How to hang a witch

By Adriana Mather

ISBN 9780553539479

 

It has been sometime since I posted a YA trailer. Not sure if they are not being made as often but seeing this one, I am glad there are some people out there who still believe in the power of a good trailer. After watching this one I am very keen to get hold of a copy of the book when it comes out next month. Will be down to the bookshops for sure.

Sam  Mather is a descendent of Cotton Mather who was one of the men responsible for the famous witch trials of Salem. When Sam ends up moving to Salem and attending the high school, she is confronted by descendents on the other side who see her as trouble. Being an outsider is never easy and the folks here are not keen to help her. There is also a ghost and a centuries old curse to deal with. Sounds intriguing and one to look out for. Ghosts, witches and curses is striaght up my alley!

 

 

 

Yours Sincerely, Giraffe

By Megumi Iwasa

Illustrated by Jun Takabatake

ISBN 9781927271872

Gecko Press

 

GIraffe_cover-PAPERBACK-IB.indd

Giraffe is bored, as usual. He’d love a friend to share things with. So he writes a letter and sends it as far as possible across the other side of the horizon. There he finds a pen pal—Penguin.

Giraffe knows nothing about penguins and his letters are full of questions. What does a penguin look like? Where is a penguin’s neck?

And so the letters begin to fly from horizon to horizon. (Gecko Press)

 

In his loneliness Giraffe enlists the help of Pelican to deliver letters past the horizon to the unknown other side. When Pelican eventually arrives back with a letter in return, Giraffe is excited and happy but also curious. With wonderful whimsical yet matter of fact, albeit incorrect logic, Giraffe comes up with some strange ideas of what his letter writer Penguin, would look like. The comical line drawings and easy to read text and short chapters make this a perfect read for newly independent readers. So often today, books stretch the boundaries for children so it is lovely to see a sweet feel-good story about friendship that leaves you smiling.  I love the chapter headings too. Just a couple to share.

A bored Giraffe writes his first letter

or

Is the horizon near or far

Letter writing might be on the endangered list but Yours Sincerely, Giraffe show us how wonderful this tradition is and how we need to keep it alive. This will make a good tool for teachers to use when looking at writing. Besides, who could not resist a letter headed Dear Giraffe who is trying to look like a penguin.

Published in August, this is one to look out for.

 

Tangaroa’s Gift

by Mere Whaanga

Te Koha ā Tangaroa

Nā Ngawini Kereru Whakamāori

ISBN 9781775434122

Scholastic NZ

6

I am delighted to see this book is available again, all spruced up and ready for a new audience. It is a bilingual book which is especially important as we celebrate Te Reo this week.

This is a simple but lovely pourquoi tale. It is the myth-like telling of how Paua got his beautiful shiny colours and why they happen to be on the inside of his shell.

Lovely use of language adds to the sense of storytelling and the oral traditions of years goneby. This is ideal to read out loud.

                    And he fashioned for Paua a wonderful coat that sparkled and dazzled with its beauty.

I also adore the beautiful purples, pinks, deep-sea blues and forest greens as images swirl across each page creating movement and mood.

It is more than a simple tale though as it can be used to discuss jealousy, and even bullying but maintaining its under lying message that each of us has beauty within. We all have something that makes us special. That in itself makes this a special book to add to any collection.

 

 

 

 

 

Gus’s Garage

By Leo Timmers

ISBN 9781776570935

Gecko Press

Gus's Garage_Cover_med

This book stands out with its bright bold colours. I love the birds with their cheeky faces as they sit either side of Gus’s garage on the cover of the book. They each have an eye on Gus making him the real focus of this fun picture book.

Gus is a great thinker and knows just how to solve his friends mechanical problems. All sorts of bits and bobs are used to fix problems as one by one they come to Gus in need of his help. After working hard all day helping others Gus finds he has his own problem to solve which he does just perfectly.

