Monday, 30 December 2013

Getting organised for 2014

No I have not forgotten I have a Blog!!

Like some other lucky New Zealanders (many, I know, need to work right through) I have managed to close my office door for two weeks summer break. I am spending my time taking part in the Wellington Regional Forest and Bird Summer Walking/Tramping programme – we are up to Day Five tomorrow with a visit to Matiu/Somes Island. Although it has rained off and on (and sometimes more on than off) because it is so warm, the rain doesn’t seem to be an issue.  
 It is a welcome change being in the out-of-doors to unpacking all the books which were boxed up in the garage but are now on brand new shelves. 
Here is a photo to show you they are now up on the wall (this is just one unit – there are others but not as big). Of course they are only roughly in order – childrens and young adults/ adult fiction and non-fiction/ poetry/ ‘old’ books and three shelves of DVDs – but alphabetical or Dewy order is not in place yet. The battered looking ones down on the left are ones I loved as a child and haven't ever been able to replace.

New books (some real goodies) are accumulating and I will reopen my office door on January 9th. I am looking  forward to sharing them with you.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

A Few Personal Words

       I feel this is quite a distant blog. Publishers send me beautiful new books. I read and review most of them. I ‘publish’ them and they go whirling off into cyberspace. And that is it. Every morning I eagerly look at the ‘stats’ to see who has been viewing the blog in the last 24 hours. If the figures are to be believed eyes from places like Russia, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, the Ukraine and to say nothing of New Zealand have all looked at the last days posting. Are they real people I wonder? Maybe they are robots who are just in place as a counting measure! If you are real and if you felt so inclined maybe you would like to comment on some of the books – the mechanism is all set up for you.

       Some of you (the real people) will have noticed that in spite of all my good intentions I have done nothing to enhance the screens on NZ Writers and Illustrators for Children and Young People.  My excuse is that I am still in the middle of mopping up all the chaos caused by moving house 3 weeks ago. The preparing for the move took months and now it looks as though the aftermath will also take time. I do want to get on to the project which I feel will provide a valuable resource. I have all the fairly recent details for over 150 NZ writers and illustrators and, of course, more are appearing every day. This is the work load for Term One 2014.

      May I wish you all the things you need and as many as possible of the things you want for 2014. I wish you the time, the freedom and the opportunities to be able to read – and to help children and young people to find all three.

Fiction - 10-12 year olds

NZ Writer
Linley Jones
On The Edge
AM Publishing New Zealand 2013  $20.00pb 164pp
ISBN 978 0 9922 6283 9

Themes:  Bullying/ Batophobia (Fear of heights)/ Father-son relationships/ Flute playing/ Rock climbing/ Sailing/ Smuggling/ Tramping

Brady is nearly 13, is being bullied at school, has a deep fear of heights and is resentful of his father who is spending more and more time overseas. Using her own understanding of her grandchildren and children, her experiences sailing around the Pacific, tramping in the New Zealand forests and her love of travel, Linley Jones has created an adventure story young readers will relate to because it is based on truths they will recognize. There are no simple answers for Brady and, apart from the issue of bullying, not everything is resolved but, as so often happens, he develops strategies for dealing with his demons.     

Year 6-8/ Ages 10-12

Available from the author:

Monday, 16 December 2013

Non-Fiction 6 and up

Indian Writer (living in the UK) and UK Designer
Anita Ganeri, designed by Cathy Tincknell
First Animal Encyclopaedia
A & C Black, 2013  $24.99hb  64pp

ISBN 978 1 4088 4252 2
Themes:  Animal life

Each animal in this title is given a full page spread and there is an ‘awesome’ box with a little known fact about the animal. A good index and glossary.
Stunning photos fill these fact packed pages which will be enjoyed by a wide age range.
This is a good browsing book as two visiting 6 year olds (girls) showed me this afternoon.
Year 2 up/ Age 6 up plus ESOL

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Picture Books

My policy is to keep reviews on this blog totally secular. However, just sometimes I come across a book that will be of particular interest to Sunday Schools and to some Christian Schools around the country so this is a one-off entry!

