I am so clever

By Mario Ramos

ISBN 9781776572496

 


Everyone’s favourite wolf is back. The strong and handsome, if somewhat egotistical wolf, returns for another adventure. We first met him in I am so strong and I am so handsome. This time wolf wanders through the forest and is eager to eat Little Red Riding Hood and her Grandmother. Nothing seems to go in his favour and every time he does get close, someone or something from the fairy tale world gets in his way. Between the pages of this picture book we meet the likes of the three little pigs, the seven dwarfs and a few more characters that children will recognise. Great for a fun read.

Many teachers do lessons on fractured fairy tales and the delightful twist here with our humorous and familiar wolf, makes this a perfect choice to use in such lessons.

 

 Everyone walks away

By Eva Lindstrom

ISBN 978177651864

Frank is lonely. He doesn’t fit in or feel any sense of belonging. Everywhere he goes Milan, Tilly and Paul exclude him. You can see how much he wants to be part of their group and you can see their sideways glances at him but he always ends up walking away. There is certainly a sadness to this picture book and the illustrations highlight the feelings of isolation as Frank looks small compared to the landscape and his surroundings. The eyes reveal so much about the different character’s feelings which is not always easy to achieve in children’s book illustrations.

Frank goes home alone and makes special jam from his own tears. What happens next is also kind of special too. This book deals with issues of loneliness, exclusion and cliques and we can see the impact it has on Frank. It is an important book to share. 

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One careless night

By Christina Booth

ISBN: 9781925381856

Walker Books Australia

 

Coming soon.    Coming soon.    Coming soon.

Really looking forward to this new picture book when it comes out in March.

I remember when it was announced last year that the last white male rhino had died. I actually cried knowing that we had watched this happen. No matter how hard we as a society tried to stop this happening, it was too little, too late and the consequences of our actions led to the death of the white rhino. This new picture book looks at the journey of the last thylacine in captivity. Sadly, there are no more of these animals either. The art work as shown in the trailer below, already looks stunning. The language is beautiful. I have a strong feeling that this book is going to haunt many a reader. Can’t wait!

“Where the mist swallows mountains and winds whisper through ancient trees, a mother and her pup run wild and free. They hunt, but they are also hunted. Carted away. Sold for bounty. And then, one careless night … The last thylacine is gone.”

 

Five little ducks went off to school

By Peter Millet

Illustrated by Stevie Mahardika

Sung by Jay Laga’aia

ISBN 9781775435273

Scholastic NZ

 


Peter Millet and the team at Scholastic provide us with a new picture book just in time for the start of the new year. A trip to school starts off well for the ducks but each one in turn forgets something.  A sweet and comforting story about going to school. Great for new entrants but a good reminder for other children who might be a little anxious.

Stevie Mahardhika brings the characters to life with gorgeous and definitely very cute illustrations. The ducks splish and splash, they hurry and scurry and of course they quack, quack, quack.

Jay Laga’aia provides the singing on the accompanying CD which is cute and catchy and will no doubt be sung over and over again.

A fun book to share with young readers. You can enjoy a quiet read together or you can sing along loudly in the car on the way to school.

The Top Secret Undercover Notes of Buttons McGinty, Book 1

By Rhys Darby

ISBN 9781775434979

Scholastic NZ

 Buttons McGinty is sent to boarding school to a place named Ranktwerp Island Education Fortress for Gifted Lame Unruly Minors, a.k.a. R.I.E.F.G.L.U.M. It is however, not quite what he is expecting and is full of surprises; not all of them good ones either. He makes new friends and together they face the bad guys and a whole lot more. Buttons is obsessed with Morse Code which turns out to be a good thing as there are mysteries to be solved. The biggest mystery, of course, is what happened to his parents and where are they now.

Buttons keeps a journal and writes his thoughts and ideas about everything that is happening. In some cases it is a word-by-word account. As you can see from the the page below the font is just as if Buttons was hand-writing in his journal which adds a real sense of authenticity to the novel. He is funny, quirky, adventurous and a thinker. Much of his thinking is outside the box but that is what make him so likable. You can almost hear his brain ticking over as his thoughts spill out rapidly onto the pages of his journal. 

Definitely a book for fans of adventure and humour, with a dose of good old-fashioned friendships. Watch out for a lurking Bigfoot. Great read for 8 – 12 year old readers and really, anyone who enjoys a good laugh.

