Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Picture Books - preschool up

Australian Writer and Illustrator
Alison Lester, illustrated by the writer
Noni the Pony Goes to the Beach
Allen & Unwin  2014  $29.99hb 32pp
ISBN 978 1 7433 1114 1
Themes: Life at the seaside/ Stories in rhyme
Everything about this seaside picture book is cheerful. The sun shines continually and the only tension is when Dave, the dog, intrigued by a spouting whale, swims out too far and has to be rescued:
So Noni the Pony, faithful and brave
Wades through the swells and rescues poor Dave.
Alison Lester Image: Allen & Unwin
The colours are subtle and the images are clear. It is, what you might term, a very safe book (and I love it for that!) 

Alison Lester spends part of every year travelling to schools in remote areas, using her books to help children and adults write and draw about their own lives. 
She was Australia's Inaugural Children's Laureate from 2011 to 2013.

Preschool up/ Age 4 up

Monday, 27 October 2014

Picture Book - Preschool up

UK Writer and German Illustrator Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler 
The Scarecrow’s Wedding

Alison Green Books  2014  $29.00hb 32pp ISBN 978 1 4071 4441 2

Themes: Love stories/ Scarecrows

Betty O’Barley and Harry O’Hay, two of the most endearing scarecrows I have seen in a picture book, are in love, want to be married and are planning a wedding that no one will ever forget. But - they were not planning on the wicked actions of Reginald Rake which included a scarecrow’s most dreaded element – FIRE! This is exactly the sort of new picture book you would expect from the creators of The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child.  Julia Donaldson was awarded an MBE for services to literature in 2011 and was the UK Children’s Laureate 2011-2013

Axel Scheffler was born in Hamburg and moved to England in 1982 (age 25). He is known and admired for his witty and humorous illustrations.
Preschool up/ Age 4 up 

Julia - Image: Telegraph UK

Axel at work - Image: Wordpress

Friday, 24 October 2014

NZ Writer and illustrator

Fifi Colston Ghoulish Get-Ups Scholastic NZ  2014  $19.00pb 48pp 
ISBN 978 1 7754 3247 0  Themes: Costume design/ Halloween costumes

Material for most of the costumes in this amazingly creative book will be found around the home  - the kitchen cupboard for the bloodier items ie zombie fingers, eyes of newt, guts and gore, claws and paws. The recycling box will provide many potential costume accessories but, as the writer says, don’t use glass or tin, as you want any blood to be fake and not yours.

It is just a week until Halloween so this book will come into its own over the next few days for parents, caregivers and children. However, it is much more than a how to do it manual for October 31st – it is full of ideas for all sorts of costumes (mostly of the freaky kind) that can be expanded upon and will be useful through the year.

A companion volume to Wearable Wonders which was shortlisted for the New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards 2014

Year 2 up/ Age 6 up (and for the use of willing adults)

Creative New Zealand Prime Ministers Awards for Literary Achievement 2014

No wonder Jack Lasenby is smiling at me!  He has just received the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement  (fiction) presented at Premier House in Tinakori Road, Wellington last night.

It was a real privilege to be at this glittery, good humoured affair and to see the other recipients Jock Phillips  (non-fiction) and Ian Wedde (poetry) receive their awards. The Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement, worth $60,000 to the three winners, is given not just for a particular title but for a writing life of outstanding contributions to New Zealand literature.

And to make it an unforgettable night for NZ children’s and young adult literature, Elizabeth Knox received the 2014 Michael King Fellowship worth $100,00

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Anthology of New Zealand poems and stories for children

NZ Illustrators and Writers
New Zealand Bedtime Treasury
Puffin Books 2014  $45.00hb 234pp
ISBN 978 0 1433 0837 9

Themes: Classic New Zealand stories and poems

Anyone who has been around children’s books for a while will, on opening this handsome treasury see at once so many of their favourite stories and poems and all with their original illustrations - all just waiting to be shared with children.  It’s more than a special book for a grandmotherly Christmas present. (But lucky child who does get to own their own copy!)  It’s a book for any school whose budget will allow it because these are what could be described as ‘backbone’ stories and poems from writers and illustrators like Margaret Mahy/ Lynley Dodd/ Pamela Allen/ Katherine Mansfield/ Patricia Grace/ Joy Cowley/ Ruth Dallas/ Gwenda Turner/ Peter Bland/ James K/ Baxter…this is a rich mixture and there are three generous pages of information about the ‘contributors’.

