Tuesday, 22 November 2016

A new title from the Author and Illustrator of ‘A is for Auckland’

Available from December 1st 2016

NZ Writer and Illustrator
Diane Newcombe & Melissa Anderson Scott
A is for Aotearoa
Picture Puffin NZ 2016  $25.00pb 48pp
ISBN 978 0 1435 0730 7
Themes: Lift-the-flap books/ NZ history and geography/Paper treasure hunts
You may remember Girl and Bird from the earlier title by this creative illustrator/ writer ‘team’ - A is for Auckland published in 2013. This time the addition of ‘flaps’ give real meaning to the treasure hunt aspect of the book as we dart from Auckland (of course!) down and around the country trying to guess where we are. The answers are at the back of the book but half the fun is trying to work it out from the many clues. Of course this is only beginning and mainly for slightly older children but even the youngest will appreciate the detailed and subtly coloured pictures of sometimes very familiar landscapes. Watch the flaps though and although this is not for the purists a small strip of magic mending tape on the hinges might prevent the clues underneath being revealed!
Preschool up/ Age 4 up

Please Google the names of the writer and artist to see their amazing background in working with young children.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Fifteen years in the NZ bush

NZ Writer Brian Falkner Shooting Stars Scholastic NZ 2016  $21.00pb 348pp ISBN 978 1 7753 3360 6 Themes: Codes of conduct/ Coromandal Peninsula/ Domestic violence/ Mothers and Sons/ Street kids

Ethan Tucker and his mother have lived in a hidden valley not too far from the Coromandal Peninsula for fifteen years  - the length of Ethan’s life - and that had meant no contact of any sort with all the things we take for granted – like hot water and the internet. One thing in the primitive ‘house’ in which they live, is evidence of a love of literature and while he is waiting for the world to open up in front of him and if he is not out in the bush catching their dinner, Ethan is immersing himself in some of the books – particularly Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. This is a complex story with twists and unexpected turns which I read with admiration and, of course, it is full of the ideas and suggestions which the writer encourages from his enormous audience of young readers. This is the fifteenth novel Brian Falkner has had published internationally.

Year 6 up/ Age 10 up

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Wishes can come true if Paul Jennings is writing about them!

Australian Writer and Illustrator Paul Jennings, illustrated by Craig Smith The Unforgettable What’s His Name Allen & Unwin, 2016  $17.00pb 216pp ISBN 978 1 7602 9085 6 Themes: Bikies/ Funny stories/ Loneliness/ Mothers and sons/ Shape shifting

He’s a lonely boy the boy who tells this story  - we only find his name on the very last line in the book - and he sometimes wishes he was invisible just to avoid people seeing his aloneness!! But you should always be careful what you wish for as this one comes true in a quite unexpected way. As with all books by this writer, the story is both funny and sad, totally original plus it has a heart-warming ending. I would love to read it to a class. 

Year 5 up/ Age 9 up

Friday, 11 November 2016

A penguin in the jungle?

NZ Writer and Illustrator 
Juliette MacIver, illustrated by Terri Rose Baynton
ABC Books, 2016  $30.00hb 32pp
ISBN 978 0 7333 3517 4
Themes: Antarctica/ Homes/ Jungles   
There are monkeys and jaguars, parrots and crocodiles all living happily in the jungle – and of course there are no penguins because penguins live in the Antarctic. But wait. There is a penguin in this jungle and her name is Gwendolyn – a rather discontented penguin who thinks she would really rather live in the Antarctic with all the other penguins.  A story about finding your true heart’s desire and about being comfortable in your surroundings.  There is much to think about and to look at in this very unusual story. The children with whom I shared it all LOVED it and that is always a very good feeling for the storyteller.
Preschool up/ Age 3 up  

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Launch Party for Gecko Press Annual

On Tuesday night (8.11.16) I went to the launch of Gecko’s Annual (use the search box to find a review on this blog) and it was a great evening.

It was held in the Sustainability Trust Building in Tory Street, Wellington  (and that was an excitement in itself – especially the dual toilets sitting prominently on view) and hosted a diverse group of ‘literary’ Wellingtonians (plus some out of towners) including contributors to Annual, adult and children’s writers, booksellers, historians, creative writing tutors, reviewers and – readers. 

The evening began with a rendering of the first story in the book sung and put to music by a very able group from Houghton Bay School and followed by ‘speeches’ none of which were too long.

Here are a few snaps I imaged on my mobile I didn't manage to get pictures of the two editors - Kate De Goldi and Susan Paris - they too were busy rushing about and signing copies.

Julia Marshall -publisher Gecko Press
Susan Price - writer, historian and book collector and John McIntyre - bookseller

Eirlys Hunter - writer and creative writing tutor

Monday, 7 November 2016

Kaimanawa horses

NZ Writer & Illustrator
Kelly Wilson, illustrated by Jenny Cooper
Ranger the Kaimanawa Stallion
Picture Puffin, 2016  $19.99pb 32pp
ISBN 978 0 1437 7012 1
Themes: Horse training/ Kaimanawa Ranges/ True stories/ Trust
Ranger, who was born on the Kaimanawa Ranges spent his early life grazing the tussock and building his herd – then, disaster when he was picked up in a cull of the horses and taken far, far away. Fortunately he was rescued by Vicki, Kelly and Amanda Wilson (well known to all young horse lovers from the TV series) who trained him to become a star and a greatly loved member of their team. The story is special but the illustrations bring it all together and this will be another of those books that are loved to death.
Year 4 up/ Age 8 up

