Monday, August 3, 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)

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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)

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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, August 2, 2020

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

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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, August 1, 2020

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

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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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Friday, July 31, 2020

ReadItDaddy's Second Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 31st July 2020: "Shy Ones" by Simona Ciraolo (Flying Eye / NoBrow)

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We had to make our "Book of the Week" slot a double header for Flying Eye / NoBrow - simply because both the books we recieved for review from them recently are just SO GOOD!

This one, in particular, feels like the book we've been waiting on for the last 10 years of our book blogging career.

"Shy Ones" by Simona Ciraolo has a story theme that we've begged people to write a children's picture book about, and though we've seen one or two that don't quite nail the point we've covered so many times in our ReadItTorials - that quiet kids deserve every bit as much attention and as many chances to shine - as noisy outspoken confident kids - this is the best picture book on the subject of shyness that we've ever seen.

C is a shy kid, but just like the gorgeous little octopoid in this story, when no one's looking she shines. Throughout the book Simona captures perfectly what it has felt like for us as parents as a shy kid, knowing our daughter's true worth but seeing her come a cropper again and again in school when teachers always add the tiresome snipe at the end of each school report. "She's too quiet in class" or "She never speaks up for herself despite her work being brilliant" (teachers, if you do this, I really don't know what to say to you, it's one of the worst things you can possibly say to a shy kid, or the parents of a shy kid - particularly if you're using that as a measure of their academic worth let alone their worth as a person).

So here it is, a book that spins the beautiful tale of a shy kid who finally finds an equally shy friend, and comes out of her shell a bit. When you see that happen in the story, just like when you see it happen as a parent who is proud of their kid, it's a moment to treasure.

Thank you for this Simona, this is really something truly special.

Sum this book up in a sentence: At last, a fanfare for the quiet ones, the shy ones, and about blimmin' time they had their chance to shine too!

"Shy Ones" by Simona Ciraolo is out now, published by Flying Eye Books / NoBrow (US)

(Book kindly supplied for review)
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ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 31st July 2020: "Season of the Witch" by Matt Ralph and Nuria Tamarit (Flying Eye / NoBrow)

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Wow! I mean you had us at "Witch" but we hadn't expected the perfect halloween book to drop into our laps before August is even upon us. But let's face it, there's never a bad time of year to read a brilliantly researched and gorgeously illustrated book all about witches, is there?

"Season of the Witch: A Spellbinding History of Witches and Other Magical Folk" by Matt Ralph and Nuria Tamarit is the sort of book that grabs your attention the minute you spy the cover.

We all probably imagine witches as those green skinned pointy-hatted broomstick riding cat-befriending folk, scudding through the dead of night atop their brushy rides, ready to strike terror into the hearts of everyone. But Matt and Nuria have brought together the perfect witch's brew of historical facts and figures about witches, mages, magicians and Wiccans that will give you food for thought.

A lot of the content here made our hearts sing with joy, purely because you rarely see books that strike the perfect balance between imparting a ton of facts without diluting them for kids. In fact for most kids, this may be the first time they've ever realised that there is a real-life history to witches and magic, and it's certainly going to be the first time that a lot of kids read anything about the Witchfinder General, or the Salem trials - or for that matter how many witches and other mystical beings show up in myths and legends.

Our favourite bits were definitely learning more about magical folk in Ancient Egypt, and also the amazing Japanese legends about witches, monsters and mythical beings.

We couldn't get enough of this, and it looks like you won't have long to wait until it's released, which is fab news. As you'd expect from Flying Eye the sheer amount of effort that has gone into this book's illustrations and presentation make it more than worth the entry fee, and it's certainly one of the most unique "non fiction" titles (though are witches REALLY fictional?) we've seen this year.

Sum this book up in a sentence: An absolutely belting book filled with all manner of strange witchiness, mystical magic and tons of real-world facts and stories to bring its subject matter to life in a wholly engaging way.

"Season of the Witch" by Matt Ralph and Nuria Tamarit is out on 1st August 2020, published by Flying Eye Books / NoBrow (US)
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#Booky100Keepers Day 89: "Board Games to Create and Play" by Kevan Davis and Viviane Schwarz (Pavilion Children's Books)

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Man, we were properly obsessed with this book when it first turned up at ReaditDaddy Towers and you know what? Though our copy is pretty well mauled, we still use it today as there's no better way to pass a long boring school holiday than to delve into this exquisite book and start putting together a new game idea.

We're totally in love with board games (well, games of any description really) and Kevan and Viv have done such a great job of including absolutely everything you need to create your own awesome game ideas. All you really need to bring to the table is yourself, your besties or kids, and your imagination.

