Monthly Archives: January 2013

Picture Book Nook: Open Very Carefully by Nicola O’Byrne and Nick Bromley

I love picture books that are interactive.  I’m not talking about book apps, but physical books that ask the reader or the audience to do something.  Not only are they fun for the audience, they’re also incredibly fun for the reader.  Some of my favourite interactive picture books are the cat books by Viviane Schwarz (There Are Cats in This Book, There Are No Cats in This Book), that involve you blowing on the page to dry them off and throw balls of wool at them.  I’ve just discovered a new favourite interactive picture book, called Open Very Carefully by Nicola O’Byrne and Nick Bromley.  

The book starts off with the story of The Ugly Duckling, but something shows up in the story that shouldn’t be there – a really big, scary CROCODILE!  It seems that this crocodile likes to eat letters, words and even whole sentences, but you’ve got to stop him before he eats the whole book.  You try rocking the book backwards and forwards to make him go to sleep, and you try shaking the book to make him fall out.  Will it work or will he eat the whole book?

Open Very Carefully will have adults and children in hysterics!  Part of the humour of the book is in the way that you read it, putting the emphasis in the right place, and part of it is in the hilarious illustrations.  At the beginning of the book the crocodile is looking very happy with himself, but that changes quite quickly when he discovers that he is wearing a very unflattering outfit.  From the very first page children are engaged in the story and they’ll want to help you get rid of the crocodile.  The interactive parts of the book are especially great for sharing one-on-one as these parts make children feel like they are important to the outcome of the story.  The design of the book is wonderful too, especially the final pages and the back cover, which offers one final surprise for readers.

I will be reading Open Very Carefully again and again to preschoolers and school groups in my library.  I’ll have to try and read it without laughing myself though.




Filed under books, children, funny, Picture Book Nook, picture books

Pulse by Patrick Carman Book Trailer

Pulse by Patrick Carman looks and sounds absolutely AWESOME!  I’m a huge fan of Patrick’s books for younger readers (Floors) and young adults (Thirteen Days to Midnight) so I can’t wait to get my hands on Pulse and dive into his new trilogy.

Pulse is released in NZ on 26 February.

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Support KidsCan on International Book Giving Day

One of the many ways that you can be involved in International Book Giving Day on 14th February is to support KidsCan, one of our wonderful local charities who get books into the hands of the children who need them most.  The wonderful folks at KidsCan have written a post all about the amazing work that they do.

KidsCan was founded in 2005 and today supports the education of over 46,000 disadvantaged New Zealand children in 265 low decile schools, nationwide.

KidsCan delivers targeted programmes which remove the physical barriers preventing children from getting the most out of their education. These tangible initiatives are ensuring New Zealand children living in poverty get through the school gate in a better position to learn. Simple, things – food, shoes and raincoats – can make a powerful difference to a child’s start in life.

The causes of poverty can be debated but there is almost universal agreement on the value of education. Children who grasp the power of learning have the power to change their future.

International Book Giving Day is a great initiative that is dedicated to getting as many new, used and borrowed books into the hands of as many children as possible. KidsCan is very pleased to be a recipient of these books that we can then pass on to children at our partner schools.

See our website for more info on how to get involved in other ways to support these children.

If you would like to donate books to KidsCan you can send them to:

38F Apollo Drive
Mairangi Bay
Attention: Natalie Vincent

You will also need to send them your contact details and a book list with an approximate value as they must register them as in-kind donations.


Filed under books, children, New Zealand

Winners of the 2013 ALA Youth Media Awards

It was an exciting time earlier this morning in the US when the winners of the 2013 ALA Youth Media Awards were announced.  The Youth Media Awards include the prestigious Newbery Medal and Caldecott Medal and the Printz Award.

Congratulations to all the winners!  I think it’s the first time that I’ve read and loved the winners of the Newbery and Caldecott Medal so I’m very pleased that they won.  Here are the winners and honour books:

John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature:

There were three Newbery Honour Books announced too:

Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children:

This Is Not My Hat
There were five Caldecott Honour Books announced too:
Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults:
There were four Printz Honour Books announced too:
For more information about the awards and the winners of the other book awards check out this article

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Meet the wonderful Oliver Jeffers

I thought Oliver Jeffers was awesome before I saw this video, but now he’s just reached an all new level of awesomeness!  I’ve been a huge fan of Oliver since his first book was published and I’ve loved everything he’s created so far, from his own picture books to illustrations for other authors, such as John Boyne and David Almond.  His books are wonderful and it’s great to get this entertaining insight into his creative process.

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Picture Book Nook: A Patch of Black by Rachel Rooney and Deborah Allwright

I came across this delightful picture book last week when I was putting new books out for display.  A Patch of Black is one of the best picture books I’ve seen that’s aimed at children who are scared of the dark and it’s a wonderful bedtime story.  It starts with a mother and her child in the girl’s bedroom getting ready for bed.  The mother says to her child,

“Don’t be afraid of the darkness, dear.
Don’t be afraid of the dark.
What can you do with a patch of black,
a moon and a silver star?

The mother then tells the child about all the different places and things she could dream about when she’s sleeping.  There are pirates and mermaids, princesses and dragons, ice cream lakes and milkshake streams, and much more.  The mother’s refrain is repeated throughout the book and is followed by a different dream land.

It’s a very reassuring story that will have children imagining their own dream lands.  The illustrations are also reassuring and comforting, as they’re light, bright and full of excitement.  If you want a bedtime story that you’ll be happy to read again and again, grab a copy of A Patch of Black by Rachel Rooney and Deborah Allwright.

