Saturday, 30 August 2014

Picture Books Joy Cowley Award 2013

Release date 1st September 2014
Winner The Joy Cowley Award 2013

NZ Writer and Illustrator
Aimee McNaughton, illustrated by Dominique Ford I Can’t Imagine How That Happened
Scholastic NZ  2014  $19.50pb 32pp
ISBN 978 1 7754 3204 3
Themes: Camping/ Grandfathers/ Practical Jokes/ Pukekos

Meg and her grandfather go camping but this is no ordinary camping trip as they are both addicted to playing practical jokes scoring each other off through a day and a night. Then, just as they about to sit down to a good cup of tea and some chocolate biscuits they find the tables have been turned on them both  - I can’t imagine how that happened they say together. Zany illustrations and a warm good humoured story make this a book small children will demand to have read over and over again – and older ones will enjoy for themselves.   

Preschool up/ Age 3 up

Friday, 29 August 2014

Commenting on Posts in this Blog

I have often wondered why there hardly ever seem to be any comments about anything I have said on this Blog and now I think I know why!
At the bottom of each post is a grey filled box with the words Posted by Barbara Murison at... and the time. Just along from that are two words No comments. If you click on this it will take you to the comment box. Confusing I know but I didn't write the system for this Blog.
I'd love to hear something from you.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

The Book of Hat goes GLOBAL

Harriet Rowland, writer of The Book of Hat, would have been 21 yesterday 26 August 2014 and anyone who knew her or who has read the book can imagine with what exuberance and enthusiasm that particular birthday would have been celebrated. But Harriet died of cancer in March this year, very soon after the sell-out launch of the book in February.

Unexpectedly high sales followed. Publisher, Mary McCallum of Mākaro Press under their Submarine imprint said there has been much interest in turning The Book Of Hat into an ebook to meet both the demands of the young readership and overseas sales. 

To do this Mākaro Press formed an association with Dunedin ebook publisher Rosa Mira Books, owned by Penelope Todd.  Mary said ‘Penelope is a wonderful publisher and we knew she’d ‘get’ Hat’s book, and she has. The ebook has been sensitively done, in the way Harriet would have wanted, incorporating the original book design features including colour photographs that helped make the book so popular.’

The Book of Hat is available at all good bookshops, online at:thebookofhat.com & and as an ebook at rosamirabooks.com

Harriet - acknowledgements to Fifi Colston

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Non-Fiction - age 10 up

UK Writer  (illustrated with images from many different sources)

Jim Eldridge  50 Things You Should Know About the First World War

QED Publishing 2014  $19.99pb  80pp

ISBN 978 1 7817 1589 5

Causes and effects, battles, people and events are carefully explored in this fact-packed, easy to access book. We do seem to be being saturated with information about World War One at present. Much of it is excellent but to find another of the few books that spreads the events out in front of you in such a logical manner is indeed a find. Each page contains approximately 50% image, 50% text which makes it useful for a very wide age range and range of reading abilities.


Year 6 up/ Age 10 up

Monday, 25 August 2014

Storylines Wellington 2014

I had hoped to bring you some really sparkling photos from yesterday’s Storylines Family Day here in Wellington but once more I was doomed to disappointment. However, the day itself was far from disappointing. One of my favourite areas (and of many of the children’s) was the War Zone where Janet McFadden (National Library) and Pippa Werry (writer of several books on World War One and recently returned from the ANZAC commemorations in Gallipoli) were in charge. In this area children could (helped by members of the NZ Army) dress in real battledress, try out a sleeping tent for size, and eat real hard tac. A little further along they could visit the craft area where amongst other activities could make a realistic looking medal or a brilliant red poppy. 

I went to a marvellous session with one of the librarians from Wellington Public Library, Adrienne Hannan, on Choosing Good Books for Children. I have been in the business of choosing books for nearly 60 years and sometimes mistakenly think I know it all. I don't! There is so much to learn - often from much younger people.  There was a great hand-out to go with the session which included several book lists on popular subjects among which I was pleased to see some older titles included and a title by Enid Blyton (Stuart Perry, City Librarian in the days when I was buying the books for the children's and young adult's collection at Wellington Public, will be turning in his grave!!)
I hope this session will be repeated somewhere before the end of the year. It was really worthwhile. 

