Tuesday, March 31, 2015

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

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

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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)
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Monday, March 30, 2015

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

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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)

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

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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)
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Friday, March 27, 2015

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

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

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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
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Thursday, March 26, 2015

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

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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)
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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

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

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

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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

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

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

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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)
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How Things Work: Facts and Fun Questions and Answers by Okido Magazine (Thames and Hudson)

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How Things Work: Facts and Fun Questions and Answers

Written and Illustrated by
Okido Magazine

Published by Thames and Hudson

If you love science, and you can't resist finding out how things work, then allow us to pique your curiosity with this amazing book.

From the makers of the awesome Okido magazine comes "How Things Work: Facts and Fun Questions and Answers". If you've ever read Okido, you know you're in for a real science treat as the magazine is the fun art and science mag for kids (with no grotty adverts or plastic rubbish on the cover, hooray!)

What is light? Where does it come from? How is it made? 
As you can see from the gorgeous page spreads, "How Things Work" shows how the most ordinary everyday things we take for granted are actually more extraordinary and amazing than we might think.

Saving energy at home, vitally important!
Join a busy little team of inquisitive folk as we find out how to be more energy efficient at home, how machines work, where light comes from and a ton of other questions presented in a fun filled and child friendly way.

This will get your cogs spinning!
There are fun games and puzzles too, so if you're looking for a book to keep your little ones busy over the coming Easter Break, look no further than this utterly fantastic and fascinating corker!

Charlotte's best bit: Tracing the cables and pipes that feed our houses with heat and water, electricity and TV!

Daddy's Favourite bit: Like everything the Okido team turn their hands to, this is an absolutely brilliant little resource tailor made for curious kids! Brilliant!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Thames and Hudson)

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Thank You, Jackson by Niki Daly and Jude Daly (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

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Thank you, Jackson

Written by Niki Daly

Illustrated by Jude Daly

Published by Frances Lincoln Children's Books

"Manners Maketh the Man" or so the saying goes. Actually good manners, and a bit of politeness go a long way with anyone regardless of who you are - and no one likes being taken for granted, do they?

This is the simple premise of a hugely effective story from Niki and Jude Daly. "Thank You, Jackson" introduces us to a hard working farmer, his wife Beauty and their son Goodwill. Not forgetting their hard working donkey Jackson, who helps the farmer to market with his heavy load of vegetables every day.

But today isn't like any other day. You see, Jackson has had about enough of hauling the farmer's wares up a steep hill without so much as a polite word of praise. Jackson stubbornly stands still and refuses to move. The farmer's solution is not a pleasant one, he threatens Jackson and eventually goes looking for a stick to give his poor donkey a wallop with.

Thankfully Goodwill and Beauty spot what's going on, and race to help. Goodwill knows how to save the situation, and with a gentle whisper in Jackson's ear, he saves the day.

So what do you think Goodwill whispers in Jackson's ear?

Such a valuable lesson delivered in a really neat way, making this feel like a traditional tale woven anew. Very cool!

Charlotte's best bit: When Jackson sits down, spilling all the vegetables all over the floor! Eeps!

Daddy's Favourite bit: There's a lesson here for all of us in "Thank You, Jackson" - Don't be quick to lose your temper and always remember a bit of praise goes a very very long way from time to time!

(Kindly sent to us for review by)

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Exciting action and adventure on the high seas with the Little Tim series by Edward Ardizzone (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

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The Little Tim Series

Written and Illustrated by
Edward Ardizzone

Published by Frances Lincoln Children's Books

I've been a fan of Edward Ardizzone's peerless ink work since I was a tiny tiddler. Edward's illustrations for Clive King's "Stig of the Dump" are among my earliest memories of what made me fall completely in love with books. Clive's descriptions were rich and imaginative, but having Edward's illustrations to fill in the gaps was a real boost. It's still one of my favourite stories today and one I can't wait to pass on to Charlotte now she's old enough to appreciate longer stories.

We're looking at Edward's own story series here though, and the Little Tim books - which have been polished to a high sheen and reprinted by Frances Lincoln Children's Books.

Though I'm not quite old and codgerly enough to remember these first time round (the first Little Tim stories were published way back in 1936!), Frances Lincoln are reprinting the "Little Tim" series as a set of gorgeous hardback books, retaining the original pacing and illustrations - and offering you richly luxurious audio versions read by Stephen Fry (a man whose voice I could happily listen to for hours) as well. What a superb bonus!

Though Edward died in 1979, and some might feel that these stories are a bit dated, they have an electrifying effect on Charlotte. She clamours loudly for them whenever we settle down for a read and a cuddle, perhaps it's the exciting life this little chap leads in his life beside the sea.

We've been enjoying the reprints of "Tim All Alone", "Tim and the Brave Sea Captain", "Tim to the Rescue" and "Tim's Friend Towser" - Each story opens with Tim longing for a life on the ocean wave but finding that a seafaring life is often fraught with danger.

