Become an expert joke-teller with Tom E. Moffatt

Tom E. Moffatt is the award-winning author of some of the funniest Kiwi books for kids. Tom won the Tom Fitzgibbon Award in 2015 for his debut children’s book, Barking Mad (you can read my review here). Tom has followed Barking Mad with Mind-Swapping Madness (you can read my review here) and Body-Hopping Hysterics, two hilarious collections of short stories about swapping minds and swapping bodies. Tom’s most recent books carry on his passion for making kids laugh, by telling jokes and teaching kids how to become an expert joke-teller.

I’m Joking: 500+ original jokes for kids is exploding with Tom’s own jokes, which are guaranteed to have kids and adults alike in stiches! The best thing about this collection is that they are jokes that you won’t have heard anywhere else before as they’re all Tom E. Moffatt originals, whether they be good, bad or very ugly. This is the best joke book for kids that I’ve ever read because they’re not just thrown haphazardly into the book. All of the jokes are split into different sections, so you can find the kind of jokes that you really want to read or share. There are jokes about animal sounds, puns about body parts, jokes entirely about eggs, knock-knock jokes and stinky poo gags. There is even a section at the end of the book with readers’ favourite jokes. My favourite section is the funny book titles, with book and author combos like Farm Fences by Barb Dwyer. Joke books are some of the most borrowed books in my school library and I know that this book will be an absolute winner with my kids. I’ll order one box-full please Tom!

You’re Joking: Become an Expert Joke-teller is Tom’s incredibly entertaining how-to guide for perfecting the art of telling jokes. This is a brilliant book that is desperately needed for those kids who love telling jokes. Sure, anyone can tell a joke but it takes skill to deliver a joke in such a way that is entertaining and has everyone in the room laughing. Inside this book you’ll find basic tips, practice jokes and exercises, and each sections ends with a reflection. There are 101 jokes of different types to help you practice different deliveries. Tom teaches you about the different types of jokes, how to build a repertoire, how to deliver different jokes, and where to find jokes. He explains how important it is to know your audience and that there is a right time and place for telling jokes. This book is a must-have for all kids who love telling jokes (and for the adults who wish they could do it better). It’s another great addition to both primary and high school libraries.

The Joke Collector’s Notebook is the perfect companion to You’re Joking, as it is the ideal place to write all of the jokes that you collect to add to your repertoire. This is not just a blank notebook though. Tom has added some chapter headings, like ‘Delivery Tips’ and ‘Knock-knock Jokes,’ but he has also left chapter titles blank so that you can add your own. Throughout the book there are plenty of blank pages, some with jokes or challenges on them that could inspire you. The challenges encourage you to try new things, like finding a joke that your teacher might enjoy and testing it out on them. This is such a cool book that I know so many kids would love. I want to have heaps of copies that I can just give out to kids who I see enjoying jokes. Its a book that would make a great present for kids of any age (or that adult in your life who loves sharing jokes).

All of Tom’s books are chock-full of the wonderful Paul Beavis’s bonkers illustrations. They are a great match for Tom’s bonkers stories and hilarious jokes.

Tom also has a YouTube channel where he shares his jokes in hilarious video compilations, with animations by Paul Beavis. Make sure you check out Tom’s website too for more info about his books, plus activities and jokes galore.

You can buy Tom’s books through his website (which links to Amazon), from Wheelers or from the fantastic Kiwi Kids Books website.

Interview with Sandra Morris

Sandra Morris is the award-winning author of many wonderful picture books and children’s nonfiction books. In Sandra’s latest book, North and South, we learn about the differences in seasons between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres and how the animals that live there deal with the changing seasons. You can read my rave review here on the blog. It is a fascinating book and it made me wonder about how Sandra chose which animals would be featured in the book. Read my interview with Sandra to find out the answer to this question and more.

  • North and South: A tale of two hemispheres is a unique concept for a children’s nonfiction book about wildlife. You compare wildlife from the Northern Hemisphere with those from the Southern Hemisphere. What inspired you to present the information in this way?

In North and South I presented wildlife in each month looking at the opposite seasons. As a child I was fascinated that two halves of the world experience such different weather systems at the same time. I thought if I showed both halves on each double spread with an animal from each hemisphere then it is pretty immediate and accessible for children to see the contrast.

  • How did you decide what wildlife to include in the book?

It was pretty challenging deciding on the final list of animals to be portrayed. I made an initial list after reading an old Readers Digest book on animals through the seasons. On further research I found out quite a few had become extinct- particularly disappointing! I made a more refined list and sent it to my Candlewick US editors and they made a further selection. We tried to represent as wide a species list as possible – birds, insects, mammals, marine life etc. and to cover as many different countries as possible. I also wanted to include some lesser known species like Portuguese man of war, stag beetles, and honeypot ants.

