Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Two more fantastic little animal-based books from Lorenzo Clerici and Silvia Borando (Minibombo / Walker)

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Try as we might, we never seem to settle the argument over which species is more superior. Dogs? Are you a dog lover? Or do you prefer cats?
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Moments in History that Changed the World by Clare Hibbert (British Library / Revolutions)

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The British Library's fantastic new children's range - Revolutions - is a fact-packed bumper book full of the sort of things we love to read about the most.
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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

We're All Wonders by R.J Palacio (Picture Puffin)

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August Pullman, hero of R.J. Palacio's fabulous "Wonder" is back, this time with a message for younger kids...
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Two new corkers for wee ones from Maverick Publishing. Meet a family of giants, and a rather polite Gnu!

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Time for more picture book perfection from Maverick Publishing, who have a couple of new tempting treats for you this month.

First up is our old Twitter mate Karl Newson with a new story that delightfully dances with a few well known (and not so well known) characters, including a family of giants.

In "Fum" by Karl Newson and Lucy Fleming, the family have lost the tiniest member of the family. Little Fum really is thumb-sized, and so the family take a trip through storyland to try and find him, asking various well known characters (including Goldilocks and Little Red Riding Hood) if they've seen the pint-sized fellah anywhere.

It's a lyrical rhyming adventure that's sure to be a read-aloud favourite.

"Fum" by Karl Newson and Lucy Fleming is out now, published by Maverick Publishing. 

Then there's that Gnu!

In "How do you do, Mr Gnu" by Billy Coughlan and Maddie Frost, Mr Gnu has been invited for tea by none other than the Queen herself.

Slipping out of his zoo enclosure, Gnu causes a fuss as he takes a wild journey to the palace, picking up some etiquette and politeness tips as he goes.

But the last person he sees might just see poor Mr Gnu pick up a rather nasty habit instead. Will he make a good impression on Her Maj?

This is a rib-tickling and entertainingly original story - again fab to read aloud with some brill illustrations (and many giggles as we watch the hapless police trying to convince Mr Gnu to get back to his zoo!)

Brilliant stuff!

"How do you Do, Mr Gnu?" by Billy Coughlan and Maddie Frost is out now, published by Maverick Publishing.

(Both books kindly supplied for review)
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Monday, March 27, 2017

Penguin (10th Anniversary Edition) by Polly Dunbar (Walker Books)

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Good lord, is it really 10 years since Penguin first bounced into our lives?
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Labyrinth by Theo Guignard (Wide Eyed Editions)

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Here's a twisty-turny book full of the most devious puzzles. Enter the Labyrinth!
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Friday, March 24, 2017

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 24th March 2017 - "The Seriously Extraordinary Diary of Pig" by Emer Stamp (Scholastic Children's Books)

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Oooh! If there's one thing that gets our trotters in a twist, it's the prospect of re-reading fabulous books we've already loved in hardback in their new paperback clothes.
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ReaditDaddy's Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 24th March 2017 - "The Street Beneath My Feet" by Charlotte Guillain and Yuval Zommer (Words and Pictures)

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Our second Book of the Week poses a rather fascinating question to curious little kids - Do you know what's going on right beneath your feet right now?
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ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 24th March 2017 - "Mummy Laid an Egg" by Babette Cole (Red Fox Picture Books)

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The late, great Babette Cole was definitely a force to be reckoned with in children's literature. A fabulous character, often outspoken and very much a huge influence on other authors and illustrators, her books are beloved by millions.
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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Surprise Surprise by Niki Daly (Otter Barry Books)

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What a sweet little book, with a twirly twist in the tale. Here's "Surprise Surprise" by Niki Daly...
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Cover Me, I'm going in! Why is it so hard to give book cover artists credit? A ReadItTorial

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Cover Artist Francis Tipton Hunter (Saturday Evening Post)
I know it's not a new thing, but lately it's been a particular bugbear of mine. Now we've started covering chapter books in greater detail, we're often hugely frustrated to see that the Author gets a deserving credit on the book (spine and cover, and internal plates) but quite often we have to hunt to find out who the cover artist was.

Championing Sarah McIntyre's brilliant "Pictures Mean Business" campaign (which you can read more about over on her blog), it feels like something we have to chirp up about on a regular basis, because there's still a long way to go and a lot of work to do.

