The big book of animals of the world

By Ole Konnecke

ISBN 9781776570126

Gecko Press

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This is not your average board book. For a start, it is a much larger format board book which makes it ideal for sharing with the whole family or a group of children. They will love pointing out all the different animals found within its pages.

Crossing different landscapes we meet animals from the Arctic, to farms and cities and mountains, to Africa and China, and right across the globe. While on the surface it may appear to be a simple word book, it is much more than that. This book houses a collection so vast that children will find so much to talk about. It might be the different animals or it might the different habitats but whatever it is, this is wonderful opportunity to talk and discuss and that alone makes this a very worthy book to add to any collection. There is even a little family of mice who make their journey across the different continents and oceans. Well, at least I think they are mice. I might have to just keep reading the book again and again to be sure. I love the sloth!

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It is great to see that even our humble Kiwi has been included. For those that want to explore this book even more, especially in a classroom setting, do check out the teacher notes here.

Pictures courtesy of Gecko Press.

Compulsion

By Martina Boone

(Heirs of Watson Island Book 1)

ISBN 9781481411226)

“Three plantations. Two gifts. One ancient curse.
All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lives with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead–a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions.
Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who somehow seems to know what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family’s twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.”
Book two is coming out soon!

 

Benjamin McTish and door through the Grandfather Tree

Book 1 in the  Benjamin McTish series

By June M Pace

ISBN 9780989646406

This series has been out for a while but worth a share.

“When Benjamin finds a peculiar relic of a key in his grandmother’s garden shed, he could never know his world was about to change forever.”

He and his new-found friends, Annabel and Mathilda, two sisters who have come from America,  become an unlikely threesome ready to solve mysteries in a fantasy world where the Path of Prophecy leads them to many adventures and dangers. Benjamin has a sixth sense but will it be enough to protect the threesome from dark sorcery? Sit back and enjoy the trailer.

 

Serafina and the black cloak

By Robert Beatty

ISBN:  978-1484709016

Disney-Hyperion 2015

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“Never go into the forest, for there are many dangers there, and they will ensnare your soul.”

What a grand trailer with obviously plenty of thought put in to its production. I love the atmospheric music running through the trailer as it creates a moodiness that makes me just want to dive right in. The cover of the book is also one that immediately catches the eye with its Gothic type mansion and silhouette of a young girl . It has already been voted number one Middle Grade Book of 2015 on Goodreads.

Serafina and the Black Cloak is a spooky mystery-thriller from Disney Hyperion about an unusual girl who lives secretly in the basement of the grand Biltmore Estate in 1899″. For years Serafina has remained hidden in the basement of the Estate where her father works. She moves in and out of the hidden doorways, unseen and unheard. She does as she is told and keeps away from everyone but soon children begin disappearing and it becomes clear to Serafina that she must do something to find them. Following clues and a terrifying man in a black cloak, Serafina risks everything to find answers. I really am looking forward to reading this book.

Exploring nature’s pattern magic

By Dee Pigneguy

Photography by Mike Pigneguy

Design by Heather Arnold

ISBN 978043323561

Mary Egan Publishing

 

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It is not often I have the pleasure of reviewing non-fiction books for children so I am delighted to share my thoughts on this new one coming out this month.

It is a total exploration of all the wonderful patterns we see in nature. Often when we see an insect, animal, plant or indeed any natural thing, we may immediately see the beauty in them but we may not always see the patterns. We don’t necessarily understand the purpose of those patterns either but this book delves in to the reasons and explains it all in very easy terms. The book is a stunning montage of bright natural colours with photos from tiny swan plant seed bugs to helix spirals on snails. Nature is brimming with shapes and patterns that all have purpose. Camouflage has always been one aspect that amazes me.   For example, the stripy patterns on tigers help them blend into the long grasses.

Each page focuses on a particular pattern from spirals, symmetry, and spheres to crystals, fractals and so many more. Information is in bite-size bits to easily digest and tempt readers into looking closely at the patterns. The whole layout is just perfect to dip in to over and over again.

