Tag Archives: New Zealand authors

New Dinosaur Trouble series from Mewburn and Bixley

I’m always on the lookout for great series for young readers who are just starting chapter books.  Sally Rippin’s Billie B Brown and Hey Jack series and James Roy’s Chook Doolan series are always flying off the shelf.  I was really excited to hear that Kyle Mewburn and Donovan Bixley were releasing some new adventures of Arg, the brainy caveboy from their Dinosaur Rescue series, but aimed at beginner readers.  The Great Egg Stink, the first book in their new Dinosaur Trouble series is out now and it is a whole lot of disgusting fun!

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Arg is bored waiting for his mum to bring home some food.  When his mum returns with armfuls of eggs Arg discovers that one of the eggs might hold something he doesn’t want to eat.  Things are about to go from boring to exciting and a bit dangerous, especially if Arg’s sister Hng finds his egg.

The Great Egg Stink is a great intro to the wacky prehistoric world of Kyle Mewburn and Donovan Bixley.  It’s the perfect chapter book for beginner readers, with a simple but entertaining text and heaps of Donovan’s wonderful illustrations.  Like their Dinosaur Rescue series, this new series is full of disgusting details that boys will love and plenty of laughs.  There are farts, vomit and  (my favourite part) an exploding mastadon.

The thing I love the most about the books that Kyle and Donovan create together are the puns.  They don’t disappoint, starting with puns about the ‘web’ and Arg’s ‘tablet.’  They don’t dumb anything down for these younger readers, which makes this series a perfect one to hook kids on reading.

We need more of these clever, engaging early chapter books for young readers so I hope that we see more series like Dinosaur Trouble.  I can’t wait to promote Dinosaur Trouble to the young readers at my school.

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Who Sank the Boat? and Other Stories by Pamela Allen

I love Pamela Allen’s stories.  My parents read them to me when I was young and now I read them to my daughter.  Her stories have stood the test of time and Pamela is still writing and illustrating new stories today.  Penguin Random House New Zealand have just released a beautifully packed collection of Pamela Allen’s stories just in time for Christmas.

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Who Sank the Boat? and Other Stories is a hardback collection of just some of Pamela Allen’s best stories.  Inside you’ll find Who Sank the Boat?, My Cat Maisie, Belinda, Alexander’s Outing, Brown Bread and Honey, Daisy All-Sorts, Grandpa and Thomas, Cuthbert’s Babies and Share Said the Rooster.  There is also some information at the start of the book about Pamela Allen and the many awards that she has won throughout the years.

This is collection to curl up with and share with the young ones in your life.  It’s the perfect gift book to put under the Christmas tree and it is a book that will be shared again and again.  I will certainly enjoy re-living my memories of Pamela Allen’s stories with my daughter as we try to figure out who did sink the boat, how to get Belinda back and try to teach Billy and Ben to share.

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That’s NOT a Hippopotamus! by Juliette MacIver and Sarah Davis

Juliette MacIver and Sarah Davis are the dream team when it comes to picture books in New Zealand.  They have written and illustrated so many fabulous picture books, from the Marmaduke Duck series to Toucan Can.  Their books are always a joy to read aloud and their latest book, That’s NOT a Hippopotamus! is no exception. Adults and children alike will love this book!

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In That’s NOT a Hippopotamus! we follow a class of children and their poor teacher on an outing to the zoo. They discover that the hippopotamus is missing and they race off all over the zoo as they try to track it down.  Some of the children think they’ve found the hippo but they don’t quite get the right animal.  One of the children, Liam thinks that he sees the hippo but no one pays attention to him.  When it gets to the stage that the children are all forlorn and their teacher has almost had a nervous breakdown Liam finally gets everyone to listen to him.

That’s NOT a Hippopotamus is a hilarious story that will have adults and children in fits of giggles.  After creating so many books together Juliette and Sarah have a real knack for creating funny, entertaining, but also very clever, picture books.  The thing that makes this picture book stand out for me is that there are so many layers to it.  As the children chase after different animals (thinking they’ve found the hippopotamus) Juliette gives the reader little details about each animal so you can guess what it is.  There is this great sense of anticipation about what the animal will be, and you often get it wrong (which makes it even better).  On one page a boy says ‘I see him Miss! He’s on the ground.  I’ll get him while he’s snuffling round.’ There is an elephant’s bottom poking around the end of the page so you think it might be an elephant, but it’s actually a warthog.  Another layer of the story, told through the illustrations, is Liam spotting the hippopotamus.  He tells his teacher that he’s seen the hippo but she doesn’t pay him any attention.  The hippo is actually hiding in the exhibits though, and if you look carefully you will spot him.

