Category Archives: picture books

Ngā Atua: Maori Gods by Robyn Kahukiwa

There are some fantastic books of Maori myths that have been published.  Authors and illustrators like Gavin Bishop, Ron Bacon and Peter Gossage have brought these stories to generations of New Zealand children.  The Moana movie has recently brought Maori and Pacific mythology in to the spotlight, with children showing extra interest in these stories.  Renowned New Zealand artist, Robyn Kahukiwa has just published a fantastic book with Oratia Books that focuses on the gods from Maori mythology, called Ngā Atua: Maori Gods.

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Ngā Atua is the perfect book to introduce young children to the Maori gods.  It’s the sort of book that preschool teachers have been crying out for, as it is a picture book that introduces Maori gods with a simple text and bold illustrations.  The book introduces children to Tāne, Hine-te-iwaiwa, Tangaroa, Mahuika, Māui and many others.  Robyn Kahukiwa tells the stories of the gods and what they are responsible for.  Each of the illustrations that accompany the text perfectly capture the gods and their power.

Ngā Atua: Maori Gods is a beautiful book that will be loved by children across New Zealand.  It will be a book that will be read and enjoyed again and again and will be an invaluable resource for teachers.  I’m sure it will spark an interest in Maori mythology and encourage children to seek out the myths that have been brought to life by other authors and illustrators.

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The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt and Adam Rex

Many brave warriors have had to journey to strange lands to prove themselves and we have read their stories.  Drew Daywalt and Adam Rex bring us an epic origin story of three foes.  These foes searched far and wide to find the warrior fierce enough to beat them in combat.  This talented author and illustrator team have come together to tell  The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors.

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The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors follows Rock, Paper and Scissors in their search for awesomeness.  What they really desire though is to find a warrior who is able to beat them, a warrior that can make them feel worthy.  From the Kingdom of Backgarden, the Empire of Mum’s Study and the Kitchen Realm, Rock, Paper and Scissors battle many warriors but it is only when they meet each other that they truly find a worthy opponent.

This is one of the funniest picture books I’ve read in ages. It’s an epic story worthy of Hollywood and you can’t help but read it in a movie trailer voice.  It’s the sort of book that kids will beg you to read again and again, and you will be only to happy to do so.

Rock, Paper and Scissors each have a distinctive personality that comes alive, both in the text and the illustrations.  Each character in the book has a different font for their voice – Rock’s is blocky, Paper’s is swirly and Scissors’ is pointy. Adam Rex’s illustrations are fantastic!  The colours he uses make the illustrations jump off the page, especially during the battle scenes.  You can see the power and emotion of each showdown.  The rockets firing and volcanoes erupting in the background just add to the awesomeness of the battle.

You will never look at the game of Rock, Paper, Scissors the same again.  Each time you play you will remember the fierce battles that were raged in order for your showdown to happen.  Grab a copy of The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors from your library or bookshop now and witness the rise of legends.

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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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Grandad’s Guitar by Janine McVeagh and Fifi Colston

Sharing stories is an important part of our whakapapa. We share stories so that those who came before us are remembered and celebrated. Some of these stories lend themselves well to being made into a book that can be shared with people all over the world.  Janine McVeagh’s story of her husband and the connection that he made with their grandson through his guitar is one of these stories. In Grandad’s Guitar, Janine brings her family’s story to life with the help of Fifi Colston’s wonderful illustrations.

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Kahu receives a battered, old guitar for his birthday. He would much rather have a shiny new one, but as his grandmother tells him the story of this guitar Kahu learns how to play the instrument and learns of his connection to his grandad. The guitar once belonged to his grandad who took it all over the world, along with his grandma. They traveled to England, France and Greece before coming home through Iran, Afghanistan and India. The guitar may look old and battered but it is quite a treasure that is now Kahu’s.

Grandad’s Guitar is a fantastic story that celebrates music and its power to connect people across countries and generations.  It shows the importance of sharing family stories to keep the memories of those who are no longer with us alive.  Janine’s storytelling makes you feel like you are a member of the family listening to her story.

I love the look and feel of this book. Makaro Press have done a wonderful job with the production of the book.  The paper is thick and the illustrations are glossy so you almost feel like you are holding Fifi’s original illustrations in your hands. Fifi’s illustrations take you back in time to the 60s, showing the fashion of the times and showing the different cultures through the food and clothing.  I especially love the music notes that flow through the illustrations.

