Official US book trailer for Michael Grant’s Light

This US book trailer for Michael Grant’s Light is quite different from the UK version but I think it’s great.  Light is one of my Easter reads and it’s fantastic but very nerve-wracking.  Light is the final book in Michael Grant’s Gone series and it’s available in NZ and Australia now.

Hang in There Bozo by Lauren Child

You’ve heard of Bear Grylls and James Bond, right? Well they have nothing on ever-resourceful spy Ruby Redfort.  For this year’s World Book Day, Lauren Child (creator of Ruby Redfort and Clarice Bean) wrote Hang in There Bozo: The Ruby Redfort Emergency Survival Guide for Some Tricky Predicaments.  It’s the cheapest and most accessible survival guide you’ll ever read.

Ruby Redfort: secret agent, detective, thirteen-year-old kid. And now… survival expert.

It’s not always possible to skip around smelling roses, ’cos sometimes you’re too busy gripping onto the cliff edge by your fingernails. But 99 times out of 100 it’s worth hanging in there bozo: just as things can get worse so too can they get a whole lot better. In this handy pocket-sized book, Ruby will give you the low-down on how to survive a whole bunch of tricky situations. So long as you keep a cool head, buster, you can make it out of there alive …

Hang in There Bozo is the ultimate survival guide, packed with tips and tricks from Ruby Redfort herself.  If you you’d like to know how to survive in the wild, but can’t stand Bear Grylls, you need to read this book, written in Ruby’s unique voice.  If you’ve read any of Lauren Child’s Ruby Redfort books you’ll know that Ruby likes to use the words ‘bozo’ and ‘buster’ a lot, and there are rules that she lives by.  This is all here in this book, along with heaps of really great survival tips like:

  • How to stay calm in a life-and-death situation
  • How to make a fire and find water
  • How to navigate using the stars or a compass
  • What to do if you’re lost in the desert or marooned at sea
  • How to charm a snake – ‘Don’t even go there buster’
  • What to do if you should meet a bear – ‘Wish you hadn’t’
  • Dealing with individuals who you know are dangerously dull

The best thing about this book is that it’s pocket sized so you can take it everywhere (especially when you go camping) and it’s only $4.99.  It has to be the cheapest, but most awesome, survival guide ever!

Fast Five with Jenny Cooper

  • Why did I want to be an illustrator?
I never knew you could be an illustrator, but I always drew, at home, when I was young. Then I grew up and discovered that there was a whole world of picture books for children, and even though I had other jobs like teaching and advertising, I couldn’t help being drawn to children’s illustration, because I had spent so many thousands of hours, as a child, doing that sort of art. So in a way, I had no choice, it just happened naturally.
  • What is the best thing about being an illustrator?
The best thing is when you do a picture that you are really proud of. This doesn’t happen often, usually I am disappointed in my work. But just sometimes, maybe one picture out of 10, I do something that really surprises me, astonishes me and makes me think, how did I paint something that good? When that happens, it makes all the other, average, illustrations, worth it.
  • What is your favourite New Zealand Book?
The Year of the Shining Cuckoo by Joyce West. It is not in print now, I bought it second hand and read it once a year.
My favourite NZ picture books are  probably A Booming in the Night, by Helen Taylor, or Dragor, by Philip Webb
  • What do you love most about New Zealand?
New Zealand to me means freedom and space. I didn’t notice the  space and peace and quiet here until I had travelled in Europe, where the beaches are so full you don’t have room to put down a beach towel. And I can be in the mountains in an hour, if I want, or beside a beautiful clean alpine lake. And I love our relaxed and unfussy way of life, as Kiwis are basically trustworthy and trusting of other people, and I really hope it stays that way. Doors don’t always have to be locked, and a lost wallet will probably be returned, and if you want to live in an unusual way, up a mountain or on a boat, you are free to do it.
  • What do you love most about libraries?
If I go into a library for one book, I always come out with 5, there are so many interesting things to read about. But unlike the internet, where you are alone, libraries are always full of other people. Libraries are friendly, the people are helpful, and I always come out feeling I have spent my time well, and learned something. And of course, the books are free!
Jennifer Cooper is a children’s book illustrator with a background in graphic design.  Jenny has illustrated books for Melanie Drewery, Yvonne Morrison, Joy Cowley, and Jane Buxton, among many others.  Jenny’s most recent collaboration is with the Topp Twins for their version of There’s a Hole in My Bucket and Do Your Ears Hang Low?

