Category Archives: children

Join the 2015 Diary of a Wimpy Kid Old School Read-a-thon Challenge

The 2015 Diary of a Wimpy Kid Old School Read-a-thon Challenge kicked off on 1st September.  It’s open to everyone in Australia and New Zealand.  Here is how you can get involved and have the chance to win an AMAZING prize:

Here’s how the challenge works: You need to read all nine Diary of a Wimpy Kid books between now and October 16th. After you finish reading each one, go back to the Read-a-thon Challenge site and take a quiz about that book. Complete all nine quizzes before October 16th, and you’ve beaten the challenge!

You’ll get a special congratulations video message from Jeff Kinney, and unlock the entry form for the grand prize… A trip for 2 people to Sydney, where you’ll meet Jeff Kinney on his Old School World Tour! To win, you’ll have to answer this question: Who is your favourite Diary of a Wimpy Kid character, and why?

Best answer wins! You can sign up and play by yourself, or challenge some friends and race to the finish! You could even ask your teacher if the whole class at school can try the Read-a-thon Challenge together.

On November 3rd, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School will be released around the world. Finally! To celebrate, there will be a special Read-a-thon bonus round, with even more cool prizes to win. Stay tuned! More information on this website during the Read-a-thon Challenge.

I have a special 2015 Diary of a Wimpy Kid Read-a-thon Challenge Pack with posters and a couple of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books to give away, thanks to Penguin Random House NZ.  To get in the draw for this special prize pack just leave a comment on this post (along with your name and email address) telling me why you are the biggest Diary of a Wimpy Kid fan. Competition closes Friday 18 September (NZ only).

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid website is awesome!  There is heaps of info about the books, characters and Jeff Kinney himself. Plus there are some really cool downloads, including activity sheets and masks of your favourite characters. Check it out now!

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

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Flip Flap Jungle by Axel Scheffler

What do you get if you cross an monkey with a armodillo? Why, that would be a Monkadillo! And a Leopard with a Frog? That would be a Leopog, of course! With its sturdy, split pages and spiral binding, 121 possible combinations, silly names and animal noises to make you giggle, this hilarious rhyming flip-flap book in a fun format is perfect for pre-schoolers.

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The Mystery of the Haunted Farm by Elys Dolan

The three little pigs are the best guys for the job, a specialist team of Ghosthunters equipped with the latest in ghost-hunting gadgets. But when the Phantom Finder 5000 fails to recognise any paranormal activity AT ALL, the pigs realise all is not quite as it seems. . . and there’s certainly something suspicious about the mysterious chicken coup up on the hill . . . could that be a werepuppy?

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This Broken Wondrous World by Jon Skovron

A year ago, Boy, the son of Frankenstein’s monster, had never even met a human. Now he’s living with his human ‘family’, the descendants of Dr Frankenstein, in Switzerland. That is, until the maniacal genius Dr Moreau, long ago banished to a remote island for his crimes against humanity, asks for his aid.

Moreau wants Boy to join his army of animal/human hybrid creatures and help him overthrow human society. Boy must choose: side with the twisted doctor and save his fellow monsters, or try to defend the humans who run the planet?

Boy will do anything to save this broken, wondrous world from the war that threatens to split it in two. But how much will he have to give up? And is the world worth saving?

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Concentr8 by William Sutcliffe

In a future London, Concentr8 is a prescription drug intended to help kids with ADD. Soon every troubled teen is on it. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Keep the undesirable elements in line. Keep people like us safe from people like them. What’s good for society is good for everyone. Troy, Femi, Lee, Karen and Blaze have been taking Concentr8 as long as they can remember. They’re not exactly a gang, but Blaze is their leader, and Troy has always been his quiet, watchful sidekick – the only one Blaze really trusts. They’re not looking for trouble, but one hot summer day, when riots break out across the city, they find it. What makes five kids pick a man seemingly at random – a nobody, he works in the housing department, doesn’t even have a good phone – hold a knife to his side, take him to a warehouse and chain him to a radiator? They’ve got a hostage, but don’t really know what they want, or why they’ve done it. And across the course of five tense days, with a journalist, a floppy-haired mayor, a police negotiator, and the sinister face of the pharmaceutical industry, they – and we – begin to understand why.

