Archive for June, 2021

Partners in slime

By Belinda O’Keefe

ISBN 9781775436799

Scholastic NZ

Partners in slime by Belinda O’Keefe is the current winner of the Tom Fitzgibbon award, and deservedly so.

O’Keefe has created believable characters in a setting so familiar, that best friends, Jake and Cooper, could be living right next door to you.

It is 38 days until the official opening of a very special roller coaster at the Adrenaline World, supposedly the best ride in the Southern Hemisphere. Jake wants nothing more than to be there on the very first day but the ride and entry is very expensive. The only way he can afford tickets for himself, and Cooper, is to earn the money. They work on a number of ideas until they finally decide to make and sell slime. However, Jake’s sister, Paige sells slime too and is doing a great trade. As the competition heats up between brother and sister, Jake and Cooper have to come up with a better plan.

When the boys decide to add special ingredients, they end up with a magnetic neon gloop and that is when the action begins. One special ingredient creates a whole heap of disasters. It is also where much of the humour comes into the story.

There is lots going on in this novel. Brother and sister relationships, best friends, school stories, creative thinking, planning and working towards something special, mischief and a bit of mayhem, and of course lots of fun.

This is a book that children can relate to. There is much to giggle through in the novel. Aimed at eight to ten year old readers this is also a good read aloud for parents and teachers to share.

Julia and the Shark

By Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Illustrated by Tom de Freston

I love this book.

This is the story of Julia, and her parents, who travel to a remote island lighthouse where dad can digitise the lighthouse and mum can search the surrounding sea for the elusive Greenland Shark. Noodles, Julia’s pet cat comes along for the adventure.

This book is heartfelt. Julia’s relationship with her mother is strained which creates much of the tension in the book. There are other causes of pain in this book too; bullying, mental health issues, and much of it is created through lack of communication and misunderstandings. There is an environmental aspect too.

The characters are believable and easy to connect with. When Julia’s best intentions to help her mother, go badly, she puts her own life, and Noodles, at risk. Danger is very real. However, one of the overall messages from Julia and the Shark, is that of hope.

The illustrations are beautiful. Black, whites and grey shades which have a moody, haunting quality. Watch out for the addition of yellow towards the end pictures. Symbolic and beautiful.

Look out for this book for nine years and up, when it comes out in September.

The great Kiwi Bedtime Book

By Donovan Bixley

ISBN 9781988516882

Upstart Press

Yay for a wonderful Kiwi bedtime picture book, especially for little ones.

This latest picture book by author and illustrator, Donovan Bixley, is just delightful. It has Bixley’s trademark bright, bold and luxuriously colourful quirky illustrations.

The pictures are full-page, corner to corner spreads focusing on animals, birds and even sea creatures, as they settle down for a night’s sleep.

I love the cheeky smiles of the different animals, especially the jelly fish, dolphins and whales. As the animals, birds and creatures begin to sleep for the night, there is one particular bird and their family, who are just waking up.

The Kiwi is ready for fun.

There is lots of alliteration and onomatopoeia which makes reading this book so much fun. Great for reading aloud.

I love the end papers with the front inside cover being pictures of empty beds, and the back end papers showing pictures of animals in their beds.

I am incredibly proud to be a very new and first-time nana and this book is going to be read over and over again with my wee grandson. It is perfect to share with young ones as they snuggle up for the night.

Hare and Ruru

By Laura Shallcrass

ISBN 9780995118058

Beatnik Publishing

Hare and Ruru is a special picture book suitable for all ages. The words and pictures are gentle and thoughtful, beautifully encased in a hardcover, portrait-sized format.

Hare finds the world too noisy, thoughts and even silence is too loud. Hare goes searching everywhere for peace and calm but without any success, until eventually one night Ruru flies down and offers some suggestions.

Many children and adults too, suffer from anxiety, and noises in particular, can be overwhelming. Some children may recognise themselves in the pages of this book and relate to Hare’s anxiety. When children make connections to stories they learn empathy, but also, if their own personal story is similar, they find hope and that makes this book special.

There are helpful teaching notes at the back of the book so teachers, librarians and parents too, can make the most of this special book. A book to include in any mindfulness collection.

Hare and Ruru is a well-deserved finalist in the NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults for 2021.

My Elephant is Blue

By Melinda Szymanik

Illustrated by Vasanti Unka

ISBN 9780143775645

PenguinRandom House NZ

My Elephant is Blue, is a sweet and gentle picture book about dealing with dark days. A child wakes one morning to find an elephant sitting on their chest. The elephant is heavy, suffocating and feeling blue. It follows the child everywhere. Nothing the family does gets the elephant to go away. The elephant is not even tempted by the taste of chocolate.

As adults, we often have days where everything seems a little gloomy, and mostly, we box on knowing it will pass. Children don’t have the same understanding, so blue days might seem overwhelming and difficult to cope with. This book succeeds in showing children that it is ok to have blue days, and that they will pass. There are things we can do to help. The child learns that going for walks is a good way of coping. They also learn that family are there to help too.

I loved that mum visits the library to get a pile of books out on dealing with blue elephants. Reading and discussing the issues together as a family is great advice.

Melinda Szymanik is an award winning author and this beautiful picture book is her latest picture work.

The illustrations by award winning illustrator Vasanti Unka are soft and simply delightful. As things begin to improve for the child, and life seems less blue, more and more colour spreads across the pages.

This is a wonderful book for younger children at home, pre-school and primary school libraries.