The Little Yellow Digger A B C

A lift-the-flap book

By Peter and Alan Gilderdale

Based on the stores by Betty Gilderdale

ISBN 9781775436133

The Little Yellow Digger has been a household name for many years now. There have been a number of books in the series where our loveable little digger has exciting adventures, like starting school and even meeting a whale.

The latest is an alphabet picture book based on the stories about him. Each letter of the alphabet is hidden under a flap encouraging little hands to open them and discover the different letters. Lots of nice alliteration with words that begin with the featured letter from under each flap. A fun rhyming text helps the story flow. I love peeking under flaps in books.

This is a great introduction to the alphabet with fun, characters that children will recognise from the many stories about the loveable little yellow digger.

 

Mini Whinny: Goody four-shoes

By Stacy Gregg

Illustrated by Ruth Paul

ISBN 9781775435389

 

 

Mini Whinny is back. This time, she is upset at the arrival of a new pony who just happens to be very good at everything. Mini Whinny is jealous of Goody Four-Shoes, right from the start, even before she gets to know the other pony.

Mini Whinny’s friend, the grey and black tabby cat Berenice is back too, and she is the voice of wisdom as she makes helpful and kind suggestions for Mini Whinny to learn to accept change, and new friends.

There is definitely a lesson in there about not judging others, especially before we get to know someone but sometimes children (and adults, too) need a reminder to take time to get to know one another and be less judgemental. 

Ruth Paul’s illustrations are just as cute and adorable as ever.

 

 

The Crayons’ Christmas

By Drew Daywalt

Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

ISBN 9780008180362

 

 

 

I cannot resist books with envelopes and hidden letters. There is something very tactile and sort of secretive about slowly pulling a letter out from an envelope, even more so when the letter isn’t really for you. The Crayons are back for another adventure and this time Duncan and the Crayons share their Christmas celebrations in this delightful new picture book. Inside there are letters, a race game, Christmas decorations, even a pop-up Christmas tree and so much more. I love everything about this book.

Daywalt and Jeffers are a wonderful team and their Crayon stories are incredibly popular. The Crayons’ Christmas is a funny, interactive picture book reuniting characters we have grown to love. An ideal Christmas present.

 

The Dinky Donkey

By Craig Smith

Illustrated by Katz Cowley

ISBN 9781775436065

A fine sequel to the infamous Wonky Donkey picture book. Wonky Donkey now has a child and she is cute and small. She is in fact a little dinky donkey. In the same format as Wonky Donkey, this story brings humour and familiarity which young children love.

Illustrator Katz Cowley brings her to life with her cute illustrations. There is certainly a family resemblance and it is clear to see that dad donkey and Dinky Donkey love each other very much. Look out for Dinky Donkey’s very cute little humming bird friend.

You can go online to Craig’s website and purchase the song to add to your own collection.

 

 

The Wonky Donkey and other stories

By Craig Smith

Illustrated by Katz Cowley with Scott Tulloch

ISBN 9781775436096

To help celebrate ten years since the first publication of The Wonky Donkey, Scholastic have produced a collection of five of Craig Smith’s picture books in a quality hardback format. There is a CD included to help you enjoy the stories even more. Good for travelling in the car. A nice collection for fans of The Wonky Donkey.

I adore Chris Riddell and his talent for storytelling and creating the most amazingly gorgeous illustrations. I continue to add his books to my school library but also to my own collection. I shall die poor! Today I have a guest reviewer with her views on his latest book. Hannah is 8 years old and loves his books too and we have neat discussions about his books.  This is a new series and we are already keen for book two. No pressure Chris! Thank you so much Hannah for your review. You did beat me to reading it first.
Three children, three objects, three places that results in to a thrilling story of mysteries and magic. This story has made my imagination fly because of its characters creative thoughts. It’s the most mesmerising book I have ever read because it’s full of surprises. It has taken top place of my Chris Riddell list because it’s a different structure to his other books and I prefer this type of structure. As soon as I opened this book my eyes fell in love with it. You have to read this book.

        “ A magical story awaits your eyes”.

A book review by Hannah H age 8

I go quiet

By David Ouimet

ISBN 9781786897404

Canongate Books

David Ouimet and his publishers have produced a stunning, imaginative sophisticated picture book. It deals with a girl who is extremely introverted. Shy and unassuming she doesn’t even have a name. She goes through life feeling overwhelmed and struggles to find a place where she can fit in. She longs to be heard. This is her journey.

I adore the fact that this solitary, nameless girl finds solace in books. 

“When I read

I know there is

a world beneath

my branches.”

Books and reading helps her and gives her courage. The illustrations are dark and moody but they are also beautiful and hopeful. It is for the more mature reader but this would be a great book to unpack with a class and delve into the depths of its beauty and meaning. Love it.

