Monthly Archives: June 2017

Wars in the Whitecloud: Wairau, 1843 by M.H. McKinley

One of the things I love the most about the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults is that it always introduces me to New Zealand books that I hadn’t heard of.  One of the gems that I’ve discovered from the shortlist is M.H. McKinley’s brilliant graphic novel, Wars in the Whitecloud: Wairau, 1843.

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Wairau, 1843 is the first in the Wars in the Whitecloud graphic novel series that vividly brings to life important events in the early interactions between Maori and Pakeha.  This first book portrays the ill-fated meeting between early settlers and the Ngati-Toa tribe at Wairau in 1843.  It was a short but violent and bloody conflict and the author hasn’t shied away from portraying this.  M.H. McKinley stays true to these historic events while bringing to life both Maori and Pakeha figures who played a part in the conflict.  There are also extensive historical notes at the back of the book so that you can learn more about the events and the people involved.

As someone who loves both New Zealand history and graphic novels I absolutely love this book!  I loved studying New Zealand history when I was in high school and this is the sort of book that I needed.  Secondary school Social Science teachers all over New Zealand need to have this book put in their hands. It is an invaluable resource to make history come alive, not just for teenagers but adults as well.

The art is stunning throughout, with realistic depictions of Maori and Pakeha.  I especially like the art and layout of the front cover, which reminded me of a movie poster.  The only thing I didn’t like about the book was that there wasn’t enough of a margin throughout the book, meaning that you have to really pull the pages apart sometimes to read the text.

Wars in the Whitecloud: Wairau, 1843 is a finalist in the Best First Book Category of the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults and it is certainly a winning book in my opinion.

 

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Ink by Alice Broadway

Imagine that you live in a world where every significant moment in your life is tattooed on your skin.  When you are named at birth your name is tattooed on your wrist, your family tree is tattooed on your back, and any successes or failures are recorded on your skin for anyone to see.  When you die your skin is flayed from your body and made in to a book so that your ancestors will remember you.  However, you are only allowed to be remembered once you are judged and your soul found to be clean.  If you are found to not be a good person your book is burned and you are forgotten.  This is the world in which Leora lives in in Alice Broadway’s fantastic new YA book, Ink.

9781407172842Every action, every deed, every significant moment is tattooed on your skin for ever.

When Leora’s father dies, she is determined to see her father remembered forever. She knows he deserves to have all his tattoos removed and made into a Skin Book to stand as a record of his good life.

But when she discovers that his ink has been edited and his book is incomplete, she wonders whether she ever knew him at all.

Ink is a gripping dystopian story of a girl whose life has been a lie. It’s also a book about wanting to live forever through the memories of our ancestors.  There is a belief in Leora’s world that only those who have lived worthy lives will be remembered and people will go to any lengths to ensure this.  I was hooked from the very first page and Alice kept me guessing the whole way. The stunning cover was the main reason why I picked this book up as the bronze foil design made me want to find out what the book was about.

Alice Broadway has created a world that is intriguing and enchanting.  It is a world that is held together by the stories that have been passed down from generation to generation.  These stories, that are woven in to Leora’s story, are based on fairy tales that have been manipulated to serve the purposes of the government.  In Leora’s world there are those that have been marked by their stories and those who choose to remain blank.  These Blanks have been banished but it is believed that they are trying to sneak back in to society to spy and ultimately to start a war.  Everyone in Leora’s world has a certain job, including inkers, flayers and government workers, and it is Leora’s dream to be an inker.  Just as her dream becomes a reality Leora’s world starts to unravel, leaving her unsure who to trust.

Ink is the perfect book for those readers who have read the Hunger Games, Divergent, and Flawed series and want something similar.  I think it is even suitable for Year 7 and 8 as there is nothing in the book that makes it inappropriate for this age group.  Although the book comes to (what I considered) a satisfying end there is certainly the possibility to delve deeper in to this world, and Alice says on her website that Ink is the first book in the The Skin Books Trilogy.

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Win Skulduggery Pleasant: Resurrection

Skulduggery Pleasant: Resurrection is the 10th book in Derek Landy’s epic series featuring the wise-cracking skeleton detective.  The Skulduggery series is one of the few series that I have stuck with all the way through so I’m really excited to see where Derek takes the series next.

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Thanks to everyone who entered. The winner is Helen Muxlow.

 

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Old MacDonald Heard a Fart by Olaf Falafel

There are many different book versions of Old MacDonald but you haven’t read one like this before.  Old MacDonald Heard a Fart is the stinkiest, funniest version of the song you’ve ever heard.

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As the title suggests this book is full of farts.  All of the usual animals on Old MacDonald’s farm are here but they’ve all got a serious case of wind.  Each animal makes a very distinct fart noise and Old MacDonald demonstrates how to make the sounds on each page.

