Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Scar Island

By Dan Gemeinhart

ISBN 9781338053845

Scholastic 

This book landed on my desk this week and I have added it to my TBR pile as a must read.  I have even sneaked it to the top of the pile and hope to get stuck in very soon as long as I can get in before the senior students at school grab hold of it or I might have to wait my turn. Certainly one to look forward to.

Book trailers have so much power. They encourage us, taunt us and leave us hurrying to get the book to find out just what is going to happen to the characters. Check out the trailer below and see what I mean. The fact that the author is a fellow librarian is also very cool.

“Jonathan Grisby is the newest arrival at the Slabhenge Reformatory School for Troubled Boys–an ancient, crumbling fortress of gray stone rising up from the ocean. It is dark, damp, and dismal. And it is just the place Jonathan figures he deserves.
Because Jonathan has done something terrible. And he’s willing to accept whatever punishment he has coming.
Just as he’s getting used to his new situation, however, a freak accident leaves the troubled boys of Slabhenge without any adult supervision. Suddenly the kids are free, with an entire island to themselves. But freedom brings unexpected danger. And if Jonathan can’t come to terms with the sins of his past and lead his new friends to safety… then every boy on the island is doomed.”

 

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The Water Princess

By Susan Verde

Illustrated by Peter H Reynolds

ISBN9780399172588

G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

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What a beautiful thought-provoking picture book. Princess Gie Gie must endure the daily grind of walking long distances to fetch water and walking back again, day in day out. It is time-consuming and monotonous but water is essential for life and so it must be done. Gie Gie wishes so much that water was at her fingertips. She has dreams that one day water will be plentiful for everyone.

This book deserves so much more than a cursory read. Indeed, it needs to be read again and again. We have the cultural aspects of what it is like to live in such a harsh environment and the desperate need for water, something most of us take for granted. We simply turn on a tap and water flows. The closest experience I have to this is after the devastating earthquakes here in Christchurch in 2011 and having to collect rainwater from an old tarpaulin draped over the clothesline and having to dig holes in the backyard to go to the toilet. We were lucky and we had water within a week. Other people here went without water for so much longer. Water was brought in to the city by trucks. There are no trucks where Gie Gie lives.

Gie Gie, despite her reluctance to walk yet another day to collect water, continues to remain hopeful. She is quite frankly, delightful and her love of the land and wide open spaces is heart-warming.

“My kingdom…the African sky, so wide and so close. I can almost touch the sharp edges of the stars.”

The burnt-orange and browns are perfect colour choices for the wonderful illustrations which show just how harsh it is to live in a land with very little water. An environment so different to our own that it is difficult to understand but the illustrations here really create Gie Gie’s world for us.

Gie Gie’s expressions are honest. We see it when she stamps her feet annoyed at having to fetch water yet again, and in her love of the land and family. Overwhelmingly, we see it in her resillence and hope. Gie Gie is strong and detemined and such a wonderful role model for young readers. Love this book to pieces.

A must-have for all school libraries.

Sometimes you just have to deviate from your normal posts and this is one of those times. 

At school today I disposed of a rather dead and smelly hedgehog. Sadly, she left an orphan, a wee baby hedgehog roaming around looking very lost and forlorn in the middle of the day. So I have rescued the wee thing and it has been rustling around in an old box by my desk. It has not long gone to sleep now and is so cute. The Animal and Bird Hospital will look after it and make sure it is looked after until a little older and able to fend for itself. Children have come into the library for a little look too. Very quietly of course. He or she really is very little and adorable.

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Last night was a disastrous night here in New Zealand with multiple earthquakes and aftershocks. Sadly two fatalities and lots of damage. We are strong, having been through these before but it is still horrible to endure. SO I want to bring some cheer to those who are feeling shattered and on edge (like me).

I am sharing a video for Christmas. Copyright of course belongs to John Lewis.

Enjoy and for those in affected areas, please stay safe. Kia Kaha.

This is a difficult post to write but one I must. 

This is not about the history of the shop, or the owner’s experiences or even the fate of the shop (although I am ever hopeful a buyer will be found). None of that is my story to write. This is about my ten years experience working in one of the most wonderful bookshops ever.

