Monday, June 26, 2017

Ophelia Pang's Interactive Art Book (Batsford Publishing)

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If there's one thing we love more than anything else, it's the excuse to dig into a new and inspirational art book...!
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What Does Baby Want? By Tupera Tupera (Phaidon)

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Here's an utterly fantastic little board  book with an innovative 'round' design that plopped into our review pile, making us both giggle and 'awww' at the same time.
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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Read With Pride! Celebrate a month of Pride and LGBTQ+ publishing with Scholastic's fantastic books. Let's meet George, Lucy and Noah!

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We don't often drag ourselves out of bed for 9.30 on a Sunday morning but when you're asked very nicely by the lovely Olivia at Scholastic to take part in Scholastic's celebration of Pride and LGBTQ+ Publishing, how can you possibly resist!

It's Pride Festival time so between the 24th June and 9th July, lots of wonderful folk will be taking part in celebrations across the country.

We're doing our small part by taking a look at three books published by Scholastic that really show off LGBTQ+ writing at its very best.

We start with "George" by Alex Gino, and this was one Charlotte could review herself - promptly diving in at the merest mention of one of her other favourite books, "Charlotte's Web".

George - the central character in this story - is a girl, but people keep thinking she's a boy.

George has her heart set on the role of Charlotte (the spider, not the uber-book-reviewer!) in the school's play, but no one seems to understand why - and her teachers are completely shutting her down before she even gets a chance to try out for the part. Because "She is a BOY!" in their eyes.

Thankfully George has a plan. With a little help from her best friend Kelly, they hatch a brilliant idea that may just win George the part, but more importantly will help everyone know and understand who George really is after all.

This is a beautifully written tale that's bang on for Charlotte's age group, the age where most parents know that questions will undoubtedly arise about gender issues, and that whole impossible to define essence of what kids perceive as 'normal' vs the reality of the rich and wonderful world we live in.

Alex Gino has penned a glorious story that touches on their own experiences, and provides real, believable characters that can go a long way to answering some of the questions children Charlotte's age will have, but above all else it's an utterly riveting read that will have you rooting for George right from page one.

"George" by Alex Gino is out now, published by Scholastic. 

The next two books are more suitable for a YA audience (but I really can't wait for Charlotte to read both of these when she's a bit older).

Starting off with Lucy Sutcliffe's awesome "Girl Hearts Girl"...

Lucy writes about her own experiences of a long distance relationship born over the internet.

YouTube Sensation Lucy has written an inspiring, uplifting and sympathetic story about sexuality and self-acceptance.

Her debut memoir is a personal and moving coming out story.

In 2010, at seventeen, Lucy Sutcliffe began an online friendship with Kaelyn, a young veterinary student from Michigan. Within months, they began a long distance relationship, finally meeting in the summer of 2011.

Lucy's video montage of their first week spent together in Saint Kitts, which she posted to the couple's YouTube channel, was the first in a series of films documenting their long-distance relationship.

Funny, tender and candid, the films attracted them a vast online following.

Now, for the first time, Lucy's writing about the incredible personal journey she's been on; from never quite wanting the fairy-tale of Prince Charming to realising she was gay at the age of 14, through three years of self-denial to finally coming out to friends and family, to meeting her American girlfriend Kaelyn.

Be warned, this book can really put your emotions through the wringer at times, but it's written entirely from the heart and will undoubtedly find a whole new appreciative audience in book form, just as it did on YouTube through Lucy's Vlogs.

"Girl Hearts Girl" by Lucy Sutcliffe is out now, published by Scholastic. 

Last but not least, a book I couldn't wait to read - purely based on the buzz it was getting on Twitter. Happy to say that as usual, my Twitter chums were not wrong...!

"Noah Can't Even" by Simon James Green is tea-snortingly funny, moving, heart-wrenching and gloriously written.

Imagine being in the shoes of poor Noah Grimes.

His father disappeared years ago, his mother's Beyonce tribute act is an unacceptable embarrassment, and his beloved gran is no longer herself. 

