Archive for the ‘Pre-school’ Category

Stories of the night

By Kitty Crowther

ISBN 9781776571970

Gecko Press

 

Little Bear asks Mother Bear very politely if she will tell three stories before bed time. Mother Bear obliges and while sitting comfortably on her chair, she begins the stories. The number three has always been significant in fairy tales so having three stories within the one story retains a special fairy tale quality.

The stories are about the night and some of the wonderful things that happen during the hours of darkness. There is a gentle philosophical approach to them which is appealing. We begin with the Night Guardian and her rituals for getting animals to go to sleep. We move on to a child searching for the best blackberries, and then a man in an old coat who never sleeps. In the end we discover that what matters most in the world is friends and family.

The illustrations are a glorious pink reminiscent of the hours when the sun is going down, or coming up in the morning. As Little Bear falls asleep the characters from the stories come to visit in dreams. The glowing pink that surrounds the room and the dream, creates a wonderful warm fuzzy feeling. The illustrations have a retro childlike quality to them which I found delightfully nostalgic. A gorgeous quality story book, to share some quality time together with children.

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Keep an eye on this koala

By Scott Tulloch

ISBN 9781775435426

Scott Tulloch has a way with humour. He hooks his readers in with quirky, weird ideas and young readers love it. The more bizarre the better, it seems. With very short chapters, this book is great for readers who love a giggle, but also love a quick and easy read. The illustrations are simple and comical but very expressive.

There is a lot of trickery going on here but things do even out in the end. Koala and Cockatoo look straight at the reader challenging them to perhaps take sides, but mostly, to join in the fun.

Keep an eye on this kiwi

By Scott Tulloch

ISBN 9781775435310

As an early reader chapter book, Scott Tulloch and Scholastic have combined all the elements to get children eager to read. There is humour, illustrations, short chapters and a bright yellow eye-catching cover. We meet Kiwi and a bunch of huhu grubs for some fun and Tulloch trademark cheekiness.

 

Kia Ora : You can be a Kiwi too

By June Pitman-Hayes

Illustrated by Minky Stapleton

Maori lyrics by Ngaere Roberts

ISBN 978 1775435396

Includes bonus CD sung in English and Maori

This is a lovely picture book to gift to new arrivals to New Zealand. It is an inclusive look at our culture and the people who make up our wonderful country.  I love all the greetings in different languages towards the middle of the book. There is also a glossary of Maori words and their translation on the back cover for quick reference. New arrivals are introduced to many of our wildife, our fauna and even our traditions. The book and CD are in both English and Maori. A lovely book to give as a gift but also a lovely reminder of the reasons I love New Zealand.

At the end of Holyrood Lane

By Dimity Powell

Illustrated by Nicky Johnston

ISBN 9781925335767

EKBooks

 

A thoughtful yet subtle picture book dealing with the issue of domestic violence and the affect it has on a young girl. Flick lives at the end of Holyrood Lane where the beech woods stand tall. Flick is a happy child, dancing with butterflies in spring time, basking in the summer sun and playing with the leaves in Autumn. However, winter storms are far from a happy place for Flick. The storms are a metaphor for when home is not a safe place, when the house is full of anger and fear. Domestic violence is hinted at but is not mentioned. The good days have lovely, sweet and warm coloured illustrations but the bad days have grey and black broody clouds and Flick’s happy face turns to one of sadness and fear.

When storms hit, Flick is overwhelmed by the suddeness of it all and not knowing how long it will last or what will happen during the storm. Her companion through all the good and bad days is her faithful and very cute, soft toy unicorn.

Flick is a courageous young girl because after a paritcularly dark  and stormy day, she finally asks for help. She wants the storms to stop; to go away for good. Finally the sun comes out again but this time we know the sun will continue to shine and there will be no more storms. The story is all too often a reality for many children so it is lovely to see it played out here in such a simple and heartfelt way.

This book, while touching on a difficult subject, does offer a happy and hopeful ending. 

For those wanting to investigate this book further, teacher notes can be found here.

 

 

 

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! 

 

Paraweta

By Stephanie Blake

Translated by Karena Kelly

ISBN 978177652182

Gecko Press

 

Paraweta (Poo Bum Te Reo Maori edition)

Simon is the same little rabbit we have grown to know and love but this time we are lucky to have a Maori language edition of Poo Bum. He is still cheeky and just a little bit naughty but still hugely popular.

I just know this edition will be a hit for our Te Reo readers.

Once there was a little rabbit who could only say one thing… In the morning
his mother would say, ‘Time to get up, my little rabbit!’ He’d reply: ‘Poo bum!’
At lunchtime his father would say, ‘Eat your spinach, my little rabbit!’ He’d
reply: ‘Poo bum!’ 

