The sun is a star : a voyage through the universe

By Dick Frizzell

ISBN 9780995146563

Massey University Press

After a conversation with his granddaughter, artist Dick Frizzell (one of New Zealand’s most well-known painters) was inspired to write this book. It is a book about the universe; the stars, space, moon etc. He says the universe and everything in it, and how it came about, how it works, is;

More magic than magic. Magic, mysterious and beautiful.

On each double-page spread, one side with a bold heading holds a paragraph or two of explanation about the universe, stars, moon and more, and the opposite page is a work of art. Beneath each painting is the artist’s name and a description of the art media used.

He includes paintings he has done himself, but by his own admission, he cleverly conned his fellow painters and artists to contribute some of their works for this wee treasure.

The ideas about space are easily explained so that the book is suitable for any age. The artwork is a diverse collection from some of the best artists out there.

At the back there is a glossary, seven pages with a bio paragraph about each artist, and an index page. All this is very helpful when taking a closer look at the paintings.

There is a link here to take a closer look at the book and its colourful pages.

The author both asks and answers questions, such as how does the sun’s energy work or how hot is the sun. To answer, he tells us that the sun’s core is 15 million degrees celsius.

This is a the kind of book that suits sitting on a child’s bookcase, a school library shelf or even a coffee table book in any home.

The following books are written and illustrated by Dave Gunson, and published by Bateman Books. Gunson’s speciality is non-fiction and I have read many of his books over the years. These are just the latest ones to be published.

New Zealand Country Wildlife: Which? Why? What?

By Dave Gunson

ISBN 9781988538884

Bateman Books

Part of a series of non-fiction books about New Zealand wildlife, Gunson manages to provide interesting facts about the animals in the countryside. He does this with careful research and his usual tongue-in-cheek humour.

We learn about lizards, birdlife and goats. We learn there are many different types of butterflies in the mountains. We learn the collective nouns for many of the animals. I particularly like the words for a group of kea; a prattle, a company or a pandemonium. I love the kea birds and their beautiful colours and cheeky personalities, so I do think these are good descriptions.

New Zealand Forest Wildlife: Which? Why? What?

ISBN 97819885388877

Similar to the country book above, this book focuses on forests and the wildlife within. The language is aimed at primary school aged children, but for quick facts this will suit older readers too. The layout is in small bite-size blocks of information with the same humorous cartoon-type illustrations spread over the pages. The information is fun and clear.

Here we learn about the trees, snails, kiwi, morepork and even centipedes. Lots to look at, discover and learn about.

Inside New Zealand Wildlife

ISBN 97819885388860

This book is aimed at older readers as it has more text, a smaller font size and language a little more sophisticated than the two books above. It has an awesome lenticular cover so that front-on you see the illustration of the takahe but if you move the book side to side, you have a 3D cross-section picture of the inside of the takahe’s head. Very cool.

This is a book of cross-sections with a very good look at the insides of the bodies of many animals, birds, insects and even dolphins. The information in this book is more in-depth. I particularly enjoyed reading about the little blue penguin. So tiny and cute.

There is both an index and content page which makes finding information easier than the previous two books reviewed here. As mentioned, this one is best for older readers. An excellent addition to a school library.

One of the best things about holidays is the chance to slow down and catch up on some reading. As a school librarian I don’t get to read many adult books as I spend my time reading kids and young adult books so I can make honest recommendations to my students. I don’t believe in giving bad reviews as I want to focus on what I do enjoy reading. Also, these are reviews, and not critiques like what I used to have to do at university. Besides, I actually really enjoy reading children’s books. They offer so much and the stories and world-building for many of them are just wonderful. So some quick reviews of what I have been reading these holidays.

Inside the suitcase

By Clotilde Perrin

ISBN 9781776573431

Gecko Press

Clotilde Perrin is amazing with her illustrations and paper engineering.

