Tag Archives: picture books

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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Do Not Open This Book by Andy Lee

I love interactive picture books that beg readers to be part of the story.  They make you feel like the story couldn’t work without you.  Do Not Open This Book written by Andy Lee (one half of Australian comedy duo Hamish and Andy) and illustrated by Heath McKenzie is a brilliant new example of this type of picture book and it’s guaranteed to make kids laugh-out-loud.

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Do Not Open This Book begins with a strange little blue creature who is surprised that you’ve opened the book, especially since there was a warning on the front cover.  He asks the reader not to turn the page, but this is exactly what you want to do.  As the book goes on, he becomes more and more desperate, begging, pleading, threatening and sulking, before he finally reveals that if the reader reaches the final page, something terrible will happen.

I absolutely love Do Not Open This Book!  It is one of those books that is incredibly fun to read aloud and it never gets old or boring, no matter how many times you read it.  I’ve read this book aloud many, many times to the kids at my school, from new entrants through to the Year 6 kids, and they all love it.  I have kids queuing up to take this book home and I’m sure they would all be quite happy if I read it to them every time they came to the library.  Even though I love reading it to kids it’s even better when I hear some of the senior kids reading it aloud to each other.

The best thing about Do Not Open This Book is the perfect combination of the text and illustrations.  The story would be funny without illustrations but Heath McKenzie’s illustrations just add so much more humour to the story.  Heath’s character (which looks like a blue egg with long arms and legs) has a very expressive face.  The look of horror on the character’s face when  you do turn the page (even though he told you not to) or his face going purple because he is so exasperated that you keep turning the page just makes kids crack up laughing.  I have to stop myself from cracking up too every time I read it.

Do Not Open This Book is going to get read to death in my library and it is a must-have for your school or home.  You will be begging your kids to let you read this book to them.

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Maui and Other Maori Legends by Peter Gossage

For kids in New Zealand today there are lots of books in Te Reo Maori and retellings of Maori legends that they can enjoy, but when I was a kid there weren’t many around.  The Maori myths and legends that I was introduced to as a kid were those that were retold and illustrated by Peter Gossage.  Through Peter’s books I learned all about how Maui fished up New Zealand, how he discovered fire and how he slowed the sun. As an adult I love these books because the text is simple and the illustrations are striking. Penguin Random House NZ are releasing a very special collection of Peter’s stories this month.

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Maui and Other Maori Legends collects 8 of Peter’s beloved Maori myths, including Battle of the Mountains, The Fish of Maui, How Maui Slowed the Sun and Pania of the Reef. They are presented in a beautiful hardback that will with-stand the many readings that it is sure to have. The copies in my library have been very well loved by kids right from Year 1 to Year 8.  Their readability for any age is one of the things I love most about Peter’s retellings.

Every classroom and library needs to have this collection as it will be an invaluable resource.

 

 

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Gus’s Garage by Leo Timmers

I’m a huge fan of Leo Timmers.  I always look forward to his books because they are so clever.  There are so many layers to the illustrations and you find something different every time you read his books.  Leo’s latest book from Gecko Press is Gus’s Garage and it is terrific!

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Gus the pig runs a garage.  Gus stores all sorts of stuff in his garage, stuff that looks like rubbish, but when his friends need help, he always has just the right thing for them. It’s up to the reader to figure out what stuff Gus might use to help his friends.  He certainly is one very clever pig.  Rico the rhino comes by on his moped and says ‘Gus, this seat – I’m overflowing.’ Gus looks through his bits and bobs and attaches an old seat that he has to Rico’s moped.  This carries on throughout the book until Gus has reused everything in his pile of stuff.

Gus’s Garage is another brilliant picture book from Leo Timmers.  It is a picture book that is both entertaining and gets kids thinking.  It makes them wonder what Gus will use from his pile of stuff to come up with a solution for his friends and then what might Gus’s final product be.  I love the sense of anticipation as you turn the page to find out what Gus has done.  I also love Gus’s refrain, ‘Let’s see. I have some bits and bobs. This goes with that. There. Just the job.’

One of the things that I love the most about Leo’s illustrations are the vibrant colours that he uses.  His illustrations seem to shine on the pages. There are lots of details to take in on each page. Something I only noticed on my third or fourth reading was that the sky gets darker and darker throughout the story as the day gets later.

Gus’s Garage is a picture book that will be begged to be read again and again.

 

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My Top September Kids & YA Releases

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Demon Road: Amercian Monsters by Derek Landy

The epic conclusion in the mind-blowing supernatural thriller from bestselling author DEREK LANDY, creator of international sensation Skulduggery Pleasant.

