Archive for the ‘Everyone’ Category

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.

 

 

 

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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.

What a fantastic series of books. First Words in other languages presents a snippet of some of the most common everyday words. Perfect for young ones and not so young. I love the simple but clear illustrations of items. I really love how each word has its country of origin word, the English words and in brackets, a very clear pronunciation guide. I have shared these books with teachers and other librarians and they are proving a hit. They are already in our school library. As many of our students are learning Mandarin, the Mandarin one will be in high demand. 

They are also interactive and if you download a free QR code scanner on your phone or iPad you can scan the code on the back of the book and be zipped off to Lonely Planet website for a free audio pronunciation guide for every word. Very cool indeed.

First Words Italian            

ISBN 9781787012677

First Words Mandarin

ISBN 9781787012714

 

 

First Words Japanese

ISBN 9781787012691

 

 

 

The holidays

By Blexbolex

ISBN 9781776571932

Gecko Press


The summer holidays were almost done. I had the whole garden, the fields, the lake and the sun all to myself! Until Grandad came home with that elephant.

 

A young girl is happily enjoying her holidays with grandad but it is a short-lived feeling because grandad brings home an elephant and she is not pleased at all.  At one point she very unkindly takes out her frustration on the elephant, even being mean to him. 

The illustrations are quite unique in this wordless book. They have a lovely vintage feel about them. I love the little illustrated vignettes in the corners of many pages where we see moments in time. There is no white space on the pages, every part is coloured and full to the brim with what is happening. The pages are thicker than most and have a linen type look and feel about them. A unique book indeed.

The magic of wordless books is that readers can put themselves into the stories and interpret them anyway they want. The story then belongs to the readers. The sequence of events are well-played out and the wonderful illustrations take us on a journey with a young girl as she slowly learns some of the simple lessons in life. This is one of those books to read over and over and still see something different everytime.

It is well worth checking out the question and answer interview with Blexbolex here. Not only will you find out more about the artist but you will  see more images from the book which will show you just why this is so special.

 

Grandma forgets

By Paul Russell

Illustrated by Nicky Johnston

ISBN 9781925335477

EK Books

 

This picture book is the gentle story of a young girl dealing with her grandmother’s dementia and trying to come to terms with the fact that grandma forgets so much these days. Grandma even forgets her granddaughter’s name. Memories are one of the most beautiful and cherished things we have as humans. Memories make us and keep us alive. The tragedy of dementia is the loss of those memories people once held dear.

Father is struggling with the fact that his mother is not the mother she used to be. She is forgetful but still active, still very much part of the family. The granddaughter is determined to help her grandma remember things. The sweet and warm coloured illustrations take us through many cherished memories. Lost jackets, games, climbing trees, and the smell of Grandma’s baking. The most cherished memory is the regular reminder that no matter what, Grandma is loved. A lovely and special book to share, especially for those dealing with dementia. The book trailer is gorgeous and supports the book by adding a little extra touch by bringing the family closer to the reader.

The ANZAC Violin: Alexander Aitken’s story

By Jennifer Beck

Illustrated by Robyn Belton

ISBN 9781775433910

Scholastic NZ

 

 

“A true story of a rescued violin and an extraordinary musician, Otago’s Alexander Aiken”

Author Jennifer Beck and illustrator Robyn Belton have previously worked on a number of picture books before. Each book has been first-rate and their latest collaboration is no exception. The story based on the true accounts of New Zealand solider Alexander Aitken, take us through his time in the trenches during World War One. They were harsh and difficult times, full of danger, death and desperation. In 1915 a former schoolmate of Alex’s won a cheap violin in a shipboard raffle. Unable to play music himself, he gave the violin to Alexander who had some musical ability. It didn’t take long before Alexander was playing everyday and getter better and better. Amid the chaos of war Aleaxander Aikten brought music to fellow soldiers and gave them hope for better times ahead. As the story unfolds  we soon learn more about Alexander and his violin. 

 

The violin becomes important to all the soliders, many help to hide it from authorities, protecting it from harm and damage. 


I love this double-page spread. The reflection of the soldiers in the sea has a haunting, almost mourning quality to it . The violin in its black case stands out, reminding us that despite the dark days there is always hope.

“The violin was my companion in this dug-out; I slept with it by my side.”

The end pages with their photos, maps and writing are very much in journal form and it feels familiar, like we are sharing the diary of an old friend. The colours have a warm yet earthy feel with sepia tones reminiscent of the times. The layout with all its details brings us closer to Alexander and supported with photos Alexander becomes very real to the reader.

Having the real life story of people played out in picture book format makes them and their history accessible to a younger reader.  The sophistication of the story, the historical facts and the wonderful illustrations make this a must have for any library or home collection. A truly wonderful, thought-provoking picture book set during World War One where the focus is music and hope and not just the war itself.

Myths and Legends of Aotearoa : 15 timeless tales of New Zealand

Retold by Annie Rae Te Ake Ake

ISBN 9781775435235

Scholastic NZ

 

This is  stunning collection of New Zealand myths and legends has been re-released which is wonderful to see. Retold by Annie Rae Te Ake Ake, the tales are immediately accessible and accompanied by bright and vibrant illustrations from young New Zealanders.  In fact I would go as far as to say that each of the illustrations could stand proudly in any art gallery. The tales are indeed timeless, and can be told again and again, generation after generation, such is the power of their story.

Myths and legends, whichever culture we belong to, are what gives us our history, our knowledge and our creative and mythical sense of being.

We begin with the creation story of Raginui, the Sky Father and Papatūānuku, the Earth Mother and how their son Tāne Mahuta  pushed them apart. There are stories about Pania and the Reef and Rona and the Moon. Of course, a book of myths and legends from New Zealand couldn’t exist without  stories of Māui so they have been included here too. This well-written collection is one of short, sharp and very readable stories which will stand the test of time.

The book includes a map with places marked where certain stories originate. This helps us create a bigger picture of the myths and characters so we can make connections. There is also a very useful glossary with Maori gods, place names and translated Maori phrases.  While this book is perfect for schools and libraries, it is also ideal in any home. A book to cherish.

 

Snake and Lizard

By Joy Cowley

Illustrated by Gavin Bishop

ISBN 9781776571994

Gecko Press

 

Ten years ago we were introduced to two adorably funny characters.   Snake and Lizard are friends, although perhaps not the most likely of companions considering they started arguing from the moment they met. It didn’t take long however, to realise that having each other’s company was much better than being on their own.

This very special 10th birthday edition has a lovely embossed cover where the shiny new title and characters pop up from the cover. It proudly displays its gold Book of the year award in the top right corner where you can’t miss it. An award it certainly deserves.

I loved the stories back then and I love them now. Quirky, funny but also caring. There is a naive tenderness to their friendship too, which makes them even more lovable. Great as a read-aloud, but just as great for newly independent readers who will love the short, sharp stories with the wonderfully earthy illustrations.

This trailer is a perfect introduction to the stories for new readers.

That time of year again when the big stores share their messages for Christmas. Sometimes it is just nice to be reminded that the true meaning of Christmas is about love, family, friendship and caring.

 

Paddington Bear is a winner every time. M & S and their warm and funny Christmas advert.