Christmas in Manhattan

USA Writers
Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily
Allen & Unwin, 2016  $23.00pb 215pp
ISBN 978 1 7602 9382 6
Themes: Brothers and sisters/ Christmas in New York City/ Friendship/ Love stories
Lily has had a hard year and somehow all her enthusiasm for her favourite time of year, Christmas, has melted away like the snow on the sidewalk. It is up to Dash and a mixture of true friends and relations to help her find her passion for life once more. Sounds a little ephemeral? Far from it!  This is a wise and witty novel that will be particularly appreciated by readers who have already met the characters in Dash and Lily’s Book of Days and, as a non-demanding read it is just right for the end of year wind down.   
Year 8 up/ Age 12 up (and adults)

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Lost ideas

NZ Writer and Illustrator 
Deborah Hinde
Picture Book Publishing, 2016  $19.99pb 32pp
ISBN 978 0 4733 6294 2
Themes: Friendship/ Groups/ Ideas/ Sizes and shapes/ Small animals  
Oh foolish Hare! He had such a good idea but now he has lost it completely. Lucky Hare! He has a great support group of friends who all band together to help him with suggestions and advice. But then Hare sees…. and it all comes flooding back. It’s a great story with even greater pictures. Deborah, who has illustrated over 60 books has excelled herself with Hare and says it took her more than two years to put together. There are stories within stories here and details you only notice after the fourth or fifth views  - Hare’s whiskers for example that droop or stand up depending on his mood. A book to share with a group with enthusiasm (but I’m keeping this one for myself!)
Preschool up/ Age 4 up

Harebrained  - adj. foolish, reckless or badly thought through.
The first recorded use of harebrained dates to 1548.The spelling hairbrained also has a long history, going back to the 1500s when hair was a variant spelling of hare.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Adventures of an Allis-Chalmers tractor (1938) in rural New Zealand

NZ Writer and Illustrator 

Sophie Siers, illustrated by Helen Kerridge

Allis Helps on the Farm

Millwood Heritage Productions, 2016    $19.99pb 32pp

ISBN 978 0 4733 6921 7

Themes: Allis-Chalmers Tractors (1938)/  Perseverance/ Rural life – New Zealand/ Series  

Now that Allis the little tractor is restored to working order she is ready for anything – even the long pull up the steep hill with feed for the hungry cows. The illustrations are amazing and positively exude the feel and almost the smell of rural New Zealand. Clever use of a greeny yellow wash on the large images gives the viewer the impression of actually being in the scene. A great successor to the first book in the series Allis the Little Tractor winner of the Best First Book in the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults 2016. 

The six little boys I shared this with a couple of days ago can’t wait for the next Little Tractor adventure. Note: Little girls will love it too – it’s just in the situation I was in, the girls were out digging in the veggie garden...  

Preschool up/ Age 4 up

Friday, 4 November 2016

Two new picture books by New Zealand writers and illustrators

NZ Writer and Illustrator 
Susan Price, illustrated by Judith Trevelyan
The Viaduct Postcard
Millwood Heritage Productions, 2016    $19.99pb 32pp
ISBN 978 0 4733 6922 4
Themes: Cricket teams/ Edwardian Wellington/ Money problems/ Train trips/ Wellington Viaduct  
Jack (a very bossy older brother) and eight-year-old Bessie from Levin go to visit their aunt and uncle in Karori and see the magnificent structure of the Kelburn Viaduct on this way – by tram. The plot revolves around a missing jacket and a lucky postcard that was fortuitously left in its pocket. Judith Trevelyan’s water colour paintings bring to life the ‘trappings’ of the time  - the washbasin with real hot and cold taps/ the flushing lavatory/ the tearooms/ the clothes and of course The Viaduct. A replica of a real postcard of the times is tucked into the back flap of the book which it would seem a shame to use – unless you addressed it to yourself!! Useful as a local history resource with its pages of historical notes. Sadly because of some minor transport problems, I missed the launch of the book last night at Marsden Books in Karori – just around the corner from where the action in the story took place) 
 Year One up/ Age 5 up

Google the writer’s name for much interesting information about this Wellington historian and writer for whom this is her first children’s book- but hopefully not her last!

NZ Writer and Illustrator 
Sacha Cotter illustrated by Josh Morgan
The Marble Maker
Huia Publishers, 2016    $24.99pb 32pp
ISBN 978 1 7755 0224 1
Themes: Creativity/ Marbles

The world is full of the most wonderful marbles -  Cat’s eyes/ Froggies/ Blue Moons/ Specks and Swirls and Turtle Shells but the teller of this story (he could be a boy or she could be a girl) with help of his/her Side-Kick Sheep, Winston, is determined to invent a new marble altogether and have his/her name entered into The Book of Marbles. This is a really inventive story with matching images which would be great to read aloud to a class and it is also available in a Te Reo edition Te kaihanga māpere  ISBN 978 1 7755 0225 8

Year One up/ Age 5 up

Sacha Cotter is a teacher and writer. Her first picture book Keys/Nga Ki was a finalist in the picture book category (Keys) and the Maori Language Award (Nga Ki) of the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults 2015, and Nga Ki won Te Tohu Taurapa Award in the LIANZA Children's Book Awards 2015 and was selected for the IBBY Honour List in 2016.
Source: Children’s Bookshop, Kilbirnie Webpage