Posts Tagged ‘Donovan Bixley’

The runaway coat

Dinosaur Trouble Book 3

By Kyle Mewburn

Illustrated by Donovan Bixley

ISBN 9781775433682

Scholastic NZ

 

Young cave boy Arg is cold. I mean really cold. He is freezing, his teeth are chattering and his skin is turning blue. Unfortunately things get even worse for Arg when mum throws his coat away because it stinks. It stinks because it is full of vomit, although to be fair, her coat is full of maggots so both are pretty bad. Determined to find his coat Arg runs off in to the wilderness and straight in to danger. Lots of danger, including a spiky-tailed anklylosaur with his own problems.

New independent readers will love the short chapters and feel a growing sense of achievement as they whiz through the pages. Donovan Bixley’s illustrations are quirky and full of character, totally giving life to Arg and his Stone Age family. Author and illustrator are completely in tune with each other with this series of books and their other series, Dinosaur Rescue which is for older readers. This latest book as with the previous two in the series, offers lots of fun. It is Kyle Mewburn’s ability to combine a world of grossness and humour that captures young readers imagination and leaves them laughing out loud.     Do look out for this third book in the series coming out this November.

 

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The lava melt shake

Dinosaur Trouble book 2

By Kyle Mewburn

Illustrated by Donovan Bixley

ISBN 9781775433675

Scholastic NZ

Rumble, whoosh, phhhht! The volcano spews out a red-hot lava melt shake. Can Arg save the day in his mega-messy way?

The latest book in the Dinosaur Trouble series about cave boy Arg and his stone age family has heaps of humour but also quite a bit of danger. What makes these books perfect for younger readers is not just that they offer a good adventure to read but there is the awareness that family is important and always there to help and support. No matter what danger Arg gets himself in to, he knows he can rely on family. 

Donovan Bixley captures the antics with wonderfully funny illustrations. In fact, as a team, author and illustrator work perfectly together. This series and its format with large text, lots of illustrations and short chapters is great for newly independent readers. Perfect for getting readers ready to read the Dinosaur Rescue series after this one.

I was enjoying reading the latest adventure of cave boy Arg and laughing along at all the funny bits when I began wondering if the author might just be a bit like Arg. Arg certainly has his share of trouble but with a bit of clever thinking he always finds his way out of danger so I thought I would ask author Kyle Mewburn a few questions to see if there were any similarities between himself when he was young and his mischievous character Arg.

Check out his answer to this and other questions below.

There is a lot of humour in your chapter books. The Dinosaur Rescue and Dinosaur Trouble chapter books have a real sense of mischievousness in them. What were you like as a child? Mischievous perhaps?

I never considered myself mischievous, but for some reason I was always getting into trouble. Personally I think I was simply too clever for my own good – much like Arg. I also had a low boredom threshold, so was always coming up with ingenious ways to amuse myself, whether in class or at home. Unfortunately not everyone could see how ingenious I was. Though Dinosaur Rescue and Dinosaur Trouble aren’t autobiographical per se (apart from the neanderthal parents and jealous sister – haha!), the underlying sense of alienation and different-ness Arg feels certainly is. Having a strong emotional element underpinning the storyline is so important for this age group, I think. 

We know you live in an isolated area of the country but you often travel to schools all over NZ and even Australia. Is it difficult having to travel so far. What it is like living where you live and does it get very cold?

Millers Flat isn’t as isolated as it seems. It’s only 90 minutes drive to Dunedin or Queenstown, both of which have airports. You could actually argue I don’t live in the middle of nowhere, but halfway to everywhere. But while travelling isn’t difficult, it certainly is expensive. The fact I have to pass on travel costs to schools often puts a visit out of reach of a school’s budget. Which is why I try to make the most of any trip and cram as many visits in as possible, so schools can share costs.

I can’t imagine living anywhere else. The lifestyle suits me perfectly. I require almost total quiet to write – even a fly makes me lose focus. So I couldn’t imagine living in a city. And there’s nothing better for clearing the cobwebs than pottering in the garden. Living in an isolated area also fits in nicely with my greenie philosophy. We have a composting toilet and a worm-farm grease-trap, so almost no food is wasted.

When we first moved to the area in 1990, we used to get bitterly cold, extended winters. Temperatures could remain below zero for months on end, freezing the ground several inches deep. But recent winters have been positively balmy in comparison, thanks to climate change. Either way, we manage to stay snug and warm in our little, extremely well-insulated (thanks to our grass roof) house with a very efficient wood-burner.

What does an ordinary writing day look like for you?

I try to write most days – at least when I’m at home. I haven’t quite mastered the art of writing on the road. Basically I wake up, make coffee and, at this time of the year, put on the fire. Then I head up to my desk and start writing… or at least trying to write. Often that involves trawling social media and playing a lot of solitaire. I’m a fits and starts kind of writer. I generally write in inspired bursts. But the inspired bursts don’t appear unless I chain myself to my desk for extended periods of struggling to write a single decent sentence.

What key advice would you give to children who want to write?

Enjoy your writing! There’s often no concrete reward to writing – the odds of getting published are incredibly low. Unless you are enjoying the journey and the process, you’re more likely to experience frustration and angst rather than joy.

What genre of books do you read in your spare time and who is your favourite author?

I used to read a lot of literary fiction – Graham Greene, Peter Carey etc – but recently I’ve returned to reading a lot more speculative sci-fi. I’ve been slowly working my way through The complete works of Theodore Sturgeon the last few years. It’s been a fascinating journey following the development of a key sci-fi writer from his early days of churning out “800-word stories with a twist” for a magazine, right through to the complex classics of his latter years.

