Dave Pigeon

By Swapna Haddow

Illustrated by Sheena Dempsey

ISBN 97805713233302

Faber and Faber

Dave Pigeon is a series of first chapter books for newly independent readers and those who just love a good funny story. Dave is as you imagine rightly, a pigeon and so is his best mate Skipper. They demonstrate many good qualities; kindness, teamwork, friendship, and resourcefulness. They also demonstrate rather hilariously, deviousness and cunning. A disastrous encounter with Mean Cat results in a a broken wing for Dave and a surprise rescue by Mean Cat’s human owner. In order to stay safe and enjoy their new home with the human, they need to get rid of her cat. Their plans are very funny but not exactly successful but that is what makes this book a delight. This would also make a great read-aloud especially in junior classes. I love how hopeful and determined the pigeons are in trying to get what they want.

The books are illustrated with quirky drawings on almost every page which adds to the appeal and success of these award winning books for ages 5 – 8.

I am also delighted with the fact that the author has moved from the UK to my home city in New Zealand.

Check out some of the other books in the series for more hilarious antics and adventures.

Dave Pigeon (Nuggets!)

ISBN 9780571324439

 

 

Dave Pigeon (Racer!)

ISBN 9780571336906Dave Pigeon (Racer!)

 

 

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The lonely little tree

by Moya Kirby

Illustrated by Terri Rose Baynton

ISBN 9781775435297

Scholastic NZ

 

The lonely little tree is a sweet story about a tiny tree left in the wilderness after all the other trees in the forest were cut down. Birds get together to help the tree realise it can be whatever it wants, including being a Christmas tree. They gather all sorts of decorations to hang on the tree. As we discover, the birds themselves become part of the Christmas decorations. Sweet, gorgeous illustrations and of course a little message for Christmas. An ideal gift for sharing a good New Zealand story with family overseas.

Teacher notes can be found here.

 

A Kiwi day before Christmas

By Yvonne Morrison

Illustrated by Deborah Hinde

ISBN 9781775434108

Scholastic NZundefined

Twas the dawn before Christmas and, down at the beach, Santa was fishing… just one more he’d catch.

This fun picture book is a prequel to the classic A Kiwi Night Before Christmas. It is filled with iconic kiwi characters like sheep, weta, fantails and geckos.  Santa in his red t-shirt and gumboots is also part of the charm.

Another picture book to send to family overseas who might be feeling a little homesick at Christmas.

Lots of bright red and green coloured illustrations adds to the Christmas feeling. The fantails are my favourite.

 

 

 

 

 

Kate Sheppard: leading the way for women

By Maria Gill

Illustrated by Ivancic

ISBN 9781775435471

Scholastic NZ

 

 

Before I even began reading the story of Kate Sheppard, I spent ages just checking out the end pages and the wonderful map of the world from 1855. The world has changed so much since Kate sailed from one end of the world to the other; a journey which took around three or four months way back in 1869 when Kate left England to move to New Zealand.

Kate wanted to change things in life right from when she was young. Her perseverance over the years paid off as she did make changes, including being one of the first women ever, to ride a bike.

Her biggest achievement was of course gaining the right for women to vote. It was on this day, 28th November 1893, 125 years ago, that women went to the polling votes for the first time, anywhere in the world. A huge achievement from a woman who never gave up on her dream. Kate was dedicated and determined and this creative non-fiction picture book tells us her story and how it all happened.

While Kate Sheppard started something amazing,  you will see by reading the page Female (in)equality, there are sadly, many countries where girls and women are still not treated fairly. Kate was a woman ahead of her time but she will not be the only one, others have, and will continue to make changes for equality for women and girls everywhere.

Check out the trailer for a sneak peek at the book.

The research is, as always, spot on and the illustrations make this another top choice. The inclusion of a glossary, maps, and a timeline make this a wonderful resource for school libraries and teachers.

Teacher notes can be found here.

There is a very cool site here where you can type in the names of your great, or perhaps, great, great grandmothers and see if they signed the petition. I am very proud to say that I found my Great Grandmother had signed the petition. Considering she went on to have nine children I think that was super cool.

Inside the Villains

By Clotilde Perrin

ISBN 9781776571987

Gecko Press

This book is special in so many ways. It is wickedly funny, exquisitely produced and a real treasure. It is an over-sized portrait shaped book that is not just for children. I showed many adults this book and they all took their own delight in lifting the flaps, pulling the strings and reading all about the three villains. 

