Monthly Archives: May 2012

Starters book trailer and giveaway

16-year-old Callie lost her parents when the ‘genocide spore’ wiped out everyone except those who were vaccinated first – the very young and very old. She and her little brother must go on the run, living as squatters, fighting off unclaimed renegades who would kill for a cookie. Hope comes in the form of the Body Bank run by a mysterious figure, known only as The Old Man. The Body Bank allows teenagers to rent out their bodies to ‘Enders’ – the elderly members of society – who want to be young again. But Callie discovers that her renter intends to do more than party in her body. She intends to commit murder…

Starters by Lissa Price sounds amazing and it’s out now in NZ.  Check out Lissa’s website for more about Starters and her writing –  I have 2 copies to give away so enter your details below to get in the draw.  Competition closes Wednesday 23 May (International).

Thanks to everyone who entered.  The winners are Blake and Sandra.

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Mulit Storied – 2012 Children’s Book Council of Australia Conference

On Wednesday I’m off to the 2012 Children’s Book Council of Australia Conference in Adelaide.  I’ve been to the last two conferences in Sydney and Melbourne and they’re incredibly interesting and so much fun.

This year the conference starts on Thursday 17th May with the welcome reception, including an introduction by Australian Children’s Laureate Alison Lester, a book launch, and an opportunity to view an exhibition of South Australian illustrators.  The main part of the conference starts on Friday morning and concludes on Saturday afternoon.

There are some really interesting authors and illustrators speaking, including international guests Oliver Jeffers and Eoin Colfer, as well as some great Australian authors such as Michael Gerard Bauer, Mem Fox and Isobelle Carmody.  I’ve got my copies of their books packed in my suitcase to get signed and I’ll hopefully get a couple signed to give away here on the blog.  I’m really looking forward to interviewing Michael Gerard Bauer, an author whose books I love.

My suitcase and backpack are sure to be loaded with books on the way home.

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Books with bite from Scholastic NZ

Scholastic NZ has just released two great books for younger readers with some real bite – Fishing Fame by Melanie Drewery and Dinosaur Rescue: Spino-rottysaurus by Kyle Mewburn.

Fishing Fame by Melanie Drewery, illustrated by John Bennett

Mark and Dan are desperate to get their names onto the fishing fame board.  But when they start breaking the rules they catch much more than they bargained for.

Fishing Fame is a short, illustrated chapter book perfect for boys.  Kids will love the crazy antics that Mark and Dan get up to and will want to keep reading to find out how they get out of their awkward situation.  John Bennett’s illustrations break up the text into small chunks for easy reading, and the cover will appeal to boys.


Dinosaur Rescue: Spino-rottysaurus by Kyle Mewburn and Donovan Bixley

How do you stop a rampaging sinosaurus from eating the last dracorex?  Arg has to get help fast or he’ll be extinct too!  A spino-rotty-trocious Stone Age adventure that’ll make your teeth tremble.

Kyle Mewburn and Donovan Bixley are back with their 5th Dinosaur Rescue book.  This series just keeps getting better and better (not to mention more disgusting!).  In this book you can learn why prehistoric insects didn’t make good pets, how to train your giant dragonfly, how to hunt with Arg’s dad, and some interesting facts about dinosaurs.  Get this book for your children and they’ll be rolling around on the floor laughing (or possibly looking very green).  They’re perfect for fans of Captain Underpants. 

Scholastic NZ are publishing some really good books for early readers (7-9 years), like those mentioned above.  Check out Diary of a Pukeko by Sally Sutton and Do Not Push by Kyle Mewburn.  These books are the short, with lots of adventure and laughs, so they’re perfect for this age group.

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Win Just Doomed signed by Andy Griffiths

Australia’s funniest children’s author, Andy Griffiths was in Christchurch on Sunday and he visited The Children’s Bookshop to meet his fans and sign books.  I was one of the lucky people who got their books signed and I got a copy of Andy’s latest book, Just Doomed, signed to giveaway here.


To get in the draw just enter your details below.  Competition closes Friday 11 May (NZ only).

Thanks to everyone who entered.  The winner is Andrew.

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The Phoenix Files: Fallout by Chris Morphew

Chris Morphew’s Phoenix Files is one of my favourite series.  I got in to them last year before Chris came to New Zealand for the Storylines Family Day in Christchurch last year, and I was hooked from the first page of Arrival.  They’ve got the perfect mix of action, suspense, mystery and science fiction that make them hard to put down.  Fallout is the fifth book (in the six book series) and has just been released in Australia and New Zealand.  Chris doesn’t waste any time getting straight back into the action and rocketing you along to the end of the world.

The Shackleton Building has been turned into a concentration camp, and the last free people in Phoenix have been forced into hiding. Unless Jordan and the others can figure out where the Co-operative is keeping Tobias, everything they’ve fought for will be for nothing.