Fast Five with Philippa Werry

  • Why did you want to be a writer?

I think I wanted to be a writer because I was a reader, and I wanted to be able to write a book as well as read one. It frustrated and puzzled me for a long time that writing a book seemed as if it should be so easy – but it actually it takes a lot of work on the writer’s part to make it look that easy.

  • What’s the best thing about being a writer?

There are lots of good things – can I have two? One is getting to do the best job of all, which is making stuff up and inventing places that you’d like to spend time in and characters whom you’d love to meet. The other is when someone writes or emails or comes up to tell you in person that  they really liked one of your books.  

  • What’s your favourite New Zealand book?

Too hard! I could say any book of poetry by Jenny Bornholdt, especially The rocky shore. Also any books by wonderful NZ authors for children and young adults – too many to single out, but Fleur Beale, Mandy Hager and Jack Lasenby for starters (just to mention a few whom we are lucky to have living in and around Wellington.)

  • What do you love most about New Zealand?

I love that we are a beautiful, free country where we can think what we like, say what we like, read what we write and write what we like. I love that we have beautiful beaches that aren’t all built up with skyscrapers and hotels. I love that we have wonderful books and great bookstores, cinemas and theatres and fabulous writers.  I love that my family and friends live here, and my husband and three gorgeous daughters.

  • What do you love most about libraries?

I used to be a librarian myself, and I spent hours in them as a child, so I feel very at home in libraries. Not just the libraries I use most, but any library anywhere can make you feel welcomed and belonging as soon as you walk in. I’m also grateful that I can use them to find out all sorts of information that I need for writing non fiction, and for the background to fiction as well.

Philippa Werry is a children’s writer whose non-fiction, poetry, stories and plays have been widely published, and also broadcast on National Radio. Philipp’s work has appeared in various anthologies and she has written over 100 pieces for the School Journal and other educational publishers.  Her latest book is Anzac Day: The New Zealand Story (published by New Holland Publishers NZ) is a nonfiction book about Anzac Day, what it is and why it matters.

Fast Five with Jennifer Beck

  • Why did you want to be a writer?

I was lucky to grow up in a family who loved books and valued reading.  Although I wrote my first book when I was nine (it wasn’t very good – I’m sure many of you could do better today!) I didn’t really start writing until I had children of my own.  Sharing books with them was such a delight that I decided to make my own books.  I wrote and illustrated them on the kitchen table, and later mustered up the courage to send some to a publisher.  It took a few years of persistence before the first one was accepted and published.  Although I didn’t set out to write lots of books, once started I haven’t been able to stop. Well, not yet.

  • What’s the best thing about being a writer? 

For me, it’s the pleasure of creativity.  I really enjoy the process of developing an idea, or combining several, into a story that is new and original.  Working with the illustrator and seeing the pages come to life with skilful artwork is also an enjoyable experience, followed by reading the finished book for the first time.

  • What’s your favourite New Zealand book?

I have so many it’s hard to choose.  I enjoy Joy Cowley’s warmth and surprise endings, and the delightful humour in John Parker’s Poppa McPhee Gets the Eggs.  However my favourite is probably Robyn Belton’s Herbert : The Brave Seadog because it is a story with such heart and I know something of the special background to the book.

  • What do you love most about New Zealand?

I admire the inventiveness, adaptability and creativity of New Zealanders, which I feel is a legacy of our pioneering past.

  • What do you love most about libraries?

I must confess I’ve never been very good at finding my way around libraries, so what I love most is the generous response from librarians when asked “Please, can you help me…”

Jennifer Beck is the author of more than 45 children’s books.  She has worked with many different illustrators, including Robyn Belton and Lindy Fisher.  Her books have also won many awards, including the Elsie Locke Award and the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Award. Jennifer’s latest book is Remember That November, illustrated by Lindy Fisher.


Fast Five with Melanie Drewery

  • Why did you want to be a writer?

Because I have always had a vivid imagination, and when I was small I was a real chatterbox with lots of ideas to share. Writing is sort of like talking a lot on paper.

  • What’s the best thing about being a writer?

