My Gallipoli

By Ruth Starke

Illustrated by Robert Hannaford

ISBN 9781921504761

Working title press

myGallipoli

With the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign happening this weekend, My Gallipoli is a must read for children and students everywhere to help understand what it must have been like during those terrible times of World War One.

The author has woven very skillfully all the different points of view. We see what it was like to be a Turk defending their homeland. We see the Australian and New Zealand soldiers arriving ready to fight, but totally unprepared for the reality of war. We are drawn in to the life of a nurse caring for wounded and dying soldiers and even a chaplain who laments that there are “too many bodies to give them proper burials”.

There are many more stories shared in this sophisticated picture book and the illustrator has captured those moments and the landscape perfectly with his mixed media illustrations. This is a powerful book, in that by allowing us to see so many sides of the war at Gallipoli, we can’t help but realize how futile it all was and the huge cost of such a war.

At the back of the book there are three pages of biographical notes with further information on each of the characters portrayed. This is a beautifully produced book aimed at school students but its value goes beyond just use in a classroom. The accounts are poignant for all readers.

What I found most intriguing was that all were desperate to help their cause no matter what side they were on, and you can feel and connect with their frustration at what was happening all around them. A powerful book!

I do urge you to read the teacher notes here if you want to make the most of this wonderful resource.

The King and the Sea

By Heinz Janisch

Illustrated by Wolf Erlbruch

ISBN 9781927271803

Gecko Press

king

Heinz Janisch has skillfully created one of those books that appears on the surface to be simply a collection of short stories. And they are just that – very short simple stories about a King. However, it doesn’t take much to realize that the stories offer much more. Each little story is quite profound. The King believes he is in charge and therefore very important. As he goes about his day he meets up with many things; clouds, dogs, rain and so many more. He either questions them or tries to bully them but little by little he realizes that life is bigger than he will ever be. There is a reason and purpose for everything and everyone. One of my favourites is:

The King and the Dog

“Sit! Lie! Come!” shouted the king. “I am the king!”

“Stop! Fetch! Heel!” he bellowed.

Then he ran off after the dog.

This fable like story is both funny and wise and I can’t help but grin as I read it over again.

I also love The King and the Rain. This quirky little book is beautifully illustrated by Wolf Erlbruch who also illustrated Duck, Death and the Tulip which sits on my bookshelf among my favourite picture books.

The King is illustrated in collage format and he stands out amidst the white spaces on the pages. This allows us to really see him and begin to understand him more by focusing on his expressions and body language. This is great for families to read together but I also think this would be a wonderful resource to share in a classroom and open up discussion on values and what is important in life. In fact for those teachers who want to make the most of this thoughtful book, check out the teacher notes here.

Mr Huff

By Anna Walker

Penguin Books Australia

ISBN 9780670078042

I have been a huge fan of Anna Walker’s work for some time now. My favourite book so far is  Peggy blogged about in a previous post. However, after checking out this new trailer for her latest book I may end up with two faves.

I love the style of her illustrations. There is a softness to them that draws you in and connects you with the characters in her stories.

“Bill is having a bad day.

Mr Huff is following him around and making everything seem difficult.

Bill tries to get rid of him, but Mr Huff just gets bigger and bigger!

Then they both stop, and a surprising thing happens . . . ”

We all have days where we struggle just to cope and we all have days when we sometimes need a little reminder of how good things really are. I just know this book is going to be one of those good things. I will certainly be looking out for this one when it hits our shores in a few weeks.

Check out the trailer and watch for Mr Huff’s smile when it comes after the tears. Just gorgeous!

When dad showed me the universe

By Ulf Stark

Illustrated by Eva Eriksson

ISBN 9781927271827

Gecko Press

“Sometimes the most important things are right under your nose.”

ViewImage

Gecko Press continually produce beautiful books and this is no exception.

Dad takes his son out one evening to show him the universe. It is of course huge, and very special. They gather their coats, and one or two important provisions and set off on their journey. As with the best journeys, getting there is often just as special as the destination. They observe the little things along the way, things that build up a bigger picture of the universe and just how special life really is.

