Category Archives: picture books

My Top February Kids & YA Releases

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Marge and the Pirate Baby by Isla Fisher

Marge is back and exploring the neighbourhood with the kids! With some help from Jemima and Jake, can she stay in charge and keep ‘pirate’ baby Zara under control? And can the children make sure Marge behaves at Uncle Desmond and Annie’s wedding?

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The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles

It’s been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe, who’s still reeling from her father’s shocking death in a caving accident and her neighbors’ mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a terrifying subzero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in the woods–only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X.

X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe’s evil attacker and others like him. X is forbidden from revealing himself to anyone other than his prey, but he casts aside the Lowlands’ rules for Zoe. As they learn more about their colliding worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future. But escaping the Lowlands and the ties that bind X might mean the ultimate sacrifice for them both.

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Neon Leon by Jane Clarke and Britta Teckentrup

Everyone knows that chameleons are the best at fitting in. But not Leon. Leon is neon! In fact, he’s SO bright that he keeps all the other chameleons awake at night. But poor Leon is lonely, so he goes off in search of somewhere he can blend in.

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Spy Toys by Mark Powers

The world’s leading toy manufacturer makes playthings for the rich and famous, and every toy they create contains a tiny computerised brain and a unique personality. These toys are seriously awesome! But every so often there’s a faulty toy …

Dan is a Snugliffic Cuddlestar bear – he should be perfect for hugging. But because of a faulty chip, Dan is so strong he could crush a car. Thrown on to the rejects pile, he meets Arabella, a Loadsasmiles Sunshine Doll, who has a very short temper and is absolutely NOT good with children. Soon Dan, Arabella and Flax (a custom-made police robot rabbit gone AWOL) are recruited by the mysterious Auntie Roz, and together they make up THE SPY TOYS.

Their first mission: to protect the prime minister’s son from being kidnapped…

This book has a great website with downloadable activities to use in your classroom or library – http://spytoysbooks.com/fun-stuff

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There’s Broccoli in my Ice Cream by Emily MacKenzie

Granville the Dalmatian loves sweet, sugary, chocky wocky gooey things to eat. NOT fruit and vegetables. Which is a shame, because he comes from a long line of greengrocers and gardeners. So his family come up with a plan to persuade him to be passionate about parsnips and bonkers about broccoli. Only, Granville has a plan of his own – and it will surprise everyone!

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Hooray for Birds! by Lucy Cousins

Birds of all feathers flock together in a fun, rhyme-filled offering by the creator of Maisy. From the rooster’s “cock-a-doodle-doo” at dawn to the owl’s nighttime “tuwit, tuwoo,” the cheeps and tweets of many bright and beautiful avian friends will have children eager to join in as honorary fledglings.

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The Unexpected Love Story of Alfred Fiddleduckling by Timothy Basil Ering

A thrilling and fantastical story of a farmer, a dancing dog, a fiddle, and one brave, tiny musical duckling that will warm the heart. Captain Alfred is sailing home with new ducks for his farm when his little boat is caught in an unexpected and mighty storm. Everything aboard the ship is flung to the far reaches of the sea, including the very special and beautiful duck egg he had nestled safely inside his violin case. But perhaps all is not lost.

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MWD by Brian David Johnson and Jan Egleson

Liz served in Iraq with her trusty military working dog, Ender, by her side. But now that her tour is over, she has to readjust to life in her small New Hampshire town. Despite being surrounded by people she’s known her whole life, Liz feels entirely alone and soon gets trapped in a downward spiral of flashbacks and blackout drinking. Things seem destined for a bad end, but when Liz’s on-again-off-again boyfriend, Ben, almost hits a stray dog while she is in the car, things start to change. Brutus might just be the only thing that can bring her back from the brink.

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What is Poetry? The Essential Guide to Reading and Writing Poems by Michael Rosen

Over many years as a working poet, Michael Rosen has thought a great deal about what poems are, what they can do and the pleasure that comes from writing and reading poetry. In this invaluable handbook, he shares this knowledge and experience in book form for the very first time. Starting with a detailed analysis of a number of classic poems, he offers a real “writer’s guide” to writing and performing poems, as well as a wealth of technical information and tips. He then takes a fascinating look at a selection of his own poems and explains how and why he wrote them.

