Thursday, October 27, 2016

Grandparents ROCK and we'd be lost without them - a ReadItTorial

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Once again, half term is here and as working parents both my wife and I are hugely, HUGELY grateful for our parents stepping in to look after Charlotte while she's off school.

In fact we'd be utterly lost without them, and we both know this. Children's books trumpet just how special grandparents are, loud and proud and we always make a beeline for books that celebrate the groovyness, wisdom and seemingly endless energy that grandparents have.

For example Shirley Hughes' sublime "Alfie and Grandma" - Alfie goes to stay with Grandma at her gorgeous cottage. They're wonderful friends and embark on lots of adventures together, rescuing lost pets and stomping through the mud. There's always a grand time to be had. Shirley's book reminds me of staying with my own Nan when I was a short-trousered tousled little fellah a bit like Alfie himself, so books like this are lovely to share with Charlotte - completely idyllic.

We also love "Grandma" by Jessica Shepherd. This is sometimes a bit of a tough read, we lost our own Nan to dementia a couple of years ago and there's still a huge hole in our lives left by this amazing and inspirational woman.

Jessica thoughtfully and sensitively handles the subject with aplomb, and in particular underlines that Grandma is still Grandma, and still well loved.

It really is a beautiful and heart-wrenching book and it's not exactly a huge surprise that it was one of our Book of the Week choices (click through the link for the full review).

Of course, Grandads also get a look in - and along similar lines to Jessica's book there's also the brilliant "Really and Truly" by Emilie Rivard and Anne-Claire Delisle...

The story of a much-loved Grandad, "Really and Truly" once again handles the subject of dementia in a thoughtful and actually quite a hopeful way.

As the story progresses, young Charlie watches his once imaginative and quite mischievous Grandad slide further into decline. But with patience and a lot of love, Charlie once again sees a bright spark of recognition in Grandad as he tells him the sort of tall tale that Grandad once loved to spin himself.

Our review (and the book itself) came along at the time we were watching both of Charlotte's great grandmas succumb to this horrible disease but like Charlie, there were golden moments when Great Grandma and Great Nan showed the same spark of life, of recognition and of delight when they were having a good day and could recognise us on visits.

Lifting the mood slightly, two books by Harriet Ziefert and Amanda Haley celebrate the sort of japes and adventures Charlotte will undoubtedly have been enjoying with her Grandad and Grandma this week...

"40 uses for a Grandpa" and "41 Uses for a Grandma" are brilliantly fun, and of course every parent will be all too familiar with what it's like when you pick the kids up from Grandma and Grandad's house and they're sugar-fuelled hyper-energetic bundles of manic energy and joy.

These books are hilarious and amusing and we love the sheer enjoyment of having a good giggle with them as we read through.

It's no surprise that so many children's books centre around grandparents and these are always the sort of stories that are great to snuggle down with when your little ones are missing their GGs.

Above all else, and if they do sneak onto the blog to see what we're up to, we're so lucky, so honoured, and so glad to have Grandma and Grandad, and Nanny & Dodo in Charlotte's life. She loves spending time with you and we know she'll be looking forward to the next holidays to roll around double-quick! Thank you so much for all you do!

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We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen (Walker Books)

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At last, and alas, we've come to the final book in Jon Klassen's hilarious "Hat" trilogy...
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ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book Roundup - October 2016

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Welcome to our October roundup of amazing chapter books to keep you busy and entertained as the long nights draw in, and we prepare to don all sorts of daft costumes for Halloween.

We're kicking off this month's roundup with some books we couldn't quite manage to squeeze into our teetering tottering reading pile last month so let's catch up with our first title, "Chloe's Secret Princess Club" by Emma Barnes and Monique Dong.

Meet Chloe, founder and member of the Secret Princess Club along with her friends. Well-meaning but sometimes a bit klutzy, Chloe never means to get into trouble but sometimes in The Secret Princess Club, trouble has a habit of following Chloe and her friends around as they vow to make their dreams come true.

A wonderful girly gushing and excitable read, this had our own particular princess in pink wrapped up in sheer bliss for ages so join "The Secret Princess Club, published by Scholastic and out now!

Next is a new book from a series that has been hugely well received, mostly down to some extremely tight writing and some truly inspirational and brilliant characters. "Poppy Pym and the Double Jinx" follows on from the excellent "Poppy Pym and the Pharaoh's Curse" and ushers in a new adventure for the brave girl detective whose curious schnozz often gets her into a pickle or two.

