There are no moa, e hoa

By Melinda Szmanik

Illustrated by Isobel Joy Te Aho-White

ISBN 9781775437833

Scholastic NZ

Our loveable forest friends, kiwi and Bat, are back for another adventure in this shiny and bright new picture book for young readers. It is listed as a Storylines Notable Book Award winner, and deservedly so.

Someone or something is making the ground shake, someone’s eyes are peeking out, and somewhere in the forest, there is an emergency. Bat and Kiwi have come to the rescue, determined to calm little tuatara, who seems to think the giant extinct Moa has somehow miraculously come back. Or perhaps, there is magic in the mushrooms on the forest floor.

A fun, imaginative story with beautiful evening colours of blues and greens.

Mischievous Milly :Inspired by a true story

By Nadia Lim

Illustrated by Fifi Colston

ISBN 9781775438106

Scholastic NZ

Author Nadia Lim, and illustrator Fifi Colston are back together with another wonderful tale from Nadia’s farm. Previous stories have centred on the story of Marvin the chicken, and just like Marvin’s tale, the latest collaboration is also based on truth.

This time, we meet Mischievous Milly, an orphaned baby goat, with her fluffy coat, golden eyes and tiny horns. Milly is bottle-fed until she is old enough to feed for herself. Milly soon discovers she likes strawberries and invades the strawberry patch. She likes to climb, and explore. Milly learns that she also needs friends. A sweet story about animals, family and friends for young readers. Marvin puts in a special appearance too. I love that the bumble bee is back too, buzzing in and out of the wonderfully illustrated pages.

All author proceeds go to charities HUHA and Garden to Table.

Tide’s out Tai Timu

By Frances Plumpton

Illustrated by Stephanie Thatcher

Translation by Darren Joseph

ISBN 9780473637125

Mary Egan Publishing

Tide’s out Tai Timu is a simple but gorgeous bilingual counting book. It features children playing in the sand while the tide is out. They find cockle shells, birds feathers, twisty turret shells and lots more special seaside treasures.

A great book for preschools and primary schools, but also great to add to any child’s first book collection. Counting in English and Te Reo Maori, natural treasures, tidal cycles, and a fun, family day at the beach.

Very sweet.

Who took the toilet paper?

By Amy Harrop

Illustrated by Jenny Cooper

ISBN 9781775437659

Scholastic NZ

If you have ever run out of toilet paper then you will know it is not fun at all. Pa Bear finds himself in just that situation. Lots of shouting can be heard, Lots of blaming each other and different creatures in the forest. Trying to find out a solution is not easy either. Just what is a bear to do?

Fun, relatable, and Jenny Cooper brings heaps of hilarity to the story with her cheeky, comical illustrations full of heart and personality.

A fun family read.

Moonlight Mission

Written and illustrated by Laura Shallcross

ISBN 9781991165718

Beatnik Publishing

Something mysterious seems to be happening in the forest during the night as Hare and Kunekune sleep under the peach tree because when they wake up, there are less peaches in the tree. So begins their mystery and the different creatures they meet on their way to solving the problem.

Laura Shallcross introduced us to Hare before in her book Hare and Ruru which was the winner of the Russell Clark Award for illustration in 2021. The same style of beautiful illustrations fill the pages of this, her latest book. I love the night time colours.

Meanwhile back on Earth

By Oliver Jeffers

ISBN 9780008555450

HarperCollins

Oliver Jeffers is an extraordinary talent. His books span many years and awards. I should know, I have so many of them in my bookcases. What I love most, is that within his picture books, is not just story, but messages that we could all do with remembering. Even in his early days with Lost and found, there is always hope and there is always friendship.

A father takes his two children on a thrilling out-of-this-world adventure into space and invites them to look back at Earth and the conflicts that have taken place since the beginning of time. This becomes a brief history of the world and a whistle-stop guide to the universe, all rolled into one

Jeffers style is instantly recognisable and I love that. Makes it easier to spot when he has a new book out. This story is thoughtful and historical. Travelling by car dad detours through space, heading first to the moon. The distance from Earth to the Moon would take a year by car, and looking in the rear view mirror they see how distracted everyone on Earth was a year ago, and how people couldn’t agree on things. Each further planet they travel to takes time to get there and we can see the conflict of the different times in history, fighting over physical space, and who is not willing to share or compromise.

