Archive for the ‘Primary School’ Category

What colour is the sky?

Written and illustrated Laura Shallcrass

ISBN 9780995142336

Beatnik Publishing

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

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

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

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

The Rhyming Pirate

Written and illustrated by Glenn Jones

ISBN 9780473574277

Mary Egan Publishing

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

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

Fun and interactive.

A place I truly belong : A Loveable Larry Story

By Anita Hinton

Illustrated by Michelle Euinton & Shaila Awadh

ISBN 9780473576011

Mary Egan Publishing

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

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

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

The King’s Medal

By Maria Gill

Illustrated by Alistair Hughes

ISBN 9781990003349

Upstart Press

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

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

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

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

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

Check out the trailer below.

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

Ming’s Iceberg

By Kiri Lightfoot

Illustrated by Kimberly Andrews

ISBN 9781775437130

Scholastic NZ

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

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

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

The Little Yellow Digger and the big ship

By Peter Gilderdale

Illustrated by Fifi Colston

ISBN 9781775437413

Scholastic NZ

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

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

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

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

Ka Pai Kiwi Favourites : 5 sing-along stories

ISBN 9781775437338

Scholastic NZ

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

The Kiwi Hokey Tokey by Lynette Evans

The Kiwi go marching one by one by Peter Millet

Row, row, row your boat by Lynette Evans

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

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

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

Going on a Kiwi holiday

By Suzy Cato and Arthur Baysting

Illustrated by Raymond McGrath

ISBN 9781775437284

Scholastic NZ

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

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

Wonky Donkey’s big surprise

By Craig Smith

Illustrated by Katz Cowley

ISBN 9781775437277

Scholastic NZ

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

Incredible journeys: New Zealand Wildlife on the move

By Ned Barraud

ISBN 9781988550282

Potton & Burton

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

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

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

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

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

Backyard birds

By Ned Barraud

ISBN 9781988550305

Potton & Burton

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

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

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

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

Marvin makes a friend

by Nadia Lim

Illustrated by Fifi Colston

ISBN 9781775437307

Scholastic NZ

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

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

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

Another good book to share with young ones.

A Definitely Different Summer

By Elizabeth Pulford

ISBN 978198853893

Bateman Books

It is the summer holidays and Kathleen, AKA Cricket, has no choice but to go with her parents and stay on uninhabited Jacob’s Island. Her mother is there to write, and her father is there to study birds and insects, which leaves Cricket spending most of the time alone. Her fears of being bored change when strange things begin to happen.

Cricket’s interest in how the island got its name leads her on a journey of discovery about a shipwreck in 1881. The story is based on a real shipwreck off the coast of Invercargill where 131 people lost their lives. As the story weaves in and out, more information comes forth and Cricket is able to piece together certain events.

I loved this story for many reasons. Cricket is likeable, honest and funny. Her curiosity is what makes the story. When faced with having a classmate join her, her ability to learn from mistakes and make changes, comes across authentically. Another reason, is the mystery and the spooky happenings, in the wild, isolated landscape.

Shipwrecks are fascinating. When we think about them most people’s first thoughts are about the famous ship, Titanic. We think about why and how ships are wrecked, and about lives lost, and survivors too. This is why it was so is interesting to read about one off the shore of New Zealand.

This is a great read for readers nine and up who love a good story, with good mystery, and a little bit of spookiness. Or maybe a lot more spookiness!

Pax

by Sara Pennypacker

ISBN 9780008158286

Twelve-year-old Peter, finds a lonely, orphaned baby fox. His father suggests the kit should be left to die but Peter rescues it, cares for it and the two become inseparable, best friends. Peter’s father enlists in the military so Peter has to live with his grandfather. On the way to grandfather’s house, Peter is forced to return Pax to the wild. They are separated and Peter is heartbroken. His guilt at leaving his fox eats away at him. He misses Pax so much, that in utter desperation, he packs his bag and runs away, determined to find his companion. Pax also misses Peter and sets out on own journey too.

