Two wonderful new bilingual books to celebrate Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori

As someone who wants to use more te reo Māori in my everyday life books are a great way to do this. I read lots of books to the classes who visit my library each week and I try (especially during Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori) to include books in te reo as read alouds. Bilingual books are especially great as I can read in both te reo Māori and English. Oratia Publishers have just released two wonderful new bilingual picture books – 12 Huia Birds/12 Manu Huia by Julian Stokoe and Stacy Eyles and Rona Moon by Tim Tipene and Theresa Reihana.

12 Huia Birds/12 Manu Huia is a bilingual version of the picture book originally published in English in 2016. It tells the story of one of our most beautiful birds and the circumstances that lead to its extinction. The author and illustrator convey an environmental message that highlights our impact on the world. This book has been particularly popular with the teachers at my school, both for the environmental message and the counting down from 12. The text in te reo Māori is a lovely addition to this book.

Rona Moon, written by Tim Tipene (translated by Stephanie Huriana Fong) and illustrated by Theresa Reihana is a modern version of the Rona and the Moon myth. While Peter Gossage’s retelling of the myth is ideal for younger children, Tim Tipene’s Rona Moon makes the story more relatable for today’s children. Rona is a young girl who gets angry with everyone – her brother, her Nana and her Papa. One day she gets so angry that she calls the moon stupid and she finds herself on the moon. She meets Whaea Rona and Whaea teaches her to use her anger to create change, not to attack others. Rona returns home with a new outlook.

Simple te reo Māori is used in the story and te ao Māori is woven into the story. Even those with very basic te reo Māori knowledge will be able to read the story in English, while more confident speakers could read the story fully in te reo Māori. I really love having both options in one book because it helps me to feel confident about giving the te reo Māori a go. I love how Theresa’s illustrations really show readers how angry and frustrated Rona Moon is, while also showing her transformation at the end of the story. The cover is fantastic and is sure to grab the attention of kids and adults alike.

Both of these books are must-have books for classrooms and school libraries. They will be regularly read by teachers and kids will pick them up to read the stories and learn some new te reo Māori words at the same time.

Interview with Des Hunt

Red Edge is the fantastic new book by one of NZ’s most prolific authors, Des Hunt. I’ve read many of Des’ books over the years and I love them because they’re set in New Zealand and focus on our unique wildlife. Des’ books are always fast-paced and action-packed.

After reading Red Edge, set in my home town of Christchurch, I wanted to ask Des some questions about the story. Check out my interview to learn about the inspiration for Red Edge, how Des decides what wildlife will feature in his stories and his secret to writing a page-turner.

As someone who has grown up in Christchurch and has lived around the area where much of the story is set I feel like you’ve really captured my home town. Did you visit Christchurch and some of the locations when researching the book?

I visited Christchurch on four different occasions over a period of three years: two to visit schools and two to do specific research such as visiting Riccarton Bush. I searched the suburbs that had been most affected looking for one that would best suit the ideas I was having for the story. I chose Avonside because I found several houses around there that hadn’t been repaired – the Horton House in the story is based on a couple of those.

Cassi and Quinn are both kids that were young when the earthquakes occurred. They are still affected by them, even now, 9 years later. Have you met kids like Cassi and Quinn when you’ve visited schools?

Yes. That was always the main impetus for the story. At the time I was doing workshops where I asked the children to write a short backstory of themselves. Almost every one of those featured the earthquakes, particularly emphasising the number of houses they’d lived in, and the multiple schools attended. To me it was clear that growing up with instability in home and school was having an affect on these kids, especially their relationships with others. They would have had to make and break friends so regularly that it was sure to influence their dealings with others.

This is your first time writing a female lead character. Did Cassi’s character come easily to you?

I was surprised how it came together so readily. Probably my contact with readers during school visits helped, as girls are usually more willing to share emotions and personal information than boys. She’s a character that I got to like a lot, and I’m hoping she’ll appear in some more stories.