I love the way that Juliette MacIver plays with words and she has certainly had fun with this story.  She has used some very clever rhyming and I love what the children yell out each time they catch an animal, ‘I got ‘im, Miss! I got ‘im, Miss! I got ‘im by his trotter, Miss!’  I know kids are going to love calling out ‘That’s NOT a hippopotamus!’ too.

This is a picture book that kids will beg to read over and over again and it is one that I think adults will be very happy to.  I absolutely love it!

 

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Barking Mad by Tom E. Moffatt

The Tom Fitzgibbon Award is a fantastic award given out by Storylines each year that helps to launch the careers of unpublished authors in New Zealand.  There have been some wonderful winners of this award, including Leonie Agnew (Super Finn) and Juliet Jacka (Night of the Perigee Moon), who have gone on to write more great books.  Tom E. Moffatt was the winner of the 2016 Tom Fitzgibbon Award with his book Barking Mad, and judging by this book, Tom has a very bright writing career ahead of him.  Barking Mad is absolutely hilarious!

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At first, Fingers refuses to believe that his Granddad has gone BARKING MAD! But what straight-thinking grownup goes around LICKING the postman, growling like a dog and chasing hospital security guards up trees? And when Fingers and his sister Sally discover a BIZARRE machine in Granddads workshop, mix-ups turn into MIND-SWAPPING madness one look at Granddads dog DaVinci is proof of that!

Barking Mad is a crazy, hilarious read that will have you laughing out loud.  As soon as I read the blurb I knew that this was going to be a book for me and I wasn’t disappointed.  Just the idea of a grandad swapping minds with his dog was enough to make me laugh.  You can just imagine how crazy and silly the story is going to be.  Just when you think the story couldn’t get any funnier, it does.  Can you imagine swapping bodies with your grandad, your sister, or your brother?  That’s probably too scary to even think about!

I really loved the characters in this book.  The main character is Finn Butterby, but everyone calls him Fingers, as in Butter Fingers, because he is quite clumsy.  When Finn gets told that he has to carry his grandfather’s very delicate mind-swapping invention you just know that something is going to go wrong.  I love the way that Tom portrays the grandad’s dog DaVinci too.  Because Finn’s grandad has swapped minds with his dog, DaVinci often acts quite human-like, like when they find him reading a newspaper.  Finn and his sister also mix up their names and start calling them DaVanddad and GraVinci.

There are lots of hilarious and often embarrassing situations in the book but my favourite part is the rescue/escape from the dog pound.  I know that this is one part that will make kids crack up.  Barking Mad is perfect for anyone aged 8+ who loves funny stories, especially for Andy Griffiths fans who are looking for something new.  I can’t wait to read what Tom writes next!

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Gecko Press’ Gorgeous Annual

Unfortunately I’m not of a generation that grew up with annuals.  I didn’t experience the joy of these volumes, chock-full of activities, stories and quizzes. Thankfully the wonderful Gecko Press have brought back this format with their gorgeous new book, Annual, that a new generation of kids will love.

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Editors Kate De Goldi and Susan Paris have mined the talented authors and illustrators we have here in NZ and gathered these gems into a truly radiant collection.  There are stories, short essays, comics, a song, crafts, activities and a hilarious board game.  There are well-known authors and illustrators, such as Barbara Else, Bernard Beckett and Gavin Bishop, but also some incredibly talented debut authors such as Gavin Mouldey, whose story B.O.N.E. is an absolute wonder.

Annual arrived on my doorstep on the morning that I was going away for a school holiday break with my family, so the timing couldn’t have been more perfect!  There is hours of entertainment in this book and there is something for the whole family. I especially enjoyed Kirsten McDougall’s A Box of Birds, a collection of odd words to take on a road trip.  I was thinking about some of these words as I was driving and I thoroughly confused my family when I yelled out ‘Tally ho, the salt!’ (a phrase to use when you first catch sight of the ocean).  We all enjoyed a ‘pootle’ (a wander along the beach with no destination in mind) and with 12-year-old boys in the car there were more than a few winkybubbles (you’ll have to look that one up yourself).