Check out the back of the book with the Morse Code Key and see if you can solve some of the clues throughout the book. 

Cook’s Cook

The Cook who cooked for Captain Cook

By Gavin Bishop

ISBN 9781776572045

Gecko Press 

 

 

Gavin Bishop as author and illustrator of this new picture book brings us an extraordinary point of view of the 1768 journey of Captain James Cook on board the H.M.S  Endeavour. He shares the voyage through the eyes of John Thompson, the one-handed cook. What an amazing man he must have been to prepare and cook food for 94 people on board a ship that at times ran short of food and essentials and with only one hand.

Gavin shares some of the recipes the cook used and believe me, some of them are what I would consider, disgusting.  For example, Stingray soup and dog and breadfruit stew. Gross. So glad things have changed. 

Gavin has obviously done his research with this creative non-fiction picture book filled with important illustrations reflecting the times as they were. His end pages create a beginning and end of the journey starting with a cross-section of the ship. It is brimming with goods and supplies but still has to fit 94 people so we can only imagine how cramped it must have been.

We also see the trading and bartering of goods, which at times was certainly questionable in its fairness. We follow the lives of many passengers and in many cases, also their deaths. The story of John Thompson is one I had never heard of before which proves the point in history, and in life in general, there is always more than one side to any story. 

As Julia Marshall says, this book has everything: “culture, class, adventure, humour and much more”. And it does. It has something for everyone and will certainly make a perfect resource for school libraries and teachers at many levels.  There are some excellent teaching notes here to make the most of this book and generate further discussions. A great book also to add to any home library and reflect on the history of New Zealand.

Check out the video below with Gavin talking about his latest book. 

 

 

Poet X

By Elizabeth Acevedo

ISBN 9781405291460

Egmont Books

I am and always will be a huge verse novel fan. My latest read is Poet X and it gets a five out of five from me.

Xiomara lives in Harlem where often it is easier to use her fists for talking. She longs to be understood and to understand the world around her. She has a twin brother and they are tight and always look out for each other. They understand each other far more than anyone else. Their Mami is incredibly strict, demanding and hugely religious and X, as she now calls herself, struggles with the whole concept of church, God and Holy Communion. Twin, as she calls her brother, is bright and seems to do everything right while X continually ends up in some sort of trouble.

X begins a relationship with a boy from school and the consequences, lies and secrets have a huge impact on X.

I love how X discovers poetry and then finds her voice and the strength to stand up and be heard. Her poetry is a powerful tool for self-discovery.

I love the language, the poetry, the cultural voices coming through and X. Her relationships are strained and difficult but they are real. I hear it in their voices; the things the characters say and do. I can hear X’s thoughts. X is both strong and vulnerable, feisty and afraid, but she is real and I wish I could meet her in person and tell her to believe in herself just a little more.

There are many links to hear the author read poems from this novel on her website and on Youtube. They sound even better read aloud which makes me think this would be perfect for high school English teachers to use on many levels.

Loved it.

Elizabeth Acevedo has another book coming out later this year, With the Fire on High and I will be hunting it down as soon as it is published.

Dave Pigeon

By Swapna Haddow

Illustrated by Sheena Dempsey

ISBN 97805713233302

Faber and Faber

Dave Pigeon is a series of first chapter books for newly independent readers and those who just love a good funny story. Dave is as you imagine rightly, a pigeon and so is his best mate Skipper. They demonstrate many good qualities; kindness, teamwork, friendship, and resourcefulness. They also demonstrate rather hilariously, deviousness and cunning. A disastrous encounter with Mean Cat results in a a broken wing for Dave and a surprise rescue by Mean Cat’s human owner. In order to stay safe and enjoy their new home with the human, they need to get rid of her cat. Their plans are very funny but not exactly successful but that is what makes this book a delight. This would also make a great read-aloud especially in junior classes. I love how hopeful and determined the pigeons are in trying to get what they want.

The books are illustrated with quirky drawings on almost every page which adds to the appeal and success of these award winning books for ages 5 – 8.

I am also delighted with the fact that the author has moved from the UK to my home city in New Zealand.

Check out some of the other books in the series for more hilarious antics and adventures.

Dave Pigeon (Nuggets!)

ISBN 9780571324439

 

 

Dave Pigeon (Racer!)

ISBN 9780571336906Dave Pigeon (Racer!)

