Gus’s Garage by Leo Timmers

I’m a huge fan of Leo Timmers.  I always look forward to his books because they are so clever.  There are so many layers to the illustrations and you find something different every time you read his books.  Leo’s latest book from Gecko Press is Gus’s Garage and it is terrific!

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Gus the pig runs a garage.  Gus stores all sorts of stuff in his garage, stuff that looks like rubbish, but when his friends need help, he always has just the right thing for them. It’s up to the reader to figure out what stuff Gus might use to help his friends.  He certainly is one very clever pig.  Rico the rhino comes by on his moped and says ‘Gus, this seat – I’m overflowing.’ Gus looks through his bits and bobs and attaches an old seat that he has to Rico’s moped.  This carries on throughout the book until Gus has reused everything in his pile of stuff.

Gus’s Garage is another brilliant picture book from Leo Timmers.  It is a picture book that is both entertaining and gets kids thinking.  It makes them wonder what Gus will use from his pile of stuff to come up with a solution for his friends and then what might Gus’s final product be.  I love the sense of anticipation as you turn the page to find out what Gus has done.  I also love Gus’s refrain, ‘Let’s see. I have some bits and bobs. This goes with that. There. Just the job.’

One of the things that I love the most about Leo’s illustrations are the vibrant colours that he uses.  His illustrations seem to shine on the pages. There are lots of details to take in on each page. Something I only noticed on my third or fourth reading was that the sky gets darker and darker throughout the story as the day gets later.

Gus’s Garage is a picture book that will be begged to be read again and again.

 

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Win a signed copy of Smile by Raina Telgemeier

It’s been a bit quiet on My Best Friends Are Book lately as I’ve been settling in to my new role as a school librarian.  I’m catching up on books I’ve missed and I’ll try and post lots over the school holidays.  Anyway, here is an exciting new competition for you!

I got to attend the IBBY Congress in Auckland last month and one of the authors that I met was graphic novelist Raina Telgemeier.  Raina is the creator of such awesome graphic novels as Smile, Sisters and Drama, and she has also adapted some of The Babysitters Club stories into graphic novels.  While at IBBY I got a copy of Smile signed (and doodled in) by Raina to give away on the blog.

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All you have to do to enter is email bestfriendsrbooks@gmail.com with the subject ‘Smile,’ along with your name and address.  I will draw a winner at random.  Competition closes Friday 30 September (NZ only).

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Little People, Big Dreams

A fantastic new nonfiction series that I’ve discovered recently is called Little People, Big Dreams.  It’s a series of picture book biographies, published by Frances Lincoln, that are ideal for introducing young children to women who have had an impact on the world.  There are currently four books in the series, with more coming next year.  The first four books focus on Maya Angelou, Amelia Earhart, Frida Kahlo and Coco Chanel.

The aim of the series is to introduce children to the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists.  The series shows children that, even though these women achieved great things, they all started life as ‘a little child with a dream.’

Each book is beautifully presented, with illustrations that are appealing to children.  The text reads like a narrative and perfectly sums up each of the extraordinary lives.  There is more information about each of the women at the end of the book, with suggestions of other great books and websites where children can find more information.

Little People, Big Dreams is the perfect series for empowering girls and showing them that they can do anything that they dream of.

These books are a must for a school library and I’ll certainly be bringing them to the attention of teachers.

 

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A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston

Be prepared to fall madly in love with the most stunning celebration of books that you will ever read!

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Ever since I first heard about A Child of Books I have been eagerly awaiting its release.  It is the first collaboration between Oliver Jeffers and another artist, typographical fine artist Sam Winston.  There have been a few teaser images, showing illustrations made up of text, and I knew I needed to have this book.  It has just been released and it is absolutely stunning!

A Child of Books is about a little girl who sails her raft ‘across a sea of words’ to arrive at the house of a small boy. She invites him to come away with her on an adventure where they can journey through ‘forests of fairy tales’, ‘across mountains of make-believe’ and ‘sleep in clouds of song’. Guided by his new friend, the boy unlocks his imagination and a lifetime of magic lies ahead of him… But who will be next?