A young boy packs his red suitcase with all manner of things and sets out into the world. We get to open his suitcase and bit by bit, flap by flap discover what is inside. Each flap has multiple layers to lift open, each revealing something different. We begin with large illustrated flaps which reveal smaller flaps to lift. Each reveal turns out to be part of an overall puzzle on how to get back home again. Perrin’s stories always have a certain quirkiness to them that engages the reader and keeps them guessing what will happen or be revealed inside the next flap to lift. The boy goes over the sea, ends up in the mountains, and even a monster makes an appearance. What else is in the suitcase? You’ll have to discover that yourself.

Her illustrations are quirky too, and that adds to the humour and story. The animals, cat and insects are certainly cute, especially the wee snail. I think it is my favourite. It turns up on several pages as well as the front and back covers.

This the third book of hers that I own but my favourite is Inside the villains. Look out for that one too.

The tiny woman’s coat

By Joy Cowley

Illustrated by Giselle Clarkson

ISBN 9781776573424

Gecko Press

This story has been around since 1987 but here it is a bigger format, and wonderful new illustrations.

This is a sweet, short text with a repetitive line The tiny woman wanted a coat. Her desire to make a coat from leaves, sees animals and birds offering their ideas and support as they recycle bits and pieces to help her make a coat, just in time to protect her from the bad weather.

The trees offer her their leaves, the goose helps her cut the cloth, and so it goes that eventually she has her coat. The story is about friendship and how friends help each other.

Joy Cowley has a wonderful way with language that engages the reader. Repetition, alliteration, and onomatopoeia add to the fun. Simple, fun and bound to be read over and over.

The illustrations by Giselle Clarkson, have lots of natural colourings, very wintery on some pages so that I can almost feel the cold. There is also a cute snail in this book who appears on every page, too.

Lovely to see this story out there in a new picture book format for a new generation of readers.

Kiwis and Koalas

By Sarah Milne

Illustrated by Laura Bernard

ISBN 9780473573959

Little Love an imprint of Mary Egan Publishing

Like the author, I too lived in Australia for a number of years. I still think of those years, the people and lifestyle with fondness. I returned to New Zealand many years ago but my memories are still vivid. Sarah has pulled together a sweet story about the love between living in Australia and New Zealand.

Many kiwis will relate to this story, many will have family across the ditch and will enjoy the comparisons between the two countries. Part tour guide, part fun with our language differences, this book is a reminder of the love that exists between the countries, although when it comes to sport, the rivalry is palpable.

The story is about Lily and her dog, Woof, who go in search of a bridge between the two countries. After a short, imaginative adventure, Lily remembers the things she loves, the places she has seen, and the animals and even the food she has eaten, which help celebrate the differences between Australia and New Zealand. It is a reminder that home is a place in your heart.

For young children, I feel the story is very wordy, but for older children who still enjoy a picture book this will have appeal.

The illustrations are sweet with a softness and lots of focus on the greenery of natural environments.

What do you need Little Rhino?

By John J. Lewis

ISBN 9781990003134

Upstart Press

Little Rhino is angry but she has no idea why. Her frustration keeps building and she runs around getting angrier and more upset. Her rhino parents ask lots of questions to try and find out why she is upset but Little Rhino has no answers. Eventually, they find a solution to clam her down.

Little Rhino is like many young children who find themselves overwhelmed with frustration and unable to communicate why they feel the way they do.

The illustrations are full page colour with lots of red and pink, highlighting the sense of how overwhelming and out of control her frustration feels.

A great wee book to read to preschoolers and let them know that frustration and anger is ok but that there are ways to deal with our feelings and sometimes, a hug is all we need.

Torn apart : The Partition of India, 1947

By Swapna Haddow

ISBN 9780702300417

Scholastic UK

I love Swapna’s books and have read quite a number of them now. What I love is the humour. Swapna’s latest book however, is so different from her other works but I love this too. Her ability to make readers laugh is evident to anyone who reads her work, but here, her ability to make readers cry, is equally a strength.

A short novel for older readers and intermediate aged children, this novel tells the story of two boys who are thrown together after India gains independence from the British Crown. What happened after that day in October 1947 was devastating for so many people. India became partitioned and the country was split into India and Pakistan. Muslims were forced to live in Pakistan and the Hindus and Sikhs were to stay behind in India. As people tried to hide or tried to escape, violence broke and out and hundreds of thousands of people died.

