Friday, April 29, 2016

ReadItDaddy's Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 29th April 2016 - "Dear Greenpeace" (25th Anniversary Edition) by Simon James (Walker Books)

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Our Second Book of the Week is a brilliant classic clad in new 25th Anniversary clothes. Welcome back "Dear Greenpeace"...
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ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 29th April 2016 - "The Forest Feast for Kids" by Erin Gleeson (Abrams Books)

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Our first Book of the Week this week is a bit of a departure for us!
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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Boogie on down to the Barnes Children's Literature Festival on the 14th and 15th May for a corking lineup of awesome family friendly events, authors and illustrators!

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Yummy! It's litfest season again and in idyllic surroundings at Barnes Pond down in that there leafy south west London on 14th and 15th May, you can find a truly stunning lineup of events, workshops, craft sessions and of course a stellar line up of authors and illustrators.

The Barnes Children's Literature Festival is a brilliant, community-run event for families with children of all ages. Following the success of the inaugural 2015 festival (70% of events sold out), the programme has doubled in size this year to become London’s largest dedicated children’s book festival, and features some of the biggest names in children’s literature including Michael Morpurgo, Judith Kerr, Jacqueline Wilson and Costa Book Award winner Frances Hardinge.

The Barnes Festival is run entirely by local volunteers and despite being only in its second year, offers a programme akin to something much more established such as Edinburgh or the Bath Children’s Literature Festival. It’s set to become a destination festival on the literary calendar and is a brilliant asset for the Capital.  

Younger children are catered for with a truly astonishing lineup of picture book authors and illustrators joining in.  Lauren Child, David Mackintosh, David Melling, Michelle Robinson, Axel Scheffler, Kristina Stephenson, Ed Vere, Emily Gravett and Anthony Browne will all be attending various author events and workshops during the fest. . 

Events take place throughout the weekend of 14th & 15th May on and around Barnes Pond, SW13. Tickets cost £5. For the full programme and tickets, visit http://www.barneskidslitfest.org/
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Sex Education for middle grade age groups - A veritable minefield! - A ReadItDaddy Editorial

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Oh god. I think I've been dreading this time in Charlotte's life but both my wife and I knew it would arrive sooner or later.

Sex education. The mere mention of it is enough to make most folk run screaming into the hills at the best of times, but what happens when your child is in the "Middle Grade" age group and you realise that practically every book out there is either so babyishly simple that you might as well stick to telling your child that babies are delivered by Storks or are found under the gooseberry bush, or so devilishly complicated that the first thing they say when they look at a diagram in the book is "What IS that supposed to be, Mummy / Daddy?"

Thus we began our search for a book that would achieve an acceptable middle ground.

I know what you're thinking. We must be mad doing this when Charlotte is 8, barely out of the "pink princess" phase - why would we even think about opening a dialogue about sex at this point in her life. What are we, some kind of arch deviants?

Quite simply, we live in an imperfect world where little girls' bodies develop at different rates, and the real reason we wanted to give her a heads up was purely from a practical perspective.

Imagine being an early developer, going through massive physiological changes and suddenly waking up one morning to find that something has happened that your parents didn't warn you about.

I guess I don't need to draw a diagram or go into great detail but if you start down the route of talking about periods you might as well explain why they happen, and really roll the rock down the hill.

My wife wanted to avoid the scenario that happened to her. Basically finding out for herself one morning the hard way, and hopefully broach the subject in a mature and less 'giggly girls in class' way as you can easily imagine these things may pan out in schools (with every respect to teachers everywhere, it's not the way sex education is taught in schools that's the problem but it most definitely is the way girls and boys behave around the subject that has us thinking that this is something we'd rather give her prior knowledge of before hearing some second-hand horror story courtesy of someone in her class with an older sister who wanted to freak their younger sibling out).

The Twitterati were awesome when the question was posed to our followers - Several books were suggested (including the excellent "Let's Talk About Sex" by Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberley - a book that's constantly updated and reprinted to cover all new subject surrounding sexual health, body matters and wellbeing - going above and beyond the usual subjects and branching out into things that would turn my hair white (if I had any) when it comes to describing these to Charlotte.

I wonder what other book bloggers do, armed with the foreknowledge that books really can help in so many situations - even one as tricky as this. So far though it really does look like there's (once again) a middle grade gap in the market that direly needs filling.


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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book and Early Reader roundup for April 2016 - A fab animal-centric month this month!

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Oh boy oh boy, we're in chapter book OVERDRIVE this month with a whopping 6 amazing titles to cover. So let's get straight on with it and kick off with a hilarious bird!

