Monthly Archives: September 2015

Win a copy of Demon Road by Derek Landy

Demon Road is Derek Landy’s latest book and one of my recent favourites.  It’s a deliciously dark, gory, witty, totally gripping book that will make you cringe one minute and laugh out loud the next.  You can read my review here on the blog.

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Thanks to HarperCollins NZ I have 3 copies of Demon Road to give away.  To get in the draw all you have to do is email bestfriendsrbooks@gmail.com with the subject ‘Demon Road,’ along with your name and address.  I will draw 3 winners at random.  Competition closes Thursday 1 October (NZ only).

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My Most Anticipated October Kids & YA Releases from Allen and Unwin

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Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti

Don’t call them heroes. But these six Californian teens have powers that set them apart.

Ethan aka Scam has a voice inside him that’ll say whatever people want to hear, whether it’s true or not. Which is handy, except when it isn’t – like when the voice starts gabbing in the middle of a bank robbery. The only people who can help are the other Zeroes, who aren’t exactly best friends these days.

Enter Nate, aka Bellwether, the group’s ‘glorious leader.’ After Scam’s SOS, he pulls the scattered Zeroes back together. But when the rescue blows up in their faces, the Zeroes find themselves propelled into whirlwind encounters with ever more dangerous criminals. At the heart of the chaos they find Kelsie, who can take a crowd in the palm of her hand and tame it or let it loose as she pleases.

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The Singing Bones by Shaun Tan

In this beautifully presented volume, the essence of seventy-five fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm is wonderfully evoked by Shaun Tan’s extraordinary sculptures.

Nameless princes, wicked stepsisters, greedy kings, honourable peasants and ruthless witches, tales of love, betrayal, adventure and magical transformation: all inspiration for this stunning gallery of sculptural works. Introduced by Grimm Tales author Philip Pullman and leading fairy tale scholar Jack Zipes, The Singing Bones breathes new life into some of the world’s most beloved fairy tales.

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Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Illustrated Edition by J.K. Rowling and illustrated by Jim Kay

Prepare to be spellbound by Jim Kay’s dazzling depiction of the wizarding world and much loved characters in this full-colour illustrated hardback edition of the nation’s favourite children’s book – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Brimming with rich detail and humour that perfectly complements J.K. Rowling’s timeless classic, Jim Kay’s glorious illustrations will captivate fans and new readers alike.

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Box by Rosalind Beardshaw

What would YOU do with a box? When four toddlers find some toys in cardboard boxes, they have fun with them for a while. But, before long, the friends’ interest in the toys wains and their attention turns to the boxes themselves. What could they do with SO many boxes, they wonder? An inspiring and charming novelty book celebrating the creative possibilities and limitless joy of the boxes.

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Poles Apart by Jeanne Willis and Jarvis

Everybody knows that penguins belong at the South Pole and polar bears live at the North Pole-but what would happen if, one day, a family of picnicking penguins accidentally got lost? When the hapless Pilchard-Brown family find themselves at completely the wrong pole, they need Mr White, the friendly polar bear, to guide them all the way home.

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My Most Anticipated October Kids & YA Releases from Walker Books

The River and the Book by Alison Croggon

In our village we had two treasures: the River, which was our road and our god; and the Book, which was our history, our oracle and our soul. Simbala is a Keeper of the Book, the latest in a long line of women who can read the Book to find answers to the villagers’ questions. As developers begin to poison the river on which the villagers rely, the Book predicts change. But this does not come in the form that they expect; it is the sympathetic Westerner who comes to the village who inflicts the greatest damage of all.

Timmy Failure: Sanitized for your Protection by Stephan Pastis

Everyone’s favourite kid detective is back in award-winning author Stephan Pastis’s fourth book in the Timmy Failure series, perfect for fans of Wimpy Kid and Barry Loser. Shenanigans abound as Timmy Failure finds himself on a road trip with none other than notorious criminal Molly Moskins. Travelling halfway across the country to help your mother’s boyfriend settle into his new job would be inconvenient for any detective, let alone the founder, president and CEO of Total Failure Inc, the world’s greatest detective agency. Timmy has a case to solve, and nothing can stand in his way. If he is to arrest Corrina Corrina and solve the YIP YAP case, Timmy, his sidekick polar bear Total, and Molly Moskins must go on the run!

