Saturday, 26 March 2016

A Heroine of World War One - Gladys Sandford

To be released on Monday 28th March 2016

NZ writer and Illustrator  Glyn Harper, illustrations by Jenny Cooper  Gladys Goes to War.

Puffin Books 2016  $19.99pb  32pp  ISBN 978 0 1435 0720 8  Themes: Ambulance drivers World War 1/ Feisty women

Why have I never heard of Gladys Sandford before? She was a real person who was born in Australia but whose family moved to New Zealand when she was five. She was the most amazingly feisty young woman who at the beginning of World War 1 refused to be fobbed off by the War Office who didn’t want her services as an ambulance driver in London (just stay home and knit socks and balaclavas they said). But Gladys, now married to Lieutenant William Henning, managed to join him and spent the war in the UK and abroad in very active service. The rest of her life was full of excitement (and some sadness). Jenny Cooper’s vibrant pictures matched with the simple but clever text make this a book to proudly take its place with the growing number of picture books on this subject. If there was ever a story that stated so clearly Girls Can Do Anything this is it.

Jenny Cooper and Glyn Harper are the team who also gave us: Roly, the ANZAC donkey, Jim’s Letters and Le Quesnoy.

Year 2 up/ Age 6 up

***According to info on the net she looked exactly like this - blue eyed and golden haired...

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Armistice Day - what it is and why it matters

NZ writer – images from many sources Philippa Werry  Armistice Day – the New Zealand Story. What it is and why it matters.  New Holland 2016  $25.00pb  64pp ISBN 978 1 8696 6441 1  Themes: Flu epidemic 1918/ Volunteers in wartime/  World War I

 In some places around New Zealand the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month is observed annually but the significance of this is possibly lost on many young people. Here in carefully selected images, an excellent booklist and a full text the reasons are explained. Another memorable book about World War I by this writer who is passionate about her subject and who has worked as a volunteer at the annual ANZAC remembrances in Gallipoli

 Year 7 up/ Age 11 up
Philippa Werry and Bob Kerr at the launch of Best Mates in 2014 Image Barbara Murison

Another title in the Little Kiwi series

NZ writer & Illustrator  Bob Darroch  Little Kiwi  - Whose Nest is Best?  Puffin 2016  $18.99pb 24pp  ISBN 978 0 1435 0702 4  Themes: Bedtime/ Families/ Series/ Sleep

Desperate for sleep, Little Kiwi cannot stand the noise and activity in his own familiar nest any longer so goes off into the nighttime forest to find a better nest. Alas, there is something wrong with ALL of them – the nests of Kaka, Morepork, Blue Duck, Kea and Fantail are either too hot or too cold, too damp or too tiny, too busy or too quiet. So at last the inevitable happens and as most children will have guessed by the second to last page, Little Kiwi decides that whatever its disadvantages it is nearly always true that your own nest is the best nest.

Bob Darroch, who lives in Temuka, South Canterbury has been delighting children with Little Kiwi’s adventures for fifteen years now and in 2015 he was awarded the Storylines Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Much Loved Book. This was Little Kiwi is Afraid of the Dark 

Preschool up – Age 3 up

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Honours for Book Island from Raumati South

New Zealand publishing house Book Island from the Kapiti Coast has been nominated for the Bologna Prize 2016 for Best Children’s Publisher of Oceania by the International Children’s Book Fair in Bologna, Italy. This international award pays tribute to excellence in the world of children’s publishing. Children’s publishers and cultural institutions from all over the world nominated the small publishing house from Raumati South.

Book Island is one of only three publishers nominated across Australia and New Zealand, and is actually the only New Zealand publishing recognised in this way this year. The children’s publisher is well-known for its best-selling titles The Lion and the Bird by Marianne Dubuc and The Umbrella by Ingrid and Dieter Schubert. 
"For a small indie publishing house like Book Island it is a great honour to be nominated for the Bologna Prize for Oceania this year. We would like to pay tribute to the original publishers of the beautiful and meaningful picture books that we have translated into English and Dutch in the past four years. Without them, their illustrators and authors – and not to be forgotten – our translators and editors, there would be no Book Island. This award is a tremendous acknowledgement of our combined efforts,” says publisher Greet Pauwelijn, who will attend the award ceremony in Bologna on Monday 4 April.
Source Booksellers NZ

Previous winners of the award in this category were:
2013  Gecko Press
2014  Allen & Unwin
2015   Walker Books Australia and New Zealand

Greet at the launch of one of Book Island's first publications in 2012

Pavlovas and Friendship

NZ writer & Indonesian Illustrator  Chris Gurney, Illustrated by Stevie Mahardhika The Little Blue Duck   Series: Kiwi Corkers  Scholastic NZ  2016  $12.00pb  24pp

(First published 2009 – new edition rejacketed 2016)

ISBN 978 1 7754 3393 4

Themes: Friends/ Pavlovas/ Retaliation/ Stories in rhyme

Master Chef, Little Blue Duck decides to make a glorious pavlova and tries to involve the help of her friends to collect the ingredients and help in putting them together (the cream from the cow, the eggs from the chook house, the sugar from the pantry).  Sadly they are all far too busy so the Little Blue Duck labours on alone until the moment the pav is there ready to eat. But, this little duck is no walkover and this time she doesn’t actually call for volunteers.  When it comes to the eating she also does it herself. A great story for small listeners and readers to become involved in and to discuss the basics of friendship (and the delights of the sugary pavlova). The illustrations JUST manage to avoid being cute and there is a definite feel of Indonesia to the outdoor scenes which gives the whole book a rather exotic air.

