Monthly Archives: October 2016

Activity books for the whole family

There have been a range of activity books that have been published recently.  There is something for everyone in the family, from toddlers right through to the 12-year-old history buff.

9781760293130.jpg

Alison Lester’s Wonderful World brings together Alison’s illustrations from her many delightful books and gives kids the chance to create their own colourful adventures with Noni the Pony, beach holidays, and explorations of the jungle and oceans.  There are more basic illustrations for younger children, right through to very detailed scenes for older children (and their parents).  It’s a wonderful colouring book for old and young alike.

seeplaydo_web_book_cover

See Play Do: A Kid’s Handbook for Everyday Fun is the ultimate activity book for Kiwi families.  This fantastic book is packed full of games and activities to get kids thinking, moving, exploring, being creative and having fun.  There are pages to draw on, with activities like planning your dream breakfast and drawing while listening to music.  There are pages to write on, like writing about what happened the last time you were at the park and writing a playlist of the favourite songs you like to listen to.  There are also pages with recipes to try, bird feeders and bath paint to make, and heaps of pages with suggestions of fun things to do and try.  There are so many things in this book that I want to do with my toddler.  Every family in New Zealand needs this book under their Christmas tree because it is certain to be loved by everyone.  It is a real winner!

9781776571284

Peter Goes’ Timeline was a fascinating book that Gecko Press published last year.  It starts at the beginning of time and follows events right through to the present day.  It is a large book chock-full of information about people, places and events throughout time, and you find something new every time you look at it.  Gecko Press have just released a companion activity book for Timeline.  This is the perfect book for those kids that love history and who have lots of fascinating facts stored away in their head, especially older children.  Kids can be creative while learning about civilisations, historical events and famous people from history.  Kids can decorate a cave with rock drawings, bring Ottoman designs to life, graffiti the Berlin Wall, decorate the uniforms of soldiers in the Russian Revolution and help Michelangelo decorate the Sistine Chapel.  There is so much variety in this book and it will keep anyone entertained for many, many hours.  The pages can also be detached from the book so you can hang your masterpieces on the wall or share them with friends.  This is a must-buy Christmas present for older children.

viewimage

I also want to give a special mention to Gecko Press for their new card games based on two of their best-selling books.  Noisy Dominoes was inspired by The Noisy Book, a gorgeous board book featuring lots of different noises to make.  In Noisy Dominoes, players have to imitate the noise of the object or animal on their card or mime the action.  They have also released Poo Bum Memory, inspired by my favourite Gecko Press book Poo Bum, and featuring words and images from the book.  I think these are both a wonderful idea to extend the fun of these two books and they are a lot of fun.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under books, children's nonfiction, Christmas, family

Barking Mad by Tom E. Moffatt

The Tom Fitzgibbon Award is a fantastic award given out by Storylines each year that helps to launch the careers of unpublished authors in New Zealand.  There have been some wonderful winners of this award, including Leonie Agnew (Super Finn) and Juliet Jacka (Night of the Perigee Moon), who have gone on to write more great books.  Tom E. Moffatt was the winner of the 2016 Tom Fitzgibbon Award with his book Barking Mad, and judging by this book, Tom has a very bright writing career ahead of him.  Barking Mad is absolutely hilarious!

large_9781775433743

At first, Fingers refuses to believe that his Granddad has gone BARKING MAD! But what straight-thinking grownup goes around LICKING the postman, growling like a dog and chasing hospital security guards up trees? And when Fingers and his sister Sally discover a BIZARRE machine in Granddads workshop, mix-ups turn into MIND-SWAPPING madness one look at Granddads dog DaVinci is proof of that!

Barking Mad is a crazy, hilarious read that will have you laughing out loud.  As soon as I read the blurb I knew that this was going to be a book for me and I wasn’t disappointed.  Just the idea of a grandad swapping minds with his dog was enough to make me laugh.  You can just imagine how crazy and silly the story is going to be.  Just when you think the story couldn’t get any funnier, it does.  Can you imagine swapping bodies with your grandad, your sister, or your brother?  That’s probably too scary to even think about!