The Iliad by Gillian Cross and Neil Packer

The team behind The Odyssey now tell the story of the Trojan War. Cross’s vivid adaptation begins with a beauty contest: the prize, a golden apple. In return for securing her victory, the goddess Aphrodite helps Prince Paris abduct Helen, wife to the king of Sparta. Enraged, the king and his Greek allies wage war on the Trojans. Nine years later, the fighting still rages on, but the Greeks are beginning to quarrel among themselves – Achilles and Agamemnon’s petty argument has dire consequences for everyone caught in the crossfire. Neil Packer’s pictures capture the beauty and remoteness of the setting, and bring a profound humanity to one of the finest literary achievements of Greek civilisation.

Counting Lions by Katie Cotton and Stephen Walton

Larger-than-life black and white drawings are paired with poetic texts that reveal the ways in which endangered creatures – including lions, elephants, giraffes, tigers, gorillas, penguins, Ethiopian wolves, macaws, turtles and zebras – live on Earth. Artworks by wildlife artist Stephen Walton are rendered in charcoal and give little ones the chance to get up close and personal with nature’s wildest creatures. Virginia McKenna – actress and wildlife campaigner – has written a foreword which urges us to look at the beauty of these animals and do all we can to save them.

My Dead Bunny by Sigi Cohen and James Foley

“My dead bunny’s name is Brad; his odour is extremely bad. He visits me when I’m in bed, but Bradley wasn’t always dead …” A hilarious rhyming tale about a zombie bunny who comes back to visit his owner.

National Theatre: All About Theatre

The book is packed with interviews with famous directors and actors, like Lenny Henry, Meera Syal, Julie Walters and Ben Whishaw, and productions like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and One Man, Two Guvnors. Hear from experts at the world-famous National Theatre about every aspect of stagecraft, including prop-making, set building and lighting design, and discover, from first idea to final curtain, how plays are made.

Santa’s Reindeer by Tom Duxbury, Matilda Tristram and Nick Sharratt

It’s Christmas Eve and Santa and Reindeer are about to deliver the presents. But then Reindeer loses his nose! Polar Bear, Seal and Penguin haven’t seen it. Can Reindeer find his missing nose before it’s too late?

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My Dead Bunny Book Trailer

My Dead Bunny is the gory, glorious new picture book, written by Sigi Cohen and illustrated by James Foley, coming from Walker Books Australia in October.  The illustrator, James Foley, will be featured on My Best Friends Are Books in October as part of my Seriously Spooky Month.  Keep your eyes peeled for James and Bradley the zombie bunny.

I love this book and the trailer is fantastic! Watch it now:

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My Most Anticipated October Kids Releases from HarperCollins NZ

Imaginary Fred by Eoin Colfer and Oliver Jeffers

Sometimes, with a little electricity, or luck, or even magic, an imaginary friend might appear when you need one. An imaginary friend like Fred… Fred floated like a feather in the wind until a lonely little boy wished for him and found a friendship like no other.

Grandpa’s Great Escape by David Walliams, illustrated by Tony Ross

Jack’s Grandpa…

  • Wears his slippers to the supermarket
  • Serves up Spam à la Custard for dinner
  • And often doesn’t remember Jack’s name. But he can still take to the skies in a speeding Spitfire and save the day…

An exquisite portrait of the bond between a small boy and his beloved Grandpa – this book takes readers on an incredible journey with Spitfires over London and Great Escapes through the city in a high octane adventure full of comedy and heart.

The Person Controller by David Baddiel

Fred and Ellie are twins. But not identical (because that’s impossible for a boy and a girl). They do like all the same things, though. Especially video games. Which they are very good at. They aren’t that good, however, at much else – like, for example, football, or dealing with the school bullies.

