Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Picture Books

Australian Writer & Illustrator
Simon Milne, illustrated by Chantal Stewart
The Dance Teacher
Allen & Unwin 2013   $29.99hb  158 pages
ISBN 978 1 7433 1331 2

Themes: Ballet classes/ Five positions – ballet/ Teachers

Miss Sylvie was a lithe young ballerina but has now given up her career on the stage to share her passion for ballet with the children of the city. One of her special pupils is Isabelle who also loves to dance and who practises the five positions over and over again. It is Isabelle who we follow through the story as she matures from a rather bumble footed little girl to the wonderful day she goes up on Pointe for the first time and finally– on to a teaching career of her own. The detailed illustrations, which are in subtle pastel colours, and the text are perfectly matched and this will be a book to bring great pleasure to all ballet minded  children. There are plenty of small boys in the images – especially in those showing the Hip Hop, Jazz and Tap classes.
The book was published yesterday - August 26th 2013

Year 1 up/ Age 5 up

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Young Adult Fiction

NZ Writer
David Jubermann
Just Us
Epsum Media Ltd 2013   $29.95pb  $3.50 post and packing   158 pages
ISBN 978 0 4732 5426 1

Themes: Family problems/ Grandmothers/ Isolation/ Love stories/ Survival

Tyler and Natalie, both at high school, couldn’t be from more different backgrounds but they both share a deep set sense of isolation from the people around them.  When their initial attraction turns to love and after Natalie has suffered a crippling accident, the pair try to escape from all authority and set off on a marathon road (and sea) journey. Their destination is Aio, a bach deep in the bush in New Zealand’s north island.
This is a well-told story and with such a theme it should have great appeal to teenage girls around 12 to 14.

The book was self published and is a good example of how well such ventures can turn out with quality binding, well set out pages and good clear fonts.

Year 8 up/ Age 12 up    

Go to: for information about the writer, lists of his other publications and details of how to purchase the books.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Young Adult Fiction

Published today 21/8/13

USA Writer
Sarah J. Maas
Crown of Midnight
Book Two in the A Throne of Glass series
Bloomsbury   2013   $19.99pb    422 pages
ISBN 978 1 4088 3494 7

Themes: Fantasy/Love stories/ Magic/ Series

Celaena is now 18 years old and although she has won the king’s consent to be a royal assassin her loyalties lie far from here although she pretends to do the king’s bidding. Dark forces are gathering on the horizon and these will force Celaena to make a choice. This is addictive reading – just Google the title to see what reviewers and readers around  the world have to say.
Throne of Glass was shortlisted for the Waterston’s Children's Teen Book of the Year and has been translated into 12 languages.
Go to: for more about the book and its (very) young writer.

 Year 9 up/ Age 13 up

Monday, 19 August 2013

Free eBook Touchstone

Do you remember Touchstone Lorraine Orman’s first eBook which I reviewed here on this Blog on May 2nd?  There was a great deal of interest in the book at the time (and not just in New Zealand) and now - as a special promotion and only until this Sunday, Lorraine is offering


Lorraine Orman is celebrating her Storylines Festival Workshop on indie e-book publishing on Saturday last by making the book available for a FREE download from Smashwords for a week (Saturday 17 to Sunday 25 August).
You’ll find the e-book at
To download a free version follow instructions as if you are going to buy it, and just before completing the checkout you will find you will be prompted for a coupon code.
Enter LA87E and then you can download the file to match your e-reader or computer.

Do spread the word about this, particularly to any teenagers who might be interested.
It’s an offer too good to miss and in my opinion, it is a great read.

 Katie Haworth, Lorraine and Fleur Beale at the launch of Lorraine’s book  Land of Promise a couple of years ago at The Children’s Bookshop Kilbirnie Wellington

Photo: Barbara Murison

Sunday, 18 August 2013

The Storylines Event That Wasn't - Wellington August 17th 2013

As I type this the Storylines Committees in Christchurch, Dunedin, Kaitia and South Auckland will all be feeling that wonderful satisfaction that comes when another great Storylines Free Family Day has been run and enjoyed by everyone. Auckland will be in full operation mode at the Aotea Centre at this very moment. Sadly, because of the 6.4 earthquake on Friday afternoon and the fact that the Michael Fowler Centre where the event was to be held, had not, at that stage, been assessed for damage, it was with the greatness reluctance, decided to cancel the event here in Wellington for this year. We kept thinking of the hours, the weeks, the months of work that had gone into it all. The Wellington Committee is now left with hundreds of sand-filled juggling balls, boxes of plastic globes to be turned into ‘snowstorms’, 200 painted paper plates waiting to be made into bear masks and, in my spare room, a giant teddy bear (jointly owned by the committee) who was to be the prize in a ‘name this bear’ competition. I put Big Bear in the wardrobe late on Friday night  but when I went to get something from it on Saturday morning he gave me such an offended and mournful look he is now back on the spare room bed.

