Wednesday, 27 January 2016

A Picture Book for Mothers about Depression

NZ Writer & Illustrator

Moira Wairama, illustrated by Linda Tilyard

The Mother’s Child

Baggage Books 2016 $22.00pb 40pp

ISBN: 978 0 4733 2659 3

Themes: Creativity/ Depression/ Family life/ Me Time/ Picture books for adults

 This looks like a picture book for quite small children but it is really aimed at their mothers.  It tells of a young mother who has a baby to care for and several older children, who is in the middle of a bout of depression. One night she dreams she finds her younger self, crying and sad, in a derelict house longing for the artistically creative person she once was. Many mothers will relate to this story, which does have a happy ending. The whole project, with its striking illustrations by Linda Tilyard took many years to put together.  

For more information go to   


Sorry I can’t find an image of the book and my camera is just not cooperating this morning. 

Moira with a copy of The Taniwha of Wellington Harbour plus some of the puppets she created to support it. Image: Barbara Murison

Friday, 22 January 2016

The return of Detective Gordon - the philosopical toad

Swedish Writer and Indonesian Illustrator Ulf Nilsson, illustrated by Gitte Spee Detective Gordon: A Complicated Case

Gecko Press 2016  $19.99pb 105pp ISBN 978 1 7765 7065 2

Themes: Detectives/ Funny stories/ Series

Detective Gordon is a toad who thinks best with his eyes closed, often in a prone position – in bed. He returns in this title to try to solve a very complicated case concerning Goings On deep in the forest. There is much wisdom in this short book because not only is Gordon a detective (as well as being a toad) he is a humanist and philosopher – but he never turns his readers off by overdoing it This is a book for newly confident readers who like to think outside the square and would also  be fun to read aloud to a class over a couple of hot summer afternoons.

Year 3 up/ Age 7up

A New Non-Fiction title on the ANZACS for children and young adults

To be released on Monday February 1st 2016 in plenty of time for ANZAC Day

NZ Writer and Illustrator
Maria Gill, illustrated by Marco Ivancic
ANZAC Heroes 30 Courageous ANZACS from WWI and WWII
Scholastic NZ  2016  $26.00hb   88pp Full index
ISBN 978 1 7754 3363 7
Themes: ANZACS/ Biographies / World War I/ World War II
In plenty of time for ANZAC Day 2016 comes this memorable and beautifully produced book to add to the growing number of available ANZAC titles for children and young adults.  30 ANZAC men and women are shown here with their achievements, their medals and their timelines. The background text will be challenging for some students but there is so much to look at in ‘boxes’ of information it makes it a book to be used at many levels.  A very large team of support people has been involved in working toward the production. 
I love to think of this book in schools and colleges getting more and more worn out with so much handling. Best buy two copies! 
Year 5 up/ Age 9 up

To the writer and illustrator and the publishing team at Scholastic - congratulations - you must all be feeling very proud and happy with the result.

Monday, 18 January 2016

A Really Haunted House

To be Published in March 2016

NZ Writer and Illustrator
Kyle Mewburn, illustrated by Sarah Davis
The House on the Hill
Scholastic NZ  2016  $27.00hb  32pp
ISBN 978 1 7754 3084 1
Themes: Ghosts/ Halloween/ Haunted houses/ Stories in rhyme

Two small ghosts glide through the dusk slowly and rather reluctantly (as well they might) up the steps that lead to the gloomy house on the hill. They go through the door and up the stairs. Their eyes (which we can see through their ghostly garb, grow rounder and rounder with astonishment and fear until at last – oh thank goodness, they reach the very heart of the house on the hill. And here the eerie sepia colour disappears and a burst of technicolour shows us a party of kids removing their masks getting ready to enjoy Halloween.  In true Gothic style Kyle Mewburn and Sarah Davis have pulled out all the stops and take us on a memorable tour of a really scary house with skeletons, headless horrors and of course, pumpkins!  Because of the very graphic images I would be wary of giving this to the very young unless it was shared with an adult with an extra cheerful voice and a very big smile. Most children from six up will, of course, revel in it and return to it many times. 
Year 2 up/ Age 6 up

Friday, 15 January 2016

Who will honour The Treaty? Mau, maku, ma ratou, ma tatou

NZ Writer & Photographers Sharon Holt, with photos from various sources Te Wairua o Waitangi Te reo singalong series

The Writing Bug Ltd 2016 $25.00pb  24pp

ISBN: 978 0 9941 1712 0

Themes: Conservation/ Te reo Maori/ Treaty of Waitangi

 The premise of the book is that The Treaty of Waitangi encourages all New Zealanders to work together to protect the Maori culture and all the treasures of the land. And who will do this? Seven children from Hamilton West School enthusiastically tell us ‘Mau, maku, ma ratou, ma tatou’ (You will, I will, they will, we all will) as they sit opposite a series of high quality photos to illustrate the ideas. As in all these titles to help learn te reo Maori in an easy and enjoyable way, the book contains a singalong CD, background information, an English translation, guitar cords and great follow up ideas.  A very worthwhile fresh new title from The Writing Bug to start the year!

