Thursday, 30 July 2015

Finalist Authors' Tour for the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults 2015.

This is what it is all about!

The Tour runs nationwide from 3-7 August and over 70 events will happen in local bookshops, public libraries and schools.  

You can find out more about the Tour and who will be taking part in it here:

On Thursday, 13 August 2015 
The winner of the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year
The  category winners 
The winner of the Children's Choice awards voted for by school children throughout NZ 
And the Best First Book winner 
will be announced at a ceremony at Government House.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Onomatopoeia for Very Small Listeners

NZ Writer and Illustrator
Rosalind Malam, illustrated by Sarah Nelisiwe Anderson
Rustle up a Rhythm
Scholastic 2015 $19.00pb  24pp
ISBN 978 1 7754 3148 0
Themes: Fathers and children/ Onomatopoeia
In a picture book full of onomatopoeic words a father and his two children have a noisy breakfast with the crunching of the cereal, the ping of the toaster, the swish of the washing up water. Then off into the town where the cicadas shriek, the horns blare and a there is a choppa choppa choppa from hovering helicopter.  This was published a couple of months ago but I have just come across it and after sharing it last week with a kindergarten group (be prepared to hear more about them in the weeks to come!) where it was so enthusiastically received I had to share it here too. If the group with which you share it is anything like ‘mine’ you will find you follow many other highways and byways before the story is through.

Preschool up/ Age 4 up

Thursday, 23 July 2015

New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults 2015

Good morning

I have just received the following from Sarah Forster at Booksellers NZ. Do open the link below  - it makes fascinating reading as it gives you a whole run down of the Children's Choice Book Blog Tour. 
(And back to some more exciting new books which are beginning to pile up from tomorrow)(


Barbara M

We have just finished a fabulous four-week tour around our author’s inspirations, aims and achievements with their Children’s Choice finalist books. Now it is time for you to help your kids to vote their favourite book and author to win: they will be in to win a selection of finalists for themselves and their school if they do! Kids can select a winner in each category; the winning book of each category will win $2000 at the Book Awards ceremony on Thursday 13 July.

So if you haven’t yet, please help your children to vote at

Go to:

Sarah Forster

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults 2015



Waitangi Day: The New Zealand Story

Children chose Philippa Werry’s book Waitangi Day: The New Zealand Story as a finalist on the Children’s Choice list. Her book Anzac Day was a finalist in the 2014 New Zealand Post Book Awards, and she is an experienced writer of both fiction and non-fiction for children.

Philippa lives in Wellington, and is a full-time writer. We asked her a few questions about her inspiration.
 Note: These questions were written by Sarah Forster Booksellers NZ

1.       How did the concept for Waitangi Day grow into a solid idea for you?

 It started off as a pretty scary idea, actually. Waitangi Day felt like a very big and challenging topic to take on. But then I started to read up on it, and I came across some fascinating stories, like the 1934 celebrations when the Governor-General, Lord Bledisloe, bought the Treaty House and gifted it to the nation. (He's the same person who also donated the Bledisloe Cup, by the way.) This was a huge event – thousands of people went to Waitangi – and I couldn't believe I'd never heard about it before. I also tried to keep in my head the distinction between Waitangi Day and the Treaty of Waitangi, which is an even bigger topic and one I didn't feel qualified to write about. The fact that I was writing about the history of Waitangi Day, not about the Treaty itself (which is why we didn't include the text of the Treaty because there are plenty of other places you can access that), helped me to get a focus on the material. But at the same time, I think finding out about the history of Waitangi Day does help you to understand a lot of Treaty issues more clearly. 

2.            What were the main resources you used to do your research? Which of these shaped the book the most?

I did a lot of reading – books, reports, old journals and newspapers - both in libraries and online, going off on all sorts of tangents, and I got lots of help from librarians and archivists and other people who were very generous with their time and knowledge. But going up to visit Waitangi was a big part of the research process. I'd been there two or three times before, but not for some years, and everything I'd been reading about suddenly made so much more sense when I was actually there. I also visited some places I'd never been to before, like Oihi Bay, which is an amazing and beautiful place.
Oihi Bay (photographer unknown)


3.            How did you tailor this book to the age-group it reaches?

Like the Anzac Day book, we wanted this one to be filled with lots of colourful and evocative images: photos, paintings, diaries, newspaper advertisements, stamps, maps, cartoons. Finding those and getting permission to use them took a long time, but it was worth it because I think the images make a big difference to the book. I also tried to find stories about people and events that were vivid and unusual, like Charles Kingsford-Smith taking people on joyrides up to Waitangi for the 1934 Treaty House celebrations,  or the "Stevie and Peewee" TV advertising campaign in 1990.