There are four pages dedicated to activities that readers can do to learn more about patterns in nature and this is followed by a very good index page.

This is a wonderful book, perfectly packaged and ideal for any home or school library.

 

Hello World

Written and illustrated by Paul Beavis

ISBN 9781927271988

Gecko Press

hello world

Mr. and Mrs. Mo are so busy that they have no time to play with Monster. So the little, and rather impatient Monster decides to go off in search of his own adventure, anyway. And what an adventure he has. That is until loneliness and hunger take over.  Little monster soon realizes that those who love him are always near, always ready to protect him and keep him safe. Younger readers will love looking for Mrs Mo hiding just out of reach, as little monster takes on his first journey towards independence.  This is beautifully illustrated in the most wonderful colours. Bright oranges, yellows and reds all bursting with sunshine and shadows.  Monster has the cutest, quirky facial expressions which kind of pull at the heart strings especially when he is feeling a little weary.

It is one of those stories to cherish and read again and again. A very reassuring tale of love and support.

 

This delightful book follows the equally wonderful picture book

Mrs. Mo’s Monster

ISBN 9781927271018

Mrs mo Do enjoy the trailer to the first book as borrowed from the author and illustrator Paul Beavis’ own website. Do check out his site especially the fun stuff you can do.

 

 

The adventures of Beekle : The unimaginary friend

By Dan Santat

ISBN 9780316199988

This is a delightful picture book with real feeling. Warm tingly good feelings! Sometimes in life you have to work at finding friends. And sometimes a very special friend just happens to find their way to you and that is just what happens with Beekle. Absolutely a must-have in your school library. I love the use of colour to reflect the moods. Greys of loneliness and bright colours of friendship and happiness. A great book to encourage children to take risks and go out and try something different.

“This magical story begins on an island far away where an imaginary friend is born. He patiently waits his turn to be chosen by a real child, but when he is overlooked time and again, he sets off on an incredible journey to the bustling city, where he finally meets his perfect match and-at long last-is given his special name: Beekle.”

 

So, so excited about the forthcoming new book from Brian Selznick. His work is absolutely brilliant.

From Publishers Weekly, they say “Selznick imagines an alternate backstory for a real English tourist attraction, the Dennis Severs’ House: 10 meticulously curated rooms that suggest what life might have been like for a family of Huguenot silk weavers in 18th-century London. The first 500 pages are double-page pencil drawings that (almost) wordlessly tell the story of the Marvel family, beginning with a 1766 shipwreck and following successive generations as they gain fame in London’s theater community.” The text always offers another story and by the time you have finished reading, you are in awe as to how you have suddenly found yourself part of the blended story itself.

His drawings are at times breath-taking as you gaze in wonder at the worlds he creates. He has a cinematic approach which has you so involved you can keep seeing different things every time your read his books. Blending illustrations with text his storytelling is quite unique and indeed just very special.

His The invention of Hugo Cabret was turned into a wonderful movie. His book Wonderstruck is equally brilliant. In fact I have two copies of Wonderstruck. I am one of the lucky few people to have a signed and numbered special edition but it is so beautiful I don’t want anything to happen to it so I bought an extra original copy as well. If you are a fan then nothing will stop you from getting your hands on his new book when it comes out and even if you have never heard of him (not sure where you have been hiding) then you will be a fan after the first few pages.

 

The Bakehouse

By Joy Cowley

ISBN 9781776570072

Gecko Press

 

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Bert is in his 80’s when the novel opens and he is confronted by his great grandson Erueti; a boy who wants to know all about his ancestors.

So Bert begins his story and it isn’t very long before we are drawn into the past. The year is 1943 and New Zealand is caught up with the second world war.

Bert is 11 and eager to grow up quickly so he can go and fight in the war. He wants the adventure, the action and to defend his country. We begin to get to know Bert and his two sisters, Meg and Betty and the struggles of day to day to life. The Bakehouse is a book of mystery – just who is stealing clothes from the clothes lines in the middle of the night. It is also a book of danger and secrets and the secrets have the most power to destroy.      In fact it is the consequences of secrets which Bert still struggles with some 70 years later.