This is the favourite picture I did manage – taken in the Scholastic Read Out Loud area where the children are listening to Karen Larkindale reading Melinda Szymanik’s The Were-Nana. They began by sitting sedately on cushions but as the story took hold they crept closer and closer, some even standing up to share the words.  Look ----




And running in connection with Storylines Wellington is:


The Seminar Series Wellington with Gary Crew

The Children’s Bookshop, 26 Kilbirnie Plaza, Kilbirnie, Wellington

Tuesday 26 August 2014, 6:00pm – 7:30pm

Tel - 64 4 387 3905 Fax - 64 4 387 3288

Tickets Storylines members $15.00  Non-members $20.00

So that is Storylines Wellington for another year. 
A really warm congratulations to chairperson Eileen Mueller and the committee but  most of all to the children who liked what was planned, who participated so enthusiastically and without whom there would be no Storylines...

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Storylines Free Family Days 2014

Just off for a very full day at the Wellington Storylines Free Family Day and, hopefully, if my camera behaves, I will have some good photos for you tomorrow.
Dunedin started the ball rolling with what sounded like an amazingly successful day yesterday and here is the timetable and links for the rest of the Festival. Maybe see you in the Michael Fowler Centre later today?

Christchurch Family Day, Upper Riccarton Library, Sunday 24 August, 10am - 3.00pm.
Wellington Family Day, Michael Fowler Centre, Sunday 24 August, 10am - 3.00pm.
Northland Family Day, Whangarei Central Library and the Old Library Arts Centre, Saturday 30 August, 9.30am - 2.00pm.
South Auckland Family Day,Vodafone Events Centre, Saturday 30 August, 10am - 3.00pm.
Auckland Family Day, Aotea Centre, Sunday 31 August, 10am - 3.00pm.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Picture Books - preschool up


Dutch Writer and Illustrator

Sieb Posthuma  (translated by Bill Nagelkerke)  Where is Rusty?

Gecko Press 2014  $19.99pb 32pp

ISBN 978 1 9272 7146 9

Themes: Department stores/ Families/ Keeping safe/ Lost animals/ Shopping

Four dogs (Rusty, Henrietta, Toby and their mother) are off on a shopping expedition to a really big department store in the city. Henrietta and Toby are well-behaved small animals and stick close to their mum but Rusty, a bit of a rebel, takes off and follows all the tempting and delicious smells his nose dictates.  Adventures follow, danger even, but (and we can tell from the jacket of the book this will all end happily) the family finally pins the missing Rusty in the Light Department where he is masquerading (and hiding from his pursuers) as a lamp – with furry feet. A gentle story, full of good humour and family togetherness although, of course we know from the final page that Rusty will take off again at the first opportunity. The character of Rusty is based on the writer’s own dog, Rintje, who looks, in his photo, a bit of a tearaway too.

Preschool up/ Age 3 up

(Sadly Sieb Posthuma died a few days ago. We will need to treasure this and his many other books)

Friday, 22 August 2014

Picture Books (preschool up)

NZ Writer and Illustrator

Scott Tulloch  I am not a Worm! Scholastic 2014  $19.99pb 32pp

ISBN 978 1 7754 3251 7

Themes:  Caterpillars/ Chameleons/ Conversations/ Funny Stories  


A dialogue between a chameleon and a small, skinny, worm-like creature that is determined he is NOT a worm which may be a mistake on his part when you see what happens to him on the very last page.  The conversation is a familiar one of the yes you did/ no I didn’t /did/ didn’t variety instantly recognisable to anyone who has anything to do with small children and very acutely observed. Children of course, may see something quite different in this story but adults and children will look at the ending and wonder if it is sad or funny. It all depends I guess on the POV. You could be forgiven for looking at the jacket and wondering if this is a Dr Seuss look-alike but open the book and it becomes apparent this is very definitely a uniquely Scott Tulloch production. Google his name for many other titles.