This is a beautifully illustrated book just perfect for dad’s and sons to share together.
Ulf Stark has the ability to connect readers emotionally with the characters in his books. Eva Eiksson’s illustrations brings those characters to life in a lovely visual way in gorgeous colours. And of course such a journey together also includes a bit of humour. Great combination and a book which I think, is just superb.

 

Help! The wolf is coming!

By Cedric Ramadier and Vincent Bourgeau

ISBN 9781927271841

Gecko Press

wolf

 

“An interactive boardbook for toddlers.”

Wolf is on his way to catch you, quite possibly with the intention of gobbling you up for dinner.  But readers can follow simple instructions to avoid being caught. This is a bigger than average board book with a bright yellow cover and title in red. A bold warning to the reader that danger is lurking. On the cover Wolf is very small but as we turn each page Wolf gets bigger and bigger as he comes closer and closer. Close enough to catch the reader.

I was reading this book at my desk at lunch time in the school library today. Even though it is a board book for very young children, a group of 10 year old girls gathered around me, so I read the book out loud. The crowd grew. As we followed the directions, “turn the page” or  “tip the book” etc the children began to giggle. And when I slammed the book shut to trap the wolf, they all laughed. A lovely sound!

“That’s so cool” said one. And “So funny” said another.

So this book isn’t just for pre-schoolers but is good for everyone. Younger ones no doubt will get the most of this being read again and again.  This is not out until May but it is one to watch out for.

Brooklynn’s bridge

By K. T. Hunter

“January, I know you did it. You’re trying to pay me back for turning on you.” Her smile had left her face and a devious one replaced it.
“Brooklynn, you just don’t realize that when I come after you, you won’t even see it coming.”

“After her life is turned upside down through a serious of unfortunate events, sixteen-year-old Brooklynn is forced to move to Texas, where she and her family can start over. Plagued with the ability to read the thoughts of those around her and visions of the future, she must juggle adapting to her new high school and saving those she sees may be doomed to die. But after the incident back in Edmonds, Washington with Alex Pierce, Brooklynn is shaken about her ability and with only her grandmother, Karen, to understand her, she’s not sure whom she can trust—especially after meeting the mysterious and fearless January who seems to be the one person immune to her abilities. With a new school, new friends, and the conflicting feelings of a new crush, Brooklynn has a lot to manage… all while dealing with January’s impending threats of revenge. Filled with suspense, drama, and wit, Brooklynn’s Bridge will take readers through a spiraling mystery, as it follows Brooklynn and her secret abilities through the whirling world of high school and revenge… but will her powers and her new friends be enough to allow her escape January’s grasp with her life?”

Reviews for this book all indicate that it is short, sharp and action-packed. I am not sure this is available in New Zealand but do check out online sites if you are keen for a new YA novel.

Mosquitoland

By David Arnold

ISBN 9780451470775

mos

“I am a collection of oddities, a circus of neurons and electrons: my heart is the ringmaster, my soul is the trapeze artist, and the world is my audience. It sounds strange because it is, and it is, because I am strange.”
After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the “wastelands” of Mississippi, where she lives in a medicated milieu with her dad and new stepmom. Before the dust has a chance to settle, she learns her mother is sick back in Cleveland.
So she ditches her new life and hops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and her real mother, meeting a quirky cast of fellow travelers along the way. But when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane.”

This debut novel is having rave reviews, such as  heartfelt and hilarious, and sharp, sad, and surreal.   I do love a book that takes you right into the heart and mind of a character and I believe Mim’s journey will deliver. I so want to read this book right now! I am intrigued by the trailer too. If you have read this then do let me know what you think.