"Dave Pigeon" by Swapna Haddow with illustrations by Sheena Dempsey is, as the cover says, the best book you'll EVER read! Come on, no one is going to argue with Dave are they?

The titular hero is the star of a new 'how to' book specifically designed to help fellow pigeons (and other feline non-fans) survive nasty cat attacks, keeping your wonderful plumage intact. Dave tells the story of how he single-handedly (or should that be bird-footedly) defeated Mean Cat, one of the most evil clawed beasties on the planet.

It's almost impossible not to 'read' Dave as a sort of cockney wide-boy (personally I read him as Mike Reid!) This is such a rib-ticklingly hilarious book and the illustrations are brilliant too! Catch up with Dave's wisdom in "Dave Pigeon" which was released by Faber and Faber on 7th April 2016.

Are you still in the mood for something light-hearted? More jolly japes then I think!

 Meet Vince, star of "Zoo Boy" by Sophie Thompson and Rebecca Ashdown. Vince's dad is a zookeeper, and you'd think that a bit of that love of animals would rub off on Vince. But there's a slight problem. Vince really does NOT like animals. Not at all, not even the cute ones.

It could be because Dad's a bit of a workaholic and loves his job a bit too much, or because mum ran off with a lion tamer but Vince is pretty single-minded in his dislike of creatures great and small.

The thing is, on Vince's 8th birthday he discovers that he has "The Talent" - the ability to talk to animals. Soon he realises that his dislike of the zoo's inmates might actually be well founded, as most of them seem to be spoilt, argumentative and downright annoying. What's next in store for Vince? You'll have to read this hilarious debut from Sophie Thompson! "Zoo Boy" was released on 4th February 2016 from Faber and Faber.

All those animals have made me feel a bit itchy and scratchy, so I think we'll take a look at something a lot less furry. Tapirs are beautifully smooth aren't they?

 Polly Faber and Clara Vulliamy have teamed up once again for another delectable series of tales from Mango and Bambang. "Tapir All At Sea" is, as you'd expect, a nautical selection of little ditties once again reuniting our brilliant mighty girl Mango and her glorious long-proboscised companion Bambang for exciting tales featuring dogs, diamond rings, dancing and an evil nemesis back for more mischief.

We love the format of this book, perfectly pitched for bite-sized bedtime reading or to be consumed all in one go like a lovely bag of Maoam Stripes.

"Mango and Bambang - Tapir All At Sea" by Polly Faber and Clara Vulliamy was released on 3rd March 2016 from Walker Books. Treat yourself also to the first Mango and Bambang book "Mango and Bambang the Not-a-Pig" as it's also brilliant!

More animals? Oh go on then, you're going to love this little fellah!

 Humphrey the adventuresome Hamster is back in "Spring According to Humphrey", the latest adventure story featuring our fuzzy little hero, written by Betty G. Birney. Humphrey is looking forward to the first rays of sunshine as the class in Room 26 (where Humphrey is school hamster) prepare for Family Fun Night.

The upcoming event sets Humphrey's active little mind thinking - about families, about where we come from and the places we call home.

This is a gorgeous little series of books perfect for early readers looking for exciting and fun tales to cut their chapter-reading teeth on. Humphrey's inquisitive nature and love of life are completely infectious so do take a look at this gorgeous little book and the rest of the "According to Humphrey" series by Betty too!

"Spring According to Humphrey" was released on 3rd March 2016 by Faber and Faber.

More animals you say? More? Well we'll happily oblige! We've been taking a sneaky early look at a gorgeous book out in June.

"Erica's Elephant" by Sylvia Bishop with illustrations by Ashley King is the story of Erica Perkins, who wakes up on the morning of her 10th birthday to find a rather unexpected birthday party guest sitting on her doorstep.

It's a large smiley elephant! Erica swiftly finds that it's actually a lot of fun having a rather large playmate around, but it's not always easy to live with such a huge house guest when you live in a modest terrace.

Erica also soon discovers that the nefarious owner of a local zoo has designs on her new best friend, so will Erica be able to keep her new buddy safe?

Chock full of brilliant humour and glorious little illustrations, this is a hugely entertaining book for children who quite fancy the idea of a pet of their own (but please Charlotte, don't get any ideas about bringing an Elephant home, we don't have a very big spade!)

"Erica's Elephant" by Sylvia Bishop and Ashley King, published by Scholastic, is out on 2nd June 2016. Lets hope it brings some sunnier weather with it, hooray!

We are almost at the bottom of our lovely book bag. Room for another?

This next one is rather special. Prepare to meet a rather amazing boy...


