Monthly Archives: May 2013

My Most Anticipated June New Releases

The Mirror Chronicles: The Bell Between Worlds by Ian Johnstone

Half of your soul is missing. The lost part is in the mirror. And unless Sylas Tate can unite the two worlds, you will never be whole again. Sylas Tate leads a lonely existence since his mother died. But then the tolling of a giant bell draws him into another world known as the Other, where he discovers not only that he has an inborn talent for magic, but also that his mother might just have come from this strange parallel place. Meanwhile, evil forces are stirring, and an astounding revelation awaits Sylas: that the Other is a mirror of our world, and every person here has their counterpart there, known as a Glimmer. As violence looms and the stakes get higher, Sylas must seek out his Glimmer, and unite the two halves of his soul – otherwise the entire universe may fall.

Julius and the Watchmaker by Tim Hehir

A lost diary

A spinning pocketwatch

A gentleman wielding a deadly walking cane

And a boy who’s about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime

When Julius Higgins isn’t running from Crimper McCready and his gang of bullies he’s working in his grandfather’s bookshop in Ironmonger Lane.

Until Jack Springheel, a mysterious clock collector, turns up looking for the fabled diary of John Harrison—the greatest watchmaker of all time.

Before he knows it, Julius becomes a thief and a runaway and makes a deal with Springheel that he will live to regret. And all before he finds out that Harrison’s diary is really an instruction manual for making a time machine.

The Apprentices by Maile Meloy

The enthralling sequel to The Apothecary, Maile Meloy’s first book for young readers.

Two years have passed since Janie Scott last saw Benjamin Burrows, the mysterious apothecary’s son who stole her heart. She’s thrown herself into an ambitious chemistry project and, when it vanishes, she suspects the rich and powerful Magnusson of stealing it. And she knows she needs help to fight him.

On the other side of the world, Benjamin and the apothecary have been working in the war-torn jungles of Vietnam, using their elixirs to help the sick and wounded. But Benjamin has also been experimenting with a new formula that allows him to see into Janie’s world.

The friends are thrown into a whirlwind chase around the Pacific Ocean, trying to find each other and the truth behind what threatens them.

The Phoenix Files: Doomsday by Chris Morphew

After ninety-nine days of lock down, the annihilation of the human race is right on schedule. Luke and Jordan are fighting a losing battle. Peter has escaped, Bill has disappeared, and Co-operative Security are moments away from storming the Vattel Complex. As the battle rages on in town, an offer of help arrives from the last place anyone could have expected. But can it really be trusted, or is this just another one of Shackleton’s deceptions? And with murder still looming over Luke, will he even live long enough to find out? One way or another, it’s all coming to an end. The clock is still ticking. There are seventeen hours until the end of the world.

Loki’s Wolves by M.A. Marr and K.L. Armstrong

In Viking times, Norse myths predicted the end of the world, an event called Ragnarok that only the gods can stop. When this apocalypse happens, the gods must battle the monsters – wolves the size of the sun, serpents that span the seabeds – all bent on destroying the world. But the gods died a long time ago. Matt Thorsen knows every Norse myth, saga, and god as if it was family history – because it is family history. Most people in the modern-day town of Blackwell, South Dakota, in fact, are direct descendants of either Thor or Loki, including Matt’s classmates Fen and Laurie Brekke. However, knowing the legends and completely believing them are two different things. When the rune readers reveal that Ragnarok is coming and kids – led by Matt – will stand in for the gods in the final battle, Matt can hardly believe it. Matt’s, Laurie’s, and Fen’s lives will never be the same as they race to put together an unstoppable team to stop the end of the world.

Wild Boy by Rob Lloyd Jones

BEHOLD THE SAVAGE SPECTACLE OF THE WILD BOY – ONE PENNY A KICK!

Wild Boy has been covered in hair since birth; he s the missing link, a monster, a sideshow spectacle. Condemned to life in a travelling freakshow, excluded from society and abused by his master, he takes refuge in watching people come and go at the fair – and develops a Sherlock Holmes style talent for observation and detection. But when there s a murder, suspicion turns on Wild Boy, and he and the feisty redhaired acrobat Clarissa Everett find themselves on the run from a London-wide manhunt. Together, the detective and the acrobat must solve clues to identify the real killer, confronting the sinister underside of scientific advancement and the darkness of Wild Boy s own nature.

