Monthly Archives: June 2015

The Porridge of Knowledge by Archie Kimpton and Kate Hindley

What would you do if you discovered a recipe for porridge that could make you super smart?  Would you cook some up and eat it or would you throw it away thinking it was some silly joke?  What if it really did work and you suddenly knew incredible things? Would you use your super-smarts for good or evil?  This is the connundrum that Milk finds herself in when she discovers the Porridge of Knowledge in the new book from Archie Kimpton and Kate Hindley.

The Porridge of Knowledge by Archie KimptonMilk lives in the grubby seaside town of Slopp-on-Sea – a rubbish name for a rubbish town. But Milk’s life is pretty rubbish too, so it fits. She loves her Granddad, but nowadays he’s always wandering off somewhere, or asking her befuddled questions. Then one day, he comes back from one of his jaunts with a battered book in his hand containing a recipe for THE PORRIDGE OF KNOWLEDGE.

Intrigued, Milk enlists the help of her friend Carp to try the recipe. At first it looks like all they’ve managed to create is a lump of malodorous goo – but then they notice the ants (who have been nibbling the porridge) building a mashed potato replica of the leaning tower of Pisa… So they decide to try it out on themselves. And the results are incredible! Suddenly Milk and Carp are the cleverest people in town – and Granddad is back to his normal self. Milk and Carp are about to discover that sometimes a little bit of knowledge goes a long way…

The Porridge of Knowledge is a delightfully silly story with a cast of characters that will both make you laugh and cringe.  It’s a hugely entertaining story, with a great mixture of adventure, silliness, and plenty of laughs.  If you’re looking for the perfect read aloud for your kids, whether they’re 7 or 12, The Porridge of Knowledge is that book.

There are so many things to love about this book but the thing I loved most was Archie’s characters.  The people who live in Slopp-on-Sea sure are an interesting bunch, from the loveable main character Milk and her batty Grandad, to Jarvis the world’s worst cook and the slimey Malcolm Blanket.  My favourite character is Ms Cerise, Milk’s incredibly cruel and horrible teacher.  Not since Ms. Trunchbull in Roald Dahl’s Matilda have I meet a teacher so completely horrible to children!  Not only does she think her students are stupid, she tells them to their face.  She embarrasses and humiliates her students at every opportunity and she has a serious issue with stealing.  Ms. Cerise is just one of the characters in The Porridge of Knowledge who you hope will get their comeuppance big time!

Archie Kimpton and Kate Hindley are a dream team.  Kate’s illustrations bring Archie’s wonderful story and characters to life and they add an extra dash of humour.  I love illustrated books for older children and this is a great example.

If you like Roald Dahl and David Walliams you need to read The Porridge of Knowledge. I’m certainly going to search out Archie and Kate’s first book, Jumble Cat, and I’ll eagerly await their next book. Let’s hope they join forces for many more books.  Thanks to the marvellous Hot Key Books for publishing such a wonderful book.

Leave a comment

Filed under books

My Most Anticipated Kids and YA July Releases from Text Publishing

Molly and Pim and the Millions of Stars by Martine Murray

Molly has a strange life. Her mama collects herbs at dawn and makes potions, her father and brothers have gone away, and her house feels like a gyspy caravan.

Molly doesn’t want to know anything about herbs and potions. She wishes she could be more like her best friend, Ellen, who has a normal family and a normal house. But she is also secretly interested in Pim, who is inquisitive and odd and a little bit frightening.

When Molly’s mama makes a potion that has a wild and shocking effect, Molly and Pim look for a way to make things right, and Molly discovers the magic and value of her own unusual life.

Molly and Pim and the Millions of Stars

Afterlife by Rebecca Lim

From the acclaimed author of the Mercy series and The Astrologer’s Daughter.

Since her parents died in a freak motorbike accident, Sophie Teague’s life has fallen apart.

But she’s just enrolled at a new high school, hoping for a fresh start.

That’s until Eve, a beautiful ghost in black, starts making terrifying nightly appearances, wanting Sophie to be her hands, eyes and go-to girl.

There are loose ends that Eve needs Sophie to tie up. But dealing with the dead might just involve the greatest sacrifice of all.


