Archive for the ‘Everyone’ Category

Aotearoa lost Worlds

By Dave Guson

ISBN 9781988538662

Bateman Books

Aotearoa Lost Worlds is a non-fiction delight for readers of all ages. Children, and those in particular who love dinosaurs, will love dipping into this book. Looking back at 120 million years of New Zealand’s natural history is quite amazing.

The land, animals, and climate has changed so much over millions of years but author and illustrator, Dave Gunson, brings many of the changes to our attention in his latest book.

I have always been fascinated by the long-extinct Haast’s eagle; the worlds largest bird of prey, so it was very interesting to read. It was so big and it was believed its wing span was 3 metres wide. That is incredible.

I never knew that over 230 million years ago, New Zealand had its own crocodiles. While they are magnificent creatures, I’m very glad we don’t have them around today as I wouldn’t want to run in to one by a river or swampy rest area.

Or you can read about the largest NZ Gecko that grew to over 60 centimetres in length. That is so much bigger than the ones we have today. And of course, you can read about dinosaurs too.

Obviously there are no photos, but Dave Gunson’s illustrations are colourful, detailed and realistic. His research is well-founded and written clearly. This is full of interesting and informative facts. A great book to dip into and again and again.


By Melinda Szymanik

Illustrated by Isobel Joy Te Aho-White

ISBN 9781775437116

Scholastic NZ

Melinda Syzmanik’s latest picture book, Batkiwi, is just delightful. A heartwarming picture book about teamwork, even if that team is made up of just two members.

Kiwi loves helping his fellow forest creatures and friends. Whenever one of them needs help, he gets his legs running as fast as he can, but it is just not quite fast enough. Feeling sad about not being able to help, he carries thoughts with him that he just can’t be a hero. One night, when feeling extra sad, and hiding in a dark cave, Kiwi hears a voice. The friendly voice of a Bat, offering the best advice, that together they can help in emergencies. Together, Bat and kiwi can be heroes. Batkiwi “A dynamic duo.”

This picture book is supercool. The illustrations totally fit the story. This is a wonderful, visual introduction to New Zealand’s wildlife with colourful pictures of kunekune, ruru, weta, skink, and many others.

It is lovely to see a Te Reo Maori edition also available.


By Glenda Kane

Illustrated by Lisa Allen

ISBN 978 1988538716

Mangrove is a picture book focusing on the life cycle of a mangrove. It shows the destruction of a habitat as bulldozers and builders move in, with the result that they destroy the mangrove and some of the surrounding wildlife, like fish and crabs. It is a timely reminder to us all of our need to look after our environments, animals, and planet.

The survival of our ecosystems is essential, but it is also up to each of us to make a difference. The amount of plastic rubbish which ends up in the sea or along shore lines, has a disastrous effect on our environment. Books like Mangrove, show us there are simple things we can do to help our ecosystems to survive.

The story takes us through the mangrove and its destruction, through to the final stages, where we have hope, as a new mangrove begins to grow. The artwork is full colour with excellent use of natural colours and images. The text is gentle rhymes with clear messages that we need to help. We need to make a difference now, if we want to save our mangroves and all other ecosystems.

‘If you take the track past the big white shack
to the tidal flats where the mud is black
If you sneak to the left between the tides
you’ll find the place where mangrove hides.’

Mangrove was originally published in paperback some years back; this hardback edition is one to keep.

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.

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.

Becoming Muhammad Ali

By James Patterson and Kwame Alexander

Illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile

ISBN 9780316498166

Houghton Mifflin

I’m writing this review on a warm autumn afternoon in Christchurch, New Zealand and enjoying memories of the time I met Muhammad Ali and our short but amazing conversation. It was many years ago and I was living in London, doing my big OE; working in hotels for cheap accommodation and experiencing life on the other side of the world.