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Frankie Potts and the Postcard Puzzle by Juliet Jacka

Frankie’s list of mysteries to solve is getting longer by the day. Firstly, her mum is acting very strangely –she’s tired, grumpy and feels sick all the time. And then there’s Grandma M, who keeps dropping hints about expanding her troupe of performing greyhounds: Tinkerbell, Titania and Tiramisu.

With her detective sidekick Mac, Frankie travels to Giggleswick to find out about the mysterious Gideon R. Best, Animal Trainer Extraordinaire, and why he sent a postcard – with two kisses on it – to Frankie’s mum. How can Frankie work out what an overweight donkey, a cuddle-obsessed pig and a pooing parrot have to do with anything? And why has Tinkerbell started to waddle?

Kaboom! Things are getting explosive in Frankie’s family. She had better start solving.

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Frankie Potts and the Wicked Wolves by Juliet Jacka

A band of dancers with bells and blue painted faces have come to Tring, and Frankie can smell a mystery. Who are these Wicked Wolves? How come Grandma M knows them, and wants to pick a fight with them?

Meanwhile, Tinkerbell and Sparkplug’s seven adorable puppies are causing chaos at Frankie’s house. Grandma M is planning to give away four of them, and Frankie and Mac must make sure that they go to good homes. Ralph Peter-McGee, Frankie’s arch-enemy, seems to have his eye on her favourite pup Kettle Thomson. Can Frankie stop Kettle going to the wrong home? And why are those Wicked Wolves sniffing around the puppies?

The Inaugural Tring Talent Contest is rapidly approaching, and Frankie has some serious detecting to do. But maybe not all the clues are quite as they seem.

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Helper and Helper by Joy Cowley and Gavin Bishop

More funny stories and wry observations with the bestselling Snake and Lizard.

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Who Sank the Boat? and Other Stories by Pamela Allen

I love Pamela Allen’s stories.  My parents read them to me when I was young and now I read them to my daughter.  Her stories have stood the test of time and Pamela is still writing and illustrating new stories today.  Penguin Random House New Zealand have just released a beautifully packed collection of Pamela Allen’s stories just in time for Christmas.

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Who Sank the Boat? and Other Stories is a hardback collection of just some of Pamela Allen’s best stories.  Inside you’ll find Who Sank the Boat?, My Cat Maisie, Belinda, Alexander’s Outing, Brown Bread and Honey, Daisy All-Sorts, Grandpa and Thomas, Cuthbert’s Babies and Share Said the Rooster.  There is also some information at the start of the book about Pamela Allen and the many awards that she has won throughout the years.

This is collection to curl up with and share with the young ones in your life.  It’s the perfect gift book to put under the Christmas tree and it is a book that will be shared again and again.  I will certainly enjoy re-living my memories of Pamela Allen’s stories with my daughter as we try to figure out who did sink the boat, how to get Belinda back and try to teach Billy and Ben to share.

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Do Not Open This Book by Andy Lee

I love interactive picture books that beg readers to be part of the story.  They make you feel like the story couldn’t work without you.  Do Not Open This Book written by Andy Lee (one half of Australian comedy duo Hamish and Andy) and illustrated by Heath McKenzie is a brilliant new example of this type of picture book and it’s guaranteed to make kids laugh-out-loud.

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Do Not Open This Book begins with a strange little blue creature who is surprised that you’ve opened the book, especially since there was a warning on the front cover.  He asks the reader not to turn the page, but this is exactly what you want to do.  As the book goes on, he becomes more and more desperate, begging, pleading, threatening and sulking, before he finally reveals that if the reader reaches the final page, something terrible will happen.

I absolutely love Do Not Open This Book!  It is one of those books that is incredibly fun to read aloud and it never gets old or boring, no matter how many times you read it.  I’ve read this book aloud many, many times to the kids at my school, from new entrants through to the Year 6 kids, and they all love it.  I have kids queuing up to take this book home and I’m sure they would all be quite happy if I read it to them every time they came to the library.  Even though I love reading it to kids it’s even better when I hear some of the senior kids reading it aloud to each other.