As Peter spins further out of control, can Jordan find a way to save Luke’s life, or is history doomed to repeat itself?

With only weeks left until Tabitha is released, Phoenix’s biggest secrets are still yet to be revealed.

And the clock is still ticking.

There are 14 days until the end of the world.

To tell you much about the story would only spoil it for everyone, but I will say this – Fallout is the best book in the series so far.  It’s action-packed, explosive and there are shocks galore.  Chris answers a lot of those burning questions you’ve had about Phoenix right from the start and leaves you on the edge of your seat at the very end.  We haven’t seen much of Shackleton in the last couple of books but he comes back in all his sadistic glory in Fallout.  He’s the best villain since Mayor Prentice in Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking Trilogy.  He’s one of those guys you just want to punch in the face because he makes you so angry.  I’ve read the last 3 books one after another and I wish I could just keep reading and find out how it all ends, but I’ll have to wait until 2013 for Doomsday.

5 out of 5 stars


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Picture Book Nook: April Favourites

I’ve been reading a heap of picture books lately.  Some of them have been pretty average but most of them have been perfect picture books that I want to read over and over again.  Here are a selection of my favourites that I read in April:

The Pros and Cons of Being a Frog by Sue deGennaro

Finding the right animal wasn’t easy. It was Camille who finally gave me the idea of being a frog! Frogboy and Camille are best friends but they are very different. Camille speaks in numbers and Frogboy likes to dress up. With Camille’s help he finds that dressing up as a frog is perfect for him, but when he tries to convince his friend to be a frog too, his plan goes terribly wrong.

This is a beautiful story about friendship and how, even if you’re completely different you can still be friends.  I really like Sue deGennaro’s illustrations, which are a blend of different media, including collage, pencil and ink.

Eric!…the Hero? by Chris Wormell

Eric is a boy who sometimes gets things wrong. Some days he’s a little bit slow, some days he’s a little bit clumsy and most days people would agree that he’s the opposite of a hero. But when a huge monster stomps down from the mountains, Eric might just get the chance to prove them wrong.

I absolutely love Chris Wormell!  When I was working at The Children’s Bookshop a few years ago my boss introduced me to Chris’s Two Frogs and I’ve been a fan ever since.  I love the way he captures emotions in his illustrations and he often writes stories about characters who are different or misunderstood(like Eric in this story).

Cloth From the Clouds by Michael Catchpool and Alison Jay

The boy who spins cloth from the clouds is wise. He spins only enough cloth for a warm winter scarf, not one stitch more. But a greedy King sees the marvellous cloth and demands that the boy spin cloaks and gowns galore. Soon there are fewer clouds in the sky and finally the rain stops. Will it be possible to undo the damage done by greed?

This is a perfect picture book for older readers, with an environmental message about the impact of human greed on the natural world.  The story is a pleasure to read aloud and the words just roll off your tongue (it would make a great story to act out with costumes and props).  Alison Jay’s illustrations are stunning and they seem to glow on the page.  I keep picking this book up just to look at the pictures.

Six Little Chicks by Jez Alborough

Busy Hen has five little chicks to look after while making sure number six – still an egg- stays warm. The last thing she needs is hairy, scary Fox sniffing about. She is frantic when the other birds warn her that her chicks are in danger, but her five little chicks are a lot braver than she realises!

Jez Alborough (creator of Duck in the Truck) is the king of picture books for preschoolers and this is another great book from him.  The text is rhyming and is full of fun sounds for children to join in with (which make it fun for adults to read aloud too).  The illustrations are bright and bold and the chicks are incredibly cute, which will appeal to preschoolers.


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Win Divergent and Insurgent

Today (4 May) is the official NZ release day for Insurgent, Veronica Roth’s sequel to the amazing Divergent.  I loved Divergent even more than Hunger Games and I’m sure Insurgent is going to blow me away.

Thanks to HarperCollins NZ I have 2 copies of Divergent and Insurgent to giveaway to celebrate the release of Insurgent.  All you have to do to get in the draw is enter your details in the form below.  Competition closes Friday 11 May (NZ only).

Thanks to everyone who entered.  The winners are Kimberley and Sarah. 

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Interview with Phoenix Files author Chris Morphew

Chris Morphew is the author of the action-packed Phoenix Files series, about a group of teenagers who have 100 days to stop the world from ending, and he’s also one of the authors who write the Zac Power series (under the name H I Larry)  .  I got the chance to ask Chris a few questions when he came to Christchurch last year.

What is it like to be one of the authors of the Zac Power series?

It’s pretty cool! Whenever I visit a school and ask how many kids have read a Zac Power book, I’m always amazed at how many hands go up!

What’s your favourite Zac Power gadget?

