Win a copy of Such Stuff by Michael Morpurgo

Such Stuff is the new book from Michael Morpurgo that delves in to the inspirations for his stories.  It is a truly wonderful book and you can read my review here on the blog.

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Thanks to Walker Books Australia I have 3 copies to give away.  All you have to do to get in the draw is email bestfriendsrbooks@gmail.com with the subject ‘Such Stuff,’ along with your name and address.

Competition closes Thursday 8 December (NZ only).

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The Magic of Michael Morpurgo

Michael Morpurgo is one of my favourite authors.  He has written hundreds of stories now and they always leave a lasting impression on you.  He is an incredibly gifted storyteller who knows just how to grab the reader.  There are two new Michael Morpurgo books out just in time for Christmas and they will make lovely gifts for any reader, both young and old.

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The Fox and the Ghost King (published by HarperCollins) is a wonderful little story with something for everyone.  There are foxes, football and a ghost.  The story follows a family of foxes who love to watch football.  Their favourite team, the Leincester City Foxes, keeps losing and losing and it seems like things will never look up.  One night though as they are heading home they hear a ghostly voice and they discover the ghost of a king who has been buried underneath a car park.  The ghost king promises the foxes that if they help him, he will help their favourite football team to win again.  This is a book that is perfect to share with the whole family as it is short and will grab everyone’s attention.  I loved this little story and will come back to it again.

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Such Stuff: a story-maker’s inspiration (published by Walker Books) is the perfect gift for any Michael Morpurgo fan.  This gorgeous hardback book is packed full of information about Michael’s most memorable stories.  Michael introduces his stories, telling you where he got the inspiration for each of them.  This is then followed by an extract from the story and some of the facts from the story too.  Reading this book makes you feel like you are sitting down in front of the fire with Michael as he tells you his stories personally.   With every part that I read I felt that I fell more in love with Michael’s writing and his stories became more ingrained in my mind.  Finding out where the inspiration for the stories came from made me desperate to go back and read them all over again.  By the end of the book I felt completely wrapped up in his stories.  It’s a book that I will dip into again and again.

This book is a family effort.  Not only are there parts written by Michael Morpurgo about his work, but Michael’s wife Clare, his brother Mark (who came up with the idea for the book) and Michael’s long-time collaborator, Michael Foreman, all helped to create this treasure trove of a book.  Such Stuff is a must-buy for any Michael Morpurgo fan.

 

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Brobot by James Foley

 

I absolutely love the Bad Guys books by Aaron Blabey.  For a while now I’ve been looking for something else to suggest to kids that is similar to the Bad Guys, both in the way that the story is told and the humour.  I’ve found the perfect book in James Foley’s new junior graphic novel, Brobot.

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Sally Tinker makes machines … and Joe Tinker breaks them. As the world’s foremost inventor under the age of twelve, Sally knows she can build a better brother than Joe. But is her invention – Brobot – really all that a brother should be?

Brobot is a hilarious junior graphic novel about a girl and her search for the perfect brother.  There is something in this book for everyone – annoying brothers who destroy everything, inventions, robots, toxic nappies, destruction and a whole lot of laughs. I’m sure a lot of kids will relate to Sally and her problems with her annoying little brother.

I loved James Foley’s previous book, My Dead Bunny (with Sigi Cohen) and I’ve been following the development of Brobot for a while, so it’s great to finally read it.  The story is really funny by itself but the comic illustrations add to the laughs.  Sally’s human brother Joe doesn’t even say anything and he still makes you laugh.  The facial expressions of Sally and Joe are enough to make you crack up sometimes.  I especially love Sally’s name, which she shortens to S. Tinker Inc.

Although it’s a graphic novel it’s a chapter book format so I’ll be shelving it with my younger fiction, just like the Bad Guys series.

Brobot is perfect for anyone who likes Aaron Blabey, Kyle Mewburn or just a really funny read.

