Friday, July 29, 2016

ReadItDaddy's Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 29th July 2016 - "Fox and Goldfish" by Nils Pieters (Book Island)

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Our second book of the week is one of the most touching, bittersweet and beautiful books we've seen this year...
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ReaditDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 29th July 2016 - "Modern Cartooning" by Chris Hart (Watson Guptill)

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Our First Book of the Week this week had us scrabbling for our scribbling sticks...
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Thursday, July 28, 2016

"When is a book not a book?" A ReadItDaddy Editorial

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I must admit that I'm largely at fault for being a bit of a numpty when it comes to the subject of this latest editorial but as the subject is entirely new to me (possibly not to you more seasoned book bloggers) I figured it was worth blogging about.

It's the first time it's actually happened to us so worth a mention at least but recently we were sent a Blad to review.

Now, those of you in publishing will automatically know what on earth I'm on about. A Blad is actually an acronym term for a Basic Layout and Design book, really meant to show how a book will eventually look and feel before it hits the market.

Blads are usually never seen outside publishing houses or industry insiders, so it was quite something to receive half a book (hence the image above). Dutifully the publishers had included a QR code for the full text of the story (which, as digital naysayers we had no means of doing anything with) but the big problem was mine - I sat down excitedly, ready to read this hotly anticipated book, utterly deflated as it started to read wrong, like pages were missing. I hadn't noticed it was a Blad you see, simply because I hadn't started the book at the back cover where it stated such. As the book isn't out until September this was a really early review copy, again unusual for a picture book so noob error on trying to read it like most of our other picture book submissions. Bad Daddy!

The book in question will be really stunning in its final incarnation, I've no doubt about it. But like being teased with an amuse-bouche when you want a plateful, it left us virtually hopping from foot to foot waiting for the full thing.

It did get me musing on a couple of points though...

1) What if the practice of sending out 'blads' became the norm. In an industry where publishers are sending out an awful lot of review copies it does actually make perfect sense NOT to send full copies of books out to folk who are (let's be honest) 'doing it for the love of it' rather than being professional book journalists, you know, the sort of folk whose short pithy sentences usually accompany PR blurbs when new titles are sent out (That bloke from a certain red top who always seems to say the same thing - "A great children's book destined to become a classic" yet is endlessly quoted in back-cover quotes or press material).

2) If it DID become the norm, would people give up book blogging in their droves? After all, most book bloggers see a complimentary copy of a book as a form of unofficial 'payment' for their time and effort in putting together blog articles and reviews. What if your 'pay' is suddenly halved? What about those unscrupulous folk who sell on the review copies they get? (That's almost worthy of a whole editorial in its own right, personally I can't condone that at all, I think it's wrong but there you  go, we donate all our surplus to charities and schools that genuinely need them).

3) Digital copies are economical and easy to distribute en masse but do they really offer the same reading experience that the eventual paper-based book will? (This is a debate that'll never have a right or wrong answer though I did smile about the news this week about a surge in print sales over digital, I can't really explain why I find bucking technology so endearing).

There are folk who work entirely digitally and don't really want the clutter or annoyance of dealing with paper books but dang that's a million miles away from where we are.

Personally there's nothing worse than trying to keep Charlotte's attention on even the best of the best e-books when you're forced to grab the tablet or laptop, go through the machinations of actually getting the right e-book file or copy on there, and keeping your child's attention on the thing when they happen to know there are a zillion other time-wasting apps installed on the device that they could be messing around with instead!)

Believe me, and I really cannot stress this loudly enough. We're hugely, hugely grateful for the books we're sent - even the blads - simply because it makes us feel wanted. It's as simple as that.

Someone out there wants us to write about their books, and perhaps even values our opinions enough to kindly retweet or mention on their sites a few words we've written. That is so cool and it also means that you are making one little girl very happy because you want to know what she thinks of your books and aren't afraid that she might think they're not up to scratch.

But perhaps the way we engage with books is changing, and so the ways we write about books and work with publishers must inevitably change too.