Bigger, meaner, stronger, Amber closes in on her murderous parents as they make one last desperate play for power. Her own last hopes of salvation, however, rest beyond vengeance, beyond the abominable killers – living and dead – that she and Milo will have to face.

For Amber’s future lies in her family’s past, in the brother and sister she never knew, and the horrors beyond imagining that befell them.

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Jim Reaper: Son of Grim by Rachel Delahaye

You might have heard how the universe began with the Big Bang? Well, the universe as Jim Wimple knows it is about to end. With a Bazoom!

Not only are Bazoom! scooters super fast and deadly cool, but fierce (and swoonsome) older girl Fiona has just started riding hers to and from school, and possibly out of Jim’s life forever. Disaster! Jim Wimple needs a Bazoom!, and fast. So he and his best friend Will devise a clever scheme, which involves having to sneak into Dad’s workplace. But when the boys break into the Mallet & Mullet ‘accountancy’ office they find that the walls are lined with ancient portraits, the staff are highly secretive, and Jim’s dad’s office bears the sign ‘G Reaper’… And then all hell really breaks loose.

What would YOU do if you thought your dad might be… Death?!

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Highly Illogical Behaviour by John Corey Whaley

Sixteen year old Solomon has agoraphobia. He hasn’t left his house in three years, which is fine by him. At home, he is the master of his own kingdom–even if his kingdom doesn’t extend outside of the house. Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to go to a top tier psychiatry program. She’ll do anything to get in. When Lisa finds out about Solomon’s solitary existence, she comes up with a plan sure to net her a scholarship: befriend Solomon. Treat his condition. And write a paper on her findings. To earn Solomon’s trust, Lisa begins letting him into her life, introducing him to her boyfriend Clark, and telling him her secrets. Soon, Solomon begins to open up and expand his universe. But all three teens have grown uncomfortably close, and when their facades fall down, their friendships threaten to collapse as well.

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The Turners: Camp Freakout by Mick Elliott

Leo Lennox has made a mistake. A massive, world-altering mistake. Now, the secret his shape-shifter ancestors have kept hidden for thousands of years is in danger of being discovered – all because he insisted on going to school camp.

It’s no place for a thirteen-year-old Turner still struggling to control his ability to transform into animals. Surrounded every minute of every day by his classmates – including his secret crush, and a pair of terrifying bullies – Leo is going to find out just how much he still has to learn.But when he discovers a fiendish plot, Leo realises that surviving camp is going to be the least of his worries.

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Don’t Call Me Bear! by Aaron Blabey

G’day, my name is Warren, and I’ve got something to share …Just because I’m furry doesn’t mean that I’m a bear.

Warren the koala is many things–a marsupial, cute and furry, a bit of a grump–but the one thing he’s not is a bear!

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The Inventory: Iron Fist by Andy Briggs

Hiding the most advanced technology and weapons to keep the world a safer place is a good idea. Storing ALL of them in one place? That’s when the trouble starts. Hidden under a small suburban town The Inventory is a collection of the most incredible technology the world is NOT ready for: invisible camouflage, HoverBoots, indestructible metals and a giant battle robot just for starters. Lots’ Dad is the mild-mannered curator of The Inventory, and she gets to see some CRAZY things. The Russian “Iron Fist” is a colossal war robot, built during the Cold War. Once the Iron Curtain fell, the mechanical giant was written out of history and kept secret in The Inventory – now it has been stolen, along with some other serious tech. Alerted to the missing items The Inventory, usually devoid of people, is flooded with mission teams setting out to follow the trail of the thieves, only to be stranded and locked out of communication. Using invisibility camouflage, the thieves have hidden inside and now they’re in control. Alone on the inside, Lots must find a way to get her Dad and The Inventory teams back and stop the anonymous thieves.

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Super Rabbit by Stephanie Blake

Once there was a little rabbit… “I’m not a LITTLE rabbit! I’m Super Rabbit!”

Simon is not afraid of anything. He’s Super Rabbit! But one day when he goes out to save the world, he comes across a situation he wasn’t expecting.

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Don’t Cross the Line by Bernardo Carvalho, illustrated by Isabel Martins

The guard always follows the general’s orders without question. This time,
the order is that no one must cross the line. The right-hand page of this
book must be kept blank for the general.

As the crowd builds up on the border, the guard is under pressure. If no one
is allowed onto the next page, what will happen to the story?