Conflict has always been here but we have to change things. We have to find new ways of dealing with conflict and sharing space. Just because it has happened in the past, doesn’t mean it has to continue.

The children are bickering over space in the back seat of dad’s car. Their journey through the solar system and looking back through historical conflicts, compares to their sibling rivalry. It is simple, yet effective and encourages us to think about our planet and everyone who shares this world. Another top book from a top author, illustrator and artist. Definitely one for all school libraries.

Tails of Tangleby Gardens

By Sue Heazlewood

Illustrated by Jane Smith

ISBN 9780473625801

Auckram Publishing

I look at this book and I think, where do I start. It is a sweet, story-telling book, full of warm, friendly, woodland creatures all doing their best to help a sick baby lark. The story begins with a happy rabbit couple who find themselves homeless after bulldozers move in forcing them out and in search of somewhere new to live. The rabbit Marmalade, loves cooking. Yes! The animals have very human characteristics but as you read along, you do get caught up in their world. My favourites are the hedgehogs, and the frogs and the …. all of them. Gorgeous, soft illustrations bring the characters to life. There is sweetness, kindness and caring in this quality hardback production.

As the story unfolds, Marmalade shares 40 of her delicious recipes in between the story pages. There are so many I want to try. So many are old favourites with a very definite New Zealand flavour, like the Southland cheese rolls.

Snacks like lemonade scones, meals such as Crispy Cornflake Chicken and lots of choices for dessert.

There is also the wonderful and useful addition of QR codes on the recipe pages so you can scan and download the recipes. Having it on your phone in the kitchen saves the book getting greasy hands all over it.

There are meals. baking, cakes and all sorts of goodness to make and eat. They also have guidelines to how easy the recipes are to follow so that families can share and make together.

I admit, I would like to have seen an index page at the back of the book for the recipes so I could find them quickly but other than this, I would totally see this as a beautiful gift for Christmas. A story to read and share together, with a heap of recipes to enjoy. A beautiful book.

Wild Coasts : Exploring Aotearoa’s Marine Reserves

Written and Illustrated By Ned Barraud

ISBN 9781988550459

potton & burton

Years of overfishing have left New Zealand’s marine ecosystems under threat. Forty four marine reserves were created in order to help and keep these ecosystems from getting worse.

Ned Barraud who has written and illustrated many nature books, highlights six of these reserves in his latest book.

In his familiar informative and colourful style we learn about Goat Island; the Poor Knights Islands, Taputeranga, Ulva Island, Piopiotahi, Hikurangi (Kaikoura) and Milford Sound, (where I lived for a couple of summers and to me is one of the most beautiful places on earth).

Each marine reserve has a couple of pages of bite-size information to read, and heaps of illustrations of the different marine animals.

Milford Sound, for example, tells us how it is one of the wettest places in New Zealand, with an average rainfall of about 7 metres. I can vouch that indeed, it did rain an awful lot, but every day was different and beautiful, no matter the weather. There are delightful bottlenose dolphins among the sea life. There are also the Fiordland Crested Penguins who come ashore at night time.

In other reserves we learn about white sharks, wheke/octopus, hagfish and the rather scary looking, John Dory fish, among many others.

In picture book format, this book is sure to please keen readers who love learning more about New Zealand’s wildlife. Another good Ned Barruad book to add to any collection.

The Little Yellow Digger Finds Treasure

By Peter Gilderdale

Illustrated by Fifi Colston

ISBN 9781775437321

Scholastic NZ

The story of The Little Yellow Digger is a classic, with many adventures behind him. Originally written and illustrated by Betty and Alan Gilderdale, the picture books have withstood the test of time. After their passing, their son Peter wrote new stories about the popular little digger, carrying on their legacy in his own right. Illustrator Fifi Colston has remained true to the style of Alan’s artwork, while bringing in her own warmth and style, especially where animals are concerned. I love the cheeky seagull, and of course, Charlie the black and white dog.