Recently we've noticed that some publishers have definitely got the message. Oxford Children's Books now handily note who their cover artists are in press releases. If you're a book blogger who is quite often pushed for time, and covering a lot of books - having vital information like that in a handy-to-refer-to press release is a godsend, saving vital time scrabbling around for the information or fruitlessly googling / looking at publisher websites to try and find the answer (quite often if you're looking at an early draft of the book, the full credits aren't always included in the inside pages anywhere).

So what's the deal here? Why is this even a thing?

We'd hazard a guess that it's a mix of things. Publishers not wishing to detract from the author's hard work, perhaps even the assumption that once an artist is paid up for their cover work the deal is done. But as many artists will know, their cover art is a vital prod in the right direction for those folk who (like us) still browse bookshops in search of something new and cool to read.

There's no getting around the fact that cover impact is a huge part of a 'browsing' book buying decision and though there's a fair amount of snobbery about this particular method of making a book buying decision, it's absolutely the way a lot of kids will discover books (and particular authors) for the first time.

I remember overhearing a conversation in Waterstones once, where a boy was arguing with his brother that Terry Deary not only wrote the Horrible Histories books but also did all the illustrations and covers. It was quite hard not to chirp in and point out that Martin Brown's hard work is a huge part of the success of those books, but kids are kids and who the heck would want some grumpy adult correcting you when you're trying to score points over your brother?

I had a conversation recently with an artist who provided covers for a book we recently reviewed, who was told flatly by the publisher that they wouldn't be getting any kind of a cover credit. Again this struck me as more than a bit mean - this is, after all, a hugely valuable way of an artist getting more work - if their images are used on a book cover and in promo material, and they have no claim of proof of this (as I'm guessing once art is handed over, the sole rights then belong to the publisher) then how is that even fair? (I've chosen not to reveal the artist's name or the publisher but I'm quite frankly surprised that large publishers are worse for this sort of thing than smaller indies).

One line of credit text on a book cover is surely not that much to expect? Believe me, I would find it a massive help and who knows? The next generation of artists might be even more inspired as they come up through the ranks to know that they will actually get their name on a book. Surely it makes sense?
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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The March Wind by Inez Rice and Vladimir Bobri (Bodleian Publishing)

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Another fabulous treat from Bodleian's amazing back catalogue, gorgeously republished for a whole new audience...
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The Rain Puddle by Adelaide Holl and Roger Duvoisin (Bodleian Publishing)

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We've often talked about how brilliant it is to see classic children's books being brought back to life and reprinted...
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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A great way to improve kids handwriting with the "Write on Wipe Off Cursive Writing" cards from Flash Kids (Sterling Publishing)

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Here's a neat idea from FlashKids and boy, could all of us ever use some brilliant ways of improving our handwriting!
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Charlie and Mouse by Laurel Snyder and Emily Hughes (Chronicle Children's Books)

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A gorgeous book that recalls idyllic childhood days of play, and makes us long for the onset of spring...
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Monday, March 20, 2017

Monster Baby by Sarah Dyer (Otter-Barry Books)

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A ticklish little tale about getting a new brother or sister, told from a little monster's perspective. Here's "Monster Baby" by Sarah Dyer
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Two sizzling new books work some serious magic on your eyeballs. It's time for "Pyjamarama!" (Thames and Hudson)

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Two new additions to the fabulous Pyjamarama range have arrived. Get ready to see the world through Pyjama-vision!
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Friday, March 17, 2017

ReadItDaddy's Second Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 17th March 2017 - "William Bee's Wonderful World of Trucks" by (who else!) William Bee (Pavilion Children's Books)

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Our Book of the Week slot is PACKED this week, I know! But we make no apologies for squeezing this one in...
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ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 17th March 2017 - "Dork Diaries: Skating Sensation" by Rachel Renee Russell (Simon and Schuster Children's Books)

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Our Chapter Book of the Week is from a book series that Charlotte has become a little bit obsessed with, and that's putting it mildly...
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ReadItDaddy's Book(s) of the Week - Week Ending 17th March 2017 - A Smorgasbord of LEGO BATMAN! (Scholastic)

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The Lego Batman Movie looks like it's an essential cinema date for Charlotte and Me. So we had to make a trio of fabulous Scholastic titles based on the movie our books of the week!
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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Letting 'em fly - Those days when you feel gutsy enough to put your writing out there - A ReadItTorial

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You wake up one morning and after reading yet another dozen or so books that feel like they've been stamped out by some unstoppable machine, you start to look longingly at the manuscripts you're working on.

