Tag Archives: Gavin Bishop

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.

 

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Filed under books, children's nonfiction, history, New Zealand, New Zealand author

My Most Anticipated September Kids & YA Releases from Scholastic NZ

Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas by Aaron Blabey

Hey there guys. Would you like a banana?
What’s wrong with you, Brian? You’re a piranha.

Brian is a piranha. He is also a vegetarian. But do you think he can convince the others to join him?

Quaky Cat Helps Out

Quakey Cat Helps Out by Diana Noonan and Gavin Bishop

Quaky Cat, five years on … It’s been five years since the first big Christchurch earthquake, but some of Tiger’s friends still have broken homes – or none at all. Kind-hearted Tiger rounds them all up for a gathering of friends.

300 Minutes of Danger

300 Minutes of Danger by Jack Heath

George is trapped in a falling aeroplane with no engine and no pilot. Milla is covered with radioactive waste and her hazard suit is running out of air. Otto is in the darkest depths of the ocean, where something hungry is circling . . . 10 dangerous situations. 10 brave kids. 30 minutes to escape.

Dragon Knight #4 Dragons!

Dragon Knight: Dragons! by Kyle Mewburn and Donovan Bixley

The terrifying cyclorgs want their gold back – NOW!

If Merek can’t outwit the evil Lord Crumble, the village is doomed.

Star Wars Jedi Academy: The Phantom Bully by Jeffrey Brown

It’s hard to believe this is Roan’s last year at Jedi Academy. He’s been busier than ever learning to fly (and wash) starships, swimming in the Lake Country on Naboo, studying for the Jedi obstacle course exam, and tracking down dozens of vorpak clones (don’t ask). But now, someone is setting him up to get in trouble with everyone at school, including Yoda. If he doesn’t find out who it is, and fast, he may get kicked out of school! Why can’t middle school just be easy?…

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Filed under children's fiction, new releases, picture books, young adult fiction

Win Mister Whistler by Margaret Mahy and Gavin Bishop

Mister Whistler is the wonderful new picture book by Margaret Mahy, with stunning illustrations by Gavin Bishop.  I absolutely love Mister Whistler and it’s my favourite New Zealand picture book of the year (you can read my review here).  Everyone should have this book on their bookshelf!

Thanks to everyone who entered.  This competition is now closed.

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Picture Book Nook: Mister Whistler by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Gavin Bishop

Earlier this year we lost one of our national treasures, Margaret Mahy.  Margaret wrote many wonderful stories in her time, from picture books to novels, that are treasured by children all over the world.  October sees the publication of two of Margaret’s last stories, including the wonderful Mister Whistler, featuring gorgeous illustrations by Gavin Bishop.

Absentminded Mister Whistler always has a song in his head and a dance in his feet.  In a rush to catch the train, he is so distracted he loses his ticket.

Is it in the bottom pockets of his big coat or the top pockets of his jacket?  Perhaps he slipped it into his waistcoat…

Where is Mister Whistler’s ticket?

Mister Whistler is an absolute treasure.  It’s Margaret and Gavin’s first collaboration and I couldn’t imagine a more perfect pairing for this story.  Margaret’s story is delightfully old-fashioned and Gavin matches this with the styles and fashions of another era.  Mister Whistler is a rather distracted fellow, one of those people who would forget his head if it wasn’t screwed on.  He gets carried away by the music in his head, that makes his twitching feet long to dance.  While he is looking for his ticket he’s dancing out of his coat and tap dancing impatiently.  Children will love that they know something that Mister Whistler doesn’t – where his ticket is – and they’ll want to yell it out and tell him.

Gavin Bishop’s illustrations for Mister Whistler are my favourite of all of his work.  There’s so much joy and energy in the illustrations and you can see it bursting out of Mister Whistler, who is always smiling.  I love the way that Gavin has made the story flow from one page to the next, both my Mister Whistler’s dancing body and the musical notes which follow him.  Mister Whistler himself is quite gangly and I love the way that Gavin has him throwing his long limbs all over the place as he dances.  Gavin’s use of colour is spectacular, from Mister Whistler’s blue, checked trousers and very loud wall-paper, to the flaming sunrise in the background.  Gavin has added a real spark to Mister Whistler’s character too by giving him a crazy dress sense.

