Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Juliet Jacka – two new books and an interview

NZ writer and Illustrator Juliet Jacka, illustrated by Phoebe Morris Frankie Potts and the Sparkplug Mysteries (Book 1) Puffin Books 2016  $11.99pb 97pp ISBN 978 0 1433 0918 5

Frankie Potts and the Bikini Burglar (Book 2) Puffin Books 2016  $11.99pb 109pp ISBN 978 0 1433 0919 2 Themes: Circuses/ Dogs/Grandmothers/ Family Life/ Read Alouds

Here are the first two stories in what it is very much hoped will go on to be a long series starring Number One Girl ‘Detective’, Frankie Potts and her canine sidekick, Sparkplug.  With her addiction for making lists and her inquiring mind there is not much that is going to hold Frankie back once ‘a case’ has her attention. The books are full of memorable characters  - one of my favourites is Frankie’s grandma, The Formidable Mildred – a woman with a definite past. And what is it about Sparkplug who seems a very unusual dog indeed? The books are easy to read and written in a style that is going to say ‘yes’ to many seven to ten year olds (boys and girls) using language that never talks down to the reader, plus they are liberally sprinkled with a highly original sense of humour and are just asking to be read aloud.  Phoebe Morris’s illustrations fit the stories perfectly.     Year 3 up/ Age 7 up   

Talking to Juliet Jacka – Writer
Image: Dan Jacka

On Friday the first two books in Juliet’s new series about the red headed girl detective, Frankie Potts published by Penguin Random will be in all Bookshops.

I was going to visit Juliet (who used to live next door to me before I moved to Waikanae) for this interview but neither of us could find a mutually suitable time. So here we go with an email interview that takes me back to the days when Around the Bookshops was a hard copy (but soft covered) publication appearing every three months and which always had an email interview. (I like my Blog Days better!)

 Hello Juliet- I read somewhere that you were inspired to start writing by the Young Adult novels of Margaret Mahy. What was it about her stories and the way she wrote them that called to you so positively?

It’s true: I’m a Margaret Mahy fanatic. First off, I love the language she uses — how can you resist lines like “... the drift and the dream of it, the weave and the wave of it, the fume and the foam of it...” (from The Man Whose Mother was a Pirate, which I read to my girls the other night). Then, secondly, I’m a sucker for fantasy stories with supernatural themes. The Tricksters and The Catalogue of the Universe are still two of my favourite books, all these years after I first read them (then re-read them and re-read them). I also love her characters — like Harry, or Tycho — who undertake a journey of discovery, fighting to find and recognise their own inner-worth and power, despite it being obscured or overlooked at the beginning.

 You have certainly lived around the world  – born in Wellington, university in Dunedin then off to Canada and the UK. Now you are well established back in Wellington with your husband and your two small daughters in a bright red (is it still bright red or has it started to fade by now?) house alongside the Ngaio railway line. Lauris Edmond, the poet, described Wellington as being the city of action, the world headquarters of the verb   Do you feel your surroundings influence the way you write?

The house is red, although gently peeling. A paint job may well be in the offing. And yes, my surroundings very much influence the way I write. Physical landscapes and people, both. It’s often quite an unconscious thing, though. As an example, my husband was reading Frankie Potts for the first time the other night, and kept stumbling across sayings or phrases that my young girls have invented that had snuck their way into my books. I think I just sort of hoover things up unconsciously and then they tiptoe their way into my writing.

Why do you write for children Juliet?  I am sure you still loved children’s books as an adult before you had a family of your own but does having your own children make you look at those books in a different way?

I think in part because I remember how I felt reading Margaret Mahy’s books — transported, enthralled and recognised, if that makes sense — and would love it if someday I can write something that triggers a similar set of emotions for a young reader. And having my own children has simply given me a handy excuse to re-read all the books I loved back then. It’s great!

Tell us a little about Frankie Potts and where she came from.