Tim outwits bullies, cares for adorable animals, befriends salty coves and brave sea captains, and even makes a friend for life with a boy named Ginger and a dog named Towser - both of which feature in a couple of the books in the series that were Charlotte's two favourites (She particularly loved "Tim to the Rescue" where Ginger rather naughtily steals a crewman's hair tonic, only to find his own luxurious red locks won't stop growing!)

We also love Edward's gift with expressions and the way that, in one particular adventure where Tim and Ginger are sneaking their food on board ship to a lost puppy, both Tim and Ginger grow increasingly skeletal as they virtually starve themselves to feed Towser! Eek!

We've read these books through several times, often in one glorious gulp as they're quite long but immensely satisfying. We really hope to see more reprints of Edward Ardizzone's stories from Frances Lincoln as they're superbly exciting adventures, with utterly gorgeous ink and wash illustrations that almost leap off the page.

Some folk might take issue with the way some of the paragraphs are broken up when reading aloud, which makes for a bit of trickiness (I can't quite think how to describe it adequately but it won't matter much, you'll be reading these tales again and again so you'll learn them off by heart anyway!)

Ultimately though, you are in for a good solid treat with these stories, harking back to a time when life was so much simpler, and the life of a young boy (or girl for that matter) could be a life packed with excitement, adventure and derring-do!

Charlotte's best bit: Ginger's wonderful long curly hair after stealing someone's hair tonic (that won't stay short no matter how many times it's cut!)

Daddy's Favourite bit: A fantastic timeless set of stories that have an amazing effect on modern children, who have no concept of the sort of fantastic life Edward Ardizzone describes for young Tim. Utterly amazing stuff despite tiny niggles about the disjointed pacing (that truly won't get in the way of you enjoying these books immensely!)

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



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Friday, March 20, 2015

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 20th March 2015 - "The Great Big Book of Families" by Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

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The Great Big Book of Families

Written by Mary Hoffman

Illustrated by Ros Asquith

Published by Frances Lincoln Children's Books

We adore books that celebrate the diversity and rich mix of people who populate our humble little planet, and what better place to start a joyous exploration of that diversity than with families themselves. In the Frances Lincoln "Great Big Book" series we've already looked at the fantastic "Great Big Green Book" that tackles the ecological issues facing our planet, but in "The Great Big Book of Families" both Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith put people firmly under the microscope, producing a vibrant and colourful book taking a look at our society from all angles.

Whether you're part of a large family, or just one or two. Whether you've got a mummy and daddy, or two mums, two dads - or live with aunties, uncles or grandparents, adopted or fostered, there's a lovely little corner of this book devoted to you and yours.

Children just love exploring this book as there are so many tiny little details crammed in, all depicted with Ros's trademark cheeky and humorous illustrations but imparting the importance of family life. The book doesn't shy away from subjects that children will inevitably find tricky and challenging at a young age (like what happens when a family unit breaks apart for any number of reasons). Ultimately though, the message is shouted loud and clear, that people are spectacular and special, and families come in all shapes and sizes, colours and creeds.

Charlotte's best bit: A book that both piqued Charlotte's curiosity, and got her enthusiastic about looking into her own family tree

Daddy's Favourite bit: A nice big hardbacked book that is a huge celebration of how diverse and amazing modern families are. A fun exploration of our world and the people who live in it that's bang up to date in attitude and scope.

(Kindly sent to us for review by Frances Lincoln Children's Books)
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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sketch! By France Belleville Van Stone (Watson Guptil)

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Sketch!

Written and Illustrated by

France Belleville Van Stone

Published by Watson Guptil

We're always on the look-out for fun and inspirational art books on this blog. Both Charlotte and I love nothing better than sprawling out on the floor with all our art materials to paint, colour or sketch and once Charlotte's toddled off to bed I can often be found hunched over the Wacom Tablet or sketch pad scribbling some new "masterpiece" (I had to include that in quotes, my work isn't that great despite a couple of years at art college, trust me on this!)

France Belleville Van Stone's "Sketch" dropped through our letterbox courtesy of Watson Guptil and it's been an inspirational breath of fresh air. It's not written in some sniffy "I know better than yow" arty farty way, but speaks to us in a language we understand, and brims with enthusiasm from every single page spread.

The aim here is to show how easy it is to improve your sketching skills. Though colour is touched on here, the ultimate aim is to turn you into a sketching powerhouse by offering up some really simple advice and a whole plethora of idea triggers to get you sketching anything and everything from the world around you.


France is a very enthusiastic teacher through this book, and takes great pains to underline the most valuable lesson any artistic person must adopt from day one - the more you do, the better you will get. For my part I always carry a sketchbook and pencils around with me in my work bag (I seem to be able to do some of my best work while sitting in the car waiting for my daughter to be dropped off at school or waiting for my wife to finish work - such is the life of a family 'taxi driver') but you never know when you'll feel the need to sit down, zone out and have a good scribble (it's amazingly therapeutic and it's as close as I can get to zen moments in a hectic modern life).