The best thing about Do Not Open This Book is the perfect combination of the text and illustrations.  The story would be funny without illustrations but Heath McKenzie’s illustrations just add so much more humour to the story.  Heath’s character (which looks like a blue egg with long arms and legs) has a very expressive face.  The look of horror on the character’s face when  you do turn the page (even though he told you not to) or his face going purple because he is so exasperated that you keep turning the page just makes kids crack up laughing.  I have to stop myself from cracking up too every time I read it.

Do Not Open This Book is going to get read to death in my library and it is a must-have for your school or home.  You will be begging your kids to let you read this book to them.

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That’s NOT a Hippopotamus! by Juliette MacIver and Sarah Davis

Juliette MacIver and Sarah Davis are the dream team when it comes to picture books in New Zealand.  They have written and illustrated so many fabulous picture books, from the Marmaduke Duck series to Toucan Can.  Their books are always a joy to read aloud and their latest book, That’s NOT a Hippopotamus! is no exception. Adults and children alike will love this book!

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In That’s NOT a Hippopotamus! we follow a class of children and their poor teacher on an outing to the zoo. They discover that the hippopotamus is missing and they race off all over the zoo as they try to track it down.  Some of the children think they’ve found the hippo but they don’t quite get the right animal.  One of the children, Liam thinks that he sees the hippo but no one pays attention to him.  When it gets to the stage that the children are all forlorn and their teacher has almost had a nervous breakdown Liam finally gets everyone to listen to him.

That’s NOT a Hippopotamus is a hilarious story that will have adults and children in fits of giggles.  After creating so many books together Juliette and Sarah have a real knack for creating funny, entertaining, but also very clever, picture books.  The thing that makes this picture book stand out for me is that there are so many layers to it.  As the children chase after different animals (thinking they’ve found the hippopotamus) Juliette gives the reader little details about each animal so you can guess what it is.  There is this great sense of anticipation about what the animal will be, and you often get it wrong (which makes it even better).  On one page a boy says ‘I see him Miss! He’s on the ground.  I’ll get him while he’s snuffling round.’ There is an elephant’s bottom poking around the end of the page so you think it might be an elephant, but it’s actually a warthog.  Another layer of the story, told through the illustrations, is Liam spotting the hippopotamus.  He tells his teacher that he’s seen the hippo but she doesn’t pay him any attention.  The hippo is actually hiding in the exhibits though, and if you look carefully you will spot him.

I love the way that Juliette MacIver plays with words and she has certainly had fun with this story.  She has used some very clever rhyming and I love what the children yell out each time they catch an animal, ‘I got ‘im, Miss! I got ‘im, Miss! I got ‘im by his trotter, Miss!’  I know kids are going to love calling out ‘That’s NOT a hippopotamus!’ too.

This is a picture book that kids will beg to read over and over again and it is one that I think adults will be very happy to.  I absolutely love it!

 

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My Top October Kids & YA Releases

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

The 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!

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I Broke My Trunk by Mo Willems

Gerald is careful. Piggie is not. Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can. Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to. Gerald and Piggie are best friends. Gerald tells Piggie the long, crazy story about breaking his trunk. Will Piggie end up with a long, crazy story of her own?

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Let’s Go for a Drive! by Mo Willems

Gerald is careful. Piggie is not. Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can. Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to. Gerald and Piggie are best friends. Gerald and Piggie want to hit the road. But the best-laid plans of pigs and elephants often go awry.