The two boys who meet are Ibrahim, a Muslim, who lives in relative luxury, and Amar, an orphan living in the streets. Amar is out for revenge over the death of his friend, and Ibrahim, suddenly separated from his family, is trying to find them. He meets Amar and asks him for help. The soon realise they need each other to survive. There is danger and chaos to be fair, as the recent news of Independence has terrible consequences. The boys share their accounts and points of view in short alternating chapters which works very well. I was able to understand why they made the decisions they did and the fears they felt. Amar is used to the streets, while Ibrahim though bright and studious, is quite naive, but they soon become friends. Street life, unrest, violence is all part of their daily lives now but Ibrahim is ever hopeful of being united with his family. I’m not going to share anymore here as I really don’t want to give away what happens. I will say, I was moved to tears. It is a short but powerful read and I hope to see more of this serious writing style from Swapna. Of course, I still want her funny books too, as they make me smile.

This is most suitable for upper primary and intermediate school readers.

Iv’e actually just read another of Swapna’s books and I’m adding a wee review here because there is a bit of a connection with Hinduism, and the Diwali festival.

All about Diwali

By Swapna Haddow

Illustrated by Aditi Kakade Beaufrand

ISBN 9780702309595

Scholastic UK

This is a fun activity book to make and do things during the Diwali Festival. Well, you actually can do the activities anytime, but it is a nice way to focus on the celebrations during this festival.

The first few pages deal with the reasons why people celebrate Diwali and how they spend their time during the festivities and the special food eaten at Diwali time.

There are things to make such as buntings, lanterns, rockets, and heaps of recipes; some I will have to try myself.

The last few pages are nicely decorated with borders around blank lines so that you can write your own notes about how your’e spending your time, who with, or any other special notes you want to write.

A lovely way to record your celebrations.

There’s a ghost in this house

By Oliver Jeffers

ISBN 9780008298357

Harpercollins

I love Oliver Jeffers books and have quite a collection of them. His latest book is simply delightful.

A young girl lives in a haunted house, but has never seen a ghost. Are they white with holes for eyes? Are they hard to see? She’d love to know!

The book has a tracing paper dustjacket with two peepholes where we can see the young girl standing in front of the door, and a little ghost peeking out from the attic window. It is a perfect way to highlight our main characters and entice the reader to pick up the book.

The story begins with the young girl opening the door and inviting the reader in.

Hello.

Please come in.

So we enter the world of a haunted house but the girl there just can’t find any ghosts, even though she is sure there must be some. She searches everywhere, every nook and cranny but still cannot find any.

Between some pages there are tracing paper pages that when turned over, very cleverly reveal ghosts that only the reader can see. Children and adults too, will giggle over this funny play.

There are definitely ghosts. They are hiding behind old furniture, swinging from a chandelier, even rattling chains. The ghosts are playing hide and seek, though she has no idea. I love the ghosts giggling in the bedroom.

The illustrations are black and white with an authentic look and feel to the historical layouts. It adds atmosphere to the story. The ghosts are white sheet figures with peephole eyes. The girl herself, in green and yellow, is the only colour, apart from the front and back cover, which matches the girl’s clothing.

This is interactive, it is unique in many ways, but mostly, it is fun. I love it. Absolutely!

Draw some awesome

By Donovan Bixley

ISBN 9781990003226

Upstart Press

For many years, Donovan Bixley has spent time visiting schools and bookshops, sharing his illustrative talents. I was fortunate enough to see him demonstrate some of his methods in a student workshop some years ago. The students loved following his directions and creating their own works of art. Not everyone can get to his workshops, so it is wonderful to see many of those ideas shared in his latest book.

In Draw some awesome, he shares ideas for drawing and tips on creating your own pictures. He offers warm-up exercises too. He has hints for drawing faces, or animals. He discusses roughs and shading and composition. All these ideas, and many others here, will help you in your drawing.

He writes about perspective and how it is a trick that artists use to create depth and space.