Tall Tales from Pitch End by Nigel McDowell

Ruled by the Elders, policed by an unforgiving battalion of Enforcers and watched by hundreds of clockwork Sentries, Pitch End is a town where everybody knows their place. Soon-to-be fifteen-year-old Bruno Atlas still mourns the death of his Rebel father ten years ago, and treasures the book of stories he secretly uncovered: the Tall Tales from Pitch End. After discovering a chilling plot planned by the Elders, Bruno flees, escaping to the mountains where a bunch of disparate young Rebels are planning a final attack on Pitch End. With secrets and betrayal lying around every corner, Bruno will find himself fighting not only for his life, but the life of the town.

The Blue Lady Eleanor Hawken

Fourteen-year-old Frankie Ward is used to being the new girl at school, but even she is unprepared for life at St Mark’s College. Finding herself isolated from the rest of the girls, Frankie is drawn to flamboyant and dramatic Suzy, who captivates her with stories of ‘The Blue Lady’ – the ghost of an ex-St Mark’s pupil who died in mysterious and tragic circumstances. One night Suzy persuades Frankie to help her contact The Blue Lady via an Ouija Board – and the girls unleash a terrifying spirit who seems set on destroying not only their friendship but Suzy’s sanity. Determined to rescue her friend, Frankie enlists the help of Seb, a mysterious and alluring boy from sister-school St Hilda’s. Seb is as interested in St Mark’s past as Frankie – but does he have as many dark secrets as the school?

The Savages by Matt Whyman

Sasha Savage is in love with Jack Greenway – a handsome, charming, clever… vegetarian. Which would be acceptable if it weren’t for the fact that Sasha’s family are very much ‘carnivorous’, with strong views to boot. Behind the respectable family façade all is not as it seems. Sasha’s father Titus rules his clan with an iron fist, and although her mother Angelica never has a hair out of place, her credit card bills are shocking and her culinary skills are getting more… ‘adventurous’ by the day. As for Sasha’s demonic brother Ivan? Well, after accidentally decapitating a supermodel in their family bathroom his golden boy image is looking wobbly. To the outsider the Savages might look like the perfect family, but there is more to them than meets the eye. When the too-curious private detective Vernon English starts to dig for darker truths, this tight knit family starts to unravel – as does their sinister and predatory taste in human beings.

Dear Vincent by Mandy Hager (NZ)

17 year old Tara McClusky’s life is hard. She shares the care of her paralysed father with her domineering, difficult mother, forced to cut down on her hours at school to help support the family with a part-time rest home job. She’s very much alone, still grieving the loss of her older sister Van, who died five years before.

Her only source of consolation is her obsession with art — and painting in particular. Most especially she is enamoured with Vincent Van Gogh: she has read all his letters and finds many parallels between the tragic story of his life and her own.

Luckily she meets the intelligent, kindly Professor Max Stockhamer (a Jewish refugee and philosopher) and his grandson Johannes, and their support is crucial to her ability to survive this turbulent time.

The Freedom Merchants by Sherryl Jordan (NZ)

A riveting tale of piracy and slavery set in the early 1600s in Ireland and Northern Africa.
Twenty-five years ago, young Liam’s small fishing village on the Irish Coast was raided and its population decimated by brutal corsair pirates from the Barbary Coast who killed, plundered, and took a number of his people back to Northern Africa as slaves to Muslim masters. And now a pirate ship has been wrecked in Liam’s bay, and survivors are struggling ashore.

Mortal Fire by Elizabeth Knox (NZ)

When sixteen-year-old Canny of the Pacific island, Southland, sets out on a trip with her stepbrother and his girlfriend, she finds herself drawn into enchanting Zarene Valley where the mysterious but dark seventeen-year-old Ghislain helps her to figure out her origins.

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YA Authors Assemble – Reading Matters is nearly here!

I am buzzing with excitement because in a few days some of the best YA authors around will gather in Melbourne for Reading Matters and I will be there.  I’ve wanted to go to Reading Matters for years and registered as soon as I possibly could (without even knowing which authors would be there).  In the past they’ve had some incredibly cool authors, including John Green, so I knew they would have some amazing authors this year.  When the author lineup was announced I was actually jumping up and down with excitement!

I will get the chance to meet some of my favourite Australian YA authors and some great international authors too.  My suitcase will be packed with books to get signed and I’m sure to come back with a few others.  Some of the authors I’m most looking forward to meeting are Morris Gleitzman, Vikki Wakefield, Gabrielle Williams, Myke Bartlett and Keith Gray.