 There were all the people resources  - buskers/ musicians/ readers, to say nothing of the writers and illustrators (some local - some out of towners) who are the backbone of the event and the reason for it.
The committee and as many of the writers and illustrators as we could muster, gathered out at Elements Café at Lyall Bay yesterday for a very convivial Brunch although it wasn't quite how we had imagined we would be spending the day!! It was near the airport so convenient for those about to fly home.

Photo of the whole group -  acknowledgements to the camera of Sue Jane (taken by a member of the cafe staff)

 Fifi Colston and Sarina Hutton (coordinator 2012-) put on brave faces at the Brunch

Friday, 16 August 2013


NZ Writer & Illustrator
Anne Hunter, Illustrations by Dave Gunson
One Little Fantail
Scholastic    2013   $19.50pb  32 pages
ISBN 978 1 7754 3138 1

Themes: New Zealand birds/ Stories in rhyme

Dave Gunson, with his wonderful quirky but never comical illustrations and Anne Hunter with her all embracing rhymes, have worked together to create this book about well and not so well known New Zealand birds. There is useful information about the twelve birds as well as their Maori names and a whole page full of their feathers.

Preschool up / Age 4 up

Please note I am entering this as Wellington is being racked by earthquakes so if there are any boo-boos please forgive me. I will pick them up as I look at it when things are calmer.

Sunday, 11 August 2013


NZ Writer & Designers
Maria Gill, cartoons by Malcolm Evans
Running The Country – A look inside New Zealand’s government
New Holland    2013   $24.99pb  48 pages
ISBN 978 1 8696 6396 4

Themes: Parliamentary procedures/ Prime Ministers – New Zealand

We have waited a long time for a book about New Zealand government written at a level for younger readers and this book will fill that big need. At first glance there seems to be almost too much on each page but once you understand the layout it is very easy to find your way around as the pages stick to a regular pattern. A timeline from 1250 to 2018 (!) sits along the bottom of each double spread and the ‘click here’ feature shows a variety of useful websites. For me one of the outstanding features of the book was the series of cartoon profiles by Malcolm Evans. Unlike many political cartoonists he has honed in on the more benevolent and vulnerable look of his subjects (except possibly for Richard Seddon) and I felt unexpected warmth toward even those who do not comply with my own political outlooks.

Year 6 up/ Age 10 up
(useful too for secondary students as a general overview)

Wednesday, 7 August 2013


NZ Writer
Des Hunt
Project Huia
Scholastic    2013   $19.50pb   289 pages
ISBN 978 1 7754 3176 3

Themes: Extinct birds/ DNA/ Huia/ Helicopter flights/ Manawatu Gorge/ Past and present

Logan’s grandfather grew up in Palmerston North in the 1940s and one day he and his sister thought they saw a huia in the Kowhai tree but this could not be true because the huia was extinct  - or was it? Now almost 60 years later Logan is on the track of the same bird and hoping if they find it, its DNA will be helpful for scientific research. But there are always greedy people around who are willing to spoil things for their own aims.  As in all his books (now either 14 or 15 – I’ve lost count), Des Hunt combines his passion for science with his wonderful story telling skills.
 I feel this would read aloud well but it may be more a book for an individual reader to gobble up at a sitting and not to have to wait for the next reading ‘session’!