Check out this great book trailer for Brobot too:

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Who Sank the Boat? and Other Stories by Pamela Allen

I love Pamela Allen’s stories.  My parents read them to me when I was young and now I read them to my daughter.  Her stories have stood the test of time and Pamela is still writing and illustrating new stories today.  Penguin Random House New Zealand have just released a beautifully packed collection of Pamela Allen’s stories just in time for Christmas.

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Who Sank the Boat? and Other Stories is a hardback collection of just some of Pamela Allen’s best stories.  Inside you’ll find Who Sank the Boat?, My Cat Maisie, Belinda, Alexander’s Outing, Brown Bread and Honey, Daisy All-Sorts, Grandpa and Thomas, Cuthbert’s Babies and Share Said the Rooster.  There is also some information at the start of the book about Pamela Allen and the many awards that she has won throughout the years.

This is collection to curl up with and share with the young ones in your life.  It’s the perfect gift book to put under the Christmas tree and it is a book that will be shared again and again.  I will certainly enjoy re-living my memories of Pamela Allen’s stories with my daughter as we try to figure out who did sink the boat, how to get Belinda back and try to teach Billy and Ben to share.

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Do Not Open This Book by Andy Lee

I love interactive picture books that beg readers to be part of the story.  They make you feel like the story couldn’t work without you.  Do Not Open This Book written by Andy Lee (one half of Australian comedy duo Hamish and Andy) and illustrated by Heath McKenzie is a brilliant new example of this type of picture book and it’s guaranteed to make kids laugh-out-loud.

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Do Not Open This Book begins with a strange little blue creature who is surprised that you’ve opened the book, especially since there was a warning on the front cover.  He asks the reader not to turn the page, but this is exactly what you want to do.  As the book goes on, he becomes more and more desperate, begging, pleading, threatening and sulking, before he finally reveals that if the reader reaches the final page, something terrible will happen.

I absolutely love Do Not Open This Book!  It is one of those books that is incredibly fun to read aloud and it never gets old or boring, no matter how many times you read it.  I’ve read this book aloud many, many times to the kids at my school, from new entrants through to the Year 6 kids, and they all love it.  I have kids queuing up to take this book home and I’m sure they would all be quite happy if I read it to them every time they came to the library.  Even though I love reading it to kids it’s even better when I hear some of the senior kids reading it aloud to each other.

The best thing about Do Not Open This Book is the perfect combination of the text and illustrations.  The story would be funny without illustrations but Heath McKenzie’s illustrations just add so much more humour to the story.  Heath’s character (which looks like a blue egg with long arms and legs) has a very expressive face.  The look of horror on the character’s face when  you do turn the page (even though he told you not to) or his face going purple because he is so exasperated that you keep turning the page just makes kids crack up laughing.  I have to stop myself from cracking up too every time I read it.

Do Not Open This Book is going to get read to death in my library and it is a must-have for your school or home.  You will be begging your kids to let you read this book to them.

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Win a Timmy Failure prize pack

I’m a huge fan of Stephan Pastis’ Timmy Failure series so I am super excited to announce this giveaway!

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Thanks to the awesome people at Walker Books Australia I have 3 Timmy Failure prize packs to give away.  Each pack contains a copy of the latest Timmy Failure book, The Book You’re Not Supposed to Have, a bookmark, a Timmy Failure lanyard and a pair of Timmy Failure sunglasses.

Thanks to everyone who entered.  The winners are Wendy, Lynley and Katrina.

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A World of Information by Richard Platt and James Brown

There have been some absolutely stunning children’s nonfiction books published this year.  I love that authors and publishers are trying new and exciting things to make nonfiction exciting for kids.  A World of Information by Richard Platt and James Brown is the perfect example of an innovative design for children’s nonfiction.  It is brand new from Walker Books and I LOVE this book!

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Do you know how many bones there are in the human body or how clouds form? Or about different types of knots or how Morse code works? Each illustration is both beautiful and enlightening, and is accompanied by an engaging fact-filled explanation by celebrated author Richard Platt. Covering more than 30 diverse and fascinating topics, there is a world of information at your fingertips in this book, which is perfect for all the family to enjoy.