Leave a comment

Filed under children's fiction, new releases, young adult, young adult fiction

Kids and YA new releases from Makaro Press

Peaceful Warriors by Raymond Huber (Children’s Nonfiction)

A war hero who refused to fight, students who stood up to Hitler, a ship that sailed into a nuclear test zone, a whole town which practiced non-violence. Peace Warriors tells the dramatic stories of people who chose non-violent resistance in times of conflict—stories of young men and women from New Zealand and around the world.

Young readers will discover that peaceful resistance can be as effective as military force, and that people power can change history.

Peace Warriors front cover

Nanotech by Denis Wright

High school students on a science field trip to Auckland are captured by white supremacist group NAB, whose target is American biologist Professor Meinhoff. He’s made a startling and dangerous breakthrough in molecular biology – a virus that could destroy entire ethnic groups if it falls into the wrong hands.

The kidnappers want it. The students and their teacher, Bernie, get in the way. Time is running out as they try to escape the kidnappers, save the Professor, and ensure that NAB’s shocking plan doesn’t succeed.

Nanotech front cover

You can purchase these books and more books from Makaro Press on their website –


Filed under children's nonfiction, New Zealand, young adult fiction

Win a signed copy of Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman

To celebrate Chris Riddell being named the new Children’s Laureate I have a very special giveaway.  I have a limited edition copy of Fortunately the Milk signed by both Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell to give away to one lucky reader.  I absolutely love this book, both for Neil’s story and Chris’ illustrations!

Fortunately the Milk

Thanks to everyone who entered the competition!  The winner of the signed book is Laraine.


Filed under Chris Riddell, competition, Neil Gaiman

My Most Anticipated YA June New Releases from Allen and Unwin

To Hold the Bridge by Garth Nix (Young Adult)

Far to the north of the magical Old Kingdom, the Greenwash Bridge Company has been building a bridge for almost a hundred years. It is not an easy task, for many dangers threaten the bridge builders, from nomad raiders to Free Magic sorcerers. Despite the danger, Morghan wants nothing more than to join the Bridge Company as a cadet. But the company takes only the best, the most gifted Charter mages, and trains them hard. For the night might come when even an untried young cadet must hold the bridge alone against the most devastating of foes …

Also included in this remarkable collection are eighteen short stories that showcase Nix’s versatility as he adds a fantastical twist on an array of genres including science fiction, paranormal, realistic fiction, mystery, and adventure.


Pieces of Sky by Trinity Doyle (Young Adult)

Lucy’s life was going as smoothly as any teenager’s could. She was the state backstroke champion, and swimming obsessed. She lived with her parents and her brother, Cam, in the small coastal town she’d known all her life. She had friends, she had goals – she had a life.

Now Cam is dead, her parents might as well be – and Lucy can’t bear to get back in the pool. All she has to look forward to now is a big pile of going-nowhere.

Drawn to Steffi, the wild ex-best-friend who reminds her of her artist brother, and music-obsessed Evan, the new boy in town, Lucy starts asking questions. Why did Cam die? Was it an accident or suicide? But as Lucy hunts for answers she discovers much more than she expects. About Cam. About her family. About herself.


Leave a comment

Filed under books, new releases, young adult

Chris Riddell – Children’s Laureate 2015-2017

It was fantastic to wake up to the news that Chris Riddell has been named the UK Children’s Laureate for 2015-2017.  Chris is the nineth laureate and follows in the footsteps of such giants of the children’s literature world as Malorie Blackman, Michael Morpurgo, Anthony Brown and Anne Fine. Chris Riddell is a fantastic illustrator who has worked with Neil Gaiman, Russell Brand, Martin Jenkins, and most notably with Paul Stewart on their Edge Chronicles series. Has also written and illustrated his own books, including the Ottoline series, the Goth Girl series, and the picture books The Emperor of Absurdia and Wendel’s Workshop.

His plan for his two-year post as Children’s Laureate is to encourage people to draw every day, he’ll post a daily illustration on his online ‘laureate log,’ and he wants to “to celebrate librarians at the heart of our schools.”

If you don’t follow Chris Riddell online you really should.  He posts some of his wonderful illustrations to his Facebook and Twiiter pages.  Follow him or

Check out the Love Reading 4 Kids UK Facebook page ( as Chris has illustrated each of the previous Children’s Laureates .  They are absolutely wonderful illustrations!

Here is my virtual book display of some great books by Chris Riddell.