Frankie burst into life thanks to an exercise I did for a workshop course in writing for children at Victoria University. We had to string together a bunch of unrelated words into some sort of story, and when I tried that out popped Frankie Potts. Although, initially, she was a he — Arty Potts — until things grew and changed after I fell in love with the character and started turning the 500 word exercise into a fully fledged story.

As I think you are planning a series I wonder how difficult it is going to be to find fresh adventures and incidents for her to solve and be involved in?

I wrote the first book — Frankie Potts and the Sparkplug Mysteries — as a standalone story, not thinking too much about whether it would turn into a series or not. But luckily Frankie’s the kind of character who finds mysteries wherever she goes, so new ideas and stories are easy to dream up for her. Books three and four will be on sale early next year: Frankie Potts and the Postcard Puzzle and Frankie Potts and the Wicked Wolves. And I hope there’s more to come after that. And an audience hungry to read them.

Juliet at the launch of Night of the Perigee Moon March 20th 2014 with daughters Imogene and Rose
 Image Barbara Murison
Would you like to share some of the back story to The Night of the Perigee Moon? – Winner of the Tom Fitzgibbon Award 2013.  Also please tell us about your other book that was shortlisted for the Tom Fitzgibbon competitions in 2011 and 2013.  -  The Keeper of Spirit Hill.

I wrote The Night of the Perigee Moon when I was on maternity leave (luckily my daughter was a good sleeper). Tilly, my heroine, is set to inherit a magical talent she doesn’t really want on her thirteenth birthday. It’s got a cast of quirky characters, including magical aunts and uncles, talking cats and a colony of bats, and I had heaps of fun writing it. It was even more fun when it won the Tom Fitzgibbon, because the prize was getting my story published. That had me dancing around on the tips of my toes for days. The Keeper of Spirit Hill also got shortlisted, and at some point I’d like to revisit that story and see if I can get it published, too. It’s a fantasy story about a girl called Willow, and it was partly inspired by an atmospheric Wellington street called Holloway Road. Lurking in a gully at the bottom of a valley, it’s the sort of narrow, winding, dead-end street that begs you to write a story about it.

Have you always been surrounded by books? I know you come from a very book-minded extended family and I wonder if this love has also gone on to your own children?

Yes, it was books galore in my house growing up. I’m lucky. My girls like reading too, and they're super chuffed they get a dedication each in the front pages of Frankie one and two.

How important was the public library when you were a little girl? Do you remember using the library system in Canada and the UK?

I went to the library lots growing up, but I have to confess I didn’t spend much time in them when I was living overseas in Canada and the UK. Although I did spend a lot of time in bookstores. I worked in an independent bookstore in Canada, went to Borders lots, and, when I was in London, often ended up in a bookshop near Oxford Circus during my lunch break.

Apart from finding the time to write (how DO you do it?) what is the biggest challenge in your writing life?  Where would you like to see yourself in the world of children’s books say 10 years from now in 2026?

It’s magicking up time when there isn’t any, at the moment. I have to get creative to fit writing in around work and family life. By 2026, I’d like to have more magical writing time, more Frankie books published, a new chapter series on the go, and written and had published, fingers crossed a young adult novel in the vein of the Margaret Mahy books I adored growing up. But, who knows? I might change my mind about all that tomorrow when I sit down to write and a new character pops and he/she/it leads me down an altogether different 10-year writing path ...

 Would you now like to ask yourself a question – and answer it?

What should my character do next? How am I going to occupy the children tomorrow? Where is my next coffee going to come from? How much My Kitchen Rules is too much? But I don’t know the answers to any of these.

Friday, 24 June 2016

A couple of Board Books for very young book enthusiasts from Lynley Dodd and Lucy Cousins

UK writer and illustrator Lucy Cousins Maisy Goes to Bed (25th anniversary re-issue) Walker Books 2016 $12.00 Board Book 14pp ISBN 978 1 4063 7152 9 Themes: Bedtime stories/ Lift the flap/ pull the tab books
Maisy, the ever cheerful white mouse (with beige ears) who has now been ‘going’ for 25 years is getting ready for bed. In a lift the flap and pull the tabs board book we help her have a bedtime drink, go to the loo (tempting green toilet paper to pull), wash her hands and then, into bed with her bedtime book. Like all the other Maisy Books this one gives many opportunities for discussion about the ‘reader’s own experiences.