A World of Information is a gorgeous book, filled with fascinating facts about all sorts of things.  This is the sort of book that you want to buy for everyone, from curious 8-year-olds to grandparents.  It is a book that will be read over and over again and dipped in and out of when you need an answer to a burning question.

There really is a world of information in this book and it is all essential stuff that will be useful to you throughout your life.  There is information about different types of knots, how to classify clouds, diagrams of the human skeleton, how to communicate with Morse code and semaphore, the anatomy of a bicycle, the periodic table of elements and the layout of the orchestra.  Textual information about each topic is accompanied by retro-style graphics and diagrams.

One of the most appealing things about this book is its size.  Its large, hardback format makes it perfect for opening out on a table or on the floor and pouring over.  The illustrations are large which means that James Brown has been able to fit lots of information onto each page.  You almost wish the pages were detachable so that you could put them on the wall.

A World of Information is a perfect present for anyone in your family this Christmas.  It is a book that everyone will love and will want to read.  It is certainly one of my favourite children’s nonfiction books of the year.

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AniMalcolm by David Baddiel

Imagine that you are a kid that can’t stand animals of any kind.  You hate the smell of them, the way they eat their food, the way they look at you with their beady eyes and the sound that they make.  Your family love each and every type of animal though and you’re forced to live side-by-side with them.  Your worst nightmare would be to actually be an animal.  Now, imagine that you woke up one morning, not in your own bed, but in a mud puddle as a pig, or very low to the ground as a tortoise.  You would want to try anything you could to become human again.  This is exactly the situation that Malcolm finds himself in in David Baddiel’s laugh-out-loud new book, AniMalcolm.

y648Malcolm doesn’t like animals. Which is a problem because his family love them. Their house is full of pets. What the house is NOT full of is stuff Malcolm likes. Such as the laptop he wanted for his birthday.The only bright spot on the horizon is the Year Six school trip, which Malcolm never thought his parents would pay for. And yet there he is, on the bus, heading to… oh no. A farm. Over the next days, Malcolm changes. He learns a lot about animals. More, in many ways, than he would like. He learns what it’s really like to be an animal. A whole series of animals, in fact…It does make him think differently. And speak differently. And eat differently. And, um, smell differently. But will he end up the same as before? Because sometimes the hardest thing to become is… yourself.

AniMalcolm is a hilarious story about a boy who doesn’t like animals finding himself in a very strange situation.  He gets turned into an assortment of different animals and gets a completely different perspective of them.  Whether you love animals or hate them, this is a story for you.

The thing I love the most about AniMalcolm is the range of characters.  Each of the animals that Malcolm meets has a distinct personality.  There are the two tortoises, Benny and Bjornita who are always complaining about how fast everyone moves, three sheep who repeat each other called Dolly 1, Dolly 2 and Dolly 3, Ludwig the pig who can speak most of the ‘malanguages (animal languages) and Chinny the Argentinian Chinchilla.  The conversations between some of these characters made me crack up.

The wonderful Jim Field has illustrated this book, as well as David’s previous books.  Jim’s style of illustration perfectly suits David’s books.  He really brings David’s characters alive.  I especially love how he has made each of the animals that Malcolm turns into look like Malcolm’s human self.

AniMalcolm is perfect for any kid who loves funny stories, especially fans of David Walliams.  If you haven’t read any of David Baddiel’s books grab AniMalcolm and you’ll be hooked on his books.

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That’s NOT a Hippopotamus! by Juliette MacIver and Sarah Davis

Juliette MacIver and Sarah Davis are the dream team when it comes to picture books in New Zealand.  They have written and illustrated so many fabulous picture books, from the Marmaduke Duck series to Toucan Can.  Their books are always a joy to read aloud and their latest book, That’s NOT a Hippopotamus! is no exception. Adults and children alike will love this book!

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In That’s NOT a Hippopotamus! we follow a class of children and their poor teacher on an outing to the zoo. They discover that the hippopotamus is missing and they race off all over the zoo as they try to track it down.  Some of the children think they’ve found the hippo but they don’t quite get the right animal.  One of the children, Liam thinks that he sees the hippo but no one pays attention to him.  When it gets to the stage that the children are all forlorn and their teacher has almost had a nervous breakdown Liam finally gets everyone to listen to him.