He tells us about his favourite artists and why they inspired him, and uses friendly, chatty language, rather than being all technical. Of course, like all his work, the pages are full of colour.

His style is distinctive and recognisable anywhere. His numerous picture books are bright, bold and full of humour.

Draw some awesome is a book to pick up again and again. Dip into it and try one method, or dip in again and follow another idea.

It is informative, funny, but mostly inspirational. I would love to see Donovan do a companion to this book, perhaps Write some awesome.

A great gift for children who love drawing.

This will be in bookshops in October.

Always

By Morris Gleitzman

ISBN 9780143793243

Penguin Books

I don’t know where to start here. I am feeling a whole range of emotions after reading the seventh and final book in the series about Felix Salinger.

Author Morris Gleitzman has diligently, and powerfully told us the story of Felix, a young Jewish boy who escaped an orphanage in order to save his parents. His naivety was obvious but through the different books, he grew to understand the world around him. A world of hatred, war, racism but his own strength was always kindness and hope. From the first book I have followed every journey he has been on. I have read his stories as he grew into a young man, and then as he grew old. I have worried about Felix, I have cried for Felix but mostly, I have loved Felix. Even after 15 years since the first book Once was published, I remember him because he feels like someone I really know. He feels like a long-time friend, and now he feels like a grandfather. Despite everything Felix has been through, he remains kind, caring, strong but always with a touch of sadness that only people who have been through what he has, will ever understand. I know Felix is fictional, but he is so real to me and his impact will stay with me always.

His story throughout the different books, is often harrowing with death, war, loss, grief, but the books are compelling. You can’t put them down in case you miss something.

In this final book, Felix is now a retired doctor and an old man, and his granddaughter Zel (named after Zelda, the young girl whose death has haunted him all his life) is heading off soon to study and follow in his footsteps to become a doctor. One day there is a knock at his door and he is greeted by Wassim, a young boy who hands him a note and tells him he needs his help. A young boy who knows war too, just a different war. A long ago connection to his past has put them together for a reason but that brings danger. It also shakes up the past and after a series of terrible events, Felix and Wassim follow some clues, board a plane and return to where Felix’s story first began. More danger follows them but they become stronger together and soon they are not just fighting for survival today, but fighting ghosts from the past.

Both Felix and Wassim narrate different chapters, each giving us a sense of their own fears and thoughts, but also observations of each other. This allows us to see their vulnerabilities, but also their strengths. As their stories unwind, the two grow to care for each other, support each other and need each other.

I don’t want to give things away, but if you have read the other books, you really need to read Always. It is harrowing, heartbreaking but heartwarming. Everyone needs a Felix Salinger in their life.

You will need tissues. Lots of tissues, but that is as it should be. Felix and his friends, his story, his life, is unforgettable. He will stay with me always.

Bad Panda

By Swapna Haddow

Illustrated by Sheena Dempsey

ISBN 9780571352418

Faber UK

Drum roll please! Dah dah dah dum!

Welcome to the Bad Panda blog tour. This is just the start of your journey. There are other blogs to follow with lots happening, including prizes. See the guide at the end of this post for tour dates.

One of the things that makes a children’s book successful, is the collaboration between author and illustrator. The team of Swapna and Sheena, works perfectly. They obviously understand each other and it shows, as the words and pictures compliment each other beautifully, and they deservedly win awards for their hard work.

Bad Panda is their latest book and is the first one in a new series.

Lin is just the cutest of all pandas. So cute in fact, that she is taken away from her family and friends and shipped off to a zoo where people can stare at her, take photos, and ooh and ahh over her. But Lin doesn’t want to be oohed over. Lin wants to go home and be with her brother, Face-Like-A-Bag-Of-Potatoes. On board the ship Lin is kept in a cage and it is there she meets Fu, another panda, also in a cage and being shipped off to the same zoo. They soon become friends.

Lin doesn’t want to be at the zoo so she begins to plot a way to to get back home but it requires her to give up her cuteness and become Bad Panda. Lin wants to become the baddest, meanest, most un-cute animal in the zoo… because if she is really bad, surely the zoo keepers will send her home.