Leo Timmers is a writer and illustrator I follow. His work is bright and quirky with so much appeal that it is so easy to become a fan. You will certainly want to check out his other works. A great book to read again and again. I know wee ones will love pointing out the birds as they appear on each page. A delight to read and enjoy.

Return

By Aaron Becker

ISBN 9781406368437

 

So excited about this upcoming book. Not out until August but I am already hanging out for this book now. I love the first two books and have no doubt I will fall in love with the third book in this trilogy of wonderful wordless picture books. Despite having no words these stories say so much. The use of sepia tones to start at the very beginning in Journey through to the red and bright colours so symbolic of so many things. Imagination is such an important part of these books and the best thing is that imagination feeds upon itself and by the time you finish reading these books you have experienced an amazing journey. You have found new friends to travel with and experience adventure and fun.

Gorgeously illustrated and thought-provoking these books are a delight to read over and over again. Lots of sophisticated thinking happens when using these in class as teachers at my school of employment, tell me. While you are waiting for Return to be published do make sure you find copies of Journey and Quest if you haven’t read them already. This very cool book trailer is copyright of the publishers, of course. Walker Books and Candlewick Press.

Much ado about Shakespeare

The life and times of William Shakespeare – a literary picture book

Written and illustrated by Donovan Bixley

ISBN 9781927262023

Upstart Press

Much-ado-about-Shakespeare1-827x1024

If this book was around when I was studying the works of Shakespeare I am sure my grades would have been higher. This is both tongue-in-cheek funny and serious all at the same time. Brightly coloured illustrations showcase William Shakespeare’s entire life from birth to final breath. Each illustration is accompanied by a brief but well researched account of a specific time in Shakespeare’s life.  Each of these is in turn accompanied by quotes from Shakespeare’s works and plays. 

Donovan Bixley has given careful attention to detail especially in the illustrations of clothing and the times in general. I do love the rather buxom ladies in the bars and brothels. You can’t help but smile and wonder just what life must have been like in those days. The timeline at the back of the book makes this more than just a book to enjoy, it’s a book to learn about the life and times of one of the worlds greatest writers ever. A wonderful addition to any library or home. As soon as I return this copy to the library I will be out to get my own copy to keep. I’ll just hold on to this one a bit longer …

It is very fitting that Much ado about Shakespeare is a finalist for the Russel Clark Illustration Award in the 2016 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. A fitting tribute to the writer who died 400 years ago in 1616.

 

 

 

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There are a number of picture books about Matariki which have been around for awhile but these two are newly published this year and deserve a place alongside of the old favourites.

 

The seven kites of Matariki

By Calico McClintock

Illustrated by Dominique Ford

ISBN 9781775434016

Scholastic NZ

kites

 

“It was deep mid-winter and all through the village preparations were being made to farewell the old year and greet the new. For the first time ever, the seventh little sister, Ururangi, was big enough to make her own celebration kite. But when the seven sisters take the finished kites to fly them, the east wind whips them all away into the sky …where they now appear as the stars of Matariki to welcome the Maori new year.’

I love the motifs running through the pages of this book. They are in the clouds and sky, and in the kites and all through the backgrounds of the illustrations. It is perfect for highlighting the significance of the New Year to Maori and the traditions which we all celebrate today.  This is easy to read and ideal for teachers to open up discussions on Matariki with their students. I love the use of colour too here, especially the different shades of blue. It is great to see New Zealand-themed picture books being published and this is definitely one to add to a school or home library collection.

 

The little kiwi’s Matariki

By Nikki Slade Robinson

ISBN 9781927305195

Duck Creek Press

kiwi

The little Kiwi is fast asleep in her burrow. A beam of moonlight shines right down into her burrow. She wakes, and realises it is time. Hurrying out into the night, she wakes each of her friends from their mid-winter slumber. ‘Kia tere! Hurry!’ she urges them.

 

As Kiwi runs through the forest, stopping to urge others to follow him,  we are introduced to many of New Zealand’s native birdlife as well as the katipo spider. I think this makes it quite special in terms of a New Zealand-themed  picture book. At the back of the book there is a double page spread outlining the facts about Matariki which is a great addition to have. Good to use at both pre-school and primary school as an introduction to one of our most special celebrations.