Some days you even feel like you're brave enough to submit them to an agent, or blind-submit them to a publisher who accepts unsolicited work.

Those days are very weird. Paranoia sets in almost immediately you hit the 'send' button, having read their terms and conditions to yourself a dozen times over, feeling sure that you haven't done anything to offend the sensitive process or upset the slush pile.

Paranoia gives way to a major pang of regret pretty soon after...

"Oh damn, I should've changed that bit" or "Ack, I think I might've gone over the word limit" or even "This story really is rubbish, how on earth did I think that would ever fly?"

I'd bet that's natural even for the most well established authors and illustrators, or perhaps I'm wrong - they just blithely jet off a manuscript while humming the theme tune to the Archers, gaily skipping around the house awaiting the ping of their email and a virtually instant response.

The next stage is the waiting. Any agent or publisher worth their salt will make you wait, and wait, and wait for a response - and will also ensure there's a caveat on their submissions page somewhere that says "Don't call us, we'll call you - if we call you at all!" which means that you've really got no idea whether you've been successful or not. The only thing to do is get on with your life, or maybe start work on the next few manuscripts ready to send off somewhere else.

Children's books are tough to write - and anyone who tells you otherwise is deluding themselves. I've written many times before on how tough an audience a roomful of kids can be, even when you're reading someone else's work. Imagine doing the same with something of your own and it being the equivalent of telling a terrible joke as a stand-up comedian and meeting a wall of silence rather than gales of laughter.

Some writers (and usually the ones who really need a decent editor / critique / severe reality check) have a built-in belief that "Because book A was published, and sucks, my book should be in with a fighting chance) and again it's a very dangerous assumption to make that your work is better than anyone elses. The best you can hope for is 'different' but if you're the sort of writer who shakes a fist at the sky, shouting "Why THEM! Why THEIR BOOK! It SHOULD'VE BEEN MINE" you're entering the wrong business, muchacho.

Of course, you could opt for the self-published route. The internet is awash with stories of "Joe Bloggs who quit his job as a sewage treatment worker and now writes and self publishes his own stories for children". Digging behind the scenes of those stories, you swiftly uncover the reality of self publishing in today's world and also swiftly conclude that the only way anyone could comfortably make a living straight out of the gate as a self published author would be to live on a tin of butterbeans a day, in a small hovel made of discarded Waitrose carrier bags, by the side of the A113 Heckmondswycke to Birthen.

I have lots of reasons for wanting to be published. None of them are financial. I want the chance to tell stories to a wider audience than my appreciative daughter or her (well meaningly uber-critical) mum. I want to somehow end up in that glorious gig of going to book festivals, not as a furtive consumer but as someone standing up in front of a room full of kids and their parents, talking about that day I sent off some manuscripts and the whole thing blew up from there. Most of all though I just want to do something that feels completely unattainable, yet amazingly special if by chance you're lucky enough to ever get your name at the top of a book that will one day sit on bookshelves or in bookstores (or more likely in my case, languish in those '2 for a pound' bins at your local discount store).

Lacking a critique clique or anyone to bounce ideas off, I'm taking a risk in assuming that someone else out there might find the stories touching or amusing, or perhaps feeling that my tales have struck just the right balance between peril and redemption.

If I ever got a reply back (even a negative one) I could at least tick off a couple more tries, stick those manuscripts away in a dusty drawer and perhaps return to them in another few years time and try again. But like many things in life, if you don't at least try and keep on trying, you're never going to know for sure.


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This or That? by Brandon T. Snider (Sterling Publishing)

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Here's an interesting idea for a book that poses a series of pretty tricky questions to you. This or That? By Brandon T. Snider
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Rosie Revere's Big Project Book for Bold Engineers by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts (Chronicle Children's Books)

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Time to build and invent with a seriously brilliant book character. A welcome back for Rosie Revere!
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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Jimmy Finnegan's Wild Wood Band by Tom Knight (Templar Publishing)

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Get your metal on with a fantastic story of a kid who just wanted a bit of rock-star-style excitement in his plain ordinary life...
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Over and Under the Pond by Kate Messner and Christopher Silas Neal (Chronicle)

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Captivating nature and an idyllic day out for a mother and sun. There's nothing like messing about in boats!
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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Alphamals by Ruth Symons and Graham Carter (Big Picture Press)

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You're really spoilt for choice these days when it comes to fabulous alphabet books.
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The Fairytale Hairdresser and Aladdin by Abie Longstaff and Lauren Beard (Picture Corgi)

