Monday, 31 October 2016

New from Dawn McMillan and Ross Kinnaird - anothr zany picture book

NZ Writer and Illustrator 
Dawn McMillan, illustrated by Ross Kinnaird
Oratia 2016    $19.99pb  32pp
ISBN 978 0 9475 0611 7
Themes: Pets/ Size/ Stories in rhyme  
The children think they want to keep their very large hippo- like pet.  Mum and Dad are not so sure - it is the food and the size that is the problem.  It’s a scary feeling too if you wake in the night and discover your new pet is licking his lips and obviously hungry. Could it be that he actually wants to eat YOU? Fortunately nature intervenes and provides a happy ending for everyone. Another totally zany story from this inventive team and I want to start reading it to children ASAP.   
Preschool up/ Age 4 up

Note: This was published on October 6th but my copy has only just arrived – caught up in the postal system somewhere.  

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Illuminae - the sequel

Australian Writers 
Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Gemina  - The Illuminae files - 02
Allen & Unwin 2016    $25.00pb 659pp
ISBN 9 781 9252 6657 3
Themes: Series/ Space stations/ Survival (of course!)  
There have been so many stories over the years about space stations and the survival of the universe that I must confess I did pick this one up (and it is a weighty book with its 650 pages) with a bit of trepidation. I am not a space story addict. However, from about three pages in, the unusual combination of emails/ photos/transcripts/ IMs and schematics and above all the youthful energy and wit of the writers who have brought it all together had me totally in thrall. I couldn’t wait to go on reading and looking as soon as I had a spare moment (and ordering the first book Illuminae). Hanna - the once social butterfly-  and Nik the not so enthusiastic member of an active crime family, make characters we care about as they prepare to defend their home. I predict this will be a book young adult readers will either reject out of hand or will fall upon it, read it to death (library copies will get very worn after a couple of issues)  and clamour loudly for more.
Year 8 up/ Age 12 up    

Saturday, 29 October 2016

The Original Children's Bookshop Christchurch closes its doors today. Hurry there now...

Do you live in Christchurch?
If so you will know the Original Children’s Bookshop in Blenheim Square.  It’s a shop I have always made a point of visiting each time I have been in Christchurch both in Victoria Street and in Blenheim Square  (post earthquake) .
After 37 years of trading this unique and amazing bookshop will almost definitely be closing down in just a few short hours -  yes, and on NZ Bookshop Day 29th October too after their all day Tiger Who Came to Tea Party.  (See also yesterday’s post for another Tiger Who Came to Tea Party – in Wellington at the Children’s Bookshop, Kilbirnie!)
It seems half of Christchurch will be visiting to pay their respects but please join them. Take a cupcake, a pot plant, a bag of sweeties and above all BUY A BOOK (or several books)

The then office manager Mary Sangster, left, and former owner Sheila Sinclair in 2012. 
Image: Fairfax Media

Thursday, 27 October 2016

New Zealand Bookshop Day 2016

This Saturday, October 29th 2016,
 is New Zealand Bookshop Day

Image: Matt Bialostocki

Please Google to find  the positive wealth of activities (for children AND adults) that will be mounted.

From South to North here is a very very small sample. Each place seems to have nearly all their bookshops involved (sourced from Booksellers NZ):

DUNEDIN - in the University Bookshop

Love letters, fairies and red velvet cupcakes

CHRISTCHURCH  - Scorpio Bookshop Riccarton

Children’s illustration workshop (booking essential)

BLENHEIM– Paper Plus

Author Brett Avison will be in store for a book signing/chat - his books include Bigger Digger, Stuck in the Muck

WELLINGTON- Unity Books  

Terra Incognita  A handful of savvy explorers will strike gold on Saturday!

The Children's Bookshop Kilbirnie
WELLINGTON- The Children’s Bookshop Kilbirnie

Tiger Who Came to Tea party from 2pm until 3pm for age 8 and under, with stories first. Juliette MacIver will read some of her new books including Gwendolyn! and That’s Not a Hippopotamus

WELLINGTON– Marsden Books, Karori

Local  authors Ned  Barraud and Gillian Candler ( In the Bush, At the Beach )will run a quiz, talk bout their books and give out goody-bags. Adults will receive a blind-date book!

LOWER HUTT-  Paper Plus

Local children’s  authors Juliette MacIver and Robyn Cooper will read from their books and Dr Seuss will be celebrated in a BIG way

PALMERSTON NORTH – Bruce McKenzie Booksellers

All day printing demonstrations from Printmaker Heather Partell backgrounded by folk music and a classical trio.

NAPIER– Wardini Books

Book coconut shy/ self recording videos/ Hook a Book

TAURANGA – Books-a-Plenty

Stacey Gregg will talk and sign books

HAMILTON– Penny’s Bookstore

A pirate treasure hunt through the store and mall collecting golden letters.