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My Top August Kids & YA Releases

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Marge in Charge by Isla Fisher

Jemima and Jake’s new babysitter doesn’t look too promising. In fact she looks very sensible, very old and VERY small (she only comes up to daddy’s armpit!). But the moment their parents leave the house, Marge gives a mischievous wink, takes off her hat and reveals a marvellous mane of rainbow-coloured hair!

Marge really is a babysitter like no other and the children spend a wild evening with her – racing snails, slurping chocolate soup and mixing potions in the bath! But if Jake and Jemima want her to babysit again it’s time for them to take charge of Marge, tidy up and settle her down for a little sleep.

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The Boundless Sublime by Lili Wilkinson

Ruby Jane Galbraith is empty. Her family has been torn apart and it’s all her fault.

The only thing that makes sense to her is Fox – a gentle new friend who is wise, soulful and clever, yet oddly naive about the ways of the world. He understands what she’s going through and he offers her a chance to find peace. Fox belongs to a group called the Institute of the Boundless Sublime – and Ruby can’t stay away from him. So she is also drawn into what she discovers is a terrifying, secretive community that is far from the ideal world she expected.

Can Ruby find the courage to escape? Is there any way she can save Fox too? And is there ever an escape from the far-reaching influence of the Institute of the Boundless Sublime?

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Promising Azra by Helen Thurloe

Azra is sixteen, smart and knows how to get what she wants. She thinks. When she wins a place in a national science competition, she thinks her biggest problem is getting her parents’ permission to go. But she doesn’t know they’re busy arranging her marriage to an older cousin she’s never met. In Pakistan. In just three months’ time.

Azra always thought she’d finish high school with her friends and then go on to study science, but now her dreams of university are suddenly overshadowed. Can she find a way to do what she wants, while keeping her parents happy?

Or does being a good daughter mean sacrificing her freedom?

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A Message to the Sea by Alex Shearer

It’s been a year since Tom Pellow’s dad was lost at sea. He was a sailor and Tom also finds himself drawn to the vast ocean; it holds so many possibilities, dangers and secrets. After hearing a song on the radio, Tom decides to write a message in a bottle, and throw it out into the sea. To ‘cast his bread upon the waters’. He doesn’t really expect to hear back, but Tom keeps writing anyway, sending messages out on the tide and searching the waves for a reply. One day he finds one. It’s a letter that seems to be from a ghost, deep down in Davy Jones’s Locker – and the writer has a shocking answer to Tom’s question.

But if Tom’s dad didn’t perish at sea, where is he?

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With Malice by Eileen Cook

When Jill wakes up in a hospital bed with her leg in a cast, the last six weeks of her life are a complete blank. All she has been told is that she was involved in a fatal accident while on a school trip in Italy and had to be jetted home to receive intensive care. Care that involves a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident… wasn’t just an accident.

With no memory of what happened or what she did, can Jill prove her innocence? And can she really be sure that she isn’t the one to blame?

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The Great Dragon Bake Off by Nicola O’Byrne

At the Ferocious Dragon Academy, dragons-in-training learn the arts of bone crunching and teeth sharpening. But there is one dragon who harbours a passion for a most undragon-like pastime . . .

Meet Flamie Oliver. To look at, Flamie is as terrifying as a dragon can get. But behind closed doors, Flamie is . . . a stupendously spectacular Star Baker! That’s right – choux, rough, salty, sweet and puff – Flamie loves it all. In fact, he loves baking so much that his studies at the Ferocious Dragon Academy are starting to suffer, and there’s a chance he won’t graduate! Flamie’s going to need a real showstopper to get out of this one.

On your marks, get set . . . BAKE!

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Good Night Everyone by Chris Haughton

A series of exquisitely coloured cut pages of increasing size introduce woodland families – bears, deer, rabbits and teeny, tiny mice – who are all beginning to feel really… rather… tired… YAWN! “Dear me,” says Great Big Bear, “it must be time for bed!” But Little Bear is certainly not sleepy – he’s wide awake! (For now…) With sublime, starry night time scenes and an infectious yawny ‘Good night’ refrain, Chris Haughton creates a lulling bedtime read, perfect for parents and children to share together.

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Geis: A Matter of Life and Death by Alexis Deacon

Book one in gripping action, supernatural and historical fantasy graphic novel trilogy where souls battle in a contest to become the ruler of an island.

As the great chief matriarch lay dying, she gave one final decree: Upon her death there would be a contest. Having no heir of her own blood she called on the Gods. Let fate decide the one truly worthy to rule in her place. The rich, the strong, the wise, the powerful; many put forward their names in hope of being chosen. But when the night came… only fifty souls alone were summoned.