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Charlotte utterly LOVES the "Fairytale Hairdresser" range of books, and the dream team of Abie Longstaff and Lauren Beard have impressed her once again...
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Monday, March 13, 2017

The world as you've never seen it before in the fantastic "Where on Earth?" Atlas (Dorling Kindersley)

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It goes without saying that if there's one publisher you turn to if you want absolutely fact-filled brilliant non-fiction books, it's Dorling Kindersley.
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Counting with Tiny Cat by Viviane Schwarz (Walker Books)

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Making numbers and counting fun is the key to engaging young children with their first steps in maths....
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Friday, March 10, 2017

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 10th March 2017 - "The Demon Headmaster (Book1)" by Gillian Cross

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So this is where it all began! Our Chapter Book of the Week is the fantastic "The Demon Headmaster" by Gillian Cross...
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ReadItDaddy's 2nd Book of the Week - Week Ending 10th March 2017 - "Secret Hero Society - Fort Solitude" by Derek Fridolf and Dustin Nguyen (Scholastic / DC Comics)

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Our Second Book of the Week this week is the glorious sequel to the first "Secret Hero Society" story. What happens when Bruce, Clark and Diana head for camp...?
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ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 10th March 2017 - "Evil Emperor Penguin Strikes Back" by Laura Ellen Anderson (David Fickling Books)

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He's black (and white, and sort of orangey) he's mean, and he kicks butt! Our esteemed Book of the Week this week is, of course, "Evil Emperor Penguin Strikes Back" by Laura Ellen Anderson...
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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Celebrating the release day of "William Bee's Wonderful World of Trucks" with an awesome interview (Pavilion Children's Books)

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Here's a fantastic interview with super-talented William Bee, the incredible artist and author of "William Bee's Wonderful World of Trucks" which is out TODAY! Hooray!!!

So step right up Mr Bee, and take a seat!

When you first started out in graphic design did you think you'd ever be creating children's books?

I didn't know what graphic design was when I was at school, but my Art teacher said that was what I would end up doing as I tended to paint pictures of racing cars with tobacco sponsors all over them. She was right, but when I did a BA in Graphic Design I spent most of my time doing anything but Graphic design! However, what is very good about Graphic Design as a subject is that it is all about solving creative problems, and that solution might be photographic, typographic, three dimensional, or illustrative.

I ended up doing an MA in Graphics too, but mostly making films and screen printing. I never fancied working for a design agency, so when I left college I mostly worked freelance for fashion companies like Paul Smith and Issey Miyake, and then ended up with an illustration agent by accident. I did illustration work for all sorts of companies, which for a while was interesting, but really I was just working on other people’s ideas. So, I sat down one day and made a list of the things I thought I could do, and decided children's books was the best option.


Do you think your background in advertising has impacted on or influenced your approach to your books?
If it has, it is mostly in my working methods. In advertising, you have to work quickly and get things done to strict deadlines. So, with my children’s books I try and get the illustrations as final as I can before sending them to my agent or publisher for feedback, to try and streamline the process and make everyone’s life easier.

I would say the fashion Industry has been more impactful on my books in some ways. It's bit shameless - more so even than advertising. It's very good at squeezing every last ounce out of an idea. Something that works will be recycled over and over again with the smallest of tweaks, season after season. Neither I nor my publishers would go that far; more than anything we want to do new things. But building on previous books and characters is a good thing to do. For example, the traffic cones in my latest book, William Bee's Wonderful World of Trucks, first appeared in an ad for Vodafone I did. Then they appeared in my first Migloo book - hot out of the moulding machine. They grew arms and legs in the second book, and now they have proper supporting roles in in this new series. And here is more mileage in them, yet, I think.


How do you create each spread - do you draw freehand initially and play about with composition?
I seem to have a set of 'rules' in every book I have done, which I had no idea I had. One is that the books are always in scale - no close-ups or distance shots. This does makes composing a spread quite easy, and with these vehicle books I keep the big things on the spreads – such as buildings and trucks – flat, viewed side-on or front-on.

Once the text is pretty much final, I know what illustrations are going on each page and draw the basic vehicles, up to a certain standard, for 80/90 % of the book. Once I’ve had feedback on the general composition, the next stage is 'prettifying' everything up, playing with line thicknesses, adding graphics and colour motifs – to bring it all to life. Then I add the characters and little narratives before getting further feedback and making any smaller tweaks.