Preschool up – Age 3 up

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Brilliant New Book Review Website for Young Adult Readers

Hooked on NZ Books is a new review website for young adults, including how to write a great review, interviews with writers, reviews of New Zealand books by YA readers and links to other reviews.

This brilliant new website  launched on March 10th 2016 during the recent Writers Week I hope will be given the 100% support it deserves by students, teachers and librarians (and anyone else involved in New Zealand books for young adult readers)  

Go to:
to see what treasures await. 

Congratulations to everyone concerned in setting it up.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Friends of the Dorothy Neal White Collection - Research Grant 2016


The Friends of the Dorothy Neal White Collection

Research Grant – 2016

The Friends of the Dorothy Neal White Collection have just announced details of the grant for 2016 which encourages students to make use of the Dorothy Neal White Collection and/or the National Children’s Collection, for their own research. The collections are kept in the National Library Wellington.

Applications close on May 31st and – the value of the Grant is $2,000

See below for full details or contact Mary Skarott the Research Librarian, Children's Literature Alexander Turnbull Library
The Dorothy Neal White Collection (9,000 books), in the National Library of New Zealand, is a research collection of children’s books that were enjoyed by young New Zealanders in the century before 1940. The National Children’s Collection (115,000 books) contains children’s books published since 1940. Both collections contain picture books, fiction and non-fiction books published in Australia, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand and the Pacific, and the United States of America. In addition, the DNW Collection contains a number of children’s annuals and serials.The Friends of the Dorothy Neal White Collection ( established this research grant to encourage students to use these collections in their research.The collections are housed in the National Library of New Zealand, corner of Molesworth and Aitken Streets, Wellington.

Research Grant value $2,000
See earlier research grants
Research Grant tenure
One Research Grant shall be awarded in alternate years. The Research Grant shall not be awarded in any year where there are no suitable candidates. If no award is made, applications will be invited in the following year and this will be announced on the Friends’ ( and other web sites.
Application process
Applications are due by 31 May 2016 and following even years. Please download an
Application form from our website.
Selection will be based on the merit of the proposal. Please submit a one-page research proposal and a letter of support from an academic supervisor (or appropriate referee for those not undertaking a formal course of tertiary study).
Decision makers
The Grants Committee of the Friends of the Dorothy Neal White Collection will choose the successful candidate. They will notify applicants of the result within one week of the selection meeting.
The successful candidate will:
attend a Friends of the Dorothy Neal White Collection event to receive the award and outline their research topic; and
present their findings to a Friends of the Dorothy Neal White Collection event,
write a report on their research that may be published in the Friends’ publication Notes-Books-Authors.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Featherston POW Camp - incident 1943

NZ Writer

David Hill

Enemy Camp

Puffin 2016  $19.99pb 260pp

ISBN 9780 1433 0912 3

Themes:  Cultural differences and misunderstandings/ Featherston NZ/ First person narratives/ Japanese POW’s/ Primary school life 1940’s/ World War II

It is February 22nd 1943 and at the Featherston POW

 camp for Koreans and Japanese a sit-in of prisoners who refused to work is being staged. By the end of the day, nearly 70 prisoners have been killed when an unstoppable riot breaks out.

The events leading to the riot and the day itself are described by 12-year-old Ewan who, with his friends have been visiting the camp secretly and regularly. They are surprised to find the men who have been described to them as evil and cruel look like, well, just  - people. Master Story Teller, David Hill, totally engages the reader’s emotions and thoughts  and what David Hill ‘boy hero’ could ever tell a story without a large lashing of an underlying sense of humour?  

Year 7 up/ Age 11 up


If you drive out of Featherston on State Highway 2 a little north of the township you will come to a small park which was the site of the POW camp. On a stone are carved the words from a 17th-century Japanese haiku:

Behold the summer grass;

all that remains

Of the dreams of warriors.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Storylines Notable Books List 2016

Typing is almost impossible for me at present with the injuries to my shoulder and rib cage so I have simply downloaded this list of Notable Books, the annual list from STORYLINES CHILDREN’S LITERATURE TRUST OF NEW ZEALAND, for you just as it came to me.

Many many congratulations to everyone on the list – I have read them all over the past 12 months and they are all special. You will find most of them have been reviewed on this Blog.  Go to the search box.