In this latest adventure, the little yellow digger is at the beach when he is called to help pull out a truck that gets stuck in the sand dunes. It’s a pretty straight forward job for our friendly digger but what happens after is a big surprise. Charlie finds something else in the sand which needs help from the little digger once more. Together they pull out a treasure chest, but what do they find inside?

Another feel-good picture book with well-written rhyming text and a family friendly story. I love the whales cavorting in the sea on the front cover. Perhaps a nod to another of the digger’s adventures.

A good picture book just in time for Christmas.

We Saw a Spinosaurus

By Kyle Mewburn

Illustrated by Daron Parton

ISBN 9781775437802

Scholastic NZ

A group of children are just a little bored with school when suddenly, something growling scurries past, grabbing their attention. What can it be? They follow the noise and the shadows of different dinosaurs into different classrooms. Are the children scared, are they brave? Can they stay safe from the dinosaurs?

We saw a spinosaurus is such a fun picture book. It has rhythm, rhyme, and scans so well when reading aloud, and it is definitely a book to share aloud. The language is playful and giggly delightful.

We were keen to go explorus

but we leapt behind the doorus

when we saw a stegosaurus

come lumbering towards us.

The illustrations are bright, cheerful, and perfectly suited to young readers. A good one to use special voices when reading out aloud.

I can’t wait to share this one with my grandson, but it will also be one I keep with me to read to children at school.

Love it!

Nee Naw and Friends Storytime

By Deano Yipadee

Illustrated by Paul Beavis

ISBN 9781775437536

This collection celebrates five years of the bestselling books about Nee Naw a little fire engine, with a big heart and lots of friends.

Here in one collection we have;

Nee Naw the little fire engine

Nee Naw and the cowtastophe

Nee Naw goes bananas

Ellie Copter

We have the same brightly illustrated pictures, the same songs to sing aloud, and the same familiar characters.

A collectors book for fans of the fire engine stories.

For those that are unfamiliar with Nee Naw, you will enjoy the cheekiness, friendships, bravery and rhymes.

Little Baa Baa & Quirky Turkey in Bedtime Blast-off

By Mark Sommerset

Illustrated by Pradyut Chatterjee

ISBN 9780992264024

Dreamboat Books

Readers familiar with the characters Little Baa Baa and Quirky Turkey will know that they are two vey cheeky friends who are very good at playing tricks on each other. In this new picture book, they are at it again, this time tricking each other in different ways to help one another get some sleep.

Tempting each other with drinks, or cookies, or even aromatherapy, they try to outwit each other. Will they succeed?

A book aimed at readers who love poose, wees, farts and cheekiness.

Flying Furballs Take-off!

By Donovan Bixley

ISBN 9781990003509

Upstart Press

A fine, glossy-paged, fun-filled book for fans of Donovan Bixley’s Flying Furballs series. The Furballs are back for a new adventure in this brightly coloured, portrait sized book. There are spreads nicely labelled with details of different planes, such as the Sopwith Camel and the Fokker DR.1 Triplane. There are easy to follow artistic instructions on drawing the character Claude D’Bonair. There are even Codecrackers for readers who like a bit of mystery.

I particularly liked the page Old Dog New Tricks with the information on flying warplanes. I also love some of the humour which is extra fun for mum and dad readers. For those unfamiliar with the characters, there is double-page spread naming them all next to their portraits. I wish more books did this, especially with lots of different characters.

Lots of fun reading, with the chance to learn a few things along the way, helps make this a good Christmas present. Throw in a few of the chapter books as well, and you have the purrfect gift.

Emma: Emma Twigg’s Incredible Journey to Olympic Gold

Written and illustrated by Jessica Lawry

ISBN 9781990003646

Upstart Press

Emma Twigg is a rower who spent many years training and working very hard for her sport. Over the years, Emma got better, stronger and faster, eventually winning gold at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. Participating in any Olympic Sports is a great achievement, but winning a gold medal is extraordinary. Emma strongly believes in hard work, determination and teamwork. Together, it is these things that helped her win. Her support from family, friends and her team helped encourage her, but mostly, Emma dug deep within herself, to achieve her goal.