AUCKLAND–The Dorothy Butler Children’s Bookshop

Non-stop Stories. Local authors including Melinda Syzmanik, Paula Green and Joy Davidson reading books and telling stories all morning.

But this is only a small selection and for the full progamme go to:

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Mal Peet's last book

UK Writers
Mal Peet (deceased) with Meg Rosoff
Walker Books 2016  $24.99hb 267pp
ISBN 978 1 4063 3112 7                                                   Themes: Black teenagers/ Canada 1900s/ Catholic church/ Depression USA 1900s/ Sexual abuse of children 
Beck was born as the result of a brief encounter between an African American soldier and a young woman from Liverpool in the early 1900s and spends his life trying to find his real place in the world. This takes him to Canada and to conditions even tougher than those he has left behind – including a spell in a Catholic boys’ boarding school and a trip across the whole Canadian continent. This is a painful (and graphic) story to read but the conclusion is something not to be missed. Meg Rosoff, a close friend of Mal’s, worked on his unfinished novel after his death at his request and the seamless result is a tribute to both of these amazing writers for young adults. In my opinion it would be very wise to be really sure of the maturity of the reader to whom I was recommending the book.
Mature readers only

Watch for Susan Price's first children's book - coming next week:


Sunday, 23 October 2016

Goodbye Timmy Failure?

USA Writer & Illustrator Stephan Pastis Timmy Failure- the Book You’re Not Supposed to Have Walker Books 2016  $19.99hb 274pp ISBN 978 1 4063 6976 2                                Themes: Detective work/ Funny stories/ Series  

Although Timmy was meant to be focusing on his school work (a very hard ask for him) he was forced to work from his family garden shed and continue with his detective memoirs amongst the compost and seedlings. Then the memoirs are stolen. The plot? Hard to say really but I am convinced this is the sort of OTT humour that children of around 8 to 10 (and of course older adults like me) really enjoy. After four other Timmy Failure books, the first of which was listed as one of the 100 Children’s Modern Classics by the Sunday Star Times, it reads as though this may be the last in the series of five books but children will happily go back to the beginning again…  

Year 4 up/ Age 8 up  

Friday, 21 October 2016

Robyn Cooper's First Children's Book

NZ Writer  Robyn Cooper Snails, Spells and Snazzlepops Submarine (Makaro Press) 2016    $25.00pb 164pp ISBN 978 0 9941 3793 7 Themes: Bullying/ Cooking/ Family life/ Fantasy/ Funny stories/ Money (lack of)

Charlie has a lot to put up with - his mother’s boyfriend/ a house that seems to be falling around his ears and worst of all – a lack of money.  For Charlie (and his close friend Millie who lives next door) the solution may be through his skills in the culinary arts and serving up some really wild and unusual foods  - like the snails that live just outside the garden window. Then, while searching for a fail-safe recipe Charlie and Millie come upon a magical site on the net which may enhance their efforts even further. This is a truly funny story with characters with whom we can empathise and a storyline of which we believe every word.  A good story to read aloud to a class as a special treat!!

Excellent teachers’ notes are available for this book on the Makaro Press website. Go to:

Year 5 up/ Age 9 up  

The Makaro Press Team at the launch. Robyn is second from the left. Photo acknowledgments to Robyn Cooper

Sunday, 16 October 2016

A short gap!!

Don’t be surprised if there is a short gap of maybe a week before I post anything more here. I am going into hospital for an over nighter for some ‘keyhole’ surgery but I do intend to return!
Dressed casually for a night in the Botanic Garden

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Poverty in Victorian London

UK Writer & Illustrator
Jacqueline Wilson, decorations by Nick Sharratt
Clover Moon
Doubleday 2016   $35.00pb 386pp
ISBN 978 0 8575 3274 9                                                  Themes: Family life/ NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children UK)/ Stepmothers/ Runaways/ Victorian London
Life for poverty stricken families in the grim parts of Victorian London was a nightmare and for Clover, an artistic and bright 12(?) -year- old cast in the role of looking after her six siblings, it all became too much. She ran away and found shelter in a newly set up ‘boarding school’ based on the concepts being developed by National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Like all Jacqueline Wilson’s books (especially those about children in such horrible circumstances) the plot has many byways to explore and a heroine who engages all our attention and sympathy. It will be read with enthusiasm by a wide age range and could be part of a school ‘project’ on family poverty in Victorian London.  
Year 6 up/ Age 10 up

