Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Rabbits Don't Lay Eggs by Paula Metcalf and Cally Johnson-Isaacs (Macmillan Children's Books)


Rabbits Don't Lay Eggs!

Written by Paula Metcalf

Illustrated by Cally Johnson-Isaacs

Published by Macmillan Children's Books

Bunnies and eggs? Hang on a minute, I know it's nearly easter but you might be fooled a little by this cute little story, it's not an easter tale at all (though it'd make a perfect easter present if you don't want to overload your little ones with chocolate!)

Rupert the Rabbit is a little bit fed up with life in the burrow. He's a bit lonely and when he sees lots of animals having fun on a nearby farm, Rupert wants to join in himself.

A rather stern sheep points out to Rupert that everyone on the farm has a role to play, and Rupert must find his own special skills in order to fit in - after all, a farm is no place for slackers!

Rupert comes up with a plan. Rabbits are experts at misappropriating the farmer's juicy vegetables, so Rupert soon wins the other animals over with his lapine thievery!

But the question all young children will want to answer is why rabbits don't lay eggs! We'll let you discover what happens in this tale when Rupert tries...!

Charlotte's best bit: Rupert's egg laying attempts!

Daddy's Favourite bit: A fab little bunny book for your tiny ones and not an easter egg in sight!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Macmillan Children's Books)

Mimi's Magical Fairy Friends: Catkin the Fairy Kitten by Clare Bevan and Cally Johnson-Isaacs (Macmillan Children's Books)


Mimi's Magical Fairy Friends: Catkin the Fairy Kitten

Written by Clare Bevan

Illustrated by Cally Johnson-Isaacs
Published by Macmillan Children's Books

I quite like these books that come with cardboard models to play with while you read the story. In Mimi's Magical Fairy Friends: Catkin the Fairy Kitten we meet Mimi who is on a magical quest with her teacher Miss Flap (!) and her classmates at Fairy School to paint a rainbow in the spring sky.

There's only one problem. All the magical paintbrushes have gone missing! No Red, Yellow, Pink, Green - no orange, or purple or blue! Thankfully Mimi has one more helper who joins in - her magical fairy kitten Catkin who is an expert at searching out hidden objects.

Children will love this tale as Catkin tracks down the missing paintbrushes one by one, until everyone can join in painting a rainbow. The book comes with fold-out cardboard models of Mimi and her Kitten so your tiddlers can join in acting out the story as you read! What an excellent idea!

"Mimi's Magical Fairy Friends: Catkin the Fairy Kitten" is out now from Macmillan Children's Books. Perfect for the springtime weather!

Charlotte's best bit: Making (and playing with) the cool little cardboard model fairy and kitten that comes with the book

Daddy's Favourite bit: A simple but cute story of a fairy and her cute kitten helper (wouldn't ANYONE love a kitten with wings?)

(Kindly sent to us for review by Macmillan Children's Books)

Monday, March 30, 2015

Red, Yellow, Blue (And a Dash of White Too!) by Charles George Esperanza (Sky Pony Press)


Red, Yellow, Blue (and a dash of white too!)

Written and Illustrated by
Charles George Esperanza

Published by Sky Pony Press

Take one look at the wild and chaotic cover of this book and you can't help but be drawn to "Red, Yellow, Blue (And a Dash of White Too)" by awesome Tweeter and all-round art superhero Charles George Esperanza.

We start off by meeting an awesome little girl who is dabbling with her paints and paintbrush. A dash of red looks great, a big blue elephant (decorated with red and yellow stripes) is even better - but what happens when you start mixing those colours together?

What happens when you apply a dash of blue to a splodge of yellow? (An awesome frog appears - there's a clue!)

We just LOVE the little girl's expressions in this story. She's just so HAPPY! Love her!

Or perhaps our favourite, a great big glob of blue to a splish of red? (This has to be one of our favourite picture spreads in the whole book!)

Yikes! A Purple Octopus!!

We truly love books that feel like a wild rollercoaster journey. Charles has perfectly captured the effervescent enthusiasm of a child letting her artistic skills and her imagination fly. But what happens when she mixes all the colours together (with a dash of white for good measure?)

We'll let you discover that one for yourselves.

What a truly wonderful, colourful and celebratory book!

Charlotte's best bit: An awesome orange slam-dunk from a big bouncing basketball!