I really loved the characters in this book.  The main character is Finn Butterby, but everyone calls him Fingers, as in Butter Fingers, because he is quite clumsy.  When Finn gets told that he has to carry his grandfather’s very delicate mind-swapping invention you just know that something is going to go wrong.  I love the way that Tom portrays the grandad’s dog DaVinci too.  Because Finn’s grandad has swapped minds with his dog, DaVinci often acts quite human-like, like when they find him reading a newspaper.  Finn and his sister also mix up their names and start calling them DaVanddad and GraVinci.

There are lots of hilarious and often embarrassing situations in the book but my favourite part is the rescue/escape from the dog pound.  I know that this is one part that will make kids crack up.  Barking Mad is perfect for anyone aged 8+ who loves funny stories, especially for Andy Griffiths fans who are looking for something new.  I can’t wait to read what Tom writes next!

Leave a comment

Filed under books, children's fiction, humourous, New Zealand

Smart About Sharks by Owen Davey

In my school I very rarely have shark books sitting on the shelves because sharks are one of those animals that kids, especially boys are fascinated with.  I’ve been keeping my eye out for any great shark books that I can find and thankfully the lovely people at Walker Books have brought a new one to my attention.  It’s called Smart About Sharks by Owen Davey and it is absolutely stunning!

smartaboutsharks-364x456

Smart About Sharks is one of the most visually appealing nonfiction books that I’ve ever seen.  It’s one of those books that you just know kids are going to gravitate towards.  The cover grabs you and draws you in to the world of sharks.

Smart About Sharks has everything you wanted to know about sharks and more.  Owen explains what sharks are, tells you about their fins, their teeth, their prey, their social life, and he compares the sizes of different sharks. He tells us about the weird and wonderful varieties of shark, shark reproduction, and the place of sharks in mythology.  He also tells us what we can do, as humans, to help sharks.  There is a great contents and index too to help you find your favourite type of shark.

smart_about_sharks_product_p61

The thing I love the most about the books from Flying Eye Books is the premium production and this book is no exception.  The hard cover, binding and paper are high quality, which makes it feel like a book to treasure.  As a librarian I know that it is going to last the distance too.  My favourite part of the production of this book is the gorgeous shark end papers.

Smart About Sharks is the second children’s nonfiction book that Owen Davey has created for Flying Eye Books (he also wrote Mad About Monkeys) and I certainly hope he has more in the pipeline.  Grab a copy of Smart About Sharks now.

Leave a comment

Filed under books

Timmy Failure: The Book You’re Not Supposed to Have by Stephan Pastis

I am a huge Timmy Failure fan!  He is one of those characters that I find both funny and annoying.  I love his determination and his strive for ‘Greatness.’  Timmy’s mum doesn’t like him doing his detective work because Timmy always ends up in trouble, but Timmy will stop at nothing to keep his business going.  In Timmy’s latest adventure, The Book You’re Not Supposed to Have, his mum has banned him from detective work but Timmy finds a way to continue behind his mum’s back, with hilarious results.

1469487534649The only thing you need to know about Timmy’s latest memoir is that it was never meant for publication. Timmy’s detective log was stolen, and if this book gets out, Timmy will be grounded for life. Or maybe even longer. Because while Timmy was meant to be focusing on schoolwork, he was continuing his detective work in a garden shed. You don’t need the details. Just know this: there’s a Merry, a Larry, a missing tooth and a disappearing friend. But don’t tell Timmy’s mother!

The Book You’re Not Supposed to Have is Timmy Failure at his finest.  It is full of Timmy’s silly antics that will make you laugh out loud.  His latest case involves the possible kidnap of his best friend Rollo Tookus and there are plenty of suspects, from his piano teacher Ms. Hardie-Heeron to his cousin Larry.  Timmy Failure always solves the case, even if it takes him a lot longer than it should.

