Archive for the ‘Primary School’ Category

Waiting for Goliath

By Antje Damm

ISBN 9781776571420

There is so much to love with this picture book about waiting for a friend.

Bear sits waiting and waiting. Even when it snows, bear sits waiting on the bench for his friend Goliath. Other animal friends come and go and much discussion is had about whether Goliath will ever turn up. Bear is of course patient, optimistic and faithful to his friend Goliath. When Goliath eventually does turn up, young children will laugh out loud. I did.

The illustrations are superb. Created as dioramas and then photographed, the pictures have a depth of field that will fascinate young readers and put them right in the middle of the story. Just gorgeous.  Published this May so do watch out for it.

 

My dog Mouse

By Eva Lindstrom

ISBN 9781776571499

Published this June.

 

He’s old and fat with ears as thin as pancakes. His walk is a kind of waddle and he’s always pleased to see me.

This delightful book really is for everyone. We all know an old dog that goes so slowly. “Step, pause. Step, pause. Step, pause.”  The kind of old dog you want to just pick up and carry home. 

Well Mouse is one of those old dogs and even though the girl in the story doesn’t own Mouse she does love him to bits. Whenever she asks, she is always allowed to take him on walks. Very slow walks where other people always overtake them. And when she hands him back to his owner, she thinks “I wish Mouse was mine”. The story is funny and sweet but it is also real. And we know that come tomorrow she will be back to take Mouse for another long, slow walk.

The illustrations have a naive, child-like quality to them which is lovely and fresh. 

The ANZAC tree

Written and illustrated by Christina Booth

ISBN 978160154226

Omnibus Books an imprint of Scholastic Australia

In 1916 two brothers planted two trees on their farm. They then headed far away to France to fight in the Great War. The ANZAC Tree tells the story of a century of Australian generations who went to war, and the story of those who were left behind.

Beautifully illustrated, this new picture book, based on a real family, starts with the planting of two trees by two brothers on the farm just before they depart to fight in the First World War. The story moves through the generations and different wars. The sepia tones and old photographs at the beginning of the book create an historical look at the time when war broke out.

The illustrations take on a brighter feel as we move through the generations and changing times.

I love how generations of children introduce themselves in a journal format with photos and handwritten notes. They each tell their stories and how the different wars have impacted on them and their families, descendants of the two brothers at the beginning of the story.

Though times have changed, two things remain.

Firstly, and sadly, war continues in many parts of the world.

Secondly but wonderfully, the ANZAC tree still stands, proud and symbolic.

Christina Booth has provided us with a great book to not just read about wars but to show the impact on families and those left behind. Great book to use in class and open up discussion on many levels.

A Mother’s Day Dilemma

By Juliette MacIver

Illustrated by Janine Millington

ISBN 9781775433453

Scholastic

Poor Prince Pierre and Princess Emma face a major muddlesome dilemma. What do you give your mother the Queen… when she has absolutely everything?

It’s Mother’s Day and Pierre and Emma are stuck for ideas on what gift to give their mother, especially as she is the Queen and has everything she could possibly want. They search the markets, the beach, everywhere. They come up with all sorts of ideas, including smoked sardines. Will they ever find a gift for mum?

Juliette MacIver brings her trade-mark rhymes to her story about the young brother and sister as they struggle to think of a special gift.

I love how the bright illustrations have a real feel of the Pacific to them with the beaches, bush and birds. I love the pink flower in Emma’s hair and the way she scrunches up her nose at the smoked sardines.

 

 

And another delightful picture book to celebrate mums.

 

My Meerkat Mum

By Ruth Paul

ISBN 9781775434894

Scholastic NZ

 

Up. Down. Dig. Play.

Meerkat Mum leads the way.

