This is so cool. Fans of Captain Underpants will love this.

Hugely popular series by Dav Pilkey and Scholastic Publishers. Do read the books first though.  This really is a funny series that will encourage children to keep reading and wanting the next book in the series.

Bruno : some of the more interesting days in my life so far

By Catharina Valckx

Illustrated by Nicolas Hubesch

ISBN 9781776571253

Gecko Press

 

Bruno is a cat with a bit of a “come what may” attitude to life. Whatever the day brings, good or bad he finds a way to make the most of it, even in a power cut. A rainy day changes nothing when he wants a picnic – he will just have it inside instead. He is both funny and serious with his matter-of-fact stance on life. He is however, a very good friend to Gloria the shop-keeping cow and Ringo the old horse.

There are six short stories, a mix of daily routines and some surprises which all connect to each other. I laughed out loud a number of times with the tongue-in-cheek humour. The quirky illustrations perfectly portray the characters expressions. My favourite is A stupid day (that ends pretty well) in which Bruno meets a canary whose words are pretty much gibberish.

Hmm! But then I also love A  peculiar day where Bruno meets a fish swimming through the air and as always, he takes things in his stride and follows the fish right into the middle of an adventure. A peculiar day indeed. Really, it is a bit too hard to pick a favourite as all the stories were delightful. 

The colour illustrations are more comic style in format but work so well here with the short stories. I love the pictures with the canal and foot bridges. Creates a real sense of place and time.

A perfect collaboration of author and illustrator.

Torty and the soldier : a story of a true WW1 survivor

By Jennifer Beck

Illustrated by Fifi Colston

ISBN 9781775434849

Scholastic

 

 

 

Meet Torty! Shes one tough little tortoise with a beat-up shell and some missing toes. Torty survived a great war that raged in Europe 100 years ago. Torty was rescued back then by a young Kiwi soldier. She is a World War One survivor.

This is a beautiful and impressive picture book but it goes beyond a simple read. Jennifer Beck tells us the story of an injured and very lucky-to-be-alive tortoise rescued during World War 1. The fact that this tortoise is still alive today, over 100 years later is remarkable, especially as she endured many more brushes with death over the years.

This is a story of longevity and how something good came from such a terrible time. New Zealand Soldier Stewart Little first met the tortoise when he watched in horror as she was being run over by a French gun wagon. His rescue of the tortoise, which he later named Torty, began a relationship which would last decades. As somewhat of a stowaway, Torty arrived in New Zealand where she had even more dangerous and almost deadly adventures.

This is also a story of hope and how one little act of kindness can change lives.

The illustrations are simply beautiful. The cover impacts on the reader immediately with nurturing hands reaching out and cradling Torty so we know she is the focus of the story. The cover layout is reminiscent of a headline from a newspaper declaring something important, something we all need to know. The end pages hold maps showing us the voyage from Salonika to New Zealand shores, adding a touch of sophistication to the picture book. I love the mix of full-page illustrations and those with lots of white space. This creates a mixture of illustrations capturing certain moments throughout Torty and the soldier’s lives. The sepia tones at the beginning with more colour added as the story moves through the years is a great way to show children and students how time moves on, emphasizing the remarkable fact that Torty is still alive today.

This really is a stunning book and even though young readers can read and enjoy this story on their own, I feel it will reach a much wider audience as it will open up discussion on so many levels.

Check out there teacher notes here. Well worth a look. I will be using this book and the teacher notes with my year six book club later this term.

Love it.  A must-have for any school library.

The legend of Rock Paper Scissors

By Drew Daywalt

Illustrated by Adam Rex

 

 

There are some authors that whenever they publish an new book, you just order and buy no matter what. Drew Daywalt is one such author. His previous books The day the crayons quit and The day the crayons came home are read over and over again. Teachers and children here absolutely adore these books. So I will tease them letting them know this new book is coming soon and they will be asking be everyday – is it here yet? This will be a picture book for everyone to share. Gorgeous bright illustrations from Adam Rex

This trailer is funny, bright and just  so gorgeous. Can’t wait.

Scar Island

By Dan Gemeinhart

ISBN 9781338053845

Scholastic 

This book landed on my desk this week and I have added it to my TBR pile as a must read.  I have even sneaked it to the top of the pile and hope to get stuck in very soon as long as I can get in before the senior students at school grab hold of it or I might have to wait my turn. Certainly one to look forward to.