Preschool up/ Age 3 up

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Fiction - 7 years up

NZ Writer and Illustrator

Elena de Roo, illustrated by Tracy Duncan  Ophelia Wild, Deadly Detective

Walker Books 2014  $16.99pb 96pp

ISBN 978 1 9220 7763 9

Themes: Chicken Pox/ Rhyming verse/ Sequels/ Zombies


In Ophelia Wild Secret Spy we met Ophelia and her sidekick, Albert, two unusual young people who set up a secret service agency and who managed to solve some perplexing mysteries. This has been a popular title with its easy to read text, its out-of-the-main-stream characters and generous illustrations that flow over each double page spread. Sometimes sequels can be a disappointing read but with the introduction of zombies (plus some other monsters) this absolutely held my attention and that of Ben (aged seven and not the world’s most enthusiastic reader) all Sunday afternoon. I have promised to share the first book with him next Monday after school – not Sunday because that is the day of the Storylines Free Family Day at the Michael Fowler Centre. Last year we sadly had to cancel because of the big Wellington earthquakes.  

Year 2 up/ Age 6 up

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Picture Books - Preschool up

NZ Writer and Illustrator

Sally Sutton, illustrated by Brian Lovelock  Construction

Walker Books 2014  $29.99hb 32pp

ISBN 978 1 9220 7730 1

Themes: Building/ Onomatopoeic words

Out on the building site the workers in yellow overalls are
thonking and clonking and clapping/ binging and banging and bonging until they raise the roof, switch on the power and fill the rooms with shelves and tables and chairs. What have they built? Why a LIBRARY of course. This is a wonderfully exuberant book both in language and image not only to delight the children who listen and look and join in but those who share it with them.  And like the building that has been constructed, this is a good sturdy book which will stand up to the predicted heavy use it will receive.


Preschool up/ Age 3 up

Monday, 18 August 2014

Upper Primary - Young Adult

NZ Writer

Susan Brocker  1914 Riding Into War

 Scholastic 2014  $19.50pb    215pp
Kiwis at War series

ISBN 978 1 7754 3206 7

Themes: Best mates/ Gallipoli and the Battle of Chunuk Bair/ Horses in wars/ World War I 1914-1918


Image: Courtesy of Susan Brocker

Like so many young New Zealanders, best mates Billy and Jack ‘fresh off the farm’, couldn’t wait to enlist when the call went out at the beginning of World War One. But what had sounded like the promise of a big adventure when they joined the Mounted Rifles Regiment turned into the horror beyond their imaginings for them. Susan Brocker was the ideal person to write this first, carefully researched book in the Kiwis At War series as she has already written, Brave Bess and the ANZAC horses – and because of her empathy for the animals. The series will continue with one book a year until 2018 with the writers – Diana Menefy, Brian Falkner, David Hair and Des Hunt.  And do look at the great jacket – subtly embossed.

(Apologies I am a bit late with this – I only came across the series last week).


Year 7 up/ Age 11 up

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Fiction - Ten years and up

Elena - source unknown
NZ Writer

Elena de Roo The Name at the End of the Ladder Walker Books 2014  $16.99pb 268pp

ISBN 978 1 9222 4447 5

Themes: Board games/ Dystopian stories/ Family life


September is just about to turn 12 and like all children of her age she is obliged to go for an appointment at the Name Bank to choose the name by which she will be known for the rest of her life.  Feisty and independent, she is determined not to choose a flowery name like so many of her contemporaries but to her dismay when she arrives at the Bank she finds she has little choice after all. Then she discovers an ancient board game which may just be a way out – but with it comes real danger and a scary new world opens up. Told with just the right amount of excitement and frissons of fear, this is a book readers looking for a real adventure story with overtones of fantasy will appreciate. They will also be looking anxiously for the next book by this writer and poet who has already written several stories for a younger age (see this Blog in the next week) and a wonderfully onomatopoeic picture book, The Rain Train illustrated by Brian Lovelock.