I think one of my favourite aspects of the book is how down-to-earth and unpretentious France is. She obviously knows that the quickest way to put someone off dipping a toe into artistic waters is to go off on a huge rant about purchasing the highest quality materials, tuning your work environment or spending hours reading tons and tons of art books and I tend to agree - particularly on that first point because any family on a budget will always shy away from spending tens or hundreds of pounds on art materials that will inevitably go to waste!

Her choice of subjects is broad and it got me thinking about spending more time sketching my messy room, or my feet, or parked cars around the neighbourhood, or any subject that may seem ordinary and everyday until you start drawing it. Her manner is so relaxing yet passionate, and this book really has been utterly fantastic to leaf through for ideas. Awesome stuff, France!!

Charlotte's best bit: France's choice of drawing the weirdest and oddest cars from around her neighbourhood (and she does this so well!)

Daddy's Favourite bit: A down-to-earth and inspirational sketching guide from a lady with a ton of passion for her sketching. Nigh on essential for amateur artists who want to up their sketching game a little

(Kindly sent to us for review by GMC / Watson Guptil)
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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

I Love You Near and Far by Marjorie Blain Parker and Jed Henry (Sterling Publishing)

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I Love You Near and Far

Written by Marjorie Blain Parker

Illustrated by Jed Henry

Published by Sterling Publishing

Sadly, for a lot of children, having a parent who has to travel for work and is often away from home is the norm rather than the exception. This gorgeous little rhyming tale from Marjorie Blain Parker, with lovely illustrations from Jed Henry shows that even though our family, our friends and even sometimes a parent, are far away from home we still love them all the more.

Marjorie shows how the modern world allows us all sorts of ways of communicating with, and remembering our distant relatives - and there's a beautiful little celebratory spread at the end of the book as those long lost relatives (and daddy cat) come back to visit the inquisitive and loving little fellah who is the central character here.

The rhymes are perfect, meaning that this is one of those cuddly little books that will delight younger readers - and perhaps offer some comfort if mummy or daddy, or grandma and grandad, are miles away in distance but still very close to their hearts.

Charlotte's best bit: Little kitten plotting out where daddy is working on the map of the world

Daddy's Favourite bit: A wonderful sing-song read that we definitely want to keep close!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Sterling Publishing)
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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Great Big Green Book by Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

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The Great Big Green Book

Written by Mary Hoffman

Illustrated by Ros Asquith

Published by Frances Lincoln Children's Books

Introducing children to green issues from an early age couldn't be simpler, and what more vital reason is there for doing so than thinking about the planet they'll inherit from us. Diving into "The Great Big Green Book" by Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith, this is exactly the sort of resource that would be equally useful at home and in the classroom as this bumper collection of fascinating facts, interesting projects and makes.

Do you know what happens to your recycling, or in fact why recycling is so important?

What simple steps can you take in your everyday life to help your family become 'greener'?

The book is packed to the gills with brilliant illustrations and common sense tips that can turn your budding ecologists into green supremos! Love it!

Charlotte's best bit: Learning about all the interesting things that come from trees (like the tyres on a wheelchair and corks for bottles), even material for T shirts!

Daddy's Favourite bit: A totally engrossing and fun way to learn about green issues for younger children just taking their first footsteps towards becoming true eco-tots!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Frances Lincoln Children's Books)
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Monday, March 16, 2015

This Is My Rock by David Lucas (Flying Eye Books)

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This is my Rock

Written and Illustrated by
David Lucas

Published by Flying Eye Books

"This is my rock. This is where I attend my flock!"

I have no idea why I kept humming that Faithless tune while reading this with Charlotte. Thankfully she's well and truly used to my odd behaviour so just gave me that world-weary 7 year old withering look and told me to get on with the story.

And get on we did - with the story I mean, as we're huge fans of David Lucas (His Toy Museum tales are brilliant!)

In this story a rather mean mountain goat stakes out his territory, the tallest narrowest rock in his locale. The goat shouts "This is my rock!" and has absolutely no patience for anyone who tries to usurp him from his pedestal (we actually felt a bit sorry for the wild wolves who are royally seen off in grand mountain goat style with a butt and a kick and a bleat!)

Life atop the rock is fine for a while, but soon gets lonely. Perhaps the mean old goat needs to change his ways, because a view is not a view unless you have someone to share it with.

As with most of David Lucas' stories, there's a rather lovely little twist that comes in at the end of this book when the goat realises that you can defend your lofty habitat with all the will in the world but sometimes it takes someone smaller and cleverer than you to humble you into submission!

Fantastic story!

Charlotte's best bit: Goat turning into a karate-chopping whirlwind defending his lofty home

Daddy's Favourite bit: A neat little moral tale with a twist. Deliciously illustrated in David's trademark angular style (we loved the bit where the goat actually gets so hungry he starts munching the decorative borders of the page!)

