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Remembering a Summer of Holiday Reading

Sometimes the sheer joy of editing Armadillo comes from the variety and distinctiveness of the books that arrive in the post. My current pile takes me from board books for the very young - full of colour, joy and learning - through a brand new series of football books for girls, pirate adventures, trains and trolls, all the way up to the angst of being a teen. Never before has variety been the spice of so much life!

I can imagine families whose children vary in ages just loving the fact that there could be a book in this selection that will suit each of them, allowing parents a few minutes peace with ‘grown up titles’ of their own choosing, safe in the knowledge that their young minds are entertained, developed and enthralled.

So my sunny blog from the garden goes something like this …

That sunny spot in the sky, that orb of yellow loveliness, prompts me to begin with These Colours are Bananas by Jason Fulford and Tamara Shopsin (Phaidon) . Of course, I'm thinking of the yellow, but discover that for every colour we thought we knew, there is a different hue - and another and yet another … Apples are not always red, we are told – no it's true! See the 25 squares of colour that they could be. And grass, did you ever see a turquoise lawn? It is worth looking again … And so it continues: a challenge on each double page spread encourages readers to look again, to see the world and its colours in a different light. Although the book is inspired by the way artists see the world, this will change the way many of us non-artists do too.

Staying for a moment with Phaidon and another board book that challenges perception and has much to teach: Boats are Busy by Sara Gillingham tells us about what these seemingly simple and straightforward vehicles actually do. From the humble fishing boat to the massive aircraft carrier, they all help and keep busy. Simple text and illustration enhance a child’s range of knowledge and understanding simply and effectively.

Moving up to picture books, there are a couple that really caught my eye. I am the Boss of This Chair by Carolyn Crimi, illustrated by Marisa Morea Sterling, is the hilarious story of a chair and who it really belongs to. Yet, this is also the story of what happens when your space is invaded by a newcomer … The perfect introduction for children of all ages to the concept that a new little one may be on their way.

A Lady Has the Floor by Kate Hannigan, illustrated by Alison Jay, is both picture book and informative text, sharing with its readers the hows and whys of women's rights, such as having their voices heard and their opinions considered. This is an interesting and thoughtful book celebrating the life of Belva Lockwood, ideal for the centenaries of women winning the right to vote.

Did I mention that football might feature? In a new series from Walker Books, Helena Pielichaty takes to the pitch with the Girls FC series. Enjoy Can Ponies take Penalties? and Do Goalkeepers Wear Tiaras? as the world of female football and the preconceptions about young girls are turned on their heads to hilarious effect. Ideal both for girls who

thought football was only for boys and also for the newly confident reader looking for a chapter book to delve into. Barry Loser is also back in his 11th instalment, this one demonstrating again with great humour and lots of illustration that Barry Loser is Best at Football NOT! (Jim Smith, Egmont). Some great books to coincide with the excitement of the Women's World Cup and maintain interest long after the game is over!

More additions that continue established series include –

Guy Parker-Rees’ Dylan the Baker (Alison Green Books) bringing back the much-loved Dylan and encouraging little hands to get creative and busy in the kitchen …

Julie Sykes & Lucy Truman’s Unicorn Academy: Ava and Star / Sophia and Rainbow / Scarlett and Blaze (Nosy Crow), all featuring plenty of sparkle!

Em Lynas & Jamie Littler’s Get me out of Witch School! (Nosy Crow), is the second hilarious instalment of a reluctant, somewhat incompetent, witch trapped in a school for witches …

Paul Whitfield’s Pirate McSnottbeard is back in the Alien Slug Invasion Panic (Walker Books), a super-scary book filled with alien slugs, giant robots and (worst of all) killer worms …

Tom Nicoll and David O’Connell’s Boyband of the Apocalypse: Washed Up (Stripes), a brilliant sequel highlighting the real ups and downs of celebrity survival TV shows(!)

Now it is time for some practicality! The Big Book of Outdoor Activities by Laura Minter & Tia Williams (GMC Books) is a book to keep every member of the family occupied, perhaps even to be used in schools. From making a floral crowns and feather headdresses, to rainy day rose-petal perfume and tree stump keyrings, there are activities for children to enjoy alone or with the help of an adult. Above all, these activities will enable children to appreciate the world around them by discovering the wonders of nature with a sprinkling of imagination.

Now to conclude, this has to be the perfect book –

Great Voyages: Daring Adventures from James Cook and Gertrude Bell by Deborah Patterson (British Library publishing) takes the brave reader on a range of thrilling expeditions: from discovering lions in Africa and bears in the wild west to tortoise and penguin tasting with Darwin and Shackleton. A world of adventure and a stunning showcase of the wonders of the British Library is here at your fingertips just waiting to be shared.

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