Tag Archives: Joy Cowley

Win The Bakehouse by Joy Cowley

Joy Cowley’s latest novel, The Bakehouse, is out this month from Gecko Press.  It’s a brilliant, multi-layered novel about secrets, lies and how the consequences of one boy’s actions ripple throughout his family.  You can read my review here on the blog.

Thanks to everyone who entered.  The winner is Benedict.

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The Bakehouse by Joy Cowley

Joy Cowley is a New Zealand legend.  Children grow up reading her books, from the very first school readers, through to school journals, picture books and on in to novels for children and young adults. She has been writing for many years and that experience truly shows in the depth and quality of her writing.  In the last couple of years the wonderful Gecko Press have been publishing Joy Cowley’s novels for older readers.  Her first with Gecko Press, Dunger, went on to win the Junior Fiction category at the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults in 2014.  Then came the haunting, Speed of Light.  Joy Cowley’s latest novel from Gecko Press, The Bakehouse, takes readers back to Wellington during the Second World War.

Viewed from a distance of seventy-plus years, 1943 was history soup, everything mixed up, and it was difficult to separate reality from what he had read or been told.  One event, though, was crystal clear and refused to be forgotten.  He’d never talked about it to the others, not Meg and certainly not Betty, but he didn’t want to be buried with the truth.

Someone should know what happened that winter day.

Bert wants nothing more than be old enough to fight in the war—to handle weapons, defend his country, and have a life filled with adventure. Little does he know that the secrets and danger of war don’t always stay at the front line, and that one boy’s actions can change everything.

The Bakehouse is Joy Cowley at her best.  It’s a brilliant, multi-layered novel about secrets, lies and how the consequences of one boy’s actions ripple throughout his family.  Joy Cowley shows readers what life was like in New Zealand in 1943, with the threat of Japanese invasion and many of the men off at war.

We meet Bert as an old man in a nursing home, who recalls the story of the Geronimo Bakehouse for his grandson.  There is something that Bert needs to get off his chest, something to do with the Bakehouse, and as the story progresses you wonder what the big secret is that Bert has been keeping for seventy-odd years.  It is Bert who first ventures in to the Bakehouse and claims it as the family’s bomb shelter.  He cleans and tidies it ready for his family, and one day decides to show his sisters.  It is on this day that they discover a soldier hiding in the Bakehouse.  The soldier, Donald, has escaped from the army and is hiding in fear of being captured and court marshalled.  Bert and his sisters keep Donald as their secret and look after him, bringing him food and clothing.  Life gets complicated for the children, but little do they know what is to come and how much their lives will change in one moment. You know that something bad is going to happen but I wasn’t sure how it was going to pan out.

The way that Joy tells the story reminds me of John Boyne’s The Boy in Striped Pyjamas.  Like Bruno in that story, Bert is a naive boy who doesn’t quite understand what is going on around him.  There are several incidents in the book where, as an adult, you know what is being implied but Bert has no idea.  Bert can’t understand why his sister Betty wants to go and visit Donald so much, especially without her brother or sister.  When Bert’s Auntie Vi takes him and his sister to the movies, but then ends up meeting her friend and a couple of soldiers, disappearing with them, we know what is implied but Bert is confused.  It is very good storytelling.

Gecko Press should be applauded for once again producing a wonderful little package that matches the other Joy Cowley books that they have published.

The Bakehouse is a must-read book from a New Zealand legend.

Recommended for 9+

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I Can’t Wait For…The Bakehouse by Joy Cowley

Viewed from a distance of seventy-plus years, 1943 was history soup, everything mixed up, and it was difficult to separate reality from what he had read or been told.  One event, though, was crystal clear and refused to be forgotten.  He’d never talked about it to the others, not Meg and certainly not Betty, but he didn’t want to be buried with the truth.

Someone should know what happened that winter day.

Bert wants nothing more than be old enough to fight in the war—to handle weapons, defend his country, and have a life filled with adventure. Little does he know that the secrets and danger of war don’t always stay at the front line, and that one boy’s actions can change everything.

I have loved Joy Cowley’s previous books from Gecko Press, Dunger and Speed of Light, and The Bakehouse sounds equally as good.  Gecko Press always produce beautiful books and their covers for Joy Cowley’s books are no exception.

The Bakehouse is released in NZ in August.

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Picture Book Nook: Breakfast by Joy Cowley, illustrated by Amy Lam

Joy Cowley has written many wonderful stories throughout the years and she has created characters that children have grown up with.  I don’t think you can go through primary school in New Zealand without reading one of her junior readers or being read one of her picture books.  Clean Slate Press have published many of Joy’s stories and they’ve just released a delightful new picture by Joy Cowley and illustrated by Amy Lam, called Breakfast.

BreakfastEach morning the breakfast dishes get themselves ready for breakfast.  The jug gets all the dishes and cutlery, table and chairs ready for the noisy, messy children that come racing downstairs for breakfast.  After yet another ‘breakfast war,’ the children leave ‘jam in a puddle and milk in a pool’ as well as bent spoons and broken cups and plates.  When the children are gone, the breakfast dishes clean everything up and fly into the dishwasher with smiles on their faces.

Breakfast is a story that children (and parents) will be wishing was true.  If only all your dishes would magically transport themselves to the dishwasher when we leave the room!  Joy has taken an everyday occurrence and turned it into a magical experience.  Children will have a good giggle at the antics of the breakfast dishes, while parents will relate to the chaos of breakfast time.  It’s a simple story with rhyming text that makes it great for sharing with younger children.

Amy Lam’s soft, but colourful illustrations are the perfect match for Joy’s text.  The dishes all look happy, and even when they’ve been battered and bent, they’re ready to jump back in the dishwasher and do it all again tomorrow.  I love the cover with the splash over the title and it’s sure to stand out on the shelf.  Clean Slate Press have once again produced a beautiful hardcover picture book, with very cute end papers.

Breakfast will make a great addition to any school or home library.

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Three of the best from Gecko Press

Gecko Press have been keeping up their tradition of producing English language versions of curiously good books from around the world. Here are three of the best recent releases.

The Noisy Book by Soledad Bravi is a board book filled with bright, bold illustrations and lots and lots of noises (over 100 pages). There are noises you would expect to find, like ‘The cat goes meow,’ ‘The horse goes neigh,’ and ‘The rooster goes cockadoodle doo.’ But what I like most are the noises you don’t expect, like ‘The cold goes aachoo,’ ‘Mummy goes kiss kiss,’ and ‘The power socket goes NO!’ This is the perfect book to share with babies and toddlers because everyone can enjoy making the noises.

The Fierce Little Woman and the Wicked Pirate is a newly illustrated edition of one of Joy Cowley’s most loved picture books. I loved this book as soon as I set my eyes on it! Sarah Davis’ illustrations are absolutely stunning and she has captured Joy Cowley’s characters perfectly. Thank you Gecko Press for giving this wonderful story new life.

H.O.U.S.E (or Habitable, Objects, Unique, Spatial, Extraordinary) by Aleksandra Machowiak and Daniel Mizielinski is a fascinating book about contemporary architecture for kids. It’s a book for all those children (and adults) who are fascinated with buildings of all shapes and sizes. Inside, you’ll find spiky houses, inflatable houses, houses in trees and houses underground, from all over the world. The authors explain the inspiration behind the design of each house, as well as the materials used to build it, and where in the world it can be found.

These are just three of the latest and greatest books from Gecko Press. I’m sure we can look forward to more curiously good books from Gecko Press next year.

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