Year 1 up/ Age 5 up

Thursday, 7 January 2016

New from Lucy Davey and Cat Chapman

NZ Writer & Illustrator
Lucy Davey, illustrated by Cat Chapman
The Mystery Box & Finnigan Flynn
Scholastic 2016 $17.00pb  32pp
ISBN: 978 1 7754 3299 9
Themes: Crocodiles/ Funny stories/ Stories in rhyme/
When Finnigan Flynn finds a curious box tied up with string on his doorstep with a label that clearly states ‘Do NOT OPEN’ he naturally opens it at once and is disappointed to find nothing but a ‘shimmery sparkle of air’. But then rumble-a-jumble BAM BOOMED in the box and out came  - two crocodiles, a fox, an ox, two frocks and an assortment of blocks. They all spent a happy time together dancing and using their imaginations. Then in the way of all childhood games Finnigan tires of it all, packs everything away in the box and sends it off to another child, by post to the furthermost coast. An exuberant story full of mouth-watering words with interestingly ‘everyday’ illustrations as if to tell us magic is everywhere – we just need to look for it. I can’t wait for the beginning of term to share this with the little group of 3 and 4 year olds I talk to on Tuesday mornings. They will, I hope, love the pictures as well as the words especially UH-OH! whenever anything rather scary is about to happen.
Preschool to Year 2/ Age 3 to 6

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

A taonga for schools (and others of course)

NZ Writer & Illustrator

Michael Brown, illustrated by Mat Tait

The Heading Dog Who Split in Half

Potton & Burton 2015  $39.99pb 156pp

ISBN: 978 1 9272 1357 5

Themes: Graphic Novels/ Legends and Tall Tales from New Zealand/ New Zealand folk tales

In a meticulously and clearly illustrated graphic novel we are treated here to a collection of seven weird and amazing tales from Pakeha and Maori stories – some to stretch the imagination and some definitely true. There are stories based on old songs (Rueben Ranzo which was sung on the old sailing ships around 1880) and some have been handed down as folk tales through generations of families.  My favourite is the spooky story of Cargill’s Castle in Dunedin, the tunnel that led from it to the private cove and the mysterious deaths of at least two of the beloved Cargill daughters. There is a detailed section where the author shows us all his sources. I agree with Sarah Laing reviewing the book in The Listener (9.1.16 p56) who writes that laying them out for us in such detail does deflate the stories a little (but you don’t have to read the story behind the story).

This is a book that, in my opinion, belongs in every school library in the country. It is a treasure.

Find much about Michael Brown, a Wellingtonian, on his website:
The book website is:
 Mat Tait's website is:                   

Year 6 up/ Age 10 up – and adults

A Ball at Cargill's Castle by Mat Tait p62-63 The Heading Dog who Split in Half

Monday, 4 January 2016

A Backlog of Books Too Good Not To Consider

I looked with some despair this morning at the pile of books from October/ November/ December still waiting on the office shelves to be posted on this Blog.  I knew at once I would never be able to ‘review’ them all and be ready to tackle the incoming tide of books for 2016 that will await me when I officially return to the computer on January 11th So. Here is a brief list of books that I would hate anyone to miss out on so I suggest you follow them up on the net from the brief details I will give you. I haven’t, as with all the other books on the Blog, read them all.

. Why am I here today when I am in the middle of helping organise a 14 day walking/tramping programme with Forest & Bird?  Today with its cold temperatures and wind chill (after a glorious New Years day which we spent on Matiu Somes Island) was not actually conducive to going out so…


Shannon Hale and Dean Hale     The Princess in Black and the Perfect Princess Party Candlewick Press 2015  $19.95hb  ISBN 978 0 7636 6511 1

Katrina Nannestad Olive of Groves HarperCollins Australia 2015  $24.99hb  ISBN 978 0 7333 3368 2

James Patterson Robots Go Wild!  House of Robots series Young Arrow  2015  $18.99pb  2015 ISBN 978 0 0995 6832 2

Kathryn Barker   In the Skin of a Monster Allen & Uwin 2015  $19.95pb    ISBN 978 1 7601 1171 7

Rachael Craw (NZ)    Stray  Walker Books 2015  $21.90pb   ISBN 978 1 9221 7963 0

Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean   The Comical Tragedy or Tragical Comedy of Mr Punch  Bloomsbury 2015  $33.00pb    ISBN 9 781 4088 6974 1

( Note- this is the 20th anniversary edition of this graphic novel)

Jack Heath   The Cut Out   Allen & Unwin 2015  $16.99pb    ISBN 978 1 7601 1198 4  (Note- this was actually published in June last year but it looks exciting)

Joseph Ryan   The Amber Fountain  Steam Press 2015  $19.95pb    ISBN 978 0 4733 1911 3  (This is the sequel The Witches of Autumn and is, sadly, the last book from Steam Press which has now closed down. I have read it and I really enjoyed it. )

Leah Thomas   Because You’ll Never Meet Me Bloomsbury 2015  $18.00pb  ISBN 978 1 4088 6262 9 

Thank you to the publishers who sent me these titles and my apologies it has taken me so long to get them on the Blog.