Archive for the ‘Everyone’ Category

Artemis Fowl

By Eoin Colfer

Artemis Fowl is a 12-year-old genius. His family has been part of the criminal world for years and the time is now right for a major battle with powerful fairies who live underground. And they are angry! Artemis Fowl and his many adventures were hugely popular a wee while ago but I bet that with the release of the movie later this year, these fantasy novels will be back in high demand.

It goes without saying that reading the book first will enhance your viewing of the movie.

Magic, fantasy, adventure, thriller, fight for survival. Everything is included in this series of books. Check out your local library or shout yourself a copy of the book. You won’t be disappointed as it is an excellent read. Or you can read the graphic novel versions of this series too. I still have a signed copy of the original book tucked away safe on my bookshelf. Really looking forward to this movie.

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Little Frida : A story of Frida Kahlo

By Anthony Browne

ISBN 9781406381221

Walker Books

Anthony Browne has brought us another stunner of a picture book. His artwork is wonderfully distinctive and his fans are many, including myself. I have admired his work for years and was lucky enough to meet him a number of years ago. I stood in line awestruck as I waited to get my copy of Voices in the Park signed. Even though the queue was long he took the time to draw a quick picture and I still treasure this book very much. So I am delighted to be reading his latest picture book. It has a more creative non-fiction feel to it as the story he tells is based on the real life of artist Frida Kahlo. 

Browne beautifully illustrates Frida’s life as a young girl. He brings the pain of struggling through polio and the consequences of her illness that left her with a limping, thin leg and the cruelty of children who called her “Peg-Leg”. Frida was different, an outsider, often lonely, but her imagination created a new friend. Her new friend and the imaginary world they live in is portrayed beautifully and wistfully by Browne. It is a world of hope and beauty, friendship and dancing. In this new world Frida is finding her strengths and that is painting. Frida is becoming an artist. 

I love how one artist can take the life of another artist and create a beauty on its own. There is at times a sense of surrealism and sophistication about the illustrations, which is Browne’s own trademark but he also incorporates Frida’s own style. Browne uses rich, bold colours and there are, as always, little hidden images, including an old friend from his other books but I will leave that for you to find. I will say though, it made me smile.

The biographical notes about Frida are framed like a work of art itself on the final end page.  Out of pain comes beauty and Browne shows this in his stunning new picture book. It is an essential book for school libraries but also a book that will be special in any home. I love too, the way the book feels, with its embossed frame of little Frida on the cover.  Frida was famous for her self-portraits often adding bits of fantasy to her paintings.  Browne honours Frida with his own sense of fantasy, so do look closely at the cover before you open the pages and enter the world of Frida Kahlo as a young girl.

On the brink : New Zealand’s most endangered species

By Maria Gill

Illustrations by Terry Fitzgibbon

ISBN 9781869665180

New Holland Publishers

On the brink is a well-researched non fiction children’s book about the dangers of extinction for many different New Zealand species. It includes among others,  reptiles, frogs, fish, insects, birds and marine animals. It is well-formatted, realistically illustrated and informative without being too wordy. The book details the top five most endangered in each category. It is incredibly sad to realise just how many species are actually threatened with extinction. Perhaps the saddest is the Maui dolphin with less than 55 left in the world. Certainly makes you stop and think. It is also very sad to see how few Hamilton’s frogs there are left. I love frogs and actually have my own pet ones who are about 12 years old. They are little brown whistling tree frogs and they make me smile so much. I would hate to see the loss of Hamilton’s frogs.

As a buyer of children’s books for a school library, I do like non-fiction books which include a good glossary, index and contents page and this book provides all that and more. There are many useful websites to check out for further research. There is also a double page spread with ideas of what readers can do to try and help make a difference.

This is an excellent book trailer to use in class with the book. Definitely a must-have for school libraries.

A sad reminder of what we could all lose if we do nothing. We all need to do our own little bit to help.

