Monday, 31 March 2014

A Comedy Line Up or an April Fool?

1st April is traditionally a time for many a practical joke to be played, until midday it is permissible to carry out an ‘April Fool’ and children’s publishing is of course no stranger to such activity.  The good thing, from some perspectives at least, is that these practical jokes last only a few hours.  Children’s books however need to last much longer and so whilst April 1st is a great opportunity to take advantage of fun and games it is also an important time for ensuring the books marketed are going to have a lasting appeal.
With this in mind, and also considering that we are about to enter into the two-week school Easter break there are some perfect books to entertain big and little readers this April and beyond.
Let’s start with the Funny Fiction line-up created by Scholastic.  Here we have a selection of books, some already published and awaiting their follow-ups., some brand new to the  bookshelves.  Here at Armadillo we have previously introduced you to Emer Stamp and her Top Secret Diary of Pig as well as Jo Simon’s Pip Street. It is exciting therefore to be able to tell you that not only can you still read these first books in the series but that now we can reveal there will be another diary from Pig and that the Pip Street adventures are continuing in Pip Street: A Piggy Pickle in which the brave Bobby Cobbler must investigate the sudden plague of power cuts.  
If investigations tick the boxes for you as a reader then Jonny Zucker’s Fleatectives will be the perfect offering.  With Buzz and Itch, two miniscule but brilliant detectives Larva Town can be assured that no stone will be unturned in the quest to solve the many mysteries that are appearing!  If however it is not animals but people who tickle your fancy then you will love Wild Thing by Emma Barnes a story that finds Wild Thing sticking things up her nose, biting bottoms and getting up to much more mischief besides.  Can having such a little sister ever be a bonus?  Kate is about to find out in this charming modern version of My Naughty Little Sister.  Read all about the marvellous Shrinking Violet who as a mini version of herself solved a number of mysteries?  Well Lou Kuenzler is back with Princess DisGrace: First Term at Tall Towers.  Princess Grace does most certainly not live up to her name but she is excited about her first term at Princess Academy, hoping that she can learn to be a proper princess … I’m sure your imagination can fill in the gaps here and reading this or any of the books in this selection will ensure lots and lots of laughs.  Time to have a giggle-tastic April Fool’s Day this 2014!

Once we have April Fools out of the way the focus is certain to be Easter and of course chocolate (who, apart from me perhaps, does not look forward to this annual event)?  I may not look forward to the chocolate (I can’t eat it) but I do look forward to all the wonderful books that I can indulge in instead.  Macmillan publishers have given me a real treat this year too.  Eggy books, books about rabbits, chicks even bears and hippos feature.  In fact here you will find Emily Gravett’s Bear and Hare as reviewed in Armadillo Spring 2014 alongside books such as
Rabbits Don’t Lay Eggs by Paula Metcalf and Cally Johnson-Jones.  Moving up to an older age group, these latter are picture books, comes the brilliant partnership that is Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell with Scavenger Void or a selection of Judy Blume titles all with new covers including the brilliant Double Fudge, Fudge-a-Mania and Super Fudge!  Teen and YA readers are not forgotten in this line-up either with a choice of the thrilling duo Unremembered and Unforgotten by Jessica Brody or David Baldacci’s The Finisher.  
Fans of non-fiction have not been forgotten either and with two books on art, Get into Art: Animals and Get Into Art People children will be able to draw their own Easter chicks and bunnies before picking up Wow! I Didn’t Know That! Amazing Facts About the Human Body.

Just a small selection to keep you going for a few days in the run up to the Easter break, much more to come ...

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Stories to Enjoy

World Book Day has once again happened and whilst I am now looking forward to World Book night there is still time to celebrate books and stories and there are of course still the special £1 world book day books that we can all enjoy with our World Book Day vouchers, these of course could also be used as £1 off a book of choice and I have two books of choice for younger readers (and their parents) to share to begin with …

The Astonishing Case of the Stolen Stories by Anca Sandu (Random House) is a detective story with a difference.  In this story fox, cat and bear are the detectives.  They each know the theory of being a good detective but can they put the theory into practice when a call comes from the prince at the palace?  The prince’s bedtime stories have been stolen and he has called on the detectives to help him get them back.  Only it seems the prince is not alone in being the victim of this theft, all the books in the kingdom have been stolen, but who would do such a thing?  Join the three heroes on their quest for the stolen books, their discovery of a mystery hero and a new quest, to tell a new story as well as restore all the old ones.  This is the ultimate crime told with a delightful wit and some gorgeous, bright and funny illustrations.

The Story Machine by Tom McLaughlin (Bloomsbury) is another celebration of the art of storytelling but also about the power of drawing for we all know that most famous of phrases – ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’.  When Elliot finds a machine that he accidentally makes work - this machine has no on/off button, no flashing lights, nothing that Elliot is used to seeing – he is certainly surprised when it starts to make letters.   He soon discovers that letters make words that in turn make pictures and so he sets to work, creating stories.  What a clever machine this is that Elliot has found!  It is a story machine – or is it?  This delightful book is a charming and simple story, beautifully and fully illustrated, using a clever typewritten font and lots of imagination.  It will inspire its readers and help them to understand the delight not only of stories but of simplicity in a world of technology.

Then, if you have enjoyed these books there are of course many more to choose from, a great website that might help point you in the right direction (with the exception of Armadillo Magazine of course) is a site that will help you to choose what to read next.

The next edition of Armadillo Magazine is in progress and will be live very soon, here you will find some great reviews of new books, inspiring reports and interviews too.  If you have not yet begun your 2014 reading journey then start it this week with a celebration of books and make sure to continue it from now on!