 

Where is Pim?
By Lena Landstrom
Illustrated by Olof Landstrom
Gecko Press
ISBN 9781927271735
Translated by Julia Marshall

pim

This delightfully simple story is told by Lena Landstrom and beautifully illustrated by her husband Olof. Pom’s soft toy Pim goes missing while playing together. Well actually Pim is kidnapped by a dog. The search begins as Pom goes looking under bushes, park seats and just about everywhere but still no sign of Pim. I love the expressions on Pom’s face. You can see how heart-broken Pom is as tears begin to brim over and this is gorgeously emphasized as Pom sits on the page all alone. The anguish is real, just as it is for young children when they lose their favourite toy. A story everyone can relate to.
Yes, there is a happy ending, as there must be, and Pom and Pim are reunited. A story to read over and over.

Blood of my blood
By Barry Lyga
Book three in the Jasper Dent trilogy
ISBN 9780316198707

Wow – Just wow. What a trilogy and what a ride. Having loved the series there was no way I was not going to read the final book. I sat glued to the pages and the lives of Jazz, his girlfriend Connie and best friend Howie. I needed to make sure they were safe and out of Billy Dent’s way. If you have read the first two books then this is a must read. Everything comes out in the end but what a body count to get there. The creeping sensation that Jazz may end up like his father, a serial killer like no other – well I can’t tell you what happens. It really is up there in terms of quality writing and intense suspense. Blood and guts aside, the what-if’s, and who did-it’s is tops.

“Jazz has been shot and left to die in New York. His girlfriend, Connie, is in the clutches of Jazz’s monstrous father, Billy–the world’s most notorious serial killer. And his best friend, Howie, is bleeding to death on the floor of Jazz’s new home.

Somehow, these three must rise above the horrors and find a way to come together in pursuit of Billy.

But then Jazz crosses a line he’s never crossed before, and soon the entire country is wondering: “Like father, like son? Who is the true monster?”

From New York City to the small town of Lobo’s Nod, the chase is on, and this time, Jazz is the hunted, not the hunter–while Billy Dent lurks in the shadows.

And beyond Billy? Something much, much worse. Prepare to meet…the Crow King.”
I have to wonder about how an author can come up with such a gripping story and be so realistic – brilliant series!

Here is a reminder of the first two books.
Book 2
The Game

Book 1
I hunt killers

Max is a delightful toddler learning to negotiate the world around him. He loves his dog, his bath and his wagon. In fact his dog’s antics and facial expressions are just adorable and a little mischievous. Max and his dog have little adventures; the kind every young child can relate to. There’s Max’s soft toy bear who falls in to trouble. There is a wagon full of toys and a lost cookie. Then of course, there is the fun of playing in the bath. These board books are gorgeously illustrated by Eva Eriksson. Text on one page allows the focus of the illustrations on the opposite page to grab our full attention. I love that there are no adults in the illustrations allowing Max his own little independence. These gentle and sweet stories will delight very young readers who will beg for them to be read over and over again.

Max’s wagon
By Barbro Lindgren
Illustrated by
Eva Eriksson
Gecko Press
ISBN 978177650010

wagon 2

Max’s bath
By Barbro Lindgren
Illustrated by
Eva Eriksson
Gecko Press
ISBN 9781776570003

bath

Max’s bear
By Barbro Lindgren
Illustrated by
Eva Eriksson
Gecko Press
ISBN 9781776570027

bear

Book of the dead
Tombquest : Book 1
By Michael Northrop

Scholastic
ISBN 9781743629246

“Nothing can save eleven-year-old Alex Sennefer’s life. That’s what all the doctors say, but his mother knows it’s not true. She knows that the Lost Spells — the most powerful piece of the Egyptian Book of the Dead — can crack open a door to the afterlife and pull her son back from the brink. But when she uses the spells, five evil ancients known as the Death Walkers are also brought back to life.

Now terrible things are starting to happen. Mummies are awakening. New York is overrun with scorpion messengers. And worst of all, Alex’s mom and the Lost Spells have both disappeared. Alex and his best friend, Ren, will do anything to save his mom and save the world . . . even if that means going head-to-head with a Death Walker who has been plotting his revenge for 3,000 years.”
And if that isn’t enough to whet your appetite then check out the adventures you can have online. You can build your own Egyptian maze, hide treasure and protect it with traps and more. You can even find out about the author too. Check it out here.