  • There were so many things that fascinated me reading this book, from the difference that heat makes to the sex of baby crocodiles to the hilarious way that Lyrebirds copy the sounds around them. What was the most fascinating thing you discovered while researching this book?

One of the most fascinating things was to learn how many of her young are carried in the jaws of the female salt water crocodile down to the river shortly after hatching. It was impossible to find images so I had to reconstruct that image myself- I have since seen amazing photos and she does cram them in!! Like an overloaded bus!!

  • A lot of effort has gone in to the design of North and South. It’s so important to get the design right in a children’s nonfiction book, as you want children to be able to find the information they need but also enjoy reading it. Did you have much of a say in the design?

Yes the design was largely mine. It went through various changes due to the publisher wanting it to sell foreign rights, so all my original coloured, hand lettering had to go and they replaced them with the black and white fonts. Also, I had originally had all the extra facts at the back making it a rather lengthy book, so the designer brought all the extra facts into each spread, running them down the side of the images. Therefore, all the images had to be reduced – they originally bled off the page with just a small amount of text within the image. But I am happy with what the designer has done and I understand all the reasons why. Sometimes you have to make compromises if you want the book to have a wider market appeal internationally. You just cant get too precious. I love it that it’s a team effort and I was lucky that Sarah Davies at Walker Australia made such good design decisions.

  • One of the design features that I really love about North and South is the map on the endpapers. Were maps an important feature to include in the book?

Yes. Originally the world map with animals was going on the Introduction page and Sarah suggested it as endpapers. This freed up more internal space. It was also her idea to include a small map on each spread, so that it was immediately clear where each animal lived.

  • What is your process of illustrating the wildlife you feature in your books? Do you watch videos and pore over photos?

I usually try to draw from life as much as possible, but as most of these animals do not live in NZ that was out of the question. So I referred to many books, Google images and videos for visual reference.

  • You have written and illustrated many books about New Zealand wildlife, and both the Bar-tailed Godwit and the Brown Kiwi feature in North and South. Do you have a favourite New Zealand creature that you love to illustrate? What is it that appeals about this creature?

For many years I have observed and sketched from life the amazing Bar-tailed godwits at Pukorokoro Miranda on the firth of Thames. I have grown to love these birds and admire their amazing annual migratory feats!! They fly non-stop from Alaska to NZ – 11,000 kms every southern summer to feed on our mudflats to be in peak breeding condition to fly back via several feeding spots, to breed in the Alaskan tundra as it thaws. It is such a worry that changing climate conditions and human habitation and development is chewing up their feeding grounds. This has a huge impact on their survival. There is clear evidence that their numbers have severely decreased. Statistics show they are declining by 2% a year.

  • Many of the animals featured in North and South have a special ability like changing their appearance to camouflage into their environment, copying the sounds of other animals, or storing honey in their swollen bellies for when it’s needed. If you could choose one animal ability to have yourself, what would you choose?

An animal ability I would choose is flight – what an amazing ability. To just make up your mind to lift off and go places with no cost to the environment!!

North and South by Sandra Morris

Sandra Morris is the award-winning author and illustrator of both picture books and children’s nonfiction. Sandra has introduced Kiwi kids to many of our native birds, reptiles, trees and insects through her engaging books. In her latest book, North and South, Sandra compares and contrasts the wildlife that lives in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

In North and South we learn about the differences in seasons between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres and how the animals that live there deal with the changing seasons. Sandra highlights the effect of the rapid heating of our planet on the habitats of these creatures, as well as the effect that it has on migratory habits and the sex of hatching reptiles. Starting in January and going through until December, each double page spread presents an animal from the Northern Hemisphere and one from the Southern Hemisphere. As well as focusing on the month and the season, each spread also focuses on a different aspect about those animals. The spread for March focuses on Mothers and Babies and compares the polar bear (in the Northern spring) with the saltwater crocodile (in the Southern autumn). The warming seas and melting ice mean the polar bears need to swim and walk further for a meal. The hotter temperatures also affect the sex of the crocodile hatchlings, with warmer temperatures meaning the hatchlings will be male. There is a handy mini map with each animal so that you can see where they live, and Sandra also explains the threats to each animal. At the back of the book there is a concise glossary, an index and suggestions of where to find more information and how you can help the wildlife.