These are just a couple of the sessions that sound totally awesome:

  • Everyone’s a critic – Myke Bartlett, Alison Croggon and Morris Gleitzman on setting their stories free.
  • You can’t say that! – Parental guidance recommended with Libba Bray, Vikki Wakefield and Gabrielle Williams.
  • Gatekeepers – the good, the bad and my mother – Keith Gray

I’ll take lots of photos, try to Tweet as much as possible and will blog about my favourite sessions when I get home.

Melbourne here I come!

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2013 LIANZA Children’s Book Awards Finalists

The finalists in the 2013 LIANZA Children’s Book Awards were announced last week.  The LIANZA Children’s Book Awards are awarded annually by librarians for excellence in junior fiction, young adult fiction, illustration, non-fiction and te reo Maori.

There are some wonderful books on the list this year and it’s good to see some of those that missed out on a New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards nomination.  There are a couple that I’m surprised to see on the list but a lot of my favourites are there.

Congratulations to all the finalists!

LIANZA Junior Fiction Award – Esther Glen Medal

  • The Queen and the Nobody Boy: A tale of Fontania by Barbara Else, (GECKO Press)
  • Drover’s Quest by Susan Brocker, (HarperCollins Publishers (NZ) Ltd)
  • When Empire Calls by Ken Catran, (Scholastic NZ Ltd)
  • Red Rocks by Rachael King, (Random House New Zealand)
  • The ACB with Honora Lee by Kate de Goldi, (Random House New Zealand)
  • Lightening Strikes: The Slice by Rose Quilter, (Walker Books Australia)

LIANZA Young Adult Fiction Award

  • My Brother’s War by David Hill, (Penguin NZ)
  • The Nature of Ash by Mandy Hager, (Random House New Zealand)
  • Marked by Denis Martin, (Walker Books Australia)
  • Earth Dragon, Fire Hare by Ken Catran, (HarperCollins Publishers (NZ) Ltd)
  • Snakes and Ladders by Mary-anne Scott, (Scholastic NZ Ltd)

LIANZA Illustration Award – Russell Clark Award

  • The Dragon Hunters by James Russell, illustrated by Link Choi, (Dragon Brothers Books Ltd)
  • Mister Whistler by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Gavin Bishop, (Gecko Press)
  • Kiwi: The Real Story by Annemarie Florian, illustrated by Heather Hunt, (New Holland Publishers Ltd)
  • Blue Gnu by Kyle Mewburn, illustrated by Daron Parton, (Scholastic NZ Ltd)
  • Melu by Kyle Mewburn, illustrated by Ali Teo and John O’Reilly, (Scholastic NZ Ltd)
  • A Great Cake by Tina Matthews, (Walker Books Australia)

LIANZA Non Fiction Award – Elsie Locke Medal

  • At the Beach: Explore & Discover the New Zealand Seashore by Ned Barraud and Gillian Candler, (Craig Potton Publishing)
  • Eruption! Discovering New Zealand Volcanoes by Maria Gill, (New Holland Publishers (NZ) Ltd)
  • 100 Amazing Tales from Aotearoa by Simon Morton and Riria Hotere, (Te Papa Press)

Te Kura Pounamu (te reo Māori)

  • Hautipua Rererangi story by Julian Arahanga, illustrated by Andrew Burdan, (Huia)
  • Ngā Waituhi o Rēhua by Katerina Te Heikoko Mataira, (Huia)
  • Arohanui by Huia Publishers, illustrated Andrew Burdan, (Huia)
  • Ko Meru by Kyle Mewburn, translated by Ngaere Roberts, illustrated by Ali Teo and John O’Reilly, (Scholastic)
  • Taea ngā whetū by Dawn McMillan, translated by Ngaere Roberts, illustrated by Keinyo White, (Scholastic)

You can follow the LIANZA Children’s Book Awards:

Website: http://www.lianza.org.nz/awards/lianza-childrens-book-awards
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/LianzaChildrensBookAwards
Twitter – #lianzacba

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Cover Reveal: Last Stand of Dead Men by Derek Landy

The eighth instalment in the biggest, funniest, most thrilling comedy-horror-adventure series in the universe – and the follow-up to 2012’s number-one bestseller, Kingdom of the Wicked…

War has finally come.