This time it's nearly Halloween at Saint Smithen's. When the Brimwell town hall mysteriously burns to the ground, the amateur production of Macbeth is moved to the school and it's all hands on deck.

But when the play is equally mysteriously struck by a series of menacing attacks, it's up to Poppy, her friends and her circus family to save the play and unmask the culprit.

Beautifully paces and brilliantly engaging, Laura Wood's "Poppy Pym" joins the hallowed ranks of awesome girl characters who use their brains rather than their beauty to solve a tricky case. 

"Poppy Pym and the Double Jinx" by Laura Wood is out now from Scholastic Publishing. 

Two blog favourites return with another brilliant new adventure for a fabulous little girl and her wild animal friend...

Polly Faber and Clara Vulliamy are back with the third book in their awesome "Mango and Bambang" series.

In "Tiny Tapir Trouble" this collection of adorable stories kicks off with an unexpected and very mischievous new visitor who comes to stay with Mango Allsorts and her friend Bambang.

This snorty and fidgety newcomer soon causes havoc for all and sundry. Will the tiny tapir terror ever learn to behave?

We loved Mango and Bambang the Not-a-Pig and Mango and Bambang All At Sea and we also love this third little book, once again establishing a really nice little readable format for children's books and for kid readers who are transitioning between picture books and "propah grown-up chapter books".

"Mango and Bambang - Tiny Tapir Trouble" is out now from Walker Books. 

Our next book in the roundup isn't really for kids but certainly older middle-grade to Teen readers are going to be all over this before long, mostly thanks to an awesome new movie based on the book...

Ransom Riggs' truly brilliant "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" really struck a chord with me when I first read it a couple of years ago (and you can see my reviews of the three books in the series over at the super-secret-after-the-watershed book blog "Daddy After Dark"

The new movie tie-in edition features a new cover based on the movie version coming soon from Tim Burton, and also compliments the already eerie black and white photos the book became famous for with some brilliant stills from the film

Telling the story of Jacob, who has grown up listening to the tall tales of his Grandfather, it's a story steeped in darkness and horror. Jacob soon learns that his Grandfather's stories might actually have been true, and makes a pilgrimage to a mysterious island along with his dad, to try and make sense of a crop of strange letters he finds amongst his grandad's correspondence.

Jacob finds himself in a bizarre alternate reality where time seems to have ground to a halt as The Second World War still rages overhead, and soon discovers a mysterious orphanage, overseen by the mysterious Miss Peregrine and home to some seriously strange kids with crazy abilities.

As long-term fans of the series will tell you, it's one of those books that defies being stuffed into any kind of pigeonhole. I'm looking forward to and dreading the movie version in equal measure. It already grates that two of the characters seem to have suddenly swapped their peculiarities, and that Miss Peregrine seems to be a lot younger and more glam than the book would suggest but I'll give it the benefit of the doubt. So far the production visuals do look pretty amazing so let's see where ol' Timbo manages to work his spirals in this time - What, you've not noticed that nearly every single Tim Burton film uses spirals as motifs?)

"Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" (Movie tie-in version) by Ransom Riggs is out now from awesome publisher Quirk Books.

From the peculiar to the downright cute and vampish. Meet Isadora!

Isadora Moon is part vampire, part fairy and all mighty girl - the star of her own book series by Harriet Muncaster.

In "Isadora Moon Goes to School" our pointy-toothed heroine starts school - but with a dad who's a vampire and a mum who's a fairy, which school does Isadora go to?

Fairy school might be a tad too frilly, and Vampire School's curriculum might not suit a pink-loving vampire girl.

Read all about Isadora's hilarious exploits, in a brilliantly illustrated book series filled with fun and a sharp-toothed sense of humour.

"Isadora Moon Goes to School" is out now, published by Oxford Children's Books. 

Next in our book bag, an author who is an unstoppable writing machine, scoring hit after hit with a glorious selection of amazing animal-based books.

In Holly Webb's "The Pocket Dog" you'll find a beautiful story about friendship with a serious moral message underpinning this entertaining tale.

Kitty is jealous of the new girl in class. Erin has a phone and seems much cooler than Kitty. Confused, Kitty starts to take it out on her friend, Bella, and once she starts being mean, she finds she can't stop.

It takes the love of her little daschund puppy, Frank, to show her that bullying isn't the answer and to bring the two friends together in a new-found and stronger friendship.

Holly's wonderful stories are thought-provoking and a brilliant read for little ones who are standing firm on their own two feet when it comes to reading on their own.