Matiu the tow-truck driver is one of my favourite characters in Red Edge. He helps Cassi and Quinn when they need it the most. If you could have someone handy like Matiu to help you out in a tricky situation who would you choose?

I’d choose someone just like Matiu. They would need to have good sense of humour, be willing to help people, work hard, and have a positive outlook on life. It would need to be somebody much younger than me as most of the problems I experience are age related. I know there is no shortage of such people in Aotearoa as I meet many of them during my travels.

Your books often focus on criminal activity and the kids who bring the criminals down. Do real events inspire your stories?

Very much so – I am an avid collector of news stories. As an example, the story of the lunchbox full of dead lizards in Red Edge came from a newspaper report in August 2017. That got me thinking of using wildlife smugglers as the bad guys in the story. There have also been several court cases involving scammers targeting ’quake victims. I try to get into the heads of these sorts people in the hope that I can make my antagonists more real.

Red Edge is a tense, action-packed read. What is your secret to writing stories that make readers want to keep turning the pages?

One of the things I don’t like reading in a book is lengthy descriptions of people or clothing or buildings or towns – in fact, almost any description of a thing. This has carried over to my writing, where I give very few descriptions of faces or places, unless they are relevant to the story. I like my readers to get a feel for a person through what they do and think, along with some idea of the locations through what happens there.  This helps increase the pace of the story. Then, after the first draft is finished, I start cutting out anything that doesn’t contribute to one of the following: developing a character, progressing the story, contributing to the climax. I also make sure there is a good mix of slow- and fast-paced parts, so the reader can catch breath at times, especially after major action scenes.

Many of your books feature our wonderful New Zealand wildlife, including Albatross, Huia and Weta. How do decide which animal will feature in each story?

This is often dictated by the location and the animals that are found nearby. Giant wētā were always in my mind for a story and, at first, I couldn’t see how it would fit in with Christchurch. I did visit Mt Somers near Methven to look for wētā, but I found it difficult to include the location in the story. Then the Kaikoura earthquake occurred and I knew there were species around there, so giant wētā became the main animal in the story. I like writing about our endemic animals as many of them are pretty special zoologically. Also, in the back of my mind is the thought that people who have respect for animals are good guys, and those who abuse them are bad.

You are especially good at creating the villains in your stories. Who is your favourite fictional villain?

I’ve been a fan of Arthur Conan Doyle’s writing since I was about 11, so Professor Moriarty from the Sherlock Holmes stories is my number one choice. Amongst more recent writing I would choose Lord Voldemort from J K Rowling’s Harry Potter series. In my own stories I particularly like the gang leader Skulla from Cry of the Taniwha.

Check out my review of Red Edge and get a copy from your library or bookshop now.

Red Edge by Des Hunt

I’ve only read a handful of books set in my home town of Christchurch. James Norcliffe’s Under the Rotunda was read to me at primary school and it stuck with me because I recognised the places that the characters went to. Recent kids books set here have focused on our earthquakes, including the wonderful Canterbury Quake by my good friend and fellow school librarian, Desna Wallace. Des Hunt’s latest book, Red Edge, has just been released and this story is set in Christchurch in the present day, a decade since the earthquakes. Red Edge really resonated with me and it feels like one of Des’ best books yet.

Cassi Whelan has just moved to a new house, close to the Red Zone in Christchurch, the area of cleared land that was once full of houses and streets. Cassi has moved houses eight times since the September 2010 earthquakes but she’s hoping this will be the last time. She lives next door to an abandoned house that is known as the Haunted House. However, with the help of her new friend and neighbour, Quinn, they discover that it’s not ghosts they should be worried about. Dodgy people are visiting the garage next door, there are wetas crawling around in there and large amounts of money appear in the letterbox. Cassi and Quinn know that something illegal is going on and they’re going to find out the truth. When they do discover what is happening they know it is up to them to stop it and bring the criminals to justice.