4.            Who have you dedicated this book to, and why?

I didn't put a written dedication in the book; it seemed like a very big topic to dedicate to one person. Writing the book had a big impact on me personally , it was very hard but very rewarding, and it prompted me to start learning te reo, partly because I wanted to be able to start my school visits with a mihi or pepeha. So I ended up spending a lot of time thinking about my family background (for the pepeha), and in my head I think that the book is dedicated to our tupuna, our ancestors. 

5.            Can you recommend any books for children/young adults who love this book?

Yes! I came across some great books set around the time of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, in particular Fleur Beale's  Mission girl, Anne De Roo's Jacky Nobody, Diana Menefy's Shadow of the Boyd and Paula Morris' Hene and the Burning Harbour.

6.            What is your favourite thing to do when you aren’t reading or writing, and why?

I like to clear my head (and get new ideas) by swimming or going for walks, and I like doing cryptic crosswords because they are all about using words in funny and unexpected  ways.

Philippa and Fleur Beale (see her interview on this Book Tour  by going to the search box) at one of their many book launches (whose was it?) in 2008

Check out Philippa Werry’s website for more information about her:

Philippa also blogs about children’s war-themed books:

And she has her own blog about her work:


This is the final day of the New Zealand Book Awards Children’s Choice Blog Tour, and we hope that you have enjoyed following us along the trail and learning a lot more about the authors in the meantime. NZ Booksellers will do a round-up of all of the bits of information we have found out from the authors, over on their blog tomorrow, Thursday 23 July. If you are going to vote for these awards, please remember to do so, before Friday 31 July at  or use the image below.

Sarah Forster NZ Booksellers 

Monday, 20 July 2015

Fairy Tale Romance

USA Writers and UK and USA Illustrators

Jodi Picoult & Samantha van Leer (mother and daughter), illustrated by Yvonne Gilbert (UK) and Scott M. Fischer (USA) Off the Page  Allen & Unwin 2015 $29.99pb  373pp

ISBN 978 1 7434 3998 2  Themes: Fairy tales reshaped/ Fantasy/ Romance

Is it possible to take a handsome and romantic young prince (Oliver) from the pages of a fairy tale and transport him into the real world? This is what Delilah most fervently hopes. But there are complications because for Oliver to successfully exist in the ‘real’ world, his place in the pages of the book must be taken by Edgar, Delilah’s regular boy friend. You see the problems? Full of magical relationships, adventure and humour, this sequel to Between the Lines (where Oliver and Delila's story begins) will be enjoyed by many (mainly girls I suspect) with a romantic turn of mind and who are looking for an easy read.  Full page and line illustrations add to the atmosphere.

Year 8 up/ Age 12 up
For more info about this mother and daughter writing team go to:

Friday, 17 July 2015

Kids' Lit Quiz World Finals 2015 won by Southwell School Hamilton

Well done Southwell School Hamilton

The Southwell team with Wayne Mills after their New Zealand win at National Library earlier this year
They are the winners of the World Final of the Kids’ Lit Quiz held last week in Connecticut, USA
The team had been trained by Julie Huggins - who went over for the competition - and Gerri Judkins both from Southwell School.
Hours and hours (and hours) of work and training had gone into this including fund raising by the children, the1000 books read between them to say nothing of the adults who trained them. 

And an even bigger congratulations to Wayne Mills Quizmaster (Google his name!) who began the whole concept back in 1991.