There are so many things that I love about Annual.  Being a Gecko Press book the standard of production is excellent, from the eye-catching red hardcover to the smell of the high-quality paper.  The variety of pieces in the book is brilliant, with something for every type of kid (and adult for that matter).  There are pieces to make you think, pieces to challenge you, pieces to make you laugh and pieces to unleash your creativity.  One of my favourite pieces is the comic strip Bad Luck Zebra by Sharon Murdoch and Susan Paris, which cracked me up every time I read it. Kate De Goldi, Susan Paris and Gecko Press deserve a standing ovation for this gorgeous book.

You will want to come back to Annual again and again to revisit your favourite bits and uncover some new delight that you might have missed last time.  Get a copy of Annual for everyone on your Christmas list.

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My Top 5 NZ Series for Kids and Teens

Like many kids I’m a fan of series.  There’s nothing better than sinking your teeth into a great series and being able to read more than one book featuring your favourite characters.  While there aren’t a heap of New Zealand series for kids and teens there are some that really stand out for me.  Some of them make me laugh again and again, while others take me to different times and places.  Here are my Top 5 NZ series for kids and teens.

  • 1219373The Karazan Quartet by V.M. Jones
    • Book 1 – The Serpents of Arakesh
    • Book 2 – Beyond the Shroud
    • Book 3 – Prince of the Wind
    • Book 4 – Quest for the Sun
I was excited when the first book in the series, The Serpents of Arakesh, came out.  The idea of an orphan boy getting the chance to test a new computer game and go into this game to retrieve a magical object sounded fantastic, and I wasn’t disappointed.  As soon as I started I knew I was going to love this book, and the other three books in the series just got better and better.  It’s one of my favourite fantasy series and just writing about it now makes me want to go back and read it all over again.  After publishing this series and a couple of great contemporary (and award-winning) novels, V.M. Jones seems to have disappeared.  I really miss her writing and I wonder what she’s doing now.

These are all out of print now but if you have this series in your library, get it out on display and promote it to your Year 5+ kids, especially the boys.

Recommended for 9+

  • The Juno series by Fleur Beale
    • Book 1 – Juno of Taris
    • Book 2 – Fierce September
    • Book 3 – Heart of Danger

Once I got in to Juno of Taris I couldn’t put it down.  Fleur Beale’s strength with this series is her characters, the strong bonds between them and also the conflict between them.  Fleur really makes you feel for her characters and the strange situation that they are in.  After reading the first book, I would have been satisfied to leave the characters as they were, then Fleur wrote two sequels.  I really enjoyed following these characters as they settled into their new life, and it was great to find out more about the other characters in the series.

Recommended for 11+

  • Dinosaur Rescue series by Kyle Mewburn and Donovan Bixley
    • Currently 8 books in the series, starting with T-wreck-asaurus

Prehistoric toilet humour – what more can you ask for!  These books are full of dinosaur farts, dinosaur poo, caveman vomit and partial caveman nudity.  Not only are they disgusting and hilarious, you also learn heaps about dinosaurs and prehistoric life.  The challenge is trying to figure out what is factually accurate or just a huge whopper.  Kyle and Donovan are too of the wackiest people to ever be thrown together to create a series and it’s a truly winning combination.  If your children haven’t discovered this series yet they are seriously missing out.

Recommended for 7+

  • My New Zealand Story series by various authors

9781775431824The My New Zealand Story series from Scholastic New Zealand introduces children to different events and periods of New Zealand’s history.  I love this series because it gives a snapshot of the life of a fictional character (based on real people) and how they cope with life in the goldfields, or in colonial New Zealand, or how they react to a disaster like the Napier Earthquake.  These books also highlight how different the lives of the characters is to the lives of children today.  They really bring history alive for young readers and connect them with the history of their country.  The latest in the series is Canterbury Quake by my good friend, Desna Wallace.

