Tuesday, 30 June 2015

The New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults - Children's Choice



Finalist Book, I am Rebecca
Fleur with the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal with which she was presented in 2012 for her outstanding contributions to New Zealand Children's Literature
The words in the interview that follows were  composed and sent to me by Booksellers NZ
A copy of I am Rebecca (donated by Booksellers NZ) will be posted to the first person who emails me at barbaram22@xtra.co.nz after reading this…
I have been given the pleasure of featuring the books from Fleur Beale and Philippa Werry that have made it to the finalist list in the Children's Choice Awards. So.  Keep checking this Blog for more news of Fleur and Philippa whose Children’s Choice finalist Waitangi Day: The New Zealand Story will feature in an interview further on in the Blog Tour.  All the writers involved are going to be extra busy as they work through the excitements of the events leading up to the Grand Climax at Government House, Wellington on Thursday August 13th when the winners will be announced.
This is DAY FOUR of the Blog Tour featuring each of the finalists in the Children’s Choice category of the awards. Yesterday’s feature was The Red Suitcase on the Booknotes Unbound blog. (Tomorrow’s feature will be Spark, by Rachael Craw, which will be covered on NZ Booklovers – with a giveaway (http://www.nzbooklovers.co.nz/book-reviews/children-young-adult/interview-rachael-craw-spark/), and on Booksellers NZ http://wp.me/p1boF0-2ba  

I am Rebecca has been voted by teenagers from all over New Zealand to be a finalist in the Children’s Choice Young Adult Fiction category. It is also one of the judge-chosen finalists in one of the strongest YA fiction categories in years. I am Rebecca is a companion-piece, not quite a sequel, to I am not Esther, which won the 2009 Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Best-loved book. Fleur Beale is the award-winning author of more than 40 books, most of which were aimed at teens and Young Adults (and of great appeal to many adult readers as well). .
So how was it, writing the next part of Rebecca’s story, 16 years after I am not Esther

1.       There is a lot of love for I am not Esther, written many years ago. What inspired you to pick up the thread of this story once again?
The story about Rebecca and Rachel has always been in the back of my mind but it never actually occurred to me to write it as I’ve always been a bit allergic to the idea of writing sequels. However, last year I didn’t have any ideas for stories bouncing around in my head and I was moaning about it to Jenny Hellen, my then editor at Random House and during that conversation the idea of a story about Rebecca and Rachel came up and Jenny said, ‘Go for it.'

2.       Tell us a bit about the journey from manuscript to published work. What was the biggest challenge you faced in publishing this book?
The book seemed to be all there in my head, possibly because it had been lurking ever since I wrote I am not Esther. I wrote the first draft quite quickly over about four months. I was staying in Hamilton for family reasons while I was finishing the story and polishing it – this turned out to be extremely useful as I was able to use two of my nieces to bounce ideas off and they also read the final drafts and told me what they thought was and wasn’t working. It’s such a help to have trusted readers who you know have good analytical skills and are prepared to say, ‘Hey, this isn’t right. Go back to the drawing board.’ I sigh, moan a bit (or quite a lot) and then delete and re-write.

3.       How did you tailor this book to the age group it reaches?
I don’t think about the age of the intended audience, not consciously anyway. I just try to walk in the shoes of the protagonist of the story so that what really matters to that character informs the story.

4.       Who have you dedicated this book to, and why?
I tend not to dedicate my books now, partly because I can never think of a nice succinct phrase to sum up the help and encouragement friends and family give me. It’s a bit mean of me because I always enjoy reading and admiring other writers’ dedications. If my Abyssinian cat was still alive I could dedicate it to her with something like: “To Topaz who had to be persuaded each day not to sit on the keyboard and without whose help I wouldn’t have needed to vacuum the keyboard every day.”

5.       Can you recommend any books for children/young adults who love this book?
I’ve just read Anna Mackenzie’s new book, Evie’s War. It’s set during WW1 and is, of course, very different in subject from mine. But it’s gripping and shows a woman’s experiences in that war in a very compelling way. Highly recommended.
6.       What is your favourite thing to do when you aren’t reading or writing, and why?
Every morning I go out to my front garden and pick up the paper – quite often it lands in the rhododendron bush. Then I do the crossword and the code-cracker. After breakfast I have a conversation with myself about whether or not I’ll go for a walk – sometimes that gets me out of the house and sometimes it doesn’t. I like meeting with friends, having writerly discussions with writer friends and talking to my far-flung daughters. Every 18 months or so, I try to go to London to visit my daughters and while they’re at work I immerse myself in art galleries, museums and the British Library.
 Last time I was there I tried out the flying trapeze which was a big step out of my comfort zone because I really hate heights. I managed one swing but discovered I needed to be considerably stronger and fitter to do any more. I was pleased I’d tried though. This year I’ve been going to German classes at the Goethe Institute which has been challenging but so interesting to get a glimpse into a different culture. I keep finding myself trying to turn it into the bit of French I learnt at school. My aim is to go to Germany the next time I go to the UK. If people speak very slowly and only in the present tense, I might be able to understand the odd word.
This year I’m also on the committee organising the Tinderbox Writing for Children conference (http://tinderbox2015.blogspot.co.nz/)  we’re holding in Wellington at the beginning of October. We’ve put together such an exciting and varied programme that looks to the future as well as dealing with the nitty gritty of writing. I’m looking forward to it – it’s going to be such an informative and fun three days.
Fleur with a group of Wellington writers  who were prevented by the weather from attending the NZ Post Book Children's Book Awards in Christchurch a couple of years ago. They toast the winners as Fifi Colston texts the results through.
l to r : Adele Jackson, Maureen Crisp , Fleur, Philippa Werry, Anita Nalder, Sabrina Malcolm
If you want to know more about Fleur Beale, go to her NZ Book Council profile:  http://www.bookcouncil.org.nz/Writers/Profiles/Beale,%20Fleur
The Around the Bookshops review of I am Rebecca is here: http://barbaramurison.blogspot.co.nz/2014/07/young-adult-fiction_18.html