 

What a delightful picture book with a strong message all about a mother’s love for her children. Always watching, always checking for her children’s safety, mother meerkat stays constantly alert for any danger her young family may face. The meerkat mum takes her family out in the search for food but protects them from snakes and wild weather. Always, we can see how much she loves her children, even at night when they are sleeping, mum is watching out for her children. Quick, jaunty language totally suits the movements of meerkats in this story.

Just like real meerkats, the ones in this picture book are inquisitive and quick. The burnt orange and yellow colours of the illustrations match their natural environment and the meerkats definitely have the cute factor making this an ideal book to share with younger readers.

 

If I had an elephant

By Richard Fairgray and Terry Jones

Illustrated by Richard Fairgray

Colouring by Tara Black

ISBN 9781775434764

Scholastic NZ

Fun, imaginative and just the way childhood play should be. This talented partnership of writers and illustrator have again brought us another fun-filled humorous picture book. 

Young Henry begins the day by wishing he had an elephant and then takes us with him as he considers the awesome time they would have together. We journey through time and space and meet wonderful characters such as the “four-eyed, two-horned, big-tusked Grumblepuff”.  Having an elephant by your side leads to all sorts of adventures which will in turn spark young reader’s own imaginations. Everyone needs the friendship and support of a best friend and here in this truly imaginative story, elephant is this young boy’s best friend, or at least he would be if he only had an elephant. 

If I had an elephant for a best friend, there’d be no stopping us! We’d get matching jackets. We’d build a time machine together. We’d have OUT OF THIS WORLD adventures …

IF I had an elephant.

 

A case in any case

By Ulf Nilsson

Illustrated by Gitte Spee

ISBN 9781776571093

Gecko Press

 

 

A case in any case is the third book in the Detective Gordon series about a police Toad and his assistant Buffy. However, each book works very well as a stand-alone.

Buffy is in charge of the police station when she hears noises and decides to investigate. However, her investigations need a little help from Detective Gordon who is currently away. I love the relationship between these two loveable characters. They need each other and their friendship is strong and caring. Despite sometimes fumbling over what is right in front of them they do solve their mysterious cases. The humour is subtle but so funny. Love it.

Gorgeous illustrations in soft colours provide a very natural setting for the story. I do love how expressive the eyes are in the pictures and bringing out the characters personalities. 

Great series for those newly independent readers on their first chapter books but equally great as a read-aloud.

This is so cool. Fans of Captain Underpants will love this.

Hugely popular series by Dav Pilkey and Scholastic Publishers. Do read the books first though.  This really is a funny series that will encourage children to keep reading and wanting the next book in the series.

Bruno : some of the more interesting days in my life so far

By Catharina Valckx

Illustrated by Nicolas Hubesch

ISBN 9781776571253

Gecko Press

 

Bruno is a cat with a bit of a “come what may” attitude to life. Whatever the day brings, good or bad he finds a way to make the most of it, even in a power cut. A rainy day changes nothing when he wants a picnic – he will just have it inside instead. He is both funny and serious with his matter-of-fact stance on life. He is however, a very good friend to Gloria the shop-keeping cow and Ringo the old horse.

There are six short stories, a mix of daily routines and some surprises which all connect to each other. I laughed out loud a number of times with the tongue-in-cheek humour. The quirky illustrations perfectly portray the characters expressions. My favourite is A stupid day (that ends pretty well) in which Bruno meets a canary whose words are pretty much gibberish.

Hmm! But then I also love A  peculiar day where Bruno meets a fish swimming through the air and as always, he takes things in his stride and follows the fish right into the middle of an adventure. A peculiar day indeed. Really, it is a bit too hard to pick a favourite as all the stories were delightful. 

The colour illustrations are more comic style in format but work so well here with the short stories. I love the pictures with the canal and foot bridges. Creates a real sense of place and time.

A perfect collaboration of author and illustrator.