Red Edge had me on the edge of my seat the whole way through and I couldn’t stop until I knew how it all ended. Des Hunt really knows how to tell a story that draws you in immediately and keeps you furiously turning the pages. It’s fast-paced and some parts are quite nail-biting, especially in the second half of the book. Des makes you worry for his characters and hope that they can bring the bad guys down.

As someone who has lived in Christchurch my whole life I thought Des really knew my city. He doesn’t live here but it feels like he has driven the streets and knows the layout. He has clearly done his research. He has captured what it is like to live in this city and how years of earthquakes have affected us all. I’ve lived in the area where much of the story is set so I could picture everything so clearly.

The characters felt very real, from Cassi and Quinn to Lou and Raven. Cassi and Quinn are kids who were quite young at the time of the first earthquakes but it’s clear to see how they have affected their lives. Both Quinn and Cassi share their experiences of the September and February earthquakes and this part of the story made me choke up because their stories felt so real. Cassi prefers to be out in the open, running through the Red Zone because she knows that nothing can really fall on her if there is another big quake. She also sleepwalks which Quinn thinks might be tied to her cat running away during the earthquakes. Quinn is the target of vicious cyber bullying and the affect of this shows in his character. He is initially untrusting of Cassi, especially when it comes to her needing to text or call him. One of the girls at school has previously sent horrible texts to him and this starts up again after an incident at school. The adult characters in the story are wonderful too, especially Jim Maclean the ex-reporter, and Matiu the tow-trucker driver, who made me laugh every time. Des Hunt writes great villains and Lou and Raven are no exception. They’re nasty and sneaky and prepared to do anything to get their way.

Red Edge would make a fantastic read aloud for Years 7-9. It is a story that hooks readers straight away and keeps the tension high. This is New Zealand fiction for kids at its very best!

Across the Risen Sea by Bren MacDibble

A new book by Bren MacDibble is a cause for celebration. Each of her books are unique but you always know it is going to be a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat. You also know that you are going to meet kids who are trying to get by in an environment that has been dramatically altered by human neglect. Pollution has caused the bees to die off or noxious weeds have spread causing crops to die. In Bren’s latest book, Across the Risen Sea, sea levels have risen hugely, sending cities under water and humans scrambling for hills and mountains that are now islands.

Neoma and Jag live in a small community on what was once the high ground and that is now their island. They live a gentle life, taking little from the land and scavenging what they need from things that remain of the old world. The risen sea provides them with fish and tinned food can be found in the wrecks of skyscrapers. Their peaceful existence is shattered when strangers from the Valley of the Sun arrive one day, installing a strange electrical device on the hill. Soon Neoma and Jag find themselves caught up in secrets and lies and Jag gets taken away as punishment. Neoma knows that it is up to her to rescue Jag and find the truth that will save her village.

Across the Risen Sea is a captivating adventure story set in a version of our world that is scarily possible. It’s a story of survival against the odds, of justice, of friendship and family. It’s also a mystery, as you try to figure out who the Valley of the Sun are and what their technology does.

While not explicitly stating it, Bren shows us what our world could become if global warming carries on its current course. In her story, massive storms have destroyed cities and the sea levels have risen to cover them, leaving only the higher ground for people to live on. Technology still exists but on a much smaller scale, and is often scavenged from what is left of the old world. Neoma’s little corner of the world is relatively peaceful, with small communities living on the surrounding islands, but the existence of the Valley of the Sun shows us that there are other communities that exist.

One of the things I love most about Bren’s stories is that she shows how strong and resilient kids are in the face of terrible circumstances. Neoma sees injustice in what happens to her friends and family so she sets out to make it right. She has grown up on her island so knows how to survive but she is out of her depth when she sets out to rescue Jag. She faces a cranky crocodile, a massive (and very hungry) shark, an angry pirate and the Valley of the Sun. Even after she has faced huge challenges she is still determined to find the truth and save her village.