Leave a comment

Filed under authors, awards, book awards, books, children

It’s the Children’s Choice in the 2015 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults

The New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults are trying something new this year with an expanded Children’s Choice Awards.  Children in schools from around the country have been given the opportunity to select their own list of finalists for the 2015 Children’s Choice Award.  It’s an awesome opportunity and something that I wish I had had the chance to do when I was at school.  Read all about it below and check out the finalist list for the 2015 Children’s Choice Award.  I think it’s a great list and it’s good to see the difference between the childrens’ finalists and those of the judges.

New Children’s Choice finalists’ list now decided by children

Children’s choices rule in the newly revamped Children’s Choice Awards in 2015. This year, more than 6,500 children and young adults from 106 schools from throughout the country have selected their own finalists from the 149 books submitted for the Awards. In previous years, the Children’s Choice was made from the judges’ finalist list, rather than from the full number of submitted books.

Nicola Legat, chair of the New Zealand Book Awards Trust, says, ”We wanted to hand this section over to the children – for them to decide which books they engaged with and which books they loved, rather than making their choices based on the criteria the judges used to make their decisions. Of the 20 books chosen as Children’s Choice finalists, seven match those on the judges’ list, so we’re very much looking forward to seeing the results of round two of the children’s vote over the next seven weeks.”

Voting for the Children’s Choice opens on Tuesday, 9 June and closes on Friday, 31 July. This year there will be a winner in each category.

Picture Books

  • I am not a Worm by Scott Tulloch – Scholastic NZ
  • Little Red Riding Hood ….Not Quite  by Yvonne Morrison & Donovan Bixley – Scholastic NZ
  • The Anzac Puppy by Peter Millett & Trish Bowles – Scholastic NZ
  • Doggy Ditties from A to Z by Jo van Dam & Myles Lawford – Scholastic NZ
  • Marmaduke Duck on the Wide Blue Seas by Juliette MacIver & Sarah Davis – Scholastic NZ

Junior Fiction

  • Dragon Knight: Fire! by Kyle Mewburn & Donovan Bixley – Scholastic NZ
  • The Island of Lost Horses by Stacy Gregg – HarperCollins
  • How I Alienated My Grandma by Suzanne Main – Scholastic NZ
  • 1914 – Riding into War by Susan Brocker – Scholastic NZ
  • My New Zealand Story: Canterbury Quake by Desna Wallace – Scholastic NZ


  • New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame: 25 Kiwi Champions by Maria Gill & Marco Ivancic – New Holland Publishers
  • Maori Art for Kids by Julie Noanoa & Norm Heke – Craig Potton Publishing
  • The Letterbox Cat & other poems by Paula Green & Myles Lawford – Scholastic NZ
  • A New Zealand Nature Journal by Sandra Morris – Walker Books Australia
  • Waitangi Day: The New Zealand Story by Philippa Werry – New Holland Publishers

Young Adult Fiction

  • I Am Rebecca by Fleur Beale – Penguin Random House NZ
  • Night Vision by Ella West – Allen & Unwin
  • Spark by Rachael Craw – Walker Books Australia
  • Awakening by Natalie King – Penguin Random House
  • The Red Suitcase by Jill Harris – Makaro Press

Leave a comment

Filed under books

2015 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults Finalists

The finalists in the 2015 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults were released this morning.  Having been part of the judging panel for last year’s awards, releasing the list of the finalists is a huge pleasure for the judges.  They’ve chosen a great list with a few surprising finalists (including a picture book I hadn’t heard of).  You can read the press release below and check out the finalist list.  The Children’s Choice Awards are bigger and better this year too.  You can also read about the revamped Children’s Choice Award and the finalists in this category here on the blog.

Pirates, orcas and penguins leap from the pages of the 22 books picked as finalists in the 2015 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

In the 25th year of these venerable awards, New Zealand authors have once again produced beautifully written and illustrated books that are wonderful to hold and read, showing that publishing for New Zealand children is in very good heart.

One hundred and forty nine books were submitted for the Awards. A panel of three judges (judging convenor and children’s book reviewer and literary consultant Bob Docherty; author and children’s bookshop owner, Annemarie Florian; and teacher-librarian Fiona Mackie), with the assistance of Te Reo Māori language adviser, freelance Māori writer and editor Stephanie Pohe-Tibble, have spent months reading, analysing and enjoying all entries.

The finalists in the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults are selected across four categories: Picture Book, Non-Fiction, Junior Fiction and Young Adult Fiction, and there is an additional award for books written in Māori, for which there are finalists for the first time.