Through the whole process my editor - Neil Dunnicliffe - is always a source of help. If I send a spread that isn't working, we'll usually work it out together, sometimes bringing in my art director, Lee May Lim, too.


How did your first publishing deal come about?

Having decided to 'do' a children's book, and not having a writer to work with, I thought I would quickly write up an idea, illustrate it, and see where that got me. I wrote a simple story called 'Whatever' about a child who was not impressed with anything and gets his comeuppance. The attraction of the idea was that each spread was largely stand alone, something I was used to doing. I designed and illustrated it quite quickly, then bought a hardback sketch book, cut it down to size, printed out all the pages, and glued them into the sketchbook, and put a wrap-around cover on it. It looked pretty convincing as a finished book.

And then I wondered who to send it to. I had literally just finished it, when my illustration agent called and said Walker Books had my portfolio and wanted to see me. Believe it or not I made no link between the two. I went in to London the next day and met Deirdre McDermott at Walker. She was very nice about my work, then said “we have nothing for you to do, but would you like to write and illustrate a children's book?” (I never found out why they thought I could write such a thing). So I said I had just made one, but I hadn't thought to take it with me. I posted it the next day, with one request: that they let me know it had arrived safely. I was out when Deirdre rang, and she left a message to say it had arrived, and if I didn't hear anything in the next three weeks, to give her a call. The next message on my answer machine – after she must have looked at the book – was really positive. And that was that! Whatever was published in 2006 and since then I’ve created the Stanley series and several other children’s books.



Have you always been interested in cars/motor vehicles, even as a child? Is Trucks the kind of book you would have loved as a boy?

 can still remember the car we had, our neighbours’ cars, and the lady who picked me up for nursery having a biscuit coloured VW Beetle. I would have been about three. I still have all the toy cars I had then. So, yes!

I guess all the books I have created would have appealed to me as a kid.;I think illustrators in particular have quite a strong thread to their childhood because they have never stopped drawing. I cannot remember the picture books I had as a child – there would have been plenty – but I remember the books I read on my own. In fact, I would say children's TV was more influential – things like The Clangers and The Magic Roundabout etc.


In previous books you've snuck in little details from your interest in F1 and classic cars - are there any references in Trucks we should look out for?

Trucks (and future books in the series) are more straight forward I would say, so little is hidden. The fictional Elephant Oil company products, and the toy rabbit that belongs to the tiny traffic cone are snuck in I suppose. The racing transporter in my book, to pre-empt your next question, carries one of my hero’s cars – Niki Lauda's Ferrari.


If you could drive any kind of truck, what would it be?

I have driven a car transporter, but not such a big one as featured in my book. It was to take my Vintage (1929) Austin Chummy 'racer' to Silverstone and Brooklands race tracks for competitions. Of all the trucks in the book, a full blown classic race transporter would be very special. The originals can go for £2 million at auction…


What are you working on now? What’s next in the Wonderful World Of… series?


The next book in the William Bee's Wonderful World of ... series is Trains and Boats and Planes.

That is finished, and also features a hovercraft, a submarine, and a space rocket.

Tractors and Farm Machines is well underway. We have a few more titles we may do, and a spin off book, and possibly another series which takes some of the ideas into a new series.

And I may have come up with something a bit different that would be aimed at adults, which will be interesting I think!

Thanks for a fascinating insight William!

"William Bee's Wonderful World of Trucks" is out today, published by Pavilion Books. 
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"My pint-sized protector" - A ReadItTorial

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This is going to be one of those parenting rambles, so if you've come in for today's ReadItTorial for anything book-related, you might want to skip to the end.

Still here? OK, you're special so today's topic takes in something I hadn't really expected to happen as a parent. Well, as a Dad really.

The main reason I never had kids until late on in life was because I hadn't met the right person (but thankfully now I have, I can't imagine life without her).

Soppy, I know - but the second reason I never had kids was because - quite frankly - the thought used to scare the living pee out of me.

Being someone's dad puts a huge weight of responsibility on your shoulders (shared, of course - if there's one thing I'm eternally thankful for it's the fact that both my wife and I put in an equal amount of effort to bringing up Charlotte) and it's blatantly obvious that some folk (like, for example, my Dad) just can't cope with that burden.

I never thought I was strong enough to, but it's amazing what you pull out of the bag when you've got a really utterly poor example to use as your lowest measure. I'll stop harping on about my dad, he's the bit player in this readitorial so I'll just stop griping.

