Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman
You know what it’s like when your mum goes away on a business trip and Dad’s in charge. She leaves a really, really long list of what he’s got to do. And the most important thing is DON’T FORGET TO GET THE MILK. Unfortunately, Dad forgets. So the next morning, before breakfast, he has to go to the corner shop, and this is the story of why it takes him a very, very long time to get back. Featuring: Professor Steg (a time-travelling dinosaur), some green globby things, the Queen of the Pirates, the famed jewel that is the Eye of Splod, some wumpires, and a perfectly normal but very important carton of milk.
Spirit Animals: Wild Born by Brandon Mull
Four children separated by vast distances all undergo the same ritual, watched by cloaked strangers. Four flashes of light erupt, and from them emerge the unmistakable shapes of incredible beasts – a wolf, a leopard, a panda, a falcon. Suddenly the paths of these children – and the world – have been changed forever.
Enter the world of Erdas, where every child who comes of age must discover if they have a spirit animal, a rare bond between human and beast that bestows great powers to both. A dark force has risen from distant and long-forgotten lands, and has begun an onslaught that will ravage the world. Now the fate of Erdas has fallen on the shoulders of four young strangers . . . and on you.
The Lost Boy by Greg Ruth
Some mysteries are too dangerous to leave alone. Nate’s not happy about his family moving to a new house in a new town. After all, nobody asked him if he wanted to move in the first place. But when he discovers a tape recorder and note addressed to him under the floorboards of his bedroom, he’s thrust into a dark mystery about a boy who went missing many, many years ago. Now, as strange happenings and weird creatures begin to track Nate, he must partner with Tabitha, a local girl, to find out what they want with him. But time is running out, for a powerful force is gathering strength in the woods at the edge of town, and before long Nate and Tabitha will be forced to confront a terrifying foe and uncover the truth about the Lost Boy.
Stay Where You Are and Then Leave by John Boyne
The day the First World War broke out, Alfie Summerfield’s father promised he wouldn’t go away to fight – but he broke that promise the following day. Four years later, Alfie doesn’t know where his father might be, other than that he’s away on a special, secret mission.
Then, while shining shoes at King’s Cross Station, Alfie unexpectedly sees his father’s name – on a sheaf of papers belonging to a military doctor. Bewildered and confused, Alfie realises his father is in a hospital close by – a hospital treating soldiers with an unusual condition. Alfie is determined to rescue his father from this strange, unnerving place.
Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo
It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is the just the right person to step in and save him. What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight, and misspelled poetry – and that Flora will be changed too, as she discovers the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart.
Demon Dentist by David Walliams
The new jaw-achingly funny novel from David Walliams, the number one bestselling author! Make your appointment if you dare…Darkness had come to the town. Strange things were happening in the dead of night. Children would put a tooth under their pillow for the tooth fairy, but in the morning they would wake up to find…a dead slug; a live spider; hundreds of earwigs creeping and crawling beneath their pillow. Evil was at work. But who or what was behind it…? Read this book and find out!
Pinocchio, retold by Michael Morpurgo
Pinocchio as you’ve never seen him before: telling his own story through the master storyteller and award-winning author of WAR HORSE. “Now – there’s no point in pretending here – I was, and still am deep down, a puppet. Everyone knows Pinocchio is a puppet. I reckon I must be just about the most famous puppet the world has ever known. But the truth is I’m not just a puppet, I’m more than just bits of wood and string. I’m me. So I thought it was about time that I, Pinocchio, told you my story…” So begins this stunningly beautiful interpretation of the classic story. Michael Morpurgo channels Pinocchio‘s words to tell the famous puppet’s story in his own inimitable, cheeky and always funny way. Lavishly illustrated throughout in full colour by the acclaimed Emma Chichester-Clark, this is a must-have gift for all book lovers, and an utterly charming and surprising adaptation of a much-loved tale.
All the Wrong Questions: When Did You See Her Last? by Lemony Snicket
I should have asked the question ‘How could someone who was missing be in two places at once?’ Instead, I asked the wrong question — four wrong questions, more or less. This is the account of the second.