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Winners of the 2015 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults

Last night the winners of the 2015 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults were announced in Wellington.  Not only were the judge’s winners announced but also the children’s winners, with the children of New Zealand choosing their favourites in the newly revamped Children’s Choice Award.

Congratulations to all the finalists and the winners!  You’re all super stars and absolutely deserve your recognition.

Junior Fiction Winner – Monkey Boy, by Donovan Bixley (Scholastic NZ)

Picture Book Winner – Jim’s Letters, by Glyn Harper, illustrated by Jenny Cooper (Penguin Random House NZ (Puffin))

Nonfiction Winner – Mōtītī Blue and the Oil Spill, by Debbie McCauley and Tamati Waaka (translation) (Mauāo Press)

Young Adult Fiction Winner – Singing Home the Whale, by Mandy Hager (Penguin Random House NZ)

Maori Language Award – Ngā Kī, translation by Kawata Teepa (Ngai Tuhoe, Te Arawa) of Keys by Sacha Cotter, illustrated by Josh Morgan (Huia Publishers)

Best First Book Award – Māori Art for Kids, by Julie Noanoa (Potton & Burton)

Margaret Mahy Book of the Year Award – Singing Home the Whale, by Mandy Hager (Penguin Random House NZ)

 

Children’s Choice Junior Fiction Winner – Island of Lost Horses by Stacy Gregg (HarperCollins)

Children’s Choice Picture Book Winner – The Anzac Puppy by Peter Millett, illustrated by Trish Bowles (Scholastic NZ)

Children’s Choice Nonfiction Winner – The Letterbox Cat & Other Poems by Paula Green, illustrated by Myles Lawford (Scholastic NZ)

Children’s Choice Young Adult Winner – Night Vision by Ella West (Allen & Unwin)

 

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Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar

Louis Sachar is an exciting author.  He’s not prolific but when he does publish a book it’s always something to shout about.  My first Louis Sachar book (and probably his most popular) was Holes, the story of Stanley Yelnats and Camp Green Lake.  It totally grabbed me and is still one of my favourite books.  Louis’ last book, The Cardturner, was a fascinating book about bridge and family secrets.  It’s been 5 years since his last book, so I was very excited to hear about Louis Sachar’s new book, Fuzzy Mud.  After reading his previous books and having high expectations I wasn’t disappointed.

Tamaya is on a scholarship to the prestigious Woodridge Academy and every day she and seventh-grader Marshall walk to school together. They never go through the woods. And when they arrive at school they stop talking to each other – because Marshall can’t be seen to be friends with a little kid like Tamaya. Especially not with Chad around. Chad-the-bully, who makes Marshall’s life utterly miserable. But today, hoping to avoid Chad, Marshall and Tamaya decide to go through the woods … And what is waiting there for them is strange, sinister and entirely unexpected. The next day, Chad doesn’t turn up at school – no one knows where he is, not even his family. And Tamaya’s arm is covered in a horribly, burning, itchy wound. As two unlikely heroes set out to rescue their bully, the town is about to be turned upside down by the mysterious Fuzzy Mud.

 

Fuzzy Mud is a weird, thrilling, suspenseful story about friendship, bullies and an experiment gone wrong.  Louis Sachar keeps you on the edge of your seat as the suspense builds right to the end.  It’s slightly creepy and I wasn’t quite sure how it was going to end.   Like each of Louis’ books there are several strands to the story.  What at first seems like just a school story about fitting in and bullies making life hell, soon becomes a quite different story with far worse problems.  The story of Tamaya and Marshall is interspersed by extracts from an inquiry into a place called SunRay Farm, a research facility not far from their school, that was creating an organism that would be used to make a bio-fuel to help save the planet.  These extracts show you that their experiments didn’t quite go as planned.  When Tamaya discovers the fuzzy mud in the forest when she is helping Marshall escape the school bully, the consequences are disastrous.  Could an organism that was designed to help people actually harm or even kill people instead?