With naughty children and naughty rabbits too, there is only so much a parent will take, but you will have to read it to see who will have the last word?

The edition comes just in time for Maori Language Week to be held during the week of September 10-16.

Ka pai Gecko Press

My old man he played rugby

By Peter Millett

Illustrated by Jenny Cooper

CD sung by Jay Laga’aia

ISBN 9781775435280

Scholastic NZ

Author Peter Millett has brought us another fun and quirky picture book for young readers.  His focus this time is the very kiwi game of rugby. There are lots of dad’s racing around fields playing rugby. There is lots of crashing and banging, heaving and woo-hooing. There is tackling and kicking and even a scrum. Some dads are better at rugby than others. And if fun isn’t enough, you can count along and learn something about the game of rugby as well.

Based on the traditional tune of This old man, the book comes with a CD sung by Jay Laga’aia. It is one of those tunes that makes you want to sing out loud or even get up and dance.

The colourful, very funny illustrations by Jenny Cooper have a cheekiness to them which will have children and parents laughing out loud. With Father’s Day just around the corner, this very entertaining book would make an ideal present for dad’s and young ones to read together. 

My Storee

By Paul Russell

Illustrated by Aska

ISBN 9781925335774

EKbooks

Published August 2018

 

The young boy of this new picture book is unnamed and therefore he represents many young boys and girls. He could be anyone. He struggles at school with his spelling. The rules of writing don’t make sense to him and when his teacher crosses out all the mistakes with a red pen making them stand out, it only reminds him that he is wrong. With each mistake and each big red cross his confidence suffers. 

He loves writing stories and they tumble around in his head day and night. He writes stories about dragons, unicorn detectives, robot pirates and even alien volcanoes. He writes his stories on paper which then piles up on his bedroom floor. At school however, the writing rules get in the way and his creativity is squashed. He worries so much about getting things right at school that the dragons disappear from his thoughts. It is not until the new teacher, Mr Watson, comes to his class that things begin to change. Mr Watson clearly understands the boys problems and encourages the boy to forget the rules and just write, write and write.

Most of us had that one teacher we remember fondly. The one who made a difference, who believed in us before we believed in ourselves. Mr Watson in this book, is that one special teacher. 

This is one of those picture books that is needed in every school. Children need to be encouraged to write; to be creative without the roadblocks placed in front of them. Many children are poor spellers, many are dyslexic, making it even harder to work through their school days. At the heart of the problem, there needs to be someone on their side. A teacher, a parent, someone special who will support their creativity. Spelling can be fixed up later. There are many tools children can use these days to help but we can’t let rules and regulations get in the way of a child’s imagination. To do so would be detrimental to their learning.

The illustrations are bright, colourful and full of fun. The spelling in the book is just as the little boy would spell things; Incorrect but still understandable. The last page where the words have the correct spelling suggests a hopeful, and happy outcome. The boy knows that after the story comes the editing and with support, he will only get better. It takes effort but we are left knowing he will be okay. This is a wonderful picture book for young and not-so-young readers about self-acceptance, creativity and hope. Yes, it is also about dyslexia but the overall message is learning to believe in yourself and not giving up.

 

Sports are fantastic fun

By Ole Konnecke

ISBN 9781776572014

Gecko Press

August 2018

The first thing you notice about this new picture book by Ole Konnecke is the bright red cover with its bold title and hippo racing across the front. It is a book which already appeals before you even look inside. Sports are fantastic fun is a tribute to the different sports we can do.

The second thing you can’t help but notice is that it is funny. It has quirky illustrations showcasing the fun of cricket, horse riding, wrestling and so much more. There is even a section on caber tossing. Each sport comes with captions which are informative but many also make you laugh out loud. The sports activities are carried out by all sorts of animals which adds another aspect to this picture book.

 

This is a wonderfully funny crossover book; both fiction and non fiction with lots to learn and lots to laugh at on each page. This is fun to read alone, but much more fun reading together with someone special.

Where’s Kiwi Now?

Illustrated by Myles Lawford

ISBN 9781775435266

Scholastic NZ


This new search-and-find book is great for all ages. A hardback, portrait size picture book full to the brim, cover to cover, with bold, bright illustrations of the different places Kiwi has visited. Kiwi has gone everywhere; from ice age, to pirates and even outer space.