Recommended for 9+

  • QueenTales of Fontania series by Barbara Else
    • The Traveling Restaurant
    • The Queen and the Nobody Boy
    • The Volume of Possible Endings
    • The Knot Impossible

Barbara Else’s Tales of Fontania series is a fantasy series that stands out from the crowd.  Barbara has an incredible imagination and her world and characters jump off the page.  Her tales are full of adventure, danger, royalty, spies, flying trains, a floating restaurant, stinky trolls, poisonous toads and much, much more.  You never know what who or what you’re going to meet next.  Thanks to the stunning covers by Sam Broad the books jump off the shelf and grab your attention.  I have it on good authority that there are more Tales of Fontania to come too.

Recommended for 9+

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My Top 10 NZ Read Alouds

There are lots of New Zealand books for children that are great read alouds, either to share one-on-one with your children or in a classroom.  Here are my Top 10 NZ Read Alouds, some old and some new (in no particular order).

Red Rocks by Rachael King

Red RocksWhile holidaying at his father’s house, Jake explores Wellington’s wild south coast, with its high cliffs, biting winds, and its fierce seals. When he stumbles upon a perfectly preserved sealskin, hidden in a crevice at Red Rocks, he’s compelled to take it home and hide it under his bed, setting off a chain of events that threatens to destroy his family. Can he put things right before it’s too late?

Suggested read aloud age: 9+

See Ya Simon by David Hill

Simon is a typical teenager – in every way except one. Simon likes girls, weekends and enjoys mucking about and playing practical jokes. But what s different is that Simon has muscular dystrophy – he is in a wheelchair and doesn t have long to live. See Ya, Simon is told by Simon’s best friend, Nathan. Funny, moving and devastatingly honest, it tells of their last year together.

Suggested read aloud age: 11+

The Brain Sucker by Glenn Wood

How would you act if part of your personality was stolen with a brain-sucking machine?

Lester Smythe has a black heart. He s invented a dangerous brain-sucking machine that removes the goodness from its victims, and he intends to use it to rid the world of all human kindness. But Lester didn t count on thirteen-year-old Callum McCullock and his two best friends, Sophie and Jinx. The trio vow to destroy the brain sucker. And nothing will stop them.

Suggested read aloud age: 8+

Snake and Lizard by Joy Cowley

Snake is elegant and calm, and a little self-centred; Lizard is exuberant and irrepressible. Even though they’re opposites, they are good friends. With its wisdom, acceptance and good humour, Snake and Lizard captures the essence of friendship.

Suggested read aloud age: 7+

Steel Pelicans by Des Hunt

Sometimes friendship and loyalty can be dangerous things – especially when fireworks are involved. Inseparable Aussie friends dare-devil Dean and tag-along Pelly often get up to no good. That’s what makes them the Steel Pelicans. But as Dean’s homemade fireworks get increasingly dangerous, things start going wrong, and Pelly’s parents hasten a move back to New Zealand. After living most of his life in Australia, Pelly feels like he’s been dumped in a foreign land with no friends and a school that doesn’t care, until he joins up with Afi Moore and is invited to stay the weekend at the Moores’ seaside bach. Then the pair stumble on a smuggling operation and find themselves deep in trouble, which only gets worse when Dean comes over for the holidays. In no time at all, Dean’s obsession with explosives threatens not only the investigation but also their lives.

All of Des Hunt’s other books are great read alouds too.

Suggested read aloud age: 10+

Northwood by Brian Falkner

Cecilia Undergarment likes a challenge. So when she discovers a sad and neglected dog, she is determined to rescue him. No matter what. But her daring dog rescue lands her in deep trouble. Trouble in the form of being lost in the dark forest of Northwood. A forest where ferocious black lions roam. A forest that hides a secret castle, an unlikely king and many a mystery. A forest where those who enter never return. But Cecilia is determined to find her way home. No matter what.

Suggested read aloud age: 9+

Juno of Taris by Fleur Beale

Juno is young; she has no authority, no power, and to question the ways of Taris is discouraged. She knows what it’s like when the community withdraws from her – turning their backs and not speaking to her until she complies.The Taris Project was the brainchild of a desperate twenty-first-century world, a community designed to survive even if the rest of humanity perished. An isolated, storm-buffeted island in the Southern Ocean was given a protective dome and its own balmy climate. And now Juno is one of 500 people who live there – but what has happened to the outside world in the years since Taris was established? The island has not been in contact with Outside since the early years of its existence.Juno yearns to know about life Outside, just as she yearns to be allowed to grow her hair. It is a rule on Taris that all must have their heads shaved bare. But is it a rule that could be broken? Danger awaits any who suggest it.