The book has got one of the coolest covers I’ve seen recently and it is sure to grab the attention of kids.  The design of the book is very clever too.  I wasn’t quite sure what all the dots at the top of the chapter headings were to start off with but this became clear as I kept reading.  I think it’s kind of quirky and a nice touch.

Fuzzy Mud would be a great read-aloud for kids aged 10 and up.  Not only is it a thrilling story that will keep kids entertained, but it’s also thought-provoking.  What would you do if you found a weird substance in the forest? How would you react if the kid who was bullying you suddenly disappeared?

If you love Louis Sachar or just want a book that will keep you on the edge of your seat, grab a copy of Fuzzy Mud now.

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Win The Bakehouse by Joy Cowley

Joy Cowley’s latest novel, The Bakehouse, is out this month from Gecko Press.  It’s a brilliant, multi-layered novel about secrets, lies and how the consequences of one boy’s actions ripple throughout his family.  You can read my review here on the blog.

Thanks to everyone who entered.  The winner is Benedict.

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Polar Bear’s Underwear by Tupera Tupera

Polar Bear is sad.  He’s lost his underwear and doesn’t know what pair he was wearing today.  Luckily Mouse comes along to help him find them.  They set off to find Polar Bear’s underwear and see all sorts of underwear along the way.  They see underwear with stripes on them and underwear with treats all over them, itty-bitty underwear and frilly underwear.  None of these pairs are Polar Bear’s but they do belong to other animals.  Will Polar Bear find his underwear?

Polar Bear’s Underwear is a giggle-inducing picture book full of surprises.  The team behind this book, Tatsuya Kameyama and Atsuko Nakagawa, tell a simple story with sparse, clever illustrations and their combination works really well.  The delight of this book is in the design, with the cut-out pages helping to provide some suspense.  The illustrations give little clues about who the underwear might belong to.  Who might a pair of underwear with carrots all over it belong to?

Polar Bear's Underwear

Children will love turning the pages to see what type of underwear is next and whose it might be.  The children I have shared the book with have laughed every time the underwear and its owner have been revealed. If you haven’t laughed by the time you get to the last few pages you certainly will when you find out where Polar Bear’s underwear actually are.

Grab a copy of Polar Bear’s Underwear and share it with the children in your life.

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My Most Anticipated Kids and YA August Releases from Allen and Unwin

Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar

If you go down to the woods today … Well, every child knows NOT to, don’t they?

Tamaya is on a scholarship to the prestigious Woodridge Academy and every day she and seventh-grader Marshall walk to school together. They never go through the woods. And when they arrive at school they stop talking to each other – because Marshall can’t be seen to be friends with a little kid like Tamaya. Especially not with Chad around. Chad-the-bully, who makes Marshall’s life utterly miserable. But today, hoping to avoid Chad, Marshall and Tamaya decide to go through the woods … And what is waiting there for them is strange, sinister and entirely unexpected. The next day, Chad doesn’t turn up at school – no one knows where he is, not even his family. And Tamaya’s arm is covered in a horribly, burning, itchy wound. As two unlikely heroes set out to rescue their bully, the town is about to be turned upside down by the mysterious Fuzzy Mud.

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Superhero Dad by Timothy Knapman and Joe Berger

Dad might not have a superhero mask or wear his pants outside his trousers, but his super snores can be heard a thousand miles away, he tells super jokes and can even make superscary monsters go away at bedtime!

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The Cut-Out by Jack Heath

Fero isn’t a spy.

But he looks exactly like someone who is: Troy Maschenov – a ruthless enemy agent.

But what starts as a case of mistaken identity quickly turns into a complicated and dangerous plan. Fero is recruited to fight for his country. He will have to impersonate Troy, enter enemy territory, hunt down a missing agent and bring her home in time to prevent a devastating terror attack.