Book trailers have so much power. They encourage us, taunt us and leave us hurrying to get the book to find out just what is going to happen to the characters. Check out the trailer below and see what I mean. The fact that the author is a fellow librarian is also very cool.

“Jonathan Grisby is the newest arrival at the Slabhenge Reformatory School for Troubled Boys–an ancient, crumbling fortress of gray stone rising up from the ocean. It is dark, damp, and dismal. And it is just the place Jonathan figures he deserves.
Because Jonathan has done something terrible. And he’s willing to accept whatever punishment he has coming.
Just as he’s getting used to his new situation, however, a freak accident leaves the troubled boys of Slabhenge without any adult supervision. Suddenly the kids are free, with an entire island to themselves. But freedom brings unexpected danger. And if Jonathan can’t come to terms with the sins of his past and lead his new friends to safety… then every boy on the island is doomed.”

 

My pictures after the storm

By Eric Veille

ISBN 9781776571048

Gecko Press

 

What a delightfully funny board book of words. Simple but comical pictures of before and after events. Board books are mostly aimed at babies and toddlers but this is one that even adults will love. 

On the left hand side of  each double page spread you have “my pictures” of an event where there are multiple little illustrations with a description underneath. On the right facing page you have pictures after the event with similar illustrations and descriptions. One example is “Before lunch” you have a loaf of bread and after you have a picture of crumbs.

I particular love the page where the pictures of food are labelled such as “dobado” and “lebod” but “after a cold” they are of course tomato and lemon. And the page after corrections is also very funny. Such a simple idea, yet very creative and clever. Children will love making the connections and spying the changes. Lots to do, lots of surprises and lots of fun. I just love it and the kind of dry sense of humour which makes us laugh even louder.

The great egg stink

Dinosaur trouble Book 1

By Kyle Mewburn

Illustrated by Donovan Bixley

ISBN 9781775433668

 

 

Kyle Mewburn has a way of connecting with his readers, of which he has many. His picture books are always in and out of the library and his Dinosaur Rescue series has been a great success with the year three children and up.  Now with a prequel series for Dinosaur Rescue aimed at  younger readers, he will no doubt capture those working on their first chapter books.

In The Great Egg Stink cave boy Arg meets Krrk-Krrk the dinosaur. Meet isn’t exactly the right word but you will see what I mean when you read this funny book. There is lots for readers to laugh at, with flying maggots and smelly body bits. Donovan’s humourous illustrations add to the quality of this fun first chapter book and will hook readers who will love going on to the extended reads of the Dinosaur Rescue books.

 

A little reminder of the Dinosaur Rescue series for when you have finished The Great Egg Stink and want to read more about Arg and his Stone Age adventures.

 

 

10 Greedy goats

Illustrated by Deborah Hinde

Sung by Pio Terei

Maori lyrics by Ngaere Roberts

ISBN 9781775434078

 

This is an old classic and everyone knows the tune with a real sense of familiarity which will make this a favourite. Deborah Hinde’s beautiful, warm and yes, cute illustrations are delightful. Bright, bold colours with a warm fuzzy feel will appeal to younger readers enjoying a read with parents and grandparents. I do love the little snail who is there on almost every page, smiling at the goats and their antics. With the bonus CD wee ones can sing along and it won’t take long before they know it all by heart and keep asking for it again and again.

 

 

Tui Street tales

By Anne Kayes

ISBN 9781775434726

 

Tui Street Tales  came about after Anne Kayes won the prestigious Tom Fitzgibbon Award.

This middle-grade novel is actually a series of short stories about children living in suburban Tui Street. The stories are connected as the children in the street become involved in each others lives. There are familiar fairy tale associations weaving their way through the stories. The children attend nearby Awatiu School and know each other well. It is lovely to see how this small community look after and protect each other through the many different adventures they face. Community and friendship are a strong theme through this book. Is there magic or something more happening somewhere in the street? Well you will have to find a copy to find out but be prepared to find yourself wishing you lived on Tui Street with Jack, Tim, Ella and many more.

Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja

By Marcus Emerson

ISBN 978176029554

Allen & Unwin

It’s my first day at a new school and the only person I know is my cousin, Zoe (but she might be a little too cool for me). I was just another scrawny kid until a group of ninjas recruited me into their clan. It was a world of trouble I wasn’t prepared for. This diary is a warning: the life of a ninja is dangerous, scary…and awesome.