The other brother

By Stephanie Thatcher

Illustrated by Stephanie Thatcher

ISBN 9781775433828

Scholastic NZ

 

 

brother

Bertie McQuerty is the other brother, the one who struggles just a bit. He has no special arty skills, or sporty skills, in fact he feels quite lacking in skills and talents altogether. Not to be put off though, Berty does attempt things but somehow, no matter how hard he tries, he ends up being a little distracted.

The gorgeous illustrations show just how adorable he is with his big friendly smile. He does have a little yellow chick as his special friend and young readers will love looking for this chick hidden on each page of the book. This is a feel-good picture book all about trying things out, giving it a go and accepting that we are not all the same. We all have that something which makes us special, that something we are good at. Do look out for this gorgeous picture book especially if you want to know what makes Berty McQuerty special.

I think this would be ideal in both pre-school and primary schools, not just for its moral message but because it is simply a lovely book to share.

 

 

Theodore Boone

By John Grisham

Theodore Boone is a schoolboy lawyer who loves to fight the bad guys and stop corruption.  However, for 13 year old Theodore, will being an honest lawyer stop him from breaking the law to catch the bad guys? I know a bunch of year sixes who are willing to fight over these books.

There is so much more on the Theodore Boone website. Do drop by and have some fun.

 

 

 

Thatchthorpe

Book three in The Bloodtree Chronicles

By Elizabeth Pulford

ISBN 9781775432876

Scholastic NZ

6

While Thatchthorpe is the third book in this trilogy, it can be read as a stand alone novel. No doubt reading the first two books will add to the depth of the story, but it does work well as a good fantasy adventure by itself.

As a twelve year old Abigail lives a normal life, even being bullied at school but when given a green cloak, she is suddenly whisked off in to the magical Silvering kingdom. It is here she becomes Spindale and it is her task to save the Kingdom.  There is the Bloodtree which has been poisoned and is losing all its leaves. The tree’s death will mean the end of all stories.

Spindale has stepped into fairy tale stories and as with all good fairy tales, there is always another twist or another hurdle to overcome. In this third book Spindale is tricked, kidnapped and then held prisoner. Not only does she have to escape, find Thatchtorpe and solve the mystery of her locket but she must also try and overthrow the evil Rackenard. Then there is also Zezmena who has her own agenda and reasons for creating havoc for Spindale. Lots of twists and turns, lots of character and adventure.  It is good to see Spindale growing in character and strength but will it be enough. Will she be able to save the stories before they are all gone for good. And just who is controlling the stories?

“No. That’s not possible.”  She was silent for a bit.

“But then again, perhaps it is. After all, we are in the world of stories, where at the stroke of a pen, anything and everything can be changed…”

This is great for 10 to 14 year old readers who love a bit of mystery, a bit of fantasy and just a good story.

I love the covers, gorgeously illustrated by Donovan Bixley.

Check out the first two books.

5

 

 

4

 

 

Fuzzy Doodle

By Melinda Szymanik

Illustrated by Donovan Bixley

ISBN 9781775432500

Scholastic NZ

 

fuzzy

This gorgeous book arrived at school today and the first thing one of the teachers said when I showed it to her was “it’s beautiful” and I wholeheartedly agree. I’ve read it a number of times now and see something different every time. I know I have to return this to school tomorrow so I am going to have to get my own copy when it comes out in a few weeks as it is one to keep.

It is a beautifully produced hardback, portrait size, sophisticated picture book. It is all about the creative process with the clever metaphor of a caterpillar’s life-cycle. And we all know what a caterpillar turns in to.

Fuzzy begins as a scribble and starts eating his way through inky bits and then words and then soon he is eating paragraphs. From paragraphs, stories grow and I won’t ruin the ending nor the metamorphosis of Fuzzy, except to say it is beautiful. Donovan Bixley’s illustrations are delightful. His charcoal and ink illustrations are more abstract that what we normally see in his work but these are perfect for Melinda’s story. As Fuzzy evolves, so does the page and so too, the black smudges to glorious colour.