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Beck by Mal Peet with Meg Rosoff

Born from a street liason between a poor young woman and an African soldier in the 1900s, Beck is soon orphaned and sent to the Catholic Brothers in Canada. Shipped to work on a farm, his escape takes him across the continent in a search for belonging.
Enduring abuse and many hardships, Beck has times of comfort and encouragement, eventually finding Grace, the woman with whom he can finally forge his life and shape his destiny as a young man.
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The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd, illustrated by Levi Pinfold
December 1941. Britain is at war. Emmaline has been evacuated away from the bombs to Briar Hill Hospital in Shropshire. When she gets there she discovers a secret. It’s not to be shared, not to be told to anyone, even her friend Anna. But she’ll tell you. This is Emmaline’s secret. There are winged horses that live in the mirrors of Briar Hill.
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The Giant’s Necklace by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Briony May Smith
It all began with a necklace, made of glistening pink cowrie shells. A long, long necklace that had taken Cherry days – weeks – of careful, painstaking work. It was nearly complete, and Cherry was determined it would be the longest necklace she had ever made; that it would be fit for a giant! But the end of the holidays had arrived. “You’ve only got today, Cherry,” said her mother. “Just today, that’s all.” Cherry didn’t mind, a day would be enough – she only needed a few more shells. So, amidst the taunts of her older brothers, she set out to search for them. Then the clouds grew dark and the waves grew large, and as the storm blew in, Cherry realized, to her horror, that she was cut off from the shore. From then on, events began to take a decidedly dark turn. One from which there was no turning back.
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We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen
Two turtles have found a hat. The hat looks good on both of them. But there are two turtles. And there is only one hat…
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When We Go Camping by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Cat Chapman
When we go camping, we bang in the pegs, bang in the pegs, bang in the pegs. Guy ropes are tricky; they trip up our legs!Smacketty tappetty bopp-io.
From two of New Zealand’s favourites – Sally Sutton and Cat Chapman – a rollicking romp through a day on a family camping trip!
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Willy and the Cloud by Anthony Browne
One day Willy goes to the park. It’s a sunny day, but a cloud hovers over him and he can’t join in the fun. What can Willy do to make this mysterious cloud go away?
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Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis
Carson Ellis invites readers to imagine the dramatic possibilities to be found in the natural world … even the humblest back garden! With gorgeous, exquisitely-detailed illustration that will appear to children and art-lovers alike, and a wonderfully playful invented language, we soon find ourselves speaking “Bug” … Du iz tak? What is that?
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Such Stuff: A Story-maker’s Inspiration by Michael Morpurgo
This insightful collection is the perfect gift for Michael Morpurgo fans who want to understand how writing works and where stories begin. Revealing essays from Michael about more than twenty of his most popular novels are combined with key extracts from his books along with historical context and illuminating background information from Michael’s brother Mark. Stunning illustrations from Michael Foreman, photographs and facsimiles complete the immersive experience.
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The Nutcracker, illustrated by Robert Ingpen
This beautiful volume, published to celebrate the bicentenary of the tale’s first publication in 1816, brings together the complete, unabridged German classic, in a new translation by the eminent translator Anthea Bell, with over seventy wonderful illustrations by the award-winning artist Robert Ingpen.
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A First Book of Animals by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Petr Horacek
Nicola Davies, the award-winning author of A First Book of Nature, presents a spellbinding treasury of poems about the animal world, illustrated in breathtaking detail by Petr Horacek. Polar bears playing on the ice, tigers hunting in the jungle, fireflies twinkling in the evening sky and nightingales singing in the heart of the woods – there are animals everywhere. From blue whales to bumblebee bats and everything in between, A First Book of Animals takes you all over the planet to visit all kinds of different creatures.
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Artie and the Grime Wave by Richard Roxburgh
Artie and his best friend Bumshoe have stumbled upon a Cave-of-Possibly-Stolen-Stuff, and along with it a gang of shady characters including scary Mary, fang-toothed Funnel-web and the devious Mayor Grime.

Artie and Bumshoe’s attempt to solve the mystery sparks a chaotic chain of events that involves kidnapping, puppy-dog cutlets, modern art and pioneering the sport of the bungee- wedgie.

It’s a sticky situation and if Artie’s going to escape, he might need help from family, friends, a little old lady, a small dog and the Fartex 120Y.