A Child of Books is a celebration of stories, books and reading, that you will want to read again and again.  It’s one of those books that you will find something new in each time you read it.  You might notice a line from a book that you missed the last time or note the significance of a particular line of text.  I want to take this book everywhere with me and show it to everyone I meet.  However, I also want to take the book apart and have the pages on the walls of my house and my school library to look at every day.

Oliver Jeffers’ characteristic illustrations and hand drawn text that I already love is combined with Sam’s astonishing typographical landscapes that I couldn’t get enough of.  Sam has taken excerpts from classic children’s stories and nursery rhymes, from Treasure Island to Alice and Wonderland, and shaped them into stunning creations.  There is an ocean made from castaway stories and clouds made from lullabies.

If I ever doubt why I do what I do all I need to do is open this book.  If anyone questions the validity of libraries and librarians all I need to do is put this book in their hands.  A Child of Books is my picture book of the year and it will always have a special place in my heart.

Buy this book for your collection and share it with everyone in your life.

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My Top September Kids & YA Releases

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Demon Road: Amercian Monsters by Derek Landy

The epic conclusion in the mind-blowing supernatural thriller from bestselling author DEREK LANDY, creator of international sensation Skulduggery Pleasant.

Bigger, meaner, stronger, Amber closes in on her murderous parents as they make one last desperate play for power. Her own last hopes of salvation, however, rest beyond vengeance, beyond the abominable killers – living and dead – that she and Milo will have to face.

For Amber’s future lies in her family’s past, in the brother and sister she never knew, and the horrors beyond imagining that befell them.

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Jim Reaper: Son of Grim by Rachel Delahaye

You might have heard how the universe began with the Big Bang? Well, the universe as Jim Wimple knows it is about to end. With a Bazoom!

Not only are Bazoom! scooters super fast and deadly cool, but fierce (and swoonsome) older girl Fiona has just started riding hers to and from school, and possibly out of Jim’s life forever. Disaster! Jim Wimple needs a Bazoom!, and fast. So he and his best friend Will devise a clever scheme, which involves having to sneak into Dad’s workplace. But when the boys break into the Mallet & Mullet ‘accountancy’ office they find that the walls are lined with ancient portraits, the staff are highly secretive, and Jim’s dad’s office bears the sign ‘G Reaper’… And then all hell really breaks loose.

What would YOU do if you thought your dad might be… Death?!

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Highly Illogical Behaviour by John Corey Whaley

Sixteen year old Solomon has agoraphobia. He hasn’t left his house in three years, which is fine by him. At home, he is the master of his own kingdom–even if his kingdom doesn’t extend outside of the house. Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to go to a top tier psychiatry program. She’ll do anything to get in. When Lisa finds out about Solomon’s solitary existence, she comes up with a plan sure to net her a scholarship: befriend Solomon. Treat his condition. And write a paper on her findings. To earn Solomon’s trust, Lisa begins letting him into her life, introducing him to her boyfriend Clark, and telling him her secrets. Soon, Solomon begins to open up and expand his universe. But all three teens have grown uncomfortably close, and when their facades fall down, their friendships threaten to collapse as well.

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The Turners: Camp Freakout by Mick Elliott

Leo Lennox has made a mistake. A massive, world-altering mistake. Now, the secret his shape-shifter ancestors have kept hidden for thousands of years is in danger of being discovered – all because he insisted on going to school camp.

It’s no place for a thirteen-year-old Turner still struggling to control his ability to transform into animals. Surrounded every minute of every day by his classmates – including his secret crush, and a pair of terrifying bullies – Leo is going to find out just how much he still has to learn.But when he discovers a fiendish plot, Leo realises that surviving camp is going to be the least of his worries.

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Don’t Call Me Bear! by Aaron Blabey

G’day, my name is Warren, and I’ve got something to share …Just because I’m furry doesn’t mean that I’m a bear.

Warren the koala is many things–a marsupial, cute and furry, a bit of a grump–but the one thing he’s not is a bear!