Fero is in way over his head. Hastily trained, loaded up with gadgets and smuggled across the border, he discovers the truth about espionage.

Getting in is easy. Getting out alive is hard.

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Green Valentine by Lili Wilkinson

Astrid Katy Smythe is beautiful, smart and popular. She’s a straight-A student and a committed environmental activist. She’s basically perfect.

Hiro is the opposite of perfect. He’s slouchy, rude and resentful. Despite his brains, he doesn’t see the point of school.

But when Astrid meets Hiro at the shopping centre where he’s wrangling shopping trolleys, he doesn’t recognise her because she’s in disguise – as a lobster. And she doesn’t set him straight.

Astrid wants to change the world, Hiro wants to survive it. But ultimately both believe that the world needs to be saved from itself. Can they find enough in common to right all the wrongs between them?

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2015 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults: Interview with Kyle Mewburn

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Kyle Mewburn 15_smlDragon Knight: Fire!, written by Kyle Mewburn and illustrated by Donovan Bixley, has been voted for by kids all over New Zealand as a finalist in the Children’s Choice Junior Fiction  category. Dragon Knight: Fire!  is also on the judge’s finalist list. Kyle and Donovan have collaborated previously, on the best-selling Dinosaur Rescue series.

Central Otago-based Kyle Mewburn has form on his side in the Children’s Choice game, having won this prestigious award twice previously, with Kiss Kiss! Yuck Yuck!, and Melu , both illustrated by Ali Teo and John O’Reilly.

  • As an author, you must have a lot of ideas floating around. How did you decide to write this series?

I don’t usually let my ideas float around in case they escape – or some other sneaky author steals one. My ideas are kept securely locked up in a deep, dark dungeon in the bottom of my brain. Unfortunately ideas can be very stubborn sometimes and refuse to reveal their secrets, no matter how nicely I talk to them. So generally I have to resort to torture.

I decided to write my Dragon Knight series because I knew lots of fans of Dinosaur Rescue would be very angry if I didn’t write a new series soon. My publisher wanted a series with dragons, but I wanted to write about a boy who goes to Knight School (I can never resist a pun. Indeed, some of my best stories have started as a simple pun!). Luckily ,dragons and knights go together perfectly.

  1. Tell us a bit about the journey from manuscript to published work. What was the biggest challenge you faced in publishing this book?

The journey was relatively smooth sailing. Apart from a few editorial tweaks the story went through the entire publishing process relatively unscathed. The only hurdle was rewriting a couple of the “fact” boxes because they apparently “weren’t funny enough”. The biggest challenge was drawing the pictures. Luckily, I had nothing to do with that.

  1. How did you tailor this book to the age-group it reaches?

I don’t think it’s at all helpful to imagine yourself “tailoring” a story to any age group. That suggests any writer can write for any age group through a process of careful selection. I don’t actually agree that’s the case. The process is more organic than that. Either you can access your inner child or you can’t. If you can, then the stories tend to evolve naturally and take on a life of their own. If you can’t, then it’s no point really trying because any story you write will be prescriptive and fail to touch the reader. The only “tailoring” is actually more along the lines of editorial tinkering, such as debating the appropriateness of specific vocabulary or sentences structures.

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  1. Who have you dedicated this book to, and why?

Dragon Knight – Fire! is dedicated to Rio. I met Rio’s mum when I was at the Leipzig Book Fair – she was working for the NZ embassy at the time. She told me Rio was a super-keen reader, so I gave her some Dinosaur Rescue books. Rio loved them and started writing to me. When I finally met him a few years later I’d just finished writing Fire!, so I gave it to him to read. His verdict: “This is going to be HUGE. But make sure you include plenty of lists. Kids love lists.” So I decided to dedicate it to him right on the spot!

  1. Can you recommend any books for children/young adults who love this book?

Indeed. I’d recommend my entire Dinosaur Rescue series and the other three episodes of Dragon Knight.