 

Kate Sheppard: leading the way for women

By Maria Gill

Illustrated by Ivancic

ISBN 9781775435471

Scholastic NZ

 

 

Before I even began reading the story of Kate Sheppard, I spent ages just checking out the end pages and the wonderful map of the world from 1855. The world has changed so much since Kate sailed from one end of the world to the other; a journey which took around three or four months way back in 1869 when Kate left England to move to New Zealand.

Kate wanted to change things in life right from when she was young. Her perseverance over the years paid off as she did make changes, including being one of the first women ever, to ride a bike.

Her biggest achievement was of course gaining the right for women to vote. It was on this day, 28th November 1893, 125 years ago, that women went to the polling votes for the first time, anywhere in the world. A huge achievement from a woman who never gave up on her dream. Kate was dedicated and determined and this creative non-fiction picture book tells us her story and how it all happened.

While Kate Sheppard started something amazing,  you will see by reading the page Female (in)equality, there are sadly, many countries where girls and women are still not treated fairly. Kate was a woman ahead of her time but she will not be the only one, others have, and will continue to make changes for equality for women and girls everywhere.

Check out the trailer for a sneak peek at the book.

The research is, as always, spot on and the illustrations make this another top choice. The inclusion of a glossary, maps, and a timeline make this a wonderful resource for school libraries and teachers.

Teacher notes can be found here.

There is a very cool site here where you can type in the names of your great, or perhaps, great, great grandmothers and see if they signed the petition. I am very proud to say that I found my Great Grandmother had signed the petition. Considering she went on to have nine children I think that was super cool.

Inside the Villains

By Clotilde Perrin

ISBN 9781776571987

Gecko Press

This book is special in so many ways. It is wickedly funny, exquisitely produced and a real treasure. It is an over-sized portrait shaped book that is not just for children. I showed many adults this book and they all took their own delight in lifting the flaps, pulling the strings and reading all about the three villains. 

There are large foldout pages revealing facts about each of the three villains and a page each with a good old-fashioned fairy tale. 

There is something exciting about lifting a flap and finding hidden secrets. Under the witch’s cloak there is a pocket with a mirror, a sweet, and my favourite, a cat with a rather strange grin on its face. The witch’s dress has several layers, each hiding even more secrets. 

The wolf’s stomach and its content is particularly funny too. 

I really love that each of the villains has their own library section where they share the stories where they are characters. Giant’s library shelf includes Jack and the Beanstalk, The BFG, and many others. Of course all good scary fairy tales have either a giant, a witch, or a wolf and this book has all three. 

This is a beautiful book to be read and played with over and over again. I absolutely love it. 

As we commemorate 100 years since the end of the First World War, it is timely to look at two new war-themed books by much-loved author, Michael Morpurgo. While written for children, these books really are for everyone.

Poppy Field

By Michael Morpurgo

Illustrated by Michael Foreman

ISBN 9781407181424

Scholastic

Poppy Field
Michael Morpurgo and Michael Foreman are well known for their partnership over many  award-winning children’s books. This time they have teamed up with the Royal British Legion to tell an original story that explains the meaning behind the poppy and why we wear it still.

Morpurgo skilfully tells the story of young Martens whose family live on a farm in Flanders Field. 

A poor girl out selling eggs one day meets a soldier as he sits on his own trying to write a poem for his dead comrades; in particular, his best friend, whom he has just buried. He doesn’t want eggs or even the poppies she offers him, but upon his request, she places some poppies on the dead soldier’s grave. In return, she takes a crumpled up scrap of paper with the draft of a poem he was working on. The poem is eventually framed and handed down through four generations of the young girl’s family. The poem is In Flanders Fields.

While the story speaks many truths, it is a work of fiction but more important than that, it is a reminder of who we are and where we come from. it shows us that there is hope and a future because of those who fought before us and for us.

The story is beautifully illustrated in soft greys, blacks and browns, with the only colour being the red poppies which stand out, symbolic and proud.

The Afterword about the history of the poppy and why it is still worn 100 years later, however, is in full colour. The contrasting colours between the story and the Afterword only adds to the haunting quality of the story. A  story that needed to be told. 

Teacher notes can be found here.