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The Inventory: Iron Fist by Andy Briggs

Hiding the most advanced technology and weapons to keep the world a safer place is a good idea. Storing ALL of them in one place? That’s when the trouble starts. Hidden under a small suburban town The Inventory is a collection of the most incredible technology the world is NOT ready for: invisible camouflage, HoverBoots, indestructible metals and a giant battle robot just for starters. Lots’ Dad is the mild-mannered curator of The Inventory, and she gets to see some CRAZY things. The Russian “Iron Fist” is a colossal war robot, built during the Cold War. Once the Iron Curtain fell, the mechanical giant was written out of history and kept secret in The Inventory – now it has been stolen, along with some other serious tech. Alerted to the missing items The Inventory, usually devoid of people, is flooded with mission teams setting out to follow the trail of the thieves, only to be stranded and locked out of communication. Using invisibility camouflage, the thieves have hidden inside and now they’re in control. Alone on the inside, Lots must find a way to get her Dad and The Inventory teams back and stop the anonymous thieves.

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Super Rabbit by Stephanie Blake

Once there was a little rabbit… “I’m not a LITTLE rabbit! I’m Super Rabbit!”

Simon is not afraid of anything. He’s Super Rabbit! But one day when he goes out to save the world, he comes across a situation he wasn’t expecting.

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Don’t Cross the Line by Bernardo Carvalho, illustrated by Isabel Martins

The guard always follows the general’s orders without question. This time,
the order is that no one must cross the line. The right-hand page of this
book must be kept blank for the general.

As the crowd builds up on the border, the guard is under pressure. If no one
is allowed onto the next page, what will happen to the story?

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Marge in Charge by Isla Fisher

Everyone loves a good story about a cool babysitter or nanny, like Mary Poppins, Nanny McPhee or Nanny Piggins.  Now there is a new character to add to that list, the larger-than-life Marge.  Jake and Jemima’s life becomes incredibly exciting when Marge arrives.

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Meet Marge, the mischievous babysitter with rainbow hair who loves to make a mess and bend the rules . . . At dinnertime Chef Marge cooks up chocolate soup, and at school Marge the Muscian conducts a chaotic concert in the playground!

Jake and Jemima have brilliant fun with their new babysitter, but will they manage to tick off all the jobs on Mummy’s list?

Marge in Charge is a hilarious, entertaining collection of stories about the magic that Marge brings to Jake and Jemima’s life. Isla Fisher’s stories about Marge will have children laughing out loud and wishing they had a babysitter who was this much fun.

Jemima and Jake don’t think that Marge is going to be any fun, especially when she turns up at their house looking like a strict old lady.  They have no idea of the adventures that await them.  Marge has so many stories to share and you’re never quite sure which are real and which ones she’s made up. Marge brings out the fun in any situation and makes everything better, from birthday parties to school.  It’s not only Jemima and Jake that fall in love with Marge, all the other kids at school want her as their babysitter too.  There are three stories in this first collection and I certainly hope there will be more stories to look forward to.

Marge in Charge is a perfect read-aloud to share with a class or snuggled up with your kids.  Kids aged 6-10 especially will love Marge and her crazy antics.  The book is illustrated throughout by Eglantine Ceulemans delightful illustrations.  She makes Marge’s larger than life character jump off the page.

Check out this video of Isla Fisher introducing the series:

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Starlight Stables by Soraya Nicholas

Starlight Stables is a wonderful new series about three horse-crazy girls from New Zealand author Soraya Nicholas.  Soraya grew up reading the Saddle Club books and dreaming of owning her own pony.  Now Soraya owns her own horses and writes the kind of books she loved when she was a kid.

These books are perfect for those horse-mad girls who are always looking for more books about horses, especially fans of Saddle Club and Stacey Gregg’s books. The stories are set in Australia but NZ girls will really relate to the characters. They don’t just focus on horses though.  There is friendship, competition, rivalry, horse thieves and bush-fires.

The first four books in the Starlight Stables series are all out now, so young readers can get hooked.  They don’t have to read the books in a particular order which is great. Here are the covers and the blurbs for each book.

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Starlight Stables: Pony Detectives

Poppy is thrilled to be back doing the one thing she loves – riding horses at Starlight Stables – especially when her aunt and uncle make all her dreams come true with a gift of her very own horse. But there’s a catch… Poppy must look after the new scholarship girls. Will the bold and troublesome Milly and shy, sensible Katie be the pony-mad friends she’s always hoped for?