"The Bubble Boy" by Stewart Foster has sneaked up on us and wrapped us in the most heartwarming and cosy story. 11 year old Joe spends his entire life in hospital.

In the confines of his room, Joe listens all day to the steady beep of machinery, the sterile smell of disinfectant up his nose. Joe dreams of a life outside his room, but dream is all he can do. Joe's condition means that he can't go out.

One day a visitor arrives, which is unusual in itself because Joe isn't normally allowed visitors. Amir is - for want of a better word - crazy, and soon completely changes the way Joe looks at his "bubble" of a world.

I can categorically state two things about this book.
1) You are going to need tissues. Lots of tissues and
2) The very moment you reach the last page, you're going to want to go right back to the beginning and start again.
It's a gloriously warming and very thought provoking book that will in part make you glad for what you are and what you've got, but also make you cheer (or sob) with happiness at the end. Watch out for "Bubble Boy" by Stewart Foster when it releases on 19th May 2016. It's going to be huge!

Now, a seriously heavy hitter in children's books has a new book out. Care to journey into space?

Frank Cottrell Boyce's "Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth" is the story of Prez who goes to live with a foster family who - to put it mildly - just LOVE to talk. It's a good job then that Prez is mostly silent because getting a word in edgeways with The Blythes is nigh-on impossible.

One day, Prez has a visitor, a strange looking individual called Sputnik who the family instantly take to. Unlike Prez, Sputnik is welcomed with open arms, pats on the head and food. For some weird reason everyone thinks Sputnik is a dog - but Prez knows otherwise!

If you're beginning to think this story is quite unlike anything you've ever read before, you'd be spot on. "Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth" is brilliantly funny, acutely (and sometimes rather harshly) well observed and full of incredible insight into what it feels like from both sides when you're a stranger in a strange land.

With awesome illustrations from blog fave Steven Lenton, this is the sort of book that has "award" written all over it.

"Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth" was released on the 7th April 2016 by Macmillan Children's Books.

Phew! I think that's about all we've got time for this month but tune in again in May, we'll be bringing you even more gorgeous chapter books to fall hopelessly in love with. See you then!
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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Footpath Flowers by JoArno Lawson and Sydney Smith (Walker Books)

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There are some books that stick out a mile when you're browsing the shelves of your local book store, begging to be picked up. This is just such a book!
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Tufty: The Little Lost Duck Who Found Love by Michael Foreman (Andersen Children's Books)

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Michael Foreman is something of a living legend. Two-times Kate Greenaway Medal winner, and with a gift for making each and every book he writes feel like an instant children's classic, how could we possibly resist a new story from him?
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Monday, April 25, 2016

Just two months left to get in your votes for the awesome "Lollies" - The Laugh Out Loud Children's Book Awards 2016.

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We love rib-ticklingly funny books and we're very very excited to see the shortlist for the 2016 Laugh Out Loud Book Awards (known affectionately as "The Lollies").

Voting is still open for another couple of months so you've got plenty of time to get your kids - and their schools - involved with this brilliant book award.

There's plenty of information available on the Scholastic Lollies Website: https://shop.scholastic.co.uk/lollies but here are some very talented little munchkins to give you a heads up:


The shortlist is broken into several age categories - so here's the list (with some links through to our reviews of these awesome books):

Picture Book Shortlist: 

Hoot Owl - Master of Disguise by Sean Taylor and Jean Jullien (Walker Books)






Gracie Grabbit and the Tiger by Helen Stephens (Scholastic)







I Need a Wee! by Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet (Simon and Schuster)







Slug Needs a Hug by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross (Andersen Children's Books)








6-8 Years Shortlist


Badly Drawn Beth by Jem Packer and Duncan McCoshan (Orchard Books)









The Jolley-Rogers and the Cave of Doom by Jonny Duddle (Templar)








Wilf the Mighty Worrier saves the World by Georgia Pritchett and Jamie Littler (Quercus)








Thorfinn the Nicest Viking and the Awful Invasion by David McPhail and Richard Morgan (Little Kelpies)







9-13 Years Shortlist (which we'll be covering in more detail in an upcoming special Chapter Book roundup!)

Danger is Everywhere by David O'Doherty and Chris Judge (Puffin)











The Parent Agency by David Baddiel and Jim Field (HarperCollins Children's Books)










Emily Sparkes and the Friendship Fiasco by Ruth Fitzgerald (Little, Brown)











Petunia Perry and the Curse of the Ugly Pigeon by Pamela Butchart (Nosy Crow)










It's a heck of a brilliant list isn't it. Get involved by visiting the Scholastic Lollies Web Page, read some of the titles with your class and school (or even on your own) and vote your socks off!