This is a moving, timely tale which is not only a great read but a solid account of the times. Without television the news came via radio and everyone would stop and listen.

“The war was always there, like a big hungry ghost that poured itself out of the radio to haunt the house.”

 

I loved the language, perfectly fitting for the era. I couldn’t help smiling at the terminology as it brought back my own memories. It also shows how language is always growing and adapting. A delight to read. Great for  9 – 13 year old readers and for many adults it is also great for a nostalgic look at the past set during times of war. And as for the ending – powerful – but you will just have to read it yourself. It is easy to see why Joy Cowley continues to win awards. Her writing is always top-notch and this is no exception.

Not a book trailer but a movie trailer based on the Goosebump books by R. L. Stine which were a favourite in this household some years back.

Seems like all the scary bits from the books are in one awesome movie. And with Jack Black at the helm this is sure to be one the young (and not so young) will love.

 

Sony Pictures Entertainment

 

The dead house

By Dawn Kurtagich

Orion Childrens books

ISBN 9781780622347

The Dead House Teaser Trailer 1

I must confess I do prefer the UK cover of this book coming out in August but I just have a feeling this is going to a book worth reading no matter what cover you prefer.  It is certainly a book I will be looking our for when it is released.

“Twenty-five years ago, Elmbridge High burned down. Five people were killed and one pupil, Carly Johnson, disappeared. Now a diary has been found in the ruins of the school. The diary belongs to Kaitlyn Johnson, Carly’s identical twin sister. But Carly didn’t have a twin . . . 

Re-opened police records, psychiatric reports, transcripts of video footage and fragments of diary reveal a web of deceit and intrigue, violence and murder, raising a whole lot more questions than it answers.

 Who was Kaitlyn and why did she only appear at night? Did she really exist or was she a figment of a disturbed mind? What were the illicit rituals taking place at the school? And just what did happen at Elmbridge in the events leading up to ‘the Johnson Incident’?”

But the writer Dawn herself adds;

It’s about two (?) girls who live in the same body. No one is really sure if it’s a type of multiple personality disorder or if there really are two girls in there. One comes out during the day, the other, at night.

When the day girl, Carly, does missing, it’s up to Kaitlyn, the girl of darkness, to find out what is going on.

But this might be more than simple personality “integration” as her doctor gleefully diagnoses. It might be something altogether more sinister.

Something supernatural.

As Kaitlyn investigates, something else is drawing closer.”

This sounds just the story I like and I can’t wait. Psychological thriller, mystery and as Dawn hints at – the supernatural. What more could you want!

You can also listen to a podcast of Dawn talking about her new book right here. This is thanks to Publisher Weekly Podcasts.

For those of you who follow this blog, you may recall that my first children’s novel  My New Zealand Story Canterbury Quake was published last year. I am very excited that it is a finalist in the Children’s Choice category of the New Zealand Children’s and Young Adults Awards this year. The event will be held in Wellington in August and it really is a dream come true to be a finalist. No matter the outcome, it really is an amazing feeling knowing that children throughout New Zealand have liked my book and voted it through to the finals.

Those children in New Zealand under the age of 18 are able to vote for their choice to see who the final winner will be. And yes – this is a chance for you to vote for my book if you feel so inclined. Of course I would love it if you did!

Click the image below to be taken to the voting forms.

This graphic was created for the Book Awards Trust and Sarah Forster and by freelance web designer Jane Harris from Three Hats

Canterbury-Quake-NZCYA-Web

When I am happiest
By Rose Lagercrantz
Illustrated by
Eva Eriksson
ISBN 978192721896
Gecko Press

6

My happy life and My heart is laughing are the first two books about Dani, her dad and best friend Ella. They offer a wonderful insight into the day-to-day life of a young girl as she begins to find her way in the world. In My happy life Ella moves away but with time and support Dani learns to accept that life sometimes offers challenges and she finds ways to cope with life. In Rose Lagercrantz’s latest story, When I am happiest it begins with the second-to-last day of school. Dani is so happy that she begins to write a book all about how happy she is.