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The Curiosity Machine by Richard Newsome

With the strange plans for an even stranger machine in his possession, along with a coded message from a long-dead castaway that could be the key to unlocking its secrets, Gerald finds himself at the centre of a web of mystery and danger.

Masked gunmen have taken over his luxury yacht. His parents have been kidnapped. And one of his closest friends has betrayed him.

His old enemy Sir Mason Green seems to be pulling all the strings.

Or is he?

Gerald, Ruby, Sam and Felicity take off on their final exciting adventure, from glaciers to jungles and the depths of the Pacific Ocean to an island teeming with the most bizarre creatures on earth.

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The 78-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton

Join Andy and Terry in their spectacular new 78-storey treehouse. They’ve added 13 new levels including a drive-thru car wash, a combining machine, a scribbletorium, an ALL-BALL sports stadium, Andyland, Terrytown, a high-security potato chip storage facility and an open-air movie theatre. Well, what are you waiting for? Come on up!

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Barking Mad by Tom E. Moffatt

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!

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Yours Sincerely, Giraffe by Megumi Iwasa, illustrated by Jun Takabatake

Giraffe is bored, as usual. He’d love a friend to share things with. So he writes a letter and sends it as far as possible across the other side of the horizon. There he finds a pen pal—Penguin.

Giraffe knows nothing about penguins and his letters are full of questions. What does a penguin look like? Where is a penguin’s neck?

And so the letters begin to fly from horizon to horizon.

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Gus’s Garage by Leo Timmers

One by one Gus’s friends bring him their vehicles and Gus solves their troubles with ingenious solutions—a cooling system made with a fridge that doubles as ice-cream machine, a burst of speed from a rocket blaster.

Soon the workshop is almost empty, but the last scraps might be just enough to solve Gus’s own problem at the end of a long day.

 

 

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Aaron Blabey talks about his work

Aaron Blabey is my idol.  If there is one person in the world I wish I was it would be him.  He is one very talented guy who creates some of the funniest books for kids.  He can write and illustrate stories for all ages and in different forms, whether it’s picture books like Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas or novels for older readers like The Bad Guys.

I found this wonderful video on YouTube of Aaron Blabey talking about his work with the brilliant people at Story Box Library.  Watch it and find out about the magic behind Aaron’s stories.

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My Top May Kids & YA Releases

 

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Ruined by Amy Tintera

Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war; her parents were killed and her sister was kidnapped. Even though Em is only a useless Ruined – completely lacking any magic – she is determined to get revenge.

Her plan is simple: She will infiltrate the enemy’s kingdom, posing as the crown prince’s betrothed. She will lead an ambush. She will kill the king and everyone he holds dear, including his son.

The closer Em gets to the prince, though, the more she questions her mission. Her rage-filled heart begins to soften. But with her life – and her family – on the line, love could be Em’s deadliest mistake.

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The Dog, Ray by Linda Coggin

Twelve-year-old Daisy has just died in a car crash. But in a twist of fate, and through a heavenly bureaucratic mistake, Daisy ends up not where she is supposed to be – but in the body of a dog. Daisy may now be inhabiting a dog’s body, but inside she is still very much Daisy, and is as bouncy, loyal, positive and energetic as she ever was.

Daisy’s only thought is to somehow be reunited with her parents, whom she knows will be missing her. This is how she meets Pip, a boy who is homeless and on his own journey, and a lasting, tender and very moving friendship between boy and dog/girl is formed.

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The Girl from Every Where by Heidi Heilig

Sixteen-year-old Nix Song is a time-traveller. She, her father and their crew of time refugees travel the world aboard The Temptation, a glorious pirate ship stuffed with treasures both typical and mythical. Old maps allow Nix and her father to navigate not just to distant lands, but distant times – although a map will only take you somewhere once. And Nix’s father is only interested in one time, and one place: Honolulu 1868. A time before Nix was born, and her mother was alive. Something that puts Nix’s existence rather dangerously in question . . .

Nix has grown used to her father’s obsession, but only because she’s convinced it can’t work. But then a map falls into her father’s lap that changes everything. And when Nix refuses to help, her father threatens to maroon Kashmir, her only friend (and perhaps, only love) in a time where Nix will never be able to find him. And if Nix has learned one thing, it’s that losing the person you love is a torment that no one can withstand. Nix must work out what she wants, who she is, and where she really belongs before time runs out on her forever.