"The Pocket Dog" by Holly Webb, with illustrations by Sharon Rentta, is out now from Scholastic Publishing. 

Also from Scholastic, a childhood favourite gets a whole new lease of life - and a gorgeously written new homage...

Lou Kuenzler's "Finding Black Beauty" is a sweeping and immersive new novel introducing the most famous black horse in literary history to a whole new audience.

Anna Sewell's well-loved classic (which was a massive fave when I was a kid, due in no small part to a fab and exciting TV adaptation that was running at the time) is sensitively treated in this sequel. A young groom named Jo falls in love with the titular horse, but Jo has a secret. Though she masquerades as a boy, she's actually a girl - very much frowned upon at the time for grooms to be girls (I've no idea why).

As the story unfolds, Beauty and Jo are separated, but this determined lass decides to track down Beauty all the way to London, and also find out more about her mother and her own identity in the process.

Brilliantly written, instantly feeling like Lou has expertly picked up the threads of Sewell's writing style with aplomb, both "Black Beauty" and "Finding Beauty" are published in fantastic covers by Scholastic Press. "Finding Black Beauty" by Lou Kuenzler is out now.

Lou really is on fire at the moment, and if you're ready with your Halloween preparations (as well you should be) you'll definitely love "Bella Broomstick (book 3): Halloween Havoc".

Bella Broomstick is a hapless, hopeless witch. So hopeless that nasty Aunt Hemlock banished her to Person World to go and live amongst us weird humans - with the warning that she must never do magic again. 

Bella being bella finds that particular order very hard to stick to and with Halloween coming up, Bella can't wait to carve a pumpkin and go trick-or-treating with her friends. 

Halloween is also a time when real witches can enter the Person World. Merrymeet Village better look out ... The coven is coming! Watch out for lots of comic spells and broomstick thrills as Bella saves the day!

"Bella Broomstick: Halloween Havoc" by Lou Kuenzler is out now, from Scholastic Publishing and it's a spooky riot of a book!

Now for something completely different. Seriously cool sci-fi from a master of suspense and excitement...!

"Gravity" by Andy Briggs is the sequel to the stunning "Iron Fist" (The Inventory series), once again adding to the awesome sci-fi world-building of the original book with even more amazing gadgets and perilous situations.

As we found out in the first book, hidden under a small suburban town is "The Inventory" - a collection of the most incredible technology the world is definitely NOT ready for.

We pick up the cataclysmic conclusion of the first book as much of the Inventory's technology has fallen into the wrong hands - including Newton's Arrow, a powerful weapon that can manipulate gravity to devastating effect.

Only Dev and his friends have the tools and the talent to retrieve the stolen tech, following the weapon's deadly trail around the world.

Along the way they learn the terrible truth about Newton's Arrow's capabilities ... as well as disturbing details about Dev's origins.

I've always championed cool sci-fi for kids and it doesn't get any cooler than this series. Andy Briggs switches gears like a master, taking us out of the steamy jungles of his brilliant "Tarzan" adventures and right into the far flung future where technology rules all.

We both thoroughly enjoyed this one, and can't wait to see what happens next so c'mon Andy, get writing!!

"Gravity (The Inventory Book 2)" is out now, published by Scholastic. 

Back to the giggles and a fun book by the dynamic duo behind "Fleabag Monkeyface"...

"Badly Drawn Beth" by Knife and Packer (otherwise known as Jem Packer and Duncan McCoshan) introduces Beth, a little girl who just can't seem to help getting into sticky situations.

Picture the scene if you can. You're surrounded by crocodiles, holding a briefcase full of fish fingers, wearing a swamp monster mask AND MISS PRIMULA IS ABOUT TO CALL YOUR PARENTS! Pretty much an ordinary average day for poor Beth, and her crazy collection of friends and family. 

This new diary series will appeal to kids who can't get enough of Dork Diaries and Fleabag Monkeyface. If you like your jokes and giggles fired at you quick-smart like a machine-gun filled with jellybeans then this is the book for you!

"Badly Drawn Beth" by Knife and Packer is out now, published by Orchard Books. 
Sticking with Orchard for a moment and more giggles, this time in the shape of a fella who really needs to work on his anxiety issues...

"Wilf the Mighty Worrier and the Alien Invasion" by Georgina Pritchett with illustrations by Jamie Littler is the 4th book in the "Wilf the Mighty Worrier" series, and as you can probably imagine, this time Wilf is once again about to fall victim to the nefarious plans of Alan, the most evil man in the whole world, who just happens to be Wilf's neighbour.

