The Quiet at the End of the World

By Lauren James

ISBN 9781406375510

Walker Books

 

I’m not a huge fan of Science-fiction but I was more than pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this read. Totally got in to the story, characters and even the belief that everything in this Young Adult novel, could very well happen one day. That is a scary thought.

Lowrie and Shen are the youngest people on earth. A catastrophic virus caused global infertility and babies have not been born for many years. They are protected by elders but the elders have secrets; serious secrets they want to keep from the two teenagers. When the secret is eventually uncovered, everything changes and Lowrie and Shen have an impossible choice to make. Life as it exists could change forever.

I listened to the audio of this book and was hooked thinking of all the possibilities. I was in the Thames mudlarking, searching for treasure with them. I was with them when the secret came out and with them as they realised what the future would hold.  I was with them all the way and that to me, is a good book. Thoroughly enjoyed it and totally recommend it to YA readers.

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Winner of the Joy Cowley Award

The little ghost who lost her boo!

By Elaine Bickell

Illustrated by Raymond McGrath

ISBN 9781775435754

“I’ve lost my Boo! I’ve lost my Boo!

Where has it gone? What will I do?”

What do you do when you are a little ghost and somehow you’ve lost your boo? You go searching of course, and that is exactly what little ghost does. She searches everywhere and asks all her friends if they have seen her boo. We meet lots of different animals and birds, but do they know where her boo is? It doesn’t seem like she is having much luck at first but wait for the ending which requires reader participation to complete the story.

The illustrations are quite adorable, especially poor little ghost’s looks of disappointment, worry, sadness and of course, happiness. I do love the rooster’s feathers all beautiful and detailed and taking up a whole page.

 

Picture book reprint

Grandmas McGarvey joins the scrum

By Jenny Hessell

Illustrated by Trevor Pye

ISBN 9781775436034

Grandmother McGarvey has been around for 30 years and this reprint brings her back for a whole new generation of readers. It’s not everyday you see a Grandma toughing it out on the rugby field, head down in the middle of a scrum with a rugby team, but that is exactly what Grandma McGarvey does. Totally by accident, of course. Why she is there will all be revealed when you find a copy of this latest edition. The story is funny and with a good kiwi feel to it.

Junior novel reprint

Lily has a secret 

(Book 2 in the Lily the Littlest Angel series)

By Elizabeth Pulford

ISBN 9781775435921

 

First chapter books carry a lot of responsibility. They need to have a good story to capture the imagination of newly independent or emerging readers. Short chapters, decent size font, illustrations to help break up the text, and words readers are familiar with as well as a few new words to challenge. The Littlest Angel series of books  provides all that and more.

Lily has a secret. A warm, fluffy, cute and injured kitten. How will she keep it a secret, especially when one of the rules, is no animals allowed? There is also the matter of a performance to put on, which is quite difficult when you are trying to hide a kitten.  Lily somehow always manages to break things, or get herself into some sort of trouble but she is sweet and likeable and really only wants to do the right thing. Good first chapter book and beyond.

 

Monkey on the run

By Leo Timmers

ISBN 9781776572519

Gecko Press

Wordless picture books, or silent books, as they are sometimes known, are often sadly undervalued yet they offer so much. Children get to retell what they see or invent their own stories. Perfect for oral language, sharing stories and using imagination.

Monkey on the Run allows us the chance to be creative and interact with his delightful picture book.

Papa monkey and little monkey are stuck in a traffic jam. Little monkey decides to jump on to a fire engine and hop from one vehicle to the next in order to move up the line and beat the traffic. Papa monkey isn’t far behind but there are a lot of vehicles in the traffic jam and lots of drivers. We meet donkeys, giraffes, moles, pigs and even sea creatures all driving different cars and trucks. The pictures are brightly coloured, with heaps of detail and things to discover. Young children could name the animals, count and name the different type of vehicles, explore the pictures and of course, tell you their own imagined story. Definitely a book for having fun together with someone close.