When Lin growls at the pigeons people just take more photos because they think she is so cute. Of course, this only makes Lin angrier and more determined to be the baddest panda ever. More plotting required.

There is so much humour as Lin and Fu try to come up with different ways to be bad. Swapna is no stranger to humour. Her Dave the Pigeon books are full of moments to laugh out loud, and Lin and Fu are just as funny. Swapna makes writing humour look so easy. The jokes flow; some tongue-in-cheek, some ironic, but always the humour flows effortlessly and leaves the reader laughing.

Sheena Dempsey adds so much to the humour with her very funny illustrations. They are deceptively simple, mostly pink and black, but look at the eyes. There is so much character, personality and humour in the eyes of the animals. Her pictures of Lin growling are just delightful, as are all the rest throughout this early chapter book.

As in all good stories there is a villain, and here it is King Cobra, a snake with death-glare stares and mean intentions.

Short chapters and heaps of illustrations make this an ideal chapter book for new and independent readers. It is also an excellent book to read aloud.

Friends are important in all of Swapna’s books. Whichever book of hers you read, and there are many, friends always have a way of making things right. They also make things wrong, which is part of the humour, but eventually friends make all the difference.

Swapna Haddow and her family moved to New Zealand in 2018. That is not so long ago, but already she is very well established in the writing world up and down the country and is in much demand for school visits, particularly at Book Fair time.

I asked Swapna about the hunourous books she liked as a child and she told me she enjoyed anything by Roald Dahl. She said the “dark humour really appealed to me”.

If you click the link above you can go to Swapna’s website and follow the links to lots of free downloadable activities. Puzzles and things to draw. Great to do right now while New Zealand is in Lockdown.

Check out the video clip below and hear as Swapna reads the first chapter of her book. After the reading, you can watch Sheena demonstrate how to draw your own picture of Lin. I can’t even draw a straight line, but with Sheena’s video and instructions I did manage to draw something a little bit resembling Lin. Give it a go.

Do check out Zac and his blog on September the 6th (he is next on the blog tour) details below, as he has a book giveaway competition.

Thanks for being part of the Bad Panda blog tour. It’s a funny read and you won’t be disappointed.

The way I say it

By Nancy Tandon

ISBN 9781623541330

Charlesbridge

What do you do when your name is Rory and you’re going into sixth grade and you can’t even pronounce your own name. Rory is a smart, musical kid with a speech impediment. He has difficulty saying the letter r. It doesn’t matter if it is at the start of a word, or snuggled up inside a word, the letter r trips him up, and according to some people, makes him sound like a baby. He is made fun of because of the way he talks. A fall out with his former best friend, Brent, also adds to his troubles. Bullying is a strong contender in this middle grade novel. You can feel Rory’s pain and frustration. He really wants to get his letters and words right. He wants to sound like everyone else.

Rory regularly sees a speech teacher, Mr Simms, at school and it is this relationship which holds the key to making things right. Both are fans of the boxer Muhammad Ali, and both fans of good music. Both of these things play a significant role in helping Rory overcome his speech problems and his understanding and dealing with issues concerning Brent.

When an accident happens and his used-to-be best friend, but now enemy and bully number one is seriously hurt in hospital with a brain injury, Rory becomes confused about his feelings and struggles with doing the right thing.

The power of this novel is seeing the growth in characters. They are believable and I found myself drawn to them all, even the bullies. Writing that connects you to the characters, is good writing. Rory’s friend Tyson brings lots of humour to the story too, and just like in middle grade school, there are crushes and mixed emotions and even mixed up crushes.

A good solid read, with a mix of humour, bullying, being different, brain injuries, and friendships. Really enjoyed this read.

Bumblebee

by Rachel Weston

Illustrated by Deborah Hinde

ISBN 9780473571245

WestonBooks

Bumblebee is the latest picture book from author Rachel Weston. Told in gentle rhyme, it is both a story and an informative look at bumblebees.

Flowers call to Bumblebee as she dances around the garden sipping pollen and smelling the flowers sweet perfume.

“Come to me!