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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, illustrated by Jim Kay
With paint, pencil and pixels, award-winning illustrator Jim Kay conjures the wizarding world as we have never seen it before. Fizzing with magic and brimming with humour, this inspired reimagining will captivate fans and new readers alike, as Harry and his friends, now in their second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, seek out a legendary chamber and the deadly secret that lies at its heart .
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Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige
Seventeen-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 .
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Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Chris Riddell
A thrilling, wintry Nordic epic from the truly magical combination of author Neil Gaiman and illustrator Chris Riddell, weaving a tale of legend, magic and adventure which will grip and enchant readers from beginning to end.
Odd, a young Viking boy, is left fatherless following a raid and in his icy, ancient world there is no mercy for an unlucky soul with a crushed foot and no one to protect him. Fleeing to the woods, Odd stumbles upon and releases a trapped bear . and then Odd’s destiny begins to change. The eagle, bear and fox Odd encounters are Norse gods, trapped in animal form by the evil frost giants who have conquered Asgard, the city of the gods. Now our hero must reclaim Thor’s hammer, outwit the frost giants and release the gods .
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Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World by Kate Pankhurst
Discover fascinating facts about some of the most amazing women who changed the world we live in. Fly through the sky with the incredible explorer Amelia Earhart, and read all about the Wonderful Adventures of Mary Seacole with this fantastic full colour book.

Bursting full of beautiful illustrations and astounding facts, Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World is the perfect introduction to just a few of the most incredible women who helped shaped the world we live in.

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Flying Furballs 2: Hot Air by Donovan Bixley
In Book 2: Hot Air, Claude D’Bonair and his friend Syd are following a lead that takes them into the heart of the Swiss Alps. Can they stop Europe from going to the DOGZ? Continuing the explosive action of Dogfight, you’ll be barking mad if you don’t get your paws on Hot Air.

 

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Gus’s Garage by Leo Timmers

I’m a huge fan of Leo Timmers.  I always look forward to his books because they are so clever.  There are so many layers to the illustrations and you find something different every time you read his books.  Leo’s latest book from Gecko Press is Gus’s Garage and it is terrific!

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Gus the pig runs a garage.  Gus stores all sorts of stuff in his garage, stuff that looks like rubbish, but when his friends need help, he always has just the right thing for them. It’s up to the reader to figure out what stuff Gus might use to help his friends.  He certainly is one very clever pig.  Rico the rhino comes by on his moped and says ‘Gus, this seat – I’m overflowing.’ Gus looks through his bits and bobs and attaches an old seat that he has to Rico’s moped.  This carries on throughout the book until Gus has reused everything in his pile of stuff.

Gus’s Garage is another brilliant picture book from Leo Timmers.  It is a picture book that is both entertaining and gets kids thinking.  It makes them wonder what Gus will use from his pile of stuff to come up with a solution for his friends and then what might Gus’s final product be.  I love the sense of anticipation as you turn the page to find out what Gus has done.  I also love Gus’s refrain, ‘Let’s see. I have some bits and bobs. This goes with that. There. Just the job.’

One of the things that I love the most about Leo’s illustrations are the vibrant colours that he uses.  His illustrations seem to shine on the pages. There are lots of details to take in on each page. Something I only noticed on my third or fourth reading was that the sky gets darker and darker throughout the story as the day gets later.

Gus’s Garage is a picture book that will be begged to be read again and again.

 

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My Top September Kids & YA Releases

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Demon Road: Amercian Monsters by Derek Landy

The epic conclusion in the mind-blowing supernatural thriller from bestselling author DEREK LANDY, creator of international sensation Skulduggery Pleasant.

Bigger, meaner, stronger, Amber closes in on her murderous parents as they make one last desperate play for power. Her own last hopes of salvation, however, rest beyond vengeance, beyond the abominable killers – living and dead – that she and Milo will have to face.

For Amber’s future lies in her family’s past, in the brother and sister she never knew, and the horrors beyond imagining that befell them.

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Jim Reaper: Son of Grim by Rachel Delahaye

You might have heard how the universe began with the Big Bang? Well, the universe as Jim Wimple knows it is about to end. With a Bazoom!

Not only are Bazoom! scooters super fast and deadly cool, but fierce (and swoonsome) older girl Fiona has just started riding hers to and from school, and possibly out of Jim’s life forever. Disaster! Jim Wimple needs a Bazoom!, and fast. So he and his best friend Will devise a clever scheme, which involves having to sneak into Dad’s workplace. But when the boys break into the Mallet & Mullet ‘accountancy’ office they find that the walls are lined with ancient portraits, the staff are highly secretive, and Jim’s dad’s office bears the sign ‘G Reaper’… And then all hell really breaks loose.