Alan has decided he wants to be the most evil man in the whole UNIVERSE, with the help of his new rocket ship.

When Wilf discovers some angry aliens from Mars in his back garden, he can tell that Alan's trip to outer space has not gone well. Can Wilf get over his fears long enough to help the aliens fight back?

Join Wilf as he travels into space for his most out-of-this-world adventure yet! This book will have you laughing until snot dribbles out of your nose, like a squishy green alien invasion all of its own! Eeesh!

"Wilf the Mighty Worrier and the Alien Invasion" is out now, published by Orchard Books. 

One more from Orchard, a bit more of a serious tone with this one. Stern frowny faces at the ready?

"The Map to Everywhere - City of Thirst" is the stunning sequel to "The Map to Everywhere" Book 1 by Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis. This sprawling and scintillating adventure series takes things up a notch as heroes Marrill and Fin join forces for another epic instalment.

When the magical waters of the Pirate Stream begin flooding Marrill's world, the only way to stop the destruction is to return to the Stream and find the source of the mysterious Iron Tide.

Reunited with her best friend Fin--who has been forgotten all over again--Marrill, her disbelieving babysitter, and the Enterprising Kraken crew must make the treacherous trek to the towering, sliding, impossible world of Monerva and uncover the secrets of its long-lost wish machine.

Only there can Fin wish to finally be remembered. Only there can Marrill wish to save her world and all the people she loves.

But to get everything they've ever wanted, Marrill and Fin may have to give up on the most important thing they already have: each other.

"City of Thirst" explodes at a cracking pace, perfect adventuresome stuff. "The Map to Everywhere: City of Thirst" by Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis is out now, published by Orchard Books. 

More Halloween fun, well it is almost time!

Abie Longstaff's "How to Catch a Witch" is perfectly timed to arrive on your doorstep ready for All Hallows Eve.
It's the story of Charlie and her family, who have moved from the big city to a small country village. To Charlie, everything feels wrong. The cottage they now live in is old and creepy but worst of all, anxiety about her new school is causing Charlie's stutter to return.

And the villagers are just plain weird: Beautiful young singer Suzy Evans, who glows with a strange light that only Charlie can see. Mysterious classmate Cat, who won't keep her nose out of Charlie's business. And Agatha, who may not have a broomstick or a cauldron, but is definitely a witch!

Slowly and steadily, though, the strange surroundings exert their effect on Charlie...Would a bit of Agatha's magic fix her worsening stutter?

A witchy treat full of twists and turns, "How to Catch a Witch" by Abie Longstaff is out now, published by Scholastic. 

Ooh! One of our fave duos also have a new book out this month...

Phil Earle and Sara Ogilvie are back with the next book in the "Storey Street" tales. In "The War Next Door" nasty bully Masher is pretty much top dog and loves it that way.

He rules with fists of iron - until a new family move in, with a girl who isn't afraid of Masher at all! Jemima thinks Masher's a bit of a wimp actually, and that can only mean one thing - All out war!

A brilliantly observed story from Phil, following on from awesome "Superhero Street". It's a fight to the death, or at least until teatime! Don't hang around, go pick up a copy now!

"The War Next Door" by Phil Earle with illustrations and cover from Sara Ogilvie is out now, published by Scholastic. 

Have we got room for one more teeny tiny wafer thin book? Have we? Oh of course we have and it's coming up to Halloween so let's have something spooky...

"Shadow Magic" by Joshua Khan is a deep, dark and delicious novel full of mystery and suspense.

In a world ruled by six ancient Houses of Magic, a girl and a boy begin an epic and dangerous journey of discovery ...After her parents' murder, 13-year-old Lilith "Lily" Shadow rules Gehenna from Castle Gloom, an immense and windowless citadel.

Once Lily's ancestors commanded spirits, communed with the dead, and raised armies from out of the grave. But now her country is about to be conquered by the Shadows' ancient enemies - the Solars, the lords of light.

Thorn is a peasant boy, wily and smart, sold into slavery and desperate to escape. So when he's bought by Tyburn, executioner to House Shadow, he'll agree to just about anything - even to serving Castle Gloom for a year and day in order to earn his freedom. When Lily is nearly poisoned by a ruthless and unknown assassin, she and Thorn embark on a dangerous quest to save Gehenna, a weird and wonderful land of haunted castles, mysterious forests and an unforgettable giant bat. Together they must unravel a twisted plot of betrayals, pride and deadly ambition.

Gloriously written and with tons of appeal to kids who love books like Harry Potter or the Percy Jackson series, "Shadow Magic" is an epic tale.