If you could be any character from any book, yours or anyone other book, who would you be and why?

The character from H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine. I’ve always had a fascination with the notion of time travel – and the moral implications of it all.

Thank you so much Kyle for sharing your thoughts.

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.

Barbarians

Book six Dragon Knight

By Kyle Mewburn

Illustrated by Donovan Bixley

ISBN 9781775433972

Scholastic NZ

6

It is not hard to see why this series is so popular with readers. It has playful language, tongue-in-cheek humour with lots of smelly bits that readers will giggle over.

Merek is half boy, half dragon. In fact he is a bit of a shape shifter and sometimes that is good for him but sometimes it puts him in danger especially if anyone finds out what he can do.

Merek is back for another adventure with his good friend Brin/Breena along for the ride. A great story to show how misunderstandings can have consequences but all done with humour.

 

When Merek and Brin try to save Lord Crumble’s treasure from a Barbarian attack, they find out more than they expected …about ‘evil’ Barbarians as well as about Lord Crumble himself. But not before getting themselves strung up by their feet and hung from a tree!

 

Donovan Bixley’s black and white illustrations are full of character.  It always amazes me how illustrators can capture the feelings and personalities of the characters authors write about. Together, author and illustrator here have created magic.

Readers gain so much from having a series of books like Dragon Knight. The language becomes familiar, they begin to love the characters and feel a connection with them. They feel safe reading, knowing they will get all the way through a book without too much effort. I often worry about people wanting to always push readers up to the next level. Pushing is good, but so is letting children read a series without the pressure of having to stop and try the next level. Mileage reading, is what we call it and it is the best way to encourage a love of reading.  Series such as this are ideal for encouraging that love for reading.

Great for readers in the 7- through 10 age group.

Much ado about Shakespeare

The life and times of William Shakespeare – a literary picture book

Written and illustrated by Donovan Bixley

ISBN 9781927262023

Upstart Press

Much-ado-about-Shakespeare1-827x1024

If this book was around when I was studying the works of Shakespeare I am sure my grades would have been higher. This is both tongue-in-cheek funny and serious all at the same time. Brightly coloured illustrations showcase William Shakespeare’s entire life from birth to final breath. Each illustration is accompanied by a brief but well researched account of a specific time in Shakespeare’s life.  Each of these is in turn accompanied by quotes from Shakespeare’s works and plays. 

Donovan Bixley has given careful attention to detail especially in the illustrations of clothing and the times in general. I do love the rather buxom ladies in the bars and brothels. You can’t help but smile and wonder just what life must have been like in those days. The timeline at the back of the book makes this more than just a book to enjoy, it’s a book to learn about the life and times of one of the worlds greatest writers ever. A wonderful addition to any library or home. As soon as I return this copy to the library I will be out to get my own copy to keep. I’ll just hold on to this one a bit longer …

It is very fitting that Much ado about Shakespeare is a finalist for the Russel Clark Illustration Award in the 2016 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. A fitting tribute to the writer who died 400 years ago in 1616.

 

 

 

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Flying Furballs Book 1 Dogfight

By Donvan Bixley

ISBN 9781927262535

Upstart Press

furballs

I love a trailer that makes me want to run out and buy the book and this trailer makes me want to do that right now.  This has it all, adventure, humour, Paris and a cat pilot just for starters.

I know this is one book the children at school and I will be fighting over to get to read first when it comes out. As the book buyer for the library I like to think I will be the first but I can never resist their pleas when the children beg to be the first to read a new book. I think the queue for this one might be long judging by this very cool trailer.

While you wait for the book to be released  (any day now) do take time to check out Donovan’s website, especially his links to some cool free downloads.

‘Flying Furballs’, a hilarious action-packed adventure series, captures the romance and excitement of the era at the dawn of aviation — set in a world of cats verses dogs. Put simply, Flying Furballs is pussycats, planes and Paris. Our hero is Claude D’Bonair, a young pilot in the cat air corp, keen to prove his worth to the older pilots and live up to the memory of his father. Will cats and dogs ever live in harmony again? Will Claude survive with his nine lives intact?

In Book 1: Dogfight, Claude must fly a secret and dangerous mission deep into the heart of Dogz held territory to save the air corp’s most famous dogfighter, Major Tom, who is being held prisoner in the Dogz castle HQ. If he fails it could spell cat-astrophe for the whole of katdom.

Dragon Knight : Fire
By Kyle Mewburn
Illustrated by Donovan Bixley

Scholastic NZ

For all those children in your schools or at home, who love the Dinosaur Rescue books, this new series is also one they will love and want to dive in to with great speed. I know the Dinosaur Rescue series is never on the library shelves at school as the books are always out being read, enjoyed, and laughed over. This new series set in medieval times is about a boy who is half dragon and half knight. I am pretty sure you will find a heap of gross and snotty bits too which will have you laughing out loud. The humor, the adventure and the wonderfully funny illustrations by Donovan Bixley all add to reasons children will love this series. Another hit in the making!

Sometimes being half boy, half dragon gets really messy!

Monkey boy
By Donovan Bixley

I am excited about this book and hope it is just the first of many. This is one of those books that capture the attention of so many readers for so many different reasons. It is as the blurb says, part comic, part novel and from the looks of it all action, with full on humour as well.
Donovan Bixley is well known for some wonderful illustrations and art work and this book is no different. Dad’s will giggle too if reading this to their children. The trailer is a great introduction to this book about Jimmy Grimholt the youngest sailor aboard the warship H.M.S. Fury which is bound for bloodcurdling battle.
Do hunt out for it but be prepared for battle and even a ghost or two!