 

 

Our Jacko

By Michael Morpurgo

Illustrated by David Gentleman

ISBN 9781406366136

Walker Books

 

There is an old scruffy tin hat which has always been in Michael’s house for as long as he can remember.  It has been used as a toy, a feeding bowl for the hens and even a hanging basket but no one can remember where it comes from. Michael hates it, always has, especially the hole and what the hole likely means. Somewhere, someone wearing that helmet must have died in the war. A school trip and project about the First World War is what changes Michael’s mind when he discovers the hat belonged to his great, great grandfather, Jacko, who never returned from the war. Our Jacko, as the family used to call him, died in Ypres in 1915. Michael and his family discover Jacko’s old diaries and learn so much about life in the trenches, fighting during the First World War. 

Michael Morpurgo takes us on a journey of discovery and the realisation that no matter how awful and tragic the war was, we do need to remember it. We do need to remember those who died and the impact of those losses on everyone and how it changed the world. Peace came at a cost, and we need to remember those who paid the price. 

This is a special book aimed at the 8-12 year olds,  perfectly timed for Armistice Day, the end of the First World War, the war to end all wars.

 

 

 

Oink

By David Elliot

ISBN 9781776572144

Gecko Press

 

Oink cover rough

 

I have always been a fan of David Elliot and I’ve also always thought there is something special about pigs, so this book hits all the right buttons. I love the colours he uses; soft greens and pinks and his own trademark quirky illustrations. They have a whimsical element which will appeal to readers of all ages.

Pig just wants to have a quiet, relaxing bath on his own. Who doesn’t?  His quality time is interrupted as one after another his animal friends; donkey, sheep, and cow, jump in the bath with him. Uninvited of course. They take up all the room and make so much noise that pig is clearly frustrated.

Just what does a pig have to do to have a quiet soak in a nice bath? David Elliot answers that with good old-fashioned humour. The simplicity of the story has a wonderful innocence to it which will make this a favourite with readers, for sure.

Pig is cute and his expressions are delightful and totally believable. You certainly can tell when he is frustrated with all the interruptions and the smile on his face when he finally gets the bath to himself is pure gold.

Love it.

 

I spent a wonderful afternoon at the opening of Turanga our amazing new central library. After the earthquakes our old library was closed and as incredibly sad as it was to lose our library, we have been blessed with a brilliant new one. It is beautiful, stunning, a masterpiece in design and just what our city needs. There is so much to do in the new library. There are function rooms to hire, places to buy food, eat and relax. You can even sit on the stairs, plug in and charge your devices.

The stairs are an artwork on their own. When we were waiting for the mayor to cut the ribbon and declare the library open, the crowd were looking up at the librarians on the floors above us, while they were looking down at us. Cameras and phones clicking away, everyone smiling and it reminded a few of us of the scene from City of Angels where all the angels were looking down. It was a wonderful feeling because I do secretly think librarians are much like angels with their kindness, friendliness, and willingness to help.

A huge congratulations to everyone involved in this massive but essential undertaking. There are 180,000 books, a 200-seat theatre and a $1 million touch screen which was very cool and so easy to spend time exploring. Layers and layers of things to swipe, and zoom in on and discover our city and its history. I spent my time in the children’s section, of course and already can’t wait to return.

Our city has its hub and its heart back.

The Mayor of Christchurch after cutting the ribbon and officially opening the library.

 


Beautiful sculpture on the stairs (before ribbon cutting)

 

 

 

The touch wall – way to easy to lose track of time playing on this wall.

 

 

 

 

This truly impressive book trailer is a collaboration between several groups; students, Duffy Books in Home, Colenso, Bloomsbury Publishers and the New Zealand Book Council.

Statistics show the sad reality that many boys do not read. In an attempt to change these statistics the group have made this fantastic trailer as an incentive to get boys reading. The trailer is based on J. K. Rowling’s book Fantastic Beasts and where to find them.

Hopefully students, boys in particular, will be inspired to read the book before seeing the movie. The trailer is definitely exciting and certainly a wonderful way to hook readers. I’m completely hooked. I love it. The illustrated edition is one of those special, beautifully bound books that make a wonderful gift that becomes a pleasure to read again and again.