What would YOU do if you thought your dad might be… Death?!

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Highly Illogical Behaviour by John Corey Whaley

Sixteen year old Solomon has agoraphobia. He hasn’t left his house in three years, which is fine by him. At home, he is the master of his own kingdom–even if his kingdom doesn’t extend outside of the house. Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to go to a top tier psychiatry program. She’ll do anything to get in. When Lisa finds out about Solomon’s solitary existence, she comes up with a plan sure to net her a scholarship: befriend Solomon. Treat his condition. And write a paper on her findings. To earn Solomon’s trust, Lisa begins letting him into her life, introducing him to her boyfriend Clark, and telling him her secrets. Soon, Solomon begins to open up and expand his universe. But all three teens have grown uncomfortably close, and when their facades fall down, their friendships threaten to collapse as well.

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The Turners: Camp Freakout by Mick Elliott

Leo Lennox has made a mistake. A massive, world-altering mistake. Now, the secret his shape-shifter ancestors have kept hidden for thousands of years is in danger of being discovered – all because he insisted on going to school camp.

It’s no place for a thirteen-year-old Turner still struggling to control his ability to transform into animals. Surrounded every minute of every day by his classmates – including his secret crush, and a pair of terrifying bullies – Leo is going to find out just how much he still has to learn.But when he discovers a fiendish plot, Leo realises that surviving camp is going to be the least of his worries.

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Don’t Call Me Bear! by Aaron Blabey

G’day, my name is Warren, and I’ve got something to share …Just because I’m furry doesn’t mean that I’m a bear.

Warren the koala is many things–a marsupial, cute and furry, a bit of a grump–but the one thing he’s not is a bear!

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The Inventory: Iron Fist by Andy Briggs

Hiding the most advanced technology and weapons to keep the world a safer place is a good idea. Storing ALL of them in one place? That’s when the trouble starts. Hidden under a small suburban town The Inventory is a collection of the most incredible technology the world is NOT ready for: invisible camouflage, HoverBoots, indestructible metals and a giant battle robot just for starters. Lots’ Dad is the mild-mannered curator of The Inventory, and she gets to see some CRAZY things. The Russian “Iron Fist” is a colossal war robot, built during the Cold War. Once the Iron Curtain fell, the mechanical giant was written out of history and kept secret in The Inventory – now it has been stolen, along with some other serious tech. Alerted to the missing items The Inventory, usually devoid of people, is flooded with mission teams setting out to follow the trail of the thieves, only to be stranded and locked out of communication. Using invisibility camouflage, the thieves have hidden inside and now they’re in control. Alone on the inside, Lots must find a way to get her Dad and The Inventory teams back and stop the anonymous thieves.

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Super Rabbit by Stephanie Blake

Once there was a little rabbit… “I’m not a LITTLE rabbit! I’m Super Rabbit!”

Simon is not afraid of anything. He’s Super Rabbit! But one day when he goes out to save the world, he comes across a situation he wasn’t expecting.

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Don’t Cross the Line by Bernardo Carvalho, illustrated by Isabel Martins

The guard always follows the general’s orders without question. This time,
the order is that no one must cross the line. The right-hand page of this
book must be kept blank for the general.

As the crowd builds up on the border, the guard is under pressure. If no one
is allowed onto the next page, what will happen to the story?

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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.

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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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My Top August Kids & YA Releases

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Marge in Charge by Isla Fisher

Jemima and Jake’s new babysitter doesn’t look too promising. In fact she looks very sensible, very old and VERY small (she only comes up to daddy’s armpit!). But the moment their parents leave the house, Marge gives a mischievous wink, takes off her hat and reveals a marvellous mane of rainbow-coloured hair!

Marge really is a babysitter like no other and the children spend a wild evening with her – racing snails, slurping chocolate soup and mixing potions in the bath! But if Jake and Jemima want her to babysit again it’s time for them to take charge of Marge, tidy up and settle her down for a little sleep.