There are large foldout pages revealing facts about each of the three villains and a page each with a good old-fashioned fairy tale. 

There is something exciting about lifting a flap and finding hidden secrets. Under the witch’s cloak there is a pocket with a mirror, a sweet, and my favourite, a cat with a rather strange grin on its face. The witch’s dress has several layers, each hiding even more secrets. 

The wolf’s stomach and its content is particularly funny too. 

I really love that each of the villains has their own library section where they share the stories where they are characters. Giant’s library shelf includes Jack and the Beanstalk, The BFG, and many others. Of course all good scary fairy tales have either a giant, a witch, or a wolf and this book has all three. 

This is a beautiful book to be read and played with over and over again. I absolutely love it. 

Skip to the loo my Darlin’

Sung by the Topp Twins

Illustrated by Jenny Cooper

ISBN 9781775435433

 

 

If you want fun and a good laugh, this is cool. It is great as a book to read-aloud, read by yourself, or sing along to the wonderful Topp Twins. We had a heap of fun with this at my school this week. I gave the book to some teachers who held up the book show-casing Jenny Cooper’s gorgeously cute pictures while the music played loudly for everyone to hear and sing along. For whatever reason over took me, I would skip past the children every time the words “Skip to the loo my Darlin'” came along. Lots of giggles. Lot of animal sounds were also made, although I didn’t do so well as a possum, I have to tell you.

I can see this book being played out and peformed in assemblies. Lots of fun to create their own little animal sounds and heaps of skipping.

There is something special about Jenny Cooper’s illustrations, too. The kind of pictures that warm the heart.

This is going to be a hit in schools and pre-schools and family fun times.

 

We’ve got a boat

Written and sung by Jay Laga’aia

Illustrated by Donovan Bixley

ISBN 9781775435303

 

 

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We’ve got a boat combines a fun story about boating and ends with facts about The America’s Cup and photos of our proud sailors. Readers can be entertained by the story and then learn a little of the history of the cup and some of our wonderful winning moments.

The chorus is catchy and you can’t help but want to sing loudly and proudly as we celebrate out boating skills and kiwi crew; here they are kiwi, sheep and cow demonstrating their expertise on the water. Donovan Bixley provides his iconic quirky New Zealand animal illustrations. 

A perfect book for summer holidays with all the blue sea and sunny skies. 

 

 

Keep fit Kiwi: Heads and shoulders, knees and toes

By Lynette Evans

Illustrated by Steve Mahardhika

Sung by Pio Terei

Maori lyrics by Ngaere Roberts

 

 

Pre-school and primary school teachers are always looking for good music to sing and dance along for morning PE sessions and this one fits the bill. A catchy song that almost everyone knows but here with a kiwi twist. Written and sung in English and Maori, which adds to the appeal.

The illustrated characters all have cheeky, friendly smiles, which just goes to show you that exercise is fun. Music and exercise is always a good combination, especially when encouraging children to step away from devices and enjoy a bit of exercise and fresh air. Another good resource for schools.

Invisible Jerry

By Adam Wallace

Illustrated by Guiseppe Poli

ISBN 9781925335781

EK Books

People don’t notice Jerry. If someone bumps into him, they don’t say sorry. If he makes a joke, no one laughs. He never gets picked last for sports teams — but that’s because he never gets picked at all. It’s like he’s invisible. Until Molly comes along. Molly asks Jerry his opinion. She laughs with him. She sees him.

The impact when we begin to notice children like Jerry is huge. Jerry, no longer invisible, starts to shine, people notice him and then he goes on to notice other invisible children and helps them shine and they in turn help other children to shine.

The colourful illustrations have a soft, almost blurry-edged feel to them which reinforces the feeling of invisibility.

This would make a good resource for teachers to use in class about inclusiveness and encouraging children to play together. No one should be invisible.

If we look close enough, there are children like invisible Jerry everywhere. There are children who are lonely, shy, who don’t fit in but would love to be included, love to be chosen for teams and games. We need to start noticing these children and help them shine.

As we commemorate 100 years since the end of the First World War, it is timely to look at two new war-themed books by much-loved author, Michael Morpurgo. While written for children, these books really are for everyone.

