Monthly Archives: August 2016

Starlight Stables by Soraya Nicholas

Starlight Stables is a wonderful new series about three horse-crazy girls from New Zealand author Soraya Nicholas.  Soraya grew up reading the Saddle Club books and dreaming of owning her own pony.  Now Soraya owns her own horses and writes the kind of books she loved when she was a kid.

These books are perfect for those horse-mad girls who are always looking for more books about horses, especially fans of Saddle Club and Stacey Gregg’s books. The stories are set in Australia but NZ girls will really relate to the characters. They don’t just focus on horses though.  There is friendship, competition, rivalry, horse thieves and bush-fires.

The first four books in the Starlight Stables series are all out now, so young readers can get hooked.  They don’t have to read the books in a particular order which is great. Here are the covers and the blurbs for each book.

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Starlight Stables: Pony Detectives

Poppy is thrilled to be back doing the one thing she loves – riding horses at Starlight Stables – especially when her aunt and uncle make all her dreams come true with a gift of her very own horse. But there’s a catch… Poppy must look after the new scholarship girls. Will the bold and troublesome Milly and shy, sensible Katie be the pony-mad friends she’s always hoped for?

When horses go missing from the local farms, Poppy worries about Crystal, her new horse. Will the girls be able to protect their ponies from the horse thief and find the missing horses at the same time?

Gymkhana_Hijinks.jpgStarlight Stables: Gymkhana Hijinks

Horse-mad friends Poppy, Milly and Katie are overjoyed to be back at Starlight Stables and spending every second with their new ponies – riding, training and having fun while preparing for their first big Pony Club competition. But when a rival competitor arrives one day to train with them, trouble seems to seek the girls out at every turn. Is it just coincidence? Or is someone trying to sabotage the three friends’ chances of winning?

Can Poppy, Mily and Katie expose their rival’s risky antics in time to save their chances at the gymkhana?

Bush_BoltsStarlight Stables: Bush Bolts

Poppy is thrilled that her best friend Sarah is finally coming to visit Starlight Stables. She is sure that Sarah will love it as much as she does – especially Poppy’s beautiful pony, Crystal, and her horse-mad friends, fiery Milly and sweet Katie. But it soon becomes clear that Sarah doesn’t share Poppy’s love of horses and riding – in fact, she’s more interested in helping Poppy’s uncle with some bushfire-injured animals.

When a bushfire erupts nearby, Poppy finds herself fighting not only to save her friendship but also to save her beloved Starlight Stables. Will she lose everything she loves?

Saving_StarlightStarlight Stables: Saving Starlight

Poppy’s world is falling apart. Her aunt and uncle have had an ominous visit from the bank because they have lost an important riding sponsor. It means they might have to sell Starlight Stables. Could Poppy lose everything – her beloved Starlight Stables, her beautiful horse Crystal, her friends Milly and Katie, and even her aunt’s Olympic dreams?

Poppy is determined to do everything she can to help. She just has to win the upcoming show-jumping competition so she can give them the prize. But it means she will have to jump higher than she ever has before to save everything she loves.

Win a set of the Starlight Stables books!

Thanks to everyone who entered!  The winner is Carole.

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Winners of the 2016 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults

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The winners of the 2016 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults were announced last night in Wellington.  Congratulations to all the winners and those who were chosen as finalists in the awards.  Congratulations also to the judges of this year’s awards who had the tough job of choosing the winners from all the fantastic books that were submitted.  It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it.  I personally think they made some great choices for the winners.  Kids also made some fantastic choices too in the Children’s Choice Awards.

Here are the winners of the 2016 New Book Awards for Children and Young Adults:

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  • Margaret Mahy Book of the Year and winner of the Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction

ANZAC Heroes by Maria Gill, illustrated by Marco Ivancic; Scholastic New Zealand

  • Best First Book Award

Allis the little tractor by Sophie Siers, illustrated by Helen Kerridge; Millwood-Heritage Productions

  • Te Kura Pounamu Award for the best book in te reo Māori

Whiti te rā! by Patricia Grace, translated by Kawata Teepa, illustrated by Andrew Burdan; Huia Publishers

  • Picture Book Award

The Little Kiwi’s Matariki written and illustrated by Nikki Slade Robinson; David Ling Publishing (Duck Creek Press)

  • Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction

From the Cutting Room of Barney Kettle by Kate De Goldi; Penguin Random House (Longacre)

  • Young Adult Fiction Award

Battlesaurus: Rampage at Waterloo by Brian Falkner; Pan Macmillan Australia (Farrar Straus Giroux)

  • Russell Clark Award for Illustration

Much Ado About Shakespeare illustrated by Donovan Bixley; Upstart Press

New Zealand children enthusiastically voted for their own specially selected finalists’ list for this year’s HELL Children’s Choice Awards. Each book wins $1,000. The winners are:

  • Te reo Māori

Te Hua Tuatahi a Kuwi written and illustrated by Kat Merewether, and translated by Pānia Papa; Illustrated Publishing

  • Picture Book

The House on the Hill by Kyle Mewburn, illustrated by Sarah Davis; Scholastic New Zealand

  • Junior Fiction

The Girl Who Rode the Wind by Stacy Gregg; Harper Collins

  • Non-Fiction

First to the Top by David Hill, illustrated by Phoebe Morris; Penguin Random House (Puffin)

  • Young Adult Fiction

Stray by Rachael Craw; Walker Books

You can read the full media release here, including the thoughts of the judges on each of the winning books.  You can download the Winners Poster here.

