Archive for May, 2021

Flit the Fantail and the Matariki Map

Written and illustrated by Kat Quin

ISBN 9781775436355

This is the third picture book about Flit the fantail. His popularity is as strong as ever. Flit’s cheeky smile is always what I notice first. His big brown eyes, beautiful wings and feathers, along with that smile, help create a very cute and likeable character. I’m delighted that his little ladybird friend is back to keep him company again.

Flit can’t sleep, he is restless and fascinated by the glowing moon in the night sky. He decides he wants to catch the moon. He flits down to the forest floor and when he looks back up into the sky he notices nine special, sparkling stars. His friend Keri, the Kiwi asks what he is doing awake at this time of night and when Flit tells him he wants to catch the light, Keri offers to help. Together they set off through the night but they soon realise they are actually quite lost. With some help from the wise old Ruru, the adventurous pair learn that by following the bright lights of the nine stars of Matariki, they can find their way home again.

Much like sailors of old, the stars will guide the pair back through the forest and to the safety and warmth of their families.

The illustrations are produced with 2B pencil and Adobe photoshop providing a gorgeous softness and just the right amount of cuteness. This is a lovely addition to the Flit the Fantail stories and a sweet introduction to the stories of Matariki.

There is also a Te Reo Maori edition available.

Takahe trouble (Inspired by true events)

By Sally Sutton

Illustrated by Jenny Cooper

ISBN 9781775437109

What do two Takahē  friends do when they are tired of the same routine and same surroundings? Well, if you are as curious as Walter and Manaaki are, then you escape, runaway and have an adventure. These two takahē did exactly that. They searched for fast cars and scary rats. They met a dog, a stoat and had a jolly good, scary, but very interesting adventure before they were caught and returned safely home again.

Sally Sutton shows her love of language with her very onomatopoeic choice of words.

Toddle-toddle-toddle, chatter, chatter, chatter.

A lovely reminder that home is often the best place to be. Jenny Cooper is one of my favourite illustrators. I love the quirkiness of her characters and their facial expressions. You can tell what they are thinking and feeling, especailly when they are being cheeky.

The last page provides details, and a photo of the real Walter and Manaaki. The two Takahē  now live on Motutapu Island; a predator free place where they can still have adventures but always be safe.

I’m an Inky Octopus

Written and illustrated by Stephanie Thatcher

ISBN 9781775436898

Inky the Octopus takes us on a trip around her home beneath the sea. Playing tag with her friend the jellyfish, Inky darts in and around the rock pools, through the ocean and through the kelp. She showcases her abilities to change colour and spurt out ink when danger is near.

This is a fun rhyming picture book, but it is also a great wee introduction to sea life and the life of an Inky Octopus. Who knew they had three hearts, or even nine brains? I didn’t. You will have to read the book to find out what colour their blood is, as well as other interesting facts. Who wins the game of tag? You’ll have to read the book to find that out too.

The illustrations were created using pencil watercolour and they really are very sweet. Inky is certainly having fun.

There is a Te Reo Maori edition as well.

In the beginning : I te Tīmatanga

Retold by Peter Gossage

Translated by Kāterina Te Heikōkō Mataira

ISBN 9781775436850

Scholastic NZ

First published in 2001, this new bilingual 20th anniversary edition of In the beginning is very welcome. This new edition is just as bright and bold, but being bilingual, it offers so much more.

In the beginning
were Ranginui the father
and Papatūānuku the mother.

The children of Ranginui and Papatūānuku were tired of the darkness all around them. At first they considered killing their parents but after much discussion, they decided to separate their parents and bring light to the world. From this opening we are then introduced to the children as the gods and guardians they are.

Every culture has it’s own creation myth and these stories weave their way into the fabric of everyday life. The Maori creation myth is the story of how light came to Aotearoa and it is a story of cultural significance which makes it a must-have in all New Zealand schools. Its larger format makes it ideal for reading aloud and showcasing the wonderful illustrations.

North and South

Written and illustrated by Sandra Morris

ISBN 9781925381801

Walker books

North and South is a book of contrasts. Month by month the Northern hemisphere is compared to the Southern hemisphere through the different seasons. When it is cold and wintery in the north, the south experiences sunshine and warmth. In gorgeous watercolour illustrations we witness how animals adapt to the different seasons, how they search for food or build new homes for shelter.

I find it so amazing that animals know when the seasons are changing and when to begin their migrations. Did you know that the Bar-tailed Godwit fly 12,000 thousand kilometres to their breeding grounds on the Alaskan tundra. They average 60 kilometres an hour. Monarch butterflies also travel thousands of kilometres in their search for warmer weather. This book is full of facts just like these, and I love that they include our very own brown kiwi.

The endpapers illustrate a map of the world with different animals depicted next to the relevant countries. It allows a quick overall glance of the world. This is a beautiful non-fiction book with plenty of international appeal across all ages.

Below each page of animal facts there is a conservation status. This lets us know which animals are threatened and how seriously endangered some animals are. It also means that if we do not look after our animals, if we do not do something to stop climate change, then many of these animals, will very likely become extinct.