Poppy Field

By Michael Morpurgo

Illustrated by Michael Foreman

ISBN 9781407181424

Scholastic

Poppy Field
Michael Morpurgo and Michael Foreman are well known for their partnership over many  award-winning children’s books. This time they have teamed up with the Royal British Legion to tell an original story that explains the meaning behind the poppy and why we wear it still.

Morpurgo skilfully tells the story of young Martens whose family live on a farm in Flanders Field. 

A poor girl out selling eggs one day meets a soldier as he sits on his own trying to write a poem for his dead comrades; in particular, his best friend, whom he has just buried. He doesn’t want eggs or even the poppies she offers him, but upon his request, she places some poppies on the dead soldier’s grave. In return, she takes a crumpled up scrap of paper with the draft of a poem he was working on. The poem is eventually framed and handed down through four generations of the young girl’s family. The poem is In Flanders Fields.

While the story speaks many truths, it is a work of fiction but more important than that, it is a reminder of who we are and where we come from. it shows us that there is hope and a future because of those who fought before us and for us.

The story is beautifully illustrated in soft greys, blacks and browns, with the only colour being the red poppies which stand out, symbolic and proud.

The Afterword about the history of the poppy and why it is still worn 100 years later, however, is in full colour. The contrasting colours between the story and the Afterword only adds to the haunting quality of the story. A  story that needed to be told. 

Teacher notes can be found here.

 

 

Our Jacko

By Michael Morpurgo

Illustrated by David Gentleman

ISBN 9781406366136

Walker Books

 

There is an old scruffy tin hat which has always been in Michael’s house for as long as he can remember.  It has been used as a toy, a feeding bowl for the hens and even a hanging basket but no one can remember where it comes from. Michael hates it, always has, especially the hole and what the hole likely means. Somewhere, someone wearing that helmet must have died in the war. A school trip and project about the First World War is what changes Michael’s mind when he discovers the hat belonged to his great, great grandfather, Jacko, who never returned from the war. Our Jacko, as the family used to call him, died in Ypres in 1915. Michael and his family discover Jacko’s old diaries and learn so much about life in the trenches, fighting during the First World War. 

Michael Morpurgo takes us on a journey of discovery and the realisation that no matter how awful and tragic the war was, we do need to remember it. We do need to remember those who died and the impact of those losses on everyone and how it changed the world. Peace came at a cost, and we need to remember those who paid the price. 

This is a special book aimed at the 8-12 year olds,  perfectly timed for Armistice Day, the end of the First World War, the war to end all wars.

 

 

 

Oink

By David Elliot

ISBN 9781776572144

Gecko Press

 

Oink cover rough

 

I have always been a fan of David Elliot and I’ve also always thought there is something special about pigs, so this book hits all the right buttons. I love the colours he uses; soft greens and pinks and his own trademark quirky illustrations. They have a whimsical element which will appeal to readers of all ages.

Pig just wants to have a quiet, relaxing bath on his own. Who doesn’t?  His quality time is interrupted as one after another his animal friends; donkey, sheep, and cow, jump in the bath with him. Uninvited of course. They take up all the room and make so much noise that pig is clearly frustrated.

Just what does a pig have to do to have a quiet soak in a nice bath? David Elliot answers that with good old-fashioned humour. The simplicity of the story has a wonderful innocence to it which will make this a favourite with readers, for sure.

Pig is cute and his expressions are delightful and totally believable. You certainly can tell when he is frustrated with all the interruptions and the smile on his face when he finally gets the bath to himself is pure gold.

Love it.

 

This post is a real mix of reading delight for younger children from New Zealand authors and illustrators. There are kiwi’s, tree huts, even trucks. A little something for everyone.

Kuwi’s Rowdy Crowd

By Kat Merewether

ISBN 9780994136459

Illustrated Publishing

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If you like cute and cuddly then this is one for you. Kuwi the Kiwi is the creation of Kat Merewether and this is Kuwi’s fourth adventure. This time all Kuwi wants to do is to sit down and relax with a cup of tea. But a variety of New Zealand creatures, and birds turn up and shatter the peace, leaving her more and more frustrated. Kuwi finally reaches breaking point and shouts out to everyone to be quiet. That is when Kuwi discovers something very special. 

Sweet, with the cutest of illustrations, and lots of funny New Zealand references; some specially for the adults reading this book to little children, and a story most of us can relate to, big or small.