Daddy's Favourite bit: A joyous riotous celebration of colour and the wondrous vivid imagination of a child. Absolutely brilliant stuff Charles!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Charles and Sky Pony Press)

The Princess and the Dragon and the Nincompoop Knights by Steven Lenton (Nosy Crow Books)

The Princess and the Dragon and the Nincompoop Knights

Written and Illustrated by
Steven Lenton

Published by Nosy Crow

Super-talented top illustrative guy Steven Lenton very kindly got in touch with us to ask if we'd like to take a look at his latest book. "WOULD WE!" we shouted with glee. You see we happen to know that not only is Steven a supremely talented chap, but he's also the type of guy who's not going to settle for just any wishy washy tale of princesses and dragons, oh no.

Step forward the wonderful hero of "The Princess and the Dragon and the Nincompoop Knights", written and illustrated by Steven. Princess Daisy is definitely not content to be a stay-at-home Princess despite the King's wishes. So when mysterious rumblings and growlings disturb the good townsfolk, who come to the king for help, Princess Daisy wants to join the quest to discover the source of all that kerfuffle.

Dad (the King, who we read with a sort of broad brummie accent for some reason!) is a bit of a clod so insists Daisy stays home while three (nincompoop) knights vow to slay whatever beast is making all the fuss, in exchange for the usual gratuities (a huge bag of gold, vaaaaaaaast tracts of land and Princess Daisy's fair hand! Poor Daisy!!)

One Knight is vain, but a complete coward, skittering off at the first sign of trouble (in case he gets his perfectly teased tresses in a mess). One knight is all brawns and no brain (with a builder's bum to boot, eeks!) who looks more likely to trip over his sword than defeat the dragon. The last knight is clever, but perhaps a bit too clever for his own good (this fellah incurred Charlotte's wrath, how DARE he use a cute kitten as a lure for his big snappy trap! He should be ashamed of himself!) Thankfully the silly brainbox knight's trap backfires spectacularly with no kittens harmed in the process (and for that matter no dragons either, just a goodly chunk of armour lost around the botty area for the silly fool!)

A mysterious figure steps forward, clad in a haphazard collection of armour and riding a cow (of all things!) The stranger steps bravely into the cave armed with a rather strange array of weapons. A story book? A baby's bottle full of milk? What craziness is this?

When the stranger emerges unsinged with the cutest (and we really do mean the CUTEST!) baby dragon you've ever seen in tow, the story takes an unexpected and delightful twist but even more so when you find out just who that mysterious stranger is (we won't spoil the surprise for you but you may have already guessed!)

Steven's story rhymes beautifully, is wholly entertaining from start to finish, and sends out the sort of awesome mighty girl messages that we just love to see in children's books. His illustrations are (as ever) utterly brilliant. We loved the depiction of Princess Daisy, she's adorable - and we even loved those nincompoop knights but the gorgeous baby dragon steals the show - particularly loved the fact that Steven drew a doodle of her (and Charlotte insisted it was a she!) in the front too!

If your little ones want a refreshing change from the usual "brave knight rescuing hapless damsel while biffing dragon" stories of yore, then "Princess Daisy and the Dragon and the Nincompoop Knights" will delight them for sure!

Charlotte's best bit: Sheer outrage at the use of kittens as dragon bait in the brainy knight's trap! How very DARE he!

Daddy's Favourite bit: Pitch-perfect rhyming, glorious illustrations and a novel and neat twist cutting a dash through tired old fairytale tropes to deliver a stunner of a story! We likey!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Steven Lenton, what a top dude he is!)

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Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam by Tracey Corderoy and Steven Lenton (Nosy Crow Books)

Friday, March 27, 2015

Chapter Book Roundup - March 2015 with Claude, Matilda and Kittens!

"Claude on Holiday" by Alex T. Smith (Hodder Childrens Books)

Welcome to our March edition rounding up some of the amazing and awesome chapter books and early chapter readers we've been casting our eyes across over the last few weeks. And we're starting off with a long-time blog favourite penned by an awesome booktastic chap! Alex T. Smith's "Claude" series has been a favourite of Charlotte's for quite some time now and she constantly talks about the time she met Alex and got her copy of "Claude in the Spotlight" signed.

We've been catching up with the series courtesy of Hodder and join Claude on Holiday and Claude in the City in two further adventures, accompanied by his Tardis-like beret and his ever-faithful and dapper companion Sir Bobblysock.

In "Claude on Holiday" Claude and Sir Bobblysock are off for some desperately needed R & R to a lovely seaside resort. Strictly no adventures and no crazy antics, just sun, sea and sandcastles! Of course things don't always go according to plan for Claude and Sir! Excitement and adventure are never far behind, and as Claude settles in for a well earned rest, nefarious ne'er do well pirates seem set to scupper their hols! EGAD! Claude may be a little dog, slightly on the plump side, but he's a brave soul and so dive in to find out whether sharp-witted Claude and Sir Bobblysock can outwit those dimwit salty coves! Yo ho!