The story of Peter and Pax is beautifully written. The language and style often made me stop and reread the sentences or paragraphs just to soak in the language and imagery. The story of loss, grief, separation, guilt and loneliness is often sad, but it is also hopeful.

Peter’s pain is palpable and the story is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. I loved Peter’s vulnerability, but also his determination to be reunited with Pax. Told in alternate points of view chapters, this is just such a wonderful story to read.

Pax : Journey home

ISBN 9780008470289

Oh my goodness, what a sequel. Peter has suffered even more loss after his father was killed in the war. I can feel Peter’s heart breaking with every sentence. Now orphaned, he is determined to be strong and not let anyone, or anything, get close to him, for fear of losing anyone else. In his young life, he has suffered one loss after another, so he builds walls all around himself but the reality is, people need other people. Leaving Viola, the old woman who has been caring for him, Peter sets out to start a new life and joins the Water Warriors, a group of people trying to fix the land after the damage from the war. In a parallel storyline Pax now has his own family but needs help when one of the young kits gets very sick.

So begins the journey to be reunited.

Trust and love are big themes here. Pax and Pax: Journey home are both very special books to treasure, and to read again and again. I loved both books and Peter and Pax will stay with me for a long time. Oh yeah, tissues may be needed! Quality writing and storytelling at its best. Great to read alone, great for a class read aloud, and perfect to share as a family read.

The following books are written and illustrated by Dave Gunson, and published by Bateman Books. Gunson’s speciality is non-fiction and I have read many of his books over the years. These are just the latest ones to be published.

New Zealand Country Wildlife: Which? Why? What?

By Dave Gunson

ISBN 9781988538884

Bateman Books

Part of a series of non-fiction books about New Zealand wildlife, Gunson manages to provide interesting facts about the animals in the countryside. He does this with careful research and his usual tongue-in-cheek humour.

We learn about lizards, birdlife and goats. We learn there are many different types of butterflies in the mountains. We learn the collective nouns for many of the animals. I particularly like the words for a group of kea; a prattle, a company or a pandemonium. I love the kea birds and their beautiful colours and cheeky personalities, so I do think these are good descriptions.

New Zealand Forest Wildlife: Which? Why? What?

ISBN 97819885388877

Similar to the country book above, this book focuses on forests and the wildlife within. The language is aimed at primary school aged children, but for quick facts this will suit older readers too. The layout is in small bite-size blocks of information with the same humorous cartoon-type illustrations spread over the pages. The information is fun and clear.

Here we learn about the trees, snails, kiwi, morepork and even centipedes. Lots to look at, discover and learn about.

Inside New Zealand Wildlife

ISBN 97819885388860

This book is aimed at older readers as it has more text, a smaller font size and language a little more sophisticated than the two books above. It has an awesome lenticular cover so that front-on you see the illustration of the takahe but if you move the book side to side, you have a 3D cross-section picture of the inside of the takahe’s head. Very cool.

This is a book of cross-sections with a very good look at the insides of the bodies of many animals, birds, insects and even dolphins. The information in this book is more in-depth. I particularly enjoyed reading about the little blue penguin. So tiny and cute.

There is both an index and content page which makes finding information easier than the previous two books reviewed here. As mentioned, this one is best for older readers. An excellent addition to a school library.

One of the best things about holidays is the chance to slow down and catch up on some reading. As a school librarian I don’t get to read many adult books as I spend my time reading kids and young adult books so I can make honest recommendations to my students. I don’t believe in giving bad reviews as I want to focus on what I do enjoy reading. Also, these are reviews, and not critiques like what I used to have to do at university. Besides, I actually really enjoy reading children’s books. They offer so much and the stories and world-building for many of them are just wonderful. So some quick reviews of what I have been reading these holidays.

Inside the suitcase

By Clotilde Perrin

ISBN 9781776573431

Gecko Press

Clotilde Perrin is amazing with her illustrations and paper engineering.