In the fading town of Stain’d-by-the-Sea, young apprentice Lemony Snicket has a new case to solve when he and his chaperone are hired to find a missing girl. Is the girl a runaway? Or was she kidnapped? Was she seen last at the grocery store? Or could she have stopped at the diner? Is it really any of your business? These are All The Wrong Questions.
Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Barcelona, 1980. Óscar Drai finds himself drawn to an old dilapidated mansion where he meets the captivating and elusive Marina. She leads him to the cemetery to witness a mysterious ritual: on the fourth Sunday of every month, a veiled woman alights from a carriage and lays a single rose on an unmarked grave.
Óscar and Marina are swept on a journey into the city’s dark underground of labyrinthine sewers, corrupt policemen, ageing aristocrats, forgotten societies and criminal depravity…to a sinister tale of love, ambition and jealousy that will hold Óscar’s heart forever.
Arclight by Josin L. Mcquein
Marina can’t remember anything about her life before she stumbled out of the Dark and into the Arclight. Where has she come from? How has she survived? Any why do the rulers of the Dark seem determined to destroy her? To find out, she will have to venture back into the Dark.
The New Zealand Post Children’s Book Festival starts on Monday 17 June (that’s next week) and our committee here in Christchurch can’t wait to bring the Festival to the children of Canterbury. The main part of the Canterbury Festival this year is our Roadshow. We’re taking the finalist books on the road and visiting schools and preschools throughout Canterbury, from Ashburton up to Rangiora. We’ll be reading and talking about the finalists and I’ll be stepping in to Mister Whistler’s shoes each day.
We wanted to have a cool way to promote the books to the kids in each of our sessions so we came up with the idea of reading an extract from some of the books. The kids will then have to guess which book the extract comes from. It’s an easy idea that you could use in your classroom or library too. See if you can figure out which 2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards finalist book these extracts come from.
- ‘Then came the long metal howl. In the canyon mouth, Hodie saw a bright blur. Next moment a wind-train shot out of the canyon and snaked above the valley floor towards the Depot. Lamps shone at the front. Four large swivelling wings on the engine made it shift this way and that to catch the currents of wind. Larger wings were spaced along three carriages, one of which looked like a dining car, and a van that must be for luggage. Concertina metal cages linked the carriages.’
- ‘All the time, the song raced round and round his head, and his feet tried to dance him round and round the platform.’
- ‘Gorging grubber, larvae-lover, snail-scratcher, beetle-battler.’
- ‘He looked out to sea. He had never been down here at night and he took a moment to enjoy the strangeness of it. In the patches of light, he thought he made out seaweed in the surging water, and something else, floating out there, waiting. Seals! He stood up and shivered in the wind. He heard it again: ‘The skin. Jake.’ A row of seals, their wet heads dark against the sea, watched him, like a row of sentries guarding the sea. Or the beach.’
- ‘The creatures here have to watch out for other hungry animals looking for a meal. Some dig into the sand to escape. Some hide under rocks. Others have clever ways of protecting themselves.’
- ‘We’re safe where we are, but we don’t wait around to speculate, just run like hell until we’re through the gardens and back in town. It’s chaos there. People packing out of offices. Shops boarding up their windows. Lucinda takes her leave of us, promising she’ll keep in touch. All the frantic activity underlines how stuffed I feel, not helped when Mikey whines about being hungry and tired the rest of the way home.’
I hope you all have a great festival week, whatever you may be doing. I certainly can’t wait until the awards ceremony in Christchurch on Monday 24 June to find out who takes out the awards!
Walker Books Australia have so many fantastic books being released this month. From a tale of Ancient Greece, to a story of a girl who wants to act but suffers from stage fright, and even a new book by David Almond and Dave McKean.
Thanks to Walker Books I have a stack of their latest release novels to give to one lucky school. The pack includes:
- That Boy, Jack by Janeen Brian
- Murder at Mykenai by Catherine Mayo
- In the Wings by Elsbeth Edgar
- View from the 32nd Floor by Emma Cameron
- Wild Boy by Rob Lloyd Jones
- Mouse, Bird, Snake, Wolf by David Almond and Dave McKean
To get in the draw just enter your name and email address in the form below and tell me why your school deserves a stack of books. These books are suitable for ages 9+. Competition closes Wednesday 19 June (NZ only).
Thanks to everyone who entered. The winner is Grace for St George’s School.