This is a great book to share with children young and old. It’s an especially good book to use in a classroom because you could explore many different aspects of the story, from music and its ability to connect people, to family stories and how these are passed down the generations, or even looking at the different cultures that Kahu’s grandparents visit on their travels with the guitar.  With Matariki just around the corner I think this is the perfect book to share, as one of the things we celebrate at Matariki is our whakapapa.

Makaro Press have also created some wonderful teacher’s notes to go with the book too – http://www.makaropress.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Final-Teachers-Notes-Grandads-Guitar.pdf

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Ruru’s Hangi by Nikki Slade Robinson

Nikki Slade Robinson’s award-winning picture book, The Little Kiwi’s Matariki, is my favourite book to read around Matariki.  In this book Nikki Slade Robinson introduced young children to Matariki through Kiwi and his friends in a simple yet fun way, using a mixture of English and te reo in the text.  In Nikki’s latest book, Ruru’s Hangi, she introduces young children to the concept of a hangi as the creatures celebrate the arrival of Ruru’s babies.

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Ruru has been sitting on her eggs for 30 days and 30 nights and on day 31 the eggs wriggle and hatch.  Kiwi hears Ruru’s elated cries and goes to tell the other creatures in the forest.  Kiwi has an idea to celebrate the arrival of Ruru’s babies and gets the other creatures to help out.  They dig a hole and gather all of the things that they need to make a hangi.  When the hangi is ready they call Ruru and they share the kai together to celebrate.

Ruru’s Hangi is a perfect introduction to the hangi for young children and is another wonderful bilingual text from Nikki Slade Robinson that is great to share with young children, especially preschoolers.  Nikki introduces children to native birds and creatures, like the Tui, Katipo and Weka who all help to prepare the hangi. Nikki’s illustrations are fun with each of the creatures having a distinct personality.  The Te Reo used is basic and weaves effortlessly in with the English, so this is a great book to share even if you know very little Te Reo.  Nikki uses lots of repetition in the text, like:

‘Ka pai, perfect!’ they said. Shhh! Don’t tell Ruru!’

Nikki ends the book with a simple explanation of how to prepare a hangi, just like the creatures in the book have done.  Ruru’s Hangi is a invaluable resource for early childhood centres and schools.  It is a book that will be used by teachers and librarians around the country but also a book that children will love.  Anyone who is looking for a wonderful bilingual story to share with their children should get a copy of Ruru’s Hangi.

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My Pictures After the Storm by Eric Veille

A book that makes you laugh every time you read it is a sure sign of a great book.  The first time I read My Pictures After the Storm, the latest ‘curiously good’ book from Gecko Press, I was laughing the whole way through because I didn’t know what to expect.  Now, every time I read it I know what is coming and it is just as funny.

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My Pictures After the Storm is a stand-out book and my favourite book at the moment.  I want to show it to everyone I see and I am desperate to show it to all the kids at school after the holidays.  It features a series of before and after illustrations that are incredibly clever and absolutely hilarious. Eric Veille shows us the changes to his pictures after the storm, after a cannonball, after the hairdresser and much more.

The text is sparse but the language that Eric uses is rich.  On the My Pictures after the hairdresser page for example the lion-tamer goes from being ‘a lion-tamer unconcerned’ to ‘a lion-tamer nicely permed.’ A cake after the elephant turns into a splitch and an octopus becomes a splatch.  One of my favourite pages is ‘My pictures after a cold,’ because you have to say the names of the fruit and vegetables like you have a cold.

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Eric’s illustrations are what makes this book so brilliant.  They are full of humour and expression.  It is so much fun to compare the before and after pictures to see what has happened to everything on the page.  Each of the scenes is something that kids and adult will be able to relate to, from having lunch and going swimming to having a battle and eating too many potato chips.

My Pictures After the Storm is a book that kids will beg to read again and again and adults will be happy to do so.  It’s a book that will have you laughing together and noticing new things on the page each time you read.  It is sure to engage even older children who will appreciate the clever illustrations and humour.

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The Red Book by Beck and Matt Stanton

Beck and Matt Stanton are creators of books that drive kids crazy.  Their previous picture books, This is a Ball and Did You Take the B from my _ook? have been hits with kids, even if they do make them go a little crazy.  Their latest picture book is The Red Book and it is absolutely hilarious!  It is my favourite book to read aloud at the moment.