 

 

Otto goes North

By Ulrika Kestere

ISBN 9781776572427

Gecko Press

I love the opening sentence of this new picture book.

Far up in the north you’ll find a blueberry-blue house with a grass roof. 

Who can resist a blueberry-blue house, a grass roof, a sauna and a setting as beautiful as the mountains and the sea.

Otto the Lemur cycles for a very, very long time to visit his friends, far, far away so he can see the Northern Lights. He wants to paint a picture of the lights so he can remember their beauty but it is too cold for a lemur and he struggles to keep warm. His friends, Lisa the lynx and Nils, the young bear, come up with a plan, as good friends do. The conversations are delightfully comical and I found myself giggling away at times.

Gorgeous illustrations but in particular, check out the expressions on the animals faces. Love Otto’s red nose as he shivers in the cold. There is so much on offer here and teachers could  go beyond a simple reading and extend students learning. It’s about good friends, kindness, caring, creative thinking and problem solving, as well as a good read.

 

 

 

 

Frankly in love

By David Yoon

 

While this YA book isn’t out yet, it is one I will be hunting for. The trailer is kind of cool and shows a sense of humour, particularly, with the play on words in the title. I’m hopeful there will more humour in the story.

Sometimes, I think book trailers give us a better idea of what to expect than a book review or blurb does. From what I see, the point of view will be Frank’s and that already is a bonus for me that a male character has centre stage. Look out for it soon.

It’s about a teenage boy who falls in love for fake in order to fall in love for real.

The Invincibles. Power Up

By Peter Millett

Illustrations by Myles Lawford

ISBN 9781775435990

Scholastic NZ

 

 

This is the first book in a new series by Peter Millett. The appeal is for those who enjoy a bit of humour, sports, teamwork, and superpowers, all amongst a bit of mystery.

We meet a group of friends on a rugby field when they are all zapped by lightning. This bizarre event has the strangest of consequences when they discover they all suddenly have superpowers. Each has their own power but there are time restrictions on their power and that puts pressure on them all to save the day. In this case, they need to save the All Greats rugby team before it is too late.

The book is easy to read with short chapters, decent size font, and illustrations. There are bonus collector cards at the back of the book which add to the overall appeal.

Check out the book trailer and see for yourself.

 

How to read a book

By Kwame Alexander

Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

ISBN 9780062307811

HarperCollins


While Kwame Alexander changes tact here from his wonderful young adult books to a new picture book, one thing doesn’t change, and that is the language. It is beautiful. Every word is carefully thought out and has purpose. If you click here you can listen for yourself and find out exactly what I mean by the poetical language. I do enjoy books about books and reading. This one is just gorgeous.

We are encouraged to open a book and see and feel its beauty, turn the pages and enjoy the experience of reading. The book is delightfully illustrated with bright fluorescent colours and collage effects. The bright pink end pages are bookshelves full to the brim with books just waiting to be read.

James Foley

James Foley is a very talented author and illustrator of children’s books and I have admired his books for a number of years now. His early chapter books are funny, easy to read, and the illustrations are quirky and comical.  His series S. Tinker is popular and great for children who like reading about inventions, brothers and sisters and most importantly, enjoy reading books that make them laugh.  Brobot is the first book where we are introduced to Sally and her brother Joe. It is there that Sally decides to build herself a new brother, a better brother.

If you check out James website in the link above you can find out a bit about him, but also read some chapter samples of these funny books.

James has kindly allowed himself to be interviewed by Sally Tinker herself. They talk about his writing. He shares lots of ideas which are helpful if you are a keen writer. Check out a couple of videos below and then see if you can find any of his books in your school or local library, or visit a bookshop nearby. Maybe after watching, you will be inspired by his suggestions to write your own stories. Enjoy these clips but there are more on Youtube as Sally Tinker has her own channel. How cool is that!