The final results were:
1st: New Zealand: Southwell School 
South Africa: Manor Gardens 
USA: Sedgwick School

Storylines Wellington Free Family Day 2015

The Wellington Storylines Committee have asked me to post this material about Storylines 2015 and this I willingly do. It's a fun thing (if somewhat exhausting ) to be involved with. I worked with it every year until 2014 so I speak from experience. Barbara M

A message from the Wellington Storylines Committee

Storylines Free Family Day

Wellington, Sunday 23 August 2015

Are you passionate about helping kids read?

Read Aloud Corner MFC 2014
Image: Barbara Murison
Would you like to make a difference to children’s literacy?

Do you enjoy having fun?

We have 5 weeks until Family Day and need your help!

Storylines Free Family Days help kids meet New Zealand authors and illustrators and have fun with their books. Crafts, live performances, face-painting, competitions, and activities help Kiwi books come to life for Kiwi kids. Join us as a volunteer - we need you.

Unlock the child within! 

Encounter weird and wild creatures!

Run amok with aliens and astronauts!

Fling a medieval insult and help kids create medieval stories!

Meet 'Monkey Boy' and help kids cook creatively!

Fish up something from beneath the surface in the underwater corner.

Dare to dress up! Shape-shifters welcome! Cool costumes rewarded!

Over 4,000 Wellingtonians attended  Family Day in 2014! This year we are at Shed 6, on Wellington waterfront, next to the TSB Arena. Don't miss the opportunity to be a part of this special rewarding day.                               

If you’re interested in helping as a volunteer on the day, please contact, Nikki Geeson, the volunteer coordinator for the Wellington Free Family Day. Email and let her know how you are able to help, or for more information, phone her on 022 0104373.

For information about Storylines in other parts of New Zealand just Google

Storylines Free Family Day 2015

Monday, 13 July 2015

A muddle of dinosaur bones

NZ Writer and Illustrator
Christopher Llewelyn, illustrated by Scott Tulloch
Tyranno-sort-of Rex
Scholastic 2015 $18.99pb 32pp
IBSN 978 1 7754 3311 8
Themes: Challenges/ Dinosaurs/ Museums/ Stories in rhyme
The dinosaur fossils had been packed neatly and labelled correctly but on route to the museum a gigantic storm had struck the ship in which they were being transported and the boxes split open.  The curator was faced with a mass and a mess of bones of all sizes and densities. The problems of trying to piece them together starts and it is obvious the illustrator has had as much fun as the writer in creating the story that emerges. A good read aloud.
Preschool up/ Age 4 up

Friday, 10 July 2015

Bob Graham's Latest Picture Book


Australian Writer and Illustrator Bob Graham How the Sun Got to Coco’s House Walker Books 2015 $28.00hb 32pp IBSN 978 1 4063 5900 8 Themes: Cultural differences/ Sunrise

The sun rises very slowly over polar bears and fishermen, over a plane high in the sky, through rural towns and big cities, deserts and frozen forests til, at last, it shows its wintery light through Coco’s bedroom. It stays with her all day (just sometimes hiding behind a cloud) and then, at the end of her day gently goes off on its continuing round. This is exactly the sort of book we have come to expect from Bob Graham – full of wisdom and insight and with his trademark illustrations to support its theme.

The book is endorsed by Amnesty International UK because it reminds us that this world belongs to us all and we all have the right to enjoy life, freedom and safety. 

Preschool up/ Age 4 up

Wednesday, 8 July 2015



Six years ago Philippa Werry and Fleur Beale wrote the following words of advice for the first edition of Too Good to Miss 56 New Zealand Writers and Illustrators for Children and Young Adults, Marigold Enterprises 2006 (see below) . I have just rerun the words in front of them to see if they wanted to change anything and neither did.

Fleur at her computer
Read heaps! If you want to be a writer, you have to be a reader as well. When you read a book you love, read it again and work out how the writer makes the story come alive. And write! Keep what you write and date it so you can see how you change and develop as a writer. Be adventurous, try different styles and genres. Above all, have fun.

Pippa and Bob Kerr at the launch of Best Mates 2014
Read as much as you can! People often tell you to read a lot but they don’t always say why. The reason is that if you are going to be a writer, words are your tools. You’ve got to learn how to handle them well, and the best way to do that is to see how other good writers use them. Don’t let reading get crowded out by all the other things in your life: make time for it.

