Archive for February, 2016

A favourite for so many children (and adults too really) that it is no wonder there is so much talk and excitement about this movie. It is wonderful to see such a childhood classic coming to the big screen.

May just have to read the book again before this hits the theatres. And who doesn’t love a big giant story?

The house on the hill

By Kyle Mewburn

Illustrated by Sarah Davis

ISBN 9781775430841




What a treasure! 

This story begins with two young ghosts as they near the entrance to a very haunted looking house at the top of a hill. Eerie lights, slamming doors and even shrunken skulls are just some of the dangers in their way. 

Will they be brave enough to enter?

“Pray, flee now, flee now if you will!

Or dare ye brave this house on the hill?”

The language and illustrations marry up perfectly to create a suitably creepy atmosphere.  The use of sepia tones in the illustrations adds to the tension and pulls readers in. The first double spread is just stunning. There are two large, golden-eyed owls peering down from a tree watching as the two ghosts slowly make their way through the night and up the street towards the lone house on the hill. The language definitely has the Gothic style of Edgar Allan Poe which helps build suspense and add so much more to the story.

I also love the moths and their somewhat cheeky smiles and a special mention must be made of the raven on the back cover (surely a nod to E A Poe). This highlights the perfect collaboration of the author and illustrator who understand each other. Not always successful with many picture books but this is just wonderful.

I love the end pages which create a beginning and an end to the story with all the spookiness trapped inside. Beautifully written, gorgeously illustrated, this book is going to be a hit! This will be a great one to read aloud to children.

For those that dare – check out Kyle reading The House on the Hill.

A warning though, maybe, just maybe, keep the lights on!

I confess when watching this clip I actually jumped at one part but you will have to watch it yourself to see if you jump too.

AT the school where I am a librarian we are starting to think about book week activities for term two. So I have been spending time on Pinterest – perhaps too much time but it is a wonderful way to get ideas. I saw an “altered tin” based on Edgar Allan Poe and loved it. So taking that idea and books that our children love I decided to try and create an altered tin based on the character of a book.

Using an old small tin once filled with sweets and adding stickers, and a little photocopying layered for a 3D effect, I based my tin on The Rainbow fish by Marcus Pfister.

Adding shells and a QR code to a youtube link of an online reading of the story just added a little more. I can’t wait for book week to see what the children will create and which stories they will use.



My first attempt was a rather quick job based on The Secret Garden but it does show you that almost anything can be done simply and without cost.  I do think I could become addicted to this. Lots of books I want to recreate in a tin. It could even be a tin with bits and bobs that characters might use. For example a tin based on The Lord of the Rings might hold a ring and a tiny little old map and perhaps a plastic dragon. The list is endless.



Johnny Danger

Book 2 : Lie another day

By Peter Millet

ISBN 9780143309055



While there are plenty of wonderful New Zealand books written by equally wonderful authors, there are not so many book trailers for their books. So it is brilliant to have the chance to show this new trailer for Lie another day book two in the Johnny Danger series.

I was watching this trailer (again) at school and one of my students (year 4) came over to see what I was doing so we watched it together. Not only did it get the thumbs up but he told me to buy it. I ordered it today and when it arrives Sam will be the first one to read it (unless I get in before him). The trailer is well made and has a bit of everything in it just like the books.  Action, humour, cartoon, parody.

It is great to have the author Peter Millet here on the blog answering some questions. Some very cool answers too.