 

Antarctic Journeys

By Philippa Werry

ISBN 9781869664992

New Holland Publishers

When we consider non-fiction books for children, conversations often turn to the fact that everything we want them to know is online with just a quick click away. While that is definitely true, it may take many attempts and quite some time to find what they are looking for with many distractions along the way. As adults we know it is very easy to get lost on the internet and before you know it an hour has passed and you still haven’t really found what you are looking for. So with that in mind it is great to see some new non-fiction books for children, with all the information needed in one place, on two very different topics; Antarctica and Kereru.

Antarctic Journeys is a great example of what to look for in a non-fiction book. It has a multitude of colour photographs, an index, glossary, timeline, and contents page. The subheadings are bold and the photos are well-detailed. The information is well researched.

It is a book to read anyway you want. You can read it all the way through, or dip into chapters and read snippets that take your interest. I particularly liked the animal journeys, especially the cats. I also enjoyed reading about Frank Worsley and Ernest Shackleton. Their journey was an incredible tale of survival, although that can be said of all the early explorers to Antarctica. The book, as the title suggests, is about journeys of all kinds, both historic and contemporary. The writer herself made a journey to Antarctica after winning a place on the Antarctica New Zealand community engagement programme. This book captures much of her experience, and so much more.

This is an excellent choice for school libraries at all levels.

Coo-coo Kereru

By Terry Fitzgibbon

ISBN 9781869665173

New Holland Publishers

This is a combination creative non-fiction picture book. Beautifully illustrated with rhyming text on one side of each spread and information text on the opposite page. The Kereru is indeed, a beautiful bird and whenever I happen to see one, which is sadly, not very often,  I can’t help but stand quietly and watch them.

This book, aimed at younger children, explores the history of kereru, as far back as the myths and legends when a Kereru helped Maui fish the North Island out of the sea. The birds are also known as wood pigeons. I did find it sad that at one time Kereru had a life-span of 20-25 years but now because of introduced predators, loss of their forest homes and other things, their life expectancy is now only 5-6 years. The back of the book gives plenty of ideas of how you can help these beautiful birds.

Another good book to add to your library.

 

I spent a wonderful hour in the warmth of Turanga  Library today, with a group of excited  children (and many adults too) being entertained by the very funny and equally lovely, Swapna Haddow.

Swapna is the author of the Dave Pigeon books which I have thoroughly enjoyed. They are all about pigeons, in particular, Dave and his best mate ,Skipper. Her books are illustrated by the very talented Sheena Dempsey Skipper is the sensible one who tries to keep Dave out of trouble. It doesn’t always work out that way but that is perfect because that leads to mischief and often a bit of mayhem, which keep readers entertained.

Swapna told us how she spends her day writing, coming up with ideas and even that perhaps from time to time, like many writers, she might have to fib. All very funny and innocent and a great way to finish the first week of the school holidays. Listening to her reading out her book was delightful, especially the humour in the stories and the voices and accents she uses.

You can check out her books and more about Swapna and of course, Dave and Skipper on her website here.

Apologies for the grainy shots. I was at the back and my zoom isn’t too good on my phone. Hopefully I will get to have another chance to be entertained by Swapna again soon.

 

 

The Bad Guys : The Big Bad Wolf

Book 9

By Aaron Blabley

ISBN 9781742993737

Scholastic Australia

The Bad Guys series remains one of our most popular series at school, from year two all the way to year six. The books are always out and have reserves. Readers love the humour,  illustrations, the heroics and adventures of the different characters. I am always getting asked when the next book is coming out. It is a hard lesson in life when a reader realises that a writer and or illustrator can’t just create a book overnight, just because they want the next one, now! With schools on winter holiday break, now is the perfect time to grab a copy of these very funny books, either from a library or shelves of many good bookshops near you. They are easy to read, lots of illustrations and just so much fun.

Check out this very cool trailer form their latest adventure.

Dave Pigeon (Royal Coo!)