I was cleaning hotel rooms and working in the Forum Hotel, one of the biggest hotels in London at the time. Ali was no longer boxing but he was still doing the rounds working for charities and trying to make the world a better place. I was lucky enough to clean his room and when I was in the hall he came out and told me he had had an accident. Before I could say much, he stuck his hand out and showed me his finger, cut off and sitting in the palm of his hand. I looked up at him (I’m barely 5 foot) and back at his hand and I screamed. Not the best response, I admit and it wasn’t really that loud but he gently placed his hand on my shoulder and told me it was a fake finger, which you really could tell straight away. We both laughed after that. I think, his fame, his height and the suggestion that he had cut off one of his famous boxing fingers was just a bit much for this young girl from down under. It was and always will be one of my most treasured experiences. Despite his size and fame, there was a gentleness to him that I found quite humbling. So to read this book has been a total delight.

Getting to know the young Cassius Clay before he became famous, before he changed his name is kind of magical. It’s like watching a movie and knowing the ending, but having no idea how it started because you had missed the beginning. Patterson and Alexander have created a beginning that is easy to read. It is a mix of poetry and prose. Kwame does verse novels with impact and perfection and the poems here are beautifully written. Patterson’s writing shows the love and respect of a best friend and we feel it. Ali tells his side of growing up, knowing he wanted to be a champion boxer and just how he set out to achieve that. One of his best friends Lucius, aka Lucky, tells his version of events. His obvious sense of pride in his friend as he watched it all play out is evident as he shares his insights to the young Cassis Clay.

I love the illustrations throughout the book; graphic novel type that suit the tone of the book. I think one of the strengths of this book is that you can feel the love Ali has for his family, particularly his younger brother Rudy, and his friends. His determination and confidence is inspiring. This is not just a book about boxing, or a biographical account of his life; it’s about friendships, belief, faith and courage at a time when black people still had to sit at the back of the bus. I felt many emotions reading this book. Anger; for racism he had to endure in a time when segregation was everywhere. Hope; for his dreams to come through, and relief that he made it. Happiness; that I had the fortune to have been pranked by this amazing man.

I am so glad this book has been published and is out there for everyone to read, enjoy and get to know the young, Muhammad Ali. I don’t want to return the book to the library but I will (reluctantly) as I want others to enjoy it too.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

By Lewis Carroll

Illustrated by Chris Riddell

ISBN 9781529002461

Macmillan Children’s Books

First published in the 1860’s this timeless classic is still going strong. This new illustrated edition from Chris Riddell is a stunner and for me, this surpasses all other editions. I have long admired Riddell’s work, and this is no exception. I love it.

Gone are Alice’s long blonde locks of previous illustrators, now replaced with short, dark hair bringing a freshness and a new personality. The mad-hatter too, is different. The story however, is the same tale of a young girl who follows a rabbit down a rabbit hole into an amazing new world. It’s a world where everything is different, strange and quite bizarre. Talking animals, parties and misadventure where Alice gets into trouble.

This edition is just beautiful. I excitedly picked a copy up at my local library from the “new books” stand but I will have to get my own copy to keep. It’s not exactly a cheap purchase but it will be one well worth buying in this new hardback, illustrated collectors edition. It is one to treasure. I really don’t want to return my library book!

In this youtube clip, Chris Riddell reads the first chapter. As you listen, you can take a look at the illustrations, both colour, and black and white. The end papers show different characters and if you take the cover off the book you reveal another beautiful cover.

Moon and Sun by Melinda Szymanik

Illustrated by Malene Laugesen

ISBN 9781988516806

Upstart Press

Moon knows she can never be as bright and warm and beloved as her sister, Sun.

She hides away, shy and sad, only coming out at night. But maybe Moon is more important than she realises…

Moon and Sun is a special picture book. It deals with one of the most common issues children have, that being, insecurity and lack of confidence, lack of self belief and often feeling less important that their older siblings.

Moon is insecure and she thinks her sister, Sun is more beautiful, more popular and generally, better than herself. It really is a common tale, but here Melinda Szymanik shows us that we are all special. We all have much to give and sometimes, doing things together is even better than being on our own.

It is beautifully illustrated with full pages of gorgeous colours. The pictures have a myth-like quality to them which adds an extra dimension to the story.