NZ Writer and USA Illustrator 
Lenie Nilsen, illustrated by Carolyn Mendoth
The Elephant and the Dove
Stonebridge Publications, USA 2013  $18.95hb unnumbered
ISBN 978 1 9404 7304 8 (hb)
Themes:  Elephants/ Floods/ Hope/ Journeys/ Noah’s Ark/ Survival
Through the eyes of two elephants and a small white dove, first time writer Lenie Nilsen has brought to life the journey of three creatures as they travel toward the Ark, meet with Noah and experience the drama of the Great Flood.  This is a story that will have many spin-offs in activities, creative writing, drama, crafts and oral story telling. The numerous images by American illustrator Carolyn Mendoth have been drawn with great attention to small details.  
For 4 to 8 year olds.

The book may be purchased through, Amazon.UK, and Kindle version from all sites including the new, Barnes and Noble or direct from the writer Lenie Nilsen, 14 Sunshine Avenue Paraparaumu.  It is also available through Wheelers Bookshop in Auckland.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Filling the Empty Spaces

I am spending much time at present out in the garage of my new home, unpacking the 3000  books for which, even as I type, I hope the builder who lives just down the road, is busily hammering and sawing and painting, putting together the 30 shelves that will hold them in my still empty and echoing sitting room. Why was it such a fast job to pack them just over a week ago and now it seems endless trying to unpack them and sort them into some sort of librarian-like sequence? I guess the fact that I keep finding old friends amongst them that someone else must have packed, that I can’t resist looking at, probably doesn’t help. The photo only shows the half of it!!

Fiction - 10 up

Australian Writer
Lian Tanner
Ice Breaker
Book One in The Hidden series
Allen & Unwin 2013  $23.99pb 313pp
ISBN 978 1 7433 1434 0

Themes:  Adventure/ Fantasy/ Series

On an ancient and rusting icebreaker that has been circling the southern icecap for the past three hundred years are three warring tribes -the Cooks, the Officers and the Engineers. All the knowledge in the world is now kept on the ship. Everyone belongs to one tribe or another – that is everyone except 12- year-old Petrel whose parents committed such a terrible crime for which they were thrown overboard that she has been totally ostracised. She is a complete loner until one day a boy is discovered, frozen half to death on an iceberg and is brought on board. This is an absorbing and exciting fantasy/adventure story that readers who loved The Keepers series should find equally enthralling. The Hidden series, Part 2 is due to be published in October 2014.

Year 6 up/ Age 10 up

Lian Tanner, who lives in southern Tasmania, has had many career paths to follow. She has been a professional actor, an editor, a community arts worker, a tourist bus driver, a freelance journalist and a teacher. 
Image of Lian Tanner acknowledgements to Matt Thompson, Mercury Newspaper, Tasmania

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Young Adult Fiction

NZ Writer
David Hill
Brave Company
Puffin Books 2013  $19.99pb  216pp
ISBN 978 0 1433 0757 0
Themes:  Courage/ Cowardice/ Korean War 1952

There is a very thin line between cowardice and bravery, between right and wrong as 16-year-old Boy Seaman, Russell Purchas finds out when he is stationed on HMNZS Taupo on its way to take part in the Korean War. Russell’s Uncle Trevor died fighting in World War II and all his family have always revered his memory for his extreme bravery but Russell and his mother have heard a very different story. They feel that Uncle Trevor was no hero – he was a deserter and a coward.
In true David Hill style there is pace, action and real adventure here plus a satisfying and totally unexpected ending and explanation.  
Year 8/ Age 12 up

Monday, 2 December 2013

Empty walls!

Where Are The Books?

After a few heart stopping days when it really looked as though I was going to have to drop the whole idea of this Blog and only use web mail for my emails, my wonderful computer guru has come to my rescue. With a flick of a switch and the typing in of some magic stmp letters and digits I am now totally reinstated (and with better Broadband than I have ever had before). The move from Wellington to Waikanae is now completed with about 3,000 children’s books out in the garage waiting for 30 shelves to be built on which to house them! As so many people reading this message will understand, when you are used to being surrounded by books all day long, to be suddenly faced with blank walls, however freshly painted, is an unnerving experience. The room seems to echo…  However the builder is coming in the morning and then the question will be, should I put them all in strict alphabetical order or just have a general genre collection?
Hopefully I will be back in the blogging business by this time tomorrow.    


The room doesn't really look like this but it is what it feels like!