I worked every Saturday and many of the school holidays for the last ten years. The best holiday to work was the build up to Christmas where everyone was full of excitement and book chat.  We had the perfect location, right in the heart of Victoria Street in a quirky building with lots of nooks and crannies. The big earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 changed all that but we dusted ourselves off and started again in a different part of town.

What I gained from my years of working as a retail assistant was a growing confidence in myself. I had to approach customers and begin conversations, something I was always intimidated by before. Over the years, these customers have become friends. I know their children, I know their likes and dislikes. I have hugged customers as they cried when telling me why they are buying a special book for a wee child. Stories about a young dad dying or siblings who have died. I remember helping a young mother with book choices for her children and wrapping them for Christmas presents, knowing she had cancer. Sadly she died a few weeks later.

Then there are the grandparents who religiously come in every birthday, Easter and Christmas. They are all like family. We don’t just sell books and gifts, we listen. We listen and even on occasions look at their family photos.

I have attended many publishers Road Shows which I will miss. I loved finding out what new books were coming out and felt I was privy to special secrets. I have had the privilege of meeting so many fantastic authors and illustrators from New Zealand and internationally. I’ve had wonderful conversations with Margaret Mahy, Andy Griffiths, Derek Landy and so many more. I have chatted with Michael Morpurgo (my absolute hero) and even been kissed on the cheek by him. Years later, my right cheek is still unwashed.

I was so fortunate to have my own book launch at the shop. A wonderful setting, a fantastic night with wine and nibbles, and an amazing cake. I felt like royalty, thoroughly spoiled by so many friends all thanks to the support of staff at the shop.

What saddens me about the closing of this wonderful shop, is not just a personal loss of a job I have loved, but what it means to the city of Christchurch and children’s literature in general.  We were specialists and while other bookshops sold much the same as we did, we also sold those books that were unique, beautiful and sophisticated. We were not afraid to come out from behind the counter and talk with our customers.

I will miss my wonderful colleagues, Jane, Louise, Pru and Mary, my boss, and Jamie who had recently moved on to another job. I will miss having somewhere special to go every Saturday. I will miss our wonderful customers. I miss my old friend, The Original Children’s Bookshop more than I thought I ever could. I feel like I have lost an old friend and am grieving for that friend. 

A few Saturdays ago when news became public about our liquidation, the shop was so full with customers coming in. Many of them cried, sad we were closing.  Customers just hugged us openly and in shock. Emotionally it was an incredibly tough day but I feel so proud to have been part of this very special place and to have travelled with them for as long as I have.

Is it the end? I hope not. Will it be bought? I hope so. Will I stop crying? One day!

As they say, never say never. I live in hope. And please, please, shop local. Keep our bookshops alive.

A great selection of new picture books from Scholastic NZ . Great for toddlers through to about six years old but really, you are never too old for picture books.

 

Parakeet in boots

By Chris Gurney

Illustrated by Myles Lawford

ISBN 9781775434382

boots

The latest in the Kiwi Corkers series is just as funny and quirky as others in this popular series. The traditional stories take a journey through New Zealand shores. Here we have a new take on the familiar Puss in Boots with a parakeet collecting paua in his kete. Bright, colourful illustrations add to the humour of this story. He really is a very confident and somewhat manipulative Parakeet but he does what he does for all the right reasons and we share delight in the happy ending.

 

 

Dinosaur hunting

By Lucy Davey

Illustrated by Kirsten Richards

ISBN 9781775433958

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Dinosaurs are hiding everywhere, behind trees, and even in the clouds if you look closely. A fun story of a little boy going for a walk with his dad and enjoying the world of imagination. A sweet circular story where the ordinary becomes a little more interesting thanks to a vivid imagination. Dad offers fun and support, especially when it seems the dinosaurs might be getting just a little too close for comfort.

 

Hush : a kiwi lullaby

By Joy Cowley

Illustrations by Andrew Burdan

Maori lyrics by Ngaere Roberts

Sung by June Pitman-Hayes

ISBN 9781775433125

Includes bonus CD in English and Maori

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This is an old traditional song but with a very kiwi feel. The illustrations are soft and warm creating a very gentle mood and feel to the book. It is matched beautifully with the sweet tones of the singer on the bonus CD. It is nice to see a glossary of Maori terms at the back of the book to encourage listeners and readers to take pride in our Maori language.