This is a beautiful book to share with young children. It’s also a good one for teachers in pre-schools and primary schools to use to encourage gentle discussions about how we are all unique. Our differences are our strengths and understanding that, can help children learn to believe in themselves.

Just lovely.

New Zealand disasters: Our response, resilience and recovery

By Maria Gill

Illustrated by Marco Ivancic

ISBN 9781775436218

Scholastic NZ

Yet again, author Maria Gill and illustrator Marco Ivancic have proven themselves a winning combination with their latest collaboration. New Zealand disasters is a book that should be in every school library. It is timely, informative, well-researched and a great book to dip into again and again. It is one that is not just for study and hot topic projects, but is a book that will be interesting to everyone living in New Zealand.

I recall far too many of these disasters but also far too many that I have actually experienced to some degree or another, in my home town of Christchurch. I remember waking up to the eerie quiet and icy cold, snow-laden streets in the big snow of 1992. I recall vividly the Canterbury and Christchurch earthquakes and the ongoing aftershocks. The Port Hills fire was very close to home and the mosque shootings is still very raw in my memory. And of course, the Covid-19 pandemic is still very much active around the world. This book provides enough information on these and numerous other disasters that readers will come to know of some of our worst moments in history. It provides an understanding of the disasters and like any information, it helps us cope and know that after any disaster, things will get better. Knowledge is power and this book provides us with hope and strategies for any future disaster.

Most of us will remember where we were when different disasters happened, so often the mention of a particular disaster will bring back memories and associations. For example, when the DC-10 plane crashed into Mt Erebus in Antartica I was living in Milford Sound and we found out about this awful crash listening on an old ham radio. Disasters bring people together and hold memories, good and bad.

New Zealand Disasters is well set out. It has a very cool colour-coded contents page, glossary, and index. Bright and bold headings and sub-headings make it easy to scan for information. It covers all sorts of disasters, like earthquakes, tsunamis, cyclones, mining accidents, plane crashes, volcanoes, fires and many more. There are photos and survival tips as well as a list to help you put together your own emergency kit.

The illustrator provides realistic impressions of the moment of many of the disasters. You can see the fear in the faces of people escaping disasters. Having lived through a number of these, I can assure you that the fear is real. Hopefully readers of this book will have some of their own fear alleviated, after learning some of the survival strategies.

Another top book from an award winning combo. Surely another award will follow.

Check out this very cool trailer.

24 Hours on the Kiwi Seashosre

Gillian and Darryl Torckler

ISBN 9781988538389

Bateman Books

For many years, Gillian and Darryl Torckler have collaborated on numerous books for children. Their focus is non-fiction books. Their latest venture is two books looking at life in the New Zealand bush and seashore.

Each book is filled with fun facts about what happens over a 24 hour period. We visit the nightlife and day time activities of our wildlife. In 24 Hours on the Kiwi Seashore we look at tides, birds, anemones, dolphins, seals and so much more. The photos are stunning in both books. Each book has an excellent glossary and index page.

The information is perfect for readers aged 8 through 13. Each subject has a heading and there are lots of bite-sized boxes with interesting facts. One thing I found very interesting was that the tui bird has two voice boxes. Or if you look at 24 Hours on the Kiwi Seashore, gannets can reach speeds of 145 kms an hour when diving. That is incredibly fast.

Photos cover the entire pages creating a visual feast of New Zealand’s wildlife. Each animal, bird or creature is labelled with both its English and Te Reo Māori name. These books offer a wonderful introduction to our native bush and seashore and are ideal for all school library collections.

24 Hours in the Kiwi Bush

ISBN 9781988538372

What we’ll build

By Oliver Jeffers

ISBN 978000832209


Oliver Jeffers has the ability to create wonderful picture books with simple messages that hit home. He has covered many different issues; loneliness, grief, environment, to name a few. His latest book is all about building a place to feel safe and loved. Importantly, it shows us, it takes work and love to create a home that keeps us safe.

A father and his daughter work together. They plan and work as a team to protect each other, now and always. Its a beautiful book of hope. Our world can seem scary for young children, especially with everything that is going on right now, and this book is a perfect one to share and bring a little calm into our lives.