Suggested read aloud age: 11+

Super Finn by Leonie Agnew

When Mr Patel asks his class what they’d like to be when they grow up, Finn (most famous for getting in trouble and doing stupid things) chooses ‘superhero’. With his friend Brain, the two boys make a list of things needed to be a superhero, including superpowers and saving someone’s life. Can Finn use his superpowers to help save his World Vision sponsored child? Sometimes, despite the best intentions, things don’t always work out as planned. Join the hilarity as the boys’ money-making scheme comes unravelled. Look out, world …here comes Super Finn!

Suggested read aloud age: 7+

The Wolf in the Wardrobe by Susan Brocker

Finn had seen those eyes before. They were golden yellow, like the colour of the moon hanging low in the sky. And they were full of pain. When Finn comes across a car accident, little does he realize his life is about to change forever. The huge, injured animal he discovers is no dog – but a wolf, escaped from the circus. Finn is bewitched. Instinctively, he knows he must save the wolf, Lupa, and prevent her return to the cruel circus. Where to hide the wolf, and how to feed her, are just the beginning of Finn’s problems. For the sinister circus clown, Cackles, is hot on their trail and will stop at nothing to get Lupa back. But Cackles doesn’t even like wolves, so why is he so determined to get her? In a race against time to save Lupa, Finn gets help from unlikely quarters. But will it be enough?

Suggested read aloud age: 10+

The Ghosts of Tarawera by Sue Copsey

On holiday near Rotorua, Joe and Eddie are fascinated by the area’s bubbling mud pools and boiling geysers. Local volcanologist Rocky tells them about the Pink and White Terraces that existed on the lake where they’re staying, and how they were destroyed in the cataclysmic 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera. But Joe’s fascination turns to unease when strange sightings on the lake and dark rumblings from the Earth hint that the volcano is reawakening. Can he persuade Rocky, who puts his faith only in science, to sound a warning?

Suggested read aloud age: 10+

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2014 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults Finalists

colour-logo-rgb-large1It’s finally here – the day I can shout about the wonderful books that we have chosen as the finalists in the 2014 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.  It was a mammoth task, reading our way through 120 or so books, to choose just 20 to be named the best books for children and young adults in New Zealand from last year.  It was incredibly difficult choosing only 20 books but we believe we’ve chosen the best books in each category and I’m looking forward to all the events during festival week that will celebrate these books, authors and illustrators.

Congratulations to all the finalist authors!  Check out the list below.

Picture Books

  • Machines and Me: Boats by Catherine Foreman
  • The Boring Book by Vasanti Unka
  • The Three Bears (Sort of) by Yvonne Morrison, illustrated by Donovan Bixley
  • Toucan Can by Juliette MacIver, illustrated by Sarah Davis
  • Watch Out, Snail! by Gay Hay, illustrated by Margaret Tolland

Junior Fiction

  • A Winter’s Day in 1939 by Melinda Szymanik
  • Dunger by Joy Cowley
  • Felix and the Red Rats by James Norcliffe
  • Project Huia by Des Hunt
  • The Princess and the Foal by Stacy Gregg

Young Adult Fiction

  • A Necklace of Souls by RL Stedman
  • Bugs by Whiti Hereaka
  • Mortal Fire by Elizabeth Knox
  • Speed Freak by Fleur Beale
  • When We Wake by Karen Healey

Non Fiction

  • An Extraordinary Land by Peter Hayden and Rod Morris
  • Anzac Day: The New Zealand Story by Philippa Werry
  • Flight of the Honeybee by Raymond Huber, illustrated by Brian Lovelock
  • Beginner’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Paul Adamson
  • Wearable Wonders by Fifi Colston

Maori Language Award

  • Taka Ki Ro Wai by Keri Kaa and Martin D Page

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Win the Dinosaur Rescue Megasaurus Mash-up 2

MegasaurusI’m a huge fan of the Dinosaur Rescue series by Kyle Mewburn and Donovan Bixley.  They’re hilarious adventure stories full of all sorts of disgusting things, they’re chock-full of prehistoric facts and perfect for younger readers.  The second bind-up of Dinosaur Rescue stories (books 5-8) has just been released by Scholastic NZ, which contains Spino-rottysaurus, Dako-snappysaurus, Scuto-stickysaurus and Salto-scaredypus.  One of the added extras of these mash-ups that I really like is the Meet the Creators pages in the back.  Donovan’s prehistoric likeness of himself and Kyle makes me laugh every time I see it and their answers to the questions are so funny.