Babies up

NZ writer and illustrator Lynley Dodd Snooze with Hairy Maclary Puffin 2016 $19.99 Board Book 12pp ISBN 978 0 1435 0728 4 Themes: Relaxationt/ Sleeping in the daytime/ Touch and feel book
Familiar characters lie about on these pages on what looks like a hot summer day (until the last pages by the fire and in bed) in poses of extreme relaxation just waiting to have their very realistic fur patted and stroked. 

Babies up

Monday, 20 June 2016

Another useful children's book to support the Matariki Programme

NZ Writer and Illustrator  Malcolm Paterson, illustrated by Hana Maihi The Tunnel in our Backyard  Oratia Books, 2016 $21.99pb 32pp Sharing Our Stories series Book 2  ISBN 978 0 9475 0604 9
Themes: Community engagement/ Cultural diversity/ Matariki/ Mount Albert – Auckland – History/ Moving house/ Waterview Connection Project/ Waterways - pollution.

Cousins, Jennifer and Tui learn much about the history of the Mount Albert (Auckland) area when they help their whanau move house. The story which is created to support the facts does sometimes clunk along a bit but it will be a really useful resource book  - not just for those living in the Auckland area – because of the way in which is supports, in many ways, the NZ curriculum. There are helpful translations of Maori words and phrases at the bottom of the page on which they occur in the text and the colourful illustrations merge past and present very successfully.  Visit:  for more information.
Year 3 up/ Age 7 up   

Friday, 17 June 2016

Friends of the Dorothy Neal White Collection AGM 22.6.16

The Friends of the Dorothy Neal White Collection will be holding their AGM at the Tiakiwai Conference centre, Lower Ground floor, National Library of New Zealand, Aitken Street, Wellington at 6pm next Wednesday (Mid Winter’s Day) June 22nd 2016.

Before the meeting the Children’s Literature Research Librarian, Mary Skarott will be giving a presentation called:

Special Prize for Gardening – School and Sunday School Prizes in New Zealand during World War I and this will be illustrated with books from the DNW Collection.

This will be of special interest to all teachers and librarians who are involved in selecting book prizes in 2016 to see how all has changed!
Drinks and Nibbles will be served before the talk from 5-30pm
Mary Skarott - photographer unknown
Refreshments:   5-30pm
Talk: 6pm
AGM: 6-30pm

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Racism, prejudice, bullying. sexuality, bereavement -all in one highly readable story!

Expected publication date July 7th 2016

UK Writer
Siobhan Curham
The Moonlight Dreamers
Walker Books 2016  $18.99 347pp
ISBN 978 1 4063 6582 5
Themes: Friendship / Homosexuality/ Individuality/ Loyalty  
Four girls with one thing in common  - they are sick of being told how to behave, to look and even how to think.  Because of this they form a club, a secret club where they are free to be themselves. This is a particularly honest story which will ring many bells of truth for teenage girls – and just in case it all sounds too Polyanna’ish to be believed none of the girls are perfect and there are a lot of laughs in the 347 or so pages. However, they are all loyal to each other.
 I particularly liked following the story of Amber who lives with two Gay Dads and is bullied at school.  
 A book to read enthusiastically in two bites at the most and perfect for reading in bed with its comfortable size and appealing smooth cover.
Year 8 up/ Age 12 up

Friday, 10 June 2016

te reo Māori for babies and pre-schoolers

NZ Writer and Illustrator

Kitty Brown, illustrated by Kirsten Parkinson Kararehe Reo Pepe Tapui Ltd 2016  $16.99 board book 32pp ISBN 978 0 4733 3151 1 Themes: te reo Māori for babies and pre-schoolers  

You just never know what will be arriving in the courier van when it pulls up at your door!  Out of the blue (well out of a cardboard packet really) came three of the most enchanting board books in te reo for babies and preschoolers I have seen.  The text consists of a Māori phrase in dark (thick) letters and the English translation in thinner letters. There is an easily understood pronunciation guide - the whole thing is  supremely simple – and the illustrations are charming – understated, warm and full of humour.