 

 

The lonely little tree

by Moya Kirby

Illustrated by Terri Rose Baynton

ISBN 9781775435297

Scholastic NZ

 

The lonely little tree is a sweet story about a tiny tree left in the wilderness after all the other trees in the forest were cut down. Birds get together to help the tree realise it can be whatever it wants, including being a Christmas tree. They gather all sorts of decorations to hang on the tree. As we discover, the birds themselves become part of the Christmas decorations. Sweet, gorgeous illustrations and of course a little message for Christmas. An ideal gift for sharing a good New Zealand story with family overseas.

Teacher notes can be found here.

 

A Kiwi day before Christmas

By Yvonne Morrison

Illustrated by Deborah Hinde

ISBN 9781775434108

Scholastic NZundefined

Twas the dawn before Christmas and, down at the beach, Santa was fishing… just one more he’d catch.

This fun picture book is a prequel to the classic A Kiwi Night Before Christmas. It is filled with iconic kiwi characters like sheep, weta, fantails and geckos.  Santa in his red t-shirt and gumboots is also part of the charm.

Another picture book to send to family overseas who might be feeling a little homesick at Christmas.

Lots of bright red and green coloured illustrations adds to the Christmas feeling. The fantails are my favourite.

 

 

 

 

 

Kate Sheppard: leading the way for women

By Maria Gill

Illustrated by Ivancic

ISBN 9781775435471

Scholastic NZ

 

 

Before I even began reading the story of Kate Sheppard, I spent ages just checking out the end pages and the wonderful map of the world from 1855. The world has changed so much since Kate sailed from one end of the world to the other; a journey which took around three or four months way back in 1869 when Kate left England to move to New Zealand.

Kate wanted to change things in life right from when she was young. Her perseverance over the years paid off as she did make changes, including being one of the first women ever, to ride a bike.

Her biggest achievement was of course gaining the right for women to vote. It was on this day, 28th November 1893, 125 years ago, that women went to the polling votes for the first time, anywhere in the world. A huge achievement from a woman who never gave up on her dream. Kate was dedicated and determined and this creative non-fiction picture book tells us her story and how it all happened.

While Kate Sheppard started something amazing,  you will see by reading the page Female (in)equality, there are sadly, many countries where girls and women are still not treated fairly. Kate was a woman ahead of her time but she will not be the only one, others have, and will continue to make changes for equality for women and girls everywhere.

Check out the trailer for a sneak peek at the book.

The research is, as always, spot on and the illustrations make this another top choice. The inclusion of a glossary, maps, and a timeline make this a wonderful resource for school libraries and teachers.

Teacher notes can be found here.

There is a very cool site here where you can type in the names of your great, or perhaps, great, great grandmothers and see if they signed the petition. I am very proud to say that I found my Great Grandmother had signed the petition. Considering she went on to have nine children I think that was super cool.

Inside the Villains

By Clotilde Perrin

ISBN 9781776571987

Gecko Press

This book is special in so many ways. It is wickedly funny, exquisitely produced and a real treasure. It is an over-sized portrait shaped book that is not just for children. I showed many adults this book and they all took their own delight in lifting the flaps, pulling the strings and reading all about the three villains. 

There are large foldout pages revealing facts about each of the three villains and a page each with a good old-fashioned fairy tale. 

There is something exciting about lifting a flap and finding hidden secrets. Under the witch’s cloak there is a pocket with a mirror, a sweet, and my favourite, a cat with a rather strange grin on its face. The witch’s dress has several layers, each hiding even more secrets. 

The wolf’s stomach and its content is particularly funny too. 

I really love that each of the villains has their own library section where they share the stories where they are characters. Giant’s library shelf includes Jack and the Beanstalk, The BFG, and many others. Of course all good scary fairy tales have either a giant, a witch, or a wolf and this book has all three. 

This is a beautiful book to be read and played with over and over again. I absolutely love it. 

Skip to the loo my Darlin’

Sung by the Topp Twins

Illustrated by Jenny Cooper

ISBN 9781775435433

 

 

If you want fun and a good laugh, this is cool. It is great as a book to read-aloud, read by yourself, or sing along to the wonderful Topp Twins. We had a heap of fun with this at my school this week. I gave the book to some teachers who held up the book show-casing Jenny Cooper’s gorgeously cute pictures while the music played loudly for everyone to hear and sing along. For whatever reason over took me, I would skip past the children every time the words “Skip to the loo my Darlin'” came along. Lots of giggles. Lot of animal sounds were also made, although I didn’t do so well as a possum, I have to tell you.

