Archive for December, 2021

Christmas LEGO. Yay!

There are so many books out in the world about Christmas, and while many are good to read, many don’t necessarily last the distance. They might be funny for awhile and they will no doubt become favourites to new readers, but what some lack, I think, is the beauty and messages of empathy and love. The magic and stories of hope and determination. These ones here, talk to my heart.

These are my favourites, each for a different reason.

Coming home by Micheal Morpurgo, for example, is the beauty of language.

The Little Match Girl because it was one of the first stories that made me feel so sad and concerned for the little girl.

The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell, now in very poor condition, because of its wonder, and again for the story. As a young child, I couldn’t understand how a little boy could be in Heaven.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, because it was the book I was given at Sunday School. My very first prize for something I had achieved.

Wherever you may be, I hope that there is somewhere for you to curl up, or sit back, and read a book or two over the festive season. Here is New Zealand, it is summer with longer days, so I will definitely find time to pick a book or two from my TBR pile.

What colour is the sky?

Written and illustrated Laura Shallcrass

ISBN 9780995142336

Beatnik Publishing

When you look at the sky, what colour do you see? Is it blue, grey, turquoise? What if you think it is blue, but your friend thinks it’s grey? Is one of you wrong and the other right or perhaps, you’re both wrong, or both right. Perception is different to us all. This gentle picture book by award winning author and illustrator, Laura Shallcrass, addresses this issue.

Pihoihoi puzzles over this question and together, with Hare, who just happens to think the sky is blue, begin to ask friends what they think.

Hedgehog thinks the sky is brown but mouse thinks it’s green. The journey continues, and as they meet other animals, they finally come to an understanding that we all think differently, and that is absolutely fine. Everyone has an opinion and everyone should be listened to, and respected, without judgement.

I loved the artwork in the author’s first book Hare and Ruru and I love it in this, her latest book. Natural colours for the natural landscape and gentle text, make this another delightful book to share together with someone special.

The Rhyming Pirate

Written and illustrated by Glenn Jones

ISBN 9780473574277

Mary Egan Publishing

What happens when a pirate, infamously known for his ability to rhyme everything, gets stuck when he finds a word he cannot rhyme?

This is a fun picture book mostly for preschoolers, although early primary school teachers might find it useful for learning about rhyme. The pirate, with his eye-patch and wooden leg, enjoys the chit-chat of talking in rhyme. He does it all the time and has quite the reputation but one word stumps him. Children will enjoy trying to work out what the word might be. Like all pirates, there is treasure but it is for readers to find within the pages of the book. There is a page with mini pictures of the things to find.

Fun and interactive.

A place I truly belong : A Loveable Larry Story

By Anita Hinton

Illustrated by Michelle Euinton & Shaila Awadh

ISBN 9780473576011

Mary Egan Publishing

Larry is different to the other animals in the zoo where he lives. He is soft and cuddly, while the others are tall and real. Being different makes Larry feel lonely with an overwhelming sense of not belonging. One night something magical happens under the Matariki night sky and Larry is able to escape the zoo.

He wanders many places, asking different animals he meets, if he belongs with them. Sadly, Larry doesn’t belong with any of them. There is a happy ending, and Larry does find a place to belong and to call home.

A sweet story, with sweet illustrations. It was written by the author, for her daughter, when times were tough and they both needed reassurance that there is a place somewhere, for everyone to call home.

The King’s Medal

By Maria Gill

Illustrated by Alistair Hughes

ISBN 9781990003349

Upstart Press

I think what this book highlights, is how stories can be shared across the generations. Here we have a grandfather relating his account of how he, and other soldiers, helped save the Greek King from being injured or killed, while they escaped from the German soldiers during World War Two.

The ANZAC’s had to climb steep mountains and avoid being shot at by the Nazi paratroopers. The grandfather shares his memories with his grandson, while showing him the medal he was awarded by the King.

The back pages offer more information about the ANZAC’s heroics and how a group of villagers also helped the King. There are also descriptions and illustrations of other medals from the war.

The illustrations and the colour choices perfectly showcase that particular period of time.

Author Maria Gill is well known for her creative-nonfiction picture books and this is another one to add to any school library collection. It is informative, but an easy read to enjoy at home as well.

Check out the trailer below.

As a parent, Christmas wasn’t Christmas, without giving books. Picture books, novels, even the road code counted. With that in mind, today’s post is a selection of new picture books just in time for Christmas shopping.

Ming’s Iceberg

By Kiri Lightfoot

Illustrated by Kimberly Andrews

ISBN 9781775437130

Scholastic NZ

What is not to love about a penguin? Little Ming is a curious penguin who wants to see what is out in the big wide world. From her home in Antarctica, Little Ming can see the horizon and when an opportunity arises she takes a leap onto a floating iceberg, and sets out to find what is in that place where the sea meets the sky.

On her journey she meets new friends but soon discovers that her iceberg is melting. This is sweet picture book with an environmental message about climate change and warming seas, but it is not the key message. Family, friends, and taking risks, are themes told in this gentle book.

Kimberly Andrews has captured the essence and sparkle of Little Ming. Lots of soft blues and whites, creating a sense of the Antarctic landscape. Just lovely.

