hoarder Hill by Mikki Lish and Kelly Ngai (Chicken House Books)
Obsessive about Octopuses by Owen Davey (Flying Eye / Nobrow)
DustRoad by Tom Huddleston (Nosy Crow)
Leog: Absolutely Everything you Need to know (DK)
Be An Artist Every Day by Susan Schwake and Charlotte Farmer (Ivy Kids)
Girl 38: Finding a Friend by Ewa Jozefkowicz (Zephyr Publishing)
Why do I feel Like This? by Shinsuke Yoshitake (Thames and Hudson)
Paolo Emperor of Rome by Mac Barnett and Claire Keane (Abrams Books for Young Readers)
April 2020"The Cut Throat Cafe" (Chicken House) hooking C and her Mum (and not letting me get a look in edgeways until they'd polished it off. Brilliant, exciting and tight writing, we can't wait to see what Nicki comes up with next.
One of the most stunning graphic novels for children that we've ever seen came to our attention in April as well, the amazing "The Garden of Inside Outside" by Chiara Mezzalama, Regis Lejonc (Translated by Sarah Ardizzone)(Thames and Hudson) showing two sides of a story of friendship, war and human tragedy - presented in a truly jaw-dropping way. A real shoe-in for Book of the Year and well worth your attention.
We also loved "Troofriend" by Kirsty Applebaum (Nosy Crow AGAIN, what DID they put in their coffee this year?) posing the intriguing question - "What if you could REALLY make friends, automated robotic friends at that?". Original, stunning, page-turningly brilliant stuff.
Here's our April Round Up of Book of the Week winners, and a link to all our April reviews:
The Garden of Inside Outside by Chiara Mezzalama, Regis Lejonc with translation by Sarah Ardizzone (Book Island)
How to Put an Octopus to Bed by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Viviane Schwarz (Chronicle Books)
The Cut Throat Cafe by Nicki Thornton (Chicken House Books)
Planet SOS: 22 Modern Monsters Threatening our Environment and what you can do to defeat them by Marie G. Rhode (What on Earth Publishing)
100 Children's Books that Inspire our World by Colin Salter (Pavilion Children's Books)
Troofriend by Kirsty Applebaum (Nosy Crow)
Gnome by Fred Blunt (Andersen Children's Books)
Initial D by Shuichi Shigeno (Kodansha / Comixology Originals)
Goddesses and Heroines: Women of Myth and Legend by Xanthe Gresham-Knight and Alice Pattullo (Thames and Hudson)
The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander and Kadir Nelson (Andersen Children's Books)
"Why Do Dogs Sniff Bottoms" by Dr Nick Crompton and Lily Snowden-Fine (Thames and Hudson) was a giggle a minute, but with serious subjects at its heart to boost kids' understanding of animals and the way they communicate.
Yuval Zommer once again lit up our lives with his beautiful and colourful books in "The Big Book of Blooms" (Thames and Hudson) coming along at the perfect time to remind us what 'being outside' was like, and making us crave our wide open spaces and countryside walks while lockdown continued (for us at least).
Mighty Metaphrog came up trumps once again with the delicious graphic novelisation of "Bluebeard" (Papercutz), dazzlingly retold and gorgeously illustrated, a real treat indeed and a worthy Book of the Week. We also began our countdown to the blog's final day by putting together a huge collection of articles, delving into our top 100 books and series covered in 10 years of book blogging! Phew, we were busy!
Here's the rest of May's Book of the Week winners, and a link to our May articles and reviews:
The Garden by Sean Michael Wilson and Fumio Obata (Liminal 11)
Why Do Dogs Sniff Bottoms by Dr Nick Crompton and Lily Snowden-Fine (Thames and Hudson)
The Big Book of Blooms by Yuval Zommer (Thames and Hudson)
Rise of the Shadow Dragons by Liz Flanagan (DFB)
The Littlest Yak by Lu Fraser and Kate Hindley (Simon and Schuster Childrens Books)
A Girl Called Justice: The Smugglers Secret by Elly Griffiths (Quercus)
Bluebeard by Metaphrog (papercutz)
The Stone Giant by Anna Hoglund (Gecko Press)
June 2020"Mermaid Atlas: Merfolk of the World" by Anna Claybourne and Miren Asiain Lora (Laurence King Publishing). LKP obviously had a good year, publishing tons of amazing books and producing loads of awesome puzzles, games and toys for younger readers, we were mightily impressed with their output this year.
"Heartstoppers Volume 3" by Alice Oseman (Hachette) continued the love story of two teenage boys, rendered in Alice's pitch-perfect graphic novel style, tugging at your hearstrings and making you squeal knowing that Volume 4 is just around the corner, hooray!
