Monthly Archives: July 2013

A.J. Betts on Zac and Mia

The last person Zac expects in the room next door is a girl like Mia, angry and feisty with questionable taste in music. In the real world, he wouldn’t—couldn’t—be friends with her. In hospital different rules apply, and what begins as a knock on the wall leads to a note—then a friendship neither of them sees coming.

You need courage to be in hospital; different courage to be back in the real world. In one of these worlds Zac needs Mia. And in the other Mia needs Zac. Or maybe they both need each other, always.

Zac and Mia by A.J. Betts was the winner of the 2012 Text Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing.  Text have published some fantastic books through their Text Prize and Zac and Mia sounds great.

Zac and Mia is released in NZ in August from Text Publishing.

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Win a signed copy of Wearable Wonders by Fifi Colston

Wearable Wonders is Fifi Colston’s fantastic new book that’s bursting with creativity, tips, tricks and ideas to help you make your own wearable wonder.  Fifi has been in Christchurch this week, running workshops for children as part of the TV2 KidsFest, and I got the chance to have a chat with her.  I’m a huge fan of Fifi’s books and I grew up watching her on What Now.

Thanks to the wonderful publisher of Wearable Wonders, Scholastic NZ, I have a special signed copy of the book to give away.  All you have to do to get in the draw is enter your name and email address in the form below.  Competition closes Wednesday 31 July (NZ only).

Thanks to everyone who entered.  The winner is Sandra Worthington.

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Wearable Wonders by Fifi Colston

Are your kids crafty and creative?  Are you looking for that perfect idea to keep your kids entertained for hours these school holidays?  Wearable Wonders is Fifi Colston’s fantastic new book that’s bursting with creativity, tips, tricks and ideas to help you make your own wearable wonder.

What wonderful stories can petals, shells and stones tell?

What fantastic forms can fabrics, wire and cardboard take?

What out-of-this-world shapes can old cans and drink bottles make?

Mix them together, add a dash of drama and a splash of imagination and learn how to WOW the world with your very own wearable wonder!

As Fifi says in her introduction, this isn’t a book with patterns that show you how to make something in particular, it’s about showing you ‘how you can come up with an idea for something you’d never dreamed of making before.’  There are plenty of examples of wearable wonders that Fifi and others have created to show you what can be created from materials that you might have lying around the house.

Fifi has split the book up in to lots of sections so that you can work through your masterpiece from start to finish.  The first section is all about how and where to find good ideas, and Fifi gives some great tips about tips to help inspire you.  Once you have your idea, Fifi then takes you through how to plan your time, shows you the tools and materials that you might need to create your masterpiece, shows you how to construct it, looks at what other accessories you might need to complete your look, and how to paint it.  The last section looks at staging a wearable art show and the things you need to pull it all together.

There is so much to like about Wearable Wonders. The information is clear, simple and easy to follow.  I especially like the way that the text is arranged in small blocks, on pieces of paper that look like they’ve been pinned or taped to the page.  The text is surrounded with lots of colourful diagrams and photos, with arrows matching photos and descriptions.  It’s the sort of book that will appeal to kids, teens and adults because it’s so user-friendly.  I’m not a crafty person but Fifi makes it look easy to create something wonderful from recycled materials.

Grab a copy of Wearable Wonders from your library or bookshop and create your own masterpiece.  It’s the perfect way to spend the school holidays or a rainy weekend.

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Win a picture book pack from Scholastic NZ

Scholastic New Zealand are publishing some wonderful new picture books in July, including books about birds, dinosaur dads, and a retelling of a piggy tale.  The best part is that they’re all by New Zealand authors and illustrators!  I’ll be reviewing them here on the blog throughout the month, but here’s your chance to get your hands on them.

Thanks to Scholastic NZ I have a pack of their wonderful new picture books to give away. The pack includes a copy of One Little Fantail by Anne Hunter and Dave Gunson, My Dinosaur Dad by Ruth Paul, and The Three Little Pigs retold and illustrated by Gavin Bishop.

Thanks to everyone who entered.  The winner is Debbe.

 

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Picture Book Nook: The Green Bath by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Steven Kellogg

It has been almost a year since one of our most treasured authors, Margaret Mahy, passed away.  Since her passing there have been three wonderful new Margaret Mahy stories published.  This month, Scholastic are publishing another new Margaret Mahy story, The Green Bath, illustrated by one of Margaret’s previous collaborators, Steven Kellog.

Sammy likes to have adventures of all sorts, but he could never have imagined the adventures that he would have when his father brings home a big, green bath.  When Sammy takes a bath to clean up for his grandma’s visit, the bath escapes from his house with Sammy inside.  The bath takes Sammy on an adventure on the seven seas, with mermaids, a sea serpent and pirates.

The Green Bath is a wonderfully-wacky Margaret Mahy story that will have kids imagining their own bath-time adventures.  Margaret has let her imagination run wild with this story of a boy who’s bath tub comes to life.  The story is full of Margaret’s wonderful language and characteristic wordplay.  I especially like ‘ Sammy bewildered them with bubbles and baffled them with soapsuds,’ and the way that she describes the buccaneers as ‘beaten, bubbling and blustering.’  Steven Kellog’s illustrations are delightfully silly and perfect for this watery, bubble-filled adventure.