By Swapna Haddow

Illustrated by Sheena Dempsey

ISBN 9780571336982

Faber & Faber

Dave, the sling-wearing pigeon and his best friend Skipper, are back for another laugh-out-loud adventure. This time the two of them find themselves caught up with royalty, as in the royal pigeons, impersonation, a coup, or is that a coo? Skipper constantly tries to keep the peace and be the sensible one but Dave somehow always ends up with “catbrained” plans that go disastrously wrong for them both. This time, while impersonating certain other pigeons at the Human Palace, they overhear plans that could be dangerous for all involved.

Together, they’re like a comedy duo. The are funny, yet seriously wise, argumentative, yet  caring but always, most importantly, supportive of each other. You can’t help but warm to them and their antics. This is book four in the series and just as funny as the first three.

The illustrations continue to make me smile. You can see their personalities shine through the drawings. You can see their expressions; anger, annoyance, wisdom, caring and so much more, through the delightfully comical illustrations. Swapna Haddow and Sheena Demspey make these books very special and perfect for first chapter books.

If you are in Christchurch for the school holidays then why not pop along to Turanga and meet Swapna yourself as part of the Kidsfest festival 2019. I sure hope to pop in and meet her myself.

Kidfest Swapna Haddow

 

Twinkle, twinkle, Matariki / Tirama, tirama, Matariki

Written and illustrated by Rebecca Larsen

ISBN 9780995114227

Imagination Press

This new picture book about Matariki has been a huge hit and for so many reasons.

The story tells us of friends, Kiwi, Hoiho and Pukeko who zoom off in to space and spend the night exploring the nine stars of Matariki; our Maori New Year.

The book was read out to many classes and it was with delight that I watched them counting down in Maori as the friends blasted off in to the night sky. The book comes with a CD which was also a hit.  There is an illustrative focus on food which is traditionally of utmost importance during the Matariki celebrations. The illustrations are very child-like, bright and innocent and just adorable. The text is in both English and Maori, as is also the CD.

Whether you choose to read the book on its own or listen to the CD, it is a story that is sure to become a favourite. It is a good book to share with family and for exploring more about our Maori traditions and festivals. It is also perfect for schools to share our Maori culture with everyone.

There is a QR Code in the back of the book which will take you the audio of this story so you can listen and sing along on your phone or iPad. Also at the back, on the last page is a gallery of characters in the book and the Matariki stars, which is very handy.

While the focus is Matariki, the stars, and kai, it is also a book about friends and one to be shared all year around.

Song of the River

By Joy Cowley

Illustrated by Kimberly Andrews

ISBN 9781776572535

Gecko Press

Cam is a young child living in the mountains where the snow is thick and the air cold. He often wonders what it would be like to see the ocean. One spring morning, Cam begins to follow the voice of the snow. It calls to him, a trickle at first.

“Come with me. Come with me. I will take you to the sea.”

He journeys in and out of the forest, through tiny villages, following the trickle of water that grows into creeks and rivers. Cam continues following the water till he finally reaches the sea.  He stands in awe of the sea and its wild beauty. For the first time in his life he splashes in the waves and feels the sand between his toes. It is a circular story and Cam ends up safe back home with his grandfather.

Beautifully written, with earthy coloured illustrations, this book provides the story of many rivers and their journey to the sea. The wildlife includes, deer, bears, leaping trout, and numerous others that children will recognise. The end pages provide a map overview of the river’s journey, from the mountains, through the valleys and small towns and all the way to the sea.

A beautiful book with heaps to look at and enjoy as well as insight to our world.

Malamander

By Thomas Taylor

ISBN: 9781406386288

Walker Books

 

 

 

Nobody visits Eerie-on-Sea in the winter. Especially not when darkness falls and the wind howls around Maw Rocks and the wreck of the battleship Leviathan, where even now some swear they have seen the unctuous malamander creep…

The trailer for this book is suitably creepy. I love how in the beginning the reader is being spoken to directly. Keeps you hooked.