Monday, 29 September 2014

The Long Literary Lunch - more images

As promised, here are a couple more images I took at the Long Literary Lunch on Sunday September 21st 2014
Sabrina Malcolm and Chris Else

Bob Kerr and Julia Marshall (Gecko Press)

In a follow up email to last week’s Long Literary Lunch held at the Children’s Bookshop, Kilbirnie, Wellington Ruth McIntyre wrote:

Just to let you know, that after expenses we have been able to donate $1200 to Wellington Children’s Book Association to help kick start next years Hui here.

If you live in the Wellington Region and are able to help with the Hui planning and organisation please contact Maureen Crisp on who will fill you in with all the details.  

Sunday, 28 September 2014

UK Writer and Illustrator

Jacqueline Wilson, illustrated by Nick Sharratt Opal Plumstead

Doubleday 2014  $34.99pb 515pp

ISBN 978 0 8575 3110 0

Themes: Factory work/ Love stories/ Prisons UK 1900s/ Suffragettes/ World War I

    It is 1913 and Opal’s father, in a bid to provide happier times for his family is caught stealing from his employer and is sent to prison for a year leaving the family destitute. Opal is forced to leave school and is given work in a sweet factory where she is made fun of especially for her love of art and books. She meets the well-born son of the owner of the factory and, of course, they fall in love! Sounds trite and predictable?  It is far from that and I think, this, Jacqueline Wilson’s 100th book, is one of her very best – and if you can read the last few pages without your eyes at least filling, if not overflowing with tears, you are made of stronger stuff than me. She does warn us with don’t turn the page: believe in happy endings but naturally we do.

   In a generous 520 pages, is a story full of details of life in England at that time – the young men wanting to enlist / the frustrations for girls who had a good brain and wanted to use it/ the attitudes of neighbours to any family who had a member ‘inside’/ the simple pleasures of a ‘day at the seaside’…

   As with all Jacqueline Wilson’s books the story is enhanced by the line drawings by Nick Sharratt which in every case whet our appetites for what is to follow. 

Year 7 up/ Age 11 up

Note: Some adult themes

It has been a weekend of World War I as not only did I read this book ALMOST at a sitting I have also been to the Friends of the Kapiti Coast District Libraries seminar  - Some Foreign Field – writing about WWI – then and now.  This began on Friday night with Harry Ricketts talking about and reading the poetry of World War I poets. I have heard Harry speak on this subject before and enjoyed it so much each time. Saturday morning was given over to a panel discussion –Writing about the war – fiction and fact.  The panellists included Philippa Werry (Best Mates and ANZAC Day: the New Zealand story) and who was in Gallipoli this year working as a volunteer with the hordes of visitors who were there to mark the event held annually around  25th April.

More carefully chosen and very appropriate poetry read by John? Secker, standing in for Peter Fry, was enjoyed.

A good weekend!

Here is Philippa talking to John? Secker after the session.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

A Long Literary Lunch

Diana Neild (Piggity Wiggity) and Philip Webb  

Last Sunday, September 21st, I was privileged to be part of a gathering of writers, publishers, editors, reviewers and booksellers at an event where we were all speaking the same language – ie Books for Children and Young Adults. Titled the Long Literary Lunch and held at the Children’s Bookshop at Kilbirnie, Wellington and organised and supported by the indefatigable John and Ruth McIntyre,  it was a full day (9am to 5-30pm) of panel discussions/ book launches/ seminars/ an address by a national treasure - Jack Lasenby -  and all accompanied by a seemingly never ending supply of delicious food hot and cold drinks and wine.
I took many photos – here are just a few of them.   More to follow in a couple of days...

