Archive for July, 2014

The last viking returns
By Norman Jorgensen
Illustrated by James Foley

Published by Fremantle Press.
September 2014

This is a wonderful follow-up to The last viking. I played the trailer in the library at lunchtime today and had a lovely group of children all crowded behind me. When I asked them if I should buy the book when it comes out there was a resounding and collective “Yesssss”.
The soundtrack is the brilliant and very fitting In the hall of the mountain king which we turned up loud and jiggled to. Do look out for this book and see what happens to Knut and the dragon.

And here is the trailer for the first adventures of Knut the The Last Viking

Quake cats : heartwarming stories of Christchurch cats
By Craig Bullock

Published October 2014

The trailer for this beautiful book gets me every time I watch it. I can’t wait to read the stories
of real cats and how they survived or perhaps didn’t survive the awful tragic earthquakes that devastated our city in 2011. This is a book for everyone, not just those who went through the earthquakes. We know the suffering that went on but animals also suffered. This book follows the great success of Quake dogs in 2013. I just know this will also be a hit. I have already pre-ordered my copy and look forward to its release in October.

My own cat Dusty suffered badly in the earthquakes and is not the same as she once was. I have two cats and just days before the February 22 earthquake, Lily the one year old, was dragged from our property by a dog, that viciously mauled her, shaking her in its mouth until two kind neighbours put their own lives in danger and rescued her. After time at the vets she came home, vet smelly, stapled together and lucky to be alive. Then the earthquake hit. I had a house full of extra people staying who didn’t have anywhere else to go, and even another cat.
Dusty struggled with the vet smells and Lily’s predicament and obvious pain, the extra people and cat and the continuous shakes and roaring sound of the earthquakes. Dusty completely shredded drapes at the front door as she tore at them trying to get out every time there was a noise. She really became quite aggressive and nervous. Eventually she bailed me up and I was under serious attack and afraid!! I had just showered and my only escape was to throw the towel on her and run through the house naked. (Not a pretty sight). The next day Dusty was at the vet first thing and spent many, many months on medication to calm her. Dusty is off the medication now but she still hisses at everything, runs in fear at any sudden noise, and even the wind can upset her. Family and friends tell me Dusty is broken (jokingly of course) but when she snuggles up, paws around my neck, nuzzling and purring away I know she is still under there somewhere, under all that fear.
For those of you who may have read my children’s novel Canterbury Quake, My New Zealand Story; yes there is a Dusty in the novel. She really went crazy so many times that I felt she deserved her own little place in the story. And as for Lily, she is fine – a little on the heavy side perhaps but lovely.
DO look out for Quake cats, you won’t be disappointed. Tearful maybe, but worth it completely worth it.

My Dusty, who loves hiding anywhere safe and secure.

Speed of light
By Joy Cowley

ISBN 9781877579936
Gecko Press


I thoroughly enjoyed Joy’s previous book Dunger which won the Junior Fiction Category in the recent NZ Post Book Awards for Children & Young Adults. And I thoroughly enjoyed this book too even though it has a mathematical theme because I confess I actually have a phobia to anything maths related. I can put sentences together on occasions but not numbers. Numbers terrify me and the thought of not being able to use a calculator makes my skin crawl. But with Joy’s latest book I found myself intrigued with the number side of things especially the explanation of the Fibonacci numbers. When the weather is warmer I think I will be outside looking at patterns in leaves and flower petals with a new eye.
But it is so much more than that.
We have Jeff who has a fixation on numbers and anything mathematical, and his sister Andrea who has certain secrets, brother Beckett who is locked up in a prison cell overseas and his parents; a domineering bully of a father and mother in denial. I must say I found myself quite annoyed with Jeff’s father and disliked him intensely. This just goes to show how good the writing is for when we connect emotionally either good or bad, then the writer has hit their mark!
A severe storm one night blows in more than just leaves and broken trees. It blows in to Jeff’s life a mysterious and even mystical old lady who comes with warnings he doesn’t understand. Is she really just a lost and demented old lady or is there more to her that meets the eye.
Find out when it comes out next month. Another great novel from Joy Cowley – aged 12 plus.
Review of Dunger in a previous post here

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla
By K Applegate
Illustrated by G. Brian Karas

ISBN 9780544252301

For those that read this blog regularly you will know that I have blogged about The one and only Ivan before. First for the incredible quality of the writing and very moving story of Ivan the gorilla who spent most of his life in a shopping mall. Secondly after the real Ivan died where I sat crying into my computer. Well I am doing it again. Now as a picture book / non-fiction book I am again moved by the story of Ivan. This book is not out until October but I just have to share the trailer, for in the true spirit of the writers of the nerdybookclub – everyone, everywhere should know about Ivan. The trailer for this book is powerful enough on its own that very little is needed to be said. If you don’t know about Ivan, then please find a copy of the novel. You won’t be disappointed – I promise. And for those who are fans already do check out the trailer and keep an eye out for this beautiful picture book. I will be waiting eagerly with tissues in hand!
We teach our students about making a difference. Ivan made a difference and I think this book will have impact on a younger audience who will in turn hopefully go out and make a difference in their world.