As baby is lulled to sleep we are introduced to kunekune pigs, paua, tui, silver ferns and much more. This is a perfect book for new parents who want to spend some gentle time with their precious  wee ones

 

 

The Kiwi Hokey Tokey

Illustrated by Stevie Mahardhika

Sung by Pio Terei

Maori lyrics by Ngaere Roberts

ISBN 9781775434115

Includes Bonus CD in English and Maori

 

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The Kiwi Hokey Tokey is a very catchy song which children will love dancing to and performing the different actions. Lots of fun and of course introduction to Maori words make this a good one to add to any junior library or home collection. My favourites are the farmyard flash mob, the dancing kunekune pigs and the cheeky fantails.  The illustrations are full of character and humour. Another very Kiwi book to delight young children or to send to friends overseas.

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Brobot

By James Foley

ISBN 9781925163919

Fremantle Press

 

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“Sally is the world’s foremost inventor under the age of twelve, and she just knows she can build a better brother than the messy, smelly version she has. Sally’s invention – Brobot – is fantastic, that is until the remote gets broken and Brobot careens out of control. Sally realises that maybe there’s more to a brother than just his inconveniences”

 

What a brilliant cover. The blue is beautiful and bright and just calls for the book to be picked up. This is a great introduction the the graphic novel format for young readers. The very funny illustrations are broken up with just the right amount of text for newly independent readers. I love the very comical expressive eyes particular when Sally gets mad. They really are a window to the soul and in this case, Sally’s honest big-sister frustrations are quite obvious. This is very funny, especially for those readers with younger siblings. I mean who hasn’t thought of ways to dispense with, or swap a younger brother or sister – momentarily of course! Sally does find that her creation isn’t quite what she hoped for but her little brother seems to be totally oblivious to her plans and sits their looking perfectly cute. I do think this would make an ideal little series so I hope there are more adventures with Sally.

An ideal book to encourage creative  and makerspace thinking.

 

Teaching notes found here.

The bee’s sneeze

By Lucy Davey

Illustrated by Katz Cowley

ISBN 9781775432982

Scholastic NZ

5-2

 

That teasy sneeze came breezing …

like ants in the pants of a kangaroo,

it grew till it blew with a loud

 

AH-CHOO!

 

I would suggest anyone wanting to read this delightful picture book out loud, pre-read it first to get a taste of the lovely tongue twistery language.

One sneeze by little Buzzy McBee leads to another and then another and then in to danger. This is sure to delight young children and no doubt the many parents who will read this funny picture book out loud.

Warm  illustrations by Katz Cowley add to the humour. Lots of greens and browns help create a natural setting. I love the looks of surprise on bee and bear’s faces when they are blown all over the place. Sneezing takes on a whole new meaning in Lucy Davey’s latest picture book.

There are a number of picture books about Matariki which have been around for awhile but these two are newly published this year and deserve a place alongside of the old favourites.

 

The seven kites of Matariki

By Calico McClintock

Illustrated by Dominique Ford

ISBN 9781775434016

Scholastic NZ

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“It was deep mid-winter and all through the village preparations were being made to farewell the old year and greet the new. For the first time ever, the seventh little sister, Ururangi, was big enough to make her own celebration kite. But when the seven sisters take the finished kites to fly them, the east wind whips them all away into the sky …where they now appear as the stars of Matariki to welcome the Maori new year.’

I love the motifs running through the pages of this book. They are in the clouds and sky, and in the kites and all through the backgrounds of the illustrations. It is perfect for highlighting the significance of the New Year to Maori and the traditions which we all celebrate today.  This is easy to read and ideal for teachers to open up discussions on Matariki with their students. I love the use of colour too here, especially the different shades of blue. It is great to see New Zealand-themed picture books being published and this is definitely one to add to a school or home library collection.

 

The little kiwi’s Matariki

By Nikki Slade Robinson

ISBN 9781927305195

Duck Creek Press

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The little Kiwi is fast asleep in her burrow. A beam of moonlight shines right down into her burrow. She wakes, and realises it is time. Hurrying out into the night, she wakes each of her friends from their mid-winter slumber. ‘Kia tere! Hurry!’ she urges them.