I'd love to hear your opinions whether you're a publisher, author, illustrator or book blogger so please do drop a sentence or two below in the comments for this one.
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Ready, Steady, MO! By Mo Farah, Kes Gray and Marta Kissi (Hodder Children's Books)

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As the world holds its breath gearing up for the Summer Olympics in sunny Rio, here's a book that's getting the games off to a flying start!
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ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book Roundup - July 2016

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Our book sack is literally overflowing as we move into the summer months, so here's our fabulous fantastic Chapter Book Roundup for July 2016.

Kicking off with the return of an inquisitive and cool new hero from Malcolm Judge. We've already taken a look at "Jonny Jakes Investigates - The Hamburgers of Doom" on the blog and now it's time for Book 2. Jonny is still surreptitiously writing for (the now banned) school newspaper The Woodford Word.

Jonny's keen nose for a story hadn't quite anticipated a new teacher. Or should we say an old, a very old teacher called Victory Piggot (excellent name!) who last terrorised pupils over a century ago. Now he's back, as a ghostly spirit and keen to pick up right where he left off! That means boiled cabbage, harsh detentions and extra P.E! HORRORS! Can Jonny get to the root of what's causing this supernatural teacher to restlessly pursue his career when he should be spinning in his grave? Fab humour and excitement once again from Malcolm.
"Jonny Jakes Investigates - The Old School Ghoul" by Malcolm Judge is out now from Curious Fox Publishing.

Sticking with ghosts for a moment, how about a whole crop of ghastly ghosts to contend with? In "The Twins and the Wild Ghost Chase" hapless youngsters Stella and Tom have a rather unusual habit of attracting the undead spirits roaming the earth. All their best friends are, to put no finer point on it, dead and buried but still wandering around rattling chains and making "Woo" noises! Spooky!

Stella and Tom's ghostly friends are feeling a bit homesick, so it's time for a crazy family road trip back to where they came from. The only problem is that an evil old ghost-catcher called Stoneyheart rather fancies adding their ghostly friends to his collection.

Full of humour and chaos, watch out for "The Twins and the Wild Ghost Chase" by Paul Mason, out now from A & C Black / Black Cats.

Stick with us for more mystery stories, this time based around a strange old shop that's filled with the oddest things you can imagine...

Gill Vickery's "Franklin's Emporium - The White Lace Gloves" is the perfect book for kids who love mystery stories injected with magic and wonder.

When bookworm Alex is sent off to Golden Bay for the summer, all she wants to do is curl up somewhere comfortable with a book or ten (yep, we wholly identify with that!)

Unfortunately for Alex, her prissy cousin Maisie has other ideas and drags Alex out for a shopping trip. Maisie wants some white lace gloves and so it's time to visit Franklin's Emporium, where shopping isn't quite what it seems and shoppers may end up with more than they bargained for.

Everything purchased at the store comes with its own backstory. Will Maisie realise too late that the gloves are magical? Will Alex's keen sleuthing save the day? A fabulous mystery story for early readers just getting off to a booky start with chapter readers. Brill illustrations by Aleksei Bitskoff also help bring this tale to life. "Franklin's Emporium - the White Lace Gloves" by Gill Vickery is out now from A & C Black / Black Cats.

Now, a blog favourite has swapped Dork Diaries for an entirely different dork. Meet Max Crumbly, in "The Misadventures of Max Crumbly: Locker Hero" by awesome Rachel Renee Russell.

Max is just about to start school at the scariest place on earth - South Ridge Middle School. Previously home-schooled by his Grandma, Max has no idea what lays in store for him but excitement mixes with fear as Max meets Doug "Thug" Thurston, the school bully who thinks Max is the perfect size to be stuffed unceremoniously into his locker. And that's just the start of Max's problems.

This new series from Rachel once again fuses together diary-like storytelling with all the trials and tribulations most kids will go through when they get to middle grade. Will Max come out the other side unscathed? Time to get to grips with this locker hero!

"The Misadventures of Max Crumbly: Locker Hero" by Rachel Renee Russell is out now from Simon and Schuster Children's Books.