A young boy packs his red suitcase with all manner of things and sets out into the world. We get to open his suitcase and bit by bit, flap by flap discover what is inside. Each flap has multiple layers to lift open, each revealing something different. We begin with large illustrated flaps which reveal smaller flaps to lift. Each reveal turns out to be part of an overall puzzle on how to get back home again. Perrin’s stories always have a certain quirkiness to them that engages the reader and keeps them guessing what will happen or be revealed inside the next flap to lift. The boy goes over the sea, ends up in the mountains, and even a monster makes an appearance. What else is in the suitcase? You’ll have to discover that yourself.

Her illustrations are quirky too, and that adds to the humour and story. The animals, cat and insects are certainly cute, especially the wee snail. I think it is my favourite. It turns up on several pages as well as the front and back covers.

This the third book of hers that I own but my favourite is Inside the villains. Look out for that one too.

The tiny woman’s coat

By Joy Cowley

Illustrated by Giselle Clarkson

ISBN 9781776573424

Gecko Press

This story has been around since 1987 but here it is a bigger format, and wonderful new illustrations.

This is a sweet, short text with a repetitive line The tiny woman wanted a coat. Her desire to make a coat from leaves, sees animals and birds offering their ideas and support as they recycle bits and pieces to help her make a coat, just in time to protect her from the bad weather.

The trees offer her their leaves, the goose helps her cut the cloth, and so it goes that eventually she has her coat. The story is about friendship and how friends help each other.

Joy Cowley has a wonderful way with language that engages the reader. Repetition, alliteration, and onomatopoeia add to the fun. Simple, fun and bound to be read over and over.

The illustrations by Giselle Clarkson, have lots of natural colourings, very wintery on some pages so that I can almost feel the cold. There is also a cute snail in this book who appears on every page, too.

Lovely to see this story out there in a new picture book format for a new generation of readers.

Kiwis and Koalas

By Sarah Milne

Illustrated by Laura Bernard

ISBN 9780473573959

Little Love an imprint of Mary Egan Publishing

Like the author, I too lived in Australia for a number of years. I still think of those years, the people and lifestyle with fondness. I returned to New Zealand many years ago but my memories are still vivid. Sarah has pulled together a sweet story about the love between living in Australia and New Zealand.

Many kiwis will relate to this story, many will have family across the ditch and will enjoy the comparisons between the two countries. Part tour guide, part fun with our language differences, this book is a reminder of the love that exists between the countries, although when it comes to sport, the rivalry is palpable.

The story is about Lily and her dog, Woof, who go in search of a bridge between the two countries. After a short, imaginative adventure, Lily remembers the things she loves, the places she has seen, and the animals and even the food she has eaten, which help celebrate the differences between Australia and New Zealand. It is a reminder that home is a place in your heart.

For young children, I feel the story is very wordy, but for older children who still enjoy a picture book this will have appeal.

The illustrations are sweet with a softness and lots of focus on the greenery of natural environments.

What do you need Little Rhino?

By John J. Lewis

ISBN 9781990003134

Upstart Press

Little Rhino is angry but she has no idea why. Her frustration keeps building and she runs around getting angrier and more upset. Her rhino parents ask lots of questions to try and find out why she is upset but Little Rhino has no answers. Eventually, they find a solution to clam her down.

Little Rhino is like many young children who find themselves overwhelmed with frustration and unable to communicate why they feel the way they do.

The illustrations are full page colour with lots of red and pink, highlighting the sense of how overwhelming and out of control her frustration feels.

A great wee book to read to preschoolers and let them know that frustration and anger is ok but that there are ways to deal with our feelings and sometimes, a hug is all we need.

Torn apart : The Partition of India, 1947

By Swapna Haddow

ISBN 9780702300417

Scholastic UK

I love Swapna’s books and have read quite a number of them now. What I love is the humour. Swapna’s latest book however, is so different from her other works but I love this too. Her ability to make readers laugh is evident to anyone who reads her work, but here, her ability to make readers cry, is equally a strength.

A short novel for older readers and intermediate aged children, this novel tells the story of two boys who are thrown together after India gained independence from the British Crown. What happened after that day in October 1947 was devastating for so many people. India became partitioned and the country was split into India and Pakistan. Muslims were forced to live in Pakistan and the Hindus and Sikhs were to stay behind in India. As people tried to hide or tried to escape, violence broke and out and hundreds of thousands of people died.