"Claude in the City" by Alex T. Smith (Hodder Children's Books)

"Claude in the City" returns Claude to slightly more cosmopolitan climes as Mr and Mrs Shinyshoes disappear to work for the day as usual, leaving Claude and Sir Bobblysock to plan their next grand adventure. Claude rather fancies hitting the town in fine style, visiting the sights, stopping by a cafe for a much needed sticky bun and a cup of Earl Grey but as seasoned Claude fans will know, excitement and adventure are usually around the next corner. There's a terrible robbery in progress and Claude ends up hopelessly mixed up in the caper! Smart doggies like Claude aren't foiled by gruff robbers though so it's time to swing into action!

It's easy to see why Charlotte loves these stories so. Alex has a keen wit (anyone who has ever followed him on Twitter can't help to hoot with laughter at his commentaries on popular TV shows as they air, particularly Downton Abbey!), his illustrations are utterly brilliant and the Claude stories achieve the perfect balance between picture book fun and chapter book depth. We love them to bits!!

Who could possibly follow an act as classy as Claude?

"Matilda" by Roald Dahl (Puffin Books)

Only one of the world's most best loved children's books. Matilda has been around since I was a wee whippersnapper but now Charlotte is getting her teeth into more wordy fare as she reads to herself at bedtime, she's ready to jump headfirst into the amazing book worlds of Roald Dahl. What better place to start than with the story of Matilda, a little girl with a huge intellect and a deep love of books.

Matilda's family don't share her enthusiasm for literature (in fact her parents are downright boorish). Despite this, Matilda finds her way to her local library and falls in love with all the books she finds there, rapidly working her way through the children's section before discovering the delights of The Secret Garden and Charles Dickens!

Matilda's rotten parents eventually send her off to school, and she meets the wonderful Miss Honey - a big hearted teacher who realises Matilda's potential, and also shares her love of books. Unfortunately the school's headmistress is one of the most terrifying characters ever created in children's literature. The huge, the hulking, the temperamental Miss Trunchbull - Ex-Olympic shot-putter and all round big fat horrendous bully.

Can Matilda's sharp intellect and quick wits help solve a mystery from Miss Honey's past? Will Matilda ever be free of her annoying parents and brother?

You'll have to read on and find out. It was quite something to see three girls in Charlotte's cloakroom at school drop-off all reading their own copy of Matilda the other day, testament to just how brilliant Dahl's books are and this book in particular! What a great place to start a life-long love affair with Mr Dahl's fantastic work!

One more before we go? Oh there's always room for one more....!

"The Secret Kitten" by Holly Webb (Stripes Publishing)

You'll have to wait a couple of weeks till you can enjoy "The Secret Kitten" by Holly Webb, but this is the amazing 30th book (30 BOOKS! 30!) in her wonderful animal stories series. Centred around a young girl named Lucy who goes to live with her Gran, it's a touching tale of a lonely little girl who finds solace in an unexpected friend. Gran doesn't like animals but Lucy can't help but fall in love with an adorable stray kitten she rescues and begins to look after in secret. Will Lucy's annoying brother find out? What will Gran say!

Holly Webb's animal stories are perfect for Charlotte's age group (and like Matilda, we've seen lots of kids toting books from the animal stories series at drop off and pickup times at home). Charlotte read through the story fairly quickly and gave it a huge thumbs up, wanting to track down more of Holly's astonishing collection so we'll be looking out for them very soon! "The Secret Kitten" is out on 6th April 2015 from Stripes (Little Tiger) and you can find out more about Holly's brilliant books on the Little Tiger / Stripes Website.

That's a wrap, tune in next month for more chapter book goodies in April's roundup!

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 27th March 2015 - "Very Little Cinderella" by Teresa Heapy and Sue Heap (Random House)


Very Little Cinderella

Written by Teresa Heapy

Illustrated by Sue Heap

Published by Random House

Putting a new spin on classic fairy tales isn't easy, and a lot of people give them a bit of a dust and polish without bringing anything new to the table. You definitely cannot say that about Teresa Heapy and Sue Heap's "Very Little" series, and this is the second book that has had us simultaneously guffawing like goons and hugging ourselves with glee at just how durned great it is.

"Very Little Cinderella" starts off with tiddler Cinders 'cleaning up the house' (which, as any parent of a toddler will tell you, means making ten times more mess than they created in the first place). Very Little Cinderella's very big (but not very ugly) Ugly Sisters aren't too impressed with the cleaning attempts, but as VLC snaffles a snack biscuit they have more news.