Once again, Gecko Press have produced an absolutely beautiful book that will be treasured by children and adults alike.  Mister Whistler is my favourite New Zealand picture book of the year and my pick for the winner of next year’s New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards.

5 out of 5 stars

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Fast Five with Gavin Bishop

1. Why did you want to be a writer?

So I could be in complete control of the picture books that I wanted to illustrate.

2. What’s the best thing about being a writer?

Besides working at home in my own studio I enjoy talking to children and adults about my work.

3. What’s your favourite New Zealand book?

“The Three Legged Cat” by Margaret Mahy

4. What do you love most about New Zealand?

Feeling as if I belong here.

5. What book changed your life?

“The Hobbit” by J. R. Tolkein

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Filed under authors, books, children, New Zealand, NZ Book Month 2012

Picture Book Nook: The House That Jack Built by Gavin Bishop

If I had to pick one picture book that is quintessentially New Zealand, I would choose Gavin Bishop’s The House That Jack Built.  Gavin’s multi-layered story, based on the traditional rhyme, contains our history within it’s pages, told from both a Maori and a Pakeha perspective.  It is a picture book in which you discover something new or get a slightly different meaning from each time you read it.  Now, thanks to the wonderful Gecko Press who have reprinted the book in a stunning new format, a new generation of New Zealanders can enjoy this important book.

On the surface, it’s the story of Jack Bull, who travels to New Zealand from London as a new settler in 1798.   This is one of those brilliant picture books where the words tell a completely different story from the illustrations.  The end papers show us the reality of Jack’s life in London in 1798 and we see him with his cart of possessions and the red door that comes to symbolise Pakeha society.  In the next few pages we follow Jack’s ocean voyage on a map and see the list of goods that he has brought to trade with the natives.  Throughout the rest of the story Gavin portrays the effect that Pakeha colonisation had on the local Maori, from trading land and food for clothes and weapons, to the loss of culture and the deaths in the New Zealand Wars.

The House That Jack Built is a book that should be in every home, school, and library around New Zealand.  It’s an important book to help us remember who we are and where we’ve come from.  For those readers not in New Zealand the story will also be relevant as it applies to any colonial history.  Gavin Bishop is our master of the picture book and this is the best example of how he gets his message across visually.  He weaves the Maori and Pakeha strands of the story together and shows us through the illustrations, how Maori were assimilated into the Pakeha world.  The publisher, Gecko Press, deserves a huge amount of praise for, not only bringing this book back into print, but also for producing a gorgeous edition in a larger format than the original and printed on high quality paper.  Buying a copy of The House That Jack Built and sharing it with your family is the perfect way to celebrate Waitangi Day on 6 February.

5 out of 5 stars

The House That Jack Built is being published to coincide with Waitangi Day (6 February) and will be launched at the Porirua Festival of the Elements on Waitangi Day 2012 with author/illustrator Gavin Bishop.

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Picture Book Nook: Bruiser by Gavin Bishop

Christchurch kids have seen lots of diggers, dump trucks, and cranes lately with all the demolitions after our earthquakes so what better time for a book about a grumpy digger than now.  Bruiser is a grumpy digger on a mission.  He has to hurry up and plough the hillsides, crush rocks and tear up forests so that he can get the motorway built.  But one day he gets stuck in the mud and no matter what he does he can’t get out.  While he’s trying to get out, he knocks a magpie nest out of a tree and it’s up to Bruiser to get them to safety.

Bruiser has everything that a great picture book should.  The story is full of mischief and fun, and it’s perfect for reading aloud.  Gavin Bishop’s bright, bold illustrations bring his story to life and children (especially boys) will love this grumpy digger with a heart of gold.  Gavin has effectively used the days of the week and numbers in his story, in a similar way to Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar, “On Monday he ploughed through five hills.  On Tuesday he crushed ten rocks,” and so on.  Children are always the best critics of picture books, and having read Bruiser aloud to a group of preschoolers, Bruiser gets the tick of approval.  Bruiser is certain to become a New Zealand classic.

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