Torty and the soldier : a story of a true WW1 survivor

By Jennifer Beck

Illustrated by Fifi Colston

ISBN 9781775434849

Scholastic

 

 

 

Meet Torty! Shes one tough little tortoise with a beat-up shell and some missing toes. Torty survived a great war that raged in Europe 100 years ago. Torty was rescued back then by a young Kiwi soldier. She is a World War One survivor.

This is a beautiful and impressive picture book but it goes beyond a simple read. Jennifer Beck tells us the story of an injured and very lucky-to-be-alive tortoise rescued during World War 1. The fact that this tortoise is still alive today, over 100 years later is remarkable, especially as she endured many more brushes with death over the years.

This is a story of longevity and how something good came from such a terrible time. New Zealand Soldier Stewart Little first met the tortoise when he watched in horror as she was being run over by a French gun wagon. His rescue of the tortoise, which he later named Torty, began a relationship which would last decades. As somewhat of a stowaway, Torty arrived in New Zealand where she had even more dangerous and almost deadly adventures.

This is also a story of hope and how one little act of kindness can change lives.

The illustrations are simply beautiful. The cover impacts on the reader immediately with nurturing hands reaching out and cradling Torty so we know she is the focus of the story. The cover layout is reminiscent of a headline from a newspaper declaring something important, something we all need to know. The end pages hold maps showing us the voyage from Salonika to New Zealand shores, adding a touch of sophistication to the picture book. I love the mix of full-page illustrations and those with lots of white space. This creates a mixture of illustrations capturing certain moments throughout Torty and the soldier’s lives. The sepia tones at the beginning with more colour added as the story moves through the years is a great way to show children and students how time moves on, emphasizing the remarkable fact that Torty is still alive today.

This really is a stunning book and even though young readers can read and enjoy this story on their own, I feel it will reach a much wider audience as it will open up discussion on so many levels.

Check out there teacher notes here. Well worth a look. I will be using this book and the teacher notes with my year six book club later this term.

Love it.  A must-have for any school library.

The great egg stink

Dinosaur trouble Book 1

By Kyle Mewburn

Illustrated by Donovan Bixley

ISBN 9781775433668

 

 

Kyle Mewburn has a way of connecting with his readers, of which he has many. His picture books are always in and out of the library and his Dinosaur Rescue series has been a great success with the year three children and up.  Now with a prequel series for Dinosaur Rescue aimed at  younger readers, he will no doubt capture those working on their first chapter books.

In The Great Egg Stink cave boy Arg meets Krrk-Krrk the dinosaur. Meet isn’t exactly the right word but you will see what I mean when you read this funny book. There is lots for readers to laugh at, with flying maggots and smelly body bits. Donovan’s humourous illustrations add to the quality of this fun first chapter book and will hook readers who will love going on to the extended reads of the Dinosaur Rescue books.

 

A little reminder of the Dinosaur Rescue series for when you have finished The Great Egg Stink and want to read more about Arg and his Stone Age adventures.

 

 

10 Greedy goats

Illustrated by Deborah Hinde

Sung by Pio Terei

Maori lyrics by Ngaere Roberts

ISBN 9781775434078

 

This is an old classic and everyone knows the tune with a real sense of familiarity which will make this a favourite. Deborah Hinde’s beautiful, warm and yes, cute illustrations are delightful. Bright, bold colours with a warm fuzzy feel will appeal to younger readers enjoying a read with parents and grandparents. I do love the little snail who is there on almost every page, smiling at the goats and their antics. With the bonus CD wee ones can sing along and it won’t take long before they know it all by heart and keep asking for it again and again.

 

 

Tui Street tales

By Anne Kayes

ISBN 9781775434726

 

Tui Street Tales  came about after Anne Kayes won the prestigious Tom Fitzgibbon Award.

This middle-grade novel is actually a series of short stories about children living in suburban Tui Street. The stories are connected as the children in the street become involved in each others lives. There are familiar fairy tale associations weaving their way through the stories. The children attend nearby Awatiu School and know each other well. It is lovely to see how this small community look after and protect each other through the many different adventures they face. Community and friendship are a strong theme through this book. Is there magic or something more happening somewhere in the street? Well you will have to find a copy to find out but be prepared to find yourself wishing you lived on Tui Street with Jack, Tim, Ella and many more.

Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja

By Marcus Emerson

ISBN 978176029554

Allen & Unwin

It’s my first day at a new school and the only person I know is my cousin, Zoe (but she might be a little too cool for me). I was just another scrawny kid until a group of ninjas recruited me into their clan. It was a world of trouble I wasn’t prepared for. This diary is a warning: the life of a ninja is dangerous, scary…and awesome.

My name is Chase Cooper, and I’m a 6th grade ninja.

This is a quick and funny read for those going beyond their first chapter books. Short, sharp chapters help keep  pace and suspense going. We’ve got a secret society of ninja’s, bullying, a bit of thieving and lots of humour. It doesn’t take long before you find yourself liking Chase and worrying about the trouble that lies ahead for him depending on his choices.  This is a book, which for all it’s fun and games, does beg the question of what we might or might not be prepared to do in order to belong. Loyalty also comes into play here as Chase begins to see the true value of family and friends. Ideal for ages 7 up. A thoroughly enjoyable read set in a school where almost anything can happen.
Heaps more books in this new series.

Helper and helper

By Joy Cowley

Illustrated by Gavin Bishop

ISBN 9781776571055

Gecko Press

 

helper-and-helper-cover-432x600-2

Traditional story telling at its best. Funny, in a dry matter-of-fact way with a few lessons thrown in for good measure.

Snake and Lizard are friends, best friends as Lizard reminds Snake. But sometimes even best friends get annoyed with each other and have disagreements. It is how they work around their disagreements which is so funny. Both want to be right and tend to be a bit cunning in order to prove they are right but the outcome is not always want each one wants. But as true best friends they are at the end of each day, forgiving and kind. Joy Cowley highlights the reality of true friendships, warts and all and we can’t help but love Snake and Lizard. Short fable like stories that can be shared and enjoyed by anyone.

My favourite story from this collection is Food and friends.  Watch out for the ending but just don’t turn your back on Snake.

I love the rich earthy colours of Gavin Bishop’s illustrations. His style is very distinctive and natural and helps bring these characters to life with ease. Writer and illustrator are perfectly matched for this third book in the series about Snake and Lizard.

Bastion Point: 507 Days on Takaparawha

My New Zealand Story

By Tania Roxborogh

ISBN  9781775434795

Scholastic NZ

 

bastion

 

This is a moving account of the realities of life during the 1977 – 1978 occupation of Bastion Point. Erica Tito tells us just what it was like when her father uprooted the family and joined  protestors in Auckland. A protest that was only supposed to be a few days or weeks at most, turned in to 507 difficult and challenging days for everyone involved. The luxuries of normal life, like running water and electricity have been left behind and Erica even enrolls in the local school which brings a new set of problems.

As Erica realises their stay could go on for some time she becomes increasingly desperate to return home to her horse Silver. A horse she is working hard to pay off and make her own.

From the start there are clashes between the protesters, Nga¯ti Wha¯tua elders, police and politicians and we begin to see things from Erica’s point of view, which is both child and Maori. It is Erica’s voice we are hearing and through her eyes we see history happening.

I love how we see Erica’s growing understanding of the situation and the realisation that all of us are guilty of believing in stereotypes. I confess that there were things I just never knew or perhaps ignored, about the days of the Bastion Point occupation and through this novel I am forced to confront the truth and that is not always easy for anyone.

Author Tania Roxborogh provides us with a well thought-out and well researched novel aimed at year five and up. This is the latest in Scholastic’s My New Zealand series which highlights history through diary entries of young children.

I was so lucky to go to Tania’s book launch a few weeks ago. It was great to see her planning and her research and to know how hard she worked to get this right. And she did!