We read through the whole book before embarking on a project we'd had on the backburner for a long time - a strange board game of sheer chance where your aim is to make your way around a supermarket, snagging as many goodies as possible but avoiding the wandering grannies who inhabit the store, and will nag you to bits to go and pick their prescriptions up for them - thus robbing you of the chance of nabbing more groceries than your opponent.

We worked on several versions of the game, inspired in some part by horrible shopping trips we'd had in the past - and amazingly the game held together pretty well. So well in fact that we still dig it out from time to time to play it.

We devised several other board games and a couple of card games too. I firmly believe that there's no better bonding experience for a family than to tough it out designing a game, then of course playing each other at it.

Certainly a better way of deciding who gets to do the washing up than tossing a coin.

Original review links and articles: 

ReadItDaddy's Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 20th September 2019: "Board Games to Create and Play" by Kevan Davis and Viviane Schwarz (Pavilion Children's Books)

Building our own board game with "Board Games to Create and Play" by Kevan Davis and Viviane Schwarz (Pavilion Children's Books)

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Thursday, July 30, 2020

Parental influence - Are we 'hard wiring' our children's reading tastes from an early age? Today's #ReadItTorial

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Today's #Readitorial is more of a brain fart really. I'd been thinking a lot about an exercise I undertake from time to time, where I try desperately to 'read outside my comfort zone' - picking books that normally I wouldn't touch with a 50 ft barge pole. For one reason or another I'd picked up something cheap for my kindle on a whim, and despite finding it well written and the subject matter really engaging, I just couldn't finish it (though I'm determined that I'm going to give it another go).

Other books were distracting me. As book lovers will tell you, you'll always have half a dozen or more books vying for your attention and sometimes even stuff you've read before is preferable to something that's way outside your preferred genres or writing styles.

So it seems travelogues aren't for me. Some might enjoy the thrill of vicariously living a wonderful travelling life through someone else's eyes but like watching sport, I can't be doing with any of that 'distance enjoyment' - I'd much rather go to those countries (or in some cases play those sports) myself.

ANYWAY back on track. The #Booky100Keepers articles made me think about the conscious and unconscious influence both my wife and I might have had on our daughter throughout her reading journey. It's glaringly obvious from the articles that we've introduced her to books we loved as kids, and it's also glaringly obvious that - from book of the week choices - those books have steered C's reading tastes in certain directions.

Sometimes I worry that things might have been entirely different if we hadn't done this. To be fair, C always got to choose her own books from the library when we first started out on the blog but as the blog evolved over the last ten years, I'd slip in comic recommendations or steer C towards books that usually had fantasy or sci-fi as central themes, and she would gobble them up greedily on her reading pile whereas I'd often find that stuff authors / illustrators were writing more with her in mind were often left neglected.

There's a weird perception in kidlit that marketers, publishers and child well-being experts know exactly what a child of a particular age, gender and reading ability *should* like and be reading, which is usually in complete contrast to what a child will tell you they enjoy reading if you, y'know, actually ask them - and again this feels like an area where adults try to steer kids in specific directions to suit some bizarre narrowly defined pigeonholing system that makes absolutely no sense, either from a development or even from an economic perspective.

I believe that parents do exert the most influence on their kids development (you'd hope) with school / teachers probably coming up a very close second.

The thing that also occurs to me is that parents (well, adults) are who children's books are heavily marketed at, and that goes some way to explain the whole 'moral gatekeeper' thing that publishers love to do (which drives me absolutely crazy if I'm honest), ensuring their books are wholesome and follow themes that you'd hope would lead to kids developing a strong sense of good and evil, right and wrong and all the other stuff you'd want a child to learn in their personal development.

When I asked C about this directly, she acknowledged that now she's heading towards her teens, the biggest frustration for her is that all the publishing marketing still works on the basis of pushing books at the parents rather than at her directly. I don't quite agree with this but for her age group, the wilderness years between 8-12 I think she might actually have something, it's only when books move towards the umbrella of YA that they begin to be marketed directly at their target audience, and the biggest influencers on that market are social media platforms. Publishers know this which is why bookstagrammers / booktubers / booktiktokers are leading the charge in pumping new life into the YA market.

Back to the parental influence thing and again wisdom from C. Her point of view now is that mum and dad's tastes might not cut it any more, so when she goes into a bookshop she may still retain some vestiges of specific book tastes from us, but almost goes out of her way to 'rebel' and pick stuff that has developed from her own tastes and influences (a lot of influence creeps in from friends and social media more at 12, so again this feels like the beginnings of the whole YA influencer sphere I mentioned above).