I can see this book being played out and peformed in assemblies. Lots of fun to create their own little animal sounds and heaps of skipping.

There is something special about Jenny Cooper’s illustrations, too. The kind of pictures that warm the heart.

This is going to be a hit in schools and pre-schools and family fun times.

 

We’ve got a boat

Written and sung by Jay Laga’aia

Illustrated by Donovan Bixley

ISBN 9781775435303

 

 

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We’ve got a boat combines a fun story about boating and ends with facts about The America’s Cup and photos of our proud sailors. Readers can be entertained by the story and then learn a little of the history of the cup and some of our wonderful winning moments.

The chorus is catchy and you can’t help but want to sing loudly and proudly as we celebrate out boating skills and kiwi crew; here they are kiwi, sheep and cow demonstrating their expertise on the water. Donovan Bixley provides his iconic quirky New Zealand animal illustrations. 

A perfect book for summer holidays with all the blue sea and sunny skies. 

 

 

Keep fit Kiwi: Heads and shoulders, knees and toes

By Lynette Evans

Illustrated by Steve Mahardhika

Sung by Pio Terei

Maori lyrics by Ngaere Roberts

 

 

Pre-school and primary school teachers are always looking for good music to sing and dance along for morning PE sessions and this one fits the bill. A catchy song that almost everyone knows but here with a kiwi twist. Written and sung in English and Maori, which adds to the appeal.

The illustrated characters all have cheeky, friendly smiles, which just goes to show you that exercise is fun. Music and exercise is always a good combination, especially when encouraging children to step away from devices and enjoy a bit of exercise and fresh air. Another good resource for schools.

Invisible Jerry

By Adam Wallace

Illustrated by Guiseppe Poli

ISBN 9781925335781

EK Books

People don’t notice Jerry. If someone bumps into him, they don’t say sorry. If he makes a joke, no one laughs. He never gets picked last for sports teams — but that’s because he never gets picked at all. It’s like he’s invisible. Until Molly comes along. Molly asks Jerry his opinion. She laughs with him. She sees him.

The impact when we begin to notice children like Jerry is huge. Jerry, no longer invisible, starts to shine, people notice him and then he goes on to notice other invisible children and helps them shine and they in turn help other children to shine.

The colourful illustrations have a soft, almost blurry-edged feel to them which reinforces the feeling of invisibility.

This would make a good resource for teachers to use in class about inclusiveness and encouraging children to play together. No one should be invisible.

If we look close enough, there are children like invisible Jerry everywhere. There are children who are lonely, shy, who don’t fit in but would love to be included, love to be chosen for teams and games. We need to start noticing these children and help them shine.

As we commemorate 100 years since the end of the First World War, it is timely to look at two new war-themed books by much-loved author, Michael Morpurgo. While written for children, these books really are for everyone.

Poppy Field

By Michael Morpurgo

Illustrated by Michael Foreman

ISBN 9781407181424

Scholastic

Poppy Field
Michael Morpurgo and Michael Foreman are well known for their partnership over many  award-winning children’s books. This time they have teamed up with the Royal British Legion to tell an original story that explains the meaning behind the poppy and why we wear it still.

Morpurgo skilfully tells the story of young Martens whose family live on a farm in Flanders Field. 

A poor girl out selling eggs one day meets a soldier as he sits on his own trying to write a poem for his dead comrades; in particular, his best friend, whom he has just buried. He doesn’t want eggs or even the poppies she offers him, but upon his request, she places some poppies on the dead soldier’s grave. In return, she takes a crumpled up scrap of paper with the draft of a poem he was working on. The poem is eventually framed and handed down through four generations of the young girl’s family. The poem is In Flanders Fields.

While the story speaks many truths, it is a work of fiction but more important than that, it is a reminder of who we are and where we come from. it shows us that there is hope and a future because of those who fought before us and for us.

The story is beautifully illustrated in soft greys, blacks and browns, with the only colour being the red poppies which stand out, symbolic and proud.

The Afterword about the history of the poppy and why it is still worn 100 years later, however, is in full colour. The contrasting colours between the story and the Afterword only adds to the haunting quality of the story. A  story that needed to be told. 

Teacher notes can be found here.