This picture book shows just how hard she worked to make her dreams come true. It wasn’t always easy and at times, her body ached from all the pain of hard training.

This is an inspiring book that will no doubt encourage and motivate other young sports persons to reach for their dreams. Written and illustrated by Jessica Lawry, it is a child-friendly introduction to the life and times of a New Zealand Olympic Gold winning rower. Great for school libraries and biographical studies. A fun read for those who love sport and want to know how others have achieved their goals.

The Monarch Butterfly – migrant

By Annemarie Florian

Illustrated by Alistair Hughes

ISBN 9781990003660

White Cloud Books

Imprint of Upstart Books

There is something special about monarch butterflies. The way they flit through the air, dancing from shrub to shrub, is just delightful to watch. There is a gentleness and beauty about them. I have had swan plants on and off for years and I love watching the eggs turn into caterpillars, and the caterpillars munch their way through the plants. I’m amazed at how they spin themselves into a cocoon and break free, before eventually flying high as bright beautiful butterflies. This book shows you the life cycle of the Monarch Butterfly through all its stages. Informative, in an easy story format makes this a sweet introduction for young readers. The illustrations are sweet but realistic. The pages at the back hold more detailed information on how the butterflies came to New Zealand shores.

Journey through the cat door

By Belinda O’Keefe

Illustrated by Monica Koster

ISBN 9781776890408

Bateman Books

Enzo is a Russian Blue cat living a normal life with his family of humans when a cat door is installed in his home. Not interested at first, he is pushed through by human hands. What he finds on the other side of the door is not his home. It is no longer his own backyard. The yard has suddenly become a forest, and in front of him is an angry bear. The action begins immediately with Ezno having to run for his life.

Entry through the cat door sets in motion a world of adventure and danger. Plenty of danger. Lots of risk-taking and lots of challenges.

As much as there is danger, there is humour, and a chance to make new cat friends. Enzo has been recruited by PAWS which is an agency on a mission to defeat the terrible and cruel villain Professor Olga Stone. As a master chef, she attempts to gather endangered species so she can cook them and offer exquisite meals to her customers. Enzo and his friends will do whatever they can to stop her, even risking their own lives.

There are a number of fun characters, including a goat named Gavin.

A fun read, with Enzo narrating the story. It is not too long, has short chapters with the occasional black and white line drawings by Monica Koster. This is a good read for a class read aloud. Part fantasy, part adventure and a good mix of humour.

Just keep going

By Donna Blaber

ISBN 9781927229781

Lighthouse Media Group

Just keep going is the third book in the Just series aimed at 11 to 14 year olds. While the short novels connect with each other, they can each be read as a standalone. Having read all three books now, I can say I thoroughly enjoyed everyone of them. I loved meeting the characters and reading about their different lives and situations.

Here, we meet Becky who has recently arrived in New Zealand to live with her father, stepmother and baby stepbrother who live by the sea. Becky is missing her mum who is stuck in the Uk waiting for a place in MIQ to join her in New Zealand. Becky struggles with the world around her, especially the impact of her new blended family and missing her own mum. One day she finds a special, black stone on the beach, and that’s when things begin to change. Becky meets an elderly neighbour Ivy, and they become friends, spending time talking together. Ivy lends her an old windsurfer and Becky spends time on the water. It is there, in and out of the waves that she discovers a dolphin who does everything it can to attract her attention. Becky joins her new school friends in an environmental group and the dolphin soon becomes topic of conversation, alongside marine pollution and the impact on nature. Out windsurfing one day, Becky finds herself in real danger and the tension picks up.

Once again, Donna Blaber has woven mystery, theme and characters seamlessly together. The characters are believable, and likeable. The environmental issues, and family relationships are a strong theme that threads it way through the three books. The stories are well written, researched and current.

Becky and her friends are thoughtful, environmentally aware, kind and loyal. Good friends!