 

 The Invincibles: Short Circuit (Book 2)

By Peter Millett

Illustrated by Myles Lawford

ISBN 9781775436003

Scholastic NZ

 

Book two in this adventurous series by author Peter Millett is just as much fun as the first book. The Invincibles; Tana, Scotty, Zinnia, Andrea and Muzza still have their super powers but this time there’s a problem and the children have all shrunk to tiny insect-sized versions of themselves. However, it does not stop them from getting into trouble or from trying to save the day against Tricky Ricky. More adventure, mystery and fun, although trying to escape magpies when you are very tiny morsel sized humans can be a little on the dangerous side.

A good series with short chapters and funny illustrations to break up the text making this ideal for readers who are just enjoying their first chapter books.

 

Miniwings: Moonlight the Unicorn’s High Tea Hiccup

By Sally Sutton

Illustrated by Kirsten Richards

ISBN 9781775434887

Scholastic NZ

Clara and Sophia have a secret and readers are encouraged to keep that secret safe. The girls have a small herd of miniwings, tiny little live horses. Guess what? They can fly and when they fly they always create a mess and cause trouble for the sisters who do everything they can to keep them hidden.

The miniwings are all back in this latest book and still up to their naughty ways. This time they get up to mischief at a high tea and get stuck into destroying all the fancy food. Watch out for some flying teeth. Yes, teeth!

The illustrations have lots of pinks and purples, greens and blues and they are definitely cute and certainly funny.

A little bit naughty and lot of fun. If you like this one, there are others in the series just as funny.

Eekily, sneakily

By Anne Hunter

Illustrated by Dave Gunson

ISBN 9781869665036

New Holland Publishers

Simple poems introduce young children to some of New Zealand’s smaller wildlife.

We meet frogs, snails, stick insects, worms, spiders, butterflies and others and even a lizard. Lots of alliteration and made up words make this a fun learning read. Dave Gunson’s illustrations are bright and cherry yet well detailed.

There is a section at the back with facts for each creature to add to their poems.

Eeekily, sneakily is a simple non-fiction book in picture book format. Many of the insects are found in our own backyards so this is good to help children identify them when they see them flying around.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

By J. K. Rowling

Illustrated by Jim Kay

ISBN 9781408845677

Bloomsbury

 

This is another beautifully illustrated collectors edition from Bloomsbury Publishers.

It doesn’t matter that I already have the set in paperback and hardback, this is something I just have to have, especially as I have the others in this beautiful format. Actually the original copies in the house belong to my now adult son, these illustrated ones are mine. The story is still the wonderful world of magic and mystery, although in this particular book the series takes a more dramatic turn and becomes darker and scarier, and sad too. It doesn’t really matter how old you are because if you are a fan of Harry Potter, then you are a fan for life. It also doesn’t matter how many times you read the books, there is always something new to discover that makes you suddenly think, so that’s why such and such happened.

Jim Kay brings a whole new element to the stories with his magical illustrations. There are stunning illustrations both in colour but also black and white which add mood and mysticism. Stunning.

Play around on the Wizarding World website to see much more.

My cat Dusty protecting my copy bought yesterday, one day after publication day.

Made by Maxine

By Ruth Spiro

Illustrated by Holly Hatam

ISBN 9780399186295

Penguin Young Readers Group

Maxine is a thinker, she’s intelligent, imaginative and creative, but most importantly she’s a maker. Maxine tinkers for fun but also when faced with problems, she thinks things over and rethinks again and again, until she finds a solution.

Maxine loves making new things out of old, even making music out of vegetables. Her dilemma is to try and find a way to take her pet fish, Milton, to the school pet parade. I love how persistent Maxine is and even though there are times when she wants to give up, she doesn’t. Instead, Maxine keeps trying different ideas to see what will work best. With the right attitude, a difficult situation can be seen positively.

She had already discovered a million ways that would not work. Which meant she was getting closer to finding a way that would.

This is an ideal picture book to use when thinking about STEM (Science, technology, science and mathematics) lessons.

The illustrations are sweet, and busy with lots of things happening, just like Maxine. A good pairing of illustrator and author. A great trailer for this book too.

 

The Gobble Degook Book

By Joy Cowley

Illustrated by Giselle Clarkson

ISBN 9781776572588

Gecko Press

This Joy Cowley Anthology is full to the brim with stories and poems to make you laugh out loud. Joy plays with language creating words of her own that will delight children of all ages. There are classics in here such as Niceketty-Nacketty, Noo-Noo-Noo and Greedy Cat. These and many more, have been around for years and loved for just as many years by children all over. The poem Goggly Gookers is a great example of her word creations. How can you not smile at lines like this;

The clop is in the fizz-bustle eating all the grimlings.