Our next title isn't out until 11th August but you might want to get your preorders in for Zillah Bethell's sublime "A Whisper of Horses", published by Piccadilly Press. We absolutely adore anything that explores alternate realities and in "A Whisper of Horses" we're drawn into an alternative version of Britain, a stark landscape where horses are mythical beasts and no one has seen an actual real live horse for generations.

Though images and statues of them exist, a little girl named Serendipity truly believes that they are still alive. Taken under the kindly wing of Professor Nimbus when her mother dies, Serendipity is completely absorbed by his stories and as she grows older, she begins to question the world she is a part of and the harsh regime that holds the country in an iron grip.

This book had an almost hypnotic effect on me, reminding me of the work of John Christopher. I was totally engrossed in Seren's world and I truly hope that this isn't the last we see of Zillah's Neu-Britain stories. Entrancing stuff and out in August so not long to wait!

Phew, more from Piccadilly Press now and time for some fun...!

"Stunt Boy - The Fincredible Diary of Fin Spencer" by Ciaran Murtagh with illustrations from Tim Wesson is a riotous laugh a minute of a book. The titular hero, Fin Spencer, is a bit of a crazy and reckless little galoot who believes his derring-do escapades will lead to fortune and glory. Given a diary by a strange old fortune teller, Fin hits on the idea of writing his own biography to sell when he becomes rich and famous.

Fin soon discovers that the diary isn't just any old flea-bitten tome, it has magical powers to alter the minds of those around him. When Fin writes in the diary what he should've done that day rather than what he did, everyone remembers the alternate (made up) version instead. A fiendish plan emerges in Fin's loony brain that could lead to a fast-track to fame - or a recipe for utter disaster!

Ciaran Murtagh's hugely imaginative and funny book is absolutely perfect for fans of Danny Wallace and David Walliams.

"The Fincredible Diary" was released on 5th March 2015.

Can we possibly squeeze in even more? New Jo Cotterill you say? We can squeeze in more!

"A Library of Lemons" should definitely come with a warning - have tissues ready! The heartwarming tale of Calypso, a little girl who misses her mum who died when she was tiny, now living with her dad who completely shuts out mum's death and throws himself into writing "A History of The Lemon". Seemingly emotionally blank, and totally unable to discuss or work through his grief, Dad is truly a closed book.

When Calypso makes a new friend, Mae, and their love of books and writing brings them together, Calypso sees a stark contrast between her own home life and Mae's happy vibrant and loving family home.

Can Mae be the key to unravelling what's really wrong with her Dad and the truth behind his book?

Exquisitely written with characters it's impossible not to feel empathy for, this is definitely something special but remember what I said about those tissues OK?

"A Library of Lemons" by Jo Cotterill was released on 5th May 2016 from Piccadilly Press.

More more more! Oh you're so demanding but we love it. So what's next Madame Charlotte?

A truly original and spellbinding new fantasy book from Ali Sparkes is next. "The Shapeshifter: Feather and Fang" is a scintillating story of a very special group of children. "The Children of Limitless Ability" possess a bizarre range of powers, stretching from telekinetic ability through to invisibility and great physical strength. Dax Jones is possibly the most special of them all, with the power to race through the landscape at breakneck speed, to change his form at will, and breathe underwater for hours on end.

Dax and the COLA kids live at Fenton Lodge but the children are under threat as the Prime Minister wants to curtail their behaviour, turning Fenton Lodge into a maximum security prison.

Dax and the rest of the kids have one hope. Dax's little sister who wants nothing to do with the COLA group but may be the only person who can free them from their incarceration.

This story zips along almost as fast as Dax himself, absolutely chock full of excitement and pace. A gripping and exciting read so do not miss out!

"The Shapeshifter: Feather and Fang" by Ali Sparkes was released on 5th May from Oxford University Press.

Witchery is afoot for our next two books. Fancy a walk on the wild witchy side? Step this way...