Each brightly illustrated double page spread has a theme and readers are encouraged to search for his friends. There’s Sporty Sheep, Gumboot Guy, Wacky Wizard, Tricky Tuatara and even Mystery Moa. And of course, readers need to find Kiwi but he is very good at hiding as I’m struggling to find him. The last two pages give you lists of other hidden items or creatures to find. This is perfect for travelling or for friends to share together, or just any child who loves a challenge.

Great for the holidays too and with some winter days ahead of us, a perfect time to find a copy now. With over 800 things to find, this will certainly be a book to pick up again and again until every single item is found.

Finding Granny

By Kate Simpson

Illustrated by Gwynneth Jones

ISBN 9781925335699

EKBooks

Edie loves her grandmother. They have so much fun together but then one day Granny has a stroke and suddenly everything changes. As with many stroke victims, Granny has many problems to overcome. Her words are mixed up and her face is now lopsided. Edie waits in the hospital corridors when she and her mum go to visit as she doesn’t want to see her Granny the way she looks now. Edie struggles to cope with how much Granny has changed. No longer the strong, independent, funny Granny but a frail dependent woman lying in a hospital bed.

This picture book takes a gentle look at strokes and how they affect the sufferer and those around them. Bold and bright illustrations help give the story a strong sense of hope, making it a good choice for adults to share with children who may have to confront the reality of someone in their lives who may have had a stroke. A challenging story but one that is both sweet and hopeful at the same time.

 

 

Flit the fantail and the flying flop

By Written and illustrated by Kat Merewether

ISBN 9781775435105

Scholastic NZ

 

There is so much cuteness in this delightful, fun picture book for young children, that every time I pick it up I can’t help smiling.
Flit is a baby fantail snuggled up safely in his nest. His parents tell him to stay there and wait while they go looking for food. It doesn’t take long before Flit becomes bored and starts wandering about his nest. After stretching out a little too far Flit suddenly finds himself falling down on to the forest floor unable to fly back up to his nest. He seeks the help of many other forest birds to try to find a way back. Wonderful illustrations highlight the many native birds, bushes and trees we have in New Zealand. Lookout for Flit’s wee friend the ladybird who is with him all the way and on almost every double page spread. The language is fun with lots of alliteration and onomatopoeia which makes it a delightful book to read aloud.
This book offers a great message about friendships and supporting each other. There is also a lovely message about having the courage to try new things and believing in yourself. I also love the idea that sometimes things don’t work out the first time we try but if we keep trying and don’t give up, then we will eventually find a way to achieve what we set out to do.
This would be ideal in kindergartens, pre-schools and would be a lovely choice for young readers. Even in early primary school classes this would be a good introduction to New Zealand flora and fauna.

Oh, So Many Kisses!

By Maura Finn

Illustrated by Jenny Cooper

ISBN 9781775434924

A sweet picture book for preschoolers all about the wonderful warm kisses babies and children receive from everyone who loves them. So many different kisses. Fast, slow and tickly kisses are just a few. Kisses from mums, dads, grandads, and kisses for teddy bears, cats and dogs. My favourite are the slimy frog kisses. The illustration of the frogs is just gorgeous, as is the one of the pigs and the cat and her kitten. Jenny Cooper’s illustrations beautifully capture the humour and fun of Maura Finn’s story. The book provides a lovely rhythm and rhyme with a simplicity making it easily remembered by young children as it gets read again and again.  A lovely picture book to share and snuggle up close with a wee one.

 

Kiwi One and Kiwi Two

By Stephanie Thatcher

ISBN 9781775434962

 

 

Stephanie Thatcher does cute and does it very well.  There is definitely lovely cuteness in her illustrations of New Zealand wildlife in this delightful picture book about two cheeky kiwi who decide to wake up all the animals in the bush one night. Pukeko, fantails, kereru, gecko, and others are all woken from their sleep by Kiwi One and Kiwi Two. As we all know, kiwi are up during the night and here they are keen to play with their friends who really should be sleeping. However, now that the animlas and birds have been woken up, they start playing games, with Kiwi One and Kiwi Two. They venture all over the forest but it isn’t long though before the animals become sleepy again and return to bed.   The two young kiwi are still wide awake so keep going until dawn.  A lovely book to send to family overseas reminding them of our wonderful wildlife. Look out for the illustration of the exhausted pukeko as it is just delightful.

The book allows for discussions on what it is for animals or birds to be nocturnal and perhaps even why children need to go to bed when they are told to and why sleep is so important.