Then, they meet the Mystery Man, who sends them a video game controller, which doesn’t look like any other controller they’ve ever seen. And it doesn’t control any of their usual games. When the twins find out what it does control, though, it seems like the answer to all their problems. And the key to all their wildest dreams. At least it seems like that…

An Eagle in the Snow by Michael Morpurgo

1940. Barney and his mother, their home destroyed by bombing, are travelling to the country when their train is forced to shelter in a tunnel from attacking German planes. There, in the darkness, a stranger on the train begins to tell them a story. A story about Bobby Byron, the most decorated soldier of WW1, who once had the chance to end the war before it even began, and how he tried to fix his mistake. But sometimes the right thing is hard to see – and even harder to live with.

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Beware – Seriously Spooky Month is here!

I love spooky books for kids and teens!  If it’s got ghosts, witches, vampires (non-sparkly ones), zombies or anything supernatural I’ll read it.  So I’ve decided to dedicate a whole month to spooky stories.

Throughout Seriously Spooky Month in October I’m highlighting my favourite spooky and scary books for kids of all ages, from picture books right through to YA.  I’m also very excited to have some wonderful guest posts from authors and illustrators who create spooky books for kids, including Barry Hutchison, Chris Priestly, Gareth P. Jones, R.L. Stedman, Sue Copsey and James Foley.

Scare your socks off this October and join me for some Seriously Spooky reads!

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Filed under children's horror, ghosts, horror, Seriously Spooky Month, young adult

Historium by Jo Nelson and Richard Wilkinson

We love museums in my family.  For me they’ve always been a multi-sensory experience, taking in everything with your eyes but also breathing in that special museum smell of ancient clothing, animals, vehicles and artifacts.  Museums are places that you can spend hours in, soaking up the information and discovering what it would have been like to live 50, 100 or even thousands of years ago.  An incredible new book by Jo Nelson and Richard Wilkinson packs this museum experience in to a book that will keep kids and adults alike occupied for hours.

Discover more than 140 exhibits in this virtual museum, open all hours

Welcome to the museum! Here you will find a collection of objects from ancient civilisations. Objects of beauty, objects of functionality, objects of war, objects of life, and objects of death and burial.

As you wander from room to room, explore the magnificence of what civilisations have left behind over thousands of years of human history.

Historium is an incredible book, filled with artifacts from ancient civilisations from around the world.  There is so much information in this book and it’s set out in a unique way.  The whole book is set out like a museum that you hold in your hands.  You start at the entrance, which welcomes you to the Historium, explains what Archaeology is and gives you a fantastic timeline of the objects in the Historium (my son would love this on his bedroom wall).  Jo and Richard then take us through the varies galleries, from Africa to America, the Middle East to Oceania.  We finish up in the Library, with the indexes, image credits and a little information about the curators of the Historium.

Jo Nelson’s text is detailed but simple enough for children aged 9 and up.  Jo gives a basic introduction to each of the galleries and civilisations and then provides descriptions of each of the artifacts from that civilisation.  There is a good selection of different types of artifacts, from statues and coins to armour.  There is something in this book to interest everyone, but children (and adults) who love history and archaeology will be absolutely rapt.  Richard’s illustrations are extremely detailed and are absolutely stunning.  The illustrations look so realistic that it almost looks like you could reach out and touch them.  Richard has created his illustrations using a photograph of the artifacts as a reference and there is a list of all the museums in the back of the book.

One of the things that I really love about this book is that it covers Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.  So many of these big historical nonfiction books miss out our side of the world and I think it’s important for our kids to know about their history.

The best thing about Historium is the production of the book. It is a beautiful hardback and the pages are thick, which will help it to last all the repeated reading and viewing.  It is also a huge book!  It’s a book that you really need to rest on a table or on the floor to read.  This means that the illustrations are really large too and you can see all the details of the artifacts.  You really feel like you are holding something special and valuable in your hands.