Catch up with our post on 16th May where we round-up those gorgeous 9-13 Years titles in a more in-depth set of mini reviews but most importantly GET VOTING!

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A perfect trio of engaging books to stimulate your imagination from Wide Eyed Editions

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Spring feels like it's finally here, and though there's still a nip in the air, we can imagine ourselves enjoying a good book or three in the shade of our favourite tree.

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Abzzz: A Bedtime Alphabet by Isabel Minhos Martins and Yara Kono (Thames and Hudson)

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We still have keen memories of how much of a fidget and a fiddle the bedtime routine used to be...
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Friday, April 22, 2016

ReaditDaddy's Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 22nd April 2016 - "Swap!" by Steve Light (Walker Books)

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Our Second Book of the Week takes a wonderfully simple idea and turns it into a truly beautiful and hugely original children's story. "Swap!" by Steve Light...
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ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 22nd April 2016 - "Asterix and the Missing Scroll" by Jan-Yves Ferri and Didier Conrad (Orion Children's Books)

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We've been hugely excited about the new Asterix adventures - but could they possibly match up to the classics we've loved for years?
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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Celebrate the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death by checking out a fab new range of Shakespeare titles from Terry (Horrible Histories) Deary

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Hubble Bubble Toil and Trouble! There's something afoot as the world celebrates the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death.
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Chimpanzees for Tea by Jo Empson (Picture Puffin)

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Wow, we're feeling very lucky this year as we've had two brilliant and awesome Jo Empson books so far.
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Supertato! Veggies Assemble! By Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet (Simon and Schuster Children's Books)

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Look! Up in the sky above the chiller section! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it's a...er..it's a potato. But not just any potato...
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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Super Stan by Matt Robertson (Orchard Books)

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Make way for a rather special tiny tot, but is being a superhero all that great if your big brother thinks you're a stinkpot?
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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A brilliant pair of picture books for your bouncing busy little youngsters from Silvia Borando and Walker Books' new Minibombo range

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With bold bright illustrations and fabulously clever ideas, two new titles in Walker Books' new "Minibombo" range have definitely caught our eye this week.

"Near, Far" and "Now you See Me, Now you Don't" by Silvia Borando both combine brilliant design with tons of colourful fun for very little ones.

In "Near, Far" children can have fun guessing which animal each page spread is focusing on - before turning the page to reveal the answer.

Even Charlotte loved the guessing game (and we were both wrong many times, the rabbit in particular caught us out!). This wordless picture book positively encourages interaction and participation and will have your little ones giggling and squealing with delight.

The same is also true of "Now you see me, Now you don't" which combines bold animal designs with a clever use of colour to 'hide' animals with each turn of the page.

Can you remember who each pair of eyes belonged to?

We don't want to spoil this one for you but keep an eye on the bottom right hand corner of each double page spread. How can that animal hide in each colourful scene? The answer will definitely make you giggle!

Both Minibombo titles are out now, released on March 3rd 2016 in Hardback from Walker Books.

Happy spotting!
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Hugless Douglas and the Great Cake Bake by David Melling (Hodder Children's Books)

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Hugless Douglas is back for book 7 in David Melling's enduring bear-based book series. This time, Hugless Douglas is wondering why the world has become somewhat sticky - and also why his prized jar of honey seems to have gone missing!

It doesn't take long to track down the culprits. Those naughty sheep are getting their bake on, and have pinched Douglas's honey to make honey drizzle cakes!

Douglas is such a lovely chap that he forgives the sheep, as long as he gets to join in with the great baa-baa-bake off (and of course sample those delicious sounding cakes at the end!)

But when the greedy sheep snaffle the lot, what on earth can Douglas eat instead, now all the honey is gone?

"Hugless Douglas and the Great Cake Bake" will make your tummy rumble as this entertaining story unfolds, and we learn that amazingly there are actually other things to eat in this big ol' world of ours other than cake (I know, I found it almost impossible to believe too!)

Nice one David! "Hugless Douglas and the Great Cake Bake" was released on 7th April 2016 from Hodder Children's Books.