The Little Yellow Digger and the big ship

By Peter Gilderdale

Illustrated by Fifi Colston

ISBN 9781775437413

Scholastic NZ

The Little Yellow Digger as a character, is a classic.

The original story was written by Betty Gilderdale and illustrated by her husband, Alan. Together they wrote several books about the digger and his antics. More than one generation has grown up with their books.

He is back with yet another adventure, this time written by their son, Peter, and illustrated by Fifi Colston. This is their second collaboration and they certainly do justice to the Little Digger stories.

Based on the real stranding of a ship in the Suez Canal in March 2021, this latest adventure sees our smartest, small machine save the day, once again. In fact, the little yellow digger gets stuck right in helping, even when others think he is too little, or doing things wrong. Sometimes, it pays to follow your own instincts and believe in yourself. Another lovely wee message to share with young readers.

Ka Pai Kiwi Favourites : 5 sing-along stories

ISBN 9781775437338

Scholastic NZ

This is a compilation of five previously published picture books, all bound together in a lovely hardback edition. The book is in both English and Te Reo Maori, and is a good pick to share with younger children. You can download the songs for free from here.

The Kiwi Hokey Tokey by Lynette Evans

The Kiwi go marching one by one by Peter Millet

Row, row, row your boat by Lynette Evans

10 kooky Kiwi (based on the traditional song 10 Green Bottles)

If your’e Kiwi and you know it (based on the traditional song If you’re happy and you know it)

The stories are all fun and quirky, with a definite kiwi theme which also makes it good for sending overseas.

Going on a Kiwi holiday

By Suzy Cato and Arthur Baysting

Illustrated by Raymond McGrath

ISBN 9781775437284

Scholastic NZ

Getting ready for a summer holiday takes quite some planning. What do you need, what will you do when you get there and even – where do you go? This family thinks of everything; kayak, sleeping bags, chilly bin, but there is always something that ends up being forgotten.

A fun road trip through summer with a repetitive rhyme just right for singing along in the car on your own holiday.

Wonky Donkey’s big surprise

By Craig Smith

Illustrated by Katz Cowley

ISBN 9781775437277

Scholastic NZ

Wonky Donkey is back and spending the day with Dinky. He tells Dinky there is a big surprise to come and they spend time guessing just what it might be. Katz Cowley’s illustrations bring out the softness and cuteness of little Dinky and the warmth of family love. Another one for fans to add to their Wonky Donkey collection.

Incredible journeys: New Zealand Wildlife on the move

By Ned Barraud

ISBN 9781988550282

Potton & Burton

Author and illustrator, Ned Barraud, is well-known for his distinctive artistic style. In his latest book he highlights the journeys many animals and birds take, often repeatedly, in their lifetimes.

Each animal or bird has its own double-page spread with lots of well-researched facts, and a map of the journey’s path. The facts are informative and easy to read.

Take the humpback whale, for example. It travels up to 10,000 kilometres from the South Pacific Ocean surrounding New Zealand, down to Antarctica and back again, when it is time to breed. That is a huge distance.

Some of the other journeys include, that of the white shark, Northern Royal albatross and even the Fiordland crested penguin, which is one of the rarest of the 18 species of penguins in the world.

A good, informative non-fiction book to have in any school library or home collection.

Backyard birds

By Ned Barraud

ISBN 9781988550305

Potton & Burton

Ned Barraud has brought together yet another book, a collection of 24 of the most common everyday birds in New Zealand. They are birds we might see in our own gardens, or on native walks around local forests or parks.

It begins with a good contents page, then the evolution of birds, followed by parts of a bird, mating, nests, eggs and chicks, before introducing different species of birds. My favourites are the pukeko, piwakawaka, and the magpie. I’ve just noticed that my favourites are all quite well-known for being rather cheeky characters with lots of personality.

Each detailed illustration also provides a paragraph or two about the birds. The last double-page spread gives ideas on how to attract birds into your garden.

A good book to have at home, to help identify birds we might see around our neighbourhood.

Marvin makes a friend

by Nadia Lim

Illustrated by Fifi Colston

ISBN 9781775437307

Scholastic NZ

Marvin, the curious chicken is back, but he is now a teen and in this sequel to Marvellous Marvin, he is looking for a family of his own. He is just as delightful as when he was young, but he is now just a little bit too sure of himself. In fact he struts around as if he owns the place. All that does however, is leave him feeling a bit lonely. After talking to many of the animals on the farm, while they offer to be his friend, they tell him, they’re not his family. He is about to give up when he wanders up to an apple tree in the orchard, when something wonderful happens. If you read the first picture book then it is well worth checking this one out too, to see how Marvin has been growing up.

Fifi Colston has once again captured his personality perfectly, in her delightfully, cute illustrations. There is a lovely, and very cute little bumble bee which follows Marvin around wherever he goes. A friendly buzzy bee with his own personality. Lots of other farm animals make an appearance and I particularly love the cow and her big, beautiful eyes.

The book, apart from being a good story, is also informative. Nadia shares family photos of her farm, children, animals and the real Marvin. There are fun facts about the farm in Central Otago. It is great to see another recipe in this book. A good, easy recipe for corn fritters, that parents and readers can enjoy doing together.

Another good book to share with young ones.