Well done to all involved for this top class production. If you want to read a bit more about the process of  making the trailer you can click here. Or you can click here if you want to listen to Jo Cribb (CEO of NZ Book Council) as she discusses Making bookworms of boys. 

As a school librarian I have regularly seen boys and girls watch book trailers and then look for the books on our shelves. It works!

 

Once Upon a Wild Wood

By Chris Riddell

ISBN 9781509817061

Macmillan Children’s Books

Many who have read this blog before know I am a huge fan of illustrator and author, Chris Riddell. His newest picture book, the first in about ten years and only just released, is simply beautiful, stunning and a whole heap of other feel-good adjectives. It arrived at school today and I was so excited I pulled the wrapping off in haste and was smitten. Within in a few minutes I was ordering another copy for a teacher sitting next to me. 

Oh my goodness, where to start!

The hardback cover has a cut out centre. Little Green Rain Cape is framed right in the centre of the cut out, book in hand, as she steps in to the wild wood. We can see the different fairy tale characters peeking out from the trees, all looking directly at the reader. We can’t help but want to step inside the wood with her.

Little Green Rain Cape enters the Wild Wood on her way to a party. Her backpack is full of all the things she might need on the way. She is wise and well prepared for almost anything.

On her journey Little Green meets many of our favourite fairy tale characters but they are not quite where you think they might be. The stories are delightfully mixed up. The golden harp is very fickle and looking for a new owner. The three bears, the 12 dancing princesses, and so many other characters make an entrance. The trees too, are quirky and their facial expressions are gorgeous. They smile and frown and we can see their compassion and their own little personalties. 

I’m in love with the colourful illustrations and the magic and story of the Wild Wood. I am also left hoping there just might be another adventure in the Wild Wood for Little Green Rain Cape.

This is certainly a book to read again and again. Parents will enjoy sharing this with children and talking about fairy tales. Teachers will love it for so many reasons, not just as a picture book to read aloud, but a great resource for creative writing, fractured fairy tale studies and heaps more.

Love it to pieces! 

 

A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo

Written by Marlon Bundo with Jill Twiss

Illustrated by E. G. Keller

ISBN 9781452173801

Chronicle Books

 

What a wonderful picture book.

Marlon Bundo is a rabbit who meets and falls in love with Wesley, “a big, fluffy bunny with the floppiest floppy ears and the bushiest bushy tail” Marlon has ever seen. They love hopping everywhere together and most of all they love each other. All their friends are keen to see them marry but the Stink Bug is in charge and says that boy rabbits can not marry boy rabbits. The Stink Bug (with more than a passing resemblance to President Trump) is a nasty bully who makes all the decisions for the people.

However, one friend decides to change things. Friendships and loyalty are strong themes in the book too.

Yes this book has a political point but it is so funny.  It is also about diversity, it’s about being able to love whomever you want to love and that no one can tell you how to live. It is delightfully funny, has absolutely the cutest illustrations ever and it is a very important picture book for children, and many adults too. Love it.

Selma

By Jutta Bauer

ISBN 978177652120

Gecko Press

 

Julia Marshall publisher at Gecko Press says Selma “is a small book about a big question! A mini hardback for all ages that celebrates a good life”. And indeed it is wee celebration of the good things in life, which sadly, we often take for granted.

 

A wise ram is asked the question, “What is happiness”. and his answer is to tell the story of Selma, a sheep who is happy and content with her life. 

Selma loves the day to day things: eating, sleeping, spending time with her children, talking to the neighbours and getting a little exercise as well. Selma is asked if she would do anything different if she had a million dollars. I’m not going to tell you what she decides but I will say, it is a timely message for us all. Life is too short and sometimes we need to forget about the busyness of the day and just take the time to relax and be with friends and family.

This is lovely new edition gift book, full of happiness to share, is available now.