Chapter book wise, we adored "Love on the Main Stage" by S.A Domingo (Hachette), hitting the exact pitch and tone that C absolutely loves to find in her chapter books now she's inching towards the early end of YA stuff. Romantic, crushy and slushy but the perfect antidote to COVID year and making us wish for long hot summer festivals.
Here's our complete June roundup of Book of the Week wins, and of course a link to our June articles:
Mermaid Atlas by Anna Claybourne and Miren Asiain Lora (LKP)
The Tigers in the Tower by Julia Golding (Lion Hudson)
Attack of the Stuff: The Life and Times of Bill Waddler by Jim Benton (Papercutz)
Amazing Islands by Sabrina Weiss and Kerry Hyndman (What on Earth Books)
A Climate in Chaos by Neal Layton (Wren and Rook)
Heartstoppers Volume 3 by Alice Oseman (Hachette)
Virtual Unicorn Experience by Dana Simpson (Andrews McMeel Publishing)
Generation Brave by Kate Alexander and Jade Orlando (Andrews McMeel Publishing)
Love on the Main Stage by S.A. Domingo (Hachette)
July 2020"I am Not a Label" by lovely Cerrie Burnell and Lauren Baldo (Wide Eyed Editions) bringing together the life stories of 34 disabled artists, thinkers, athletes and activists from the past and the present. An absolutely rivetting read with top notch production from those lovely Wide Eyed folk, this should definitely find its way into your book collection if you haven't already got a copy.
Our header star, the brilliantly joy-filled "Monsieur Roscoe on Holiday" by Jim Field (Hachette) took us out for a spin with the lop-eared doggy dude as he toddled off "en vacance" to teach us a little French. This was like a breath of fresh air in picture books, with Richard Scarry-esque attention to detail thanks to Jim's brilliant illustrations, and of course plenty of awesome words and phrases in French to learn. As someone who is still wrestling with the language (so I can soak up those awesome French books and graphic novels) I can honestly say that this is a brilliant way for kids to find their way into learning another language - and though we've been out of the loop for a while we dearly hope Jim is working on more lingual adventures for Monsieur Roscoe for 2021!
One of our fave artists on Twitter also published his very first book at the tender age of 12. Alec Anderson's awesome "Lumberwoods: The (in)complete guide to fearesome critters"wowed us with all the good stuff we love to see in a book, plenty of mysterious and mythical cryptids stomping around the world ready to jump out and spook us, all rendered in Alec's awesome illustrative style with a ton of cheeky humour in there to boot. Well worth grabbing, as it's an absolute bargain!
Here's the rest of our July Book of the Week winners, and a link to July's blog articles:
I Am Not a Label by Cerrie Burnell and Lauren Baldo (Wide Eyed Editions)
Lumberwoods: The (in)complete guide to fearsome critters by Alec Anderson (Self Published)
Monsieur Roscoe on Holiday by Jim Field (Hachette Children's Books)
Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity: Words that Changed the World" by Carl Wilkinson and James Weston Lewis (LKP)
Pierre the Maze Detective: The Curious Case of the Castle in the Sky by Hiro Kamigaki and IC4 Design (LKP)
Season of the Witch by Matt Ralph and Nuria Tamarit (Flying Eye / Nobrow)
Shy Ones by Simona Ciraolo (Flying Eye / Nobrow)
Sadly real-life sometimes gets in the way of things but we still found time to round off our #Booky100Keepers articles in grand style, and also to review two fabulous last "Book of the Week" winners.
"Marvellous Magicians" by Lydia Corry (Thames and Hudson) was something new and exciting, as we'd never seen a non-fiction book all about magic and magicians before. Covering some of the truly greatest members of the magic circle from past and present, Lydia's thoroughly researched and beautifully presented book was a real spectacle!
Last but by no means least, the awesome "Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast: Short and Sweet" by Josh Funk and Brendan Kearney (Sterling) had the privilege of being the last Book of the Week winner for our ten years of book blogging, once again serving up a tummy-rumblingly entertaining slice of picture book perfection for those of us with a sweet tooth!
So there it is, a truly amazing year and we only really covered 7 months of it, so we're sure that everyone involved in kidlit pulled out all the stops this year to keep the mighty children's publishing machine moving whether working from home or safely in their socially distanced offices.
We missed the pomp and ceremony of the book festivals and fairs, but now there's a light at the end of the tunnel, and with the prospect of returning to some semblance of normality in 2021 (hooray for vaccinations and not having a busted Gall Bladder to worry about any more) we can't wait to see what comes up in the new year. We may not be here to review it (well, you never know! Weirder things have happened) but we'll be rooting from the sidelines.
Wishing you all a merry christmas and a truly fantastic 2021
All at Team ReadItDaddy