 

As Kiwi runs through the forest, stopping to urge others to follow him,  we are introduced to many of New Zealand’s native birdlife as well as the katipo spider. I think this makes it quite special in terms of a New Zealand-themed  picture book. At the back of the book there is a double page spread outlining the facts about Matariki which is a great addition to have. Good to use at both pre-school and primary school as an introduction to one of our most special celebrations.

Hex

By Thomas Olde Heuvelt

ISBN 9781444793239

Hodder & Stoughton

 

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As soon as I saw this I knew I had to share!

What a cool and creepy cover.  I am seriously going to have to get a copy of this book. The trailer is awesome. Top quality and creepy as! I love books that make you cringe and your skin crawl with fear and I just can’t wait for this one. Out this month New Zealand and Australia. One of those crossover novels sure to appeal and creep out both YA and adult readers.

“Whoever is born here, is doomed to stay until death. Whoever comes to stay, never leaves.

Welcome to Black Spring, the seemingly picturesque Hudson Valley town haunted by the Black Rock Witch, a seventeenth-century woman whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut. Blind and silenced, she walks the streets and enters homes at will. She stands next to children’s beds for nights on end. So accustomed to her have the townsfolk become that they often forget she’s there. Or what a threat she poses. Because if the stitches are ever cut open, the story goes, the whole town will die.

The curse must not be allowed to spread. The elders of Black Spring have used high-tech surveillance to quarantine the town. Frustrated with being kept in lockdown, the town’s teenagers decide to break the strict regulations and go viral with the haunting. But, in so doing, they send the town spiraling into a dark nightmare.”

If you want to read an interview then click here

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

By Ransom Riggs

ISBN 9781594746031

 

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Some things are too good not to share.

What a perfect book for a movie adaption and who better than director  Tim Burton for this one.

Do try and read the book first but don’t miss the movie when it comes out at the end of September this year. I will be in that queue!

 

My sister Rosa

By Justine Larbalestier

ISBN 9781760112226

AllenandUnwin

 

‘I promise,’ said Rosa. ‘I won’t kill and I won’t make anyone else kill.’

I can’t see the loophole. Since the guinea pig there’s been nothing. Months now without Rosa killing as much as a mosquito.

As far as I know.

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My sister Rosa is a powerful novel, dark and disturbing. It moves along at a steady pace but all the while Rosa and her manipulating and psychopathic tendencies eats away at you until you are hit in the face with the reality that Rosa could indeed be a monster.

All Che wants to do is keep an eye on his younger sister Rosa and stop her from hurting anyone, for Che is the only one who understands her, who knows what she is truly capable of. Che is caught between loving his little sister and hating her too. However, at 10 Rosa is cunning and bright and always ahead of Che.

As a reader, all I wanted was for Che to be happy, to find the girlfriend he always wanted and to spar in the ring. Boxing is his only release from the psychological games Rosa plays. He also wants to go home to Sydney but as always, Che has very little control over his life.

I was sitting on my front porch enjoying the sun while reading this book today and it got to the stage where I couldn’t  put it down. I couldn’t focus on anything other than Rosa and I felt sick just thinking about what she was doing. Long after I finished the book I was still thinking of Rosa as I worked my way through housework and gardening. Rosa was everywhere. Her impact was overwhelming and left me stunned.

I love this book. I love how Rosa and Che and everyone else became so real that I was at times out-raged, upset, and even a little freaked out. Not only is this a great read but I personally think it would be perfect to turn into a movie.

 

 

A favourite for so many children (and adults too really) that it is no wonder there is so much talk and excitement about this movie. It is wonderful to see such a childhood classic coming to the big screen.

May just have to read the book again before this hits the theatres. And who doesn’t love a big giant story?

AT the school where I am a librarian we are starting to think about book week activities for term two. So I have been spending time on Pinterest – perhaps too much time but it is a wonderful way to get ideas. I saw an “altered tin” based on Edgar Allan Poe and loved it. So taking that idea and books that our children love I decided to try and create an altered tin based on the character of a book.

Using an old small tin once filled with sweets and adding stickers, and a little photocopying layered for a 3D effect, I based my tin on The Rainbow fish by Marcus Pfister.