But it’s not a war between good and evil, or light and dark – it’s a war between Sanctuaries. For too long, the Irish Sanctuary has teetered on the brink of world-ending disaster, and the other Sanctuaries around the world have had enough. Allies turn to enemies, friends turn to foes, and Skulduggery and Valkyrie must team up with the rest of the Dead Men if they’re going to have any chance at all of maintaining the balance of power and getting to the root of a vast conspiracy that has been years in the making.

But while this war is only beginning, another war rages within Valkyrie herself. Her own dark side, the insanely powerful being known as Darquesse, is on the verge of rising to the surface. And if Valkyrie slips, even for a moment, then Darquesse will burn the world and everyone in it.

Last Stand of Dead Men is released in New Zealand in August by HarperCollins NZ.

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Fur-ightfully Funny Adventures from Beyond the Grave

When Joe Edmunds makes a wish on an Egyptian amulet, little does he know that he has volunteered to guide and defend the undead pet inhabitants of his town…

If you know a young reader who likes adventure stories that are a bit spooky and really funny, then I’ve got a new series for you!  Undead Pets by Sam Hay is an awesome new series for 7+ featuring zombie animals and ‘pets with one last thing to do before they pass to the other side.’  As well as a great story (that boys especially will love) the books are illustrated throughout by Simon Cooper.  I especially like the cartoons that describe how each of the pets die.  I reckon the covers are terrific and are sure to jump off the shelves.  Young readers will get hooked on Undead Pets and they’ll gobble them up in no time.  They’re stand alone adventures so kids can start with any of the books.

Read all about the different books in the series below and watch the cool book trailer.

Return of the Hungry Hamster

Dumpling the hamster came to a dusty end inside a vacuum cleaner … but he suspects that his owner Oliver’s parents never admitted to their son that they were to blame for Dumpling’s demise. Now the hamster needs Joe’s help to reveal the truth – but there’s a furry surprise awaiting them at Oliver’s house…

Revenge of the Phantom Furball

Disaster strikes when Bonsai the pug chases Pickle the cat into the street, where she is flattened by a car. But the fact that Pickle has (almost) shuffled off her mortal coil isn’t her biggest concern; she is worried that Bonsai will pursue her sister Pebble into an early grave too, unless she and Joe teach the dog a lesson…

Night of the Howling Hound

Joe is off on a school trip to an adventure camp, and he can’t wait to put Uncle Charlie’s survival tips into practice! But it’s not long before he’s visited by Dexter, a scruffy-looking dog, with a howling tale of woe. Dexter doesn’t want his owner feeling guilty for his death, but it’ll be hard for Joe to intervene this time – it turns out that the owner is Joe’s headmaster, the dreaded Mr Hill!

Goldfish from Beyond the Grave

Just when Joe thought things couldn’t get any stranger, he is visited by Fizz, a zombie goldfish. Fizz was flushed down the toilet by his owner Danny’s little sister, who doesn’t realize that she’s sent the fish to a watery grave. Fizz needs to ensure the truth is revealed before his fellow fish meet a similar fate. But how do you get a goldfish to rest in peace?

Rise of the Zombie Rabbit

Fluffy’s owner, Olivia, lost a necklace in her back garden and she’s going to get in big trouble if it isn’t found. Fluffy can’t bear to see her owner in distress and she demands that Joe finds the necklace – now! Can Joe do what Fluffy wants or will the undead pet be hopping around forever?

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Guest Post: Justin Brown on Shot, Boom, Score!

Justin Brown is a New Zealand author whose first children’s book, Shot, Boom, Score! has just been published by Allen and Unwin.  Shot, Boom, Score! is a hilarious story about a boy who is promised a Gamebox V3 by his dad if he scores 20 wickets in cricket and 10 tries in rugby, but is foiled at every turn by the class bully.  Justin has written a guest post for My Best Friends Are Books about writing and how Shot, Boom, Score! came to be.

‘If you dedicate your next book to me I’ll give you $1.20.’

This opportunity, offered to me by a boy named Kit at a school talk in Nelson, sums up why I write for kids. They have no fear and no filters. Their heads aren’t clogged with mortgages, work woes or what to cook for dinner. Okay, so they’re not allowed ice cream for dinner, or to stay up past ‘X-Factor,’ but nothing tops climbing trees, licking the bowl or having a fist fight with your best mate.