(Kindly sent to us for review by Flying Eye Books)

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Friday, March 13, 2015

British Science Week beings today - what better way to join in than with a crop of fantastic books!

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"See Inside Your Head" by Alex Frith and Colin King (Usborne Publishing)

It's British Science Week, and from today until the 22nd March we're all abuzz with all things science-ey. Of course, as book bloggers we couldn't wait to check out some of the fantastic science titles for children that are currently available including a trio of fantastic books from our go-to publisher of choice for fact-packed fun ways to learn, Usborne Publishing.

Our first title particularly interested Charlotte as she loves lift-the-flap books - but the subject of this particular book is very close to home for us. Charlotte's mum has broad spectrum Epilepsy, so a book that delves deep into the way our brain works really can help answer a multitude of questions Charlotte has about the various things poor mum has to go through.

With over 70 flaps to lift, you can really peel back the layers of the brain and find out what it's made of, why it works the way it does, and what can happen when things go wrong. The book touches on the physiology of the brain, and psychological matters affecting the way we behave and perceive our world.

It's an utterly incredible book, fantastically illustrated (as you'd expect from Usborne) and with quite a broad appeal to a wide age range, a book that will be a valuable resource for your budding biologists to dip into.

The Story of Science by Anna Claybourne and Adam Larkum (Usborne Publishing)

Broadening our range a little next, we take a dip into "The Story of Science" by Anna Claybourne and Adam Larkum.

Mix history and science together in this fascinating look back at some of the groundbreaking discoveries made over the last few centuries, as you and your children learn how the world's most famous scientists theorised, experimented and discovered the secrets of our world and the universe beyond.

Tinged with humour, and crazy anecdotes, this is nevertheless a fact-filled book chock full of detail and will undoubtedly give your child plenty to investigate and enjoy. Like the rest of Usborne's non-fiction range, it's expertly presented and pitched at just the right level for children of Charlotte's age who are just beginning to touch on science subjects at KS-1 / 2, and beyond.

Last but by no means least for our look at Usborne's fantastic science range, let's head out into space (our favourite science subject!)

The Story of Astronomy and Space by Louie Stowell and Peter Allen (Usborne Publishing)
Superstar book peeps Louie Stowell and Peter Allen have pulled out all the stops for this next title, reaching out into the cosmos for "The Story of Astronomy and Space" - a book that was snatched out of my hands with a "Whoop!" by Charlotte before I could even get a look in (don't worry, I sneaked off with it and curled up for a good long read once she'd gone to bed - one of the perks of being a booky parent!)

With the clear skies we've been getting lately, and our recent trip to the Greenwich Observatory and Planetarium still fresh in our minds, it was great to read through this book, identifying some of the things we'd recently seen.

Astronomy charts help you and your children map the night skies, and if you're lucky enough to live somewhere where the light pollution isn't too bad, you can get a lot out of staring up at the night sky.

A fantastic book, you can tell Louie and Peter have a lot of passion for the subject at hand - and it's passed on perfectly in this wonderfully presented and beautifully illustrated addition to Usborne's superb science range.

We'll be catching up with more Science books as British Science Week continues - so stay tuned!
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ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 13th March 2015 - "The Underwater Fancy Dress Parade" by Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys (Scribe Publishing)

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The Underwater Fancy-Dress Parade

Written by Davina Bell

Illustrated by Allison Colpoys

Published by Scribe Publishing

As we've said many times, books sometimes arrive for review that are so well timed and so relevant to what's going on in Charlotte's life, that we almost believe book fairies exist and they're watching our every move. Conquering shyness is a subject that many children's books approach in a variety of different ways but seldom have we seen a book that so brilliantly describes that actual feeling you get in your stomach, that sort of odd glowy uncomfortable feeling that ties you up in knots, makes you anxious and stops you from doing the things you want to do.

I'm painfully shy, and I fear that a little of that has rubbed off on Charlotte as she's very shy too. Charlotte's shyness extends to anxiety issues at school drop-off time, or if we go to any events - even at play clubs during school holidays and it's quite horrible to see her made so miserable by her shyness and introversion.

In "The Underwater Fancy Dress Parade" a young boy goes through exactly the same feelings Charlotte does before an event, be it a children's birthday party or a school play - or the underwater fancy dress parade.

The boy's parents treat him with understanding, never anger (although in the story the boy expects an angry response, his mum is patient and kind). As the Underwater Fancy Dress Parade edges ever closer, the boy starts off upbeat about it, planning his costume and psyching himself up for the event. Alas, when it comes to the night before, the boy can't sleep and eventually ducks out of the parade as his mum drives him to school.

She has an idea - instead of the parade she takes him to an aquarium where they spy a clownfish. At first the fish seems interested in the boy, but soon ducks back into the anemones to hide, just as the boy hides away from the world. The boy recognises the fish's behaviour in himself, and vows to try harder for next year's parade.