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Noisy Nights Blog Tour with Fleur McDonald

Noisy Nights is a delightful new picture book written by Fleur McDonald and illustrated by Annie White.  You can read my review here on the blog and enter to win a copy of the book.

I have the pleasure of being joined by Fleur McDonald today as part of her Noisy Nights Blog Tour. Fleur has grown up on farms in Australia and she draws inspiration for her books from her experiences.  This certainly shines through in Noisy Nights, which is all about a noisy farm at night.  Read on to find out why Fleur decided to write Noisy Nights.

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There is nothing more gorgeous than hearing a child giggle. For me, hearing that child laugh while reading a book, is even better. After all, something has really resonated with them to make it happen.

As a kid, I spent HOURS reading. Apparently (and I can’t claim this is true as I don’t remember, but Nana says it was, so it must be!) after my first day at kindy, I stormed home to my Nana’s place, flung myself into the old Smokers-Bow Chair (which we grandchildren called ‘The Story Telling Chair), she had next to fire place and groaned: ‘they didn’t teach me to read!’

That was the start of a love of reading that I’ve never lost.

Mum used to tell me, she’d hear me laughing in my bedroom and sneak down to see why … I would always be reading.

In 2004 I was told my son was ‘at high-risk of autism.’ I didn’t know what autism was and started researching it from that day. As time went on Hayden began to show more and more signs that this was the case. During his year at kindy, one of the reports I kept getting back was his concentration span was very limited. I wondered what I could do to increase it.

For a few weeks I watched Hayden and it became clear he loved being out in the sheep yards. He loved the dogs, pet calves and lambs; any animal really. (I do need to mention here, that it didn’t mean he was good with them, but he loved being with them.) He also didn’t sleep at night.

I decided to try something I hadn’t done since I was at school and that was to write a story. The story had to be about something he could relate to, understand and liked.

It took me quite a while and I struggled with the rhyming and rhythm. Poor Hayden had several versions tried out on him. But he sat still for longer and he laughed every time I read it to him.

That made my heart very happy.

Having been involved in the agricultural industry for more than twenty years, it frightens me how little some children understand about where their food comes from and how country people live. From here on in, I’d love to be involved in educating kids through stories – the emphasis being on STORIES.

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Noisy Nights by Fleur McDonald – Review + Giveaway

My 15-month-old loves books with sounds in them.  She loves hearing different animal sounds and pointing at the animals so that daddy will make the sounds.  Noisy books aren’t best for bedtime though, unless they’re all about going to sleep, like Fleur McDonald’s new book, Noisy Nights.

Cover_Noisy Nights_HR

Noisy Nights follows Farmer Hayden as he tries to get to sleep.  It is very noisy on his farm, between the crickets, dogs, cows, sheep, horses, foxes and trains.  Farmer Hayden just wants to sleep but the animals just won’t be quiet.  When he goes outside to look at his farm and his animals it is the sheep who help him to get to sleep.

Noisy Nights is a delightful picture book that young readers, especially preschoolers, will love.  It’s the perfect picture book to curl up with and share together at bedtime as it leaves you feeling relaxed and sleepy.  It reminds me of one of my favourite books from childhood, Jill Murphy’s Peace at Last.  The noises of the farm are keeping Farmer Hayden awake, much like the noises of the night that keep Mr Bear awake in Peace at Last.  I certainly have fun making lots of animal noises while I read Noisy Nights.  It would be a great book to act out, with different children making all the noises.

Annie White’s illustrations are the perfect match for the story as the tones of the colours are soft and the animals look cuddly.  I really like the way that Annie has portrayed Farmer Hayden and his frustrations.  You can see him getting increasingly tired and agitated throughout the book.

Grab a copy of Noisy Nights and cuddle up with this delightful story.

Win a copy of Noisy Nights!

Thanks to everyone who entered.  The winner is Vicki.

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Win a copy of Get Coding!

Coding is one of those things that many kids, especially boys, are getting right into.  Although I run this blog I know very little about the technical stuff behind it.  I just don’t think my brain is wired that way.  There are some great new books being written about the ins and outs of coding, including Get Coding, written Young Rewired State, a world-wide community of digital-makers aged 18 years and under.

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Learn how to write code and then build your own website, app and game using HTML, CSS and JavaScript in this essential guide to coding for kids from expert organization Young Rewired State. Over 6 fun missions learn the basic concepts of coding or computer programming and help Professor Bairstone and Dr Day keep the Monk Diamond safe from dangerous jewel thieves. In bite-size chunks learn important real-life coding skills and become a technology star of the future. Young Rewired State is a global community that aims to get kids coding and turn them into the technology stars of the future.

Thanks to everyone who entered.  The winner is Margaret.

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