The two boys who meet are Ibrahim, a Muslim, who lives in relative luxury, and Amar, an orphan living in the streets. Amar is out for revenge over the death of his friend, and Ibrahim, suddenly separated from his family, is trying to find them. He meets Amar and asks him for help. The soon realise they need each other to survive. There is danger and chaos to be fair, as the recent news of Independence has terrible consequences. The boys share their accounts and points of view in short alternating chapters which works very well. I was able to understand why they made the decisions they did and the fears they felt. Amar is used to the streets, while Ibrahim though bright and studious, is quite naive, but they soon become friends. Street life, unrest, violence is all part of their daily lives now but Ibrahim is ever hopeful of being united with his family. I’m not going to share anymore here as I really don’t want to give away what happens. I will say, I was moved to tears. It is a short but powerful read and I hope to see more of this serious writing style from Swapna. Of course, I still want her funny books too, as they make me smile.

This is most suitable for upper primary and intermediate school readers.

I’ve actually just read another of Swapna’s books and I’m adding a wee review here because there is a bit of a connection with Hinduism, and the Diwali festival.

All about Diwali

By Swapna Haddow

Illustrated by Aditi Kakade Beaufrand

ISBN 9780702309595

Scholastic UK

This is a fun activity book to make and do things during the Diwali Festival. Well, you actually can do the activities anytime, but it is a nice way to focus on the celebrations during this festival.

The first few pages deal with the reasons why people celebrate Diwali and how they spend their time during the festivities and the special food eaten at Diwali time.

There are things to make such as buntings, lanterns, rockets, and heaps of recipes; some I will have to try myself.

The last few pages are nicely decorated with borders around blank lines so that you can write your own notes about how your’e spending your time, who with, or any other special notes you want to write.

A lovely way to record your celebrations.

There’s a ghost in this house

By Oliver Jeffers

ISBN 9780008298357

Harpercollins

I love Oliver Jeffers books and have quite a collection of them. His latest book is simply delightful.

A young girl lives in a haunted house, but has never seen a ghost. Are they white with holes for eyes? Are they hard to see? She’d love to know!

The book has a tracing paper dustjacket with two peepholes where we can see the young girl standing in front of the door, and a little ghost peeking out from the attic window. It is a perfect way to highlight our main characters and entice the reader to pick up the book.

The story begins with the young girl opening the door and inviting the reader in.

Hello.

Please come in.

So we enter the world of a haunted house but the girl there just can’t find any ghosts, even though she is sure there must be some. She searches everywhere, every nook and cranny but still cannot find any.

Between some pages there are tracing paper pages that when turned over, very cleverly reveal ghosts that only the reader can see. Children and adults too, will giggle over this funny play.

There are definitely ghosts. They are hiding behind old furniture, swinging from a chandelier, even rattling chains. The ghosts are playing hide and seek, though she has no idea. I love the ghosts giggling in the bedroom.

The illustrations are black and white with an authentic look and feel to the historical layouts. It adds atmosphere to the story. The ghosts are white sheet figures with peephole eyes. The girl herself, in green and yellow, is the only colour, apart from the front and back cover, which matches the girl’s clothing.

This is interactive, it is unique in many ways, but mostly, it is fun. I love it. Absolutely!

Always

By Morris Gleitzman

ISBN 9780143793243

Penguin Books

I don’t know where to start here. I am feeling a whole range of emotions after reading the seventh and final book in the series about Felix Salinger.

Author, Morris Gleitzman has diligently, and powerfully told us the story of Felix, a young Jewish boy who escaped an orphanage in order to save his parents. His naivety was obvious but through the different books, he grew to understand the world around him. A world of hatred, war, racism but his own strength was always kindness and hope. From the first book I have followed every journey he has been on. I have read his stories as he grew into a young man, and then as he grew old. I have worried about Felix, I have cried for Felix but mostly, I have loved Felix. Even after 15 years since the first book Once was published, I remember him because he feels like someone I really know. He feels like a long-time friend, and now he feels like a grandfather. Despite everything Felix has been through, he remains kind, caring, strong but always with a touch of sadness that only people who have been through what he has, will ever understand. I know Felix is fictional, but he is so real to me and his impact will stay with me always.

