Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Young Adult Fiction - Mature Readers

NZ Writer  Denis Wright  Nanotech  Mākaro Press (Submarine) 2015   $25.00pb 212pp
ISBN 9 780 9941 695 7

Themes: Year 13 High School students/ Kidnapping/ Racism/ Science Field Trips/ Sexual abuse

Set in Auckland, New Zealand, the basis of the novel is the invention of an American biologist who creates a virus that works on the pigmentation in the skin that could be used for great good to cure diseases in certain ethnic groups. However, it also has the power to wipe out the groups completely without touching the white population.

At a high-powered conference the biologist is captured by a group of     

White supremacists and also, because they manage to get in the way, a group of highly intelligent science students from Wellington. The story is told in an ‘easy’ manner by one of the students who, because of traumatic events in his life when he was much younger, has not spoken aloud much since then.

There is blood, killings, sex, some swearing but I found this an addictive, read-at-a-sitting experience. However, because of its themes of ethnic cleansing and sexual abuse I would be very careful how it was issued in a secondary or public library situation.

My only quibble is with the group’s teacher, Bernie, who at times was so OTT she was hard to believe. But even Bernie had her moments – and her class would certainly never forget her

The writer, who also wrote Violence 101 Penguin Books which won the Best First Book in the NZ Post Children’s Book awards in 2009 is a teacher in a Wellington High school. He has captured the tone of the voices and actions of his group of high school students with perfect pitch.

Year 11 up – suggested mature readers only

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Fiction - 9 to 12 year olds New Zealand 1943


NZ Writer

Joy Cowley

The Bakehouse

Gecko Press, 2015   $19.99pb 138pp

ISBN 978 1 7765 7007 2

Themes: Children in wartime/ Deserters/ Families/ Wellington, New Zealand 1943/ World War II

11-year-old Ben lives in Lyall Bay, Wellington. It is 1943 and Ben wants more than anything to be part of The War. He little suspects that when he and his two sisters begin to explore an old bakehouse partly hidden in the flaxes and high grasses, that soon he will be totally involved in The War in what becomes a network of lies and deceptions. This is a story to grip younger readers (around 9 to 12 year olds) in a different look at wartime and to bring back so many memories to people of my generation who lived through it all without sometimes realising the seriousness of what was happening – including the threat of invasion by the Japanese. This book arrived in my box on Saturday and I spent all that afternoon greedily gobbling it up, then, on Sunday, I read it again to slowly savor every word.(And what a wonderful movie it will make!)

Year 5 up/  – Age 9 up

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Picture Books - Preschool up

Swedish Writer & Illustrator
Ulf Stark, illustrated by Eva Eriksson
When Dad Showed Me the Universe
Gecko Press,  2015   $19.99pb 28pp
ISBN 978 1 92727182 7
Themes: Fathers and sons/ Humour/ Understanding
Dad removes his blood-flecked white coat after a day working in his dental surgery and takes his young son (the narrator) out into the cold Swedish night to look at the universe. While the little boy delights in the detail of the blades of grass, the snails and the thistles, his father has his head in the stars identifying the Scorpion, the Little Bear and the Big Dog. Then, to the wicked delight of his son, he steps in a large dog turd and it is time to go home. Ulf Stark, who wrote the book in 1998, is one of the few children’s writers who could take a subject like the whole universe, reduce it to a comfortable and understandable size and inject a great element of humour as well.
The gentle illustrations by Eva Eriksson are as much a part of the story as the text.
Preschool – Age 4 up

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Picture Books - Preschool

UK Writer & Illustrator
Debi Gliori
Alfie in the Bath
Bloomsbury 2015   $28.99hb 24pp
ISBN 978 1 4088 5351 1
Themes: Bath time/ Imagination
A simple story about a small rabbit with a big imagination making his bath time come to satisfyingly involving life. As well as real bubbles the bath is filled with octopi, a submarine, deep-sea monsters, crabs, whales and storms - and the bathroom floor is awash.  Just as well there is a father rabbit lurking in the background who seems very handy with a mop. The pages are covered in soft yet vibrant pastel images and the minimal text is just waiting for children to add their own bath time stories.
Preschool – Age 3 up

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Fiction - Tom Fitzgibbon Award Winner 2014

Suzanne signed many copies of her book
Last night I went to the Wellington launch by Fleur Beale out at the Children’s Bookshop at Kilbirnie of Suzanne Main’s How I alienated my Grandmother.  It was a very happy occasion with many of Suzanne’s friends and family who had gathered to congratulate her both on the publication of the book and on its being awarded the Tom Fitzgibbon Award 2014. (The book had already been launched by Fleur in Auckland at the Margaret Mahy Day a couple of weeks ago)

There was a table full of delicious child appreciated food - much enjoyed by a group of (mainly) small boys who divided their attention between this and listening quite spellbound to the reading of the first chapter of the book. 