The whole process of writing, beginning with the germ of an idea and the smudge on the page, to the final outcome is demonstrated with some wonderful poetic devices which children will love. My favourite is always alliteration.

“Then that parcel, it changed colour, creaked and cracked till it broke open…”

This is perfect and not just for schools or young readers, but would be a wonderful gift to writer friends you know or older students who love writing. It is simply, inspiring and makes you want to create your own scribbles and turn them into something beautiful.

Teacher notes can be found here. Well worth using to extend students use of this wonderful book.

Raymie Nightingale

By Kate DiCamillo

ISBN 9781406363135

Walker Books

 

 

 

5

 

Raymie Clarke had her world turned upside when dad ran off with the dental hygienist. However, Raymie does have a plan to get him back again. If she can learn to twirl a baton and enter the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition and then win it, her father might see Raymie’s picture in the paper and come home to Raymie and her mother.   Criteria for the competition also includes doing good deeds. Her attempts at good deeds doesn’t go so well and actually creates other problems for her to deal with. Alongside all this, Raymie has to contend with Louisiana Elefante, who has a show-business background and therefore could be tough competition, and Beverly Tapinski who is strong but troubled and is determined to sabotage the contest.

This is a moving tale of three girls, each with their own problems, who discover the true value of friendship. As they learn to support each other it leads each of them to discover difficult truths they had been avoiding. Friendship, honesty and acceptance are strong themes throughout this novel but rather than being in your face, these qualities come slowly as the girls learn to trust each other. This is sweet and moving and great for middle grade readers. Loved it! But then I love all of Kate DiCamillo’s works. Read this one and then look for more of her books. They are all quality writing and wonderful stories.

Hex

By Thomas Olde Heuvelt

ISBN 9781444793239

Hodder & Stoughton

 

isbn9781444793239-detail

As soon as I saw this I knew I had to share!

What a cool and creepy cover.  I am seriously going to have to get a copy of this book. The trailer is awesome. Top quality and creepy as! I love books that make you cringe and your skin crawl with fear and I just can’t wait for this one. Out this month New Zealand and Australia. One of those crossover novels sure to appeal and creep out both YA and adult readers.

“Whoever is born here, is doomed to stay until death. Whoever comes to stay, never leaves.

Welcome to Black Spring, the seemingly picturesque Hudson Valley town haunted by the Black Rock Witch, a seventeenth-century woman whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut. Blind and silenced, she walks the streets and enters homes at will. She stands next to children’s beds for nights on end. So accustomed to her have the townsfolk become that they often forget she’s there. Or what a threat she poses. Because if the stitches are ever cut open, the story goes, the whole town will die.

The curse must not be allowed to spread. The elders of Black Spring have used high-tech surveillance to quarantine the town. Frustrated with being kept in lockdown, the town’s teenagers decide to break the strict regulations and go viral with the haunting. But, in so doing, they send the town spiraling into a dark nightmare.”

If you want to read an interview then click here

Magrit

By Lee Battersby

Illustrations by Amy Daoud

ISBN 9781925081343

Walker Books Australia

magrit

 

What a treasure! This is a very special and beautifully produced novel for readers from nine up.  Heart-warming, touching and sad all rolled in to a wonderful story where the truth is the hardest of all things to find. Beautifully written, I was hooked from the very first page. I just wanted to take Magrit home with me. I sat in the sun reading this today and just didn’t want to put the book down or do anything else. I had to keep going until I found out how the story ends. So I did just that. Sat and read until I knew Magrit’s truth. While I think this would be great for parents to read to children, I am also inclined to think this is one of those special books that readers will love for themselves and make their own connections to Magrit, Bugrat and the Master Puppet.  I bought this book for the school library where I work and I know it will be a hit – but the thing is – I have to return it to school for others to read but I really don’t want to. I actually want to read it all over again. Hmm – late night coming on!