His story throughout the series, is often harrowing with death, war, loss, grief, but the books are compelling. You can’t put them down in case you miss something.

In this final book, Felix is now a retired doctor and an old man, and his granddaughter Zel (named after Zelda, the young girl whose death has haunted him all his life) is heading off soon to study and follow in his footsteps to become a doctor. One day there is a knock at his door and he is greeted by Wassim, a young boy who hands him a note and tells him he needs his help. A young boy who knows war too, just a different war. A long ago connection to his past has put them together for a reason but that brings danger. It also shakes up the past and after a series of terrible events, Felix and Wassim follow some clues, board a plane and return to where Felix’s story first began. More danger follows them but they become stronger together and soon they are not just fighting for survival today, but fighting ghosts from the past.

Both Felix and Wassim narrate different chapters, each giving us a sense of their own fears and thoughts, but also observations of each other. This allows us to see their vulnerabilities, but also their strengths. As their stories unwind, the two grow to care for each other, support each other and need each other.

I don’t want to give things away, but if you have read the other books, you really need to read Always. It is harrowing, heartbreaking but heartwarming. Everyone needs a Felix Salinger in their life.

You will need tissues. Lots of tissues, but that is as it should be. Felix and his friends, his story, his life, is unforgettable. He will stay with me always.

Bad Panda

By Swapna Haddow

Illustrated by Sheena Dempsey

ISBN 9780571352418

Faber UK

Drum roll please! Dah dah dah dum!

Welcome to the Bad Panda blog tour. This is just the start of your journey. There are other blogs to follow with lots happening, including prizes. See the guide at the end of this post for tour dates.

One of the things that makes a children’s book successful, is the collaboration between author and illustrator. The team of Swapna and Sheena, works perfectly. They obviously understand each other and it shows, as the words and pictures compliment each other beautifully, and they deservedly win awards for their hard work.

Bad Panda is their latest book and is the first one in a new series.

Lin is just the cutest of all pandas. So cute in fact, that she is taken away from her family and friends and shipped off to a zoo where people can stare at her, take photos, and ooh and ahh over her. But Lin doesn’t want to be oohed over. Lin wants to go home and be with her brother, Face-Like-A-Bag-Of-Potatoes. On board the ship Lin is kept in a cage and it is there she meets Fu, another panda, also in a cage and being shipped off to the same zoo. They soon become friends.

Lin doesn’t want to be at the zoo so she begins to plot a way to to get back home but it requires her to give up her cuteness and become Bad Panda. Lin wants to become the baddest, meanest, most un-cute animal in the zoo… because if she is really bad, surely the zoo keepers will send her home.

When Lin growls at the pigeons people just take more photos because they think she is so cute. Of course, this only makes Lin angrier and more determined to be the baddest panda ever. More plotting required.

There is so much humour as Lin and Fu try to come up with different ways to be bad. Swapna is no stranger to humour. Her Dave the Pigeon books are full of moments to laugh out loud, and Lin and Fu are just as funny. Swapna makes writing humour look so easy. The jokes flow; some tongue-in-cheek, some ironic, but always the humour flows effortlessly and leaves the reader laughing.

Sheena Dempsey adds so much to the humour with her very funny illustrations. They are deceptively simple, mostly pink and black, but look at the eyes. There is so much character, personality and humour in the eyes of the animals. Her pictures of Lin growling are just delightful, as are all the rest throughout this early chapter book.

As in all good stories there is a villain, and here it is King Cobra, a snake with death-glare stares and mean intentions.

Short chapters and heaps of illustrations make this an ideal chapter book for new and independent readers. It is also an excellent book to read aloud.