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Even before you open the book you know that it is going to be funny just by reading the instructions for grown-ups on the back:

For the Grown-Ups:

Okay, Big Wig.
We have a challenge for you.

It’s your job to convince the nearest kid that everything in this book is actually red.

And we mean everything.

It will not be easy! They will try to persuade you that things are not as red as you say, but you will stay strong!

And the kids will love it!

The Red Book is fantastic, interactive picture book that will both infuriate kids and have them rolling on the floor laughing.  I’ve been reading this book to the Year 1 and 2 kids at my school over the last couple of days and they absolutely love it!  As soon as you show them the cover and read the title they start arguing with you and yelling ‘No!’ because the cover of the book is purple (or so they keep telling you).

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The first page gets the kids on board with you, making sure that they agree about the colours on the page.  When you turn the page though you tell them that they are all wrong and that everything is red. It’s your job to try and convince the kids that everything in the book is red, but they won’t have a bar of it, because they can see that Fergus the Frog and Rose the Penguin aren’t red.  The kids get more and more frustrated and you (as the reader) eventually snap and tell them that you’re the grown-up and what you say goes.  By the end of the book though you will convince them that this book is red.

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The text is perfect for this interactive book and really gets everyone involved in the story.  The kids can’t help but join in and argue with you because what you are saying is so silly. If you’ve got kids who loved The Book with No Pictures (who doesn’t love that book!) or Do Not Open This Book then they’ll love this one. The illustrations are simple but bold and really stand out on the plain white background.

Get The Red Book for your home or school library now and drive your kids crazy!

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Hooray for Birds by Lucy Cousins

Children have been growing up with Lucy Cousins’ illustrations for many years now.  Her bold illustrations are very distinctive and you certainly can’t miss them.  Children have gone on adventures with Maisy, been captivated by her fairy tale retellings, and discovered all sorts of beautiful fish.  In Lucy’s latest book, Hooray for Birds, children will fall in love with birds.

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Children will find themselves becoming birds of all kinds as they wake up shouting “Cock-a-doodle-doo!” like a rooster, pecking like a woodpecker, and standing tall on just one leg like a flamingo.   They will hop, swim and swoop their way through the book until, worn out from all the excitement, they cuddle up close with Mama in their nest.

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Hooray for Birds is a bright, busy, noisy book that will make children flap their wings with delight.  It’s a delightful picture book that adults will be only too happy to read again and again.  Lucy encourages children to join in with the birds and flap, sing and waddle along with these colourful creatures.  I love Lucy’s illustration style and it really appeals to young children especially.  One of my favourite aspects of Hooray for Birds are the gorgeous endpapers which are covered with birds.

I think this would be a great book for teachers to incorporate in to the classroom as I can see lots of ways to extend the story across the curriculum.  Lucy uses lots of wonderful descriptive language for the different actions of the birds, so this could be worked in to the English curriculum.  The book could be part of a drama lesson where the children are acting as the different birds.  Children could create colourful birds of their own as part of an art lesson.  There are so many opportunities to extend the fun of this book.

Hooray for Birds is a delight to share and I’m sure it will be a favourite with the younger children in your life.

 

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Dave’s Rock by Frann Preston-Gannon

Dave, the lovable caveman from Frann Preston-Gannon’s brilliant picture book, Dave’s Cave, is back again. This time there is a bit of competition between Dave and his friend Jon.

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Dave’s Rock is about two cavemen and their love for rocks.  Dave loves his rock and so does Jon.  They both think that their rock is bigger, taller and faster.  They realise though that they can make both of their rocks better.  The competition between Dave and Jon makes this a thoroughly entertaining read.

I absolutely loved Dave’s Cave and Dave’s Rock is just as good.  The simple text and illustrations  work so well which makes it such a great book to share one-on-one or with a group.  You can’t help but read the story just like a caveman.  The bright green cover, with Dave hugging his rock, jumps off the shelf and makes kids want to pick it up and see what’s inside.

The thing that I love the most about Frann’s books about Dave is that they have such a wide appeal.  Younger children will love Dave for his silly antics and the mistakes that he makes and older children will appreciate the way that Frann tells the story in caveman talk.  They are books that adults will enjoy just as much as the kids and won’t mind reading over and over again.

Add Dave’s Cave and Dave’s Rock to your collection now for guaranteed laughs.

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