Crèche up/ Age 2 up

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Fire at Paraparaumu School Kapiti Coast

Opened 1889

On August 10th arsonists caused four classrooms and the library to be gutted in a fire at the oldest school on the Kapiti Coast - Paraparaumu School in Ruapehu St. All of the archival photos for the 125th year celebrations were lost in the fire and all the library books that were not out on issue.  

Donated books awaiting sorting etc.
Since then a positive avalanche of books, both brand new and used, has flooded in from all over the country – many from Public Libraries, schools and colleges and from individuals. To get the books into some sort of order so enough were available for the children when they arrived back from holiday last Monday took a great deal of organising and the librarian Kenzie Benbrook had (and still has) an enormous task. And yes, all records of the collection have vanished as the computer melted away in the flames.  Kenzie has worked tirelessly from August 11th including the school holidays, organising an ongoing team of volunteers who sorted and covered and manhandled books over to the temporary accommodation. National Library of New Zealand has been involved with help and advice
 Although a brand new library and classrooms will be built, the books are now being housed in not too bad a space! It is light and bright, large and sunny and just look at the (temporary) furniture. I have been lucky enough to be involved in a very minor way for a very short time each week but will bring you some more pictures as soon as my computer is ‘fixed’ - including one of the lynchpin, Kenzie. 
Some of the bright seating in the temporary library

Although it appeared to be wiped out, the very heart of the school, THE SCHOOL LIBRARY has kept on beating.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Non-Fiction (Marine Resources)

NZ Illustrator and Writer

Bianca Begovic,  illustrated by Scott Pearson

The Sea and Me

CreateBooks ** 2014  $19.99pb   28pp

ISBN 978 0 4732 8173 1

Themes: Marine resources/ Stories in rhyme

What will happen if everyone keeps on fishing until the sea is empty of fish and plants?  This is a very practical and easily accessed book that could be used by quite young children with the emphasis being on small things they can do to help this calamity from happening.

I heard Bianca speak about this book and her work for the environment at a National Library Cluster Group some weeks ago now and took some photos of her. Unfortunately I have had major problems with my computer so rather hold on to the information any longer (although I am hopeful the solution to the computer melt down is close at hand) I am posting this now sans 'my' images.

If you have any problem locating the book please go to: http://createbooks.co.nz/ 

Year 1 up  / Age 5 up

** not a mistake – it is all one word. 

Wordless Picture Book

Brazilian creator and illustrator

Bernardo Carvalho  Follow the Firefly  & Run, Rabbit, Run

Book Island 2014  $19.99pb  32pp

ISBN 978 0 9941 0982 8
Themes:  Escapes/ Searches/ Wordless picture book (s)

A wordless picture book follows firstly the journey of a firefly through a darkly dense forest to the outskirts of the city as it searches for a flashing light. Astute lookers will have noticed the white rabbit that is also keenly observing the proceedings. Then on the last page it turns out the experience is not over because we are now able to go back again, following the rabbit as he makes his escape back through the forest to rejoin his friends. The watercolour illustrations prove a real feast for the imagination to make up the stories and work out just what is happening (and every child may imagine something different).

Preschool up/  Age 4 up  

Congratulations to Book Island Publishers who last Friday (10.10.14) received the Customer Choice Award at the twentieth Electra Business Awards.
Greet Pauwelijn  (photographer untraced)

Book Island customers from all over the world voted for the publishing house that started up in April 2012 and has released eight picture books in English and six in Dutch since then. 'We are totally blown away by the support we received not only from our customers, but also from our stockists in the six countries we're now distributing in,' said publisher Greet Pauwelijn at the Awards ceremony in Levin.

Source: Booksellers NZ

Picture Books

NZ Writer and illustrator

Raewyn Caisley, illustrated by Lisa Allen Auntie Ellie’s Beach House

Duck Creek Press 2014  $19.99pb 32pp
ISBN 978 1 8773 7896 6
Themes:  Baches/ Beach houses/ Coping with change/ Cribs/ Families/ Memories/ New Zealand seaside life
 For as long as she can remember Leyla and her family had spent their summer holidays at Auntie Ellie’s beach house. The smells and the sights and the sounds are all part of Leyla’s childhood and now Auntie Ellie calmly says she is going to sell the place and move because in her words ‘the city’s moving too close’. Leyla is devastated but on their last night Auntie Ellie shows her something that makes her realise that families are more important than the places they live.  The illustrations are full of scenes that will familiar to (hopefully) many New Zealand children and their carers and you can almost smell the smoke from the bonfire.  I am not sure what I feel about the different coloured fonts – it will be interesting to find out if children comment on them. 

