Monday, September 25, 2017

A fabulous pair of books featuring all creatures great and small, here's Yuval Zommer's fabulous "Big Sticker Book of Bugs / Big Sticker Book of Beasts" (Thames and Hudson)

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We're huge, huge fans of Yuval Zommer's fabulous story books but he's also a very talented chap when it comes to non fiction titles.

We've previously enjoyed both "The Big Book of Bugs" and "The Big Book of Beasts" by Yuval, and now we're delighted to see a pair of accompanying books for your minibeast and big beast fans to enjoy and get involved with.

"The Big Sticker Book of Bugs" is a huge book full of the sort of delicious little details Yuval is famous for, this time with over 500 reusable stickers to stick down in various scenes and habitats.

Learn all about the insects of the world with this book that encourages children to go on their own investigative journey of the animals we share our living space with (whether we like it or not!)

Absolutely fantastic for Charlotte, who can't seem to resist cuddling woodlice or playing with ladybirds on her fingers.

"The Big Sticker Book of Bugs" by Yuval Zommer is out now, published by Thames and Hudson. 

If you like your beasts a big bigger, perhaps more furry and less inclined to crawl up your trouser leg then this one's for you!

"The Big Sticker Book of Beasts" features altogether larger prey, again with over 500 reusable stickers to place in all their different habitats and homes around the world.

Cuddle up to a Koala or two, stomp around the savannah with an Elephant or perhaps hibernate with some Canadian Grizzlies, there's definitely something for everyone in this fabulous activity book.

The books are of the highest quality, with easy-to-peel stickers throughout, and loads of lovely colour illustrations and opportunities for you to get busy with your own pens and pencils to create your own fun scenes.

"The Big Sticker Book of Beasts" by Yuval Zommer is also out now, published by Thames and Hudson (both books kindly supplied for review). 

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Pirate Baby by Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith (Otter-Barry Books)

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More nautical naughtiness on the high seas, but this time the trouble is pint-sized...
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Friday, September 22, 2017

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 22nd September 2017 - "Black Light Express" by Philip Reeve and Ian McQue (Oxford Children's Books)

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Our Chapter Book of the Week continues a series I've completely fallen head over heels in love with. The sizzlingly brilliant "Black Light Express" by Philip Reeve...
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ReaditDaddy's Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 22nd September 2017: Kevin by Rob Biddulph (HarperCollins Children's Books)

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I'm pretty sure just about every book blogger out there is going to kick off their review of our Picture Book of the week this week with "We need to talk about Kevin..."
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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Why kids aren't allowed to draw on their imagination, and why this is putting tons of kids off art in school - a ReadItTorial

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Without a doubt, one of the big lures for many kids when it comes to books is seeing brilliant cover or internal illustrations that let their imaginations fly to other worlds, or introduce them to amazing characters they could never have dreamed up themselves.

We've written many times in these ReadItTorials about the worth of illustrators in helping to convey stories effectively but all those illustrators have one thing in common - they use their amazing imaginations to produce those believable characters and worlds.

Most artists (including myself) will readily admit to using references, researching image libraries and sometimes to using models or maquettes to get a particular pose or illustration 'just right' but many just seem to have the knack of hacking into their own natural born talent with amazing works that look real enough to leap off the page and actually 'exist'.

A lot of that comes from things they may have learned from school, with a good art tutor who engages with the subject enough to want to teach as many different aspects of illustration, from the important stuff like perspective, observation and anatomy through to colour, arrangement and form.

What we seem to find - not just in school but beyond that into further education too is that folk who love to draw often say they're not allowed to or are frowned upon for drawing from imagination.

Quite often art lessons still seem to rely heavily on those dreadful old standards of sticking a bunch of objects on the work table, then getting kids to draw and paint them in order to understand the shapes, the way to depict objects with light and shade, and to get proportions and scale just right.

Yes - those are important skills and there's nothing wrong with them - but as we've found with reading, there's a huge gulf between drawing and painting to gather the requisite skills for illustration, and drawing for the sheer pleasure of just coming up with something from your vivid imagination.

Learn how to draw just about everything with Lorenzo Etherington, half of the incredibly talented Etherington Brothers

I guess what we're talking about here is more of a mix of disciplines when it comes to teaching drawing, painting and illustration to kids. For example, not just relying on the hoary old standards that have been in place for years, but perhaps engaging kids with more up-to-date artists, methods and means of producing stunning work. Does anyone know of any school that, for example, bothers to touch digital art at all, other than perhaps slinging a couple of photos into a package and messing around with them for posters etc?

Regular blog visitors will know that we're huge fans of The Etherington Brothers, and really love Lorenzo Etherington's art.

Lorenzo's the sort of guy you'd love as an art teacher, with an obvious passion for his work and sharing brilliant tutorials that go beyond the usual "Start here, then draw this, then draw this and VOILA!" approach

Lorenzo's tutorial series "How to Think when you Draw" which has been put together both for the Etheringon Brothers blog and for The Phoenix comic is exactly the right balance of imagination vs real-world art skills. It's the perfect mix to encourage kids to think before they draw, think while they're drawing, and think about how they can take the tips and tricks learned into their own works of art.

Angry faces! (C) Lorenzo Etherington
I really like the approach of letting kids loose on drawing from their imagination, but also encouraging them to think about the component parts of their drawings, those bendy 'rules' and also a little bit about the mechanics of the very thing they're trying to draw.

It's fair to say that Lorenzo does make it look easy (and believe me, it really isn't!) but with practice and determination, you can start to build up a whole new internal symbol set - and way of thinking about your drawing - that will stand you in good stead when you start to build up your own portfolio.

For kids, I think it's just as important to encourage and develop a love of doodling and drawing for pleasure as it is to develop a love of reading for pleasure. We've always, always made sure there are art materials around at home for Charlotte to use - and that there's always somewhere in our dwindling spare time set aside for drawing, painting, sketching and doodling together (and it's been wonderful to go out to museums and other places and draw alongside my daughter, as bonding experiences go, it really doth rock!)

It has worked wonders for art lessons at school too, as it means she actively engages with the subject, enjoys it - and also appreciates the way the lessons are taught (even though she shares my absolute hatred of drawing still life or landscapes - and is also pretty bloody minded when it comes to advice from her teacher that she doesn't agree with!)

But there's still loads and loads of room in schools to let kids just go crazy and see what they can dig out of their own internal symbol sets and their own imaginations - if for no better reason than to let them just chill out, take the brakes off and just have some fun.
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I Want to Go First by Richard Byrne (Oxford Children's Books)

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It's not easy being the smallest in any family, just ask baby elephant!
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Iggy Peck's Big Project Book for Amazing Architects by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts (Abrams Young Readers)

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Here's a fabulous companion activity book to one of our favourite books ever...!
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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Pug a Doodle Do by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre (Oxford Children's Books)

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Now here's something we can really get behind - a fantastic activity book featuring a cast of completely chaotic characters, oh and of course a metric ton of snorty snuffly snuggly pugs!
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World Pizza by Cece Meng and Ellen Shi (Sterling Publishing)

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Be careful what you wish for when you wish upon a star...but sometimes things have a habit of working out just fine in the end...
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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

13 1/2 Incredible Things You Need To Know About Everything (Dorling Kindersley)

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Once again, non-fiction experts Dorling Kindersley have come up with a truly stunning and superb fact-filled book to dazzle and delight you...
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