However, suddenly Dani’s world is turned upside down when her father has a serious accident and ends up in hospital. Dani must then overcome her biggest hurdle yet. There is both a softness and simplicity to Dani’s story and as a reader I couldn’t help but be moved by Dani’s situation and how she deals with whatever life throws at her. As with the previous books, this is another winning combination of writer and illustrator. Short chapters and a perfect sized text, gorgeous line drawings on every two page spread, make this ideal for readers of five-to-seven year olds new to chapter books. This is a heart-warming story that will leave readers with a warm fuzzy feeling. I have thoroughly enjoyed all three books and feel as if Dani is a long lost niece and all  I want to do is protect her, giver her a big hug and get to know better.

Review of My heart is laughing can be found here.

 

The witch hunter
By Virgina Boecker
Little Brown Books
ISBN 9780316327008

“Your greatest enemy isn’t what you fight, but what you fear”.

Elizabeth Grey is one of the king’s best witch hunters until she is accused of being a witch herself when she is then arrested and sentenced to be burnt at the stake.
Nicholas Perevil, a powerful and dangerous wizard offers her a deal. Nicholas will save her but only if she can break a deadly curse he is under.
Elizabeth faces a fantasy world of witches, ghosts and even pirates. She must eventually work out where she fits in the world and what is right or wrong. This could be quite some adventure as this is just the first book in a new series.
Looks and sounds very cool. Ghosts and witches and of course a little romance perhaps!

Travels of an extraordinary hamster

By Astrid Desbordes

Illustrated by Pauline Martin

ISBN 9781927271834

Gecko Press

5Hamster is perhaps not the nicest of characters but he does grow on you. Despite his many selfish flaws there is something that makes him special and likeable. For example, rather than joining his friends Mole, Snail, Hedgehog, and Rabbit, at a picnic, Hamster happily takes a pile of their food and simply walks away to eat on his own, much preferring his own company. He is always the first to brag about his own endeavors and always tries to be one-up on everyone else. However, whether he realises it or not, his friends love him just the way he is, faults and all.

Rather than text, the chapters are told completely using speech bubbles, much like a graphic novel or comic but not as busy and very easy to read and follow. The illustrations are quirky and brightly coloured with lots of white space allowing readers to fully concentrate on the characters and their personalities. This is a great first chapter book for younger readers. Even adults will love the humour and irony.

Detective Gordon : The first case

By Ulf Nilsson

Illustrated by Gitte Spee

ISBN 978192721506

Gecko Press

5

What an utterly charming book!

Detective Gordon is a rather over weight toad who loves nothing better than eating cakes, drinking tea and stamping important papers. However, he is suddenly faced with a mystery when squirrel comes rushing in to declare that someone has stolen his stash of nuts. He soon thinks he has the culprit but instead it turns out he has caught a rather lonely, hungry and nameless mouse whom he takes under his wing, makes her his assistant and bestows upon her a name. Together they stand in the freezing cold, watching and waiting for clues which could lead them to the real thieves. I love how Detective Gordon and his new assistant become friends, their relationship taking on as much importance as the theft of the nuts.

I can see why Ulf Nilsson is an award winning writer. His words flow naturally.

   “The squirrel started to cry. Tears rolled down his soft cheeks where they immediately froze to ice  Small pearls fell to the ground”

The illustrations are also gorgeous. Just look at the cover and the expressions on the faces of the two main characters.

This is a great chapter book for newly independent readers aged 7 – 9. I think it would be equally as wonderful as a read-aloud by parents or teachers.

I certainly hope that there are more books about Detective Gordon and Buffy his new side-kick. I would love to see what other mysteries they can solve.

Once again Gecko Press have produced a quality book.