Friends are important in all of Swapna’s books. Whichever book of hers you read, and there are many, friends always have a way of making things right. They also make things wrong, which is part of the humour, but eventually friends make all the difference.

Swapna Haddow and her family moved to New Zealand in 2018. That is not so long ago, but already she is very well established in the writing world up and down the country and is in much demand for school visits, particularly at Book Fair time.

I asked Swapna about the hunourous books she liked as a child and she told me she enjoyed anything by Roald Dahl. She said the “dark humour really appealed to me”.

If you click the link above you can go to Swapna’s website and follow the links to lots of free downloadable activities. Puzzles and things to draw. Great to do right now while New Zealand is in Lockdown.

Check out the video clip below and hear as Swapna reads the first chapter of her book. After the reading, you can watch Sheena demonstrate how to draw your own picture of Lin. I can’t even draw a straight line, but with Sheena’s video and instructions I did manage to draw something a little bit resembling Lin. Give it a go.

Do check out Zac and his blog on September the 6th (he is next on the blog tour) details below, as he has a book giveaway competition.

Thanks for being part of the Bad Panda blog tour. It’s a funny read and you won’t be disappointed.

The way I say it

By Nancy Tandon

ISBN 9781623541330

Charlesbridge

What do you do when your name is Rory and you’re going into sixth grade and you can’t even pronounce your own name. Rory is a smart, musical kid with a speech impediment. He has difficulty saying the letter r. It doesn’t matter if it is at the start of a word, or snuggled up inside a word, the letter r trips him up, and according to some people, makes him sound like a baby. He is made fun of because of the way he talks. A fall out with his former best friend, Brent, also adds to his troubles. Bullying is a strong contender in this middle grade novel. You can feel Rory’s pain and frustration. He really wants to get his letters and words right. He wants to sound like everyone else.

Rory regularly sees a speech teacher, Mr Simms, at school and it is this relationship which holds the key to making things right. Both are fans of the boxer Muhammad Ali, and both fans of good music. Both of these things play a significant role in helping Rory overcome his speech problems and his understanding and dealing with issues concerning Brent.

When an accident happens and his used-to-be best friend, but now enemy and bully number one is seriously hurt in hospital with a brain injury, Rory becomes confused about his feelings and struggles with doing the right thing.

The power of this novel is seeing the growth in characters. They are believable and I found myself drawn to them all, even the bullies. Writing that connects you to the characters, is good writing. Rory’s friend Tyson brings lots of humour to the story too, and just like in middle grade school, there are crushes and mixed emotions and even mixed up crushes.

A good solid read, with a mix of humour, bullying, being different, brain injuries, and friendships. Really enjoyed this read.

Bumblebee

by Rachel Weston

Illustrated by Deborah Hinde

ISBN 9780473571245

WestonBooks

Bumblebee is the latest picture book from author Rachel Weston. Told in gentle rhyme, it is both a story and an informative look at bumblebees.

Flowers call to Bumblebee as she dances around the garden sipping pollen and smelling the flowers sweet perfume.

“Come to me!

Come to me!

Come drink my nectar, Bumblebee.”

With Bumblebee’s help, vegetables grow, and fruit hangs from trees.

Soon Autumn comes with chilly nights and Bumblebee hides away. When she wakes up things are not quite the same and she is struggling to find flowers to help her survive.

Bumblebee’s life is in danger but with the help of a young girl’s thoughtfulness, and wisdom of her grandmother’s words, Bumblebee is rescued. I won’t tell you how this happens but it is worth knowing so you can help other bumblebees too, someday if needed. The book showcases the busy life of a bumblebee and the need for people to support and care for the bees.

This book is perfect to use in classes and homes. It is an ideal book to read now, with NZ Bee Aware month coming up in September.

At the back of the book is a double-page spread with information about pollinators and things people can do to help these wonderful insects.

Deborah Hinde is one of my favourite illustrators. Her artwork is soft, warm and, colourful. The pictures have just the right amount of cuteness. I love the French flaps and the beautiful endpapers with their colourful floral display. And who doesn’t love a cute dog in there as well.