My name is Chase Cooper, and I’m a 6th grade ninja.

This is a quick and funny read for those going beyond their first chapter books. Short, sharp chapters help keep  pace and suspense going. We’ve got a secret society of ninja’s, bullying, a bit of thieving and lots of humour. It doesn’t take long before you find yourself liking Chase and worrying about the trouble that lies ahead for him depending on his choices.  This is a book, which for all it’s fun and games, does beg the question of what we might or might not be prepared to do in order to belong. Loyalty also comes into play here as Chase begins to see the true value of family and friends. Ideal for ages 7 up. A thoroughly enjoyable read set in a school where almost anything can happen.
Heaps more books in this new series.

Helper and helper

By Joy Cowley

Illustrated by Gavin Bishop

ISBN 9781776571055

Gecko Press

 

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Traditional story telling at its best. Funny, in a dry matter-of-fact way with a few lessons thrown in for good measure.

Snake and Lizard are friends, best friends as Lizard reminds Snake. But sometimes even best friends get annoyed with each other and have disagreements. It is how they work around their disagreements which is so funny. Both want to be right and tend to be a bit cunning in order to prove they are right but the outcome is not always want each one wants. But as true best friends they are at the end of each day, forgiving and kind. Joy Cowley highlights the reality of true friendships, warts and all and we can’t help but love Snake and Lizard. Short fable like stories that can be shared and enjoyed by anyone.

My favourite story from this collection is Food and friends.  Watch out for the ending but just don’t turn your back on Snake.

I love the rich earthy colours of Gavin Bishop’s illustrations. His style is very distinctive and natural and helps bring these characters to life with ease. Writer and illustrator are perfectly matched for this third book in the series about Snake and Lizard.

Bastion Point: 507 Days on Takaparawha

My New Zealand Story

By Tania Roxborogh

ISBN  9781775434795

Scholastic NZ

 

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This is a moving account of the realities of life during the 1977 – 1978 occupation of Bastion Point. Erica Tito tells us just what it was like when her father uprooted the family and joined  protestors in Auckland. A protest that was only supposed to be a few days or weeks at most, turned in to 507 difficult and challenging days for everyone involved. The luxuries of normal life, like running water and electricity have been left behind and Erica even enrolls in the local school which brings a new set of problems.

As Erica realises their stay could go on for some time she becomes increasingly desperate to return home to her horse Silver. A horse she is working hard to pay off and make her own.

From the start there are clashes between the protesters, Nga¯ti Wha¯tua elders, police and politicians and we begin to see things from Erica’s point of view, which is both child and Maori. It is Erica’s voice we are hearing and through her eyes we see history happening.

I love how we see Erica’s growing understanding of the situation and the realisation that all of us are guilty of believing in stereotypes. I confess that there were things I just never knew or perhaps ignored, about the days of the Bastion Point occupation and through this novel I am forced to confront the truth and that is not always easy for anyone.

Author Tania Roxborogh provides us with a well thought-out and well researched novel aimed at year five and up. This is the latest in Scholastic’s My New Zealand series which highlights history through diary entries of young children.

I was so lucky to go to Tania’s book launch a few weeks ago. It was great to see her planning and her research and to know how hard she worked to get this right. And she did!

Teacher notes can be found here.

Allegedly

By Tiffany D. Jackson

ISBN 9780062668653

Katherine Tegen Books

An imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

 

I have just ordered this book and can’t wait. The blurb for this new YA novel is intriguing. A psychological thriller, a gritty read and somewhere in the middle is the truth. As soon as it arrives I will be reading and reviewing this debut novel from Tiffany D Jackson. 

Mary B. Addison killed a baby.

Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: a white baby had died while under the care of a churchgoing black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it?

There wasn’t a point to setting the record straight before, but now she’s got Ted—and their unborn child—to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary’s fate now lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But does anyone know the real Mary?

Doesn’t this sound so cool?

 

Bathtime for little rabbit

By Jorg Muhle

ISBN 9781776571376

Gecko Press

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This is a fun follow-up to Tickle my ears. What I love about this wee board book is that readers are encouraged to interact with little rabbit and participate in his bath time routine. Children are able to help rabbit as he takes his bath.