  1. What is your favourite thing to do when you aren’t reading or writing, and why?

When I’m not writing I’m either eating, building or pottering around my garden. When you write full-time it’s always good to do something in-between which doesn’t involve too much thinking. You can let your mind wander so new ideas can sneak up on you. Besides, if I didn’t do something involving physical activity I’d be hugely fat in no time because I really do love eating.

Dragon Knight: Fire! by Kyle Mewburn & Donovan Bixley Scholastic New Zealand ISBN 9781775432593 RRP $12.00 Target age 7 to 10 years

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If you want to know more about Kyle, check out his website here: http://kylemewburn.com/

If you want to know more about Donovan, check out his website here: http://www.donovanbixley.com/

For reviews of Dragon Knight: Fire! and its sequel Rats!, check out the Booksellers NZ review here: http://booksellersnz.wordpress.com/2015/06/12/book-review-dragon-knight-fire-and-dragon-knight-rats-by-kyle-mewburn-and-donovan-bixley/.

This is day eleven of the blog tour featuring each of the finalists in the Children’s Choice category of the awards, and the first day featuring junior fiction.

Yesterday’s feature was Marmaduke Duck and the Wide Blue Sea, by Juliette MacIver and Sarah Davis, both of whom were featured on  http://thriftygifty.blogspot.co.nz/.  Tomorrow’s feature will be a second junior fiction title, 1914: Riding into War, by Susan Brocker, featured on NZ Book Council’s blog: www.booknotes-unbound.co.nz.

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Creaturepedia by Adrienne Barman

You know sometimes when you see a book and instantly fall in love?  I had one of those moments recently when I laid my eyes on Creaturepedia by Adrienne Barman.  I first saw this book on one of my favourite book websites, Love Reading 4 Kids and the cover really caught my eye.  When I finally got my hands on a copy of the book from my library I fell in love.  Excuse me while I gush over this book.

Creaturepedia is a visually stunning book about creatures from all over the world.  The book’s by-line is ‘Welcome to the Greatest Show on Earth,’ and it’s not wrong.  Adrienne Barman introduces us to creatures great and small, huge and miniscule. Adrienne has split the book up into different sections, with names like ‘The Champion Breath-Holders,’ ‘The Masters of Camoflage,’ and The Show-Offs.’  The beauty of this book though is that it is perfect for dipping in and out of.  You could pick any page at random and it would make you go ‘Wow!’  Curious children could flick to ‘The Lilliputians’ and discover that the Bee Hummingbird is the world’s smallest bird at 5.7cm long or that the Dwarf Gecko is the world’s smallest reptile at 1.6cm long.

The text in the book is sparse, letting the reader focus on the gorgeous illustrations that portray these creatures.  Children will discover creatures that they never knew existed and will want to find out more about them.  Adrienne’s illustrations are vibrant, quirky and fun.  Each of the creatures has its own unique personality.  Take a look at just a couple of the page spreads from the book:

Artwork credit: This is an excerpt from Creaturepedia by Adrienne Barman, published by Wide Eyed Editions.

Artwork credit: This is an excerpt from Creaturepedia by Adrienne Barman, published by Wide Eyed Editions.

Before you even open the book you can tell you’re holding a work of art in your hands.  The publisher of Creaturepedia, Wide Eyed Editions, clearly knows what makes a great book.  The love that went into producing this book is evident, from the hardcover to the binding and the vibrant colours to the high-quality paper.

Get your hands on a copy of Creaturepedia by Adrienne Barman and fall in love with this stunning book!

Creaturepedia is just one of the gorgeous books published by Wide Eyed Editions (distributed in Aus/NZ by Allen and Unwin).  Check out their website now.

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Morris Gleitzman on his new novel, Soon

Watch the video to hear more from Morris Gleitzman about Soon, Felix’s story so far, and the unexpected reaction to the series in Germany.

Soon is out now in NZ from Penguin Random House

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