"Bella Broomstick - School Spells" mixes together a groovy little witch and all the trials and tribulations of being a fish out of water in Lou Kuenzler's ace new book. Bella has been sent to live in "Person World" after a happy life amongst magical folk. She loves her new school, she loves her new foster parents Aunty Rose and Uncle Alf, and she quickly makes a new friend Esme.

But there's always a dark blot on the horizon, and this particular blot is a nasty bully called Piers Seymour. When Bella and Esme are preparing for the school summer talent show, Piers lurks in the wings determined to royally screw up their performance! What a ratbag! Can Bella pull something spectacular out of her hat to save the performance and the day and perhaps teach rotten Piers a lesson into the bargain?

It's a fantastic young readers title perfect for girls and boys who love a heady mix of school adventures and a dash of magic.

"Bella Broomstick - School Spells" was released on 7th July 2016 from Scholastic Publishing.

Sticking with witches, a new book from an extremely talented young lady! Sadly there's no cover shot for this book yet (it's THAT new and isn't out until October so we've been very lucky to get a very early Halloweeny-style preview of it). Abie is well known for writing the awesome (and very popular with Charlotte) "Fairy Tale Hairdresser" series of children's picture books. Now she's turning her attention to all things witchy in "How to Catch a Witch", published by Scholastic Publishing.

Charlie and her family move from the hubbub of the big city to a small sleepy village seemingly in the middle of nowhere. For Charlie there's a ton of anxious worrying about her new school, her new (creepy) house and some distinctly odd characters who lurk in her new locale. At school things are no different. Charlie's classmate Cat is very odd, and seems to have taken rather an interest in Charlie's comings and goings. And then there's Agatha who may lack cauldron and cat but is definitely, most definitely a witch.

Charlie resolves to make the best of her new surroundings, but as the weird place starts to affect her behaviour more and more, Charlie realises that she may be the only person who can help a neighbourhood singer who is cursed to lose her golden voice when she turns 16.

Thrilling, original and full of mystery, this had Charlotte completely hooked! Watch out for "How to Catch a Witch" when it arrives on shelves in October, just in time for Halloween!

Phew! July came and went in the blink of an eye and so did our book roundup this month. Tune in next month when we dive into August's chapter book bag and bring you treasures anew!
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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Hidden Inspirations - a guest blog post from Fiona Woodcock, Author of the truly awesome "Hiding Heidi" out now from Simon and Schuster Children's Books

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We raved about "Hiding Heidi" when we recently reviewed it on Read It, Daddy. Now we're very fortunate to be able to bring you a fantastic guest post from author illustrator Fiona Woodcock, sharing with us her hidden inspirations for this brilliant children's book. Take it away, Fiona!

Hidden Inspirations

I realised recently that three images I have on my desk perfectly capture my visual approach to creating Hiding Heidi, my first picture book. Although I wasn't conscious of being inspired by them at the time!

This frog postcard from The British Museum has been pride of place in my studio for years. It's a beautifully simple woodblock print from 1814 by Matsumoto Hoji, which reminds me that less is more. And also relates to my rubber stamp printed colour work in the book.

"Frog", Matsumoto Hoji, 1814
The second image is a postcard by Joan Eardley of a girl in a gym slip from Aberdeen Art Gallery, drawn in chalk and pastel. I became a fan of Eardley's work when I was a student at Glasgow School of Art. I love the sketchy unfinished feel of this drawing. This represents the pencil work of the characters in the book and the looseness and energy of the drawn line.

"Girl in a gymslip" - Joan Eardley
And the third image is a photo I took years ago at Hunstanton in Norfolk, of a triangular structure at an out of season fairground. It's a good example of how I'm drawn to graphic pattern. In the book I tried to describe Heidi's world with simplified shapes colour and pattern.

More about Fiona Woodcock

From an early age Fiona knew that she wanted to earn her living drawing. Since graduating from Glasgow School of Art she has been working freelance in London on animated films, commercials, animation artwork for West End shows and illustration work. All the projects she works on have a paper based handmade origin. She likes to work with a combination of pencil, paint, charcoal, children’s blow pens, cutting stencils and experimenting with print techniques whilst dreaming up new characters and stories. Hiding Heidi is her debut picture book.