We sat down and read this book through many times, particularly at the moment where Charlotte once again has attachment issues and won't let us drop her off at school with a smile and a bounce in her step. The book has helped a lot, and we'd recommend it to any parents who are seeing similar things happen with their own children.

Charlotte's best bit: Charlotte recognised the boy's anxiety issues as being very like her own and loved the bit at the aquarium

Daddy's Favourite bit: A very sensitive subject dealt with quite wonderfully here by Davina and Allison.

(Kindly sent to us for review by Scribe Publishing)
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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Catching up with the wonderful "Storytime" Magazine - Issue 7 rocks!

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Storytime Magazine Issue 7 - Out very soon!
The lovely folk at Storytime Magazine have been back in touch with us to let us know that Issue 7 is fast approaching. If you haven't caught up with this wonderful magazine yet (and you missed our review of the magazine's first issue) then here's a taste of what you've been missing.

Storytime is a magazine chock full of stories (no kidding!) and we love the mix of traditional fairy tales, myths & legends and more contemporary stories too.

Best of all there are no ads, no nasty plastic toys and the whole thing will cost you far less than some of those awful licensed TV and merchandise-driven magazines you see polluting your local supermarket shelves (seriously, has anyone ever actually found a good one amongst those?)

Dipping into issue 7 you're in for a serious treat. As you can see from the cover, the team have put together a wonderful version of Rapunzel...

Read the story, and don't forget to find all Rapunzel's hair bows hidden in the picture!
...but there's more too. Want to know the legend behind the Giant's Causeway? Then you'll love Fin McCool (who is as McCool as he sounds!)

Fancy a spot of zaniness? Then "The Three Sillies" will definitely be your cup of tea. 

There's still more including puzzles and games to keep your little ones entertained in between those fantastic stories. The monthly magazine is high quality, with artwork to die for - and it's really great to see classic stories presented for a whole new audience by a team who obviously love stories as much as we do. 

We won't spoil too much for you, but you can get a sneaky preview of Issue 7 on the Storytime Issues Page here. 

Begorrah! A fine set of irish gnashers
Storytime are currently giving you an amazing chance to try this fantastic magazine for just £1. Drop by the site or click on this link to find out more! Better still, if you'd like to qualify for a free issue, or an optional discount on subscriptions phone 0843 504 4932 and talk to the team to arrange your own free copy!




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A new and gorgeous range of classic fairy tales, brought to life for your little ones by Mara Alperin and Loretta Schauer, coming soon from Little Tiger Press

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"Rumpelstiltskin" by Mara Alperin and Loretta Schauer (Little Tiger Press)


Some of the world's most beloved fairy tales are about to get a new lease of life in a new "My First Fairy Tales" range from Little Tiger Press. 

Lovingly retold by Mara Alperin, with illustrations by Loretta Schauer and various other extremely talented children's illustrators, the new range is bold, big, colourful and utterly brilliant!

We were sent a couple to review, and we started with the classic tale of Rumpelstiltskin. 

The miller is so proud of his youngest daughter Isabel, that he can't stop bragging about her. In a slightly ill-timed boast, he makes the bold claim that she can spin straw into gold. The news reaches the ears of a greedy and avaricious king, who spirits Isabel away to his castle, presents her with a gigantic pile of straw and a spinning wheel, and bids her to get busy - or spend the rest of her life in the castle dungeons (what a MEANIE!)

Poor Isabel is downcast, but her plea for help does not go unheard. A strange little fellow in a golden waistcoat appears, promising to help Isabel perform the miraculous deed. His price? Fame and fortune at a later date once Isabel escapes the chop. 

You will undoubtedly know the rest of the story, given a fantastic treatment here by Mara and Loretta. Does Isabel make good on her promise? Does the avaricious king get his comeuppance? Does Rumpelstiltskin ever realise that he could've just spun himself a fortune in the first place? You will have to read this excellent version yourself to find out. 

"The Three Little Pigs" by Mara Alperin and Ag Jatkowska (Little Tiger Press)
The second title we took a look at, again written by Mara Alperin but with illustrations by Ag Jatkowska this time, is equally as fab. The story of the three little pigs is so universally well known, but again this is a bright bold and colourful version absolutely perfect for bedtime stories with your little ones thanks to the large paperback format, and wonderful illustrations. 

Three little pigs gather building materials for their own little piggy houses, but a nasty wolf lurks, threatening to huff, puff and blow their houses down. What can happen to a house made of straw, of twigs or of bricks? You know the rest, of course!

This is a brilliant range featuring some of our favourite tales. Check out the other titles in Little Tiger Press's new "My First Fairy Tales" range on the Little Tiger Website
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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Emily Brown and the Thing (Re-Review) by Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton (Hodder Children's Books)

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Emily Brown and the Thing

Written by Cressida Cowell

illustrated by Neal Layton

Published by Hodder Children's Books

We (or rather I) did this book a bit of a disservice when we originally reviewed it all the way back in 2012. Scrappy artwork? Not always convincing? What on earth...! So with a timely reprint of this awesome story, it's time to give it another go!