Anna Mackenzie and Fleur Beale who launched each others new books (see Blog reviews)

Johanna Know (Flypapers series)

Friday, 19 September 2014

Fiction Age 7 up

Australian Writer and Illustrator
Eileen O’Hely, illustrated by Heath McKenzie  Kitten Kaboodle
Mission Two: The Lightning Opal
Walker Books  2014  $16.99   143pp
ISBN 978 1 9215 2994 8
Themes: Cats and Dogs/ Opals/ Series/ Spies

Kitten Kaboodle, Number One Secret Agent at CAT (the Clandestine Activity Taskforce) is on the job again and proves a match for the members of DOG (Disaster Organisation Group) when they try to beat him to discover the secrets lying beneath the desert at Lightning Ridge. This looks like an early chapter book for beginning readers but in spite of its looks, it is quite challenging reading for that age group and is sophisticated enough to be enjoyed (and laughed over) by readers up to 10. (Lightning Ridge is in New South Wales and is said to have the largest deposits of black opals on earth).  

Year 3 up/ Age 7 up

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Non-Fiction - Age 7 up

UK Writer (Images from various sources)
Raman Prinja   Night Sky Watcher
QED Publishing 2014  $19.99pb 120pp
ISBN 978 1 7817 1657 1
Themes: Exploring the universe/ Stars and planets

This is a great guide to exploring the night sky with useful hints on how to make the most of an evening’s stargazing.  There is probably not much more any writer can say about the night sky until something new is discovered but this is a comprehensive cover of the known facts and the book is encased in thick plastic with a zip in case the user wants to take it out on a frosty night!  Colour and many fact boxes and images will make this appealing to not-so-keen readers.
Raman K. Prinja is professor of astrophysics at University College London

Year 3 up/ Age 7 up

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Fiction Age 7 up

Australian Writer

Allison Rushby   How To Save the Universe in Ten Easy Steps

Allen & Unwin 2014  $15.99pb  281pp 
 ISBN 978 1 7433 1900 0 
Themes: Funny stories/ Intergalactic adventures/ Twins

 The day before their 10th birthday, Cooper’s twin sister Molly, who has always bugged him, tells him she is actually an alien and is going to protect him as he has special powers and is going to save the universe. Wot?

Of course Cooper doesn’t believe her but then the intergalactic bounty hunters arrive on earth and it seems there may be some truth in it all. This is a funny story with enough twists and turns in the plot and a lot of fantasy thrown in to please most 7 to 10 year olds  -- especially those who have enjoyed Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett’s titles for younger readers or (going back a bit but still very readable) Eleanor Estes.

Year 3 up/ Age 7 up

Monday, 8 September 2014

The School for Young Writers


NZ Writers

Portia Baine and others   Mad Honey Re-Draft 13
Winning Writing by New Zealand Teenagers selected by Tessa Duder & James Norcliffe and edited by Glyn Strange.
Clerestory Press 2014    $34.50pb   137 pp  ISBN 978 0 9922 5171 0

Themes: Series/ Short stories

Empathy and understanding, not so many vampires, werewolves and zombies as in past stories and poetry and although there are some elements of fascinating fantasy, many of the entries in this collection tend to deal with the here and now and its problems (and sometimes - delights). Take note of the writers’ names – you will be likely to come across them again in major literary awards in the future. 

This is the 13th collection of winning writing by NZ teenagers, collected by the annual Re-Draft competition sponsored by the School for Young Writers.

Go to: which will give you background to the school, details of the annual competition, sources for buying the book if it is not available in your local bookshop.  Redraft contains the work of teenagers aged 13-19 at the time of entering and all young writers from 7 to 19 are able to apply for tuition and be given publishing opportunities whether they live in Christchurch, where the school is based, anywhere else in New Zealand or off-shore. Write On, the magazine in which work by young writers aged 7 to 12 is published, comes out 4 times a year. Ask about it!

The deadline for entries for the 2015 Redraft is September 30th.