North and South is a perfect children’s nonfiction book, that is engaging, cleverly designed and gorgeously illustrated. This is the kind of book that can be read cover-to-cover or easily dipped into. There will animals that children know, but others that they will discover for the first time. They’ll also discover astounding facts about these animals that they’ll want to share with their friends and family. The layout is really kid-friendly because the illustrations are large, there’s just the right amount of text, and there’s a mini-map on every spread. It’s a great book to not only learn about animals and their differences, but also to highlight the differences in the seasons of Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

This book made me go ‘Wow!’ so many times! I found it fascinating how the sex of crocodile hatchlings can change with a difference in temperature. I had heard of the Lyrebird before but had no idea how cool this bird is. It can mimic other birds that it hears, as well as other sounds, including drills and chainsaws. I was so astounded by this that I spent quite a while watching YouTube videos of these birds. I laughed so hard listening to them!

Sandra Morris’ illustrations are stunning and the design of the book is superb. It’s a beautiful book to look through and read. One of my favourite aspects of the book is the maps. The end papers are a world map with animal icons, showing where they live, and the mini-map on each spread shows this too.

I love North and South! It is a book that should be on the shelf of all animal lovers and is an invaluable resource for schools. I know that this book will be pored over in my school library and I’ll be promoting it to all of my classes.

New Zealand Disasters: our response, resilience and recovery by Maria Gill and Marco Ivancic

Maria Gill and Marco Ivancic are a formidable team. They have worked on many books together now, including the award-winning Anzac Heroes. The combination of Maria’s narrative nonfiction text and Marco’s realistic illustrations make their books ones that are loved by kids and adults alike. Maria and Marco have teamed up once again to tell the stories of disasters from throughout New Zealand.

In New Zealand Disasters: our response, resilience and recovery, Maria tells us about the natural and man-made disasters that have affected our country and our people, with Marco visually highlighting their dramatic nature. We can read about earthquakes, tsunamis, and cyclones, as well as shipwrecks, plane and train crashes. Historical disasters, from the 19th and 20th century are covered, as well as more recent events, such as the Kaikoura and Canterbury earthquakes, the Pike River Mine and the Port Hills fires. It is particularly interesting to note the similarities in each of the mine disasters, even though they occurred so far apart. A particularly relevant section towards the back of the book focuses on pandemics and epidemics, with information on Coronavirus, Polio, Measles and Flu. Throughout the book are text boxes noting the positive outcomes from some of the disasters, highlighting how communities pulled together to support those in need. Other text boxes highlight safety tips to help you if you are caught in a disaster, like a blizzard or a shipwreck. The hugely important work of our first responders and essential workers is also highlighted, with information on how they respond to disasters and help keep us safe. It is important to be prepared for disasters and tips for this are included at the back of the book, including suggestions for making a family plan and what to include in an emergency and evacuation kit. One of the aspects of this book that really makes it stand out is the section on recovery. Maria explains the ways that disasters can affect your body and mind and she also highlights the importance of talking about our experiences and being positive to help us recover.

New Zealand Disasters is an outstanding book that brings a fresh look to the disasters that have affected our country, both past and present. It is beautifully presented, with a child-friendly layout. Maria’s text tells us a story about the event, making it easy for readers of all ages to digest the information. This is a unique book about disasters, because of the way that Maria and Marco have put a positive spin on what happened. It is great for children to see that something positive can come out of something that is terrifying.

Both Maria and Marco perfectly capture the dramatic nature of these disasters. Maria describes the ‘deep rumbling’ and the ‘violent jolt’ of earthquakes, the ‘violent wind gusts and large swells’ faced by the Wahine on its fateful voyage, and the way that the ‘super-heated gases shot up the two lift shafts and engulfed’ the Ballantyne’s department store. Marco’s illustrations portray the fear, anguish and hopelessness that people faced during these disasters. Marco has also captured the time period perfectly in his illustrations, with attention paid to the fashion and technology of the time. I especially like the way that light and dark contrast in Marco’s illustrations, which highlights the unsettling nature of these disasters.

One of my favourite aspects of this book is the map at the start. It has a key for the different types of disasters and shows where in New Zealand they have occurred. A contents page, index and glossary are also included, making it easy for children to find the information they want or need.

New Zealand Disasters is an invaluable book for schools and is a must-have for all school libraries. The inclusion of more recent events makes it a fantastic book for your home library too. Maria and Marco have created another brilliant nonfiction book that is sure to be an award-winner.