I love the idea of building a table so that father and daughter can sit around it and talk. Gorgeous!

This advert from Puffin Books is just adorable. I love it.

How many of the books do you recognise? How many have your read?

How many will you put on your Christmas list?

As the advert says. Pass on a dream.

Will you be my friend?

By Sam McBratney

Illustrated by Anita Jeram

ISBN 9781406351606

Walker Books

Big Nutbrown Hare and Little Nutbrown Hare are back. Reading this beautiful picture book is just like reconnecting with old friends. You know that feeling you get when you haven’t seen old friends in awhile but the minute you do, you just carry on as if no time has passed at all. That’s the feeling I got when I read this book. And like true friends, they haven’t changed at all. Both are the same wonderful hares that they were then, and are now.

With a bit of growing independence Little Nutbrown Hare goes off for a wander and exploration by himself. He discovers his own reflection and his shadow, but also something else, something very special. Little Nutbrown Hare discovers another Hare. A new friend to play with.

This is just as sweet and beautiful as when we first met the Nutbrown Hares and no doubt at all, this book will also become a classic. A perfect book to give to families with toddlers.

Anita Jeram’s illustrations are delightful, warm and just adorable.

Check out the trailer and then go get yourself a copy of this gorgeous book.

Dog gone

By Rob Biddulph

ISBN 9780008317928


“A wonderfully waggy adventure”.

Do you own pets or do they own you? That’s the important question. In Rob Biddulph’s new picture book we find a dog who proudly declares that he has his own pet human. He’s not too much trouble as far as keeping humans for pets goes. He plays ball, keeps things tidy and most important, his human is loyal.

But then comes the terrible day when human and dog are separated. Lost! What is a dog supposed to do when he loses his pet human, you might wonder. Facing his fears and full of determination Edward Pugglesworth goes in search of his human. He thinks carefully as he retraces his steps in his search which shows he’s quite a clever dog.

This is a delightful story, with well-worked out rhymes and rhythm making it a perfect story to read aloud. The illustrations are bright and sharp with a glossy finish. Take the slipcover off and you have a gorgeous dog-filled second cover. A bonus, although as a librarian, it does make it hard as I hate covering up the beautiful covers hiding under slipcovers.

I love this and highly recommend you find a copy soon. Great for home, families, pre-schools and lower primary. Actually a delight, no matter what your age.

The Great realisation

By Tomos Roberts

Art by Nomoco

ISBN 9781460759806

HarperCollins Children’s Books

This thought-provoking picture book began its life as a poem written during the early days of the Covid 19 Pandemic. It was initially shared on Youtube and was viewed millions of times. In fact it has had well over 60 million views, so it is wonderful and very well-deserved to see this in picture book format.

It is very much a timely message to us all; children and adults, that if we work together, if we make changes, then we can make a difference.

The Pandemic has changed the world as we know it. Millions of people have been infected and over one million people have died. It is a scary world with repercussions which will be felt for years. What Tomos Roberts offers us in his book, is hope. Hope will help and lead us to make changes, and hope will get us through.

A son asks his dad to read him a story at bedtime. The same story he has heard before. The one about a virus. The story talks of a world where waste and greed were common. The same world where millions of people lived lives of hunger and poverty. The world was noisy and polluted. A virus came along and the only way to stop it spreading was for people to hide away. While the world hid from the virus, the people came to realise there was another way to live. Another way for the world to care about each other, protect its planet, its animals and keep everyone safe. The world remembered how it used to be, and how it wanted and needed to go back in order to move ahead. To make change and find the peace within, we need to look at journey we have already taken and do things better.

The Great Realisation is a lovely book and Nomoco has created some sweet, simplistic, art work. It has a retro feel to it which works well with the overall theme. If you remove the cover off the book the actual cover is a cleaner, greener world. The sky is free of planes and the bird life and fish in the sea are coming back. The back cover shows the world we need to leave behind, a world where we need to reduce the waste, noise and pollution. I certainly know which world I prefer.

This is a book for everyone, young and old alike.