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The Bombs That Brought Us Together by Brian Conaghan

Fourteen-year-old Charlie Law has lived in Little Town, on the border with Old Country, all his life. He knows the rules: no going out after dark; no drinking; no litter; no fighting. You don’t want to get on the wrong side of the people who run Little Town. When he meets Pavel Duda, a refugee from Old Country, the rules start to get broken. Then the bombs come, and the soldiers from Old Country, and Little Town changes for ever.

Sometimes, to keep the people you love safe, you have to do bad things. As Little Town’s rules crumble, Charlie is sucked into a dangerous game. There’s a gun, and a bad man, and his closest friend, and his dearest enemy.

Charlie Law wants to keep everyone happy, even if it kills him. And maybe it will.

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Are You Sitting Comfortably? by Leigh Hodgkinson

Hello there! Are you sitting comfortably? Are you sure?

Have you found the perfect snuggle-up-and-lose-yourself-in-a-book place?

Somewhere comfy, NOT itchy-fuzzy? Somewhere quiet, NOT buzz-buzzy?

You have? Great!

Unfortunately the little chap in this book isn’t having quite as much luck as you are.

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The Genius Factor: How to Capture an Invisible Cat by Paul Tobin

Every Friday the 13th, 6th-grade genius Nate Bannister does three not-so-smart things to keep life interesting. This time, he taught a caterpillar to read, mailed a love letter, and super-sized his cat Proton before turning him invisible. Now Proton is on the loose, and Nate and his new friend Delphine must reverse the experiment before the cat crushes everything and everybody in town.

As if that’s not enough, the Red Death Tea Society, known for its criminal activity, killer tactics, and tea brewing skills, is plotting against Nate and Delphine. The dynamic duo must use their creativity, courage and friendship to save the day.

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Tickle My Ears by Jorg Muhle

It’s getting late and Little Rabbit must go to bed. Can you help him?

When Little Rabbit asks “Tickle My Ears?” a wonderful new bedtime ritual begins:

Clap your hands, fluff the pillow, give Little Rabbit’s ears a tickle, stroke his back, pull up the covers and a goodnight kiss. And don’t forget to turn out the light: here’s the switch!

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Olive of Groves and the Great Slurp of Time by Katrina Nannestad, illustrated by Lucia Masciullo

Olive is gobsmacked. Basil Heffenhuffenheimer has just hiked out of the Black Forest in 1857 and into Mrs Groves’ Boarding School for Naughty Boys, Talking Animals and Circus Performers. When he offers to take Olive into the past, she cannot resist a time-travelling adventure. After all, what could possibly go wrong?
Plenty, dear reader. Plenty!

When Olive and her friends return to the present with a hungry dinosaur, an Elizabethan pirate and a scissor-happy servant boy, strange and disturbing things start to happen at Groves. Furthermore, ‘new’ student, Pigg McKenzie, is taking an uncomfortable interest in the dangers and disasters of time travel. Can Basil and Olive keep control of their adventures, or will the Time Slurp and a certain villainous pig have their wicked way?

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Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

Dinah is a princess, the future Queen of Hearts, who will one day reign over Wonderland. Unaware of the dark depths of her kingdom; she longs only for her father’s approval and to reign with the boy she loves. But when a betrayal breaks her heart and threatens her throne, Dinah is launched into the dangers of Wonderland. She must stay one step ahead of her enemies or she’ll lose not just the crown, it will be off with her head! Evil is brewing in Wonderland, and maybe, most frighteningly, in Dinah herself. The first in an epic, imaginative series tells the origin of one of the most infamous villains – the Queen of Hearts.

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The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight

Imagine if you could see inside the minds of everyone around you – your best friend, your boyfriend, your enemies…? Imagine how valuable you’d be… Imagine how much danger you’d be in… Imagine being an Outlier. It all starts with a text: Please Wylie, I need your help. Wylie hasn’t heard from her one time best friend, Cassie, in over a week. Not since their last fight. But that doesn’t matter. Cassie’s in trouble, and it’s up to Wylie to do what she does best, save her best friend from herself. This time it’s different though – Cassie’s texts are increasingly cryptic and scary. And instead of having Wylie come by herself, Jasper shows up saying Cassie asked him to help. Trusting the super-hot boy who sent Cassie off the rails doesn’t feel right, but Wylie has no choice. But as Wylie and Jasper follow Cassie’s bizarre trail, Wylie has a growing sense that something is REALLY wrong. What isn’t Cassie telling them? Who is she with and what do they want from her? And could finding her be just the beginning…?