Earlier post on Ivan

Thanks to for show-casing this wonderful trailer for the world to see.

Muddy Max : The mystery of Marsh Creek
By Elizabeth Rush
Illustrated by Mike Lawrence

ISBN 9781449435615

Muddy Max is the first-ever slime-covered superhero who lives with his annoying neat-freak parents. With his savvy sidekick and his RC-driving, mountain-biking tomboy crush they face mysteries and danger with a heap of mud for good measure. In this first book in a new graphic novel series Max has to figure out who or what is lurking in the trees in the muddy marsh. And just maybe he can save a few lives at the same time.
Sounds great for primary aged students who love a good mystery told in a quirky way in graphic novel form. Can just imagine the boys lining up for this one.

The word ghost
By Christine Paice

ISBN 9781743318263


While technically on the contemporary fiction stands, this book will also appeal to many young-adult readers.
We begin in the year 1973 when Rebecca Budde aka Abes is fifteen. We feel her angst as she falls in love with Dave. Dave whom she hasn’t even spoken to yet is all she thinks of. Eventually they connect but then like all good stories, they are pulled apart.
A move to the tiny village of Brightley separates Rebecca and Dave. She struggles to cope but it isn’t long before strange things begin happening, strange appearances from ghosts. I did find myself falling in love with the ghost Algernon Keats who inhabits her wardrobe and his sense of humour but not so much his deranged sister Augusta!
And then of course there is the not-so-nice Alex March for whom Rebecca walks his dog.
For those who love the poetry from the romantic era of Keats, Byron and Wordsworth this is one to read as short bursts of poetry are shared throughout the novel.
I love how the author brings in all that made the seventies good – depending on your opinion of the times of course. David Cassidy, flares, even Donny Osmond gets a mention and admitting that I remember all of them is, I fear, giving away my age but a great book to enjoy.

Roses are blue
By Sally Murphy
Illustrated by Gabriel Evans

Walker books Australia
ISBN 9781922244376


I have always been a huge fan of verse novels. I love the visual aspect of the text on the page and the brevity of words which creates more impact connecting emotionally with the reader. This is no exception. I loved Sally Murphy’s previous verse novels; Pearl verses the world and Toppling. And I love Roses are blue.
Amber Rose has a lovely happy family – before the accident that is. Since the accident things have changed. Amber still has a lovely family but her mother now sits in a wheelchair unable to walk, talk or even feed or toilet herself.
Amber has had to move from her much-loved home with the garden her mother tended to so happily. A new home, a new school and Amber is struggling to cope. She wants her old mother back!
Told in first person, Amber Rose narrates her own story; a story of growth and acceptance.

“And I am left sitting at my desk
with no heart,
no breath,
no words.”

And yes, for the record, I did cry over this heart-warming story of love and acceptance.
The book is just as beautifully illustrated in pen and ink. The cover is gorgeous.
Great for readers aged 7 up.

A hero’s curse
By P. S. Broaddus

Drought has consumed the Kingdom of Mar for the last ten years. Essie, her sarcastic cat Tig and her secretive family struggle to survive on their small farm which is nestled against the forbidding cliffs of the Valley of Fire. A rebellion against the cruel interim ruler forces them to flee for their lives.
Essie and Tig face dangers everywhere, cunning rock basilisks, packs of hungry arcus vultures and that is not all.
Believing that the missing King Mactogonii is still alive, Essie needs to summon up the courage to find him but how will she do it when she is blind and evil lurks everywhere.
A perfect choice for middle grade readers who love adventure and a good struggle-to-survive story.
This is what the author says about the arcus vultures;
“Arcus Vultures are a curious contradiction. One of the most dangerous creatures of the Valley of Fire, it is not due to their razor sharp talons or five step wingspan. (Although these are good to be aware of.) Rather, it is due to their scavenging lifestyle of digging through decaying carcasses that Arcus Vultures carry a swift and deadly disease known as “fleshrot.” Fleshrot, if not treated, is often fatal”
Sounds pretty gross and if you want more do check out the author’s site above.