Tag Archives: New Zealand illustrators

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!

large_9781775433668

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under books, children's fiction, New Zealand, New Zealand author

Frankie Potts is back again!

Frankie Potts is the village of Tring’s number one girl detective.  She has flaming red hair, a questioning mind and an addiction to gobstoppers.  And she is REALLY good at solving mysteries. Frankie’s first two adventures saw her trying to solve a whole pile of mysteries including:

  • What’s my (sort of) new dog called, and where’s he from?
  • Why is my grandma acting so oddly?
  • Why are random pink items of clothing going missing all over the village?

Frankie Potts is back in two new adventures – Frankie Potts and the Postcard Puzzle and Frankie Potts and the Wicked Wolves.

9780143770206

Frankie’s list of mysteries to solve is getting longer by the day. Firstly, her mum is acting very strangely – she’s tired, grumpy and feels sick all the time. And then there’s Grandma M, who keeps dropping hints about expanding her troupe of performing greyhounds: Tinkerbell, Titania and Tiramisu.

With her detective sidekick Mac, Frankie travels to Giggleswick to find out about the mysterious Gideon R. Best, Animal Trainer Extraordinaire, and why he sent a postcard – with two kisses on it – to Frankie’s mum. How can Frankie work out what an overweight donkey, a cuddle-obsessed pig and a pooing parrot have to do with anything? And why has Tinkerbell started to waddle?

Kaboom! Things are getting explosive in Frankie’s family. She had better start solving.

9780143770459

A band of dancers with bells and blue painted faces have come to Tring, and Frankie can smell a mystery. Who are these Wicked Wolves? How come Grandma M knows them, and wants to pick a fight with them?

Meanwhile, Tinkerbell and Sparkplug’s seven adorable puppies are causing chaos at Frankie’s house. Grandma M is planning to give away four of them, and Frankie and Mac must make sure that they go to good homes. Ralph Peter-McGee, Frankie’s arch-enemy, seems to have his eye on her favourite pup Kettle Thomson. Can Frankie stop Kettle going to the wrong home? And why are those Wicked Wolves sniffing around the puppies?

The Inaugural Tring Talent Contest is rapidly approaching, and Frankie has some serious detecting to do. But maybe not all the clues are quite as they seem.

I can’t get enough of Frankie Potts!  She is a wonderful character that kids, especially girls, will love.  She is really inquisitive and mysteries seem to follow her wherever she goes.  Naturally she needs to solve them and you just know that she’ll find the answers.  She carries a notebook everywhere so she always has a list of mysteries that she needs to solve.  I like the way that these lists are included in the story so that the reader can try to solve the mysteries too.

One of my favourite features of the Frankie Potts series is the design of them.  Phoebe Morris’s illustrations and the bright colours make the covers stand out and look really appealing to the target audience.  I also really love the alliterated titles which sound really cool (Postcard Puzzle, Bikini Burglar).

Get the Frankie Potts series into the hands of any young fans of a good mystery.  I think they would be a good ‘next step’ for fans of Geronimo and Thea Stilton and Billie B. Brown.  Once you’ve read one you’ll be hooked!

1 Comment

Filed under books, mystery

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.

9780143770329

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under books, New Zealand, New Zealand author, picture books

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!

thats-not-a-hippopotamus_cover_med

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!

 

2 Comments

Filed under books, New Zealand, New Zealand author, picture books

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.

annual_cover

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.

1 Comment

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

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

2 Comments

Filed under 2014 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, authors, book awards, books, children, children's fiction

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The 2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards Finalists

nzpcba_new_logoThe finalists in the 2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards were announced this morning.  There is a great selection of books this year, by some of our best authors and illustrators.  I think that the picture book and junior fiction categories are particularly strong and the judges have got a huge job ahead of them.  I’m aiming to read all of the finalists before the week of the Festival this year so I’ll be sharing my thoughts on each book here.  I’m also the Canterbury coordinator of the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Festival and we’ve got some great events in the pipeline.