Thanks to Scholastic NZ I have a copy of Dinosaur Rescue Megasaurus Mash-up 2 to give away.  All you need to do to get in the draw is enter your name and email address in the form below.  Competition closes Monday 17 June (NZ only).

Thanks to everyone who entered.  The winner is James.

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2013 LIANZA Children’s Book Awards Finalists

The finalists in the 2013 LIANZA Children’s Book Awards were announced last week.  The LIANZA Children’s Book Awards are awarded annually by librarians for excellence in junior fiction, young adult fiction, illustration, non-fiction and te reo Maori.

There are some wonderful books on the list this year and it’s good to see some of those that missed out on a New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards nomination.  There are a couple that I’m surprised to see on the list but a lot of my favourites are there.

Congratulations to all the finalists!

LIANZA Junior Fiction Award – Esther Glen Medal

  • The Queen and the Nobody Boy: A tale of Fontania by Barbara Else, (GECKO Press)
  • Drover’s Quest by Susan Brocker, (HarperCollins Publishers (NZ) Ltd)
  • When Empire Calls by Ken Catran, (Scholastic NZ Ltd)
  • Red Rocks by Rachael King, (Random House New Zealand)
  • The ACB with Honora Lee by Kate de Goldi, (Random House New Zealand)
  • Lightening Strikes: The Slice by Rose Quilter, (Walker Books Australia)

LIANZA Young Adult Fiction Award

  • My Brother’s War by David Hill, (Penguin NZ)
  • The Nature of Ash by Mandy Hager, (Random House New Zealand)
  • Marked by Denis Martin, (Walker Books Australia)
  • Earth Dragon, Fire Hare by Ken Catran, (HarperCollins Publishers (NZ) Ltd)
  • Snakes and Ladders by Mary-anne Scott, (Scholastic NZ Ltd)

LIANZA Illustration Award – Russell Clark Award

  • The Dragon Hunters by James Russell, illustrated by Link Choi, (Dragon Brothers Books Ltd)
  • Mister Whistler by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Gavin Bishop, (Gecko Press)
  • Kiwi: The Real Story by Annemarie Florian, illustrated by Heather Hunt, (New Holland Publishers Ltd)
  • Blue Gnu by Kyle Mewburn, illustrated by Daron Parton, (Scholastic NZ Ltd)
  • Melu by Kyle Mewburn, illustrated by Ali Teo and John O’Reilly, (Scholastic NZ Ltd)
  • A Great Cake by Tina Matthews, (Walker Books Australia)

LIANZA Non Fiction Award – Elsie Locke Medal

  • At the Beach: Explore & Discover the New Zealand Seashore by Ned Barraud and Gillian Candler, (Craig Potton Publishing)
  • Eruption! Discovering New Zealand Volcanoes by Maria Gill, (New Holland Publishers (NZ) Ltd)
  • 100 Amazing Tales from Aotearoa by Simon Morton and Riria Hotere, (Te Papa Press)

Te Kura Pounamu (te reo Māori)

  • Hautipua Rererangi story by Julian Arahanga, illustrated by Andrew Burdan, (Huia)
  • Ngā Waituhi o Rēhua by Katerina Te Heikoko Mataira, (Huia)
  • Arohanui by Huia Publishers, illustrated Andrew Burdan, (Huia)
  • Ko Meru by Kyle Mewburn, translated by Ngaere Roberts, illustrated by Ali Teo and John O’Reilly, (Scholastic)
  • Taea ngā whetū by Dawn McMillan, translated by Ngaere Roberts, illustrated by Keinyo White, (Scholastic)

You can follow the LIANZA Children’s Book Awards:

Website: http://www.lianza.org.nz/awards/lianza-childrens-book-awards
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/LianzaChildrensBookAwards
Twitter – #lianzacba

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