Friday, 27 November 2015

Big Bang to Climate Change

Dutch (?) Writer and Illustrator (living in Belgium)
Peter Goes
Timeline – A Visual History of Our World
Gecko Press 2015 $39.99hb
ISBN 978 1 7765 7069 0
Themes: World History
A big book in every way! In size/ in concept/ in impact.  On pages so detailed you could spend an hour or more just looking at one page, with true brilliance the author/ illustrator takes us zooming and swooping through world history from the Big Bang to climate change. The text although it requires good eyesight as it is quite small and some in italics, is written with a light touch which makes it all the more memorable but it is from the images that much of the learning will happen – they are truly original.
(I do hand on many books to schools and colleges but this one is for ME!)   
Year 4 up/ Age 8 up – and Adults

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Congratulations to Sharon Holt - Te Reo Singalong books published by The Writing Bug

Teachers’ Choice: Best Resource in Te Reo Māori
in the
2015 CLNZ Education Award

This series impressed the judges as well as the Te Reo Tuatahi teaching  network who were consulting judges in this category. Matariki, a title in this series was also the favourite of teachers across New Zealand who voted in the Teachers’ Choice element of the awards. Matariki was voted Teachers’ Choice: Best Resource in Te Reo Māori for 2015. ‘Great and user-friendly’ commented one voting teacher.
Source: Booksellers NZ Website

More Team Work from Dawn McMillan and Ross Kinnaird

NZ Writer and Illustrator
Dawn McMillan, illustrated by Ross Kinnaird
Mister Spears and His Hairy Ears
Libro International 2015 $19.99pb 32pp
ISBN 978 1 8775 1484 5
Themes: Bands/ Funny stories/ Rock Stars
Mister Spears has a big hair problem. The hairs in his ears simply will not stop growing in spite of all the innovative ideas he comes up with. Then, one day, a truly brilliant idea comes to him, an idea that will lift him out of his routine day to day affairs and possibly turn him into a rock star. 
There is something about this book that really tickles the funny bone of small children. I only have to half bring it out of the bag when I take it to share with a group of 3 and 4 year olds I read to once a week and they start chanting Mr Spears Mr Spears in anticipation.
Pre school up/ Age 3 up
Published 2014
Published 2012

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton- another success story

Australian Writer and Illustrator
Andy Griffiths, illustrated by Terry Denton
The 65-Storey Treehouse
Pan 2015 $17.99pb 377pp
ISBN 978 1 7435 3322 2
Themes: Funny stories/ Series
What is new in Andy and Terry’s wonderful tree-house? Well, if you are a fan everything you would expect really and a whole lot of imaginative things you might not have thought of like a room where it is always your birthday and an area of exploding eyeballs - plus the TreeNN from which the latest news and gentle gossip is broadcast 24/7. Everything about books written and illustrated by this pair says success reflected in the fact that children just go on nominating them for Children’s Book Awards in Australia – and all round the world buying, borrowing and reading the books.
Year 4 up/ Age 8 up

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Vasanti Unka's new book

NZ Writer and Illustrator
Vasanti Unka   Stripes! No, Spots
Puffin Books 2015 $25.00hb 32pp (fold-out pages)
ISBN 978 0 1435 0696 6
Themes: Arguments/ Aesthetics / Fashions/ Jungles/ War

A disagreement between leopard and tiger over which is the most aesthetically pleasing – stripes or spots - soon builds from a mere argument into an all out war amongst the green, lush colours of the jungle background. Much to think about here for a wide group of children and new delights to discover with every ‘reading’. Watch out for David Attenborough in his khaki-coloured jacket! And -  explore the net for more about the writer/illustrator whose The Boring Book won the 2014 New Zealand Post Margaret Mahy Book of the Year and was also the winner in the Awards’ Picture Book category.
NE up/ Age 5 up  

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Magnificent illustrations of animals and their habitats around the world

UK Writer and Illustrator (born in Iceland)

Jenny Broom, illustrated by Kristjana S Williams   The Wonder Garden

Quarto Group UK 2015 $39.99hb 48pp

ISBN 978 1 8478 0647 5

Themes: Animals and Habitats of the World

How to describe the true magnificence of this large book illustrated in vibrant coloured engravings by an artist whose works sell for many thousands of dollars in the UK (and abroad)? Children will find the Amazon Rain Forest, the Great Barrier Reef, the Chihuahuan Desert and forests and mountains brought to positively vibrating life in front of their eyes. The informed text by Jenny Broom can be used at several levels of understanding. I can hardly bear to part with this treasure which is special to handle as well as to read and see but I hope the school where it finally ends up (through the local Cluster Group meeting) will have hours of pleasure from it. Be aware that because of the nature of the page lay-out the page numbers are printed half way down the page – it took me a while to work this out. 