"We are going to a party!" they proclaim.

Very Little Cinderella wants to party too, but she's going to be looked after by a special babysitter, The Fairy Godmother (who I think I've got a bit of a book crush on. She's CUTE!)

Very Little Cinderella is determined that she wants to sneak off to the party instead of helping clean up the house, so with a little magic and the world's greatest selection of dresses ("This is my best bit!" said Charlotte, falling instantly in love with the Pearly Dress), the plan is afoot. Gatecrash the party but be back home before the clock strikes 12 and the magic runs out.

After a weeny tantrum about what to wear (this is a bit where I laughed, then realised I was laughing about something Charlotte drives us both mad with EVERY TIME WE HAVE TO GO ANYWHERE!) and a quick change of transport (who needs a pumpkin coach when you've got a big blue scooter, yay!) it's off to the party to do dancing and making friends.

As the clock strikes 12 and the Fairy Godmother scoops up Very Little Cinderella to head for home, VLC realises she's lost her very favourite yellow (sorry, I mean LELLO!) boot.

She's inconsolable. No amount of biccies or boots will brighten Cinders' glumness. But wait, who's that at the door? A very little Prince (and his mum) with the missing boot! HOORAY HOORAY HOORAY!

After a bit of a bootswap (again this is so brilliantly observer, why do kids always want to swap shoes?) and a play date, Very Little Cinderella and Very Little Prince Charming become firm friends, dawwww bless their little lello and spotted boots!

We loved this - and now bedtime has become a two-book juggling act between Very Little Cinderella and Very Little Red Riding Hood (we were very pleased to see "Foxy" make a cameo appearance in Very Little Cinderella, Sue managed to work him into one of the book's lovely illustration panels). We truly can't wait for the next book in the series (which at the time of writing is almost finished, and we're allowed to tell you that it's going to be Very Little Sleeping Beauty - Teresa's awesome sons who were at the book signing told us it was OK to say so!)

Charlotte's best bit: The choosing of the special party dress. I thought the 'neat' dress was ace, but Charlotte couldn't resist the shiny dress.

Daddy's Favourite bit: Brilliantly funny, acutely well observed, fantastically illustrated, a super-treat from Heapy and Heap!

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Very Little Red Riding Hood by Teresa Heapy and Sue Heap

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Hooray! It's a New Royal Baby by Martha Mumford and Ada Grey (Bloomsbury Publishing)


Hooray, it's a new royal baby!

Written by Martha Mumford

Illustrated by Ada Grey

Published by Bloomsbury Publishing

Martha Mumford and Ada Grey are back with their third book about Royal Offspring. We've previously enjoyed "Shhh! Don't wake the Royal Baby" and "Happy Birthday Royal Baby" and though the cynical amongst you might smell a cash in rolled out ahead of the birth of Prince George's Brother or Sister, there's actually quite a lovely touching tale about siblings in this book.

The royal household is once again all-a-twitter as the new royal baby arrives home (the book quite neatly gets around naming the baby, or talking about a boy or a girl - very clever!)

Everyone seems to love the new arrival, but Prince George isn't quite convinced. What if the new baby wants to play with his favourite dinosaur, or steal his favourite jam sandwiches? What if everyone loves the new baby more than him?

Daddy (Prince William) knows just how to smooth the troubled waters with a new gift for George from his new Brother/Sister but soon George realises that it's actually tons of fun having a new little friend to play pirates or spaceships with.

A lovely addition to a story range that we were initially going to be quite sniffy about but were completely won over by. Charming and super-cute stuff from Martha and Ada!

We've just come back from a whirlwind visit around Windsor Castle and it was great to see that these books obviously have royal approval, as we spotted them in the gift shop there!

Charlotte's best bit: Charlotte always loves the incidental antics that the royal corgis get up to in these books! Little scamps!

Daddy's Favourite bit: A wry grin about Prince William discussing baby number 3 with a glint in his eye!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Bloomsbury Publishing)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Mister Mistoffelees the Conjuring Cat by T.S. Eliot and Arthur Robins (Faber and Faber)


Mister Mistoffelees the Conjuring Cat

Written by T.S. Eliot

Illustrated by Arthur Robins

Published by Faber and Faber

Oh well I never, how we do love this book! Paying homage to T.S. Eliot's meisterwork "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats", Arthur Robins produces a marvellous moggy-filled book celebrating what we cat lovers already know - that cats are feline tricksters, capable of the most amazing feats of derring-do!

We've previously met "Macavity the Mystery Cat" from Faber and Faber and here's the second book in their series drawing on T.S. Eliot's awesome poems and presenting them for a whole new audience.