For the past ten years I’d focused on writing non-fiction travel (‘UK on a G-String,’ ‘Bowling Through India’) as well as humour (‘Kiwi Speak,’ ‘Rugby Speak’). In truth, I wanted to write middle-grade fiction, like my hero Roald Dahl. But first I had to meet someone who knew what they were doing. That someone was Joy Cowley, who I accosted one day at the Story Lines festival in Auckland. A few days later – when she’d read my stories – she agreed to be my ‘Yoda.’ We worked together on many titles for McGraw Hill and Clean Slate Press. She is a very generous and smart lady.

Then one day I had the idea for ‘Shot, Boom, Score!’. It came while on the sideline at my daughters’ soccer match. Like many Kiwi kids, sport played a major role in my childhood. As did rewards for doing well. Many a parent has bribed their kids with a ‘pie for a try’ or ‘movie tickets for a wicket.’ With Toby in ‘Shot, Boom, Score!’ I wanted to take this theme to a new level. Here is a boy who struggles with school, but excels at sport. When his father sets him the GameBox V3 Challenge Toby thinks he’s hit the jackpot. Sadly, he hasn’t accounted for class bully Malcolm McGarvy – who does his best to ruin the party.

Kids can be ruthless critics. If something stinks they’ll let you know. So it was with a certain amount of relief when my nine-year-old daughter Sophie (who was having ‘Shot, Boom, Score!’ read to her class) came home and said, ‘Dad, even the bullies love this story – and they never share their feelings!’ Here’s hoping many other kids enjoy the book.

PS. I did end up dedicating a novel to Kit, but as of yet haven’t seen any money.

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The Originals by Cat Patrick

Cat Patrick’s books are nothing but original.  The best way I would describe her books are teen romance with a science fiction twist.  Forgotten is about a girl whose short-term memory is erased each night and she can only “remember” events from her future.  She falls in love and has to write notes at night to remind her about her boyfriend in the morning.  Revived is about a girl who was one of the first subjects in a covert programme that tests a drug called Revive. She has died and been Revived five times, but in order to live a normal life and have relationships, she has to escape from the programme.  Cat’s latest book, The Originals, is equally as original and gripping.

OriginalsTo the outside world, Elizabeth Best is a model student. She’s a cheerleader, gets straight As and holds down an after-school job. But what the outside world doesn’t know is that Elizabeth Best is actually three girls. Lizzie, Betsey and Ella are no ordinary triplets. Born as part of an illegal cloning program, the girls were forced into hiding when the program was uncovered. To avoid being taken away, the girls have lived as one girl ever since. Living a third of a life can suck. Imagine having to consult your sisters before choosing your clothes, or hairstyle, or boyfriend. So when Lizzie is forbidden from seeing Sean, the amazing guy from her English class, she and her sisters decide they’ve had enough. But for a chance at a full life, they’ll have to risk everything they know.

The Originals is a genre-bending novel that draws you into the lives of three very different girls who share one life.  Romance, science fiction, mystery, suspense, secrets and lies are all mashed-up in this very cool story.  One of the things I like the most about Cat Patrick’s books is that she keeps surprising me.  Just when you think she couldn’t possibly top her previous book, she does.  I love the way that Cat weaves science fiction into her stories and it’s this element that really draws me to her stories.

Cat’s characters are always memorable and this is certainly the case with the Best girls.  The story is narrated by Lizzie so you get to know her the most and get inside her head, but Cat really fleshes out the characters of Betsey and Ella too.  Through Lizzie you get a sense of how frustrating, confusing, and unfair it is to live a third of your life.  You are stuck taking the same subjects (even if you’re no good at them), if you’ve got the first or second part of the day you can never go out at night, and if two of you like two different guys you all have to decide which one you’ll date.

I’m not a huge teen romance reader but one thing I really like about Cat’s books is that the love interest isn’t some super hot guy that drips testosterone.  Sean in The Originals, much like Luke in Forgotten and Matt in Revived, is an average guy who is intelligent, talented and caring.   As a teenage guy reading this book I would have found Sean alot easier to live up to than many other males in teen fiction.

If you haven’t discovered Cat Patrick you don’t know what you’re missing.  Read The Originals and you’ll be hooked.

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Q & A with Lorraine Orman about her new book Touchstone

  • You recently published your tenth book, Touchstone, as a YA e-book. What was the background to this venture into e-publishing?

I was a casualty when Longacre Press merged into Random House NZ. Longacre had published my two previous YA novels, but Random said no thanks to this one. My agent, Frances Plumpton, tried hard to find a home for Touchstone but fantasy and futuristic series were in vogue. After a couple of years I thought, “I can’t bear to stuff it into the metaphorical bottom drawer. Why not make it an e-book?”