Roar Squeak Purr : A New Zealand Treasury of Animal Poems

Edited by Paula Green

Illustrated by Jenny Cooper

ISBN 9780143775140

Penguin Books NZ

A marvellous menagerie of animal poems for children by New Zealand’s best writers – some of them children – selected by star New Zealand poet Paula Green and adorably illustrated by Jenny Cooper.

The title of this book says it all. It is a superb treasury of poems and a real treasure.

Every poem deserves its place in this collection. Some are old favourites from a number of years ago, written by some of New Zealand’s best writers, others are new. There are also poems by children. For those children included in these beautifully illustrated pages, what a wonderful achievement. As a poet, and writer myself, I can still recall my childhood dreams of wanting to be published, and for the young poets in this book, you have every right to feel incredibly proud. What an amazing book to be published in, and for the adults, I can imagine your own sense of pride.

The poems are funny, informative, imaginative, cheeky and cover so many animal topics. Each and everyone is accompanied by one of Jenny Coopers delightful, warm, funny and thoughtful full-colour illustrations. Lots of colour with wonderful matching up of words and pictures. I have always loved Jenny Cooper’s work. There is a warmth about her illustrations that just hits home, every time.

There is a handy Author Index and Animal Index at the back of the book.

Juliette MacIver’s poem Piwakawaka is full of alliteration and it is so easy to imagine fantails flitting about in the forests and bushes of New Zealand.

Hector’s Dolphin by Sally Sutton was one of the favourite picks from a group of year six children who love writing themselves. Other names to watch out for are Joy Cowley, Ben Brown, Bill Nagelkerke, Emma Neale, David Hill, Margaret Mahy, Melinda Szymanik, Paula Green herself, of course, and oh so many more imaginative poets.

I would love to see this anthology become part of a series. Families, climate change and the environment would make great collections.

This deserves a place in every school library. For teachers reading this, this is definitely one to add to your own resources. A fun book to pick up and flip to any page and read together with the family.

I have been reading the library copy but I am going to have to buy my own as I simply don’t want to return this. However, as a school librarian, having an overdue library book is not a good look.

Paula Green loves poetry. She advocates for children to think about poetry, to be creative, and to encourage students to send her their own poems for possible publication on her well-known PoetryBox Blog

Where is it in town? : a wildlife hunt for Kiwi kids

Written and illustrated by Ned Barraud

ISBN 9781988550466

Potton and burton

Ned Barraud has done it again. His latest, soon-to-be published book, is full of all things natural found in and around the home and town.

He takes us into backyards, sheds, gardens, public parks, and reserves. He shows us, in wonderful artistic detail, the bugs and insects, birds and bees, leaf litter and even the fish found in a wharf.

A full colour illustration starts on one side of a page and moves across the double page spread. One half of each right side shows and names the different wildlife. This allows the illustrations to take centre stage. The last few pages provides information on each of the different creatures, birds, fish, insects and animals.

His illustrations, as always, are detailed and have a natural beauty that brings them to life.

I often think his illustrations would make wonderful jigsaw puzzles.

My particular favorites are at the wharf, and the botanical gardens.

This is a wonderful companion book to his previous book Where is it? This one doesn’t come out until November, but I can see this as a popular choice for Christmas for those children who love books about nature, and animals. An excellent choice for school libraries too, especially for looking at New Zealand’s wildlife.

The Grizzled Grist does not exist

By Juliette MacIver

Illustrated by Sarah Davis

ISBN 9781776574155

Gecko Press

Liam is a quiet, yet observant boy, who notices other things many children tend to miss. On a school trip in the countryside, while everyone else is busy running on ahead, Liam notices the children are being followed by what appears to be a gruesome Grizzled Grist. A Grizzled Grist is a large scary monster that likes to eat children. Liam tells the teacher one such monster is in the Dismal Hills with them but she tells him that they do not exist.

Have you ever heard of a Grizzled Grist? Do you know what one looks like? Liam does. He can see it lurking in the woods, moving in and out of the trees, but Ms. Whisk continues to tell him they don’t exist, despite wooden signs warning them.

When darkness falls

in rising mist

Beware

the Gruesome

Grizzled Grist.