Storylines Notable Books List 2016

The Storylines Notable Books List 2016, for books published in 2015, has been announced. The award-winning titles are:

Picture Books

  • Muddle & Mo  written and illustrated by Nikki Slade Robinson (Duck Creek)
  • Roly the Anzac Donkey by Glyn  Harper, illustrated by Jenny Cooper (Penguin Random/Puffin)
  • Henry's Stars written and illustrated by David Elliot (Penguin Random/Random)
  • Stripes! No, Spots!  written and illustrated by Vasanti Unka (Penguin Random/Puffin)
  • First to the Top by David Hill, illustrated by Phoebe Morris (Penguin Random/Puffin)
  • Yak and Gnu by Juliette MacIver, illustrated by Cat Chapman (Walker)
  • Finding Monkey Moon  by Elizabeth Pulford, illustrated by Kate Wilkinson (Walker)
  • Hush: A Kiwi Lullaby by Joy Cowley, illustrated by Andrew Burdan (Scholastic)
  • Changing Times: The Story of a New Zealand Town and its Newspaper, written and illustrated by Bob Kerr (Potton & Burton)
  • Haka by Patricia Grace, illustrated by Andrew Burdan (Huia)

Junior Fiction

The Bold Ship Phenomenal, by Sarah Johnson (Flat Bed) The Ghosts of Tarawera by Sue Copsey (Sue Copsey) The Pirates & the Nightmaker by James Norcliffe (Penguin Random/ Longacre) From the Cutting Room of Barney Kettle by Kate De Goldi (Penguin Random/ Longacre) The Knot Impossible (A Tale of Fontana), by Barbara Else (Gecko) The Bakehouse by Joy Cowley (Gecko) The Girl Who Rode the Wind by Stacy Gregg (HarperCollins) How I Alienated my Grandma by Suzanne Main (Scholastic) Cool Nukes by Des Hunt (Scholastic) Lily Max – Satin, Scissors, Frock by Jane Bloomfield (Luncheon Sausage)


Young Adult

Evie's War  by Anna Mackenzie (Penguin Random/ Longacre) Being Magdalene  by Fleur Beale (Penguin Random/ Random) Hucking Cody by Aaron Topp (Mary Egan) The Heading Dog Who Split in Half by Michael Brown, illustrated by Mat Tait (Potton & Burton)


Jammin' with Steven Adams by David Riley (Reading Warrior) Exploring Nature's Pattern Magic  by Dee Pigneguy (Mary Egan) Samoan Heroes by David Riley, illustrated by Michel Mulipola (Reading Warrior) Beginner's Guide to Rugby by Aaron Cruden (Penguin Random/Random) Beginner's Guide to Adventure Sport  by Steve Gurney (Penguin Random/Random) Whose Beak is This? by Gillian Candler, illustrated by Fraser Williamson (Potton & Burton) Waitangi Day: The New Zealand Story by Philippa Werry (New Holland)

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Barbara Else to be awarded the Margaret Mahy Medal

Exciting News!
Here word for word is the media release that was received from the


a few hours ago.
Wellington Writer Barbara Else Wins Storylines
                    Margaret Mahy Medal 2016

Image: Gecko Press


Award-winning Wellington writer and literary agent Barbara Else has been named the 2016 winner of New Zealand’s top award for children’s writers and illustrators.

The Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal is awarded annually for lifetime achievement and an outstanding contribution to New Zealand children’s literature.

"Barbara Else’s early achievements were in adult fiction," says Storylines chair Dr Libby Limbrick, "but since her first novel for children in 1997 she has built up a solid body of work. Alongside her four children’s novels, she has edited nine top-selling anthologies of short stories for young and teenage readers, providing them with a huge variety of new stories and new writers with publishing opportunities.

"As a leading literary agent and assessor with her husband Chris Else since 1988, she has also guided many aspiring children’s writers towards literary careers. Her work for children’s literature also includes plays, short stories and judging of national book and short story awards."

Among Barbara Else’s many awards are Writer in Residence at Victoria University of Wellington, a Creative New Zealand Scholarship in Letters and in 2005 a MNZOM for services to literature.  She is currently in Dunedin as holder of the University of Otago’s residency for children’s writers, the only one offered by a New Zealand university.

Previous winners of the Margaret Mahy Medal, instituted in 1991, have included Dorothy Butler, Joy Cowley, David Hill, Kate de Goldi, Fleur Beale, illustrators Lynley Dodd and Gavin Bishop and international Kids' Lit Quizmaster Wayne Mills.

The award also includes the presentation of a public lecture to be given by Barbara Else, at the University of Auckland Epsom Campus on Sunday, 3rd April 2016.

Barbara Else is available for interview.

A very painful accident

NO! I haven’t vanished. Last week I tripped over a pile of (children’s) books and now with three broken ribs and a pulled ligament in my shoulder typing is difficult and extremely painful.  I do want to start Blogging again as soon as possible. I have been able to read though  - David Hill’s Enemy Camp for one, Hopefully later today..

 Barbara M.