Monday, 10 October 2016

Magical London, 1800's

Australian Writer
Karen Foxlee
A Most Magical Girl
Piccadilly Press 2016   $22.99hb 296pp
ISBN 978 1 8481 2574 2                                                  Themes: Family/ Friendship/ London, 1800’s/ Magic/ Wizards and witches
Karen Foxlee - acknowledgements to Sonya Coe
London is under threat as a devastating spell starts to creep over the city and threatens to destroy it completely.  And. It is over to Annabel Grey, a most unlikely saviour (a very PROPER young lady) to pull out all her newly found powers of witchcraft and save the city. Sounds rather far fetched?? Not when it is told by a master story teller like Karen Foxlee whose writing compels you to read late into the night to see how it all works out. All is encased in an equally magical jacket- you can't see the silver stars in the image above.... 
Year 6 up/ Age 10 up


Sunday, 9 October 2016

Rosemary Tisdall named as the Betty Gilderdale Award winner for services to children's literature 2016

Image :acknowledgments to Storylines Trust

Congratulations to Rosemary Tisdall of Auckland who has been named as the Betty Gilderdale Award winner for 2016 for services to children’s literature. Rosemary is well known for her involvement in the Storylines Trust over many years and for her co-organising the recent IBBY Congress held so successfully in Auckland in August this year.  

Death of a pet

Belgian Writer and Illustrator Nils Pieters Fox & Goldfish Book Island 2016   $26.99hb 28pp

ISBN 978 0 9941 2821 8     Themes: Death & dying/ Death of a pet/ Friendship/ Loss/ Wordless picture books

Fox knows his very best friend Goldfish is dying and takes him on a memorable tour of the whole world before he does. Apart from the gloomy first page the book is alive with colour and life and has many spinoffs. Goldfish is sent off with great style and love and this would be a very positive book to use in a family where a pet is dying.  .  

Preschool up/ Age 3 up

It is exciting to see that although Book Island Ltd has moved from Raumati, Kapiti Coast New Zealand and is now operating from Bristol UK, their books are still going to be available to us here in NZ bookshops.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Here is the very first Gecko Press ANNUAL

NZ Writers and Illustrators Kate De Goldi and Susan Paris - editors Annual  Gecko Press 2016   $39.99hb 135pp  ISBN 978 1 7765 7077 5                                                 

Themes: Articles/ Comics/ Games/ Images/ Poems/ Puzzles/ Songs/ Stories

You only have to look at the themes above to see Annual covers something to please almost everyone although I suspect the audience will be made up of already committed readers. The list of contributors is w-i-d-e from Barbara Else (a quirky tale) to Paul Bevis (a guide to visual storytelling) to Fifi Colston’s This is not a bottle  (with ideas for what it COULD be. My favourite is Tim Upperton’s ‘poem’ “Kill List’ – a wonderfully speculative piece telling us just why it would be necessary to shoot to kill should any of the animals escape their cages at Wellington Zoo. It’s school holiday time so two ‘tasters’ (male, aged 9 and 10) have been around to look at the book and gravitated at once to the comic strips, adored the satire pages on Selfies by Steve Braunias (what would you do it Ritchie McCaw showed up to be your relieving teacher?) and were fascinated by Dylan Owen’s page on the gum tree bleeders with its gruesome discovery. Like me they were totally unmoved by the bland orange cover – BORING AS they said. I have heard, and I hope it is true; this annual may become just that - something to look forward to every and each October although it will be hard to match the fizz and interest of this very first Gecko Annual.

Year 5 up/ Age 9 up   (a lot of interest here for adults too)

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

A new horse story by Stacy Gregg

NZ Writer
Stacy Gregg
The Diamond Horse
HarperCollins 2016   $25.00hb 265pp
ISBN 978 0 0081 2439 7                                                 
Themes: Adventure stories Circuses/ Horse stories/ Siberia/
Take the wealthy daughter of a Russian count who lives in a snowbound palace, a secret young colt and a pet tiger cub, the frozen tundra of Siberia and a feisty young girl who sees beyond the bright lights of the circus where she works. Then ask Stacy Gregg to form them into an adventure story. What do you get?  You get a hard to put down narrative that will be loved by all Stacy’s many (many) fans. A great read-aloud. I have never been a follower of horse or pony club stories but I must admit Stacy Gregg has me hooked. It may be the very genuine and well researched backgrounds she puts into all her books (she is a world traveller) and the fact of the believable characters for whom the reader cannot help but feel sympathy.
Year 6 up/ Age 10 up

Monday, 3 October 2016

Wet Weather

NZ Writer and Illustrator
Emma Vere-Jones, illustrated by Lisa Allen
The Wetter the Better
Duck Creek Press 2016   $19.99pb 32pp
ISBN 978 1 9273 0527 0                                                 
Themes: Rain/ Stories in rhyme/ Storms
Here is a wonderfully onomatopoeic celebration of the delights of a wet (wet) day seen through the eyes of two exuberant children who at first would much prefer to travel by car.  If you are reading this aloud to a group, please practise first – it is full of traps for the unwary but once mastered is an absolute delight! The watercolour images all add to the ambience of a memorable day.  
Preschool up/ Age 3 up