I have loved each of Bren’s stories and can’t recommend them highly enough. Across the Risen Sea would make both a great read aloud and a novel study for Years 7-9.

The Nature Activity Book by Rachel Haydon and Pippa Keel

The Nature Activity Book by Rachel Haydon and illustrated by Pippa Keel is an activity book that all homes in NZ should have on the shelf. Not only is it the perfect activity book to engage all ages of kids when we all have to stay at home, it’s also the perfect book to get the whole family outside and exploring nature. Whether you are stuck in your own back yard or discovering part of the country you’ve never been to, this book helps you enjoy nature using all five senses. This book helps you become a waewae kai kapua- an adventurer.

There are 99 brilliant activities in this book that are fun, informative and reflective. The activities are split into sections, including Experiments and Inquiry, and Sense and Mindfulness. Activities range from collecting items such as leaves and feathers, listening out for the sounds around you, and making nature scavenger hunts, to making dyes from fruits and vegetables, making bird feeders, and observing clouds. Just flicking through the book makes me want to get outside and do the activities. I love that there are activities to keep kids busy but also activities to help kids slow down and be mindful. There are plenty of activities that involve you just sitting or lying on the grass, listening to and looking at what is happening around you. Some activities kids could do independently, while others would be more fun as a family. Each of the activities use materials that you have around home, like scissors, bamboo skewers, or a sponge. Rachel and Pippa give you a helpful list of materials at the start of the book but they suggest that you can improvise or find alternatives.

The Nature Activity Book is not one of those cheaply produced activity books that you’d find at Kmart. This is a beautiful book, with quality paper and it has been wonderfully designed. Pippa’s illustrations fill the book with flora, fauna and wildlife that gives it a very Kiwi feel. There is plenty of space to write, draw, colour and collect the things you find. There’s a great glossary and even suggested websites to visit to find more information about bees, day walks and native deciduous plants.

One of my favourite aspects of the book is that Rachel has seamlessly woven te reo Māori and tikanga Māori into the activities. I learnt so many useful te reo words while reading through the activities, like mīharo (awe and wonder), kapua (clouds) and waewae kai kapua (adventurer). One of the sections of activities focuses on how kids can take action to look after our natural world and be a kaitiakitanga or guardian of the land.

Get a copy of The Nature Activity Book for the kids in your life now. It is an invaluable resource for all Kiwi families.

The Rise of the Remarkables: Brasswitch and Bot by Gareth Ward

This book is AMAZING! There is something for everyone – mystery, adventure, action, magic, ingenious machines, powers being used for good and evil, witty dialogue and curious characters. The fantastic cover (illustrated by Bex Bloomfield) alone is enough to draw you in and from the first page I was hooked on Brasswitch and Bot. Gareth drops you straight in to the action and gives you a taste of his world. Once you get a taste you just want more. This is a world of clockwork, machines and science but also a world tainted by power from another dimension. There are those with powers and abilities who live in the shadows and those who hunt them down.

When The Rupture occurred, monsters tore through into the world from another dimension, leaving many people with altered physical features and strange powers. Wrench is a Brasswitch, an ‘abberation’ who can control machines with her mind. After her parents died in a train crash when she was younger she tried to keep her abilities hidden away. Her abilities are discovered and she is taken by the ruthless Regulator, Flemington. When the mechanoid, Bot, rescues her, Wrench finds herself helping the Regulators to stop the rise of the abberations and the end of the world as they know it.

Brasswitch and Bot has shades of Hellboy and Skulduggery Pleasant. The abberations are being hunted down with the help of abberations, much like Hellboy, Abe Sapien and the B.P.R.D. The relationship between Wrench and Bot reminds me of Skulduggery and Stephanie’s relationship in the early Skulduggery books. The relationship and the banter between Wrench and Bot was one of my favourite aspects of this book. I really want to see more of these two taking on the bad guys together. I would also highly recommend this series for fans of Jessica Townsend’s Nevermoor series. Like Jessica, Gareth’s world-building and characters draw you in and you don’t want the story to end.