When horses go missing from the local farms, Poppy worries about Crystal, her new horse. Will the girls be able to protect their ponies from the horse thief and find the missing horses at the same time?

Gymkhana_Hijinks.jpgStarlight Stables: Gymkhana Hijinks

Horse-mad friends Poppy, Milly and Katie are overjoyed to be back at Starlight Stables and spending every second with their new ponies – riding, training and having fun while preparing for their first big Pony Club competition. But when a rival competitor arrives one day to train with them, trouble seems to seek the girls out at every turn. Is it just coincidence? Or is someone trying to sabotage the three friends’ chances of winning?

Can Poppy, Mily and Katie expose their rival’s risky antics in time to save their chances at the gymkhana?

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Poppy is thrilled that her best friend Sarah is finally coming to visit Starlight Stables. She is sure that Sarah will love it as much as she does – especially Poppy’s beautiful pony, Crystal, and her horse-mad friends, fiery Milly and sweet Katie. But it soon becomes clear that Sarah doesn’t share Poppy’s love of horses and riding – in fact, she’s more interested in helping Poppy’s uncle with some bushfire-injured animals.

When a bushfire erupts nearby, Poppy finds herself fighting not only to save her friendship but also to save her beloved Starlight Stables. Will she lose everything she loves?

Saving_StarlightStarlight Stables: Saving Starlight

Poppy’s world is falling apart. Her aunt and uncle have had an ominous visit from the bank because they have lost an important riding sponsor. It means they might have to sell Starlight Stables. Could Poppy lose everything – her beloved Starlight Stables, her beautiful horse Crystal, her friends Milly and Katie, and even her aunt’s Olympic dreams?

Poppy is determined to do everything she can to help. She just has to win the upcoming show-jumping competition so she can give them the prize. But it means she will have to jump higher than she ever has before to save everything she loves.

Win a set of the Starlight Stables books!

Thanks to everyone who entered!  The winner is Carole.

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Winners of the 2016 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults

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The winners of the 2016 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults were announced last night in Wellington.  Congratulations to all the winners and those who were chosen as finalists in the awards.  Congratulations also to the judges of this year’s awards who had the tough job of choosing the winners from all the fantastic books that were submitted.  It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it.  I personally think they made some great choices for the winners.  Kids also made some fantastic choices too in the Children’s Choice Awards.

Here are the winners of the 2016 New Book Awards for Children and Young Adults:

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  • Margaret Mahy Book of the Year and winner of the Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction

ANZAC Heroes by Maria Gill, illustrated by Marco Ivancic; Scholastic New Zealand

  • Best First Book Award

Allis the little tractor by Sophie Siers, illustrated by Helen Kerridge; Millwood-Heritage Productions

  • Te Kura Pounamu Award for the best book in te reo Māori

Whiti te rā! by Patricia Grace, translated by Kawata Teepa, illustrated by Andrew Burdan; Huia Publishers

  • Picture Book Award

The Little Kiwi’s Matariki written and illustrated by Nikki Slade Robinson; David Ling Publishing (Duck Creek Press)

  • Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction

From the Cutting Room of Barney Kettle by Kate De Goldi; Penguin Random House (Longacre)

  • Young Adult Fiction Award

Battlesaurus: Rampage at Waterloo by Brian Falkner; Pan Macmillan Australia (Farrar Straus Giroux)

  • Russell Clark Award for Illustration

Much Ado About Shakespeare illustrated by Donovan Bixley; Upstart Press

New Zealand children enthusiastically voted for their own specially selected finalists’ list for this year’s HELL Children’s Choice Awards. Each book wins $1,000. The winners are:

  • Te reo Māori

Te Hua Tuatahi a Kuwi written and illustrated by Kat Merewether, and translated by Pānia Papa; Illustrated Publishing

  • Picture Book

The House on the Hill by Kyle Mewburn, illustrated by Sarah Davis; Scholastic New Zealand

  • Junior Fiction

The Girl Who Rode the Wind by Stacy Gregg; Harper Collins

  • Non-Fiction

First to the Top by David Hill, illustrated by Phoebe Morris; Penguin Random House (Puffin)

  • Young Adult Fiction

Stray by Rachael Craw; Walker Books

You can read the full media release here, including the thoughts of the judges on each of the winning books.  You can download the Winners Poster here.