Grab a copy of the incredible Historium from you library or bookshop now.

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I Can’t Wait For…The Illustrated Edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

I am not the world’s biggest Harry Potter fan but I absolutely can’t wait to get my hands on the new, fully-illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.  It is illustrated by the wonderful Jim Kay, whose illustrations I first got introduced to in Patrick Ness’ A Monster Calls.  Those illustrations were in black and white but his illustrations for Harry Potter are in colour and they look absolutely gorgeous!  A number of different spreads from the book have been released recently and with each new page I fall more in love with this book.  I imagine it can’t be easy illustrating a hugely popular book like this, especially after all the movies have been released, but it certainly looks like Jim has done an amazing job.

The cover alone shows you the magic that awaits inside the pages of this book:

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Check out this sneak peek inside the book from the  Bloomsbury UK website!

Watch this short video of Jim Kay explaining his illustrating process for the book:

The Illustrated Edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling and illustrated by Jim Kay is released in October by Bloomsbury Publishers.  It is supplied in NZ by Allen and Unwin NZ.

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My Most Anticipated October Kids and YA New Releases from Penguin Random House NZ

From the Cutting Room of Barney Kettle by Kate De Goldi

Barney Kettle knew he would be a very famous film director one day, he just didn’t know when that day would arrive. He was already an actual director – he’d made four fifteen-minute films – but so far only his schoolmates and the residents of the High Street had viewed them. Global fame was a little way off. It would come, though. Barney was certain about that …

So begins the manuscript written from the hospital bed of an unnamed man. He has written it over many months as he recovers from serious injuries sustained in a city-wide catastrophe.

He has written so he can remember the street where he lived – the inner-city High Street, home to a cavalcade of interesting people, marvellous shops and curious stories.

He has written so he can remember that last summer before he was injured, the last days of a vanished world. Above all, he has written so he can remember the inimitable Barney Kettle, filmmaker, part-time dictator, questing brain, good-hearted friend; Barney Kettle, who liked to invent stories but found a real one under his nose; Barney Kettle, who explored his neighbourhood with camera in hand and stumbled on a mystery that changed everything …

The Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne

When Pierrot becomes an orphan, he must leave his home in Paris for a new life with his Aunt Beatrix, a servant in a wealthy household at the top of the German mountains. But this is no ordinary time, for it is 1935 and the Second World War is fast approaching; and this is no ordinary house, for this is the Berghof, the home of Adolf Hitler.

Quickly, Pierrot is taken under Hitler’s wing, and is thrown into an increasingly dangerous new world: a world of terror, secrets and betrayal, from which he may never be able to escape.

Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.

One day, he’s tracked down by an uncle he’s never met – a man his mother claimed was dangerous. His uncle tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god.

The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.

When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision.

Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die…

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I Can’t Wait For…The Singing Bones by Shaun Tan

I’m a huge Shaun Tan fan.  I love his stories and his artwork is always stunning.  The Arrival is one of my absolute favourite books because of the way that Shaun tells his incredible story using just illustrations.  I was excited to hear that Allen and Unwin were going to be publishing a very special Shaun Tan book in October, The Singing Bones.  It is a collection of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales and it’s unlike any of Shaun’s previous books as he has created sculptures to illustrate each fairy tale.  I’ll be reviewing it soon and I hope to be able to show you some of the spreads from inside the book.

In this beautifully presented volume, the essence of seventy-five fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm is wonderfully evoked by Shaun Tan’s extraordinary sculptures.

Nameless princes, wicked stepsisters, greedy kings, honourable peasants and ruthless witches, tales of love, betrayal, adventure and magical transformation: all inspiration for this stunning gallery of sculptural works. Introduced by Grimm Tales author Philip Pullman and leading fairy tale scholar Jack Zipes, The Singing Bones breathes new life into some of the world’s most beloved fairy tales.

The Singing Bones is published by Allen and Unwin in October.  You won’t want to miss this incredible book!

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Filed under children's nonfiction, fairy tales