I can put my ideas into a story and they will reach heaps and heaps of people I may never even meet! My words might make someone laugh or cry, they might even teach them something or change the way they look at the world. That’s pretty amazing.

  • What’s your favourite New Zealand book?

Under the Mountain.

  • What do you love most about New Zealand?

Oh I can’t just love one thing, I need at least two, so I’m going to cheat here. I love our beaches, and being able to swim or walk by the sea every day. I also love our own unique culture, and how much more Te Reo Maori and Maori expressions have become part of everyone’s culture.

  • What do you love most about libraries?

I love being able to read lots and lots and lots of books. Is it weird to say I also love the bookish smell of libraries, yum, all those words wiggling around in their books and making their own special smell.

Melanie Drewery is an author, illustrator and artist who writes primarily for children. Koro’s Medicine was a finalist in the Picture Book Category of the 2005 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children & Young Adults, and the Maori translation of this title, by Kararaina Uatuku, won the 2005 Te Kura Pounamu Award. Melanie won the Picture Book section of the 2008 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults for her book Tahi: One Lucky Kiwi.

Fast Five with Anna Mackenzie

  • Why did you want to be a writer?

I have always loved writing. I wrote my first book when I was seven – I have it still; it’s called ‘Stories of the Little Elf’ – but it still took me quite a long time to get around to writing fiction as a job. Instead I had a range of jobs that involved editing or non-fiction writing. It wasn’t until I left full-time work to raise my kids that I really found the right space and time for writing fiction. From that moment, there was no looking back!

  • What’s the best thing about being a writer?

The very best thing is being able to spend not just hours but weeks and months following your characters through the twists and turns of their lives. It’s almost like living lots of different lives yourself.

  • What’s your favourite New Zealand book?

‘The Changeover’ by Margaret Mahy. This is a perfect book: it captures the challenge and discovery of negotiating adolescence; it was one of the first novels I read set in my own country, which is highly affirming of your place in the world; and the writing is absolutely flawless.

  • What do you love most about New Zealand?

I’ve lived in various places around the world but always knew I’d come back to New Zealand. We have beautiful and varied landscapes, we have clear air and a great climate, but we also have our own way of being. I fit in here! For better or worse, New Zealanders are outspoken, hard working, down to earth, determined. We believe anything is possible – and so we make the world that way.

  • What do you love most about libraries?

The limitless possibility that lies on the shelves! I remember a moment of sorrowful realisation when I was about ten and it struck me that I would never have time to read every book in the library. I love that libraries make so much available to anyone who walks through the doors.

Anna Mackenzie is a full-time writer who writes young adult fiction.  Her first novel, High Tide, was published in 2003 and her third novel, Sea-wreck Stranger, won the Young Adult Fiction Honour Award at the 2008 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young AdultsAnna’s latest book, Cattra’s Legacy, is published in April by Random House New Zealand.

Win a New Zealand Kids Book Pack

It’s the last week of NZ Book Month for 2013.  I always enjoy NZ Book Month because I love reading books by our wonderful New Zealand authors and illustrators.  I hope you’ve read some great NZ books this month and enjoyed my Fast Five Questions with NZ authors and illustrators.

To finish NZ Book Month I’m giving away a New Zealand Kids Book Pack, thanks to Scholastic New Zealand.  The pack includes:

  • The Silly Goat Gruff by Scott Tulloch
  • A Winter’s Day in 1939 by Melinda Szymanik
  • Dinosaur Rescue: Salto-scaredypus by Kyle Mewburn and Donovan Bixley
  • Ransomwood by Sheryl Jordan
  • Scrap: Tale of a Blond Puppy by Vince Ford
  • Scrap: Oh My Dog! by Vince Ford

To get in the draw just leave a comment (with your name and email address) telling me about a New Zealand book you’ve read and loved this NZ Book Month.  Competition closes Sunday 31 March (NZ only).

Thanks to everyone who entered.  The winner is the Rodgers-Foran family.  I hope you enjoy your books!