A Day in the Life of a Poo, a Gnu and You by Mike Barfield and Jess Bradley

A Day in the Life of a Poo, a Gnu and You is the kid’s nonfiction book that you need in your life. Not only will you laugh your socks off, you’ll learn some amazing facts while doing it! It is the funniest, most entertaining and totally unique general nonfiction books for kids around. I guarantee that this is going to be the most looked-at nonfiction book in my school library because it screams ‘PICK ME UP!’

It is bursting with short comics that give kids a glimpse in to the life of organs in your body, gross bodily functions, animals of all shapes and sizes, plants, planets, rainbows and much, much more. You’ll learn how farts form, where poo goes when you flush it away, how a sea jelly swims, what a pangolin’s scales are made out of, and how bananas grow. As well as the ‘Day in the Life of a…’ pages there are also ‘The Bigger Picture’ sections which give extra detail, and secret diary sections which show you extracts from the secret diaries of an earthworm, a red blood cell, and a lightning bolt. Each thing, whether it is a hand, a pimple or a worm has a unique personality and a different way to tell its story.

This is a book is super accessible for kids of all ages, with simple text and bright, funny illustrations that anyone. It’s a nonfiction book that parents and teachers especially will love sharing with kids. Between Mike’s text and Jess’s illustrations you will be laughing your head off. They have managed to pack a lot of information into a page or two of comic, with just enough detail to astound you. Jess’s illustrations always make me laugh and she has had plenty of different things to draw in this book. I love the expressions she gives to the characters, even each individual toe on the foot.

Some of my favourite facts from the book include:

  • a single elephant can wee up to 9 litres at a time
  • male platypuses have poisonous foot spurs
  • the amount that a sloth poos once a week is like us doing a poo the size of a small dog
  • there are blue bananas!

A Day in the Life of Poo, a Gnu and You is going to be incredibly popular with kids. The comic format means that my graphic novel fans (of which there are many at my school) will gobble this book up. I just need to buy myself a copy because the library copy will get issued and passed around all of the kids.

Whiti: Colossal Squid of the Deep by Victoria Cleal and Isobel Joy Te Aho-White

The Colossal Squid has long been one of Te Papa’s main attractions, especially for young children. Now, thanks to Victoria Cleal, Isobel Joy Te Aho-White and Te Papa Press we now have a wonderful children’s nonfiction book all about this creature.

Whiti: Colossal Squid of the Deep takes us on a journey with Whiti, from an ant-sized egg under the ice of Antarctica to the dark depths of the ocean, from the hunted to the hunter, finding a mate and having babies of its own, and finally to a carcass that feeds the wildlife of the Antarctic. Along the way we learn about the colossal squid’s bioluminescent karu (eyes), its hooked tentacles, its beak and its doughnut brain. We also learn about other creatures in the Ross Sea, including the parāoa (sperm whale), the dumbo octopus, the snailfish, and Kākahi (killer whales). New Zealand’s role as kaitiaki (guardians) of Antaractica is also explained.

Whiti: Colossal Squid of the Deep is a fantastic exploration of this incredible creature that has fascinated so many people. The format of the book, with small chunks of information, a conversational text and stunning illustrations make this a nonfiction book for readers of all ages. Readers can follow the story of Whiti’s life, learning about the squid’s life cycle and the environment in which it lives, while also discovering more about how the squid came to be on display in Te Papa. The double page spreads that fold out in several places in the book make this book feel extra special. I know that children are going to love discovering these and taking in the scenes. Isobel’s illustrations bring Whiti to life, with detailed diagrams showing us the various parts of the squid. I especially love the image of Whiti’s waru shining out in the depths of the ocean.

One of my favourite aspects of this book is the way that te reo Māori and te ao Māori have been woven into both the text and illustrations. Victoria explains that ika means fish at the start of the book and continues to just use ‘ika’ throughout the book. She does the same with ngū (squid), wheke (octopus) and other te reo Māori words. I love this because it helps those words to become part of your vocabulary. The importance of us being kaitiaki of the moana shines through in this book too. A koru motif follows Whiti as it travels through the book, having a similar appearance to Whiti’s arms and tentacles.

Whiti: Colossal Squid of the Deep is a must-have for all school libraries and would make a wonderful gift for any children who are fascinated with wildlife. It is one of the best New Zealand nonfiction books for children this year.

Space Maps by Lara Albanese and Tommaso Vidus Rosin

The award for coolest nonfiction book of the year (and possibly the best book about space for kids EVER) goes to Space Maps by Lara Albanese and Tommaso Vidus Rosin. Its combination of bite-sized facts, stunning design and illustrations and sheer size make this a winning nonfiction book. It’s a book that every space fan, young or old, needs to have on their home bookshelf.