** Recommended.

Year 6 up/ Age 10 up

Tuesday, 6 August 2013


I was really so happy to be at the LIANZA Award Ceremony last night held here in Wellington and later to help celebrate at The Library Bar. No nothing to do with the Public Library! It is a very innovative bar and ‘café’ where the walls are literally lined with books which regular patrons may borrow on an honesty system. There is also an old cast iron bath in the main room but not plumbed in – we used it to stack our coats.  Sadly I had left my proper camera at home so, although I did take images with my mobile, they are not good enough to reproduce here.
The LIANZA office should be congratulated for the quality of the ‘handouts’ the guests were given as they left including a good-sized notebook with a choice of different jackets from the winners. I chose The Nature of Ash by Mandy Hager.
All the books were published in 2012


Junior Fiction Award – Esther Glen Medal
For the most distinguished contribution to literature for children aged 0-15.
Red Rocks by Rachael King  Random House New Zealand

LIANZA Young Adult Fiction Award
For the most distinguished contribution to literature for children and young adults aged 13 years and above.
The Nature of Ash by Mandy Hager, Random House New Zealand

Mandy and Ruth McIntyre at The Children's Bookshop Kilbirnie
LIANZA Illustration Award - Russell Clark Award
For the most distinguished illustrations in a children's book.
A Great Cake by Tina Matthews, Walker Books Australia

LIANZA Non-Fiction Award - Elsie Locke Medal
For a work that is considered to be a distinguished contribution to non-fiction for young people.
At the Beach: Explore & Discover the New Zealand Seashore by Ned Barraud and Gillian Candler, Craig Potton Publishing

LIANZA Librarians’ Choice Award 2013
Awarded to the most popular finalist across all awards, as judged by professional librarians of LIANZA.

 I think this is The Year of David Hill as he also won the Junior Fiction Award in the recent NZ Post Children’s Book Awards for My Brother's War. Use the search box on this blog for details. 
My Brother’s War by David Hill, Penguin NZ

David at the launch of another of his war stories - The Red Poppy with the book's illustrator, Fifi Colston

Te Kura Pounamu (te reo Māori)
Awarded to the author of a work, written in Te Reo Māori, which makes a distinguished contribution to literature for children or young people.
Ko Meru by Kyle Mewburn, translated by Ngaere Roberts, illustrated by Ali Teo and John O’Reilly Scholastic

Also presented at the ceremony were three wonderful taonga from Te Ropu Whakahau  - the organisation uniting Maori Librarians and information specialists in Aotearoa New Zealand.  These taonga come back every year and they must be truly treasured by the recipients as they always look in pristine coindition,
 Go to the LIANZA website for details.  

Monday, 5 August 2013


NZ Writer
Glenn Wood
The Bully Chip
Walker Books    2013   $18.99pb   261pages
ISBN 978 1 9219 7764 0

Themes: Bullying/ Funny stories/ High school life/ Sequels

Callum in his up market wheelchair and his no nonsense friend Sophie plus Jinx are being targeted by two particularly nasty bullies who have arrived at school. However, they have picked on the wrong people and in spite of tactics that might have totally floored less strong characters, Callum, Sophie and Jinx end on a note of triumph. The story (like its predecessor, The Brain Sucker 2012 ISBN 978 1 9219 7763 3) is written in the sort of language that today’s younger readers relate to and would make a satisfying read aloud for 9 to 11 year olds.

Years 5–8/ Ages 9-12

For further info about Glenn Wood, former copywriter turned author, go to:

Photo of Glenn, acknowledgments to Walker Books Australia

Saturday, 3 August 2013


NZ Writer and Illustrator
Dave Gunson
The New Zealand Wildlife Activity Book
New Holland    2013   $24.99pb    64pages
ISBN 978 1 8696 6389 6

Themes: Mask making/ New Zealand wild life/ Out of door activities

There must have been so many hours of work in putting this book together with its hundred of ideas for activities in the out of doors aimed at creating a deeper understanding of our diverse wildlife and with a big emphasis on having fun and enjoying it all. Although the book looks as though it is aimed at individual children there is ample scope for teachers and leaders to photocopy pages and use them as the basis for many outdoors project. This just arrived in my box yesterday and I can’t wait to have an opportunity to try it out with a group of ‘conservation’ kids!

Preschool up / Age 4 up

A Little Throwaway News

I had a great time in the Rangitikei at the beginning of the week including a visit to the small but charming Bulls Public Library where every centimetre of space has been well utilised. I also visited National Library in Palmerston North and it was good to catch up with librarian friends there.  I didn't get to do white water surfing but did walk along beside the river.
I was sad though that having initially ‘run away’ from shaky quaky Wellington to get a couple of good night’s sleep, my motel was night beside the arterial road and I was awake all night (s) to the noise of long haul trucks, lorries and what sounded like unoiled tractors.
Entrance to National Library Palmerston North