I love the rhyme and rhythm, and playfulness of this story. It is a skill Juliette MacIver works into all her books.

Sarah Davis creates cute and believable characters with her delightful illustrations. There is always a softness to her illustrations which I find particularly appealing. I also love the diversity in her work.

Once again, author and illustrator, have collaborated well together and brought Liam and his friends back to life for another wonderful read.

Grandpa’s Storybook collection

By Joy Watson

Illustrated by Wendy Hodder

ISBN 9781775436614

Scholastic NZ

The cover of this new picture book collection is bright red. Grandpa stands in the centre with images from the different books surrounding him and his cheeky smile. It is a cover that says ‘pick me, pick me’.

Grandma and Grandpa have a wonderful relationship. They adore each other, even if Grandma sometimes gets annoyed with some of the things Grandpa does. Every time she tries to tidy things or make changes, somehow Grandpa messes things up again but Grandma is never cross, she just smiles at him.

Take the day she went through his clothes and sent his old grey cardigan off to the op-shop. Guess what Grandpa did next? Or the day Grandpa wanted to go to the beach but he had trouble with his shorts.

My favourite is Grandpa’s Cat. The cat goes missing and Grandma and Grandpa search everywhere. Poor old Grandpa begins to to think the worst has happened to the cat but just when he is about to give up, he hears a sound. A special kitty sound.

There is a reason Grandpa’s stories have been around for a very long time, and that is, they are funny, definitely relatable, and just a jolly good read. The illustrations, by Wendy Hodder, are funny with a retro look befitting the personalities of the grandparents.

This is a great collection to share with young, and not so young children. The stories are already firm favourites in many school libraries and homes, so it is so lovely to see them all together in one collection for even more children to enjoy.

Story titles

Grandpa’s slippers

Grandpa’s cat

Grandpa’s shed

Grandpa’s cardigan

Grandpa’s shorts

Ihaka and the Unexpected Visitor

By Kirsty Wadsworth

Illustrated by Zak Waipara

ISBN 9781775437543

Scholastic NZ

 Īhaka arrives home from school and almost immediately hears a booming knock at the door. It just happens to be Tāwhirimātea who is the Maori god of wind and storms. He is a most unusual visitor and he needs help because his littlest cloud has gone missing. Īhaka is excited and eager to help. The two set off in search of the little cloud. Along the way they meet a number of other Maori gods, such as Tāne god of the forest, and Tangaroa, god of the sea. Can they help? Do they know where the littlest cloud has gone or will Īhaka need to look for help closer to home?

This is a good introduction to different Maori gods for pre-school and primary school children. It’s also a good story for demonstrating teamwork and not being afraid to ask for help when you need it.

Lots of natural colours used in the illustrations, befitting the different Maori gods and their natural world.

There is also a te reo Maori version which is perfect timing for Maori Language week 12th to 19th September this year.

Perlorus Jack the Dolphin Guide

By Susan Brocker

Illustrated by Raymond McGrath

ISBN 9781775437475

Scholastic NZ

For 24 years, from 1888 to 1912 a very special moon-white dolphin guided ships through wild seas in the Marlborough Sounds which is in the upper South Island of New Zealand. People named the dolphin Pelorus Jack and everyone loved him. People came from all over the world to see this beautiful, friendly dolphin. Even some Royalty came and they got a very special, wet welcome from the friendly dolphin.

I discovered an interesting thing from this book that I never knew before. The famous writer Rudyard Kipling actually met Pelorus Jack. Later there was an incident that could have ended disastrously, but thankfully Perlorus Jack was safe. The incident had a profound impact on the people who loved the dolphin and they gathered outside parliament, demanding laws to protect him.

I do love how picture books can be creative and factually informative at the same time. The author and illustrator have worked together on a previous book, Mrs Chippy the cat, another picture book based on fact.

There is a page of historical notes at the back for further reading.

Messy-o-saurus

By Rachel Weston

Illustrated by Scott Tulloch

ISBN 978-0-473-63513-8

Weston Books Ltd.

