Archive for February, 2020

Today in New Zealand History. Updated edition

By Neil Atkinson, David Green, Gareth Phipps, and Steve Watters

Exisle Publishing



This is one of those books that should be in every school in New Zealand, if not every home.  The pages are full of dates and information but in a very accessible way. Easy to read, not too wordy but enough information to give readers an understanding of important historical events in New Zealand’s history. There is a mix of black and white photos as well as colour ones.

The layout is perfect for dipping into and reading interesting snippets. The headings and dates are bold and easy to read when searching for particular dates. The book covers so much; disasters, politics, famous people, sporting events and much, much more. The book includes the 15th March 2019 Mosque shootings which is still so very fresh in everyone’s minds. As someone who lives in Christchurch and was in lockdown in a school while this devastating event took place, it is good to know that it is included in the updated edition.

NB Thanks to Exisle publishing for allowing me to share these copyright sample pages.

The book also includes happy events, such as when our Silver Ferns netball team won the 2019 World Cup. Exciting times.

Grab yourself a copy of this detailed, informative and authoritative look at our history from way back in the past right up until now.


The first doo-lally daft blinkin’ bonkers book

By Ainsley Waite

ISBN 9781988516899

Upstart Press


Children love jokes. They love laughing and the more they understand puns and jokes, the more they devour joke books. Delivery isn’t always so wonderful at seven years old, but watching children and listening to them get excited when they share jokes, now that, is wonderful.
This delightfully bright new book by Ainsley Waite shares some classic jokes and new ones too, that children will giggle over. Each page is full of bright, bold colours and fonts that seem to dance on the page. I love the format, very much as a picture book which makes it a quick and easy read. The cover alone is enough to make you want to pick up this fun book and share a joke or two with a friend. Look out for it. Great family fun and a top addition to a primary school library.
I am very excited to share some questions and answers with the author and designer Ainsley Waite. 

1. The first thing you notice about your book is the bright, bold cover. How do you decide what colours and font designs will work best with each other?
It actually takes quite a long time trying to work out the right colours that work together and don’t clash too much.  Nobody wants to get a headache from reading a book! The same goes for working out which fonts to use. I try to use styles that help support the meaning of each word and it’s relevance to the joke. (For example, a slim, slanting font can indicate moving at speed whereas large, bold, capital letters can suggest shouting).It’s working out the layout that’s the tricky part – each joke needs to fit on the page and must be easy to read. Any illustrations should help it along so that any younger readers who might not be able to read so well can still understand the joke. As to the cover, I wanted colours that would appeal to both girls and boys. And quite simply, yellow is one of the brightest colours in the spectrum which helps the book to stand out on the store shelf!


2. Children love jokes and joke books but it is rare to find them in this format. How did you come to the idea of a picture book format?

As a child I owned plenty of joke books but I always found it odd that they were filled with simple, plain, black and white type. To my mind jokes are fun and should surely be colourful and energetic? Years ago I would put jokes together on square canvases and hang them as artwork for my children’s bedroom walls.  I then went on the sell these artworks locally. That’s where the idea to collate them and put them all together in a book came from!

3. Based on the title of your book, I’m guessing there must be plans to create a second one, and maybe even a third. Can we expect another one soon? And do your family and friends tell you lots of jokes for further books or do you research jokes to see what works?Hah! Since the release of this first book I’m forever getting joke suggestions from friends and family – in particularly from my dad who lives in Liverpool, UK. My dad really does have some of the best (and worse) dad jokes – so thanks dad! I’ve an A4 exercise book filled to the brim with my scribblings of possible jokes for following publications. I find them everywhere!  There were a few goodies in the crackers at the Christmas table last year and I found a great one recently on a blackboard in a cafe in the South Island. Book two is currently underway although I’ve no idea when it will be finished! Trying to select the best jokes is the first job, then working out the design of each page, create any illustrations and then lay it all out on the computer. From there I’ll be testing each page out on everyone who knows me..  so watch this space!

4. What advice would you give to someone, particularly children, wanting to follow in your footsteps.Put your ideas down on paper. Take your time working out who you think would enjoy reading your book and if you have an age and gender you’re targeting. Try out designs using different layouts and colours and make sure to test your creation out on your target audience, be it friends and family. It’s hugely important to listen to any feedback and amendments they might suggest and their reasons why. There will be plenty of opinions and suggestions and don’t lose heart if some are not what you want to hear. Everybody’s different! Most importantly have fun putting it together and be proud of yourself!

5. If you could have dinner with any character from any book, who would it be and why?  Oooh this is a tough one, but I think I would have to be the cartoon cat Garfield. As a child I was pretty obsessed with him! I couldn’t wait to read the daily cartoon strip in the newspaper and would save my pocket money to buy the books. I’d spend hours drawing Garfield and much to the delight of my parents, I would pin each drawing on the walls and ceiling of my bedroom. Deciding what to cook for dinner would be easy as like myself, Garfield absolutely loves lasagne. Actually my two boys adore Dog Man so let’s invite him along too! Can you imagine how crazy that would be? Well, it would be blinkin’ bonkers!

Thank you so much for taking the time share your ideas with us and I totally agree about Dog Man and Garfield at the same table for tea. That would be crazy but hilarious.
Here is Ainsley busy writing. I wonder if she is thinking and writing up some new jokes.