What are your favourites?

Picture Book

  • mr-whistler-cover-working-final-2.inddA Great Cake, written and illustrated by Tina Matthews
  • Melu, written by Kyle Mewburn and illustrated by Ali Teo and John O’Reilly
  • Mister Whistler, written by Margaret Mahy and illustrated by Gavin Bishop
  • Mr Bear Branches and the Cloud Conundrum, written and illustrated by Terri Rose Baynton
  • Remember that November, written by Jennifer Beck and illustrated by Lindy Fisher

Junior Fiction

  • The ACB with Honora Lee, written by Kate De Goldi and illustrated by Gregory O’Brien
  • The Queen and the Nobody Boy by Barbara Else
  • My Brother’s War by David Hill
  • Red Rocks by Rachael King
  • Uncle Trev and His Whistling Bull by Jack Lasenby

Young Adult Fiction

  • Earth Dragon, Fire Hare by Ken Catran
  • Into the River by Ted Dawe
  • The Nature of Ash by Mandy Hager
  • Reach by Hugh Brown
  • Snakes and Ladders by Mary-anne Scott

Non Fiction

  • 100 Amazing Tales from Aotearoa by Simon Morton and Riria Hotere
  • At the Beach: Explore and discover the New Zealand seashore by Ned Barraud and Gillian Chandler
  • Kiwi: the real story by Annemarie Florian and Heather Hunt
  • Taketakerau, The Millenium Tree by Marnie Anstis, Patricia Howitt and Kelly Spencer

2 Comments

Filed under authors, books, children, New Zealand, New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards, New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards 2013, picture books, young adult

Win a New Zealand Kids Book Pack

It’s the last week of NZ Book Month for 2013.  I always enjoy NZ Book Month because I love reading books by our wonderful New Zealand authors and illustrators.  I hope you’ve read some great NZ books this month and enjoyed my Fast Five Questions with NZ authors and illustrators.

To finish NZ Book Month I’m giving away a New Zealand Kids Book Pack, thanks to Scholastic New Zealand.  The pack includes:

  • The Silly Goat Gruff by Scott Tulloch
  • A Winter’s Day in 1939 by Melinda Szymanik
  • Dinosaur Rescue: Salto-scaredypus by Kyle Mewburn and Donovan Bixley
  • Ransomwood by Sheryl Jordan
  • Scrap: Tale of a Blond Puppy by Vince Ford
  • Scrap: Oh My Dog! by Vince Ford

To get in the draw just leave a comment (with your name and email address) telling me about a New Zealand book you’ve read and loved this NZ Book Month.  Competition closes Sunday 31 March (NZ only).

Thanks to everyone who entered.  The winner is the Rodgers-Foran family.  I hope you enjoy your books!

34 Comments

Filed under authors, books, children, competition, New Zealand, NZ Book Month 2013

Celebrate our best authors and illustrators in New Zealand Book Month

NZBM green logo rgb smNew Zealand Book Month officially starts this Friday and runs for the whole month of March.  It’s the month where we celebrate all the wonderful authors and illustrators that we have in New Zealand.  Here on My Best Friends Are Books there will be lots of cool things happening, including:

  • Fast Five Questions with NZ children’s and young adult authors and illustrators, including David Hill, Sherryl Jordan, Diana Noonan and Donovan Bixley.
  • Guest blog posts from Melinda Szymanik and Barbara Else.
  • Lots of NZ book reviews and promotions.
  • NZ book giveaways.

Make sure you check back in March to help celebrate New Zealand books, authors and illustrators.  You can also check the NZ Book Month website to see what is happening around the country throughout the month.

Don’t forget to pick up or download your $5-off voucher that you can put towards any book you buy in March.  For more info see the NZ Book Month website.

Leave a comment

Filed under authors, books, children, New Zealand, NZ Book Month 2013, young adult