Teacher notes can be found here.

The singing dolphin: Te Aihe i Waiata

Written and illustrated By Mere Whaanga

ISBN 9781775434023

Scholastic NZ

5

Between 2007 and 2009, the dolphin Moko lived and played in the sea near The Pathway of the Whales at Mihia. The singing dolphin: Te Aihe i Waiata was inspired by Moko’s time there.

This a traditionally told bilingual picture book about a grandmother and her three grandsons. Tahi knows the land, Rua knows the waters but the youngest one, Potoki spends his time singing. He badly wants to join his brothers catching fish but they always tell him he is too little.  One night Potoki hides under the fishing net in the canoe but the following day something terrible happens. Like many traditional stories there is a lyrical quality to this story and I can just imagine sitting around listening to a grandparent sharing this story with grandchildren.

Beautifully illustrated with the the most natural of colours. Earthy browns, forest greens and deep sea blues, interwoven with many Maori motifs make this a very special picture book.

I especially love the double spread with the wood pigeons, and pukeko as well other native birds.

singing-dolphin-the_pb_p10-11

The colours are stunning.

A good choice for all school libraries.

 

Nee Naw the little fire engine

Words and music by Deano Yipadee

Illustrated by Paul Beavis

ISBN 978177543

 

fire

 

Poor Granny is trapped inside her burning house with flames shooting through the windows. The big fire engines come racing to put out the fire but find themselves in trouble. It is up to the little fire engine Nee Naw to save the day.

Another funny tale from Deano Yipadee with bright bold illustrations from Paul Beavis. You can read on its own or singalong with the CD. I shared this today with some student librarians who thought it was a great choice for younger children.

 

The lost kitten
By Lee
Illustrated by Komako Sakai
ISBN 9781776571260
Gecko Press

the-lost-kitten-cover-491x600

Author Lee tells the sweet story of a young girl’s apprehension at taking in a little kitten in need of help and a home. At first Hina isn’t too sure what to make of the little gooey-eyed kitten that arrives on her doorstep but soon her curiosity gets the better of her and she starts taking care of the small bundle. When the kitten goes missing, Hina is desperate to find it and keep it safe. She hunts everywhere even risking her own safety. Little by little, Hina falls in love with the kitten. The story is told with simplicity and warmth.

The illustrations are beautiful. I love the first illustration where Hina and her mother open the door to a mother cat and her kittens, their backs turned to the reader allowing the kitten to be the focus of the story. The mother pleads with Hina and the reader and so we are hooked  right from the start.

There is a lovely softness about the illustrations that captures the pure innocence and honesty of children. I absolutely adore the illustration where Hina is sitting on the floor, her legs folded and spread under her, exactly how young children sit. Gorgeous. This is bound to be a favourite with lots of children.

 

100 Hugs

By Chris Riddell

ISBN 1509814305

Pan Macmillan

9781509814305100-hugs

 

I am going to end up with a very bleak retirement if I don’t stop buying books. When you see 100 Hugs you will  know why I couldn’t resist buying this to add to my Chris Riddell collection. It is just as well for him that we live on opposite sides of the planet as I think I would follow him to every book signing he does or every talk he gives. Not just an amazing illustrator and author, he is  a wonderful supporter of all things library. Being a librarian I agree with everything he says. Libraries are in danger of being closed down (many have already gone) and schools without libraries just breaks my heart. 

Anyway, I digress.  This latest book is adorable. Perfect size to fit in the hands of anyone and perfect to give to someone special. The illustrations are simple yet moving. Some pull at your emotions, draw you in and leave you all happy inside. Page after page of people, animals, book characters and more, all being hugged. The illustrations would make wonderful prints for any bedroom or library wall. Simply beautiful. I can’t share the pictures here because of copyright but seriously, check out the links above and see for yourself. This is one I will carry around with me, pull out and show everyone. Small and gorgeous.