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The Boundless Sublime by Lili Wilkinson

Ruby Jane Galbraith is empty. Her family has been torn apart and it’s all her fault.

The only thing that makes sense to her is Fox – a gentle new friend who is wise, soulful and clever, yet oddly naive about the ways of the world. He understands what she’s going through and he offers her a chance to find peace. Fox belongs to a group called the Institute of the Boundless Sublime – and Ruby can’t stay away from him. So she is also drawn into what she discovers is a terrifying, secretive community that is far from the ideal world she expected.

Can Ruby find the courage to escape? Is there any way she can save Fox too? And is there ever an escape from the far-reaching influence of the Institute of the Boundless Sublime?

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Promising Azra by Helen Thurloe

Azra is sixteen, smart and knows how to get what she wants. She thinks. When she wins a place in a national science competition, she thinks her biggest problem is getting her parents’ permission to go. But she doesn’t know they’re busy arranging her marriage to an older cousin she’s never met. In Pakistan. In just three months’ time.

Azra always thought she’d finish high school with her friends and then go on to study science, but now her dreams of university are suddenly overshadowed. Can she find a way to do what she wants, while keeping her parents happy?

Or does being a good daughter mean sacrificing her freedom?

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A Message to the Sea by Alex Shearer

It’s been a year since Tom Pellow’s dad was lost at sea. He was a sailor and Tom also finds himself drawn to the vast ocean; it holds so many possibilities, dangers and secrets. After hearing a song on the radio, Tom decides to write a message in a bottle, and throw it out into the sea. To ‘cast his bread upon the waters’. He doesn’t really expect to hear back, but Tom keeps writing anyway, sending messages out on the tide and searching the waves for a reply. One day he finds one. It’s a letter that seems to be from a ghost, deep down in Davy Jones’s Locker – and the writer has a shocking answer to Tom’s question.

But if Tom’s dad didn’t perish at sea, where is he?

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With Malice by Eileen Cook

When Jill wakes up in a hospital bed with her leg in a cast, the last six weeks of her life are a complete blank. All she has been told is that she was involved in a fatal accident while on a school trip in Italy and had to be jetted home to receive intensive care. Care that involves a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident… wasn’t just an accident.

With no memory of what happened or what she did, can Jill prove her innocence? And can she really be sure that she isn’t the one to blame?

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The Great Dragon Bake Off by Nicola O’Byrne

At the Ferocious Dragon Academy, dragons-in-training learn the arts of bone crunching and teeth sharpening. But there is one dragon who harbours a passion for a most undragon-like pastime . . .

Meet Flamie Oliver. To look at, Flamie is as terrifying as a dragon can get. But behind closed doors, Flamie is . . . a stupendously spectacular Star Baker! That’s right – choux, rough, salty, sweet and puff – Flamie loves it all. In fact, he loves baking so much that his studies at the Ferocious Dragon Academy are starting to suffer, and there’s a chance he won’t graduate! Flamie’s going to need a real showstopper to get out of this one.

On your marks, get set . . . BAKE!

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Good Night Everyone by Chris Haughton

A series of exquisitely coloured cut pages of increasing size introduce woodland families – bears, deer, rabbits and teeny, tiny mice – who are all beginning to feel really… rather… tired… YAWN! “Dear me,” says Great Big Bear, “it must be time for bed!” But Little Bear is certainly not sleepy – he’s wide awake! (For now…) With sublime, starry night time scenes and an infectious yawny ‘Good night’ refrain, Chris Haughton creates a lulling bedtime read, perfect for parents and children to share together.

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Geis: A Matter of Life and Death by Alexis Deacon

Book one in gripping action, supernatural and historical fantasy graphic novel trilogy where souls battle in a contest to become the ruler of an island.

As the great chief matriarch lay dying, she gave one final decree: Upon her death there would be a contest. Having no heir of her own blood she called on the Gods. Let fate decide the one truly worthy to rule in her place. The rich, the strong, the wise, the powerful; many put forward their names in hope of being chosen. But when the night came… only fifty souls alone were summoned.