 

 

Our Jacko

By Michael Morpurgo

Illustrated by David Gentleman

ISBN 9781406366136

Walker Books

 

There is an old scruffy tin hat which has always been in Michael’s house for as long as he can remember.  It has been used as a toy, a feeding bowl for the hens and even a hanging basket but no one can remember where it comes from. Michael hates it, always has, especially the hole and what the hole likely means. Somewhere, someone wearing that helmet must have died in the war. A school trip and project about the First World War is what changes Michael’s mind when he discovers the hat belonged to his great, great grandfather, Jacko, who never returned from the war. Our Jacko, as the family used to call him, died in Ypres in 1915. Michael and his family discover Jacko’s old diaries and learn so much about life in the trenches, fighting during the First World War. 

Michael Morpurgo takes us on a journey of discovery and the realisation that no matter how awful and tragic the war was, we do need to remember it. We do need to remember those who died and the impact of those losses on everyone and how it changed the world. Peace came at a cost, and we need to remember those who paid the price. 

This is a special book aimed at the 8-12 year olds,  perfectly timed for Armistice Day, the end of the First World War, the war to end all wars.

 

 

 

Oink

By David Elliot

ISBN 9781776572144

Gecko Press

 

Oink cover rough

 

I have always been a fan of David Elliot and I’ve also always thought there is something special about pigs, so this book hits all the right buttons. I love the colours he uses; soft greens and pinks and his own trademark quirky illustrations. They have a whimsical element which will appeal to readers of all ages.

Pig just wants to have a quiet, relaxing bath on his own. Who doesn’t?  His quality time is interrupted as one after another his animal friends; donkey, sheep, and cow, jump in the bath with him. Uninvited of course. They take up all the room and make so much noise that pig is clearly frustrated.

Just what does a pig have to do to have a quiet soak in a nice bath? David Elliot answers that with good old-fashioned humour. The simplicity of the story has a wonderful innocence to it which will make this a favourite with readers, for sure.

Pig is cute and his expressions are delightful and totally believable. You certainly can tell when he is frustrated with all the interruptions and the smile on his face when he finally gets the bath to himself is pure gold.

Love it.

 

This post is a real mix of reading delight for younger children from New Zealand authors and illustrators. There are kiwi’s, tree huts, even trucks. A little something for everyone.

Kuwi’s Rowdy Crowd

By Kat Merewether

ISBN 9780994136459

Illustrated Publishing

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If you like cute and cuddly then this is one for you. Kuwi the Kiwi is the creation of Kat Merewether and this is Kuwi’s fourth adventure. This time all Kuwi wants to do is to sit down and relax with a cup of tea. But a variety of New Zealand creatures, and birds turn up and shatter the peace, leaving her more and more frustrated. Kuwi finally reaches breaking point and shouts out to everyone to be quiet. That is when Kuwi discovers something very special. 

Sweet, with the cutest of illustrations, and lots of funny New Zealand references; some specially for the adults reading this book to little children, and a story most of us can relate to, big or small.

 

 

Titan the Truck

By Joy H. Davidson

Illustrated by Scott Tulloch

ISBN 9780473403119

 

Titan is a big truck and he knows the freight he hauls must get through as many people depend on him. Sometimes he hauls logs, cows and even groceries. The one thing in common is that they must all be delivered on time – they can not be late. A little bit of learning all about big trucks and what they do on their journey to get goods up and down the country.

So what happens one day when Titan has an accident?  An adventure for Titan and his driver Baz.

Bright and bold illustrations by Scott Tulloch add to the enjoyment of this picture book.

 

And another one by Joy H. Davidson

The tree hut

Illustrated by Nina Kudinova

ISBN 9780473444181

DHD Publishing

Jack has to leave his home in the countryside and move to the city because of his father’s work. He doesn’t want to leave his tree hut so struggles with the move.
His new home in the city is a townhouse with very little room to play. As if all that is not enough, he believes they may have moved next door to a haunted house.  

 

 

More Kiwi Rhymes for Kiwi Kids

By Peter Millet

Illustrated by Scott Tulloch

ISBN 9781869539955

Bateman Publishing

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This is Peter Millet’s second book of rhymes for Kiwi kids. Peter takes traditional rhymes and gives them a New Zealand flavour.

Children will relate to them all. For folks who go camping and have memories of leaky tents in the rain, the rhyme It’s raining, it’s pouring will go down a treat with its special kiwi twist.

Scott Tulloch’s illustrations delighfully support the New Zealand elements of the rhymes.

Check out the book trailer for Ten Green Geckos for some fun.

Great to see so many new picture books being published in New Zealand written by New Zealand authors.