Come to me!

Come drink my nectar, Bumblebee.”

With Bumblebee’s help, vegetables grow, and fruit hangs from trees.

Soon Autumn comes with chilly nights and Bumblebee hides away. When she wakes up things are not quite the same and she is struggling to find flowers to help her survive.

Bumblebee’s life is in danger but with the help of a young girl’s thoughtfulness, and wisdom of her grandmother’s words, Bumblebee is rescued. I won’t tell you how this happens but it is worth knowing so you can help other bumblebees too, someday if needed. The book showcases the busy life of a bumblebee and the need for people to support and care for the bees.

This book is perfect to use in classes and homes. It is an ideal book to read now, with NZ Bee Aware month coming up in September.

At the back of the book is a double-page spread with information about pollinators and things people can do to help these wonderful insects.

Deborah Hinde is one of my favourite illustrators. Her artwork is soft, warm and, colourful. The pictures have just the right amount of cuteness. I love the French flaps and the beautiful endpapers with their colourful floral display. And who doesn’t love a cute dog in there as well.

Skinny Dip : Poetry

Edited by Susan Price and Kate De Goldi

ISBN 9780995140769

Annual Ink

Massey University Press

What better day to review a new anthology of poetry than New Zealand National Poetry Day.

This is a wonderfully well-thought out anthology of poems for young people, written by some of New Zealand’s favourite poets. Beautifully designed with French flaps, this is a collection of poems to treasure.

Poets included are Ben Brown, Ashleigh Young, Rata Gordon, Dinah Hawken, Oscar Upperton, James Brown, Victor Rodger, Tim Upperton, Lynley Edmeades, Freya Daly Sadgrove, Nina Mingya Powles, Renee Liang and Nick Ascroft, Sam Duckor-Jones, essa may ranapiri, Bill Manhire, Anahera Gildea, Amy McDaid, and Kōtuku Nuttall.

There is a list of the poets and short blurbs about them and their writing at the back of the book.

The poems are relatable for children, with familiar subjects up for poetical discussion.

Bill Manhire’s poem There’s always someone is so true. Children everywhere know the teacher with the biggest whistle, or the child who desperately needs to go to the toilet even though they’ve had plenty of time go before.

I particularly like Oscar Upperton’s poem Eulogy for the class frog.

Up until recently, I owned three whistling tree frogs, who lived in a tank in my kitchen for well over 12 years. So I love this poem. A simple, clear opinionated poem with a funny twist at the end that children will love.

This collection highlights the wonder of poetry in a accessible format for young readers. Ideal for home and school libraries.

I do hope this becomes an annual anthology.

Thats what dragons do

Written and illustrated by Raymond McGrath

ISBN 9781775437496

This delightful picture book is full of wonderful language with words that dance on the page and on the tongue, and quite possibly in a tongue-twistery way will trip you up too. Dragons that roar and fly and swish, diggers that dig big and deep, alien space robots that zip and zoom and plenty more. It is full of imagination and creative thinking as two sisters play together before bedtime. The girls, no doubt will grow up to be anything they want to be.

The illustrations are bright and animated. Even the stars, clouds and cupcakes have cheerful personalities. Yes! There is even a cup cake fairy in the pages of this picture book from Raymond McGrath.

It is also a lovely, happy book to share with dads for Father’s Day, which is not far away.

Starfish the star

By Elaine Bickell

Illustrated by Daron Parton

ISBN 9781775437123

Starfish is in an aquarium with lots of other fish; clownfish, seahorse, and jellyfish, to name just a few. Starfish has attitude though, and it’s not the nicest. He wants fame. He wants adoration. He wants it all and he doesn’t really think of anyone else but himself. So he sticks himself to the front of the glass and all the other fish are forced back where no one can see them.

People coming to visit the aquarium become disappointed at not seeing all the fish, but Starfish is too vain and self-centred to realise what is happening. However, there is a chance at redemption when a disaster begins to happen and Starfish is called to help.

Lots of colourful underwater scenes, gorgeously illustrated with quirky personalities shown through the eyes of the different fish. A nice wee lesson on helping others and being part of a team.