Adding shells and a QR code to a youtube link of an online reading of the story just added a little more. I can’t wait for book week to see what the children will create and which stories they will use.

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My first attempt was a rather quick job based on The Secret Garden but it does show you that almost anything can be done simply and without cost.  I do think I could become addicted to this. Lots of books I want to recreate in a tin. It could even be a tin with bits and bobs that characters might use. For example a tin based on The Lord of the Rings might hold a ring and a tiny little old map and perhaps a plastic dragon. The list is endless.

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Johnny Danger

Book 2 : Lie another day

By Peter Millet

ISBN 9780143309055

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While there are plenty of wonderful New Zealand books written by equally wonderful authors, there are not so many book trailers for their books. So it is brilliant to have the chance to show this new trailer for Lie another day book two in the Johnny Danger series.

I was watching this trailer (again) at school and one of my students (year 4) came over to see what I was doing so we watched it together. Not only did it get the thumbs up but he told me to buy it. I ordered it today and when it arrives Sam will be the first one to read it (unless I get in before him). The trailer is well made and has a bit of everything in it just like the books.  Action, humour, cartoon, parody.

It is great to have the author Peter Millet here on the blog answering some questions. Some very cool answers too.

What is the appeal of writing books for children?
Roald Dahl said it best ‘adults are too stuffy, boring and take themselves far too seriously’. Apparently that’s why he loved writing for children. I’m inclined to say that I agree with him. Additionally, when I tell a joke to a crowd of kids everyone looks at me when they laugh, often with adults they look at each other before they laugh to make sure it’s okay to laugh. Kids have way more fun.
Most of your books include humour. I imagine humour is quite difficult to write and be genuine at the same time so what is your trick?
My style of humour is quintessentially British. It’s dry and it’s subtle. I’m not a fan of slapstick, or lazy-bodily function jokes. When I read my stories aloud I always keep a straight face. That’s pretty much how I write my comedy stories as well. That allows me to develop characters and plotlines satisfactorily while infusing the humour as the undercurrent to the story. One thing which is very difficult being a comedy writer is the book editing process. Often an editor will ask me to alter a scene or change an ending. When I do this I also have to make sure that the new content is as funny as the content it is being inserted around. Sometimes this can be problematic.
Which authors inspire you to write?
Roald Dahl, Andy Stanton, Roddy Doyle. There are many more. Here’s my soapbox moment – Roald Dahl never won a book award in his lifetime. Comedy movies never win Oscars. Writing comedy is an extremely complex process. People who aren’t funny can’t write comedy, and people who say comedy is too frivolous to be award-winning don’t understand complicated writing. Hopefully in my lifetime children’s comedy writers will be treated equally along with dramatic children’s writers and we will see an end to this silly era of elitism. Shakespeare was a master at both and duly celebrated.
As a child – were you the kind of boy who played at being a spy or were you more of the indoor type?
As many of my readers know some of the gadgets in my stories originate from childhood ideas and pranks. I once carved out the middle portion of a hardback book and used it as a secret storage compartment to hide ‘used lines’ the teacher had issued to children as punishment. I then used these lines to help children get out of future punishments. So in a way, I was an undercover operative battling evil villains in my junior years at school.
If you could meet any character out of any book, who would it be and why?
Probably the Twits. It would be interesting to see if I could win an argument with them, or potentially win a battle of pranks. I’d also like to witness a grown man consuming food stored in his beard.
Johnny Danger gets himself in to lots of trouble. What was your biggest adventure or the most dangerous thing you have ever done?
In 1990 I took a jungle trek in the rain forests of Borneo. We reached an orangutan sanctuary and a tour guide said ‘no sudden movements, and don’t provoke them – they’re strong enough to rip your arms off.’ I don’t recall reading that information before I embarked on the journey. Everything went fine, and the worst that happened was some cameras were stolen by the orangutans who proceeded to store them in their treetop hide out and then urinate on the victim’s heads. Walking back to our pickup point, I was also advised to avoid puddles containing leeches, and to look out for the odd scorpion here and there as I was wearing shorts, not the recommended long trousers with wraparound socks. I made it out unscathed. In my book Lie Another Day the jungle scene is inspired by that experience.
Many thanks Peter for sharing your thoughts with us.