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The Curiosity Machine by Richard Newsome

With the strange plans for an even stranger machine in his possession, along with a coded message from a long-dead castaway that could be the key to unlocking its secrets, Gerald finds himself at the centre of a web of mystery and danger.

Masked gunmen have taken over his luxury yacht. His parents have been kidnapped. And one of his closest friends has betrayed him.

His old enemy Sir Mason Green seems to be pulling all the strings.

Or is he?

Gerald, Ruby, Sam and Felicity take off on their final exciting adventure, from glaciers to jungles and the depths of the Pacific Ocean to an island teeming with the most bizarre creatures on earth.

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The 78-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton

Join Andy and Terry in their spectacular new 78-storey treehouse. They’ve added 13 new levels including a drive-thru car wash, a combining machine, a scribbletorium, an ALL-BALL sports stadium, Andyland, Terrytown, a high-security potato chip storage facility and an open-air movie theatre. Well, what are you waiting for? Come on up!

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Barking Mad by Tom E. Moffatt

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!

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Yours Sincerely, Giraffe by Megumi Iwasa, illustrated by Jun Takabatake

Giraffe is bored, as usual. He’d love a friend to share things with. So he writes a letter and sends it as far as possible across the other side of the horizon. There he finds a pen pal—Penguin.

Giraffe knows nothing about penguins and his letters are full of questions. What does a penguin look like? Where is a penguin’s neck?

And so the letters begin to fly from horizon to horizon.

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Gus’s Garage by Leo Timmers

One by one Gus’s friends bring him their vehicles and Gus solves their troubles with ingenious solutions—a cooling system made with a fridge that doubles as ice-cream machine, a burst of speed from a rocket blaster.

Soon the workshop is almost empty, but the last scraps might be just enough to solve Gus’s own problem at the end of a long day.

 

 

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Petunia Paris’s Parrot by Katie Haworth and Jo Williamson

What present do you get for a girl who has everything?  What could she possibly want that she doesn’t already have?  Why, a parrot of course!

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Petunia Paris really does have everything – a swimming pool, a city of toys, and her own personal library.  When her parents ask her what she wants for her fifth birthday she can’t think of a single thing she wants, so she says the first thing that comes into her head – a parrot.  It is a beautiful parrot all the way from Peru, but no matter how hard she tries she just can’t get it to talk.  One day she loses patience and shouts at her parrot but her butler suggests that she ask it nicely why it won’t talk.  Petunia learns exactly why her parrot won’t talk and she sets out to maker it happy.

Petunia Paris’s Parrot is a perfectly pleasant and pleasing picture book.  It is so much fun to read and it gives your mouth a work-out in several places with all the alliteration.  Kids will wish that they were Petunia, with all of her extravagant gifts and a parrot of their very own.

Katie’s delightful text and Jo’s elegant illustrations are the perfect match.  Like Petunia and her family Katie’s text has an air of sophistication.  I almost feel like I should read the book in a posh accent.  Katie uses some lovely language and introduces young readers to words that they’ve probably never heard before, like ‘pertinent’ and ‘perturbed.’ She sprinkles alliteration throughout the text, whether it is Petunia ‘presenting pertinent topics of conversation,’ or ‘planning preposterous new outfits.’  These little touches make the story a joy to read.  My favourite part of the story is when ‘persistent Petunia finally lost her composure.’  I absolutely love Jo Williamson’s illustrations too.  Jo has used mostly pinks and blues in the illustrations, which give them an old-fashioned but elegant look.  Jo includes lots of lavish details that highlight the privileged life that Petunia leads, from her shelf full of toys to the chandeliers in her house and the butler who is holding an umbrella while she swims in her pool.  When Petunia’s parrot shows up he really stands out on the page because of the splash of colour that he brings to Petunia’s life.  Jo has given the parrot lots of expression too, from his determination not to try the exotic food, to his embarrassment over having to wear a silly outfit.

Petunia Paris’s Parrot is delightful from beginning to end and it is sure to be a picture book that will be shared again and again.  I’m certainly looking forward to sharing it with children.

For a sneak peak at Petunia Paris’s Parrot check out the Five Mile Press website.

 

 

 

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