There is so much depth to the characters and you know there is more to discover about them. Bot is quite mysterious and secretive. You learn a little about him in this book but I want to know more about him and his history. Likewise, you get to know Wrench but she has more to learn about her powers and her past.

Gareth’s world-building is masterful. He gives us little details about this steampunk version of York throughout the story and gives us the details of the history of the Rupture. I really loved some of the little details of the world, like the Scotch dog (a mechanical creature that is made up of a giant set of bagpipes on legs) and G-mail (mail that is delivered by greyhounds).

Gareth’s dialogue is witty and there were lots of moments that made me chuckle. There are lots of TLAs (Three Letter Abbreviations) used by the Regulators but my favourite is BBG (the Bloody Big Guns that come out when the situation gets serious).

I need book 2 right now! This is a series that will have me eagerly awaiting the next instalment and lining up like a Harry Potter fan to get my hands on it. Get to your bookstore or library and get The Rise of the Remarkables: Brasswitch and Bot now.

Interview with Jonathan King

Jonathan King’s first graphic novel for children, The Inkberg Enigma, has just been released. It is a brilliant graphic novel filled with mystery, adventure and secrets. You can read my full review here on the blog.

I really love The Inkberg Enigma (it’s one of my favourite children’s graphic novels of 2020) so I wanted to ask Jonathan my burning questions about the story. Read on to find out about Jonathan’s inspirations for the story, the process of creating a graphic novel and some of the Easter Eggs you can find in the story.

Reading The Inkberg Enigma made me feel like I was 10 again, reading Tintin. Did you set out to create the kind of story that you would have loved as a kid?

Yes, I absolutely did. Tintin was huge for me as a kid: The Black Island was the first one I read, but I devoured them all over the years. I knew from the outset that I wanted it to be an adventure with fantastic elements. I think I decided fairly early that it wouldn’t be a globe-trotting kind of thing – that Tintin often did – but digging into the secrets and corners of one location. That’s what I love about stories – that can show us how our own world has hidden wonders.

The Inkberg Enigma is set in the fictional town of Aurora. Being a Christchurch local I immediately recognised Lyttelton in your illustrations. Did Lyttelton inspire the setting?

Lyttelton – and Diamond Harbour access the water – definitely the primary inspiration for the setting. I have family in Diamond Harbour and Lyttelton, and have spent quite a bit of time there. I love the self-contained nature of the two of them (in my story there’s no Christchurch just over the hill). And I’ve always had a connection to places by the sea – with their attached nautical influence, like Lyttelton has, of hotels, seamen’s union buildings, antique shops with diver’s helmets in the window (which I really did see in Lyttelton!). Other influences are Cannery Row in Monterey in California – where John Steinbeck set his book of that name — Astoria in Oregon (where The Goonies was filmed) and, for the castle, Larnach Castle in Dunedin.

I love that the main character in The Inkberg Enigma, Miro, sells off treasures from his attic to get money to buy books. Is this something you would have done as a kid?

I don’t know if I would go quite as far as Miro does! But I do remember what it felt like to be obsessed with things – like Star Wars figures or comics – and doing anything to complete collections. 

Mr Hunter is one of the creepiest characters in the story. I’ve been wondering where he got his huge scar from?

I think Mr Hunter has been involved in some very dangerous situations at sea over the years – but ignored or buried them, to continue the regime of (what they think is) control over the sea and the creatures below. I think there’s a climate change metaphor in there too …

The kids at my school often complain about how long it takes a creator to release a new graphic novel. To put it in to perspective for them can you explain the process of creating The Inkberg Enigma and how long it took you to pull the story together.