Grandpa versus swing

By Tania Sickling

Illustrated by Lael Chisholm

ISBN 9781775436751

Grandpa versus Swing written by Tania Sickling is the winner of the Storylines Joy Cowley Award.

The story involves a grandpa who rushes about with lots of energy and no fear. He tries everything. You should see where he hides when he plays hide and seek.

A rhyming picture book about a special grandfather and the grandchildren he adores. However, he soon finds himself in strife but laughter and help from someone special saves the day.

Lael Chisholms illustrations are rich and vibrant and add to the humour of this family-friendly book for young readers. This is a great choice to read with grandfathers, and grandmothers too.

Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous tales

By Soman Chainani

ISBN 9780062652638

Illustrations by Julie Iredale

HarperCollins

If you are a fan of the author Soman Chainani and his series The School for Good and Evil, then this is sure to be a hit too. No, I haven’t read this as it isn’t out yet, but I can’t wait. Looks and sounds very intriguing.

I love retellings of the old fairy tales. And just look at the cover. And the trailer! So cool. If you are a Goodreads member and live in the United States, then you can enter a competition to try and win a copy. Sadly, for the rest of the world, we will have to wait for publication and release days.

Check it out, and I think you’ll be putting this on your list too.

You think you know these stories, don’t you?

You are wrong.

You don’t know them at all.

There are twelve tales of danger, mystery, and magic. That’s twelve stories I can’t wait to read.

When Bo Bimble went out Elsewhere

By Sue Copsey

ISBN 9780473577728

Treehouse Books

Have you ever met a Bimble? Have you ever even heard of one? Well you are in for a treat if you read Sue Copsey’s new chapter book for children, When Bo Bimble went Elsewhere. Here, you will discover the world of the Bimbles.

“Perfectly round, impossibly green, and irresistibly soft and fluffy”

They are hidden away, unseen by humans, and living a quiet life. Their biggest fear is the giant Haast’s Eagle, which keeps them from ever venturing further than their immediate surroundsings.

Bo Bimbe is different. She wants to know about everything, from the moon and stars above to other places outside their existence. She questions everything but no one has the answers.

This book is sweet and gentle, and has that lovely feel-good feeling. Yes, there is danger, and adventure but it is charming and hopeful. The landscape and the native birds are a real focus and you can’t help but be impressed by our beautiful country, especially the Fiords down South.

Bernie is a young boy travelling in a campervan with his parents. He comes from Scotland and makes comparisons to his home and the places he visits. He is also a bit of a fanatic when it comes to birds and wildlife and records all the different ones he sees here in New Zealand. These recordings are fun to read and informative too, and the book certainly highlights a few environmental concerns.

Through a series of events where Bimble plucks up the courage to find answers to her questions, Bimble and Bernie meet up and an extraordinary friendship begins.

Together, they begin an adventure which will leave you smiling.

A delight to read.

The Danger Gang

By Tom Fletcher

Illustrated by Shane Devries

ISBN  9780241407462

How cool is this? Very keen to get my hands on a copy of Tom Fletcher’s new middle grade novel.

The story sounds very exciting and the trailer is super cool.

I thoroughly enjoyed Tom’s Christmasaurus book (and very excited to see it will be a picture book later this year) so I know, based on his writing, that I will enjoy this new book too.

‘Check out the blurb below.

Franky can’t wait to move to his new town – although he wishes he didn’t have to leave his best friend Dani behind.
But everything changes after the storm, when strange green lightning and powerful thunder crash down on the town. From that night on, the kids who live on Franky’s street start to change. One by one, they become a little odd. A little unusual. A little… magical.

Franky’s always wanted to be part of an amazing gang – just like his hero, super-spy Zack Danger! And soon, he realises that there’s real danger in store for himself and his new friends.

And so the Danger Gang is born…

Everyone needs to belong somewhere, and I think (and hope) Franky has found the people he needs and who need him too. And the trailer is just too good not to share. After lockdown, I will be hunting this book out at my local bookshops. I know I could order it online, but I do like to support local businesses when I can.