The Green Bath is the perfect bedtime book to share with your children, especially just after a bath.  Just don’t go reading it before bath-time or you might find your bathroom covered in water and bubbles!

 

 

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Picture Book Nook: One Little Fantail by Anne Hunter, illustrated by Dave Gunson

There are some wonderful books that have been published about New Zealand birds, especially Ben Brown and Helen Taylor’s picture books.  There are very few, however, that are perfect for younger children and wonderful to read aloud.  One Little Fantail by Anne Hunter and illustrated by Dave Gunson is one of those books that entertains and informs young children about New Zealand birds.

One Little Fantail is a collection of delightful rhymes that introduce children to a variety of our native birds.  Anne Hunter’s rhyming text is a joy to read aloud and each poem rolls off your tongue.  I love the way that Anne can describe so much about each bird’s characteristics in just eight lines. The short, rhyming text makes the book perfect for sharing with younger children, as they don’t get bogged down in detail. You could get children to pretend to be each bird, based on the description that Anne gives you of each one.  For those inquisitive children, there are more interesting facts about each bird in the ‘Did you know…’ pages at the back of the book.

Each double page spread features a different bird, with their name in English and Maori.  Dave Gunson’s realistic illustrations are stunning and he perfectly captures the characteristics of each bird.  He captures the mischief of the Kea, the flitting of the Fantail, and the fierceness of the Kahu.

Book Design have done a brilliant job of designing One Little Fantail.  I especially like the way that the names of the birds fade into the background, while also being quite prominent on the page, and the way that the sounds each bird makes stands out in bold lettering.

One Little Fantail is a book should be in every preschool and school around the country.  Grab a copy and introduce your children to our magnificent native birds.

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Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman talks about Noble Conflict

Years after a violent war destroyed much of the world, Kaspar has grown up in a society based on peace and harmony. But beyond the city walls, a vicious band of rebels are plotting to tear this peace apart. It is up to the Guardians – an elite peacekeeping force – to protect the city, without ever resorting to the brutal methods of their enemy.

When Kaspar joins the Guardians, he has a chance encounter with a rebel – a beautiful girl named Rhea. Haunted from that moment on by strange visions and memories – memories that could only belong to Rhea – he realises he hasn’t been told the truth about what the rebels really want, and what he’s really fighting for.

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Picture Book Nook: Henry’s Map by David Elliot

Henry is a very particular sort of pig, who believes there’s ‘a place for everything and everything in its place.’  But when he looks out the window, he’s troubled.  The farm is a mess! How will anybody find anything? Henry comes up with a plan.  He’ll draw a map!  Follow Henry and his friends through the farm as he draws the map.  Will this sort everything out?

Henry’s Map is a very funny picture book that’s full of surprises.  I started reading it thinking it was going to be a pretty straight-forward story, but David Elliot had me laughing out loud as the story took an unexpected turn.  It’s so much fun to read aloud, because you naturally speed-up the second part of the story as the animals are all rushing around.

The animals all have quite unique personalities so you can’t help but do different voices for each one.  Henry the very organised pig is a cute wee guy who kids will love.  He proudly clutches his map and shows it off to the other animals on the farm, but he gets quite flustered when he thinks that it’s all wrong.

David’s illustrations are superb and his characters are very animated.  The sheep are bursting with energy, the chickens are all in a flap, and the horse is galloping full-pelt down the hill.  One moment they full of delight and the next they’re full of worry.

Grab a copy of Henry’s Map by one of our most talented author/illustrators, David Elliot.

 

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Jonathan Stroud talks about his new series, Lockwood & Co.

When the dead come back to haunt the living, Lockwood & Co. step in . . .
For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A number of Psychic Investigations Agencies have sprung up to destroy the dangerous apparitions.

Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, arrives in London hoping for a notable career. Instead she finds herself joining the smallest, most ramshackle agency in the city, run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood. When one of their cases goes horribly wrong, Lockwood & Co. have one last chance of redemption. Unfortunately this involves spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive.

Set in a city stalked by spectres, The Screaming Staircase is the first in a chilling new series full of suspense, humour and truly terrifying ghosts. Your nights will never be the same again.

The first book in Jonathan Stroud’s new series, Lockwood and Co., The Screaming Staircase, is one of my most anticipated books of 2013.  It sounds absolutely fantastic!  I loved Gareth P. Jones’ Constable and Toop and The Screaming Staircase sounds like a similar sort of story.  Ghosts and supernatural detectives – what more could I want?
The Screaming Staircase is due out in NZ on 20 September 2013.

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Monkey Wars book trailer – Choose your troop

When Rhesus monkeys are brutally massacred on the dusty streets of Kolkata by a troop of power-hungry Langur monkeys, Mico’s life is changed for ever.

As he attempts to help the surviving Rhesus, he becomes increasingly entangled in the secrets that lie at the heart of the corrupt Langur leadership. And, as more blood is spilt, Mico quickly realizes that choosing between right and wrong will not be as easy as he first thought.

Monkey Wars by Richard Kurti is one of my most anticipated reads from Walker Books Australia this month.  It sounds really original and exciting.  Sounds like a great book for those kids who like Erin Hunter’s books.

Monkey Wars is out now in NZ from Walker Books Australia.

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