 

 

Titan the Truck

By Joy H. Davidson

Illustrated by Scott Tulloch

ISBN 9780473403119

 

Titan is a big truck and he knows the freight he hauls must get through as many people depend on him. Sometimes he hauls logs, cows and even groceries. The one thing in common is that they must all be delivered on time – they can not be late. A little bit of learning all about big trucks and what they do on their journey to get goods up and down the country.

So what happens one day when Titan has an accident?  An adventure for Titan and his driver Baz.

Bright and bold illustrations by Scott Tulloch add to the enjoyment of this picture book.

 

And another one by Joy H. Davidson

The tree hut

Illustrated by Nina Kudinova

ISBN 9780473444181

DHD Publishing

Jack has to leave his home in the countryside and move to the city because of his father’s work. He doesn’t want to leave his tree hut so struggles with the move.
His new home in the city is a townhouse with very little room to play. As if all that is not enough, he believes they may have moved next door to a haunted house.  

 

 

More Kiwi Rhymes for Kiwi Kids

By Peter Millet

Illustrated by Scott Tulloch

ISBN 9781869539955

Bateman Publishing

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This is Peter Millet’s second book of rhymes for Kiwi kids. Peter takes traditional rhymes and gives them a New Zealand flavour.

Children will relate to them all. For folks who go camping and have memories of leaky tents in the rain, the rhyme It’s raining, it’s pouring will go down a treat with its special kiwi twist.

Scott Tulloch’s illustrations delighfully support the New Zealand elements of the rhymes.

Check out the book trailer for Ten Green Geckos for some fun.

Great to see so many new picture books being published in New Zealand written by New Zealand authors.

 

 

Mini Whinny: Happy birthday to me!

By Stacy Gregg

Illustrated by Ruth Paul

ISBN 9781775435372

Scholastic NZ

This delightful picture book is a collaboration by author Stacy Gregg and illustrator Ruth Paul, both award winners in their own right. And it is a seriously cute book.

Do you know that all horses share the same birthday? Well they do. Mini Whinny, a miniature pony lives on a farm among other horses and animals and they are about to celebrate the horses birthdays.  However, she doesn’t think that’s fair and doesn’t want to share. Mini Whinny wants her own birthday and gets up to a bit of mischief in order to get her own way. Of course things don’t quite work out the way she plans.

A sweet story for young children.

The illustrations are super cute with a softness that makes you want to reach and pat Mini Whinny and the other animals, particularly, the cat.

I have always loved the end papers of books and the extra impact they can hold on the reader. Here, the end papers form a beautiful start and close to the book and the day itself. The beginning end papers start with the morning sun and the horses in the field. They finish with a sleepy Mini Whinny and the sun going down. Beautiful! What makes this book extra special is that it is number one in a series about the adventures of a very special miniature pony.

 

I think I might have to move into the new library as it has only been opened three days and I have already been there two out of three. 

Today I attended the Gareth Ward writing workshop and found it very inspiring. His ideas on the writing structure were very useful. Lots of things to consider when writing and the keen writers in the room listened to his every word.

His Young Adult novel The Traitor and the Thief  (Walker Books) won the Storylines Tessa Duder Award and was a finalist in the 2018 NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

 

Caught picking pockets at Coxford’s Corn Market, 14-year-old Sin is offered a way out of his life of crime: join the Covert Operations Group (COG) and train to become a spy. At Lenheim Palace, he learns spy craft and is befriended by eccentric Zonda Chubb. After an assassination attempt on the founder of COG, they endeavour to unmask the traitor. Sin is then forced into an uneasy alliance with the school bully, Velvet Von Darque. But can he trust her? And will COG try to bury him with the secrets he discovers?

 

I’m very much looking forward to reading my signed copy of his book. If you ever get the chance to attend one of his writing sessions, I urge you to go for it. Well worth it.

Thanks to Turanga for making this possible. 

I spent a wonderful afternoon at the opening of Turanga our amazing new central library. After the earthquakes our old library was closed and as incredibly sad as it was to lose our library, we have been blessed with a brilliant new one. It is beautiful, stunning, a masterpiece in design and just what our city needs. There is so much to do in the new library. There are function rooms to hire, places to buy food, eat and relax. You can even sit on the stairs, plug in and charge your devices.