Friday, 17 April 2015

Non-fiction 10 years and up

NZ Writer (Images from many sources)
Raymond Huber 
Peace Warriors
Mākaro Press 2015   $25.00pb  131pp
ISBN 9 780 9941 1722 9
Themes: Peaceful resistance/ War and Peace
Stories and facts, quotes and timelines, poetry and events all go to make up this small but tightly packed book about the power of non-violent resistance.  The opening story tells of Sophie Scholl who at 12 joined the Hitler Youth Movement because she loved the idea of the outdoor life and at 21 was beheaded for standing up to the Nazi Party. It includes the familiar events of the Rainbow Warrior and finishes with the story of Johnny Johnson, a New Zealand Quaker who worked for the Friend’s Ambulance Unit in China. The book is a sampler of information in which to dip, to read, think and to follow the many, many suggestions for finding out more.
Year 6 up/ Age 10 up (particularly useful for secondary students who want their information and ideas in short bites)

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Fiction for 7 years and up (Chapter Books)

Swedish Writer and Dutch Illustrator
Ulf Nilsson, illustrated by Gitte Spee
The First Case
Detective Gordon series
Gecko Press 2015   $19.99pb 96pp
ISBN 078 1 9272 7150 6
Themes: Animals/ Funny stories/ Justice/ Mercy
Detective Gordon, a fat and kindly toad, was fond of stamping important papers, consuming large amounts of tea and cake and sometimes just sitting, then drifting off to sleep in the warmth and comfort of the central police station. What he did not enjoy was creeping through the chilly wet snow in pursuit of criminals in the company of an emotionally rather fragile young mouse that he had named Buffy. But at that stage she had yet to prove her worth.  An engaging story that will be enjoyed both by an adult reading it aloud to a group or a child reading it to her or himself.    It’s a great book to handle with illustrations and images that blend into the text and jacket flaps that double as bookmarks. 
Year 3 up/ Age 7 up

Monday, 13 April 2015

Picture Books

NZ Writer and Australian Illustrator Brett Avison, illustrated by Janine Dawson

Ducks to Water Bryn and Oscar series Five Mile Press 2015   $24.99hb 32pp ISBN 978 1 7600 6606 2

Themes: Dogs/ Ducks and Ducklings/ Farm life/ Problem solving/ Series/ Stories in rhyme

In this, the final in the Bryn and Oscar (the dog) series, the author and illustrator take us back to Mum and Ted’s farm where the duck pond has dried because of a blocked drain.  With no water to swim in the newly hatched ducklings force Oscar into playing the part of surrogate mum. All the children I have shared this with so far have ‘got’ the joke of the personality changes this causes. There is plenty to look at and enjoy as well as the very funny story.  There are drains and cranes, gooey mud and spouting, swishing water plus plenty of farm implements and vehicles. This is an Australian production and boys and girls with sharp eyes will note the differences in the landscape and some smaller (and endearing) things like Bryn’s sunhat.  This is a sturdy, square hardback production with strong, shiny pages and a pop-up of the ducklings which should last for a while.

Please Google the author’s name for details of the other three books in the series – all equally enjoyable.

Preschool up/ Age 4 up

A Bigger Digger is now in its 9th edition

With the river rising what are pigs to do but fly?

Milkie the cow has a big problem

Friday, 10 April 2015

Fiction Age 7 up

NZ Writer and Illustrator
Kyle Mewburn, illustrated by Donavan Bixley
Dragon Knight  Fire!