Old MacDonald Heard a Fart is a picture book that is guaranteed to make kids laugh out loud.  I’ve read and sung it to the 5 and 6 year olds at my school and they were laughing the whole time.  They left the library making farting noises and I’m sure they went home to tell their parents all about it.  I am sure that this book will never stay on the shelf because the kids will be reading it again and again.  Olaf Falafel is going to have the Old MacDonald tune stuck on repeat in the heads of kids and adults.

It is Olaf Falafel’s illustrations that really make this book stand out for me.  They look quite similar to Axel Scheffler’s illustrations as he gives each of the animals some real personality.  The pig wears a tutu, the cow wears a Hawaiian shirt and the duck wears a boater hat.  The illustrations of Old MacDonald’s face at the bottom of the page are really helpful to figure out how to make the fart noises, especially when the kids want to make the noises.

Laugh and fart along with your kids as you read Old MacDonald Heard a Fart.  Later in the year you also have the festive Father Christmas Heard a Fart to look forward to.

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2017 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults Shortlist

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Congratulations to all of the authors and illustrators who are on the shortlist for the 2017 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, which was announced this morning.  As always there is a broad range of titles, some of which I’ve read and loved (Leonie Agnew’s The Impossible Boy) and others that I have yet to discover (Wars in the Whitecloud: Wairau, 1843).

I really like the addition of the Best First Book Award, which gives recognition to emerging writers and will hopefully encourage them to continue writing stories for children and young adults in New Zealand.  I think that it is a shame to lose the Children’s Choice Award but hopefully there will something else introduced to encourage young readers to engage with the finalist books.  I will certainly be encouraging the kids at my school to read the finalist books and we’ll do our own Children’s Choice Award in the library.

The finalists for the 2017 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults are:

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Picture Book Award

  • Fuzzy Doodle, Melinda Szymanik, illustrated by Donovan Bixley, Scholastic NZ
  • Gwendolyn! Juliette MacIver, illustrated by Terri Rose Baynton, HarperCollins Publishers (ABC)
  • My Grandpa is a Dinosaur, Richard Fairgray and Terry Jones, illustrated by Richard Fairgray, Penguin Random House (Puffin)
  • That’s Not a Hippopotamus! Juliette MacIver, illustrated by Sarah Davis, Gecko Press
  • The Singing Dolphin/Te Aihe i Waiata, Mere Whaanga, Scholastic NZ

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Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction

  • Helper and Helper, Joy Cowley, illustrated by Gavin Bishop, Gecko Press
  • My New Zealand Story: Bastion Point, Tania Roxborogh, Scholastic NZ
  • Sunken Forest, Des Hunt, Scholastic NZ
  • The Discombobulated Life of Summer Rain, Julie Lamb, Mākaro Press (Submarine)
  • The Impossible Boy, Leonie Agnew, Penguin Random House (Puffin)

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Copyright Licensing NZ Award for Young Adult Fiction

  • Coming Home to Roost, Mary-anne Scott, Penguin Random House (Longacre)
  • Kiwis at War 1916: Dig for victory, David Hair, Scholastic NZ
  • Like Nobody’s Watching, LJ Ritchie, Escalator Press
  • Shooting Stars, Brian Falkner, Scholastic NZ
  • The Severed Land, Maurice Gee, Penguin Random House (Penguin)

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Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction

  • From Moa to Dinosaurs: Explore & discover ancient New Zealand, Gillian Candler, illustrated by Ned Barraud, Potton & Burton
  • Jack and Charlie: Boys of the bush, Josh James Marcotte and Jack Marcotte, Penguin Random House (Puffin)
  • The Cuckoo and the Warbler, Kennedy Warne, illustrated by Heather Hunt, Potton & Burton
  • The Genius of Bugs, Simon Pollard, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa (Te Papa Press)
  • Torty and the Soldier, Jennifer Beck, illustrated by Fifi Colston, Scholastic NZ

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Russell Clark Award for Illustration

  • Fuzzy Doodle, illustrated by Donovan Bixley, written by Melinda Szymanik, Scholastic NZ
  • Gladys Goes to War, illustrated by Jenny Cooper, written by Glyn Harper, Penguin Random House (Puffin)
  • If I Was a Banana, illustrated by Kieran Rynhart, written by Alexandra Tylee, Gecko Press
  • Snark: Being a true history of the expedition that discovered the Snark and the Jabberwock . . . and its tragic aftermath, illustrated and written by David Elliot (after Lewis Carroll), Otago University Press
  • The Day the Costumes Stuck, illustrated and written by Toby Morris, Beatnik Publishing

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Te Kura Pounamu Award for books written completely in te reo Māori