The other two books in the series are:

Kanohi (My Face) ISBN 978 0 4733 3150 4

Kakahu (Getting Dressed) ISBN 978 0 4733 3152 8

I hope this is a publishing venture that really takes off as although the books are aimed at the very young they could be used (and enjoyed) by an even wider age group. 
For more information go to: 

Babies up/ Age 1 up 

Kitty and Kirsten launched their publishing house in February this year Image: Christine O'Conner

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Finalists in the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults - 2016

 Here is the exciting list of the finalists in the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young People 2016 announced yesterday. 

ACKNOWLEDGMENT - please note that to save much time and retyping I have simply 'lifted' the text of this list from the email sent to members by THE NEW ZEALAND SOCIETY OF AUTHORS yesterday morning.  All I have done is to add a few images and flossy up the layout a bit with some coloured fonts. . 
* means I have reviewed the book on this Blog. Use the search box to find...


Spoilt for choice, say this year’s judges of the 2016 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults as they selected the 28 finalists that are announced today. (Yesterday)

“Haunted houses, war stories, gritty social issues and some amazingly imaginative works were all part of the mix. It was very challenging for us all to choose these finalists,” says convenor of judges Fiona Mackie.

In this 26th year of celebrating the best of New Zealand writing for our children and young adults, this year’s awards have expanded to include two categories from the now-merged Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA) Awards – the Russell Clark Illustration Award and the Te Kura Pounamu Award for books in te reo Māori.

The finalists in the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults are selected across six categories: Young Adult Fiction, Junior Fiction, Non-Fiction, Picture Book, Illustration and te reo Māori. There were 154 entries submitted for the 2016 Awards.

The judging panel comprises convenor and teacher-librarian, Fiona Mackie; librarian, Kathy Aloniu; and children’s fiction author Melinda Szymanik. In addition, English academic, Professor Martin Salisbury is the advisor for the Russell Clark Illustration Award. Professor Salisbury is the Professor of Illustration at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, UK; he leads its MA Children’s Book Illustration programme which he established in 2000. He has been a member of the international jury for a number of illustration and picture book awards.

The te reo Māori entries were judged by librarians Te Rangi Rangi Tangohau and Lawren Matrix, and Auckland Museum’s Senior Outreach Programmer, Mereana Taungapeau. The convenor of the te reo Māori panel is University of Auckland Kaitiaki Māori librarian Riki-Lee Saua. 


Battlesaurus: Rampage at Waterloo, Brian Falkner, Pan Macmillan Australia (Farrar Strauss Giroux)
Being Magdalene, Fleur Beale, Penguin Random House (Random House New Zealand) *
Hucking Cody, Aaron Topp, Mary Egan Publishing  *
Lullaby, Bernard Beckett, Text Publishing
Sylvie the Second, Kaeli Baker, Mākaro Press  *

JUNIOR FICTION (Esther Glen award)
Enemy Camp, David Hill, Penguin Random House (Puffin) *
From the Cutting Room of Barney Kettle, Kate De Goldi, Penguin Random House (Longacre) *
Lily Max – Satin, Scissors, Frock, Jane Bloomfield, Luncheon Sausage Books
The Bold Ship Phenomenal, Sarah Johnson, Flat Bed Press *
The Girl Who Rode the Wind, Stacy Gregg, Harper Collins *

NON FICTION (Elsie Locke Award)
ANZAC Heroes, Maria Gill, illustrated by Marco Ivancic, Scholastic NZ *
Changing Times: The story of a New Zealand town and its newspaper, Bob Kerr, Potton & Burton *
See what I can see, Gregory O’Brien, Auckland University Press
The Beginner’s Guide to Adventure Sport in New Zealand, Steve Gurney, Penguin Random House (Random House New Zealand)
Whose Beak is This? Gillian Candler, illustrated by Fraser Williamson, Potton & Burton *

