My boy is quite creative. He loves drawing, likes writing stories. But he also needs a lot of encouragement, as he can be a bit reluctant too. With the summer holidays just starting, I hunted down a few titles which I knew he would really enjoy.

Mega Mash-up: Aliens vs Mad Scientists under the Ocean
Nikalas Catlow & Tim Wesson
(Nosy Crow)

This series has already been a huge success in the Library Mice household (see my review of the first two titles here) and therefore my son was ecstatic to see a third volume appear in the post. In fact I have had to go and retrieve it from his room to review it because I had barely cast my eyes on it before it disappeared upstairs. In this new installment, the Earth is in peril and under-attack from Aliens. To save the day, some mad scientists have a plan: they are building an underwater machine to save the day.
This series mixes some of boys’ favourite themes and encourages their creativity and own storytelling skills. It achieves this by inviting them to get involved in the story by drawing and doodling all the way through. With its wacky humour, its comic-strip style, its high-interest level themes, Mega Mash-up: Aliens vs Mad Scientists is another great success and a sure winner with doodling fans as well as reluctant readers. It is a great way to get them back into stories, a bit like “Choose your own adventure”, but with pencils. Fantastic stuff. And my son is super-excited as we will be meeting the authors at their event at Bath Kids Lit Fest.

The Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book
Jeff Kinney

This is an updated version of the first Diary of Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself  book which came out a couple of years ago. This new version includes dozens of new pages, and a new cover. Whatever you think of the Wimpy Kid series, this is a fantastic activity book. It uses an extremely popular franchise to encourage children (mainly boys, but the Wimpy Kid series also has a huge girl fan base) to be creative, not only in their drawings but also in their writing. This DIY book includes lists to fill in (“Your desert island picks”), questionnaires (“Personality test”), unfinished comics, blank comic pages, full-colour comics to read and an opportunity, at the end, to write your own diary. Young audiences might pick and choose what they do within the book but this is a great vehicle for encouraging creative writing. I really love the format of this book, it is a great way to promote creativity with a well-known, non-threatening character which will appeal to more reluctant readers.  My son thoroughly enjoyed the first one, and I have had to keep this one under lock and key, otherwise he would have had it finished before we even set off on our holiday!

How to Draw Horrible Science
Tony de Saulles

This, as it says on the cover, is ” a step-by-step guide for all Horrible artists”, and it certainly goes into a lot of details. Unlike the two other books presented here, budding artists will need a pad for this one, as no space is provided in the book. In fact, How to Draw Horrible Science is a masterclass on how to draw in that particular style. And from human faces to deadly dinosaurs, from creepy crawlies to ruthless reptiles, there is a lot to learn about. Included also are features such as how to write your own Horrible Science story, how to animate your pictures, how to make greeting cards and many more fabulous tips. This is quite a text-heavy book, so might put off some more reluctant readers, but there are many heavily illustrated double-spreads as well. All the humour of the series is present here so do be prepared to hear all about poo, farts and other unsavoury things! It is definitely a must for fans of the Horrible series who also like drawing.