Judging panel convenor Bob Docherty says the judges were very pleased with the high quality of this year’s writing. “We likened the process to a vintner looking forward to tasting this year’s vintage. Having tasted, we all were delighted with this year’s production of titles – not only in terms of the actual writing, but also the fantastic quality and style of the illustrations and the actual presentation of the books. It’s heartening to see that book production in New Zealand is getting better and better. We’re pleased that publishers continue to put as much emphasis on the look and feel – literally – of a book as well as its content.

“The Picture Book category gave the judges the most difficulty – in the best possible way. With a whopping 75 entries, there was fierce competition to pare these down to five finalists. This indicates that New Zealand is producing its fair share of wonderfully strong visual stories – stories with simple integrity yet with expressive characters, where both author and illustrator work together to capture our interest on every page,” says Bob.

“All books submitted in the Non-Fiction category were particularly impressive – almost in defiance of the trend for some libraries to dispense with their non-fiction collections in favour of online sources. The judging panel believed all the Non-Fiction entries contained material that was far superior to any online source, and all entries deserved to be finalists, says Bob.

There were 35 entries in Junior Fiction category. “All these books were a delight to read. This year’s finalists have combined comic book illustrations with the traditional novel format, and four of the five books have an historical connection. Fantasy and adventure also figure, and there is a strong anti-bullying link within the finalists’ titles in this category.

The judges agreed that all 21 entries in the Young Adult Fiction category were stunning. The high standard of writing reflects the calibre of New Zealand’s world-class writers. The human condition and teenage relationships were intimately discussed, and dialogue was a strong feature of all of these novels.

Two finalists for the Māori language award
Seven books were submitted in the Māori language award, with two selected as finalists. Te Reo Māori language adviser, Stephanie Pohe-Tibble, says that all of this year’s entries had something for every reader – from beginning speakers of Māori to children and whānau involved in kōhanga reo and kura kaupapa Māori. The two finalists both stood out with their innovative approach to translation, wonderful text and illustrations, and creativity of storylines. Stephanie says, “I hope that all parents wishing to enrich their children’s lives with the Māori language will get to spend some special time with their children reading and enjoying these books.”

Picture Books

  • Construction, Sally Sutton and Brian Lovelock, Walker Books Australia
  • I Am Not a Worm, Scott Tulloch, Scholastic New Zealand
  • Jim’s Letters, Glyn Harper and Jenny Cooper, Penguin Random House
  • Keys, Sasha Cotter and Joshua Morgan, Huia Publishers
  • Little Red Riding Hood . . . Not Quite, Yvonne Morrison and Donovan Bixley, Scholastic New Zealand


  • Ghoulish Get-Ups: How to Create Your Own Freaky Costumes, Fifi Colston, Scholastic New Zealand
  • Māori Art for Kids, Julie Noanoa and Norm Heke, Craig Potton Publishing
  • Mōtītī Blue and the Oil Spill, Debbie McCauley and Sarah Elworthy, Mauao Publishing
  • The Book of Hat, Harriet Rowland, Makaro Press/Submarine
  • Under the Ocean: explore & discover New Zealand’s sea life, Gillian Candler and Ned Barraud, Craig Potton Publishing

Junior Fiction

  • Conrad Cooper’s Last Stand, Leonie Agnew, Penguin Random House/Puffin
  • Dragon Knight: Fire!, Kyle Mewburn and Donovan Bixley, Scholastic New Zealand
  • Monkey Boy, Donovan Bixley, Scholastic New Zealand
  • The Island of Lost Horses, Stacy Gregg, HarperCollins
  • The Pirates and the Nightmaker, James Norcliffe, Penguin Random House/Longacre Child

Young Adults

  • I Am Rebecca, Fleur Beale, Penguin Random House
  • Night Vision, Ella West, Allen & Unwin
  • Recon Team Angel: Vengeance, Brian Falkner, Walker Books Australia
  • Singing Home the Whale, Mandy Hager, Penguin Random House
  • While We Run, Karen Healey, Allen & Unwin

Māori Language Award

  • Hoiho Paku, Stephanie Thatcher and Ngaere Roberts, Scholastic New Zealand
  • Nga Ki, Sasha Cotter and Joshua Morgan, Huia Publishers (translation of Keys, a finalist in the Picture Book category)

Leave a comment

Filed under books

Yo-ho-ho! Here come the Steampunk Pirates!