I think Zac’s Turbo Boots in Volcanic Panic are pretty awesome. Jetpack shoes powerful enough to blast someone out of a volcano? That sounds pretty good to me!

Zac Power books written by Chris Morphew

What inspired you to write your action-packed Phoenix Files series?

This might sound a bit morbid, but one of the biggest things I want to do with The Phoenix Files is tell a story about hardship and suffering. I want to be really honest about the darkness and brokenness of the world. But I don’t want to stop there. I want to suggest that the darkness and the brokenness isn’t all there is, and that maybe there’s a bigger story being told that makes the bad parts worthwhile in the end.

In The Phoenix Files Luke, Peter and Jordan learn that there is only 100 days until the end of the world. What would you do if you knew you only had 100 days left to live?

I would pray a lot. And then maybe see if I could find a super-powered homeless man to tell me what was really going on.

What was the book you loved most as a child?

That’s a tough one! There are so many!
Fiction: The Narnia series, Animorphs, Where the Wild Things Are…
Non-fiction: The Bible and books about dinosaurs.

Who is your favourite author/children’s author?

It’s a toss-up between C.S. Lewis and J.K. Rowling.

Why did you want to be a writer?

Because I love telling stories! I think fictional stories have incredible power to help us understand the real world in new ways.

What’s the best thing and worst thing about being a writer?

The best thing is having the opportunity to explore interesting ideas. The worst thing is usually my next deadline. I write pretty slowly, and sometimes it’s hard to keep up!

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write about things that matter. If you care about your story, then other people are far more likely to care about it too.

The fifth book in The Phoenix Files, Fallout, is out now.  If you haven’t read this amazing series, grab a copy of the first book, Arrival.

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Picture Book Nook: A Mammoth in the Fridge by Michael Escoffier

If you find a mammoth in your fridge, there are two questions you should ask: How did it get there? and How do you get it out?  One day, Noah opens his fridge to find there is a mammoth in his fridge.  At first his father doesn’t believe him, but when he looks for himself he freaks out and they call the fire brigade to solve the problem.  When they try to catch the mammoth it escapes and runs through the streets and ends up stuck in a tree, but when it gets dark Noah goes out to help it.

A Mammoth in the Fridge by Michael Escoffier and illustrated by Matthieu Maudet is a deceptively simple story with a surprise ending.  At first I didn’t think there was anything special about the story, until I got to the last few pages.  The ending left me with a smile on my face and children will love it too.  Both the text and the illustrations are quite sparse and simple but they’re fun and there’s a sense of anticipation throughout the story to keep children guessing what might happen next (will the firemen catch the mammoth? Where will he run to?).  I especially like the illustration of the mammoth squashed into the fridge.  The father is telling the children to stay away because it might bite, but the mammoth just looks upset that his hiding place has been discovered.  Thanks Gecko Press for another unique, curiously good picture book!

4 out of 5 stars

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The Phoenix Files by Chris Morphew

The fifth book in Chris Morphew’s brilliant Phoenix Files series, Fallout, is released in NZ this month.  To celebrate I want to highlight this great series by posting my review of the first book in the series, Arrival, my review of the latest book, Fallout, and an interview that I did with Chris Morphew last year when he came to NZ for the Storylines Family Day.  If you haven’t already discovered this series you should go and grab copies of them now, especially if you’re a fan of Michael Grant’s Gone series.


What would you do if you found out there were only 100 days until the end of the world?

When Luke and his mum move to the town of Phoenix, out in the middle of nowhere, Luke knows straight away that something isn’t quite right about the place.  There are no cars, no phones and no internet.  All the houses look the same and the only way to get around the town is to walk or bike.  The town was especially built by the Shackleton Cooperative, the mysterious company that offered Luke’s mum a job, and their security officers roam the streets.  A coded message brings Luke together with Peter and Jordan, and when they decipher the message they realise they’re in serious danger.  Someone is plotting to wipe out the human race in 100 days and Phoenix suddenly becomes the safest and most dangerous place on earth.  When Luke discovers a note in his backpack inviting them to a secret meeting at the Phoenix Airport, they hope that they’ll get some answers.  However, their meeting at the airport gives them more questions than answers and as they hunt for information about Phoenix and the deadly plans, the more dangerous it becomes for them in the town.

Arrival is the first book in the action-packed, heart-stopping Phoenix Files series.  It’s one of those books that you just have to keep reading to find out what happens.  It grabs you from the very first page and doesn’t let you go until the end.  You’re left with lots of unanswered questions about Phoenix and the Shackleton Cooperative, but this just makes you want to go and pick up the next book straight away.  Luckily there are 5 books already released in this 6 book series.  The Phoenix Files are perfect for those who like mystery, adventure and suspense, or books about secret agencies and the end of the world.  If you like Michael Grant’s Gone series, then you’ll love The Phoenix Files.  Recommended for 12+    10 out of 10

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