  • How have you found the e-publishing process?

I could write a book about it! The general impression one gains from online articles is that it’s easy. It’s not. You have to come out of your cosy author’s corner and become editor, proofreader, formatter, cover designer, publisher, decision-maker, legal expert, distributor and promoter. I’m lucky enough to have a network of supportive colleagues – thank you to the Facebook crowd!

  • Tell us about the e-book.

TouchstoneCoverSmallVersionLike Cross Tides and Hideout, Touchstone is a blend of genres – family problems, adventure and suspense, environmental issues, and a good dollop of New Zealand history. It’s set in a
ghost town on the Buller Coal plateau. The 16-year-old heroine gets involved with a group of eco-warriors trying to prevent a new coalmine being established. Much of the environmental
theme is based on fact.

There’s a free PDF Teachers’ Resource Kit (prepared by a secondary teacher) available on my website at www.story-go-round.net.nz. Any royalties I make are being donated to the Animal Sanctuary at Matakana, near my home. In addition, the book links to Forest and Bird’s campaign to save the Denniston Plateau from more coalmines.

  • Where can people buy Touchstone?

It’s available for around $4.99 (US) from major online bookstores such as Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo Bookshop, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, etc. It’s also available on Wheelers E-Platform, which should be convenient for New Zealand schools and libraries. I’m working on getting it to more NZ suppliers.

  • Do you plan to publish another e-book?

Cross Tides is also available as an e-book, thanks to Random House NZ. But doing it all over again with another manuscript – who knows? I have to recover from this journey first!

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Picture Book Nook: Wonderful new picture books from Nosy Crow

Nosy Crow are one of my favourite publishers of picture books.  Their picture books are quirky, funny, and they look stunning! They’re the sort of picture books that you’re happy to read to your kids again and again, because you love them as much as they do.  Here are three of my recent favourites from Nosy Crow.  You have to go and get these from your library or bookshop and read them right now.

Weasels by Elys Dolan

Weasels – what do they do all day? Eat nuts and berries? Frolic in leaves? Lurk in the dark? Argue with squirrels? Hide in their weasel holes? Well, all these are wrong. What they really do is . . . plot world domination. Find out how their dastardly plans are foiled in this hilarious, off-the-wall debut picture book from a shiny new star in the children’s book firmament, Elys Dolan.

It’s almost impossible to put into words how original and witty this book is: imagine spoof James Bond meets Scaredy Squirrel if you can. It’s packed with cross-over humour to amuse kids and big kids too. The art is stylish yet accessible and full of details for poring over time and time again – there’s always a new joke to find! And there are machines and maps and even a laboratory . . . oh, and lots of lots of weasels.

Troll Swap by Leigh Hodgkinson

Timothy Limpet feels out of place in the troll family – he likes things to be just so, and most trolls, frankly, don’t. Tabitha Lumpit likes things to be loud, loopy and messy and she feels a fish out of water in her very neat family. Sometimes they wonder if their families really see them for who they are, so when Timothy and Tabitha meet on the bridge they decide each other’s family is a better fit and they swap places . . . with hilarious and touching results.

Based around the time-honoured theme of home is where the heart is, this warm and witty story is a celebration of the individual and offers a valuable lesson on not judging others.

Check out Leigh Hodgkinson’s other hilarious picture book from Nosy Crow, Goldilocks and Just the One Bear.

Books Always Everywhere by Jane Blatt, illustrated by Sarah Massini

A joyful celebration of the physical book in all its glory! For the very young, books can be anything – from a chair, to a tower, to a hat – but the best thing they can be . . . is a book… and it’s never too soon to share a good book with your little ones.

The simple text, written by debut author Jane Blatt is brought to life by Sarah Massini’s delightful and nostalgic illustrations of babies and toddlers discovering the new, magical world of books.

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Win a Carlos Ruiz Zafon prize pack

Seeing Carlos Ruiz Zafon at the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival at the weekend is the highlight of my year.  Carlos is the author of my favourite book, The Shadow of the Wind, as well as many other amazing books.  He has written books for both adults and teens, including his latest YA book, The Watcher in the Shadows.

I have a special prize to give away to one Carlos Ruiz Zafon fan – a signed copy of The Prisoner of Heaven and an unsigned copy of The Watcher in the Shadows.  To get in the draw just enter your name and email address in the form below.  Competition closes Monday 27 May (international).

Thanks to everyone who entered.  The winner is Laraine.

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