 

 

The Stolen Stars of Matariki

By Miriama Kamo

Illustrated by Zak Waipara

ISBN 9781775435402

 

 

There are usually nine stars in the Matariki star cluster but when Grandma, Poua and the children look up one night, there are only seven. Te Mata Hāpuku, which is also known as Birdling’s Flat is where Sam and Te Rerehua love to visit their Grandma and Pōua and it was there that they realised the stars were missing. The beach is wild and windy and the ground is covered in stones, millions of grey stones but hidden among them, are agates, coloured gemstones. They love searching for the agates by day and going eeling at night. It is a wonderful family tradition and one that inspired  Miriama Kamo to write this book.
The mystery of the missing stars takes the children on a night time adventure as they go searching for the stars.

Matariki is such a special time in the New Zealand calendar that it is always a pleasure to find a new picture book with a focus on different aspects. A family tradition of telling tales and spending time together makes this extra special.

 

 

 

Nee Naw and the Cowtastrophe

By Deano Yipadee

Illustrated by Paul Beavis

ISBN 9781775435174

This is another book in the adventures of Nee Naw the little fire engine who despite his little size, ends up in situations where he must overcome challenges. This time, Nee Naw has to rescue Ploppy the cow  who happens to become stuck up a very, very tall tree. An accompanying CD is great for young ones to listen to as they look through the pictures.

Paul Beavis illustrations, as always, are bright and quirky and bring Nee Naw and his friends to life. The characters are  easily recognisable from book to book and no doubt familiar to fans of Nee Naw books.

 

 

 

 

 

Lessons of a LAC

By Lynn Jenkins

Illustrated by Kirrili Lonergan

ISBN 9781925335828

EKBooks

 

Loppy is a little anxious creature who is always looking out for danger. The trouble is he is so busy and so good at looking for danger, that he is missing out on all the fun things in life. His anxiety is all-consuming and gets in the way of things, so much so, that he finds problems even when there are none. Along comes Curly Calmster who shows him that not all things in life lead to danger, not everything is bad. Loppy  begins to learn ways to stay calm and therefore soon becomes less anxious and worried about things.

“Just because dangerous things MIGHT happen, doesn’t mean they WILL happen.”

Good for those anxious children who need reassurance that the world really is a wonderful place.

The illustrations, mostly black, red and yellow are reminiscent of Dr Seuss’  so sure to please younger readers.

Teacher notes can be found here.

Gecko Press continue to bring us quality books for young readers. Their books are always beautifully produced and leave you with that feel-good feeling.

Valdemar’s Peas

By Maria Jonsson

ISBN 9781776571963

Published May 2018

 

“Peas? No way! Valdemar may be a little wolf, but he knows what he wants. ”

I’m pretty sure food battles happen in almost every family at some time or another. Valdemar is a little wolf with a persistent attitude. He doesn’t want to eat peas and argues the point whenever his parents tell him the benefits. They tell him he will have longer ears if he eats peas but he lets them know he already has long ears. Valdemar’s sister eats her peas and is rewarded with ice-cream. Not wanting to miss out on such a treat, Valdemar comes up with a clever plan. 

Funny and real, and very familiar to parents who struggle with picky eaters.

Simple bold illustrations with lots of white space so the focus remains on Valdemar and his family. 

A fun book to share with the whole family.

 

I’m the biggest

By Stephanie Blake

ISBN 9781776572021

Published June 2018

 

Simon is back and as naughty and nice as ever.

In his latest book Simon is upset that his younger brother Casper has grown a whole three centimetres since the last time they were measured, yet he has only grown one centimetre. Out comes Simon’s infamous temper tantrums. Simon is just as feisty as ever but his reactions are understandably realistic, warts and all.

However, in the end we see the side of Simon that makes him a character we know and continue to love.

As someone who only ever made it to 1.50 metres tall I know exactly how Simon feels about being small. I recall being very upset back when I was young and the old measurement scales, when a teacher measured the class on the blackboard but started the measurement at five foot. I didn’t even make it to the starting point and never did. So Simon, I know just how you feel although there is plenty of time on your side to grow.

See Hear

By Tania McCartney

Illustrated by Jess Racklyeft

ISBN 9781925335675

EKbooks

 

This is a sweet picture book about the senses of sight and hearing. Its novelty flip-the-book format and simple but effective language, makes this ideal for pre-schoolers.

We meet a cat, a rabbit and a piglet who happily go about their daily lives. They are super cute animals but also very observant. See begins as the front with colourful illustrations of many things we can see. Squiggly rain, crawling spots on a ladybird, lacy flutters of snow and many more. It is a lovely introduction to the senses with a simple message to take time to look around and really look at  everything there is to see.  Once you get half way through, you can flip the book and have another lovely story to read. Hear is the story from the back with a focus on the things we can hear. We can hear songs and laughter, food sizzling and cats purring. Everyday things are there if only we take time to listen.  All we have to do is stop a moment and look around.