Charlotte adores the Emily Brown books, and quite rightly argued with me as vociferously as a 4 year old could when we were originally reading this book back then. Of course, you should always listen to the opinions of your children when it comes to stores - they're invariably right!

Emily Brown's second outing is equally as fun and adventurous as the first but this time Emily is run ragged by The Thing, a big fuzzy itchy scratchy wailing crybaby of a monster who seems to have a ton of unreasonable demands to make on her and her righteous bunny companion Stanley.

The Thing has lost his cuddly, so it's up to Emily Brown and Stanley to don their funky night-vision goggles, brave wolves and varmints to climb to the top of the spikiest tree to retrieve The Thing's comfort blanket.

Once done, Emily goes back to her warm comfortable bed - but alas The Thing's tummy is rumbling so loudly, no one can sleep! So it's off to the frozen wastes of Alaska, braving grumpy polar bears to search for a glass of warm milk (Warm milk, Alaska?)

The thing gulps this down, but is still not satisfied. He now has a tickly throat (and it's at this point during our re-reading that Charlotte pulled off the perfect impression of a hacky coughing monster, you see she's a past master at perfecting the fake 'stay awake' cough, which she uses if she's trying to make sure Mummy and Daddy don't get any sleep when she can't!)

What works for a tickly throat? Icky green medicine from the whining witches.

In each case, Emily Brown dutifully does as The Thing asks, but what is really wrong with the big wibbly crybaby really?

He's scared. Of things. In the dark.

At this point, had Charlotte been Emily Brown (and I guess that would make me Stanley) I think we'd have taken The Thing out to the dark scary woods, to the top of that spiky scratchy tree, tied him up with his comfort blanket and left him there until morning - possibly to be ravenously consumed by wolves! Naturally Emily Brown is more tolerant and finally gets to the bottom of Thing's problem. Bless her heart!

Like "That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown", this book has stood the test of time with Charlotte (and like "Rabbit", Charlotte smilingly tolerates my wibbly high-pitched 'Thing' voice as once again he squeals "Oh Emily Brown, Emily Brown!") Cressida's tale is beautifully constructed, Neal's so-called "Scrappy" artwork is subtle, engaging and I just can't imagine the book working as well without it (so what the heck was I on back in 2012? Grumpy pills?)

There are two more Emily Brown adventures. One of which we have read, one of which we haven't. I have to admit that we did not take to "Cheer up your Teddy Bear, Emily Brown" as the story's use of repetition begins to grate after you've said the same lines about 4-5 times (bear in mind again though, 2012 = grumpy pills!) However we now feel that we absolutely MUST track down "Emily Brown and the Elephant Emergency" to ensure we're fully up to speed with the adventures of this imaginative girl and her fab little bunny companion!

Charlotte's best bit: The Thing's diet. 100 hamburgers, plus an apple for the vitamins! LOVE!

Daddy's Favourite bit: With the benefit of hindsight I couldn't have got this one more wrong the first time around, it's a brilliant and entertaining romp and Charlotte still loves it as much at 7 as she did at 3!

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

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"That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown" by Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton

"Cheer Up your Teddy Bear Emily Brown" by Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton
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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The First Slodge by Jeanne Willis and Jenni Desmond (Little Tiger Press)

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The First Slodge

Written by Jeanne Willis

Illustrated by Jenni Desmond

Published by Little Tiger Press

What on EARTH is a Slodge? Crawling out of the undergrowth as this wonderful story opens, we puzzled over this strange but happy little creature but definitely want to tell you all about her! The Slodge is the star of a new tale from storytelling genius Jeanne Willis, and illustrative ubermeister Jenni Desmond. Put two of our favourite picture book talents together and magic happens as the happy carefree Slodge makes her way through the world.

Her world. Let's be clear about this.

The Slodge is free to explore, to gambol through the undergrowth, to sigh in wonder and amazement as the moon rises and the sun sets, to climb trees and eat their luscious fruit. But one such foraging mission doesn't go according to plan as The Slodge realises that someone else has crashed in on her blissful life.

Who is this miscreant? This invader? Who cares - The Slodge definitely does NOT want to share.

It takes a moment of peril and danger to make our lovely little squishy green girl that perhaps being alone is fine, but being able to share an amazing world with an equally amazing friend is utterly fabulous.

We love the way this book wraps up - with a joyous page spread celebrating the diversity of life and how we truly do take for granted how we share our space in the world with a zillion other amazing creatures. But as we said at the top of the review, The Slodge is definitely the star and we absolutely ADORE her, squishy and green as she is!


Charlotte's best bit: The Slodge climbing trees (as all girls love to) to scoff a sweet fruit

Daddy's Favourite bit: A lovely little moral tale from two of the most exciting talents working in children's picture books today. Unmissable!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Little Tiger Press)

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Monday, March 9, 2015

A grand Booky outing to Blackwells Oxford, to celebrate the launch of "Very Little Cinderella" by Teresa Heapy and Sue Heap (Random House)

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Yummy yummy cake! (Not Lello though!)