It takes a long time for new ones to come out because it takes a loooooong time to draw them! Unlike commercial monthly comics – which usually have a writer, a penciller, an inker, a colourist, a letterer – a graphic novel is usually the work of just one or two people. It took me about three years from start to finish. Part of that was finding the story. I had the world and the kids in the story pretty early … but the story they were in and the relationship between them took a while to find; I made a false start and pencilled / roughed about 40 pages … that I abandoned. But once I cracked the relationship between the kids, the stay was clear. Then I just had to draw it all. Certainly a detailed, clear line style slows things down. I’d love to try a looser (faster!!) style in the future.

Did you experiment much with the character designs before settling on their final look?

I think their look came quite quickly. Learning how to draw it consistently took a little while longer!

The name of the bookshop in the story is a nod to your film adaptation of Maurice Gee’s Under the Mountain that you wrote, directed and produced. Are there other Easter eggs for readers to look out for in The Inkberg Enigma?

I’m thrilled you spotted that. Yes, there are others: a number of Tintin props, I think. The books in the bookshop Miro looks at are favourites of mine. The museum building is based on the jailhouse in Goonies (a real building in Astoria!) I’m sure there’s other odds and ends!

How does your film background influence your comics?

I’m not sure. Probably it does n terms of story structure – something I’ve spent a long time thinking about. I probably think it terms of close ups and wide shots … and even the ‘lens’ that I frame images in: a wide angle lens sees something differently from a ‘long’ lens. Certainly telling the story with pictures is as important as words. 

Would you like to make a movie of The Inkberg Enigma?

All the way through making I didn’t think that I did: it was only ever meant to be a comic. Now that it’s finished, it’s its own thing … yeah, I kinda would actually! 🙂 

There are so few comics and graphic novels published in NZ for kids and teens, even though these books are some of the most popular with kids in our libraries. Do you have plans to write more for this age group?

I’m sure one of the reasons that there are so few is that for something takes so long, it’s really hard to get enough income to justify the time it takes (though I must acknowledge the support I ad from Creative NZ). Some cool local creators are Katie O’Neill’s Tea Dragon Society books, Ant Sang’s Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas, Roger Langridge’s Abigail & The Snowman and, of course, bob Kerr and Stephen Ballantyne’s Terry Teo books. 
I would love to write more for this age group. Having done a book that took years to draw, I’d love to write book that’s just words – a mystery perhaps! And, yes, before long I’ll do another graphic novel. 

Check out my review of Jonathan’s graphic novel, The Inkberg Enigma. Available now from Gecko Press.

The Ghosts on the Hill by Bill Nagelkerke

The Ghosts on the Hill by Bill Nagelkerke is a spooky, historical tale that is perfectly formed. At just 75 pages readers can gobble it up in one bite and it is ideal for reluctant readers who need a short but engaging story. It would also make a great read aloud for Years 5-8.

Elsie lives in the port town of Lyttelton in 1884. She spends her days fishing and exploring. It is one day while she is fishing that she meets brothers Davie and Archie. They have come to Lyttelton on the train from Christchurch but have no money to take the train back again. They decide to walk back over the hill on the Bridle Path, the path carved over the hill by the early settlers. However, the weather closes in and the boys both die on the hill. One year later Elsie is haunted by the memory of the brothers and a feeling of guilt because she didn’t stop the boys from leaving. When Elsie misses the train to Christchurch and a chance to meet her new cousin, she decides to face her fears and make the trek over the Bridle Path. Do the brothers haunt the hills? Elsie will find out when she faces her own challenge on the hills.

I loved this story as an adult and I know I would have loved it as a kid. Growing up in Christchurch I studied the early settlers in primary school and even had a field trip walking over the Bridle Path to Lyttelton. The places in the story are so familiar to me yet quite different, given the time that the story is set. You don’t need to be familiar with the setting though to appreciate the story. The fact that the story is inspired by real events makes a chill go down my spine and loads of kids love spooky stories. Bill includes newspaper clippings from 1883 in the story and details of the real events in his author’s note.