I have always been determined to be the best dad I possibly can and form as close a bond to Charlotte as possible. Obviously most parents will feel exactly the same way, their kid(s) are their world, and the apples of their eye, and all the other dewy sentimental things you often hear new parents gooing and gushing about.

What I wasn't prepared for though was the amount of love - and lately protectiveness - I get back from Charlotte. I know that sounds weird but when you've had a bit of a strange upbringing, you enter most things with the lowest of expectations automatically, as a self-protection exercise.

I'm difficult to get on with, I know that and I know that my wife does an amazing job of putting up with my grumps and groans and over-sensitivity.

When you spend a lot of time railing at the world and wishing people were a bit less selfish, you find an awful lot to moan about if you're like me (hyper-aware to the world's failings, if I'm honest. I never developed a tough outer shell like most people seem to have).

Charlotte told me something that made me think a lot. She'd shown off some photos of us running our book stall at the recent Christmas charity fayre at a local Baptist church. Now there's a couple of things to note here. 1) I'm not religious in any way, never really have been and 2) I'd NEVER have considered doing anything like that before we had Charlotte - so it's yet another example of something that's been a positive outcome of being a dad and pushing against that horrid example we briefly brushed over earlier.

Back on point, the photo Charlotte showed off was part of her classroom activity around talking about what she does in her spare time. She did a great little presentation, but one of the boys (it's always a boy isn't it) in her class had loudly scoffed at the picture.

"Who's that stupid looking man with you?" he said.

Charlotte - with all the wrath that it's possible for an 8 year old to summon (a considerable amount actually, I think she gets it from her mum!) verbally destroyed the kid who'd chirped up.

"That's my Dad!" she cried. "Don't ever say anything horrible about my dad!" Thankfully she's passive otherwise I could imagine us being hauled before her form teacher for socking the kid on the nose.

By the sound of it, the boy quite meekly wound his neck in. But this isn't the first (and I'm hoping it won't be the last) time it's happened.

She can be a harsh critic, which I also need at times (most of the time she looks at things I'm doing or doodling and rolls her eyes in an eerie impersonation of her mum). But the staunch defender of dad wasn't something I was prepared for at all. I mean most kids love their parents, right? But it's all new to me, that feeling that someone demonstratively will stick up for you and fight your corner even though they're pint-sized. Who the hell wouldn't want to go to the ends of the earth for their kid if they were willing to behave like that?

It's also quite funny if mummy decides to tickle my feet and make me hiccup (her favourite trick). Here, Charlotte's usually passive side and protective nature meet in the middle and she'll actually fight mummy off (physically sometimes if need be) to protect me. Heart meltingly beautiful to see happen.

I've heard it many times that "it won't last" and I've also heard "you wait till she's a teenager" quite a few times too, but for the time being I'm happy having a pint-sized protector around - someone who's willing to love me unconditionally despite all my faults and failings.

Oh the book thing? You'd sell a million if you could stop writing books about kids and friendships (in that irritating 'stating the obvious' way that so many children's picture books do at the moment) and could somehow distil what parents get back from their kids, and pass that on to folk who still think that the answer to nirvana lies in the screen of their smartphone or tablet, or a worthless footie match.
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Superbat by Matt Carr (Scholastic Children's Books)

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Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it appears to be a tiny little bat in a rather fetching superhero costume. It must be Superbat!!
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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Butterfly Dance by Suzanne Barton (Bloomsbury Publishing)

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You've heard the expression "As cute as a bug" right? Well this is cuter than that!
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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Henry and Boo by Megan Brewis (Child's Play Publishing)

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An uninvited guest can be a real pest, is that the case with Boo? Here's "Henry and Boo" by Megan Brewis...
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I Love You Nearly Always by Anna Llenas (Templar Publishing)

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This is the sort of delightful book that Charlotte seizes with a delighted "WHOOP!"...
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Monday, March 6, 2017

"Inspector Brunswick and the Case of the Missing Eyebrow" by Angela Keoghan and Chris Lam Sam (Tate Publishing)

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This is one cool kitty, a detective par excellence, meet Inspector Brunswick!
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Friday, March 3, 2017

ReaditDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 3rd March 2017 - "Art E Conan Doyle and the Gravediggers' Club" by Robert J Harris (Floris Books)

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This week's Chapter Book of the Week winner is a little bit of a cheeky horn-in on a certain super-sleuth's game, but we're not allowed to mention the 'S' word here. This is Art E Conan Doyle's Story...
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ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 3rd March 2017 - "The Night Gardener" by Terry Fan and Eric Fan (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

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This week's book of the week was an instant "Wow" the minute we saw the cover...
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Thursday, March 2, 2017

2000AD - How they crammed the whole future into a single comic and how it changed my life - A ReadItTorial

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I've probably blogged about this before, in fact I'm sure I have - but there seems no better time than to reminisce about the Galaxy's Greatest Comic than on its 40th anniversary.