"Shadow Magic" by Joshua Khan is out now, published by Scholastic.

One more, go on, one more...a thrilling second book in the fantastic "Chasing Danger" series...

"Mystery at the Ice Hotel" by Sara Grant follows on from the original "Chasing Danger" book that introduced us to 14 year old Mackenzie. Never far from trouble, she was drawn into a chaotic and crazy plot while visiting Grandmother's place for the vacation.

Now the action moves swiftly to icier climes as once again Mackenzie and Chase visit a fantastic ice hotel in Iceland. The hotel has a sinister secret however, and when several bizarre accidents start to affect the guests, and a frozen body turns up, Chase and Mackenzie are once again on the case - ready to solve the mystery before their own lives are threatened by the unseen protagonist.

This book barely stops to take a breath. It's fast paced action packed stuff, great for mighty girls and boisterous boys too.

"Mystery at the Ice Hotel" by Sara Grant is out now, published by Scholastic.

We're sneaking in one more - just released at the start of the month and rounding off one heck of a fantastic mighty girl series...

Lauren Child's astonishing Ruby Redfort series hits its finale with the suspense-fuelled high octane excitement of "Ruby Redfort: Blink and you Die!"

Normally we're used to Lauren's titles for younger children but she's clearly an accomplished middle grade author and it's time to say a final farewell to 13 year old superspy and computer genius Ruby.

Ruby Redfort is running scared, a whole bunch of people want her dead and worst of all one of them is on her own team. The mysterious entity known as "The Agent of Doom" won't rest until Ruby is put out of the game - for good!

"Blink and you Die" tails off a fabulous set of books so if you're new to Ruby Redfort, it's high time you caught up!

"Ruby Redfort: Blink and you Die" by Lauren Child is out now, published by HarperCollins Children's Books.

Whoah! So many lovely books this month. Tune in when November rustles in, bringing a chill and of course the exciting anticipation of all things Yule-flavoured! See you in a month, you lovely lovely people!

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Big Book of 100 Little Activities by Laura Minter and Tia Williams (GMC Publishing)

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Are you ready for some cool makes? Those lovely ladies from The Little Button Diaries are back with a bumper book of superb art, science and crafty activities so go for your gluesticks!
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Yoga for You: Feel Calmer, Stronger, Happier by Rebecca Rissman (QED Publishing)

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Now here's a really fantastic idea for parents and children who want to have a calmer more restful life. Spend a few minutes a day in yogic bliss!
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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Push! Dig! Scoop! by Rhonda Gowler Greene and Daniel Kirk (Bloomsbury Publishing)

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I was a little surprised when, one evening, it was a "Quick Book" late bedtime for Charlotte and she picked this one out of the bookshelves...
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Gordon's Great Escape by Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet (Simon and Schuster Children's Books)

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Sue and Paul are back and yet again they've come up trumps with a totally brilliant and original new story featuring yet another slightly bonkers character. This time, of all things, it's a happy balloon!
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Nature Explorer Guide for Kids by Michael Leach and Meriel Lland (QED Publishing)

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Ah! The great outdoors. Even though the colder weather is nipping at our noses and cheeks, we still love getting out and about...
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Monday, October 24, 2016

We won an award! Nominated and winner of "Champion Adult Blogger" in the 2016 UK YABA Blogger Awards.

This year's UKYA "YABA" Awards have finally netted us the very first blogger award for Read It, Daddy. It was a huge honour to be nominated in the "Champion Adult Blogger" category, along with several other brilliant bloggers in various categories. You can find the full nominees list here:

The winners were announced over the weekend, and we managed to snaffle the Champion Adult Blogger award, with votes coming from a selection of amazing publishers we're very happy to have been chosen by including:

Walker Books

Mira Ink

Bloomsbury Publishing

Little Tiger Press

Hachette UK

Penguin Books

Egmont UK

Faber & Faber

Hot Key Books

Catnip Publishing

Chicken House Books

We're very humbled and hugely grateful for the win. We both put a lot of work into making ReadItDaddy an entertaining and enjoyable read and it's lovely to see some feedback and recognition like this.

Congratulations to the other winners, and once again a huge thanks to all concerned from both of us.

Here's to 2017 being an even more amazing and bumper year for books than 2016 has been.

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Doodle Town by Dominika Lipniewska (Tate Publishing)

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We are huge fans of drawing and doodling, and any book that features fun drawing prompts and doodle challenges is definitely a book we want to get to know better...
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