Year 6 up/ Age 10 up

Monday, 11 August 2014

Picture Book

UK Writer & Illustrator

Rebecca Elliott  Mr Super Poopy Pants  Lion Hudson 2014  $21.99hb 32pp

ISBN 978 0 7459 6516 1

Themes: Family Life/ New babies


Usually if I see the words ‘poop’ or even just ‘pants’ in a children’s book title I run a kilometre but in this case that would have been a mistake. This is a charming, frank and funny look at the first few weeks in a baby’s integration into his new family as observed by his older and at first, rather disappointed brother. He wanted a Batman to link with his Superman. Toby tells it like it is and explains how different types of pooping (which apart from crying, dribbling, parping, burping and sleeping is all the baby seems to do) can actually be turned to advantage eg getting rid of boring visitors, clearing a large area of the playground or escaping from a posh party.  This story is a real celebration of family life and is based on the characters of Rebecca Elliott’s three children who appear in many of her books  - see her website:


Preschool up/ Age 3 up

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Young Adult Fiction

TO BE RELEASED ON 5TH September 2014

NZ Writer

Mandy Hager  Singing Home the Whale  Random House 2014  $19.99pb 292pp    ISBN 978 1 7755 3657 4

Themes: Fishing communities/ Friendship/ Music/ Orcas/ Small Town New Zealand

A YouTube clip gone viral and a terrifying physical attack is part of the baggage Will brings with him when he comes to shelter with his uncle in a small fishing village somewhere in New Zealand. The discovery of a baby orca with whom Will instantly sets up a bond and wants to protect, does not bring the peace he deserves as the local fisherman look on the mammal as a threat. Amazingly lyrical language, environmental issues and a dramatic and poignant story make this yet another book to admire from a writer who knows just what will catch the imagination of readers of all ages. The book is charmingly illustrated with chapter heading decorations by Rose Lawson.        


Year 8 up/ Age 12 up (Mature younger readers will also love this).

Friday, 8 August 2014

Fiction Age 6 up

NZ Writer & Illustrator

Victoria M. Azaro  Super Saffron (New Edition)  W4 Ltd 2014  $24.99pb 292pp

ISBN 978 0 4732 7066 7

Themes: First person stories/ Funny stories/ Omnibus editions (3 books in one)

I have been a fan of Saffron for over five years now since she first appeared in 2009 in a much slimmer volume.  Saffron, I guess she is about nine or ten years old, is a small girl who knows exactly where she is going, has an opinion about everything and yet, underneath, is as vulnerable and loving as anyone. Saffron travels the world with her family, takes over when her baby sister is born and suffers the daily questioning of her other small sister, Sage (soon to appear in her own book I read). It is a decidedly quirky, unusual family to which she belongs. Available from some bookshops or go to     


Year 2 up/ Age 6 up

Storylines Wellington

For Booklovers in the Wellington Region

urgently needs your assistance!

Two weeks away from the annual Storylines Wellington Family Day and a group of corporate volunteers have cancelled their plans to assist.

This leaves the organising committee in desperate need of keen Wellington volunteers who would enjoy having fun with kids and book-related activities. Wellington Family Day is on Sunday, 24 August, from 10am–3pm at the Michael Fowler Centre.

Storylines Family Day Wellington usually attracts around 2,500 adults and kids on what is always a hectic but enormously enjoyable day, so they need a full team of volunteers to help out. You'll have lunch provided, and get to meet local authors and illustrators. You'll have the opportunity to help out in a variety of ways on the day. Lots of crafts and hands-on activities, all themed around four main topics, along with storytelling, read-aloud sessions, author signings at the Children's Bookshop stand, and more.

Can you help?  If you know senior secondary students who would be interested, please ask them to get in touch too - this is URGENT!!!

For further information, please contact the Wellington Co-ordinator, Eileen Mueller:
Eileen Mueller
Storylines Wellington Regional Coordinator
P:+64 4 389 8550|M:+64 27 4799 731|

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Young Adult Fiction

Irish Writer
Eoin Colfer
The Hangman’s Revolution
Book Two W.A.R.P. series 
Puffin Books 2014  $26.00pb  359pp
ISBN 978 0 1413 4180 4
Themes: Fantasy/ Science Fiction/ Series/ Time Travel

A boy magician, a Victorian gangster and young FBI Agent, Chevie Savano are trying to return to nineteenth century London where the military technology of the future has been brought back in time. This follows on the first book in the series The Reluctant Assassin which although it doesn’t have to be read first, it might help. Fans of the Artemis Fowl series will find much that is familiar in plot and action. There are some rather gruesome descriptions but somehow you feel Eoin Colfer was smiling at the reader (see below) as he wrote them!

Eoin Colfer in his Artimis Fowl days and as he looked when he came to New Zealand some years ago. Source of image unknown.

 Year 8 up/ Age 12 up