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My Most Anticipated February New Releases

life-in-outer-spaceLife in Outer Space by Melissa Keil

Sam Kinnison is a geek, and he’s totally fine with that. He has his horror movies, his nerdy friends, World of Warcraft – and until Princess Leia turns up in his bedroom, he doesn’t have to worry about girls.

Then Sam meets Camilla. She’s beautiful, friendly and completely irrelevant to his life. Sam is determined to ignore her, except that Camilla has a life of her own – and she’s decided that he’s going to be part of it.

Sam believes that everything he needs to know he can learn from the movies … but now it looks like he’s been watching the wrong ones.


Night School LegacyNight School: Legacy by C.J. Daugherty

In the last year, Allie’s survived three arrests, two breakups and one family breakdown. The only bright point has been her new life at Cimmeria Academy. It’s the one place she’s felt she belongs. And the fact that it’s brought the dreamy Carter West into her life hasn’t hurt…But far from being a safe haven, the cloistered walls of Cimmeria are proving more dangerous than Allie could’ve imagined. The students, and faculty, are under threat and Allie’s family – from her mysterious grandma to her runaway brother – are at the centre of the storm. Allie is going to have to choose between protecting her family and trusting her friends. But secrets have a way of ripping even the strongest relationships apart.


Back to Black Brick by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald

Cosmo’s brother Brian died when he was ten years old. His mum hides her grief and Cosmo lives with his grandparents. They’ve been carefree days as Granddad buys him a horse called John and teaches him all he knows about horses. But the good times have to come to an end and although he doesn’t want to admit it, Cosmo knows his Granddad is losing his mind. So on one of the rare occasions when Granddad seems to recognise him, Cosmo is bemused that he gives him a key to Blackbrick Abbey and urges him to go there. Cosmo shrugs it off, but gradually Blackbrick draws him in… Cosmo arrives there, scared and lonely, and is dropped off at the crumbling gates of a huge house. As he goes in, the gates close, and when he turns to look, they’re rusty and padlocked as if they haven’t been opened in years. Cosmo finds himself face to face with his grandfather as a young man, and questions begin to form in his mind: can Cosmo change the course of his family’s future?


Book of DoomThe Book of Doom by Barry Hutchison

There’s panic up in Heaven. They have mislaid the BOOK OF DOOM – the most important object in existence. Oopsy.

They think Satan might have stolen it, the sneaky little devil, so to save the world – plus, you know, quite a lot of embarrassment, fifteen year old Zac and his angelic guide Angelo are sent to retrieve it.

Sadly directions aren’t Angelo’s strong point and they soon find themselves just as lost as the book, wandering through Afterworlds such as Valhalla and Hades and encountering some colourful characters along the way…

Can the hapless pair make it to Hell and back?

N.B. Released 23 March in New Zealand


The Phantom of Terawhiti by Des Hunt

It’s the school holidays and Zac thinks he might go crazy with boredom. He’s living in exile with his disgraced father on the remote Terawhiti Station on Wellington’s wild southwest coast. Then Zac and his dad witness a boat sink during a storm. Investigating further, Zac finds a set of unusual animal prints on the beach. Whose boat is it? And what creature could have made the prints? Soon armed men are prowling the coast, and threatening Zac, his friends and his family. He must do all he can to protect the Phantom of Terawhiti from those intent on hunting it down.


Hysteria by Megan Miranda

Mallory’s life is falling apart. Her boyfriend was stabbed. He bled to death in her kitchen. Mallory was the one who stabbed him. But she can’t remember what happened that night. She only remembers the fear …When Mallory’s parents send her away to a boarding school, she thinks she can escape the gossip and the threats. But someone, or something, has followed her. There’s the hand that touches her shoulder when she’s drifting off to sleep. A voice whispering her name. And everyone knows what happened. So when a pupil is found dead, Mallory’s name is on their lips. Her past can be forgotten but it’s never gone. Can Mallory live with that?


Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison–even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.
Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s gran­dmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whe­reabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

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Hysteria Book Trailer

I loved Megan Miranda’s debut young adult novel Fracture (you can read my review here) so I’m really looking forward to her new book, Hysteria.  Like her first book it sounds dark and chilling which is my favourite sort of book.  Hysteria is released in New Zealand and Australia in February.

Here’s a video of Megan Miranda introducing her new book:

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Meet Joseph Delaney in Christchurch

Joseph Delaney, the author of the Spook’s Apprentice series, is one of my favourite authors.  The Spook’s books are dark, spooky and creepy, and are full of witches, boggarts and creatures of the dark.  If you like spooky stories, with a bit of history, mystery and adventure you’ll love Joseph’s Books.  The movie based on the series, Seventh Son, is due out later this year and I’m sure it will be fantastic.

I’m excited to announce that Joseph Delaney is coming to Christchurch on Wednesday 20 February.  You can come and meet him at Upper Riccarton Library, from 7:00-8:00pm on Wednesday 20 February.  He’ll talk about his books, you can ask him questions, and even get your book signed.

It’s a free event but you need to book a space.  Just call Christchurch City Libraries on 03-941-7923 to book.

To find out more about Joseph Delaney and the Spook’s Apprentice series, visit

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Captain Underpants and the Revolting Revenge of the Radioactive Robo-Boxers

Captain Underpants and the Revolting Revenge of the Radioactive Robo-Boxers by Dav Pilkey is the latest Captain Underpants adventure.  Reserve your copy at the library now, and while you’re waiting, check out Dav Pilkey’s awesome website where you can read about the books, play games and watch videos.

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