One of the things I love the most about the Timmy Failure books is the characters.  There are some great new characters in this story as well as old favourites that always make me laugh.  In this story, Timmy’s cousins Larry and Merry (or Merry Nightmare Before Christmas as he calls her) come to stay at his house and take over his bedroom.  Timmy makes them out to be horrible, weird people but of course they’re not.  Poor Ms. Hardie-Heeron (great name) is Timmy’s piano teacher, who puts up with a lot from Timmy.  Probably my favourite character in this story is Toots, Timmy’s substitute teacher who sits down the back of the class and eats jellybeans by the handful.  The ever-entertaining Molly Moskins is back again, trying to help Timmy solve his case.

If you’re a fan of Timmy Failure you must get your hands on this book (even if the title suggests you’re not supposed to have it).  I certainly can’t wait for the next Timmy Failure book.  The Timmy Failure books are perfect for fans of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Tom Gates and Big Nate, as they are a great blend of text and cartoons.

Leave a comment

Filed under books, children's fiction

Gecko Press’ Gorgeous Annual

Unfortunately I’m not of a generation that grew up with annuals.  I didn’t experience the joy of these volumes, chock-full of activities, stories and quizzes. Thankfully the wonderful Gecko Press have brought back this format with their gorgeous new book, Annual, that a new generation of kids will love.

annual_cover

Editors Kate De Goldi and Susan Paris have mined the talented authors and illustrators we have here in NZ and gathered these gems into a truly radiant collection.  There are stories, short essays, comics, a song, crafts, activities and a hilarious board game.  There are well-known authors and illustrators, such as Barbara Else, Bernard Beckett and Gavin Bishop, but also some incredibly talented debut authors such as Gavin Mouldey, whose story B.O.N.E. is an absolute wonder.

Annual arrived on my doorstep on the morning that I was going away for a school holiday break with my family, so the timing couldn’t have been more perfect!  There is hours of entertainment in this book and there is something for the whole family. I especially enjoyed Kirsten McDougall’s A Box of Birds, a collection of odd words to take on a road trip.  I was thinking about some of these words as I was driving and I thoroughly confused my family when I yelled out ‘Tally ho, the salt!’ (a phrase to use when you first catch sight of the ocean).  We all enjoyed a ‘pootle’ (a wander along the beach with no destination in mind) and with 12-year-old boys in the car there were more than a few winkybubbles (you’ll have to look that one up yourself).

There are so many things that I love about Annual.  Being a Gecko Press book the standard of production is excellent, from the eye-catching red hardcover to the smell of the high-quality paper.  The variety of pieces in the book is brilliant, with something for every type of kid (and adult for that matter).  There are pieces to make you think, pieces to challenge you, pieces to make you laugh and pieces to unleash your creativity.  One of my favourite pieces is the comic strip Bad Luck Zebra by Sharon Murdoch and Susan Paris, which cracked me up every time I read it. Kate De Goldi, Susan Paris and Gecko Press deserve a standing ovation for this gorgeous book.

You will want to come back to Annual again and again to revisit your favourite bits and uncover some new delight that you might have missed last time.  Get a copy of Annual for everyone on your Christmas list.

1 Comment

Filed under books, children's fiction, children's nonfiction, New Zealand, New Zealand author

Sage Cookson series by Sally Murphy

Australian author Sally Murphy has recently launched her fantastic new series of books following the adventurous life of Sage Cookson.  Sage isn’t your average 10-year-old.  Her parents are television chefs who travel around Australia and the world meeting lots of different people, sampling the food and learning new cooking techniques.  They then share their new knowledge with their huge TV audience.  This means that Sage gets to travel with them, tasting lots of yummy food herself and getting into all sorts of adventures.  There are two books in the series so far:

1121-20160701065920-cover_sage-cookson_sweet-escape

In Sage Cookson’s Sweet Escape Sage and her parents visit a chocolatier to film a segment for their TV show. Things go drastically wrong when the competitive spirit gets the better of the chocolatier. 

1152-20160831111453-cover_sage-cookson-2-rgb

In Sage Cookson’s Ring of Truth Sage and her parents visit a bakery to film a segment for their TV show. They are all in for a bit of a surprise when a treasured ring goes missing.