We got very excited when we heard that two of our favourite booky folk, Teresa Heapy and Sue Heap, were popping into one of the most awesome bookshops (Blackwells in Oxford) for a very special very little book launch. 

Blog followers will know that Heapy and Heap's "Very Little Red Riding Hood" was joint Book of the Year last year on the blog. A beautifully tweaked re-telling of a classic fairy tale, told with such an expert eye on toddler observation (and such wonderful illustrations too), we just couldn't get enough of it (and still can't). 

We arrived early and with typical Daddy observation skills I managed to walk right past that beautiful pink cake and the books. DOH!

Thankfully Mummy was on hand to steer me right, and I recognised Teresa proudly hovering near the cake. Couldn't resist cheekily introducing ourselves, and settling in for a reading of "Very Little Cinderella", Hooray!


Teresa (standing) and Sue (kneeling) getting ready to captivate the gathered audience 
Sue started off by drawing Very Little Cinderella herself, a spirited little toddler with her own wonderful sense of style (and the same hilarious way of talking in the story that completely won us over in "Very Little Red Riding Hood"). 

Sue gamely managed to draw a perfect pic (despite having to kneel on the floor, owch!) so then it was Teresa's turn to tell the story itself. 

Don't forget the lello boots!
Very Little Cinderella is busy cleaning the house when the Ugly Sisters crash in and inform her that they're off to a party, and The Fairy Godmother will be babysitting for the evening. Very Little Cinderella isn't too happy at being left at home while her sisters are gadding about, so with a little help from the Fairy Godmother, and a blue dress, big blue scooter and a touch of magic she makes it to the party too. But they must be home at midnight!

There is dancing, there are friends to be made  but all too soon the clock strikes 12 and it's time to go home. 

Unfortunately, in Very Little Cinderella's rush to run home to bed, she loses her beloved yellow (LELLO, daddy, LELLO!) boot and is completely beside herself. Nothing can console her, but wait a moment, who's that at the (very little) door?

We had a great time - Charlotte really loved helping Sue and all the other kids drawing a Very Little Prince Charming

Charlotte drawing a Very Little Prince (love those red cheeks!)
It was utterly wonderful to meet Teresa and Sue, and get our own copy of the book signed (and Charlotte definitely gave that cake a HUGE thumbs up! It looked delicious!) We'll be reviewing "Very Little Cinderella" in full on the blog very soon, but in the meantime Charlotte managed to squeeze a secret out of Teresa who whispered to her that "Very Little Sleeping Beauty" will be making an appearance next in the series, YESSSS!



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Nature's Day by Kay Maguire and Danielle Kroll (Wide Eyed Editions)

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Nature's Day

Written by Kay Maguire

Illustrated by Danielle Kroll

Published by Wide Eyed Editions

What better way to introduce the very young to astonishingly brilliant non-fiction books than with a title as gorgeous as this. From the moment you see the cover of "Nature's Day" by Kay Maguire and Danielle Kroll, you can't wait to jump in head first - and your little ones will feel the same. Children have a natural curiosity about nature and the world around them and this book really encourages that, right from the word go.

Taking children through the four seasons, the many nuances in our weather, the wondrous flora and fauna we can discover in our world from the far-flung reaches of the rainforest right to our very own doorsteps and back gardens, Kay and Danielle are our tour guides on a lyrical journey soaking up everything nature has to offer.

Wide Eyed Editions are really developing a knack for brilliance when it comes to non fiction - with these big sturdy hard-backed books designed to be enjoyed sprawled out on the floor, just like the big weighty books I used to lose myself in as a kid. With tons and tons of gorgeously detailed illustrations to pull Charlotte in and grab her attention too, this is a real winner.

Charlotte's best bit: Visiting all the different places where nature can be found, and where all the different plants and animals live in harmony

Daddy's Favourite bit: A beautiful book packed full of amazing page spreads to really draw your little ones in, and develop their love of nature

(Kindly sent to us for review by Wide Eyed Editions)

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Atlas of Adventures by Rachel Williams and Lucy Letherland
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Saturday, March 7, 2015

Lili by Wen Dee Tan (Fat Fox Books)

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Lili

Written and Illustrated by
Wen Dee Tan

Published by Fat Fox Books

We're fortunate enough to be included on the fabulous Fat Fox Books Blog Tour for a new author and a new book that's absolutely guaranteed to light your fire. From the moment you spy the gorgeous cover, you're going to fall in love with it!

Meet Lili, she's the flame-haired hero of Wen Dee Tan's first book for Fat Fox. Lili's hair isn't just fiery in colour, it's actually fiery in nature too!