Monkey gains his powers

Written and illustrated by Will Strong

Thunderstone books

“In this first book of the Monkey’s Journey series, Sun Wukong becomes the king of the monkeys and embarks on an adventure to conquer death by gaining special powers of transformation and magic.”

Follow Sun Wukong, as he rebels against the gods and attempts to make penance for his actions.

Adventure, fun and learning and bilingual too. What more could you ask?

Great to see some bilingual books available.

Dragon Knight : Fire
By Kyle Mewburn
Illustrated by Donovan Bixley

Scholastic NZ

For all those children in your schools or at home, who love the Dinosaur Rescue books, this new series is also one they will love and want to dive in to with great speed. I know the Dinosaur Rescue series is never on the library shelves at school as the books are always out being read, enjoyed, and laughed over. This new series set in medieval times is about a boy who is half dragon and half knight. I am pretty sure you will find a heap of gross and snotty bits too which will have you laughing out loud. The humor, the adventure and the wonderfully funny illustrations by Donovan Bixley all add to reasons children will love this series. Another hit in the making!

Sometimes being half boy, half dragon gets really messy!

All the bright places
By Jennifer Niven
ISBN 9780141357034

6

I stick by my predictions that this was going to be brave and honest. And it was!
I sat on my back porch, sun streaming down on a glorious afternoon reading All the bright places.
Finch and Violet meet at the top of the school tower, both of them overwhelmed by a sense of deep, dark despair. From that meeting, while it takes a bit of time and negotiating, their relationship grows and I felt myself smiling as I was watching a young couple fall in love. Both have things they need to deal with and bit by bit things begin to change. Finch forces the situation and they are teamed together to work on a school project. He manages to encourage Violet to step well out of her comfort zone as they travel outside of the safety of their small town as part of the project’s requirements to find the natural wonders of their state. But as Violet’s world opens up, his world becomes more and more difficult to cope with. By the end of the book, I was still sitting on my porch in the sunshine, but tears falling (hoping the neighbours didn’t hear) feeling I just wanted to reach out and hug them both.

Mental health issues, especially for teenagers is often a taboo subject but it shouldn’t be. We need open discussions and we need to not be afraid to talk. Finch and Violet are both broken people, both needing help but not knowing where to turn. There is hope, always hope but sometimes, like Violet, you need to be shown where hope hides and find all the bright places. Very moving, thought provoking YA novel.
Check out the great trailer for this book posted earlier right here.
Much like Mandy Hager’s Dear Vincent in an earlier post I applaud authors of YA fiction for bringing us such poignant novels.

Again, if you need help or know someone who does, please don’t hesitate to ask someone. There are agencies to call, and teachers at school who will listen. Reach out!

Pathfinder
The magical world of Todhunter moon
By Angie Sage

ISBN 9781408858189
Bloomsbury
UK cover
moon
What a cool trailer. Great to encourage middle/older readers with a bit of magic and mayhem. I thoroughly enjoyed Angie Sage’s earlier Araminta Spook series. In fact I even have a little Araminta doll sitting in a basket on my desk.
While it has been suggested that readers read the Septimus Heap series before reading the new Pathfinder series, it isn’t essential. So briefly this is the blurb.
Tod has grown up a PathFinder, one of an ancient seafaring tribe. Her mother, who died when Tod was young, had a very different history. She was from a mysterious magykal desert-dwelling family. When Tod’s father disappears she is not only alone, but soon finds herself swept into the path of an evil sorcerer. Now Tod must choose which of her pasts will help her to survive: PathFinder or Magician. Magyk will allow her to fight like with like, but her PathFinder heritage gives Tod something special – the edge.

Angie Sage’s new book combines breathtaking action with fabulous plotting. The characters are instantly engaging, the tension is relentless and Angie’s superlative storytelling weaves the threads seamlessly together for an utterly satisfying read.”
I know a group of year sixes who loved Septimus Heap so this is on the list of books to buy for school this year. And with a trailer like this one, who wouldn’t want to read it?