The illustrations in this collection add another level. From the bright yellow front cover with the big bold red title, to the giraffe on the back and everything else in between, this is a wonderful combination of story and pictures.

I feel very lucky to have had a chance to ask illustrator Giselle Clarkson some questions.

  1. The cover of this anthology is bright and immediately eye-catching.  How did you decide on which story to use for the cover?

We left the cover until very last. Vida Kelly (the book’s designer) and I had lots of back-and-forth discussion about it and went through heaps of different options before settling on the one we’ve got. In the end it just seemed like the character of the jumbaroo perfectly captured the spirit of the book. Exuberant, joyful, playful, brilliant nonsense. Because it’s an anthology we added characters and elements from other stories, my favourite bit is the tiny woman and her snail on the barcode.

  1. Were you a keen artist as a child and was this something you wanted to always do? What sort of pictures did you draw as a child?

I wasn’t particularly big on toys or sports, I liked climbing trees, computer games and art. I was really fortunate to grow up in a home with art supplies always there for me to use. I always knew I wanted to be some kind of artist, but it didn’t dawn on me that illustration was my dream job until I was about 25. It was a real “oh yeah, duh” moment for me.

When I was very young liked drawing happy people, flowers, and jewel-bright birds and fish. When I was about 10 I started reading things like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and King Arthur and got really into drawing dragons, elves and enchanted woods.

  1. What is your process for drawing and which medium do you like to use best. 

I do all my illustration digitally – I use a Wacom drawing tablet and Photoshop. What I like best about drawing on a computer is that I can experiment endlessly and never waste any paper.

  1. There is a childlike quality to the pictures which is perfect for this collection. Was it a deliberate choice to do this and how hard was it to achieve?

This is pretty much my most natural way of drawing! Coming up with a good idea can take hours, but the final drawing can often be done very quickly. A lot of the time (for other work) I have to go back over my first versions and make them much more polished, but for The Gobbledegook book they were intentionally kept sudden and loose and un-fussed over. It was wonderful to work that way. Some of my favourites are unchanged from the first quick ideas I did to show the publishers, like the tiny woman standing under the falling leaves, or the wee wishy woman facing off the ogre in Nicketty-Nacketty Noo-Noo-Noo.

  1. How do you relax, or what do you like to do in your spare time?

I like to go outside. I love to garden, and walk in the bush or on the beach. I usually have my nose to the ground looking for interesting stuff, like insects or feathers or unusual fungi. My walks on the beach are always very slow because I inspect everything that’s come in on the last tide.

  1. If you could have dinner with any character from any book, who would it be and why?

A quiet meal with Mog the cat from Judith Kerr’s books. I love Mog, and I miss my own cat who died recently and was a lot like her. I could rub Mog’s belly and I’d let her sit on the table, and we’d both have soft boiled eggs for our tea.

  1. What advice would you give to someone wanting to illustrate children’s books.

Persistence and practice and a lot of honest, constructive criticism of your own work! Having 32+ blank pages to fill can be extremely daunting, you don’t want to go into that unprepared!

I didn’t study illustration, so I spent several years getting experience by building up a portfolio of commercial work, always with children’s book illustration as a goal in mind. Long before I had anything published I went to a conference in Wellington for children’s authors and illustrators, and things I learnt back then are still useful to me now – about storytelling, contracts, and publishing in general. There are also so many wonderful and kind people working in illustration who are happy to offer advice if you just ask.

Thanks Giselle for sharing your thoughts with us. I love your self-portrait and the one of Joy. Just delightful. I love the look of contentment on both of your faces.

This has got to be one of the best tours for an intern, ever. What an awesome place to work. A super introduction to the world of books by Penguin Random House.

Adorable, cute, informative, friendly, the list goes on. Do take note that at the end of the video there is the assurance that these beautiful penguins were always very well treated, with the right people on hand to assist them on their internship tour of the company.

Just so adorable!

The Scarecrow

By Beth Ferry

Illustrated by the Fan Brothers

ISBN 9780062475763

HarperCollins

 

All the animals know not to mess with old Scarecrow. But when a small, scared crow falls from midair, Scarecrow does the strangest thing.…

He saves the tiny baby crow.

Soon a loving bond grows between the two unlikely friends. But is it strong enough to weather the changing of the seasons?

 

There is something magical about scarecrows. I have always secretly believed they are a little bit human, in that they each have their own personality and perhaps, when no one is watching, climb down from their posts and spring to life. I always thought there was something sad about them too. I have just ordered a copy of The Scarecrow for my school library but I can see I will probably be buying a second one for myself, as this just looks so beautiful. We need more feel-good stories for children, with subtle little messages that will leave them feeling happy, but also just a little more thoughtful.