Last copy - now showing signs of age

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Climate Change Activists Speak Up

USA Writer, photographs from various sources  Deborah Hart  Guarding Eden – Champions of Climate Action  Allen & Unwin 2015 $22.99pb 250pp  IBSN 978 1 7601 1235 6

Themes: Climate Change/ Environmental issues

Twelve caring people from diverse sections of the community speak out on their feelings about climate change – and what ordinary people can do about it. The twelve in the book are all climate change activists and include a vet, a teacher, a nurse, and an insurance broker. There is surprising humour in some of the stories as we read about ordinary people doing extraordinary things for the cause in which they believe so passionately. However, underneath it all is the dark whisper that unless something is done on a major scale NOW it is already almost too late.

Year 7 up/ Age 11 up  (and adults)

Monday, 6 July 2015

Number Seven in the Middle School series

USA Writers & Illustrator James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts, illustrated by Laura Park Just My Rotten Luck  - Middle School Series  Penguin Random House  2015  $18.99pb  301pp

IBSN 978 0 0995 9645 5 Themes: Funny Stories/ Intermediate schools (USA)/ Special Needs students/ Series

Number seven in a series of funny, poignant and easy-to-read stories

about Rafe Khatchadorian, his friends and family as they struggle with the day to day problems of intermediate (middle school) life. It is a series that is immediately interesting to not-so-keen-readers with its slightly OTT jackets, comic type illustrations at practically every opening and its engaging writing style in which the writer brings the reader right alongside the action. However, good readers enjoy this series as well.  In this, the latest, Rafe finds he is being classed as a Special Needs student because of his ‘behaviour problems’ and is enrolled in a Learning Skills programme – you may even get to like it he is told….

Year 5 up/ Age 9 up 

A New Fantasy from Elizabeth Pulford

NZ Writer  Elizabeth Pulford  Bloodtree Chronicles Book One : Sanspell  Scholastic NZ  2015  $12.00pb  256pp  Themes: Fantasy/Journeys/ Series/ Time Travel

For Abigail, a girl quite fond of her own home comforts, the day began like any other.  But. By evening she found herself staying with two aunts she had never met before, involved  with trying to save a Bloodtree (and its wealth of stories and characters) from total destruction and travelling in a place throbbing with the Dark Forces. She is joined by a boy who steps out of a painting and who looks strangely familiar. 
There is much here to please and involve fantasy lovers and they will be glad to find this is only Book One of the series.
Year 5 up /Age 9 up   

Book Blog Tour - Readings 2015



A reading of I am not Esther by Fleur Beale begins NOW at 10-45am from National Radio  read by Hana Pomare. I am not Esther was first  published by Longacre Press, Dunedin in 1998

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Fleur Beale - A New Title- Being Magdalene

 Book Blog Tour 2015

Exciting piece of news came up on my screen this afternoon.
Fleur Beale’s latest book Being Magdalene published by Penguin Random House has gone to the printer and will be available on August 26th.  In this new book the story of the Pilgrim family continues on from I am Rebecca. Remember Magdalene? She was very young in the last story but now she is old enough to have almost taken responsibility for the family and to be wondering, if she did leave the community, how she would cope in the world outside.

Over the next couple of days I will give you some words of advice to young writers from both Fleur and Philippa Werry who I am also lucky enough to be working with on this Blog Tour. Philippa’s interview will be a little later in the Tour as her book is non-fiction and the order is Young Adult/ Picture Books/ Junior fiction/ Non-fiction. 

Relooking at Out of Sight

NZ Writer
Benedict Reid
Out Of Sight
Young Entrepreneurs Ltd 2014 US$9.99## 150 pp
To order go to
Produced by Mary Egan Publishing 2014
There have been several inquiries about this book recently. I first reviewed it on its publication day May 14th last year and rather than keeping on replying to individual inquiries here it is again. The book is more than a story about life in a band as it gives a chance for budding entrepreneurs to develop their business ideas, team up with other young people and find mentors who can help them bring their idea to market. Go to: for details of both the hard back and eBook
Year 8 –Age 12 up
## There may be some variations in price.
##Go to the search box for the full review.