Avast me hearties! Are you a land lubber lookin’ for a book chock full of adventure on the seven seas, robot pirates, laughs aplenty, and gold?  Well the Adventures of the Steampunk Pirates is the series for you. Hop on board The Leaky Battery and set sail with this rag-tag crew.

Wanted: Dead or Alive! (Or smashed into little bits and delivered in boxes.) Causing chaos wherever they sail, the robotic Steampunk Pirates are roaming the high seas, hunting for gold!

But the evil Iron Duke has other ideas…He’s determined to capture the pirates in return for a handsome reward from the King. Can these mechanical marauders stay one wave ahead of their enemy?

The Leaky Battery Sets Sail is the brilliant first book in Gareth P. Jones’ swashbuckling new series, Adventures of the Steampunk Pirates.  The Steampunk Pirates are a crew of robots who were once servants. They decided they didn’t want to be bossed around so acquired a ship and set out to find adventure.  Their crew is made up of their hot-headed leader Captain Clockheart, First Mate Mainspring (who gets dangerous when he gets overwound), Quartermaster Lexi (the brains of the crew who is fitted with an information file), Mr Gadge (so named because of all the gadgets he can attach to himself) and twelve other robotic low-lifes.

Their first adventure sees the Steampunk Pirates on the hunt for all the loot they can find.  They’ve discovered that life at sea isn’t so great when you’re made of metal because it rusts in the salty sea air.  They hear of an alchemist who can turn metal in to gold and Captain Clockheart believes this is the answer to their problems.  Along the way they meet the Iron Duke and other nasty humans who try to foil their plans.

Adventures of the Steampunk Pirates is perfect for readers aged 7+ who love adventure and love to laugh. They’re quick, fun reads with quirky illustrations that will appeal to young readers.  I look forward to seeing what happens in the next adventures of the Steampunk Pirates in Attack of the Giant Sea Spiders.  I highly recommend this series and you should definitely search out Gareth’s other books, including the Ninja Meerkats series, The Thornthwaite Inheritance, and one of my favourite books Constable and Toop.

Leave a comment

Filed under adventure, books, children, children's fiction, funny, humour

The Astounding Broccoli Boy by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Frank Cottrell Boyce is one of those authors whose books I always look forward to.  His books are always unique and surprising. I’ve loved his writing since I read his first book, Millions.  Since then he’s written Framed, Cosmic and several Chitty Chitty Bang Bang stories.  Frank’s latest book, The Astounding Broccoli Boy, is another memorable story, with humour, adventure and super heroes.

Rory Rooney likes to be prepared for all eventualities. His favourite book is Don’t Be Scared, Be Prepared, and he has memorized every page of it. He could even survive a hippo attack. He knows that just because something is unlikely doesn’t mean it won’t ever happen . . .

But Rory isn’t prepared when he suddenly and inexplicably turns green.

Stuck in an isolation ward in a hospital far from home with two other remarkably green children, Rory’s as confused by his new condition as the medics seem to be.

But what if it’s not in their genes, or a virus, or something they ate? What if turning green actually means you’ve turned into a superhero?

Rory can’t wait to make it past hospital security and discover exactly what his superpower might be . . .

‘Every story has a hero. All you have to do is make sure it’s you.’ From this very first line Frank Cottrell Boyce draws you in to this wonder filled story of Rory, an ordinary boy who becomes extraordinary when he mysteriously turns green.  Rory has been bullied most of his school life by Grim Komissky but when they both find himself in the same situation (green and seemingly no reason for it) they must band together and discover how they can put their green-ness to use.  After all, the Incredible Hulk, Green Lantern and Swamp Thing are all green and superheroes so why can’t they be?

I think the strength of Frank Cottrell Boyce’s stories are his characters and their relationships and this is certainly the case in The Astounding Broccoli Boy.  Rory is a great character that kids will be able to relate to and I loved his voice.  Grim Komissky was my favourite character.  He’s like the kid that on first meeting him you decide you don’t like him but once you get to know him you realise he’s actually pretty cool.  I loved the way that Rory and Grim’s relationship grew throughout the story.

The Astounding Broccoli Boy is a book that makes you laugh, makes you think and makes you wish that you had a friend like Rory.  Ultimately it shows readers that you don’t need to turn green to be astounding and do extraordinary things.

Recommended for 9+

Leave a comment

Filed under books