“Magrit lives in an abandoned cemetery with her friend and advisor, Master Puppet, whom she built from bones and bits of graveyard junk. She is as forgotten as the tiny graveyard world that surrounds her. One night as Magrit and Master Puppet sit atop of their crumbling chapel, a passing stork drops a baby into the graveyard. Defying Master Puppet s demands that the baby be disposed of, and taking no heed of his dire warnings, Magrit decides to raise the baby herself. She gives him a name: Bugrat. Magrit loves Bugrat like a brother, friend and son all rolled into one. But Master Puppet and the newly discovered skeleton girl know all too well what will happen when Bugrat grows up – that the truth about them all will be revealed. Something Magrit refuses to face”

 

ANZAC Day is such a special event in both New Zealand and Australian history that 100 years later we are still respecting our ancestors and all they did to serve our countries.

Here is a selection of some of my favourite World War One picture books to share with children. While not all focus on the Gallipoli Campaign, they do talk of the impact of war and are all very worthy to share with children when they ask why do we still have ANZAC parades. Simply put, it is to remember them. All of them. Those who went to war, those who fought and never made it home and yes, even those who stayed at home and helped kept families strong.

 

Gladys goes to war

By Glyn Harper

Illustrated by Jenny Cooper

ISBN 9780143507208

Puffin Booksgldays

 

Gladys Sandford was a very special and determined woman. Told that war was no place for women, Gladys fought convention and went to war, driving ambulances and even fixing them. Gladys was also the first woman in New Zealand to gain a pilot’s license. Based on the real life Gladys this is a very special book. Often illustrators are great at either drawing animals or people. It is not every illustrator who can do both well but Jenny Cooper does this and does it beautifully.

 

The ANZAC puppy

By Peter Millet

Illustrated by Trish Bowles

ISBN 9781775430971

Scholastic

puppy

“In the middle of the night, in the middle of the winter, in the middle of a war, a puppy was born.’ This fictional story was inspired by the story of Freda, a Harlequin Great Dane and mascot of the NZ Rifle Brigade during World War 1. The ANZAC Puppy is a simple story about the reality of war, hardship, friendship and love.”

This is a great story for younger readers especially for its happy ending, despite the harsh realities of war and the pain of being involved in such awful times.

 

 

The red poppy

By David Hill

Illustrated by Fifi Colston

ISBN 9781775430704

Scholastic

poppy

“Young soldier Jim McLeod waits in the trenches of World War I for the order to attack the enemy. With him are his friends, and Nipper, the messenger dog. When they charge across no-man’s-land, Jim is shot …and finds himself face to face with an enemy soldier.”

 A poignantly illustrated picture book with lots to say. There is more focus on the trenches in David Hill’s story than some of the others chosen here today and this certainly adds impact. I love the colours used for this book. The sepia tones and the blood red of the poppies are ideal for this story and perfect for older children. There is much to read and look at in this book and would be ideal in a classroom of year 5 and six students. There is also the wonderful addition of a CD to listen to.

 

Jim’s letters

By Glyn Harper

Illustrated by Jenny Cooper

ISBN 9780143505907

 

jim

“Dear Jim, Your postcard arrived today. I showed it to the family. Mum misses you…” Between December 1914 and August 1915 Tom and Jim write to each other whenever they get a chance. Tom talks about life at home on the farm while Jim writes from Egypt and then from the trenches of the Gallipoli peninsula”

The power of this book is highlighting the lives of those at war and family at home. It was hard for family waiting at home knowing any day they might receive the dreadful news that their beloved son, brother or father was either wounded or killed. Nothing was certain and I think this book depicts this very well.

 

There are so many more books I could share. Below are two of my favourites already reviewed on this blog.

One minute’s silence

By David Metzenthen

 

ANZAC Heroes

By Maria Gill  (non-fiction but a perfect book to support these picture books)