For a carefree little girl with a ton of joie de vivre this isn't really a problem, but soon Lili discovers that a flame-haired lass can have a pretty tough time of it in the real world. Neighbour's sheets are charred on the washing line, and an innocent game of jump-rope can go horribly awry. Soon, it feels like no one wants Lili or her troublesome tresses around.

Lili wanders dejectedly in the woods, and discovers a group of the village children in danger. Can Lili's wonderful hairdo possibly save the day after all?

This book has the most endearing hero as its central character, and we rode a rollercoaster ride with Lili as she seems so happy and full of life - but doesn't always fit in. The message tucked neatly betwixt the glorious pages here tells us that everyone is special, everyone has that certain something about them that may turn out to be their saving grace later on in life.

The story flows beautifully, the illustrations are purposely minimalist with Lili's flame-red hair drawing the eye in every page spread. It's a luscious treat to behold indeed, and a real joy to read to your mighty girls and boys (even more so if they have gorgeous red hair too!)

We love Lili, what an awesome first book from Wen Dee for Fat Fox! May there be many many more!

Charlotte's best bit: Lili unintentionally setting someone's lovely clean washing on fire! Oops!

Daddy's Favourite bit: A gorgeous book from start to finish, an endearing central character and a real feel-good message delivered with aplomb. Wonderful, Wen Dee!

(Kindly supplied in PDF format for review by Fat Fox Books)

Like this? We think you'll love these too!

The Red Tree by Shaun Tan

The Katie Morag books by Maire Hedderwick



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Friday, March 6, 2015

ReadItDaddy's SECOND Book of the Week - Week Ending 6th March 2015 - "That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown" by Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton (Hodder Children's Books)

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That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown

Written by Cressida Cowell

Illustrated by Neal Layton

Published by Hodder Children's Books

We are cheating a bit here by squeezing in a second book of the week this week with a book that we've previously reviewed way back in the mists of time when we still had a rating out of 5, and this blog was in its infancy (along with our Blog Boss Charlotte who was a mere whippersnapper back then!)

So is it possible for a book that your child loved as a tiny tiddler to still be well received now they're an opinionated and fussy 7 year old?

In the case of "That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown" the answer is a resounding YESSSS!

So why did this book stand the test of time? Well look at the talent behind it for starters. Cressida Cowell, known to millions as the genius behind the "How to Train your Dragon" series which has made the leap to the big and small screens from its book beginnings, writes this absolute cracker. Neal Layton, illustrative genius behind one of our all-time favourite books "Jennifer Jones Won't Leave Me Alone" provides the stunningly appropriate and fantastically scribbly-scrobbly visuals for our story journey.

But having top talent to pen a story isn't always the be all and end all. Why then IS this story so utterly perfect for Charlotte? It's because of Emily Brown herself and her wild and vivid imagination. Over the course of "That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown", Emily - always accompanied by her old faithful toy rabbit Stanley, embarks on the most incredible adventures often without straying from her own back yard. She treks across the sahara desert on a motorbike, climbs through the rain forests and explores the outer reaches of space.

Stanley is the focus for this story, you see avaricious eyes have rather taken a shine to the scruffy old rabbit with his wonky smile. After making several offers of 'swapsies' for Stanley, Queen Gloriana The Third adopts downright sneaky tactics to kidnap Stanley and take him to the palace to live with her instead.

Poor Stanley! He does NOT look happy!

As you can imagine, Emily Brown is not the sort of girl who is going to stand by and watch her best friend be spirited away, so she decides a trip to the palace is in order.

Revisiting this now Charlotte is older (and thankfully still tolerant of me using a multitude of really silly voices for all the characters in this such as the army, naval and air commanders) it is actually a genuine joy to see her still as excited and entertained by this book (though she made a lot of pointed comments about NEEDING all those "How to Train your Dragon" books lovingly listed at the end. We'd better start saving our birthday money!)

Emily Brown has now featured in four books (and we'll be taking another look at "Emily Brown and the Thing" soon, another re-review to see if Charlotte still loves that grizzly scratchy old Thing as well!)

If you've yet to encounter the Emily Brown books, I'm almost envious because you are going to experience the joy of finding an utter booky treasure - and one that is going to stay with you and your children for a very long time to come!

(Read our original review of "That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown" here)

Charlotte's best bit: She loves the bit where the sneaky "Queen's Special Commandos" (who are just the army, navy and air force in disguise) sneak in and steal Stanley. How very DARE they!!!!

Daddy's Favourite bit: I was so pleased that these were getting a timely reprint. The Emily Brown stories are brilliant, and span such a wide age range (well, in our case at least) that it's a genuine pleasure to revisit them and dust down all my silly voices to read the absolute best of the bunch. A joyous celebration of a child's imagination, and a rather nicely veiled moral lesson on avarice and envy tucked in between the pages too! Wonderful wonderful WONDERFUL!

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

Like this? We think you'll love these too!

"Emily Brown and the Thing" by Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton

"Jennifer Jones Won't Leave Me Alone" by Frieda Wishinsky and Neal Layton
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