Posts Tagged ‘Kyle Mewburn’

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.

The house on the hill

By Kyle Mewburn

Illustrated by Sarah Davis

ISBN 9781775430841

Scholastic

 

HOTH

What a treasure! 

This story begins with two young ghosts as they near the entrance to a very haunted looking house at the top of a hill. Eerie lights, slamming doors and even shrunken skulls are just some of the dangers in their way. 

Will they be brave enough to enter?

“Pray, flee now, flee now if you will!

Or dare ye brave this house on the hill?”

The language and illustrations marry up perfectly to create a suitably creepy atmosphere.  The use of sepia tones in the illustrations adds to the tension and pulls readers in. The first double spread is just stunning. There are two large, golden-eyed owls peering down from a tree watching as the two ghosts slowly make their way through the night and up the street towards the lone house on the hill. The language definitely has the Gothic style of Edgar Allan Poe which helps build suspense and add so much more to the story.

I also love the moths and their somewhat cheeky smiles and a special mention must be made of the raven on the back cover (surely a nod to E A Poe). This highlights the perfect collaboration of the author and illustrator who understand each other. Not always successful with many picture books but this is just wonderful.

I love the end pages which create a beginning and an end to the story with all the spookiness trapped inside. Beautifully written, gorgeously illustrated, this book is going to be a hit! This will be a great one to read aloud to children.

For those that dare – check out Kyle reading The House on the Hill.

A warning though, maybe, just maybe, keep the lights on!

I confess when watching this clip I actually jumped at one part but you will have to watch it yourself to see if you jump too.

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!

Working in a school library you do get to know your students. You know which kids like animal stories, or horror or graphic novels. You get to know the kids who love to read but also the ones who don’t want to read. It is not necessarily because they have trouble reading but because they would rather be outside. Or more, that they just haven’t found the book that is right for them. I find for these group of children, and yes they are mostly boys, that humour works well at hooking them in.
Here are just a few of the popular ones at the moment. I have had to buy multiple copies of these books as I can not keep them on the library shelves. They are always out. Great for children aged 8 up.

May contain nuts
World of Norm series
by Jonathan Meres

Great, easy to read, humourous novels about a boy called Norm who is always having one of those days! Cartoon illustrations help break up the text to make reading less daunting. Very popular. Several books out in the series now. Do look for them.

From the top
Big Nate series
By Lincoln Peirce

This trailer is fan made but pretty good. I have also included a clip where the author Lincoln Pierce discusses how to draw the character Big Nate. Again this is a funny series in a very easy to read format to keep the reader hooked.


Diary of a wimpy kid
Series By Jeff Kinney

Of course you can’t go past Jeff Kinney’s series Diary of a wimpy kids. Laugh out loud humour, easy to read text and stick figure illustrations. Because the text is on actual lines these books are great for helping with eye-tracking for those that need a little help.
The third wheel

An earlier post on the Dinosaur rescue series by Kyle Mewburn can be found here.
Great chapter books about dinosaurs and cave men. The boys love the toilet humour.

Dinosaur Rescue

Dinosaur Rescue
T-Wreck-asaurus
By Kyle Mewburn

For all those boys who love the snotty, smelly and funny Dinoaur Rescue books I guarantee you will love these two book trailers.
I love watching the children roaring with laughter in the library when they watch these. But I love even more the fact that they want to borrow the books as well. Great for 6,7,8 and nine year olds who just want a good laugh.

Stegosnottysaurus