My Most Anticipated April New Releases

Maleficent Seven by Derek Landy

This time, the bad guys take the stage. Tanith Low, now possessed by a remnant, recruits a gang of villains – many of whom will be familiar from previous Skulduggery adventures – in order to track down and steal the four God-Killer level weapons that could hurt Darquesse when she eventually emerges. Also on the trail of the weapons is a secret group of Sanctuary sorcerers, and doing his best to keep up and keep Tanith alive is one Mister Ghastly Bespoke. When the villains around her are lying and scheming and plotting, Tanith needs to stay two steps ahead of her teammates and her enemies. After all, she’s got her own double-crosses to plan – and she’s a villain herself…

Department 19: Battle Lines by Will Hill

As the clock ticks remorselessly towards Zero Hour and the return of Dracula, the devastated remnants of Department 19 try to hold back the rising darkness. Jamie Carpenter is training new recruits, trying to prepare them for a fight that appears increasingly futile. Kate Randall is pouring her grief into trying to plug the Department’s final leaks, as Matt Browning races against time to find a cure for vampirism. And on the other side of the world, Larissa Kinley has found a place she feels at home, yet where she makes a startling discovery. Uneasy truces are struck, new dangers emerge on all sides, and relationships are pushed to breaking point. And in the midst of it all, Department 19 faces a new and potentially deadly threat, born out of one of the darkest moments of its own long and bloody history. Zero Hour is coming. And the Battle Lines have been drawn.

Light by Michael Grant

All eyes are on Perdido Beach. The barrier wall is now as clear as glass and life in the FAYZ is visible for the entire outside world to see. Life inside the dome remains a constant battle and the Darkness, away from watchful eyes, grows and grows . The society that Sam and Astrid have struggled so hard to build is about to be shattered for good. It’s the end of the FAYZ. But who will survive to see the light of day?

Sleepwalkers by Viviane Schwarz

When you are afraid to fall asleep, when all your dreams are nightmares, write us a letter, put it under your pillow, we will rescue you… It is almost time for the old and tired Sleepwalkers to return to the waking world. But before they go, they must conjure and train three new replacements. For who else will look after the Sleepwalking House and be there to answer the call of a child frozen stiff with fear, trapped in a nightmare? This is the story of the NEW Sleepwalkers… Filled with action and adventure, and all things that go bump in the night, three brave new heroes tackle the weird and the wild in this uplifting and reassuring story about pulling together as a team and having the confidence to stand up to your fears.

Portraits of Celina by Sue Whiting

Make him pay, Bayley. Make him pay.

“It s as if the wooden chest is luring me, urging me to open it – daring me almost. Open me up. Look inside. Come on, just for a second; it won t hurt.” Celina O Malley was sixteen years old when she disappeared. Now, almost forty years later, Bayley is sleeping in Celina s room, wearing her clothes, hearing her voice. What does Celina want? And who will suffer because of it? A ghost story. A love story. A story of revenge.

Cattra’s Legacy by Anna Mackenzie

Risha is strong and outspoken, and at 16 has developed into a leader of men, a strategic thinker, and a woman — one can imagine — who will assume the legacy left by her mother.

The story begins with 13-year-old Risha living a simple life in the mountains with her father. When her father suddenly dies, Risha is left alone, an outcast of her village. Disguised as a boy, Risha leaves the village with a group of traders, on a quest to find out the truth about her mother and her heritage.

Here begins a grand sweeping adventure as Risha is caught up in dangerous pursuits, intrigue, trickery and betrayal. She is left for dead, confused by the actions of many, and is made to hide from those who wish her harm.

She finds out by chance that she is Cattra’s daughter. Who is Cattra — and why do so many wish Risha harm?

Dead Romantic by C.J. Skuse

Camille wants to find the perfect boy, with an athlete’s body and a poet’s brain. But when she’s rejected at her new college party, she knows there isn’t a boy alive who’ll ever measure up. Enter Zoe, her brilliant but strange best friend, who takes biology homework to a whole new level. She can create Camille’s dream boy, but can she make him love her?

Dead Romantic is a new take on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

W.A.R.P.: The Reluctant Assassin by Eoin Colfer

The reluctant assassin is Riley, a Victorian boy who is suddenly plucked from his own time and whisked into the twenty-first century, accused of murder and on the run.

Riley has been pulled into the FBI’s covert W.A.R.P. operation (Witness Anonymous Relocation Program). He and young FBI Agent Chevie Savano are forced to flee terrifying assassin-for-hire Albert Garrick, who pursues Riley through time and will not stop until he has hunted him down. Barely staying one step ahead, Riley and Chevie must stay alive and stop Garrick returning to his own time with knowledge and power that could change the world forever.