North and South would make an excellent choice in classrooms and school libraries. There is a very good glossary, a contents page, and an index with additional links to helpful websites for further study. There is also a list of ways you can help wildlife and fight climate change.

My Dad is a Grizzly Bear

By Swapna Haddow

Illustrated by Dapo Adeola

ISBN 97815529013979

Macmillan Children’s Books

Imagination is everything to children. A wild imagination helps children play games, get through difficult days, connect and communicate with other children. Imagination is key to this new picture book.

In Swapna Haddow’s latest book, a young boy’s imagination centres on his father as a grizzly bear.

Grizzly Bear Dad is a bit of a pain when eats all the honey, or when he wakes up all grumpy and stomps around. He is an embarrassment when he sleeps in the cinema or sings louder than everyone else at a party. The grizzly bear is useful though, especially when he is trying to catch up with the school bus because the children are running late.

This is a funny picture which children will relate to very well. They will see themselves and their own families in the pages of this story, especially when the family go camping. If dad is a grizzly bear, watch out for mum!

The cover of the book is bold and eye-catching. I love that the illustrations throughout the book highlight the fact that this story has a real family focus.

A fun story to share and read over and over. It is also a good one to watch out for Father’s Day later this year.

Funny stories for 5 year olds

By Peter Millett

ISBN 9780241492543

I’m a big fan of audio books. As a librarian, I try to read as many books as I can so I am able to have honest conversations with my students about good books. I can enthusiastically and honestly recommend a book if I have read it first. Trouble is, working three jobs, trying to work on my own writing, and fitting in time to read, is not always easy. The best solution is audio books. I listen to books while I drive to work, when I’m out walking, and when I’m in the garden or even doing housework. I constantly have a couple of books on the go, as well as physical books. With a little bit of listening training, I now listen on 1.25 speed and get through even more books.

I recently listened to Peter Millet’s collection of funny stories. They are a mash-up of fairy tales for younger children. Children who are familiar with traditional fairy tales will love the absurdity of the different characters in the wrong situation. Where else would Cinderella meet trolls on a rickety bridge and sit next to Snow White all in one day?

As you can see from the titles, characters really are in the wrong settings, but this is what makes these stories funny. I listened to this out walking and kept hoping people wouldn’t think I was strange as I walked through the local park smiling to myself. The sound effects are particularly good and had me giggling, or jumping in fright in some places.

Hansel and Gretel and the Big Bad Wolf

The Magical Elves of Hamelin

The Golden Duckling

The Little Red Queen of Hearts

Humpty Dumpty and the Three Bears

Sleepwalking Beauty

The Gingerbread Man vs. the Turtle

Cinderella and Her Gruff Stepsisters

The Enormous Shoe

The Magic Soap Pot

Spellbound Ponies

Magic and Mischief

By Stacy Gregg

ISBN 9780008402815


The first book in a new series by award-winning author, Stacy Gregg, introduces us to the main characters. Olivia, her mum and sister, Ella move to a place in the country. It is in the “middle of nowhere” according to Ella but Olivia is excited. It means she will have a chance to ride horses.

The ivy-covered Pemberley Stables are not what Olivia expected. They are empty and appear to be abandoned. However, all is not as it seems and from a mist in the stables, a ghostly girl appears. Eliza is a ghost, having died a few hundred years ago in a riding accident but she is very friendly and the two girls quickly become best friends. With Eliza’s help, Olivia discovers a spell carved into the wall.

The deepest magic binds these stables

Unless two brave girls can turn the tables.

The curse on each horse must be found,

Then break their spell to be unbound.

Long, long ago, a spell was cast on the stables and bound all the horses in their ghostly form. The only way to change things and free the horses is to work out what each horse needs to do to be a better horse. In the first book, we meet Bess, a big black horse that roams at midnight robbing people of their jewels. The girls realise they have to try and convince Bess that stealing is not the right thing to do. If they succeed, then Bess will be freed and become real again. Like all good books, there is always someone trying to ruin their plans. Horace the Hunt Master tries to get in the girls way. Will he succeed?

The books are an easy read for independent readers, especially those who love horses, spells, ghosts and best friend stories. They offer short chapters, with many illustrations throughout. You can’t escape the fact that these books do have lessons in them, but that said, I know there are many young readers who will love these books.

Stacy Gregg has books now for everyone. Her picture books suit much younger readers, and we now have these early chapter books which can be followed by her middle-grade novels.

Sugar and Spice

ISBN 9780008402907

Olivia and Eliza are back again. This time we meet Prince, a rather overweight horse with a penchant for all things sweet and yummy. His downfall, is greed and it is up to the girls to change his ways but of course, Horace the Hunt Master is back and will do everything he can to stop the girls.

Olivia and Eliza realise that if they manage to break the spell, one horse at a time, and change the horses from ghost to real, the horses will need feeding. Feeding costs money and Olivia has to work out ways to make money. This adds an extra plot to the story as Olivia considers entering a baking competition with money as first prize. The trouble with that is her older sister Ella also wants to win the money.

A good mix of magic, mischief and sibling rivalry.