Preschool up / Age 4 up

Friday, 17 October 2014

Fiction - 13 and Up

Tasmanian Writer

Kate Gordon   Writing Clementine

Allen & Unwin 2014  $19.99pb 181pp
ISBN 978 1 7433 1663 4
Themes:  Creative writing programmes/ High school life/ Individuality/ Teenage friendships

 Clementine Darcy wants very much to be an individual, to stand out from the crowd but this is not easy when most of her friends are happy to just be carried along by whatever happens. In addition, everything seems to be going wrong for Clementine – her best friend is cooling off, everything at home could be better (her brother refuses to come out of his room),   - and then there is a New Boy (of course) in her class who Clem knows will cause further problems in her life. This is a warm hearted and funny story about characters we can all recognise – and sympathise with.

***Sorry – this WAS published a couple of months ago but had salted itself away behind some much bigger books. I hope there are still copies around because it is a really enjoyable story.  

Year 9 up/ Age 13 up

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Book Launches - even more in the Wellington Area.

And more Book Launches!

The Children’s Bookshop at Kilbirnie seems to have been inundated with Book Launches the last few weeks.

Following on Gillian Candler and Ned Barraud’s launch of Under the Ocean came Aimee McNaughton and Dominique Ford’s Joy Cowley Award winnerI Can’t Imagine How that Happened. Last night saw the first launch (the second will follow on the Kapiti Coast in a few weeks) of Mandy Hager’s Singing Home the Whale. Mandy is just home from her time in Menton where, for the past months, as the recipient of the Katherine Mansfield Menton fellowship, she was the writer in residence at the Villa Isola Bella. Mandy looked wonderfully well and bronzed after her time in the sun of France and moved a lot of us to tears as she read from her book – particularly from the beginning about the meeting of boy and the then, young orca. Eirlys Hunter launched what is truly an amazing book.  And now we must wait for Mandy’s next one which is about Abelard and Heloise who are one of the most celebrated couples of all time, known for their love affair... and for the tragedy that separated them.  This of course was the main reason for her time away – research and for writing and a little moonlight swimming in the warm waters of the French Riviera.  

Not vanished

No I haven't vanished just working through major (but major) computer problems!
Hopefully back on air tonight!

Friday, 10 October 2014

Poems for newborn to the very old (but really for children)

New Zealand Poets and Illustrator

Paula Green editor, illustrated by Jenny Cooper

A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children
Random House 2014  $37.99hb 288pp
ISBN 978 1 7755 3356 6
Themes: Poetry for children

What a week it has been for handing and enjoying truly beautifully produced books. For me it started with Gavin Bishop’s Teddy One-Eye (Random House) went on to Julie Leibrich’s Little Book of Sonnets (Steele Roberts) and yesterday, to end the cycle, I found, in my post box,The Treasury of NZ Poems for Children. This last has the luxury of not one, not two but three bookmarks – a necessity because who could choose from this treasure box, just one poem to mark? Paula Green has gathered a delectable collection of poems from classic poets like Margaret Mahy and James K. Baxter (yes, The Little Ships is included) to several poems by children - one only 6 years old.

From Elena de Roo’s opening poem, Words to the last piece in the book, Joy Cowley’s Haere Mai ki te Moe we are spoilt for choices. And. Every poem is most generously illustrated by Jenny Cooper.

Recommended for everyone from newborn to the very old.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Fiction - Age 10 and up

NZ Writer
J E Ryan
The Glass Projector
The Witches of Autumn Book One
Steam Press 2014  $20.00 179pp
ISBN 978 0 9941 0894 4
Themes:  Fantasy/ Funny stories
We first meet Thistle and her familiar, a small fruit bat named Mappo as they  speed through the city on their way to their new home.  This
belongs to Thistle’s auntie, a woman of indeterminate years who is never far from her revolver which she keeps strapped around her  waist in case of an invasion. Thistle (and Mappo) can no longer live at home as she has a father who has vanished and a mother in a mental hospital where she has been incarcerated since throwing a pickled pumpkin through the windows of the War Office. Thistle however, is a resourceful child and is determined to make the most of what seems like a very tricky life style in this energetic story which is vibrant in both plot and language. I lent the book to a 12-year-old last week and he returned it (rather reluctantly) simply saying ‘more please’. It is just as well a sequel – The Amber Fountain  - will be released in February next year (2015)
Year 6 up/ Age 10 up