The stairs are an artwork on their own. When we were waiting for the mayor to cut the ribbon and declare the library open, the crowd were looking up at the librarians on the floors above us, while they were looking down at us. Cameras and phones clicking away, everyone smiling and it reminded a few of us of the scene from City of Angels where all the angels were looking down. It was a wonderful feeling because I do secretly think librarians are much like angels with their kindness, friendliness, and willingness to help.

A huge congratulations to everyone involved in this massive but essential undertaking. There are 180,000 books, a 200-seat theatre and a $1 million touch screen which was very cool and so easy to spend time exploring. Layers and layers of things to swipe, and zoom in on and discover our city and its history. I spent my time in the children’s section, of course and already can’t wait to return.

Our city has its hub and its heart back.

The Mayor of Christchurch after cutting the ribbon and officially opening the library.

 


Beautiful sculpture on the stairs (before ribbon cutting)

 

 

 

The touch wall – way to easy to lose track of time playing on this wall.

 

 

 

Dear Professor Whale

By Megumi Iwasa

Illustrated by Jun Takabatake

ISBN 9781776572076

Gecko Press

One of the pleasures from reading a book published by Gecko Press, is the feel-good feeling you are left with when you close the cover. Dear Professor Whale is one such book that left me with a smile on my face.

This is a follow-up to Yours sincerely, Giraffe. It shares the same pleasure and wonder of written letters and new friendships discovered through correspondence. We are so caught up in the story, that we totally accept and believe that two whales are writing to each other across the seas. We also believe that seal is the one delivering the letters. Professor is the only whale for miles around. He misses his old friends who left Whale Point sometime ago. Once, they used to hold the Whale Point Olympics and he misses all the fun and laughter from those special days. When a letter from young whale Wally, is delivered to him, a friendship develops. Their letters go back and forth and it isn’t long before Professor Whale is keen to hold a new Olympics and so invites his old friends and Wally to be part of a grand event. 

So yes! There is a new Olympics and whales, penguins, seals and even a giraffe come for the special event. Professor Whale is most excited to see his old friends but also to meet his new friend, Wally who has been writing to him. They also discover a connection between them which is special.

There are a couple of special moments where animals make decisions that have consequences for themselves, but the end result shows us the true meaning of friendship. This book reminds us of the important values in life; friendships, communications, caring and of course, fun and teamwork. Short chapters, illustrations, and a good size font make this ideal for a first chapter book. Great also for a short read aloud in class.

The black and white illustrations are delightfully quirky but reveal the different personalities . What’s not to love about this book? Just lovely.

The Wizards of Once: Twice Magic

By Cressida Cowell

ISBN 9781444941425

Hachette Children’s Books

 


I loved the first Wizards of Once book. I’m actually listening to the audio edition for the second time while I wait for the sequel, just released. I love the bright, bold cover which is so appealing. It looks to have the same wonderful features; magic, fantasy, danger, quests, humour and of course, wizards. I just know, this sequel is going to be twice the fun.

As much as Zar and Wish are meant to hate each other, I have a feeling things will change and a growing respect for differences, will be found. 

It is so hard waiting for the next book in a series, sort of like waiting for Christmas. Sometimes I get so excited waiting, that I have to remember that I’m actually an adult and need to be a little patient. Trip to the bookshop very soon.

 

 

This truly impressive book trailer is a collaboration between several groups; students, Duffy Books in Home, Colenso, Bloomsbury Publishers and the New Zealand Book Council.

Statistics show the sad reality that many boys do not read. In an attempt to change these statistics the group have made this fantastic trailer as an incentive to get boys reading. The trailer is based on J. K. Rowling’s book Fantastic Beasts and where to find them.

Hopefully students, boys in particular, will be inspired to read the book before seeing the movie. The trailer is definitely exciting and certainly a wonderful way to hook readers. I’m completely hooked. I love it. The illustrated edition is one of those special, beautifully bound books that make a wonderful gift that becomes a pleasure to read again and again.

Well done to all involved for this top class production. If you want to read a bit more about the process of  making the trailer you can click here. Or you can click here if you want to listen to Jo Cribb (CEO of NZ Book Council) as she discusses Making bookworms of boys. 

As a school librarian I have regularly seen boys and girls watch book trailers and then look for the books on our shelves. It works!