Dragon Knight series
Scholastic 2015   $10.99pb 96pp
ISBN 978 1 7754 3259 3
Themes: Dragons/ Knights/ Middle Ages/ Shape shifters
If you are a part-time dragon but also want to be accepted as a trainee for the Knight School where much emphasis is placed on vanquishing dragons, you have a bit of a problem. However, problems are what Kyle Mewburn’s many characters thrive on and Merek, who with his family are shape-shifting dragons, is equal to the task. The book, and its companion, Rats!  (ISBN 978 1 7754 3260 9) will be up to the expectations of anyone who has read the Dinosaur Rescue series and should pull in many new enthusiasts as well – especially the so-called ‘reluctant readers’.  Once they get a whiff of the ogre farts and the fiery dragon breath they will be away. It is generously illustrated with images as 'wicked' as the text.  Not for the conservative adult…
Year 3 up/ Age 7 up

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Picture Books (New Zealand Birds) Preschool up

Australia Writer and NZ Illustrator  Alicia Munday, illustrated by Carl Van Wijk

Squishy Squashy Birds  Potton and Burton 2015   $19.99pb 40pp ISBN 978 1 9272 1342 1

Themes: Endangered NZ birds/ Show and tell/ Stories in rhyme

Sammy’s favourite book is Endangered Birds of New Zealand and he keeps the book safely in his backpack. While all seems calm on the outside, inside the book is a different story with the colourful, noisy birds all squashed up uncomfortably together and mainly protesting
loudly (except for the Hoiho who likes it quiet) that they really want to be in their natural places in the mountains, the bush and sea.  Then one day, Sammy opens the book at school during Show and Tell and into the classroom fly the birds. ‘The birds burst from the pages like a rainbow feathered sea’ and they certainly do look like this as generously large images cover every page. This is a book that is a pleasure to look at, to read and to handle. 

Preschool up/ Age 4 up
Note to Alicia (if you should be reading this!)

Alicia do you remember about five or six years ago you sent me the text of this book for an assessment? Sadly I have now lost your email address so I can’t make this more personal but I did want you to know how truly delighted I was when the book arrived in all its magnificence in my post box just before Easter. It’s taken a while but here it is and you and Carl must be so proud of the way it looks. Congratulations to you both.  Barbara Murison

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Young Adult - Mature Readers

NZ Writer
Diana Menefy
1915 Wounds of War
Scholastic 2015   $19.95pb  293pp
ISBN 978 1 7754 3274 6
Themes: ANZACs/ Egypt 1914-1918/ Hospital ships/ Nurses in wartime/ NZ Army Nursing Service/ World War 1914-1918
Two young cousins (aged I guess in their early 20s) leave New Zealand and go off to serve as nursing sisters in the First World War. Life in rural New Zealand, hard as it was at times, was not really sufficient preparation for the shocking sights and incidents they were to encounter - the wounds in the title play a big part in the story. I did find the cursive script which is used for the letters between the cousins a bit hard to read sometimes but it does give a feeling of authenticity and younger eyes may enjoy it.
This is the second of the planned series of books from Scholastic covering the First World War. We have already had 1914  Riding into War by Susan Brocker – the stories of horses in the war. Search on this Blog. There are three more books to come by David Hair, Brian Falkner and Des Hunt – ending in 1918.
Wounds of War will be launched at the Whangarei Museum State Highway 14, Maunu on Friday 17 April 2015 from 5.30-7.30pm.   RSVP is essential, so if you are going please let Diana know by 10 April 2015. She can be contacted through northlandauthors@gmail.com.
Year 10 up/ Age 14 up

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Fiction Age 8 up

Winner of the Tom Fitzgibbon Award 
for a previously unpublished writer 2014

NZ Writer and illustrator
Suzanne Main with decorations by Fraser Williamson
How I Alienated My Grandma
Scholastic 2015   $17.00pb  274pp
ISBN 978 1 7754 3306 4
Themes: Extraterrestrial Beings/ Family stories/ First Person Narratives/ Funny stories/ Science fiction stories
Thanks to Suzanne Main for the image
Michael is prone to unfortunate happenings so when at 4.23 in the afternoon, shortly after he arrives home from school, he turns his grandma into an alien, he is not all that surprised. What follows though, and at a tremendous pace, is a great surprise to everyone as Grandma helps mastermind the counter attack to the invasion of earth by Extraterrestrials. Michael and his close friend Elvis are used to keep the plot alive and the story going in a very convincing way.   Winner of the Tom Fitzgibbon Award 2014 this will be greatly enjoyed by readers who like easily read non-stop action, a slightly OTT plot and many laughs.
The book was launched a few days again in Auckland at the Storylines Day by Penny Scown from Scholastic. It will have its Wellington launch by Fleur Beale at the Children’s Bookshop in Kilbirnie on Saturday April 18th at 4pm.  
Year 4 up/ Age 8 up

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Storylines Awards and Notable Books List 2015

And here, hot off the press, are the Storylines Awards and the Notable Books List.   Many many congratulations to all the writers and illustrators whose names appear here and some of them have also appeared on the LIANZA Book Awards announced (two times!) a couple of days ago.    
Storylines Children’s Literature Trust of New Zealand
Media release: for immediate release 31/3/15

The Storylines awards for new writers and the Storylines Notable Books List for 2015 (books published in 2014) were announced in Auckland yesterday.

The Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award for an unpublished manuscript for children:
Tom E. Moffatt (Rotorua) for Barking Mad.

The Storylines Joy Cowley Award for a picture book text: 
Joy Halloran-Davidson (Napier), for Witch’s Cat Wanted, Apply Within.

The Storylines Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Much-Loved Book: 
Bob Darroch for Little Kiwi is Scared of the Dark (Penguin).

The Storylines Tessa Duder Award for a young adult manuscript, sponsored by Walker Books Australia, is not being awarded in 2015.  
(If you are not familiar with these awards please Google their name for more info - it make for fascinating reading. BM

The Storylines Notable Book Lists 2015 (books published in 2014):

Storylines Notable Picture Books List 2015

Books for children and/ or young adult where the narrative is carried equally by pictures and story.
  Blackie the Fisher Cat by Janet Pereira, illustrated by Gabriella Klepatski (Craig Potton Publishing).
  Have You Seen a Monster by Raymond McGrath (Penguin).
  Jim’s Letters by Glyn Harper, illustrated by Jenny Cooper (Penguin).
  Kakapo Dance by Helen Taylor (Penguin).
  I Am Not A Worm by Scott Tulloch (Scholastic).
  The Song of Kauri by Melinda Szymanik, illustrated by Dominique Ford (Scholastic).
  The Anzac Puppy by Peter Millett, illustrated by Trish Bowles (Scholastic).
  My New Zealand ABC Book by James Brown (Te Papa Tongarewa, Museum of NZ).
  My New Zealand Colours Book by James Brown (Te Papa Tongarewa, Museum of NZ).
  Construction by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Brian Lovelock (Walker Books).

Storylines Notable Junior Fiction List 2015
Fiction suitable for primary and intermediate-aged children.
  The Volume of Possible Endings by Barbara Else (Gecko Press).

  Island of Lost Horses by Stacy Gregg (HarperCollins).
  Conrad Cooper’s Last Stand by Leonie Agnew (Penguin).
  Teddy One Eye: The Autobiography of a Teddy Bear by Gavin Bishop (Random House).
  MNZS: Harbour Bridge by Philippa Werry (Scholastic).
  Monkey Boy by Donovan Bixley (Scholastic).
  Trouble in Time by Adele Broadbent (Scholastic).
  The Name at the End of the Ladder by Elena De Roo (Walker Books).
  Ophelia Wild, Deadly Detective by Elena De Roo ( Walker Books).

Storylines Notable Young Adult Fiction List 2015
Fiction suitable for upper intermediate and secondary school students.
  While We Run by Karen Healey (Allen & Unwin).
  Speed Of Light by Joy Cowley (Gecko Press).
  I Am Rebecca by Fleur Beale (Random House).
  Singing Home The Whale by Mandy Hager (Random House).
  Spark by Rachael Craw (Walker Books).A Little ABC Book by Jenny Palmer (Beatnik Publishing).

Storylines Notable Non-Fiction List 2015
For authoritative, well-designed information books accessible to children and young adults.
  Maori Art for Kids by Julie Noanoa, illustrated by Norm Heke (Craig Potton Publishing).
  Under The Ocean: Explore & Discover NZ’s Sealife by Gillian Candler, illustrated by Ned Barraud (Craig Potton Publishing).
  The Book of Hat by Harriet Rowland (Makaro Press).
  New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame: 25 Kiwi Champions by Maria Gill, illustrated by Marco Ivancic (New Holland Publishers).
  A Treasury of NZ Poems edited by Paula Green, illustrated by Jenny Cooper (Random House).
  Ghoulish Get-Ups by Fifi Colston (Scholastic).
  The Letterbox Cat & Other Poems by Paula Green, illustrated by Myles Lawford (Scholastic).
  Piggy Pasta & More Food with Attitude by Rebecca Woolfall and Suzi Tait-Bradly (Scholastic).
  A New Zealand Nature Journal by Sandra Morris (Walker Books).

 If you have any questions about the list, please email childlitnz@storylines.org.nz