One thing above all else though, even if you do feel like you're influencing your kid's reading taste, if you're a parent who is actively engaged in reading to your kid, encouraging them to love books, and perhaps even encouraging them to break out of their comfort zone now and again (which I wish I'd done more of, if I'm honest), then you're doing a brilliant job and it will pay dividends for your kid throughout their school and later life. Keep up the excellent work!
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#Booky100Keepers Day 88: "Mi and Museum City" by Linda Sarah (Phoenix Yard Publishing)

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Sometimes we're left feeling a little sad by some of the entries in our #Booky100Keepers list. Some titles never quite gained the traction they so richly deserved and this is definitely one such title, the utterly original, brilliant and sublime "Mi and Museum City" by Linda Sarah.

Imagine an incredible cultural city populated by dozens and dozens of different museums. That is, of course, what you'll find in Museum City where each and every citizen takes it upon themselves to set up a museum about their favourite things.

Some are fantastic collections of the weird and wonderful. Some are so dull you'd swear they'd send you to sleep the moment you walked through the doors.

While exploring Museum City, Mi - a strange creature - hears the most gorgeous haunting music and immediately investigates where it's coming from.

Then Mi makes a new friend - called Yu - and the two embark on a journey of discovery as they begin to warm to the delights of the world they live in, and of course the strange and eccentric folk they share a neighbourhood with. Their aim is to change the world one museum at a time, encouraging folk to set up less museums about boring stuff, and more celebrating the amazing beauty in our world.

We were so inspired by this and it's funny that only last week we were talking about it again - imagining what it would be like to set up our own museums (originally C wanted to set up an ice cream and loom bands museum, though I think nowadays she'd opt for an Animal Crossing / Sims museum instead - Me, yeah I'd probably still go with a boring museum about pens!)

Linda is one of those folk who you just KNOW has music in her head all the time, and a zillion and one awesomely creative ideas, the sort of person you'd just love to share a coffee with and just talk, and talk with. This book really is something special. I've no idea if it's still in print but it's well worth hunting down a copy.

Original review link: 

Mi and Museum City by Linda Sarah (Phoenix Yard Books)

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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

#Booky100Keepers Day 87: "Hurricane Lane" and "256 Postcards Ago" by Michelle Vinall (Self Published)

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We'll probably be accused of some hideous bias in including two books by Michelle Vinall in our #Booky100Keepers list - after all this extremely talented artist illustrated our current blog header for us.

But there's something about Michelle's two self-published books that still has us waiting (hopefully not in vain) for her final book in the unconnected trilogy.

We used to regularly dip in to independently published titles from time to time, way back when we had so much more time - running a successful "Indie Pen-Dance" (terrible pun) Day, and delving into the huge sprawl of self published work available on digital platforms.

Michelle's "Hurricane Lane" is such a sublime piece of work. A young girl is tasked with a piece of homework - to think about the 7 ancient wonders of the world, then describe the seven wonders of her own modern world.

No easy task, even for a kid, but she embraces this project with gusto - and embarks on a journey of discovery, and a sense of wonder at just how amazing the world we live in can be.

Michelle uses her awesome illustrative skills and storytelling props to tell the story of how you are never really alone if you have an imagination, and your world can easily be shaped by the real and the surreal.

We also really loved "256 Postcards Ago" by Michelle...

Again this story centres on the imagination of a child, emarking on an amazing quest alongside his besties - the Anubis-like Ludo, a fluffy-cloud-elephant named Ollie and a cute green bug called Digit.

Together the four friends whistle through the town exploring, and their story unfolds gently with a minimum word count - letting Michelle's excellent anime-like illustrations take over, and of course allowing your imagination to join in and make the story anything you want it to be.

Michelle has mostly turned her attention to videogame art over the last few years but we secretly hope that one day she'll pick up her pen or stylus and polish off her children's book trilogy. We'll be there to read it, no matter what!

Original review links: 

Indie Pen-Dance Wednesday. Come with us on a journey through your imagination with "256 Postcards Ago" by Michelle Vinall (Amazon Self Publishing)

Indie Pen-Dance Thursday Part 2: Hurricane Lane by Michelle Vinall (Self-Published!)

Indie Pen-Dance Wednesday - An interview with super-talented Michelle Vinall, self-published author and illustrator of "Hurricane Lane" and "256 Postcards Ago"

 Michelle Vinall's "Hurricane Lane" iPhone / iPad story app launches today!

Unveiling our awesome new Blog Header image courtesy of Michelle Vinall!
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