After his bath rabbit needs more help, especially when it comes to getting dry. Lots of chances for little ones to purse their lips and blow. Rabbit is cute and just plain gorgeous and this will be a favourite not just for wee ones but for parents too. While Tickle my ears was a fun interactive read for setting up a bedtime routine, little rabbit’s latest book will be great for helping set up a bath time routine. Young ones see just how easy and safe it is to have a bath and have heaps of fun too. A lovely, warm and reassuring book to share and enjoy.

The Water Princess

By Susan Verde

Illustrated by Peter H Reynolds

ISBN9780399172588

G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

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What a beautiful thought-provoking picture book. Princess Gie Gie must endure the daily grind of walking long distances to fetch water and walking back again, day in day out. It is time-consuming and monotonous but water is essential for life and so it must be done. Gie Gie wishes so much that water was at her fingertips. She has dreams that one day water will be plentiful for everyone.

This book deserves so much more than a cursory read. Indeed, it needs to be read again and again. We have the cultural aspects of what it is like to live in such a harsh environment and the desperate need for water, something most of us take for granted. We simply turn on a tap and water flows. The closest experience I have to this is after the devastating earthquakes here in Christchurch in 2011 and having to collect rainwater from an old tarpaulin draped over the clothesline and having to dig holes in the backyard to go to the toilet. We were lucky and we had water within a week. Other people here went without water for so much longer. Water was brought in to the city by trucks. There are no trucks where Gie Gie lives.

Gie Gie, despite her reluctance to walk yet another day to collect water, continues to remain hopeful. She is quite frankly, delightful and her love of the land and wide open spaces is heart-warming.

“My kingdom…the African sky, so wide and so close. I can almost touch the sharp edges of the stars.”

The burnt-orange and browns are perfect colour choices for the wonderful illustrations which show just how harsh it is to live in a land with very little water. An environment so different to our own that it is difficult to understand but the illustrations here really create Gie Gie’s world for us.

Gie Gie’s expressions are honest. We see it when she stamps her feet annoyed at having to fetch water yet again, and in her love of the land and family. Overwhelmingly, we see it in her resillence and hope. Gie Gie is strong and detemined and such a wonderful role model for young readers. Love this book to pieces.

A must-have for all school libraries.

The singing dolphin: Te Aihe i Waiata

Written and illustrated By Mere Whaanga

ISBN 9781775434023

Scholastic NZ

5

Between 2007 and 2009, the dolphin Moko lived and played in the sea near The Pathway of the Whales at Mihia. The singing dolphin: Te Aihe i Waiata was inspired by Moko’s time there.

This a traditionally told bilingual picture book about a grandmother and her three grandsons. Tahi knows the land, Rua knows the waters but the youngest one, Potoki spends his time singing. He badly wants to join his brothers catching fish but they always tell him he is too little.  One night Potoki hides under the fishing net in the canoe but the following day something terrible happens. Like many traditional stories there is a lyrical quality to this story and I can just imagine sitting around listening to a grandparent sharing this story with grandchildren.

Beautifully illustrated with the the most natural of colours. Earthy browns, forest greens and deep sea blues, interwoven with many Maori motifs make this a very special picture book.

I especially love the double spread with the wood pigeons, and pukeko as well other native birds.

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The colours are stunning.

A good choice for all school libraries.

 

Nee Naw the little fire engine

Words and music by Deano Yipadee

Illustrated by Paul Beavis

ISBN 978177543

 

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Poor Granny is trapped inside her burning house with flames shooting through the windows. The big fire engines come racing to put out the fire but find themselves in trouble. It is up to the little fire engine Nee Naw to save the day.

Another funny tale from Deano Yipadee with bright bold illustrations from Paul Beavis. You can read on its own or singalong with the CD. I shared this today with some student librarians who thought it was a great choice for younger children.

 

Sometimes you just have to deviate from your normal posts and this is one of those times. 

At school today I disposed of a rather dead and smelly hedgehog. Sadly, she left an orphan, a wee baby hedgehog roaming around looking very lost and forlorn in the middle of the day. So I have rescued the wee thing and it has been rustling around in an old box by my desk. It has not long gone to sleep now and is so cute. The Animal and Bird Hospital will look after it and make sure it is looked after until a little older and able to fend for itself. Children have come into the library for a little look too. Very quietly of course. He or she really is very little and adorable.

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