The Visitor

By Antje Damm

ISBN 9781776571888

Gecko Press

This is the second book from Antje Damm that I have had the pleasure to read. Waiting for Goliath was totally delightful and so is her new book  The Visitor will be published in July.

             Elise was frightened—of spiders, people, even trees. So she never went out,
             night or day.

            One day a strange thing flies in through the window and lands at her feet. And then there comes a knock at the        door. Elise has a visitor who will change everything.

This is a very special picture book about the beginning of a new friendship between an old lonely woman and a curious young boy.

The young boy Emil accidentally flies his dart inside the open window of Elise’s house. When he goes to collect it he finds Elise, a shy old woman who reluctantly lets him into her house. His curiosity and innocent questions are honest and realistic. I certainly found myself smiling as he looked at everything in her house and began asking lots of questions. Elise slowly begins to answer and it is not long before she finds herself opening up to him and a new friendship is formed.

Inside the house is dark, with lots of browns and shady colours but glimpses of bright light shine outside the windows. As they begin to feel comfortable with each other, the light, bit by bit, enters the house. Even Elise’s cheeks begin to glow. This is truly a delightful book to share with children of all ages.

The art work is a mix of diorama, card cut-outs, and photography with a focus on the use of colour. It is quite simply, a wonderful work of art and a story to treasure. There are so many older people out there who could all do with a little Emil in their lives.

Earthquakes! New Zealand

By Maria Gill

ISBN 9781869664862

New Holland Publishers

If you have ever wanted to know anything about earthquakes in New Zealand, then this new book from award-winning author Maria Gill has it all. The production is a perfect example of what a quality non-fiction book should be. It has all the features we expect with contents pages, glossary, bibliography, credits, headings and subheadings, photographs, graphs, symbols and timelines all sandwiched between a shiny, colourful, glossy cover. Maria Gill is well-known for her dedication and determination to research her subjects to provide readers with the best and most accurate information.

Maria Gill explains what earthquakes are, why they happen and the damage they can cause.  The timeline goes way back in time to some of the first earthquakes and marks many of the strongest ones that occurred. She also explains what to do in an earthquake and how to keep yourself safe which is something everyone in New Zealand needs to know. Having lived through the tragic Canterbury and Christchurch earthquakes, this book brought back many memories but it is good to see everything explained and know that while we cannot predict or stop earthquakes; we can be prepared and that is most important.

The language is easy and informative without being too formal or wordy, making it a suitable choice for everyone. The book is informative and shares links to videos on the internet for further research or explanation. There is also a friendly helper throughout the pages. Maria introduces us to  Rūaumoko the Maori god of earthquakes and volcanoes who helps explain things as readers move from page to page. A lovely addition to this quality book.

Primary schools through to secondary schools will certainly benefit from having this book in their school libraries.

 

 

The old man

By Sarah V

Illustrated by Claude K. Dubois

Translated by Daniel Hahn

ISBN 9781776571918

Gecko Press

Published April 2018

 

It doesn’t matter how hard we try to pretend, we can not ignore the fact that homelessness is real. It happens and it is everywhere. It is confronting but unless we face the issues, we cannot change them. In this simple picture book we meet a little girl who doesn’t walk past an old homeless man living on the streets. She doesn’t ignore him and most importantly, she doesn’t judge him. While adults walk past and pretend to not see him, the little girl stops and talks to the old man. She sees him, cold and lonely leaning against a wall and wrapped in an old blanket. In her innocence, her acknowledgement of the old man as a person, means more than anything. It means hope and hope is everything.

The watercolour illustrations are beautiful. There is a haunting quality to them but at the same time there is a softness, an innocence about them. As we move through the pages yellow tones soon break through the darkness bringing light, warmth and hope. The day-to-day trials of being homeless, of being moved along, of being ignored are so hard that the old man even forgets his own name. It is the honesty of a young girl that gives him hope and helps him find a voice. This is truly a beautiful book and an important one to share.

There is a sneak preview of more images from this picture book here.

There are also teaching notes to make the most of this book and help children understand the plight of the homeless. If we cannot ignore it then we need to learn more about it and help make a difference, just like the young girl in this book did.