The Booksellers NZ review of I am Rebecca is here: https://booksellersnz.wordpress.com/2014/09/16/book-review-i-am-rebecca-by-fleur-beale/


You can vote for I am Rebecca in the Children’s Choice section of the Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, here: www.booksellers.co.nz/vote-childrens-choice


Monday, 29 June 2015

What's in a constellation?

NZ Writer & illustrator
David Elliot
Henry’s Stars
Random House New Zealand  2015  $19.99pb 32pp
ISBN 978 1 7755 3824 0
Themes: Constellations/ Farmyard animals/ Perception/ Sequels
Henry the pig is overcome with excitement when, looking up at the starry sky, he sees the Great Pig in the Sky as clear, as clear. He can’t wait to share the news with the other animals in the farmyard but to his annoyance no one sees a pig – they see a horse or a sheep or a cow. A wonderfully understandable story for even the youngest listeners about how we may all see things differently – but who is to say who is right.  The story is filled with David Elliot’s cheerful illustrations of this endearing group of animals as they ponder these ideas.
Just published, Henry's Stars is a ‘companion’ volume to Henry's Map, which was  one of the US School Library Journal's Best Books of 2013.
For more information abut the writer/illustrator who in his time has been a teacher, a gatekeeper at the London Zoo, a dishwasher in the Antarctic  and a … go to www.davidelliot.org

 Preschool up/ Age 4 up
In 2014 David was awarded the Storylines Margaret Mahy Award for his lifetime contribution to children's literature.  

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Cattle Dogs AKA Billy Goats - a new picture book

NZ Writer and Illustrator
Chris Gurney, illustrated by Myles Lawford
The Three Cattle Dogs Gruff
Kiwi Corkers – Great New Zealand Yarns series
Scholastic  2015   $12.00pb  24pp
ISBN 978 1 7754 3340 8
Themes:         Cattle Dogs/ Marakihau/ Mythical Maori sea monsters/ NZ farm life/ Retelling of The Three Billy Goats Gruff/ Size/ Stories in rhyme/ Taniwha
After a hard morning’ s work the three cattle dogs (Scruff, Wuff and Tuff) are ready for lunch but first they must cross the wooden bridge under which is lurking the fierce and belligerent Maori monster, Marakihau who is hungry, very hungry. Following the traditions of the Three Billy Goats Gruff upon which the story is based, the dogs outwit him with clever words and the taniwha returns to the sea. This is fun to share with a group and the rhythm makes it easy to read aloud.
Preschool up/ Age 3 up

Images of Marakihau - acknowledgements to dragonaotearoa

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Time Tunnels/ Stage Magicians and the FBI

Published today - June 24th 2015
Irish Writer

Eoin Colfer (pronounced OwenW.A.R.P. Book Three The Forever Man

Puffin 2015   $23.00pb  312pp

ISBN 978 0 1413 6109 3

Themes:         Magic and Magicians/ Sequels/ Time travel/ Victorian London 

Eoin Colfer THEN
The main protagonists in this rather complicated but oh-so-readable sequel are Chevie, an 18 year old FBI juvenile consultant who has travelled from the future to try to fix the past and Riley, a Victorian orphan who intends to be a stage magician and who has managed to strand his evil master, assassin, Albert Garrick in a time tunnel. Eoin says of the story that there is no need for newcomers to worry about the nitty gritty … things are going to go disastrously wrong…don’t fret – for there are laughs too and japes…..but: it’s mostly deadly danger. So, if you are of a sensitive disposition, abandon ye this volume now and find for yourself a book about ponies or the like.

Eoin Colfer NOW   Both images of Eoin from Amazon
Year 7 up/ Age 11 up

WARP   Bk 1 The Reluctant Assassin
WARP   BK 2The Hangman's Revolution

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

World War I Through the Eyes of a Young Woman

Published tomorrow June 24th 2015

NZ Writer

Anna Mackenzie  Evie’s War  

Random House 2015   $19.99pb  304pp  
ISBN 978 1 7755 3766 3  
Themes:  Diaries/ Edwardian Social Attitudes/ Women in Wartime/ Women’s Rights Movement UK 1914-18/ World War I- 1914-1918

Evie, aged 18, arriving in England just before the start of World War I had expectations of the Grand Overseas Tour –the British Isles, then off to Europe all with her very conventional family. However, the outbreak of war means there is to be no touring and soon Evie, and much against the wishes of her family, is working as a VAD looking after wounded soldiers in a local hospital and later as a driver for a casualty clearing station in Belgium not far from the Front Line. Although there are many descriptions of the soldiers whose terrible wounds, both mental and physical, Evie has to attend to, the story does not focus on them. It is the detailed story told in short diary entries, of the war from a young woman’s point of view and is most meticulously researched and additively presented.

Highly Recommended.

Year 9 up/ Age 13 up – to adult readers.