He only has one friend, Harry, and school is... Well, it's pure hell. 

 Why can't Noah be 'normal', like everyone else at school? 

Maybe if he struck up a romantic relationship with someone - maybe Sophie, who is perfect and lovely - he'd be seen in a different light? 

Just as Noah thinks he's got a plan, Harry kisses him at a party - throwing everything into chaos. So begins a journey of self discovery, acceptance, love and - yes - a huge bucketful of madly awkward and sometimes quite hilarious situational comedy that so many teens will be able to identify with and bond with. 

Simon's voice is funny, sensitive and this is one heck of an impressive debut from a writer who cut his teeth on gritty stuff like Hollyoaks. He'd also like to point out that at no point was his own mother ever involved in any sort of Beyonce tribute act, just in case you were wondering. 

"Noah Can't Even" by Simon James Green is out now, published by Scholastic. 

Books with pride! Hope you've enjoyed our little selection here. You can find tons and tons more awesome books on Scholastic's website: http://www.scholastic.com


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Friday, June 23, 2017

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Dadding like a duck. Calm above the surface, paddling like heck below - a ReadItTorial

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Sometimes it seems so easy, this 'dadding' lark. You spend all week working at 'the boring day job' with a few snatched moments of being able to relax in the evenings.

Both of us came to the conclusion that our evening routine is always under pressure. Depending on who is picking Charlotte up from school, you know you've got a few short hours to squeeze in homework, bath, teatime, books and bed - and in the summer that routine gets squeezed even further (as all parents will tell you, it's virtually impossible to get your kids to go to bed when it's still blazingly sunny outside and they can hear other kids out there playing).

After a visit from our Canadian cousin, we heard how they as a family still manage to sit down in the evenings and perhaps play board and card games, have a chat about their day etc and I realised that most weekday nights our routine goes something like this

1) One or the other of us will have got home first other than on days when grandparents have kindly stepped in for school pickup.

2) One or the other of us will have wrestled Charlotte into the shower, coaxed her through her homework and given a vague thought on what to have for dinner.

3) One or the other of us will then try and think of something else to do that hopefully avoids the dreaded modern babysitter of our age (screen time) or one or the other of us staring listlessly at our phones to see what's going on in our social media feeds, email or whatever else (my wife argues this point but she will spend more time in the evenings doing this than I do - possibly because she has more friends :)

We tried to shake things up a bit, determined to have some proper family time that didn't involve us all in different rooms doing our own thing. Sitting down to a game of Carcassonne that descended into racking sobs from Charlotte who was just too tired to cope with the game not going her way.

Parenting is weird. Many will tell you that it's a breeze when - like Dad Duck up there - they may appear serene on the surface but are paddling like crazy under the surface just to keep going.

There has been a huge shift in the way parents divvy up their responsibilities now, and though it's nowhere near a perfect balance things are definitely better than they have ever been, with more dads not just actively taking part in the fun stuff - but realising they've got a responsibility to pitch in (without being asked) and help with all the mundane boring daily stuff too.

Don't be one of those dads who expects a spontaneous round of applause every time you pick up a piece of paper off the floor, or change a nappy. Be one of those dads who does that sort of stuff unprompted - even when you think you've had a bad day.



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Snuggle time for little ones with two awesome titles from Mick Inkpen and Hodder Children's Books

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Mick Inkpen is a very busy bee indeed! His fantastic Kipper and Wibbly Pig books were some of Charlotte's favourites back in her toddler years...
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Once Upon a Jungle by Laura Knowles and James Boast (Words and Pictures)

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Who knows what lurks in the deep dark jungle? This lushly illustrated book will definitely offer some clues
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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Little One by Jo Weaver (Hodder Children's Books)

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Wow, this is a stunning book - it's not often you get to enjoy something tricked out in shades of grey when it comes to children's literature...
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Daisy Doodles by Michelle Robinson, Irene Dickson and Tom Weller (Oxford Children's Books / OUP)

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Enter the world of a child's imagination, find a rich tapestry of storytelling, and meet one mischievous mouse...!
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