That’s NOT a Hippopotamus is a hilarious story that will have adults and children in fits of giggles.  After creating so many books together Juliette and Sarah have a real knack for creating funny, entertaining, but also very clever, picture books.  The thing that makes this picture book stand out for me is that there are so many layers to it.  As the children chase after different animals (thinking they’ve found the hippopotamus) Juliette gives the reader little details about each animal so you can guess what it is.  There is this great sense of anticipation about what the animal will be, and you often get it wrong (which makes it even better).  On one page a boy says ‘I see him Miss! He’s on the ground.  I’ll get him while he’s snuffling round.’ There is an elephant’s bottom poking around the end of the page so you think it might be an elephant, but it’s actually a warthog.  Another layer of the story, told through the illustrations, is Liam spotting the hippopotamus.  He tells his teacher that he’s seen the hippo but she doesn’t pay him any attention.  The hippo is actually hiding in the exhibits though, and if you look carefully you will spot him.

I love the way that Juliette MacIver plays with words and she has certainly had fun with this story.  She has used some very clever rhyming and I love what the children yell out each time they catch an animal, ‘I got ‘im, Miss! I got ‘im, Miss! I got ‘im by his trotter, Miss!’  I know kids are going to love calling out ‘That’s NOT a hippopotamus!’ too.

This is a picture book that kids will beg to read over and over again and it is one that I think adults will be very happy to.  I absolutely love it!

 

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Activity books for the whole family

There have been a range of activity books that have been published recently.  There is something for everyone in the family, from toddlers right through to the 12-year-old history buff.

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Alison Lester’s Wonderful World brings together Alison’s illustrations from her many delightful books and gives kids the chance to create their own colourful adventures with Noni the Pony, beach holidays, and explorations of the jungle and oceans.  There are more basic illustrations for younger children, right through to very detailed scenes for older children (and their parents).  It’s a wonderful colouring book for old and young alike.

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See Play Do: A Kid’s Handbook for Everyday Fun is the ultimate activity book for Kiwi families.  This fantastic book is packed full of games and activities to get kids thinking, moving, exploring, being creative and having fun.  There are pages to draw on, with activities like planning your dream breakfast and drawing while listening to music.  There are pages to write on, like writing about what happened the last time you were at the park and writing a playlist of the favourite songs you like to listen to.  There are also pages with recipes to try, bird feeders and bath paint to make, and heaps of pages with suggestions of fun things to do and try.  There are so many things in this book that I want to do with my toddler.  Every family in New Zealand needs this book under their Christmas tree because it is certain to be loved by everyone.  It is a real winner!

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Peter Goes’ Timeline was a fascinating book that Gecko Press published last year.  It starts at the beginning of time and follows events right through to the present day.  It is a large book chock-full of information about people, places and events throughout time, and you find something new every time you look at it.  Gecko Press have just released a companion activity book for Timeline.  This is the perfect book for those kids that love history and who have lots of fascinating facts stored away in their head, especially older children.  Kids can be creative while learning about civilisations, historical events and famous people from history.  Kids can decorate a cave with rock drawings, bring Ottoman designs to life, graffiti the Berlin Wall, decorate the uniforms of soldiers in the Russian Revolution and help Michelangelo decorate the Sistine Chapel.  There is so much variety in this book and it will keep anyone entertained for many, many hours.  The pages can also be detached from the book so you can hang your masterpieces on the wall or share them with friends.  This is a must-buy Christmas present for older children.

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I also want to give a special mention to Gecko Press for their new card games based on two of their best-selling books.  Noisy Dominoes was inspired by The Noisy Book, a gorgeous board book featuring lots of different noises to make.  In Noisy Dominoes, players have to imitate the noise of the object or animal on their card or mime the action.  They have also released Poo Bum Memory, inspired by my favourite Gecko Press book Poo Bum, and featuring words and images from the book.  I think these are both a wonderful idea to extend the fun of these two books and they are a lot of fun.

 

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