As much as we loved Macavity, "Mister Mistoffelees" is definitely our favourite as he uses his own peculiar forms of moggy magic to slink from the shadows, making food items disappear, or sliding his way through seemingly impenetrable doors moving effortlessly amongst humans mostly unseen.

This is a lyrical journey through poems that some children may already know from the musical "Cats" but will definitely appreciate here, reproduced in a truly fabulous way.

Charlotte's best bit: Demanding this again as soon as I reached the last page (I really need to find my copy of the original "Old Possums"!)

Daddy's Favourite bit: A classic poem brought bang up to date for a whole new appreciative audience. Immensely good fun to read out loud, has there ever been a book so clever?

Kindly sent to us for review by Faber and Faber)

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Macavity the Mystery Cat by T.S. Eliot and Arthur Robins (Faber and Faber)

I Need a Wee! By Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet (Simon and Schuster Children's Books)


I Need a Wee!

Written by Sue Hendra

Illustrated by Paul Linnet

Published by Simon and Schuster Children's Books

"Charlotte, why are you wiggling? Do you need a wee?"

"No!"

"Are you sure?"

"I'm sure!"

(20 mins from home, in the middle of nowhere, no loos to be seen, just as we're getting under way to our intended destination)

"I NEED A WEE!!"

Parents, you've all been there, right? Your little ones haven't quite mastered the lesson that Alan the adorable knitted bear learns the hard way in Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet's latest book "I Need a Wee!" Alan is so busy having fun at the fairground on the helter skelter that the very last thing he wants to do is pause for a tinkle. But his friends notice his frantic dancing, and haul him off towards the loos.

Alan is constantly distracted by other things. One more go on the helter skelter. A piece of cake from the penguin's party. Just one more balloon! But when Alan and friends finally get to the toilets, calamities, there's a huge queue!

A helpful dolly suggests that Alan can come round to her house to use the facilities, but dolly's toilet is too tiny.

Alan eyes up a monkey's tea pot but it's a tea pot, not a pee pot!! As for the magician's hat incident, the less said the better.

Poor Alan is wriggling fit to bust - and when his friends suggest he ducks behind a curtain to take care of business, Alan doesn't realise that he's on stage in front of hundreds of people, under the spotlight! OH NO!

We won't spoil the hilarious pay-off (or should that be pee-off) as the book draws to a close. I always feel slightly guilty for finding children's books that deal with bodily functions funny, but this is acutely well observed and Alan is just such a superstar (we LOVE him, even if he has a bladder the size of a Smartie!)

Now, if you'll excuse me, I knew I shouldn't have had that second cup of coffee...

Charlotte's best bit: Alan attempting to squat over a magician's hat, with hilarious results. Eeps!

Daddy's Favourite bit: We probably really shouldn't find this as funny as we did, but it is hilarious and we just couldn't stop laughing (thankfully we didn't giggle till we wet ourselves, at least!) Brilliant!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Simon and Schuster Children's Books)

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Keith the Cat with the Magic Hat by Sue Hendra

No-Bot, the Robot with no bottom by Sue Hendra

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The King and the Sea by Heinz Janisch and Wolf Erlbruch (Gecko Press)

2
The King and the Sea

Written by Heinz Janisch

Illustrated by Wolf Erlbruch

Published by Gecko Press

This is a quirky little book from Heinz Janisch and Wolf (The Little Mole who knew it was none of his business) Erlbruch. "The King and the Sea" is part moral tale, part fable wrapped up in Wolf's unique art style. A king muses on his life, his world and indeed his universe as he passes each day in his kingly splendour, wondering which part of his kingdom to visit.

With each interaction with his world, the king learns a new and vital piece of knowledge tucked away for when he may need it. He speaks to the sun, the waves, and even tiny creatures - but always believing that a king is superior to all. Is he right though?

Charlotte was in two minds about this book - drawn in by each of the king's conversations but left wondering what it all meant. The book is luxuriously presented and the illustrations are purposely kept fairly minimalistic in order to give proper focus to the story as it unfolds and the slightly brash and pompous monarch slowly becomes a more well rounded and affable chap. Charlotte didn't take to it at all but it's definitely something unique and original and fits perfectly with Gecko Press's commitment to producing fresh and innovative children's books

Charlotte's best bit: The very last page where the King goes for a much needed dip in the deep briny ocean

Daddy's Favourite bit: Quirky, original, definitely something different for your regal little ones!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Gecko Press)

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The Little Mole who knew it was none of his business by Werner Holzwarth and Wolf Erlbruch (Pavilion Children's Books)