Sunday, 31 July 2016

Burt Munro the World's Fastest Indian

Published tomorrow - August 1st 2016
NZ Writer and Illustrator
David Hill, illustrated by Phoebe Morris
Speed King
Picture Puffin  2016 $25.00hb 32pp
ISBN 978 0 1435 0722 2
Themes: Burt Munro/ Invercargill NZ/ Motorcycles/ Older achievers   
Burt Munro was named The World’s Fastest Indian after his death.  He had spent his life trying to make the perfect run on his rather old Indian motorcycle and often nearly killing himself in the attempts. This story of determination is stunningly brought to life by David Hill with supporting illustrations by Phoebe Morris (the ‘team’ that created First to the Top – the story of Ed Hillary – last year).  And for some fortunate children who live in the areas there is the replica of Burt’s bike to be seen at Te Papa and a whole section about him and his bike at the Southland Museum and Art Gallery. Also there is the DVD of the movie (‘plenty in stock’) available.
The hardback is one of those productions that is a pleasure to handle.
Year 2 up/ Age 6 up Great for ESOL students

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Teenage pregnancies, apprenticeships and family relationships

NZ Writer  Mary-anne Scott  Coming Home to Roost Longacre 2016 $19.99pb 251pp ISBN 978 1 7755 3859 2 Themes: Apprentice jobs/ Teenage pregnancy/ Wellington NZ

Elliot is 17 and because his parents feel the girl he is currently seeing is a bad influence on him and for other more minor reasons, is sent to live in Wellington with an old mate of his fathers who supervises his apprenticeship as an electrician.  After a ropey start, life settles into a satisfying routine all to be broken when Elliot returns briefly to Auckland, manages to get the old girl friend pregnant and on return to Wellington is held responsible for a workplace accident in which his new boss is injured. There are plenty of storylines being developed here, the action is full on and non-stop and the topics are important ones to explore. I just wasn't totally  convinced by all the characters and the dialogues they had with each other.  However, I am very aware that the writer is the mother of four sons and hears them talking all the time.  I hope the book continues to do well (it was published in June but I have only just got hold of it) and that the audience at whom it is aimed enjoy it and think about the content.

Year 9 up / Age 13 up

Mary-anne Scott’s first book Snakes and Ladders won the Children’s Choice Award in the 2013 NZ Post Book Awards.
For more about her go to:

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

More Stories About Chook Doolan - an anxious six year old

Available from August 1st 2016
Australian Writer and Scottish Illustrator
James Roy illustrated by Lucinda Gifford
The Tiny Guitar Walker Books 2016 $9.99pb 64pp
ISBN 978 1 9222 4496 3
Themes: Anxiety/ Buskers/ Emerging readers/ Series
Chook (real name Simon) is given a ukulele by his Dad – an airline pilot and needs to learn to play it when his Busker friend Edie Two-Hats is taken away to hospital. This is a complete story with characters we care about told in the simplest language and in 64 short pages. Another new book about Chook, Chook Doolan Saves the Day ISBN 978 1 9222 4495 6, will be published at the same time.   Search in this Blog for reviews of the first two books in the series.  
Year 1 up/ Age 5 up

Friday, 22 July 2016

Summer Holidays on a Swedish Island

Swedish Writer and Illustrator
Rose Lagercrantz  illustrated by Eva Eriksson
Life According to Dani
Gecko Press 2016  $19.99pb 104pp
ISBN 978 1 7765 7071 3
Themes: Best Friends/ Islands/ Pursuit of Happiness/ Sequels/ Solo Dads/ Summer Holidays
Dani, who we have met before in earlier chapter books, has gone to an island to stay with her best friend while her dad is recovering from a car accident. With so much to do – Skinny-dipping/ learning to play the violin/ cooking/ exploring the seashore - there is not much time to worry about her dad – until he stops calling her every night. Then, very tactlessly, he suddenly appears in a water taxi with his nurse in tow – but to Dani’s horror, she turns out to also be his new girlfriend. Real and sometimes painful emotion is described here as well a genuine sense of humour that is always bubbling away under the surface.  Eva Erikson’s black and white illustrations are really brilliant! In a few simple lines her characters can express grief/ curiosity/ puzzlement/irritation/ satisfaction/ happiness… This is a series of chapter books unlike any others – perfect to read to yourself if you are newly emerging as a reader or to listen to as part of a group – boys will relate to Dani too.  
Year 2 up/ Age 6 up 
Google for details of other books about Dani and her best friend, Ella. All published by Gecko Press...


Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Five terms in the life of a high school rock band

NZ Writer
Saradha Koirala
Lonesome When You Go
Mākaro Books 2016 $25.00hb 238pp
ISBN 9 7809 9412 2374 9
Themes: Changes/ Competitions/ First Person Narratives/ High School Life/ Rock Bands 
Vox Pop, a talented and enthusiastic high school rock band, is determined to win the national rock band competition. Told in the first person by Paige, a bassist, the whole story pounds with the beat of the band (not surprising considering the writer’s experience in the field) and tells of the time (covering five school terms) leading up to the National Finals. The other people in the band all have their very real problems but it is mainly the story of a young woman who knows what she wants and is not afraid to go for it.
Google the writer’s name for some interesting background and a Utube interview
Year 8 up/ Age 12 up

Saturday, 9 July 2016

A parrot from the jungles of Peru

UK Writer (recently arrived from NZ) and Illustrator Katie Haworth, illustrated by Jo Williamson Petunia Paris’s Parrot
The Five Mile Press, 2016 $38.99hb $22.99pb 32pp ISBN 978 1 7604 0369 0 hb/  ISBN 978 1 7837 0490 3   Themes: Birthday parties/ Friendship/ Indulged children/ Sacrifices   

Petunia Paris was a totally indulged little girl whose every wish was her parent's command – a pool, a wardrobe of clothes, a bike with its own chauffeur.  And when on her fifth birthday she had really run out of things to ask for she said the first thing that came into her mind  - I want a talking parrot please (she did say please) and a scarlet parrot all the way from the jungles of Peru was what she got.  Small problem was the parrot, excellent in every other way, didn’t talk.  Without once being heavy handed this is an easily understood story of friendship, of caring about other people’s feelings and of the pleasure of making someone (or something in this case) happy.  The final double page gatefold is a joy to behold. Teachers, caregivers, librarians and parents are going to have a lot of fun sharing this with children.

Preschool up Age 4 up
Note: I hope to be able to post an interview with Katie here in about ten days time.  BM

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Nose Picking! Not for the faint hearted adult.

Australian Writer and Italian Illustrator (living in Australia) David Hunt, illustrated by Lucia Masciullo The Nose Pixies ABC Books (HarperCollins Australia) 2016 $25.00hb 32pp ISBN 978 0 7333 3487 0

Themes: Cautionary tales/ Nose picking

Oliver, aged about five, has a really rather disgusting habit. He simply cannot keep his fingers out of his nose and having extracted what he can find there he – well I needn’t go in to details.  One night his dad decides to tell him a story which has quite an effect – he tells the story of the Nose Pixies who, because of Oliver’s habit are now going home empty handed every night after coming to mine for the nose gold that keeps their cities running. It’s gross. It’s not for the faint hearted adult looking for a gentle bedtime story. It’s been a top of the pops hit with every child I have read it to so far.  And the perfect pictures  (with much to look at and explore) match the story in every detail.

Preschool up

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

The Hoppleplop returns after 12 years (hibernation?)

Available mid-July 2016

NZ Writer and Illustrator Kyle Mewburn, illustrated by Deborah Hinde The Hoppleplop  Lizard Lane Books 2016 (first published by Scholastic 2004) $28.00hb ($19.99pb) 24pp ISBN 978 0 4733 5530 2 (hb) 978 0 4733 5529 6 (pb) Themes: Doors/ Fears/ First person stories/ Houses/ Reassurance

The narrator invites us in to his rather unusual house that looks strangely familiar and wonders if we would like to see a Hoppleplop . But would we? As we go through door after door and see some of the creatures in the rooms that are becoming more and more scary perhaps a Hoppleplop is the very LAST thing we want to see. I remember reading this to a small group when it was first published and the great feeling of tension that was built up until the grand expoon the final page. Even when they knew the secret they wanted it told again (and again) to explore the pictures and revisit the words . Illustrator and writer work here in a true tandem partnership    

Preschool up (and UP….) 


Deborah(Sorry I can't trace the source of these two images  BM) 

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Metamorphosis from Melinda Szymanik and Donovan Bixley

NZ Writer and Illustrator Melinda Szymanik, illustrated by Donovan Bixley Fuzzy Doodle Scholastic 2016  $19.00pb 32pp ISBN 978 1 7754 3406 1 Themes: Metamorphosis/ Stories in rhyme

Melinda and Donovan in tandem were bound to come up with something very special – and they have in words and image that match so perfectly. ! This is a story in which to use your imagination and just see where it takes you. What is Fuzzy and what does he become? It is over to the reader and listener. And, if you are reading it aloud to a group (or just one lucky child) and are familiar with Margaret Mahy’s Bubble Trouble you will find the same addictive rhythm that carries you through. I think Margaret would have liked this very much!  I can’t wait to share it with a group.

Melinda (left) at the launch of A winter's day in 1939
 Image: Barbara Murison
Preschool up (and UP….)
Donovan at Storylines Wellington 2015
Image: Barbara Murison