I remember the first time I saw the comic. I was 9 years old, living in Islington in London, and just around the corner from the grotty flats where we lived (which happened to be right opposite where Pink Floyd used to stash their gear and sometimes practice back in the 70s) was a newsagent. Mum didn't have a lot of money but she scraped together enough for me to be able to buy a comic and some sweets (yes, you'd actually get change out of 20p back then for both items).

I'd always read funny stuff like Krazy Comic and Cheeky Weekly but something made me pass on those that particular week, and pick up 2000AD instead.

It had a space spinner on the cover. It had science fiction stories, and from a very quick read it looked like my cup of tea. I should point out that up till then, comics were just something you read and usually disposed of pretty quickly but 2000AD was completely different. If anything, it was a turning point for me, blasting me towards the sort of obsession with comics I've had ever since.

The first issue was astonishing. Real proper 'grown up' action stories set in the distant future,  with a revamped Dan Dare leading the charge amongst other amazing strips.

But Prog 2 was the game changer and probably the reason I kept on reading from then on. Prog 2 saw the introduction of Judge Dredd, a character who dispensed his own form of justice, tackling criminals in a sprawling future city.

It really captured my imagination and I was completely hooked. For the best part of the next 20 years I religiously bought 2000AD every single week (for some reason I stopped buying it in the late 1990s when Kelvin Gosnell took over editorial duties but resumed again some years later - Nothing personal Kelvin, but some of the mid to late 90s stuff was a bit too up itself IMHO). Staying loyal though, I'd switched to Crisis and Judge Dredd: The Megazine by that point - I felt like I'd aged out of the sort of stuff that was going on in 2000AD a bit. How daft.

The comic still had such a huge influence on me that I even took a character's name as a nickname in my Uni / College days. Philip Janet Maybe - AKA P.J Maybe (or in my case, mostly shortened to Peej) is still a nick that some people know me by. I loved the idea that you had this teenage foil for Judge Dredd who pulled off near-perfect crimes before succumbing to his complete psychotic insanity (I've actually lost count of whether he's still alive or not but I like to think that he's a sprightly 49 year old who exacts sweet revenge on anyone who has done him wrong, and still believes he'll get the better of Dredd one day!)

The stories have become legendary, the characters often cited as the reason artists got into comics, or drawing, or writers got into writing. It's never been afraid to confront the issues of the day with razor sharp parody and it still continues to push the envelope for comics, even though the US still have a bit of a weird attitude towards it (and Dredd in particular, who you'd think would be hugely popular over the pond but somehow isn't!)

2000AD has survived just about all its peers at the time, and continues to be one of the standard bearers for British comics. Characters that were back then completely unknown in other parts of the world have since leeched into popular culture, and it's fair to say that a lot of Hollywood script writers and directors owe a great deal to the influence of this mighty comic. It's also fantastic to see Oxford-based Rebellion go from strength to strength, putting out fantastic videogames and being deeply involved in any process where their licenses are used (I hope). I still crave a second 'proper' Dredd movie and still hope it happens at some point with Karl Urban back in the saddle as JD himself.

I also love the fact that the Rebellion guys have picked up the rights to classic IPC titles. More comics from my youth brought back into the light for a whole new audience to discover. Kids who have no idea who The Leopard of Lime Street is, or who Faceache is - or even how terrifying Misty is.

Happy 40th Birthday 2000AD, I'd be happy to see you still around in 2100 (and the way things are going, that's a distinct possibility!)
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Henry and the Yeti by Russell Ayto (Bloomsbury Publishing)

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What on earth IS a Yeti and do they actually even exist? Young Henry seems to think so, and he's determined to prove they're out there once and for all...
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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Naughty Naughty Baddies by Mark Sperring and David Tazzyman (Bloomsbury Publishing)

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Four of the naughtiest baddies hatch a plan in this deviously delicious new picture book...
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