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Monday, April 18, 2016

Maisy Goes to London by Lucy Cousins (Walker Books)

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Way back when Charlotte was a tiny tot, we absolutely couldn't get enough of Lucy Cousins' fabulous "Maisy" books.
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Splat! The Most Exciting Artists of All Time by Mary Richards (Thames and Hudson)

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Time for a delve into art history in a stunning fact-filled new book from Thames and Hudson...
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Friday, April 15, 2016

ReadItDaddy's Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 15th April 2016 - "Von Doogan and the Great Air Race" by Lorenzo Etherington (David Fickling Books)

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The glorious return of the man with the quiff! Our second Book of the Week this week is the awesome "Von Doogan and the Great Air Race" by Lorenzo Etherington
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ReaditDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 15th April 2016 - "Red's Planet" by Eddie Pittman (Amulet / Abrams)

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We're addicts of intricacy. One thing you'll spot in common with all of our book of the week winners is the amazing attention to detail in them. Exactly what you'll find in "Red's Planet" by Eddie Pittman...
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Thursday, April 14, 2016

"Alphonse, That Is Not OK To Do!" by Daisy Hirst (Walker Books)

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Older siblings get a really tough deal. I should know, I have a younger brother and sister and I distinctly remember what it was like growing up in a house where my lovingly constructed domino rally run was destroyed in seconds by little bro, or my little sis would bring her friends round to giggle and embarrass me.

Daisy Hirst's cute and brilliantly well observed "Alphonse, That is NOT OK to do!" is an ode to older siblings who find their most prized possessions or their most brilliant pieces of artwork irreparably defaced by their brothers or sisters.

It's not that Alphonse is bad per se, he just doesn't understand that books are not for chewing, cardboard models are not for scribbling on and sometimes you just want a bit of peace not to be used as a human trampoline.

Natalie escapes to a warm sud-filled bath but after depicting Alphonse being ravaged by tornadoes, beasts and pea storms (ugh, the latter sound awful!), she worries that perhaps something horrible might happen to Alphonse while she's locked in the bathroom.

But the story has a happy ending, as both Alphonse and Natalie understand what it's like to be a brother or a sister, and sometimes how it's the best thing in the world to have someone else to knock around with.

There was a note of sadness while we were reading this. Charlotte is an only child, and is very likely never to know what it would be like to be Natalie. She has younger cousins and often plays with younger friends but it's not quite the same. Now and again while we sat down together with the book I could see that faraway look in her eye, a look that silently mused over what it would really be like to be a big sis. I could've burst into tears.

Charlotte's favourite bit: Snorting and sniggering at Alphonse's great explanation of how he tried to reach the tape to fix his sister's book but ended up in a total pickle!

Daddy's favourite bit: The illustrations in this are fabulous and bold (and we shout a huge hooray for books that are moving away from the cute and cuddly and going for a more graphic and bold (but brilliant) look. It's also deliciously well observed. I reckon Daisy could possibly tell us a tale or two about her own younger sibs perhaps?

(Kindly sent to us for review by Walker Books)

"Alphonse that is Not OK to do!"

Written and Illustrated by Daisy Hirst

Published by Walker Books

Publication Date: 3rd March 2016
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I Am Doodle Cat by Kat Patrick and Lauren Marriott (Scribe Publications)

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Cats are naturally quite curious, love getting into trouble, and have a built in joie de vivre that is quite infectious...
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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

How Hot is Lava (Good Question Series) by Kelly Smith (Sterling Publishing)

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Budding geologists are going to love this fab book about the inner workings of our planet. "How Hot is Lava (And other questions about volcanoes") by Kelly Smith.
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A Visit to London for Thomas the Tank Engine - Based on the stories by Rev. W. Awdry (Egmont Publishing)

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The beloved "Railway Stories" by Rev. W Awdry have been loved by generations of children, and with the huge revival around the TV series from the 80s onwards, Thomas the Tank Engine is still going strong.
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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Creep and Flutter: The Secret World of Insects and Spiders by Jim Arnosky (Sterling Publishing)

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Are your kids (like mine) unnaturally attracted to minibeasts? Things that creep and flutter, crawl and skitter?
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A Brave Bear by Sean Taylor and Emily Hughes (Walker Books)

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There seem to be a run on bears at Walker Books at the moment - which is fitting, given their branding. Here's a glorious dad-centric story about an incredibly brave little bruin!
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Monday, April 11, 2016

Looking for Lord Ganesh by Mahtab Narsimhan and Sonja Wimmer (Lantana Publishing)

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Once again we're completely dazzled by a Lantana book, this time delving into the rich culture of India and the ancient gods which are still a huge part of  Indian life...
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There's a Tiger in the Garden by Lizzy Stewart (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

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With riotous splashes of colour and a rather neatly wrapped core message, "There's a Tiger in the Garden" is a brilliant little read!
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Friday, April 8, 2016

ReadItDaddy's Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 8th April 2016 - "Albert's Tree" by Jenni Desmond (Walker Books)

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Sometimes it's virtually impossible not to fall completely in love with a book after just one single reading. Our second Book of the Week this week made us feel just like Albert...
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