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Noisy Nights Blog Tour with Fleur McDonald

Noisy Nights is a delightful new picture book written by Fleur McDonald and illustrated by Annie White.  You can read my review here on the blog and enter to win a copy of the book.

I have the pleasure of being joined by Fleur McDonald today as part of her Noisy Nights Blog Tour. Fleur has grown up on farms in Australia and she draws inspiration for her books from her experiences.  This certainly shines through in Noisy Nights, which is all about a noisy farm at night.  Read on to find out why Fleur decided to write Noisy Nights.

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There is nothing more gorgeous than hearing a child giggle. For me, hearing that child laugh while reading a book, is even better. After all, something has really resonated with them to make it happen.

As a kid, I spent HOURS reading. Apparently (and I can’t claim this is true as I don’t remember, but Nana says it was, so it must be!) after my first day at kindy, I stormed home to my Nana’s place, flung myself into the old Smokers-Bow Chair (which we grandchildren called ‘The Story Telling Chair), she had next to fire place and groaned: ‘they didn’t teach me to read!’

That was the start of a love of reading that I’ve never lost.

Mum used to tell me, she’d hear me laughing in my bedroom and sneak down to see why … I would always be reading.

In 2004 I was told my son was ‘at high-risk of autism.’ I didn’t know what autism was and started researching it from that day. As time went on Hayden began to show more and more signs that this was the case. During his year at kindy, one of the reports I kept getting back was his concentration span was very limited. I wondered what I could do to increase it.

For a few weeks I watched Hayden and it became clear he loved being out in the sheep yards. He loved the dogs, pet calves and lambs; any animal really. (I do need to mention here, that it didn’t mean he was good with them, but he loved being with them.) He also didn’t sleep at night.

I decided to try something I hadn’t done since I was at school and that was to write a story. The story had to be about something he could relate to, understand and liked.

It took me quite a while and I struggled with the rhyming and rhythm. Poor Hayden had several versions tried out on him. But he sat still for longer and he laughed every time I read it to him.

That made my heart very happy.

Having been involved in the agricultural industry for more than twenty years, it frightens me how little some children understand about where their food comes from and how country people live. From here on in, I’d love to be involved in educating kids through stories – the emphasis being on STORIES.

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Noisy Nights by Fleur McDonald – Review + Giveaway

My 15-month-old loves books with sounds in them.  She loves hearing different animal sounds and pointing at the animals so that daddy will make the sounds.  Noisy books aren’t best for bedtime though, unless they’re all about going to sleep, like Fleur McDonald’s new book, Noisy Nights.

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Noisy Nights follows Farmer Hayden as he tries to get to sleep.  It is very noisy on his farm, between the crickets, dogs, cows, sheep, horses, foxes and trains.  Farmer Hayden just wants to sleep but the animals just won’t be quiet.  When he goes outside to look at his farm and his animals it is the sheep who help him to get to sleep.

Noisy Nights is a delightful picture book that young readers, especially preschoolers, will love.  It’s the perfect picture book to curl up with and share together at bedtime as it leaves you feeling relaxed and sleepy.  It reminds me of one of my favourite books from childhood, Jill Murphy’s Peace at Last.  The noises of the farm are keeping Farmer Hayden awake, much like the noises of the night that keep Mr Bear awake in Peace at Last.  I certainly have fun making lots of animal noises while I read Noisy Nights.  It would be a great book to act out, with different children making all the noises.

Annie White’s illustrations are the perfect match for the story as the tones of the colours are soft and the animals look cuddly.  I really like the way that Annie has portrayed Farmer Hayden and his frustrations.  You can see him getting increasingly tired and agitated throughout the book.

Grab a copy of Noisy Nights and cuddle up with this delightful story.

Win a copy of Noisy Nights!

Thanks to everyone who entered.  The winner is Vicki.

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