Allis the little tractor, Sophie Siers, illustrated by Helen Kerridge, Millwood-Heritage Productions *
Finding Monkey Moon, Elizabeth Pulford, illustrated by Kate Wilkinson, Walker Books *
Haka, Patricia Grace, illustrated by Andrew Burdan, Huia Publishers
The House on the Hill, Kyle Mewburn, illustrated by Sarah Davis, Scholastic NZ *
The Little Kiwi’s Matariki, Nikki Slade Robinson, David Ling Publishing (Duck Creek Press) *

ILLUSTRATION (Russell Clark Award)
Changing Times: The story of a New Zealand town and its newspaper, Bob Kerr, Potton & Burton *
Finding Monkey Moon, illustrated by Kate Wilkinson, written by Elizabeth Pulford, Walker Books *
Hush: A Kiwi Lullaby, illustrated by Andrew Burdan, written by Joy Cowley, translated by Ngaere Roberts, Scholastic NZ
Much Ado About Shakespeare, Donovan Bixley, Upstart Press
The House on the Hill, illustrated by Sarah Davis, written by Kyle Mewburn, Scholastic NZ *

TE REO MAORI  (Te Kura Pounamu Award)
Tamanui te Kōkako Mōrehu o Taranaki, Rebecca Beyer and Linley Wellington, illustrated by Andrew Burdan, translated by Kawata Teepa, Huia Publishers
Te Huatahi a Kuwi, Kat Merewether, translated by Pānia Papa, Illustrated Publishing
Whiti te Rā! Patricia Grace, illustrated by Andrew Burdan, translated by Kawata Teepa, Huia Publishers
HELL Children’s Choice finalists also announced
Kiwi children have enthusiastically voted online to select the finalists for the HELL Children’s Choice Awards. HELL Pizza general manager Ben Cumming says, “As a creative, New Zealand-owned business, HELL Pizza is passionate about feeding the imaginations of Kiwi kids and helping develop their literacy – particularly through a relationship with books. The stories these young readers have chosen as finalists are exciting, well-written, beautifully illustrated and clearly resonate with their audience. We can’t agree on our favourite, but luckily it’s not up to us!” Voting for the winners in the five categories of the HELL Children’s Choice Award opens on Wednesday, 8 June and closes on Friday, 22 July.

The HELL Children’s Choice finalists are:

Young Adult Fiction
Being Magdalene by Fleur Beale, Penguin Random House (Random House New Zealand) *
Stray, Rachel Craw, Walker Books*
Sylvie the Second, Kaeli Baker, Mākaro Press *

Junior Fiction
Cool Nukes, Des Hunt, Scholastic NZ *
Enemy Camp, David Hill, Penguin Random House (Puffin) *
The Girl Who Rode the Wind, Stacy Gregg, Harper Collins *

ANZAC Heroes, Maria Gill, illustrated by Marco Ivancic, Scholastic NZ *
First to the Top, David Hill, illustrated by Phoebe Morris, Penguin Random House (Puffin) *
Wildboy, Brando Yelavich, Penguin Random House (Penguin)

Picture Book
Kuwi’s Huhu Hunt, Kat Merewether, Illustrated Publishing
Stripes! No, Spots! Vasanti Unka, Penguin Random House (Puffin) *
The House on the Hill, Kyle Mewburn, illustrated by Sarah Davis, Scholastic NZ *

Te reo Māori
Tamanui te Kōkako Mōrehu o Taranaki, Rebecca Beyer and Linley Wellington, illustrated by Andrew Burdan, translated by Kawata Teepa, Huia Publishers
Te Huatahi a Kuwi, Kat Merewether, translated by Pānia Papa, Illustrated Publishing
Whiti te Rā! Patricia Grace, illustrated by Andrew Burdan, translated by Kawata Teepa, Huia Publishers

A Finalist Authors’ tour will run from 1-9 August nationwide, with authors appearing in schools, libraries and bookshops.