What is the appeal of writing books for children?
Roald Dahl said it best ‘adults are too stuffy, boring and take themselves far too seriously’. Apparently that’s why he loved writing for children. I’m inclined to say that I agree with him. Additionally, when I tell a joke to a crowd of kids everyone looks at me when they laugh, often with adults they look at each other before they laugh to make sure it’s okay to laugh. Kids have way more fun.
Most of your books include humour. I imagine humour is quite difficult to write and be genuine at the same time so what is your trick?
My style of humour is quintessentially British. It’s dry and it’s subtle. I’m not a fan of slapstick, or lazy-bodily function jokes. When I read my stories aloud I always keep a straight face. That’s pretty much how I write my comedy stories as well. That allows me to develop characters and plotlines satisfactorily while infusing the humour as the undercurrent to the story. One thing which is very difficult being a comedy writer is the book editing process. Often an editor will ask me to alter a scene or change an ending. When I do this I also have to make sure that the new content is as funny as the content it is being inserted around. Sometimes this can be problematic.
Which authors inspire you to write?
Roald Dahl, Andy Stanton, Roddy Doyle. There are many more. Here’s my soapbox moment – Roald Dahl never won a book award in his lifetime. Comedy movies never win Oscars. Writing comedy is an extremely complex process. People who aren’t funny can’t write comedy, and people who say comedy is too frivolous to be award-winning don’t understand complicated writing. Hopefully in my lifetime children’s comedy writers will be treated equally along with dramatic children’s writers and we will see an end to this silly era of elitism. Shakespeare was a master at both and duly celebrated.
As a child – were you the kind of boy who played at being a spy or were you more of the indoor type?
As many of my readers know some of the gadgets in my stories originate from childhood ideas and pranks. I once carved out the middle portion of a hardback book and used it as a secret storage compartment to hide ‘used lines’ the teacher had issued to children as punishment. I then used these lines to help children get out of future punishments. So in a way, I was an undercover operative battling evil villains in my junior years at school.
If you could meet any character out of any book, who would it be and why?
Probably the Twits. It would be interesting to see if I could win an argument with them, or potentially win a battle of pranks. I’d also like to witness a grown man consuming food stored in his beard.
Johnny Danger gets himself in to lots of trouble. What was your biggest adventure or the most dangerous thing you have ever done?
In 1990 I took a jungle trek in the rain forests of Borneo. We reached an orangutan sanctuary and a tour guide said ‘no sudden movements, and don’t provoke them – they’re strong enough to rip your arms off.’ I don’t recall reading that information before I embarked on the journey. Everything went fine, and the worst that happened was some cameras were stolen by the orangutans who proceeded to store them in their treetop hide out and then urinate on the victim’s heads. Walking back to our pickup point, I was also advised to avoid puddles containing leeches, and to look out for the odd scorpion here and there as I was wearing shorts, not the recommended long trousers with wraparound socks. I made it out unscathed. In my book Lie Another Day the jungle scene is inspired by that experience.
Many thanks Peter for sharing your thoughts with us.

This blog is about books and reading, reviews and trailers but also sometimes,  just something that really needs to be shared. Books are made up of words, words made up of letters and letters of course make up the alphabet. This video clip is a wonderful way to celebrate the alphabet. These images taken by NASA show the alphabet as seen from space. It really is very cool and well worth sharing. Great for students to just watch but great to know that the world is an amazing place however we see it, if only we take the time to really look.

Thank you to NASA.

A couple of picture books for young readers to enjoy.

The magic Mr. Whizzletoff

By Sarah Bannister

“The story is written in a rhythmical rhyming style. Full of imagination and descriptive words; it describes a magical place. To enter this world, children need to find the special area. Suddenly they are submerged into a completely new world! Once there, they can meet a magic man, however they will need a code for him to appear.”

Picture book aimed at four years and up.


Ice cream work

By NaoshiFrom the mind of Japanese artist Naoshi comes the sweet and charming world of Ice Cream Work which is full of visual surprises for readers of all ages. It is the story of an ice cream cone man whose search for work takes him to many places with many challenges along the way.


 I want to eat your books

By Karin Lefranc

“This monster book is silly and fun, with a strong message about kindness and friendship. The little zombie teaches kids not to jump to conclusions and to give everyone a chance. And when a real-life mummy shows up, the zombie is the first to step up and offer the mummy his friendshipand to teach her a few things about the joy of books. This is the perfect monster book for little ones who want a thrill but aren t looking for anything too scary.”