Year 3 up/ Age 7 up

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Poetry Collection - Adult and Secondary Schools

NZ Poet
Robin Fry   Love Song of the Wading Bird
Submarine (an imprint of Mākaro Press) 2014   $25.00pb   54 pp
ISBN 978 0 9941 0693 3

Robin Fry lives in Petone, Hutt Valley and most of her poems are about this area - a place where there are river stones to be seen in her garden, jelly fish and oyster catchers on the beach at the end of her street and long, long buried bones at her back door. This is a charming collection of poetry – just enough to read at a sitting and then to come back for more, of simple but eye catching design and the right size to put in your pack or back pocket. A collection I feel to inspire secondary schools and to give pleasure to everyone who reads it.
Google Robin’s name to find more about her and about her large collection of poetry already published. If you have any difficulty buying the book go to 

Adult and Year 9 up/ Age 13 up

Fiction Age 11 up

Published September 5thth 2014
New edition containing The Julian Chapter

USA Writer
R J Palacio   Wonder
Random House   2014 (2012) $19.99pb 92pp
ISBN  978 0 5525 6597 4
Themes: Bullying/ Children with facial deformities/ Courage/ Points of view/ Remorse/ School stories

When Wonder first came out in 2012 it received ‘rave’ reviews (and rightly so) but it always seemed to me that something was missing. We had the points of view of what was happening to Auggie from his contemporaries at school, friends, teachers and most of all from Auggie himself but there was one POV missing. It was that of Julian, the initiator of most of the bullying, of the taunts and real cruelty. Now, with a chapter to himself, we are given insights that will move many to tears and takes us back to an incident in World War II. You haven’t read Wonder?  It is the story of an eleven-year-old boy who was born with extreme facial deformities. As Auggie who tells his story with candour and with heart-breaking humour says – by the way. I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking it’s probably worse. Up until now Auggie has been home schooled (and he is an extremely bright young boy) but now his far seeing parents have decided it is time he went to school and this is the story of his first year there.  Please read it if you have not already done so and preferably the 2014 edition.
Also just published is 365 Days of Wonder ISBN 978 0 5525 7271 2  $21.99pb a collection of quotes from the book itself, from Wonder fans and from personalities through the years.

Year 7 up/ Age 11 up (and adults)

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Fiction - Age 11 up

Published September 1st 2014

Australian Writer
Robert Hillman   Malini
Through My Eyes series
Allen & Unwin 2014  $19.99pb 190pp
ISBN 978 1 7433 1255 1
Themes: Civil War – Sri Lanka/ Conflict Zones/ Sisters/ Survival
Malini has been used to a comfortable life-style, her own bedroom and the prospects of a good and on-going education. Then as the Civil War in Sri Lanka moves toward a terrible and bloody ending, soldiers appear in the town and everything changes.  Malini finds herself as the guardian of her much younger sister, alone in a forest and searching for a way to find her grandfather’s house – her parents and old comfortable life vanished. This is just one of a number of really useful titles in the series about children living in contemporary conflict zones. Google Through My Eyes for a complete list of the titles and a background to them.  

Year 7 up/ Age 11 up

Monday, 1 September 2014

Chapter Books for Early Readers

NZ Writer and Illustrator

Christine Hurst, illustrated by Alicja Ignakzac

Symphony Smythe and the Baked Bean Birthday Party

Prickly Cat Publishing 2014  $12.00pb 46pp

ISBN 978 0 4732 5585 5

Themes: Birthday parties/ Difficult parents/ Healthy foods/ Series

Symphony, the child of very difficult parents who are interested in healthy foods, saving the planet and recycling amongst many other things in the same vein, is about to have a birthday. Her mum has agreed to a birthday party but to Symphony’s horror the menu will include baked beans and broccoli dip. Then, on the day of the party, there is a not unpleasant surprise…This is just the sort of story small girls (and maybe some small boys) who have recently become independent readers will really enjoy with its large font and sympathetic and cheerful images.

Another title, Symphony Smythe wants a pet ISBN 978 0 4732 6322 5 is also available and coming soon is Symphony Smythe and the Family History Mystery.

 If you cannot find the books locally go to

Google Christine’s name to find other books she has written. Up until now she has been published commercially but now she is stepping out in self-publishing with her Prickly Cat Publishing venture. Great name for a publisher!

Year 2 up/ Age 6 up