The winners of the 2016 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults will be announced on the evening of Monday, 8 August at Circa Theatre in Wellington.

The New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults could not exist without the generosity, commitment and vision of its sponsors. The New Zealand Book Award Trust is grateful to all these organisations for their support: Creative New Zealand, HELL Pizza, Book Tokens (NZ) Ltd, Wellington City Council, Nielsen Book Services, Copyright Licensing Limited and the Fernyhough Education Foundation.

The New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults are administered by the New Zealand Book Council on behalf of the New Zealand Book Awards Trust.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Toughen Up Andrew Book Launch

A Canine Book Launch
No, this is not Andrew who was a Pekinese - but an interested member of the group

Anne signs one of the many copies sold
Mary McCallum (left) - Mākaro Press
In what would be the best weather we have had for Queen’s Birthday Weekend for years, Mākaro Press officially launched Toughen up, Andrew by Anne Manchester  (see this Blog for May 29th) at the Day’s Bay pavilion yesterday afternoon. It was held in the company of around 20 dogs, mostly with owners, although a few did just happen by to see what was going on. The dogs behaved impeccably, sitting quietly on their human’s feet while the speeches were made but in the true manner of dogs none of them seemed keen to have their photos taken once the formal part of the afternoon was over. A group picture? No way - they were much more interested in the take-home packets of Doggie Treats or in tearing around the park (the larger ones), barking.  So once more my camera has let me down but those of us who were there, on the spot, had an enchanting afternoon.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

The Devon Santos Trilogy Part Two

Into the river continues...

NZ Writer  Ted Dawe  Into the World  Mangakino University Press, 2016  $25.00pb 262pp

ISBN 978 0 4733 4880 9  Themes:  Freedom/ ‘Growing up’/ Love/ Loyalty/ Sequels

Into the world starts immediately where Into the River finished with Devon’s bold words ‘I choose freedom’. However had he known what being free really means he might not have been so confident. While I guess it could be read alone in my opinion it will make for a much richer experience and with much more understanding of where the main character, Devon is coming from, if Into the River has been read first. Into the river was a prequel to the writer’s earlier novel, Thunder Road.

Year 10 up/ Age 14 up and adults  (for emotionally mature readers)
Book 3 to come...

About Ted Dawe  (thanks to The Children’s Bookshop Kilbirnie

Ted Dawe has written four novels; Thunder Road (2003), K Road (2005), And did those feet (2006) and Into the River (2012). He has also written a collection of short stories Captain Sailorbird and other stories (2007). He has received a number of major awards and in 2014 he was named an Honorary Literary Fellow by the New Zealand Society of Authors. He lives in Auckland with his wife, son and three cats.
original source of image of Ted Dawe untraced (by me)

Note: On this beautiful Sunday in Queen's Birthday Weekend I am now off to a rather unusual Book Launch where the main refreshments will be in the form of Doggy Treats. More later!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Being Different

Australian (but born in UK) Writer and Illustrator Leila Rudge Gary Walker Books 2016 $24.99hb 28pp

ISBN 978 1 9250 8169 5

Themes: Being different/ Maps/ Racing Pigeons

A racing pigeon that can’t fly is a bit of an anachronism but Gary (first seen seen in smart tramping hat and carrying a map under his wing) is used to the rest of the flock flying off without him. He records their comings and goings in a large scrapbook and sometimes feels a bit envious but he eats the same seeds, he sleeps in the same lofts and they all dream of adventure. Then one day Gary finds himself far far from home – he is with the other birds because he has fallen into one of the racing baskets and somehow Gary has to get home …

Story and illustrations are creatively melded into a whole which is full of spin offs with much to discuss. Teachers’ notes are available.
Preschool up/ Age 4 up

Visit:  for an interesting interview with Leila