Bill incorporates te ao Maori in to the story too. Through Elsie’s father, who is Maori and living at Rapaki (just around the bay from Lyttelton), we learn about the Maori stories of the area, including the stories of the patupaiarehe, the wicked fairies that live in the clouds on the hills.

I found myself comparing the events of the story with how it would be different if the story was set today. The children in the story have a lot more freedom than children today. Elsie’s Mum is happy for her to walk over the hills by herself, and Davie and Archie walk from the centre of town and catch a train through to Lyttelton with no adult with them. Getting from one place to another easily is something we take for granted these days too. I couldn’t imagine walking from Lyttelton, over the Bridle Path, and all the way to the middle of Christchurch city, but that’s what Davie and Archie were going to do. If you were stuck in bad weather on the hills today you would just get out your cell phone and call for help but in 1884 you were on your own. You had to stay where you were or carry on. These would be some great talking points to discuss if you were sharing the story with a class.

The Ghost on the Hill is a fantastic addition to a school library or as a class set of books. The Cuba Press have even created some wonderful teacher’s notes to go with the book that you can find here.

The Inkberg Enigma by Jonathan King

The Inkberg Enigma is a brilliant graphic novel from New Zealand comic creator and film maker, Jonathan King. Reading this made me feel like I was 10 years old again, devouring Tintin and wanting to be him.

Miro is a book-obsessed boy living an adventurous life through the stories of Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs. Real-life adventure finds him though when Zia, a girl from his school, drags him in to a town mystery. Miro is reluctant to get involved but, as Mira says, ‘this is how you have adventures. You find cool things and you do them…you don’t just read books about them!’ Their town of Aurora has been built on the prosperous fishing in their harbour. When Miro and Zia see something that they are not supposed to, they set out to discover the truth behind the legacy of Aurora and the shady characters who run the town.

The Inkberg Enigma is filled with adventure, mystery, and secrets. It’s also just the right amount of spooky and sinister that keeps you turning the pages. I flew through the story the first time and have since read it again to fully appreciate the story and the artwork.

I love all the characters, from the book-loving Miro and the ever-curious Zia to the sinister mayor of Aurora, Mr Hunter. Miro reminds me a lot of myself because he sells artefacts that he finds in his attic just so he can buy more books. His habit gets so bad that he has a whole spare room full of books! He’d also rather read about adventures than have them in real life.

Jonathan’s illustrations are fantastic, from his characters to the images of the town of Aurora. As a Christchurch local I immediately recognised Lyttelton as Aurora, from the town streets to the museum and the harbour. I really like the flow of the illustrations, with the scene on the boat being my favourite. Jonathan doesn’t let the panels limit the story either, with some really clever sections where the illustrations move out of the panels.

The Inkberg Enigma is one of my favourite kids graphic novels of 2020 and I’ll be recommending it to everyone. I really hope there will be more stories with Miro and Zia.

The Inkberg Enigma is released in August from the wonderful Gecko Press. Stay tuned for my interview with Jonathan King.

#Tumeke! by Michael Petherick

2020 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults Junior Fiction Finalist

Plans for the Newtoun community’s Waitangi Day celebrations are well under way: Monty and Pete `The Deadly Icedagger’ plan a wrestling demo. Dreadflock needs to upskill her braiding technique. Constable Rutene is planning the biggest kapa haka event in suburban memory. Sauerkraut Burgers are gearing up for fierce battle with Carnivores Rule. And that’s not the half of it.

Flicking through Tumeke originally I didn’t think I would like it but after reading it in one sitting I completely loved it! It’s totally unique and has a real Kiwi flavour to it. The story is pieced together from notices on the community noticeboard at the library, text messages, emails, diary entries, social media posts and more. The design is so clever and visually appealing. I loved all the different personalities, from the local constable and his relationship with the teacher to the local Lord of the Rings and Beatles Appreciation Society and the owner of the goat who keeps causing havoc (and communicates using emojis).

I think, because of Tumeke’s uniqueness this will be the winner of the Junior Fiction category of the 2020 NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.