Someone is making messes. Lots of messes in all the different rooms. Toys all over the place, muddy footprints and just big messes everywhere. Someone, a little girl with delightful pigtails and a cheeky smile, is very good at pointing the finger and blaming a raft of different monsters for causing the mess. There is a Gogglebox monster, and a Smelly-Belly monster and even a fearsome Fangle-Fangle monster. However, one monster in particular, is guilty of creating the mess.

A fun story, with gorgeous bright and bold coloured illustrations.

Definitely a picture book to share with toddlers.

Goat on a trampoline

By Amy Harrop

Illustrated by Ross Hamilton

ISBN 9781776890231

David Bateman Books

Lily is a cheeky goat who is bored. Lily is so bored she has chewed her way through jandals, chased dogs and even disturbed a weta. Lily reckons she has done everything and is looking for something new to do to pass the time. After spying a trampoline, Lily just has to give it a go. It turns out it might not have been the best idea.

Lily becomes over confident and a bit too much showing off, lands her in trouble.

A good example of the old adage pride comes before a fall. A wee lesson shared in a fun picture book.

Dougal the dancing Kākāpō

By Kath Bee

Illustrated by Lisa Allen

ISBN 9781776890057

Bateman Books

Dougal the Kākāpō loves dancing. All sorts of dancing. He rumbas in the rain, hulas in the sand on a sunny day. He hip-hops and breakdances too. He even plays a few musical instruments. Definitely a very talented kakapo.

Best of all, Dougal loves to move and have fun and he loves it all.

A sweet, colourful picture book all about having fun and doing whatever makes you happy. Dancing with friends makes it even more fun.

Her Patient Fight : Poems of a journey, hardship to hope

By Catie Nettlingham

ISBN 9780473626563

Mary Egan Publishing

After finishing high school, young adult Catie Nettlingham left her family home in the North Island and headed to Christchurch to study. Catie was keen and excited to begin a new life, but sadly, mental illness crept in and took over her life. This book is testament to her struggles and commitment to heal.

Catie allows us into her world, warts and all. We are privy to her moods, her depression and her fears for the future. Written as a collection of thoughtful, honest and raw poems, we are along for the journey as she takes us through her dark days and out the other side. We can see hope as Catie comes to terms with her diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

Catie reminds us

Recovery is days, months, years.

Being calm and accepting is the trick.

Gratitude helps.

(From Recovery Page 48)

It is a short collection but the poems are important. Mental illness is often a taboo subject, especially with teenagers, so Catie’s honesty is refreshing. Writing gives Catie wellness and stability and it is her hope that this book will help other teens and young adults dealing with their own mental health issues and illnesses.

Thank you Catie for sharing your story.

Bad Panda : The cake escape

By Swapna Haddow

Illustrated by Sheena Dempsey

ISBN 9780571352456

Faber

We first met these cute pandas, Lin and her best friend, Fu, in Bad Panda. Well, they are back and just as funny, if not funnier. Humour seems to be author Swapna Haddow’s forte, for I found myself smiling or giggling to myself, many times. I think the humour lends itself to being read aloud for the best effect.

Fu goes missing. At first Lin thinks he’s off somewhere doing his own thing but she begins to worry when she can’t find him. As she searches, asking all the other animals in the zoo if they’ve seen him, she comes to realise that a horrid, little human child may have stolen Fu to add to his collection. With the help from Small Racoon, Lin follows the clues in this humorous, mystery-adventure novel for early chapter book readers. I love the in-jokes from the narrator directing their opinions directly to the reader.

The characters are quirky, with delightful, likeable personalities. There is a sort of innocence about them as well as determination and quiet bravery. Best of all, is their loyalty and friendship to each other. Teamwork, really makes a difference.

Sheena Dempsey brings Swapna’s characters to life, with her gorgeously cute illustrations and there are lots of them. Some sections are part graphic novel which adds to the humour, but also breaks up the text a little for newly independent readers who might otherwise find a full text chapter book a bit daunting.

Swapna and Sheena are the perfect combination of author and illustrator who totally understand each other. This combination, along with their publishers, has created another jolly good read. I look forward to (hopefully) a third book in this delightful series about Lin and Fu and all their friends.