Monthly Archives: November 2013

Win Pinocchio by Michael Morpurgo

“Now – there’s no point in pretending here – I was, and still am deep down, a puppet. Everyone knows Pinocchio is a puppet. I reckon I must be just about the most famous puppet the world has ever known. But the truth is I’m not just a puppet, I’m more than just bits of wood and string. I’m me. So I thought it was about time that I, Pinocchio, told you my story…”

So begins this stunningly beautiful interpretation of the classic story. Michael Morpurgo channels Pinocchio’s words to tell the famous puppet’s story in his own inimitable, cheeky and always funny way.

To celebrate Michael Morpurgo Month I’m giving away 2 copies of Michael Morpurgo’s latest book, his retelling of the classic story, Pinocchio.  It’s a beautiful little book, with colour illustrations by Emma Chichester Clark.  Even if you’ve read the story of Pinocchio before, you won’t have heard Pinocchio’s story quite like this.  Michael Morpurgo has a great way of bringing classic stories alive and retelling them in a way that is unique and entertaining.

Thanks to everyone who entered.  The winners are Stephanie and Vicki.

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Judges Diary: Oh the anticipation!

Imagine my surprise when I came back from a couple of days away to find 3 big boxes of books waiting for me.  Ever since the announcement that I’m going to be a judge for the 2014 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards, I’ve been wondering which books will be chosen to be considered for the awards.  There have been so many wonderful New Zealand books published in the last year and I’ve had quite a few favourites.

NZ Post books 1

When I couldn’t wait any longer I opened the boxes to find 104 beauties (only the first lot of submissions) waiting for me to open their covers and discover the stories and information that await inside.  I was glad to find my favourites, those stories that have stuck in my mind, as well as some I had really wanted to read but hadn’t got around to, and some books that I hadn’t even heard of.  There are some whose covers and design jump right out at you and beg to be read, and others whose poor design and production will be barriers for some readers discovering the story within the pages.

NZ post books 2

I sorted the books into those that I have read and those that I haven’t, and as you can see by the photo there is quite a difference.  My first goal is to go back through those I have read so far this year and remind myself what it was that I liked/didn’t like about them, then start some serious reading of my ‘to-be-read pile.’

My mountain of books awaits me so I must get started.  I’ll report back soon on how the reading is going and what gems I have discovered.

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More Than This by Patrick Ness

If you’re a regular reader of my blog you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of Patrick Ness.  He’s one of my favourite authors and I love everything he writes, whether it’s for adults or teens.  It’s been a particularly good year for fans of Patrick this year, as he’s published two books, one for adults, called The Crane Wife and a Young Adult book called More Than This.  The thought of a new Patrick Ness book always gets me excited, because I never know quite what to expect.  When Patrick revealed the details about More Than This, he gave just enough to whet reader’s appetites but left you with a huge sense of mystery.  When I picked up my copy of the book, Patrick hooked me in straight away and it haunted me right until the end.

A boy named Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying, his bones breaking, his skull dashed upon the rocks. So how is he here? And where is this place? It looks like the suburban English town where he lived as a child, before an unthinkable tragedy happened and his family moved to America. But the neighborhood around his old house is overgrown, covered in dust, and completely abandoned. What s going on? And why is it that whenever he closes his eyes, he falls prey to vivid, agonising memories that seem more real than the world around him? Seth begins a search for answers, hoping that he might not be alone, that this might not be the hell he fears it to be, that there might be more than just this.

More Than This is a tense, suspense-filled read that haunts you, so that every waking minute you are thinking about the story and trying to figure out what’s happening.  It’s one of those stories that is very difficult to explain to people without ruining the story for everyone.  I haven’t felt so obsessed with a book in a long time, wanting to just loose myself in the story and help Seth reveal the mystery of the world in which he finds himself.  Just when you think you’ve figured out what’s happening, the story takes a completely different turn.

Patrick Ness is brilliant at creating suspense (fans of his Chaos Walking Trilogy are familiar with this) and there are plenty of cliff-hangar endings in More Than This. There were so many times that I finished a chapter and had to immediately go onto the next to find out what happened.  I’m sure there were times when my colleagues wondered where I had disappeared to.  There were a couple of times where I cursed Patrick Ness out loud.  He really knows how to keep you addicted to a story!

Like his other books, Patrick has created very real characters who you feel for and are rooting for.  You follow Seth’s journey to find out what has happened to him, while at the same time, putting together the pieces of his life and discovering what led him here in the first place.

One of my favourite things about More Than This is the ending, which leaves the story open, but left me totally satisfied.

I can’t recommend Patrick Ness’ books highly enough and More Than This is one of his best.  He just keeps getting better and better.  Grab a copy of More Than This now. You won’t regret it!

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Celebrate Michael Morpurgo Month this November

November 2013 sees a month-long celebration of Michael Morpurgo’s wonderful stories, marking his 70th birthday this year.

Throughout November the Michael Morpurgo website is hosting brand new author videos, audio downloads and competitions, focussing on a different book each day. From War Horse to Beowulf and The Butterfly Lion to Kensuke’s Kingdom, celebrate 70 years of Michael Morpurgo’s stories this November.

Michael Morpurgo is one of my favourite authors and every one of his stories is wonderful so I think it’s fantastic that there is a month dedicated to him.  I’ll be sharing some of my favourite Michael Morpurgo books here on the blog this month.

Here’s Michael Morpurgo talking about Michael Morpurgo Month:

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