  • Ngā Manu Tukutuku e Whitu o Matariki, Calico McClintock, illustrated by Dominique Ford, translated by Ngaere Roberts, Scholastic NZ
  • Ngārara Huarau, Maxine Hemi, Illustrated by Andrew Burdan, Huia Publishers
    Te Haerenga Māia a Riripata i Te Araroa, Maris O’Rourke, illustrated by Claudia Pond Eyley, translated by Āni Wainui, David Ling Publishing (Duck Creek Press)
  • Te Kaihanga Māpere, Sacha Cotter, illustrated by Josh Morgan, translated by Kawata Teepa, Huia Publishers
  • Tuna rāua ko Hiriwa, Ripeka Takotowai Goddard, illustrated by Kimberly Andrews, Huia Publishers

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Best First Book Award

  • Awatea’s Treasure, Fraser Smith, Huia Publishers
  • Like Nobody’s Watching, LJ Ritchie, Escalator Press
  • The Discombobulation of Summer Rain, Julie Lamb, Mākaro Press (Submarine)
  • The Mouse and the Octopus, written and illustrated by Lisala Halapua, Talanoa Books
  • Wars in the Whitecloud: Wairau, 1843, written and illustrated by Matthew H McKinley, Kin Publishing

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The World’s Worst Children 2 by David Walliams and Tony Ross

David Walliams has become one of those children’s authors who have reached the same level of anticipation by young readers as J.K. Rowling had at the height of the Harry Potter series.  Kids gobble up his books and can’t wait for his new books.  I had to make sure I got copies of his latest book, The World’s Worst Children 2, on release day so that I could have it in the library for excited readers.  It is certainly worth the wait for readers young and old.

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The World’s Worst Children 2 is David Walliams and Tony Ross’ second collection of cautionary tales featuring some of the worst, most horrid children ever.  There is Humbert the Hungry Baby who eats everything in sight and grows to be humongous,  Stacey Superstar who has an unforgettable voice, Fussy Frankie who hates anything healthy, Gruesome Griselda who loves playing disgusting tricks, and Competitive Colin who has to win everything no matter what it takes.  These children deserve everything that comes their way!

The characters in The World’s Worst Children 2 will make you laugh, cringe and shudder with horror.  You really wouldn’t want to meet these kids, let alone be their parents.  I enjoyed each of the stories but two really stood out for me.  The story of Harry Who Never, Ever Did His Homework was brilliant because of the ghosts of the greatest villains in history that turn up in his bedroom.  They have some really funny banter between them.  I also really enjoyed the story of Trish who slowly turns in to a troll with every horrible comment that she makes about the kids and teachers at her school.

It’s important to acknowledge Tony Ross’ contribution to The World’s Worst Children 2 because I don’t think it would be the same book without his wonderfully weird illustrations.  Tony Ross has always be great at bringing out the worst in people in his illustrations and he certainly does that in David Walliams’ books.  He has made each of the children featured in the book look absolutely horrid, especially Humbert and Trish.

We have one more volume of the World’s Worst Children to look forward to and I fear that they are going to be the worst yet!

Check out this book trailer showing each of the characters in the book:

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Timmy Failure: The Cat Stole My Pants by Stephan Pastis

I’m a huge Timmy Failure fan and I look forward to each new book.  The sixth book in Stephan Pastis’ hilarious series, The Cat Stole My Pants, has just been released and it’s another great addition to the series.

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The Cat Stole My Pants starts with a cat stealing Timmy’s pants (or so he believes) while visiting the house that was once home to Ernest Hemingway on the island of Key West. He has come on his mum and step-dad’s honeymoon, along with Doorman Dave’s nephew Emilio Empanada.  Since Timmy’s former business partner, Total, has taken off to Cuba, Timmy makes Emilio his unpaid intern.  The poor kid has to follow Timmy everywhere and be a part of Timmy’s crazy plans.  There is a treasure to be found, a best-seller to be written and a father to meet.  What could possibly go wrong?  Anything at all when it includes Timmy Failure.

You are always guaranteed a good laugh with each new Timmy Failure book.  I eagerly await the next installment just to see what crazy things Timmy gets up to next.  Timmy’s unusual outlook and funny way of talking gets me every time.  Stephan Pastis’ characters always make me laugh and there are some great new characters in this book.  Emilio Empanada gets the lucky job of being Timmy’s unpaid intern.  As you can imagine, Timmy doesn’t treat him very nicely but Emilio seems happy enough to hang around with him.  Emilio gets roped in to all sorts of schemes, from breaking in to a lighthouse to helping Timmy sell his book.  Emilio is a fan of romance novels and the names of some of these cracked me up – The Donkey’s Kiss is More Powerful than his Kick and Love is a Speckled Pony of Desire.  I also enjoyed the minor characters like Speedo Steve and Captain Largo Spargo.

The thing that I enjoyed the most about this book though was the book that Timmy wrote called Timmy Failure’s Wisdom-Filled Guide for the Uneducated People Who Don’t Know Very Much.  Included in his book are various scenarios involving a crime and possible answers.  These were so ridiculous that they were incredibly funny.

If you’re a Timmy Failure fan grab a copy of The Cat Stole My Pants now.  If you haven’t read a Timmy Failure book yet, what are you waiting for!

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