I am a huge fan of the Fan Brothers and have a number of their books already. I love this trailer for its warmth, its quietness and beauty.  The illustrations are just gorgeous, and there is a softness that is so heart-warming.  Can’t wait for this to arrive. 

Click here for some activity sheets to accompany this picture book.

The Iron Man

By Ted Huges

ISBN 

Allen & Unwin

The Iron Man came to the top of the cliff.
Where had he come from? Nobody knows.
How was he made? Nobody knows.

WOW!

This new edition of Ted Hughes’ classic The Iron Man is simply stunning.

The story is still the familiar one where a gigantic iron robot turns up out of the blue, all smashed up. A young boy named Hogarth finds him, helps fix him and the two become firm friends but not everyone is so keen on the iron man. It doesn’t take long before there is mayhem. Adventure, friendship, and tolerance, are all messages within this classic story.

Chris Mould’s illustrations are simply stunning. This is a full-colour hardback, portrait sized book for everyone. From the choice of colours; earthy browns, rusty orange, blues and lots of green, to the format which is novel, chapter book,  part graphic novel, the whole production is stunning. The end papers have a retro feel to them, almost like wallpaper.

An absolute winner. Love it. When my copy arrived yesterday, I sat in the staffroom sharing it and everyone was impressed. They described it as; beautiful, gorgeous, a real treasure and all agreed, it would make a beautiful gift for any age. I held my copy hugging it tight, before putting gently in my bag to take home and read last night. This is a much-loved classic for a new generation to love.

Check out the trailer as illustrator Chris Mould discusses his new book.

How Māui slowed the sun

Retold by Donovan Bixley

Illustrated by Donovan Bixley

Advised and translated by Dr Darren Joseph and Keri Opai

ISBN 9781988516202

Upstart Press

 

I had the great pleasure yesterday of meeting author and illustrator Donovan Bixley and yes he was wearing his famous top hat. He was taking a workshop for young students as part of the ReadNZ, (formerly the New Zealand Book Council ) Speed Date an Author program. He was great with the students and I loved how he shared his ideas about illustrating, with the main concern that children should not sit there, pen in hand, and wait for perfection. Children were encouraged to start with squiggles and see where it took them. Lots of discussion took place and everyone was engaged, so if you get the opportunity to have Donovan at your school, then go for it.

His latest book is eye-catching. There is no way you can miss the bright, vivid cover or Māui’s cheeky smile.

Donovan’s retelling adds a touch of humour to the traditional tale of Maui and how he slowed the sun. Māui is upset that he cannot do all he wants to do in a day because the sun rushes across the sky so fast there is not enough light left to accomplish everything. He comes up with a plan and organises everyone to work together to trap the sun Tama-nui-te-rā.

His characters, especially Māui, have personality which shines through. The first endpaper has a selection of small illustrations with both English and Te Reo words which will assist readers. On the last page Māui addresses the reader with a “Ka kite anō Catch you next time” which gives us hope that there will be another book in this Tales of Aotearoa series.

The first in the series is How Māui Fished up the North Island and is also a must-have for school libraries. Great resources for schools looking at Maori myths and legends.

Here he is hard at work.

 

And here is my own gorgeously signed copy. Thank you Donovan!

Rugby 1 2 3 : Whutupōro Tahi Rua Toru

By Tahlia Kehoe Rowden

Illustrated by Myles Lawford

ISBN 9781775436089

Scholastic NZ

 

The release of these two picture books is perfect timing for Te Wiki o te Reo Māori Week. Rugby 1 2 3 is a bilingual picture book about one of New Zealand’s favourite sports; rugby.  The story shares some of the regular happenings at a rugby game such as; forwards, backs, reserves, and officials, among others. There is a simple counting structure encouraging children to learn their Maori numbers. For someone beginning to learn a little bit of Te Reo this is a great incentive as the words will soon become familiar and easily recognisable. Great for preschoolers and children up to about age 7.

It is wonderful to see publishers producing more bilingual books, especially as there is a growing interest in learning Te Reo and learning about Maori culture.

 

 

My Kiwi Gumboots

By June Pitman-hayes

Illustrated by Minky Stapleton

Maori Lyrics by Ngaere Roberts

ISBN 9781775435808

Scholastic NZ

Another bilingual book for children with a very New Zealand setting. Gumboots, farms, cheddar cheese, it’s all here.
Every child loves their gumboots, especially the young girl wearing her yellow boots and matching raincoat. She visits a farm where there are even more reasons to wear her big yellow gumboots. Lots of puddles to splash in and mud to splosh in, a delight that most children can relate to, even if they haven’t visited a farm. Bright, cherry illustrations offer lots of things to look out for adding extra value to the story.
There is also an accompanying CD to sing along. The end page has a glossary Te Papākupu to help with translation.