This title has been selected for many awards and is worth following up on the net for more (and fascinating) information)      

NE (who will love the illustrations) up/ Age 5 to Secondary


Note:  I fear New Zealand doesn’t actually get a look-in but we have done very well with books on the out of doors this year.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

More about From the Cutting Room of Barney Kettle

I had an interesting comment left on my Blog after I had posted the short review of From the Cutting Room of Barney Kettle yesterday. I have tried (quite hard) to reply in the ‘comment box’ but I don’t know what it is about me and Blogs  - it simply won’t go through – or maybe it has and I just can’t see it.  I wrote yesterday I felt the book was probably more for adults and some senior students - a view shared by several other reviewers. The comment was that the book is being displayed in the Junior Fiction section of the writer’s local bookshop. My feeling is that the person responsible for deciding where material should be displayed and who has not actually read the book, has looked at either the blurb or the first chapter, seen it is about a thirteen year old boy and thought ‘ah ha Junior Fiction’ and placed it on those shelves.
This happens a lot I find and particularly with sophisticated picture books in primary schools where wonderful titles which because of their format and ‘look’ but intended for a much older age group will be placed in a New Entrant picture book box and left there to languish…Is there an answer? I don’t know. 

Friday, 13 November 2015

A new title from Kate De Goldi

NZ Writer    Kate De Goldi    From The Cutting Room of Barney Kettle     Penguin Random House  2015  $30.00pb  250pp ISBN 978 1 7755 3576 8

Themes: Brothers and sisters/ Christchurch Earthquake/ Film-Making/ Memories/ Points of View/ Story Telling


Barney (aged about 13) is a passionate film-maker and with his sister, who acts as his assistant, sets out to make a documentary about their local High Street (actually Christchurch's High Street before the quake) .  This is a title that is rich in every way - in writing/ in sense of story/ in understanding. There is a great feeling of mystery about it - it seems to be being told from the bedside of a man recovering in hospital from injuries. Who is he?  There are avenues and highways and byways to explore here. Nothing is really what is seems to be.

The question of course is – who is the book written for? My guess is it is really for adults who will love every word of such a superbly written narrative and maybe for some senior students. It will be interesting to see its future!

Adults/ Some senior students 


Tuesday, 10 November 2015

A Tale of an Allis Chalmers Model B tractor

NZ Writer and Illustrator

Sophie Siers, illustrated by Helen Kerridge

Allis the Little Tractor

Millwood-Heritage Productions  2015  $20.00 32pp

ISBN 978 0 4733 2959 4

Themes: Rural Life – NZ/ Old Age/ Perseverance/ Tractors

When she was young and her battery was fully charged, her tyres were full of air and she was given plenty of water and diesel to nourish her, there was nothing Allis couldn’t do around the farm and her owner was proud of her and kept her shiny clean. Now she has been replaced by a bigger, a stronger and a much younger tractor. But thank goodness for Toby who loves her and takes her on imaginary adventures. Then one day Toby brings his Uncle Jack to see her and suddenly Allis has a job again.

Lots of threads and ideas to follow in this truly rural story. I shared it with about six 4 years olds last week and they paid it the ultimate compliment. Read it again, they all said please read it again.   (At least I think they said please) . 

Allis is a real tractor, an Allis Chalmers model B and she still lives under a macrocarpa tree on the writer’s farm.

Preschool up/ Age 3 up

In all the excitement of the Kapiti Festival I forgot to record that the week before I had been to The Gecko Party. How could Gecko Press be 10 years old?  It was a wonderful evening with the official launch of two recent Gecko publications (launched by their writers (and for one – illustrator)- Barbara Else The Knot Impossible and Paul Beavis Hello World! (Scroll down a little way for reviews  - or use the search box).  Michael Moynihan (Booksellers NZ) asked us all to raise our glasses and drink the health of the publishing house success of the decade  - GECKO PRESS.