These books are perfect for early readers who are growing in confidence or for slightly older children who want a quick read.  The font is large, the chapters are short and there is lots of action to keep readers engaged.  I really like the way that Sally has given Sage the sense of a normal life by connecting her with her friend through the text messages they send to each other.  They are perfect for fans of Billy B. Brown but especially for kids who love cooking and baking and are fans of the many cooking shows on our TV screens.  Each book includes a recipe at the end (relevant to the story) that kids can make themselves.

If you’re looking for a fun new series for 7-10 year olds then Sally Murphy’s Sage Cookson series is perfect.

Check out www.sagecookson.com.au for more information about the books and some great recipes to try.

Leave a comment

Filed under books, children's fiction

Maui and Other Maori Legends by Peter Gossage

For kids in New Zealand today there are lots of books in Te Reo Maori and retellings of Maori legends that they can enjoy, but when I was a kid there weren’t many around.  The Maori myths and legends that I was introduced to as a kid were those that were retold and illustrated by Peter Gossage.  Through Peter’s books I learned all about how Maui fished up New Zealand, how he discovered fire and how he slowed the sun. As an adult I love these books because the text is simple and the illustrations are striking. Penguin Random House NZ are releasing a very special collection of Peter’s stories this month.

9780143309291.jpg

Maui and Other Maori Legends collects 8 of Peter’s beloved Maori myths, including Battle of the Mountains, The Fish of Maui, How Maui Slowed the Sun and Pania of the Reef. They are presented in a beautiful hardback that will with-stand the many readings that it is sure to have. The copies in my library have been very well loved by kids right from Year 1 to Year 8.  Their readability for any age is one of the things I love most about Peter’s retellings.

Every classroom and library needs to have this collection as it will be an invaluable resource.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under books, children's fiction, mythology, New Zealand, New Zealand author

Stealing Snow Blog Tour Guest Post

Danielle Paige is no stranger to putting new twists on old stories.  Her Dorothy Must Die series took readers back to the land of Oz, to a land where Dorothy returned and ruined everything.  In Danielle’s new book, Stealing Snow, she shows us the origins of The Snow Queen.  Here is the blurb:

9781408872932Seventeen-year-old Snow lives within the walls of the Whittaker Institute, a high security mental hospital in upstate New York. Deep down, she knows she doesn’t belong there, but she has no memory of life outside, except for the strangest dreams. And then a mysterious, handsome man, an orderly in the hospital, opens a door – and Snow knows that she has to leave .
She finds herself in icy Algid, her true home, with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai. As secret after secret is revealed, Snow discovers that she is on the run from a royal lineage she’s destined to inherit, a father more powerful and ruthless than she could have imagined, and choices of the heart that could change everything. Heroine or villain, queen or broken girl, frozen heart or true love, Snow must choose her fate .

Danielle joins me today as part of her Stealing Snow Blog Tour to talk about her Top 5 fairy tale retellings.

cinder

1.Cinder/ Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

She had me at cyborg Cinderella and kept me with imaginative world building and a mashup of other fairy tales.  I devoured the whole series, and I forever credit her for inspiring me to take Dorothy Must Die as far as the Yellow Brick Road would take me.

tumblr_nr9syvrhlu1t1a1spo1_540

2. Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

To a writer, Shahrzad is the ultimate heroine. She is literally saving her own life, not with magic, but with the power of her storytelling. Every night she must tell her story to Khalid or she will be killed. The sequel, The Rose and the Dagger, is sitting on top of my TBR pile.

y648

3. The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

Not a straight up retelling, more a reimagining.  Chainani treats us to the school where Malificents and Cinderellas are made. I was delighted as Sophie and Agatha find themselves in the “wrong” classes.

77493_original

4. A Court of Thorn and Roses by Sarah J Maas

Beauty and the Beast is a forever fave, and Sarah is such a master of action and romance.

wickedbookcover

5. Wicked by Gregory McGuire

Wicked showed every reteller how it is done. Setting the bar and exploring the world of Oz way before my Dorothy stepped onto the Yellow Brick Road.

the-isle-of-the-lost-melissa-de-la-cruz

Bonus: The Descendants series by Melissa de la Cruz

All the Disney feels. The second generation of villains and royals is just perfection.

Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige is out now from Bloomsbury.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under books, Guest Post, young adult, young adult fiction