Stan the Van Man by Emma Vere-Jones, illustrated by Philip Webb

The Joy Cowley Award is an annual award that fosters the publication of excellent picture books by New Zealand writers.  Some wonderful picture books have been published thanks to this award, including Kyle Mewburn’s Kiss, Kiss, Yuck, Yuck, and last year’s winner of the award is no exception.  Emma Vere-Jones was the winner of the 2014 Joy Cowley Award with her book, Stan the Van Man.

This delightful, rhyming story follows Stan who offers to help with the mail delivery when the usual driver of the van refuses to do his job.  The owner of the post office store, Miss Mickle, is ‘in a pickle’ because there is no-one to deliver the mail.  Luckily, Stan, who doesn’t like to say no, offers to help out.  He tries to tell Miss Mickle that he has a secret that she needs to know but she doesn’t listen and sets him on his way.  The only problem with not being able to say no is that Stan just has to stop and help anyone that needs it, including a boy stuck up a tree and someone needing a tow.  Stan’s secret is that he can’t read and so all his parcels end up going to the wrong people.  Even though the people of the town are angry at first, they all band together to help Stan to read.

Stan the Van Man is a lot of fun to read!  The rhyming text flows well and the language is wonderful, with words like ‘perplexing,’ ‘vexing’ and ‘quivered.’ I love how everyone bands together to teach Stan to read and that once he gets started he just wants to read more and more.  The very last page, with Stan surrounded by books and his cat on his lap, is my favourite.

I read Stan the Van Man at the Christchurch Storylines Family Day at the weekend and the children absolutely loved this story.  There is lots of laughter when the people of the town open their packages to find something completely different than what they were expecting.  I especially love Professor John Moore and his lady’s pants.

Philip Webb’s illustrations are a great match for Emma’s story and bring her different characters to life.  Philip’s Stan is a loveable, friendly guy that just wants to help out.  I really like the design of the book, especially the way that the house numbers blend in to the illustrations.

I look forward to reading more of Emma’s stories in the future.

My Most Anticipated August Kids New Releases from Scholastic NZ

The Bad Guys: Episode 1 by Aaron Blabey

They sound like the Bad Guys, they look like the Bad Guys . . . and they even smell like the Bad Guys. But Mr Wolf, Mr Piranha, Mr Snake and Mr Shark are about to change all of that! Mr Wolf has a daring plan for the Bad Guys’ first good mission. The gang are going to break 200 dogs out of the Maximum Security City Dog Pound. Will Operation Dog Pound go smoothly? Will the Bad
Guys become the Good Guys? And will Mr Snake please spit out Mr Piranha?

Dragon Knight: Witch by Kyle Mewburn and Donovan Bixley (Book 3)

A witch’s curse and brussel sprouts are bad enough. But will Percy’s revenge be the end for Merek? From the creators of Dinosaur Rescue comes an outrageous and revoltingly funny medieval adventure series that’ll set you on fire!


Stan the Van Man by Emma Vere-Jones and illustrated by Philip Webb

Sometimes, being helpful is not enough . . .

When the mail van driver walks out, Miss Mickle from the Post Office store is left in a right pickle.  Enter Stan, a helpful chap who offers to drive the delivery van. Unfortunately Miss Mickle doesn’t give him the chance to explain that he actually can’t read … and parcel pandemonium ensues!  When the angry recipients storm the Post Office and find out the reason for the misdeliveries, they decide to band together to help Stan learn to read.