 Please note I have been taking many photos of these events but with a new camera I haven’t yet QUITE figured out how to transfer them on to the computer. Soon I hope.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Literary Festival organised by The Friends of the Kapiti Coast District Libraries.

I am back at my desk this morning after a wonderfully stimulating weekend spent at the Literary Festival organised by The Friends of the Kapiti Coast District Libraries.  It was held in various venues in the Paraparaumu Public Libraries area and had an almost full house for every session. 
Janet Secker - organiser Ackowledgements: coastalaccessradio

The theme for the weekend was I‘ve Got to Use Words

Bill Manhire Acknowledgements VUP

and the event was launched by Bill Manhire  whose new book The stories of Bill Manhire VUP 2015 was on sale. Saturday saw one of the liveliest and most interactive panel discussions I have been to for a long time. Chaired by Janet Secker  (chairperson of The Friends) who was the driving force for the whole event, gave the team (Dave Armstrong - columnist for the Dominion Post, playwright and TV writer, Janet Holmes - Emeritus Professor and Associate Director of the Language in the Workplace Project at Victoria University of Wellington and Greet Pauwelijn - founding publisher of Book Island) full reign to take the theme where they wanted.  One of the many fascinating threads was the use of humour in books – particularly those for children and how what is side slitting in one culture is totally taboo in another. Toilet humour seems to vary greatly from culture to culture.  Fascinating stuff! ~! 
Dave Armstrong: Acknowledgments: www.stuff nz

This was followed by Adrienne Jansen launching her own new book, A line of sight  Escalator Press, 2015. On Sunday morning we were entertained and informed by Rob Clark who has owned Paper Plus Bookshop in Coastlands since 1979 and earlier held administrative positions in Booksellers NZ. His theme was the history of bookselling in NZ and a crystal ball look at what the future might hold for those treasures scattered up and down NZ – the local bookshop. On the whole this was not a youthful audience (Friends of anything does not usually attract the young) so many of the older shops were all part of their memory banks. Remember Paul’s Book Arcade in Hamilton? Parsons Bookshop in Wellington?  Lots of sad things here but the presentation finished  on the positive with mention of some of the shops that are thriving and blossoming n this region today  - the Children’s Bookshop in Kilbirnie, Unity Books in Wellington,  Hedley’s in Masterton and of course, Paper Plus. 

Parsons Bookshop Lambton Quay Photgrapher unkown


The whole event wound up with two hours of word games (some rather diabolically difficult) but all helped by glasses of ‘bubbly’ (or orange juice), amazing sweet cakes and sandwiches and lots of laughing.


Altogether a great weekend and just what was needed for me after the excitement of Tinderbox was fading away.

The festival also ran a competition for an essay, short story or ‘nostalgic piece’ based on the theme for the weekend    I’ve got to use words.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Another book from Kyle Mewburn and Donovan Bixley

NZ Writer and Illustrator
Kyle Mewburn, illustrated by Donovan Bixley
Dragon Knight series
Scholastic 2015   $12.00pb 96pp
ISBN 978 1 7754 3262 3
Themes: Fantasy/ Series/ Shape shifting
If Merek, the shape shifter – half dragon/ half boy- cannot get the better of the scary Lord Crumble and the frightening cyclorgs, then all will be lost and the village doomed. Written and presented in the same way as the other books in the series. There are plenty of images on every page plus side bars of information. It will entice many non-readers as well as the regular fans.  
Year 3 up/ Age 7 up

Monday, 2 November 2015

The Little Yellow Digger- all the stories

NZ Writer and Illustrator
Betty Gilderdale, illustrated by Alan Gilderdale
The Little Yellow Digger Treasury
Scholastic 2015   $30.00hb 160pp
ISBN 978 1 7754 3373 6
Themes: Collections/ Diggers/ Language
Remember the little yellow digger that got stuck in the mud? Then they got a bigger digger to try to get it out and the bigger digger got stuck too? From that first story created in 1993 by Betty Gilderdale for her three small grandsons more Little Yellow Digger stories grew and have been so much in demand they have been in print ever since Here are all five little yellow digger stories with the original illustrations and the same shape - much heavier though and not so easy to spread comfortably on your knee! -  but the words roll around your tongue . Even after 22 years these remain great stories to read aloud and for the children to create their own extensions to the stories as they look at the images.       

Preschool/ Age 4 up