You can find Fiona on Twitter: @FionaWoodcock and Instagram: @FionaWoodcock
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Circle by Jeannie Baker (Walker Books)

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A truly stunning picture book encompassing the beauty of our earth, the birds and animals that live on it, and of course a strong eco message. Let's dip into "Circle" by Jeannie Baker.
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Pierre the Maze Detective and the Great Colouring Adventure by Hiro Kamigaki and IC4Design (Laurence King Publishing)

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There are several things we always pack into our suitcase when we're off on holidays...
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A trio of perfect picture books from Child's Play coming soon to a bookstore near you!

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We're catching up with some new releases from the awesome children's publisher Child's Play. Here's a trio of tempting and original books to keep your little ones spellbound over the summer holidays.

First is "Yokki and the Parno Gry" by Richard O'Neill, Katherine Quarmby and Marieke Nelissen. A traditional Romani folk tale is brought to stunning life in this engaging children's picture book. 

A traveller family experience the highs and lows of life on the road along with Yokki, a young boy set to change their fortunes forever. Every night he tells tales of an amazing and magical white horse, a mythical creature that bestows good fortune on those who need it most, arriving in their darkest hour. As the family's travels continue, Yokki regales them with fantastical stories but can there really be a whiff of truth to Yokki's tales? As their fortunes change, Yokki's stories are needed more than ever. Will the Parno Gry really come to save them from despair?

This is a hugely original and engaging story introducing characters and stories from other cultures in an engaging and delightful way. "Yokki and the Parno Gry" is published by Child's Play on 1st August 2016.

Sticking with traditional tales, here's another to dazzle and delight...

Once again by Richard O'Neill and Katherine Quarmby, and this time illustrated by Hannah Tolson, meet "Ossiri and the Bala Mengro", an original tale of mystery, music and monsters. Young Ossiri creates a flute from a piece of willow and a stack of recycled objects, but it sounds truly awful! None of her family can stand the noise so Ossiri is banished to practice her tuneless musical skills a long way off from their camp. Ignoring warnings about the ogre that lives in the hills, Ossiri unwittingly awakens the huge and fearsome beast! Oh no!

Amazingly, the Ogre wants her to continue playing and soon they form a beautiful friendship signalling a change in Ossiri's fortunes as Ossiri and the Bala Mengro discover the delights and joys of music and dance. The Bala Mengro shares his fortune with Ossiri but avaricious eyes plan to steal her instrument and grab some of that good fortune to boot! Will the dastardly plans of a stranger see Ossiri left without her treasured musical instrument and her new found friend?

A truly stunning and immersive story that's sure to win you over. "Ossiri and the Bala Mengro" is also released by Child's Play on 1st August 2016. 

Our final book in our Child's Play roundup is actually our favourite of the three, but we're suckers for utterly cute animals. 

In "Mayday Mouse" by Sebastian Braun, a tiny sailor mouse sets sail on the ocean deep in her adorable little craft. Made from a cocktail stick, half a walnut shell and a hankie for a sail, Captain Mouse sets off on a mission to deliver a delicious gift to her adoring brother. 

Captain Mouse heeds the warnings about the choppy waves and harsh winds, and all too soon finds herself marooned on a tiny spit of sand, the waves lapping at her heels. 

But thankfully Captain Mouse has some truly awesome friends who leap to her aid, bringing her all the materials she'll need to build another boat and finish her ocean-going quest to find her brother. 

We loved this book so much that it inspired us to make our own little cork boat like Captain Mouse's - so maybe that's something you'd love to try for yourself too! "Mayday Mouse" was released on 8th June 2016 from Child's Play. 

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Oi, Dog! By Kes and Claire Gray and Jim Field (Hodder Children's Books)

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Frog has just about had enough. It's time for a change, a huge massive change and Frog is starting right here, right now...!
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