Starting with what we can see with our eyes (the stars and constellations) and moving further out to the planets we know, and then to beyond our solar system, readers journey throughout the universe. We see the planets in new ways, with maps showing us the craters, chasmas and seas and giving us interesting tidbits of information to astound our friends and family. The Selenean Summit, for instance, is the highest point on the moon and is higher than Mount Everest. Each planet has an identity card with fast facts about each one, including average temperature (-63 degrees Celsius for Mars) and number of moons (79 for Jupiter). We also learn about the observatories that help us look in to space and the things that help humans survive in space, including spacesuits and the International Space Station.

Space Maps is a book to treasure and pore over again and again. It’s a book that is beautifully produced, with strong binding, thick paper and a hard cover, meaning it will stand up to repeat reading in a home, school or public library. The large format of the book makes this a great book for sharing, spreading it out on a table or the floor to soak up the information and illustrations. Like any good nonfiction book there is a contents, glossary and a detailed index.

Tommaso Vidus Rosin’s illustrations are absolutely stunning! His maps of the planets are really detailed and the colours swirl and glow. I love how some of the pages really do seem to glow, like the map of the sun. You can tell that he has spent a lot of time studying images of the planets in order to create his images.

Get to your bookshop or library now and get a copy of this wonderful book.

Aotearoa: The New Zealand Story by Gavin Bishop

I think the biggest growth in New Zealand publishing for children has been in nonfiction.  There have been some outstanding nonfiction books published by both big and small publishers in New Zealand in recent years, including Anzac Heroes by Maria Gill and Marco Ivancic and the ‘Beginner’s Guide to’ series published by Penguin Random House.  Gavin Bishop’s latest book, Aotearoa: The New Zealand Story, has blown all of these out of the water.  I don’t think there has been another book for children about our history and culture that is as important as this book, and every home, school and library in New Zealand needs to have a copy.

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Aotearoa: The New Zealand Story is a huge book, not just in size but also in the content that Gavin Bishop covers.  Just about anything that a New Zealand kid has ever wanted to know about our country is here in this book, from the asteroid that destroyed most of the life on earth, to the first Polynesian explorers who visited and gave our land the name of Aotearoa, the birds and creatures that first lived here, the arrival of the Pakeha, and the development of transport, education, food and clothing.  Gavin introduces children to famous New Zealanders, famous places, natural attractions and disasters that shook our country.  Not only does Gavin take children in to the past, he also deals with the threats to our future, including pests, pollution and politicians (who don’t listen).  The book is a large format hardback, so it is perfect for opening out on the floor and poring over.

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This book is a taonga, a book to be treasured and read until it falls apart.  It is a book that will keep children and adults occupied for hours and you are sure to notice something new every time you look at it.  Every time I open this book I am amazed at the information and illustrations that fill every page.  It must have taken Gavin Bishop years to create this book but you can really tell that it has been a labour of love.  So much care and attention to detail has gone in to making this book the taonga that it is.   It is a book that the whole family will enjoy as the information is in small chunks and the layout is visually appealing.  Every classroom in every school in the country should have a copy because each age group will get something different from the book.  Gavin explains the history and culture of our country so that anyone who picks it up will be able to understand and absorb it.  All New Zealand children will be able to see themselves and something familiar in this book, from the famous New Zealanders to the food and famous landmarks.

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Penguin Random House New Zealand should be applauded for publishing Gavin’s book and for the care that they have taken to ensure the high standard of production.  Not only does the book look stunning, it also feels and smells like nothing has been spared to publish this important book.

Aotearoa: The New Zealand Story is certain to win the coveted Margaret Mahy Award for New Zealand’s best children’s book next year. If you buy one book for your children this Christmas make sure that it is this one.

 

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.

 

Little People, Big Dreams

A fantastic new nonfiction series that I’ve discovered recently is called Little People, Big Dreams.  It’s a series of picture book biographies, published by Frances Lincoln, that are ideal for introducing young children to women who have had an impact on the world.  There are currently four books in the series, with more coming next year.  The first four books focus on Maya Angelou, Amelia Earhart, Frida Kahlo and Coco Chanel.

The aim of the series is to introduce children to the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists.  The series shows children that, even though these women achieved great things, they all started life as ‘a little child with a dream.’

Each book is beautifully presented, with illustrations that are appealing to children.  The text reads like a narrative and perfectly sums up each of the extraordinary lives.  There is more information about each of the women at the end of the book, with suggestions of other great books and websites where children can find more information.

Little People, Big Dreams is the perfect series for empowering girls and showing them that they can do anything that they dream of.

These books are a must for a school library and I’ll certainly be bringing them to the attention of teachers.