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Picture Books - Preschool up

NZ Writer & Illustrator
Simone Colwill, illustrated by Jasmine Ting  What Does Super Jonny Do When Mum Gets Sick?
Books for Caring Kids 2014  $11.50pb 36pp
ISBN 978 0 9941 1272 9

Children with sick parents/ Hospitals/ Persistence/ Problem solving

What to do when the unthinkable happens and Mum gets sick? Through the eyes of Jonny and his supportive Sidekick, Bear, we visit Mum’s hospital ward and are introduced to all the medical staff who are going to help. But this is not enough for Jonny who wants a great deal more input into what is happening. Simone Colwill has Crohn’s disease and writes from first hand experience and has many suggestions for ways to turn a scary time into a positive one. Guide notes for teachers are included. Mum’s sickness is not named so it covers many reasons for her hospitalisation.  Simone follows this up in her newsletter which will be found at www.sickmom.org
The whole book, both in text and illustration, radiates with cheerfulness and will be a useful resource, especially for children who have a parent diagnosed with a long term illness which means much time in hospital.
Preschool - Year 5/ Age 3 - 9

Non-Fiction All Ages

NZ Writer & Illustrator
Gavin Bishop     Teddy One-Eye
Random House 2014  $34.00hb 218pp
ISBN 978 1 7755 3727 4
Through the eyes (button and glass) of an aging Teddy Bear we see the childhood and later life of Gavin Bishop as he grows up and becomes a writer and artist. This was a book that, after Piano Rock simply had to happen and not one bit of it disappoints. It is just the right size and it looks and feels wonderful – a book to hold in your hands and enjoy before even opening it.  And, against the writer’s story we also see 60 years of life in New Zealand from the innocence of the time in Kingston 1950 to the Christchurch earthquakes of 2010-2011 – and Teddy One-Eye survived them, gently swinging in a black rubbish bag on the back of the basement door. There is pathos and a sense of loss in the telling as well as much humour and good cheer.

Year 4 up/ Age 8 up (and especially for adults who grew up in the 50s and 60s)

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Non-Fiction Pre-School up

NZ Writer & Illustrator

Gillian Candler, illustrated by Ned Barraud  Under the Ocean
Explore & Discover New Zealand’s Sea Life Explore & Discover series  Craig Potton Publishing 2014  $19.99pb 32p  ISBN 978 1 9272 1308 7

The mysterious worlds of life under the ocean (and a few on top of it) are explored here in easily understood but packed-with-information text and absolutely awesome images. The colours; the bubbles in the water; the true to life mammals, birds and most of all, fish, are all subtly shown but so real you might be there (hopefully with a protective armour around you, as there are dangerous creatures out there). Food chains and ecological balance (that much done subject) are explained and further investigation of the whole under-the-ocean theme is encouraged.

Preschool (for the illustrations) up – to adult.

Recommended and I don’t say this very often but this is one of those special books.

Last night Under the Ocean was launched by Michele Whiting, Principal of Corinna School in Porirua East at the Children’s Bookshop at Kilbirnie, Wellington.  Michele said she had test-driven the book in preparation for her launch speech with a group of enthusiastic readers from the school and their comments had more than ticked all the boxes for interest/ accessibility/ look of the book (design) and for general all over AWESOMENESS.  
Michele Whiting launched the book

A signing session after the launch - Gillian and Ned

Google these two other titles in the series for details

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Fiction - 10 and up

Australian Writer
Ananda Braxton-Smith  Plenty
Black Dog Books 2014  $16.99pb 137pp
ISBN 978 1 7420 3242 9
Themes: Choices/ Homesickness/ Moving Home/ Refugee

When her mum and dad make Maddy move away from her home in the city, far, far away to a place in the country called Plenty, she is sure she will not survive. She is sure too that nobody will ever understand her as her friends at her old school did – that is, no one except Grace Wek who was born in a refugee camp in Kenya.
 Ananda Braxton-Smith wrote this story partly because she was uprooted as a child from her home in England and brought to Australia and partly because of the many news items she had seen showing children from the Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia (and other places, of course) who had been similarly uprooted. No one had asked them if they wanted to go. She writes in a note at the end of the book – When I see their faces I think how homesickness feels the same for everyone.
A simply written story, easily read and with much to think about at the end. A good read-aloud.

(This book actually arrived in my PO Box some weeks ago but it must have got silted under others – I read it at a sitting last night).

Year 6 up/ Age 10 up