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My Top April Kids and YA Releases

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Demon Road: Desolation by Derek Landy

Reeling from their bloody encounter in New York City at the end of Demon Road, Amber and Milo flee north. On their trail are the Hounds of Hell – five demonic bikers who will stop at nothing to drag their quarries back to their unholy master.Amber and Milo’s only hope lies within Desolation Hill – a small town with a big secret; a town with a darkness to it, where evil seeps through the very floorboards. Until, on one night every year, it spills over onto the streets and all hell breaks loose. And that night is coming.

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Flawed by Cecelia Ahern

Celestine North lives a perfect life. She’s a model daughter and sister, she’s well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she’s dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation in which she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule and now faces life-changing repercussions. She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found FLAWED.

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This is Where the World Ends by Amy Zhang

Micah and Janie, Janie and Micah. That’s how it’s been ever since elementary school, when Janie Vivian moved in next door to Micah. Janie says Micah is everything she is not. Where Micah is shy, Janie is outgoing. Where Micah loves music, Janie loves art. The way Janie sees it, Micah and Janie share a soul. They’ll be best friends forever – as long as no one at school knows about it.

Janie and Micah are secret friends. They spend their free time together at the quarry, a pile of rocks Janie dubs the ‘Metaphor for Our Lives.’ At school, Janie pretends she and Micah are only neighbors and barely acquaintances. But when Janie is date raped by the most popular guy in school – the boy she has had a crush on for years – she finds herself ostracised by all the people she called her friends. Now only Micah seems to believe she’s telling the truth. But when even Micah expresses doubts about Janie’s honesty, it leads to disastrous consequences, and Janie Vivian goes missing.

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Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
Raymie Clarke has come to realise that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. If Raymie can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then her father – who has run away with a dental hygienist – will see Raymie’s picture in the paper and (maybe) come home. To win, not only does Raymie have to do good deeds and learn how to twirl a baton, but she has to compete with the wispy, frequently fainting Louisiana Elefante with her show-business background and the fiery, stubborn Beverly Tapinski, who’s determined to sabotage the contest. But as the competition approaches, loneliness, loss and unanswerable questions draw the three girls into an unlikely friendship – and challenge them to come to each other’s rescue in unexpected ways.
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Twenty Questions for Gloria by Martyn Bedford

It started with an appearance, not a disappearance.

Gloria is tired of her ordinary life. She barely recognises the free-spirited girl she used to be in the unadventurous teenager she has become. So when a mysterious boy bent on breaking the rules strolls into her classroom, Gloria is ready to fall under his spell. Uman is funny, confident and smart. He does whatever he likes and doesn’t care what anyone thinks of him. The only people for him are the mad ones, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing but burn, burn, burn. He is everything Gloria wishes to be. He can whisk her away from the life she loathes and show her a more daring, more exciting one, in which the only limits are the boundaries of her own boldness. But Uman in not all he seems and by the time she learns the truth about him, she is a long way from home and everyone wants to know, where’s Gloria?

haters

The Haters by Jesse Andrews

Wes and Corey are convinced nothing cool can come of their lame summer at jazz camp, when along comes Ash – all blonde hair and brash words – and cracks their world wide open. Finally, something they can’t seem to hate. When Ash convinces them that a great musician is made on the road, the three friends flee camp and begin an epic, hilarious road trip: The Haters 2016 Summer of Hate Tour.

Amid sneaking into seedy bars, evading their parents and the police, and spending every minute together in a makeshift tour bus, romance blossoms and bursts, and hygiene takes a back seat. Wes begins to realise the limitations of hating everything: it keeps you at a convenient distance from something, or someone, you just might love.

When you can find something to hate about every band, how do you make a sound you love?

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Let’s Play by Herve Tullet

Hi there, do you want to play?

Join the yellow dot on an adventure of colour and movement, surprise and imagination.

A fantastic companion to Press Here and Mix it Up!

Dave's Cave

Dave’s Cave by Frann Preston-Gannon

Dave loves his cave. Inside is decorated EXACTLY the way he likes it. Outside there is a lovely spot for a fire and the grass is always lovely and green. But, Dave is unhappy. What if there might be an even better cave out there? And off he sets in search of a new home. But it turns out that good caves are hard to find. They’re either too small, or too big, or too full of bats, until he finds one that looks MUCH more promising. Outside has the perfect space for a fire and the grass is greener than any he’s ever seen… But why does it look so familiar?

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Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend by Alan Cumyn

Sheils is very happy with her perfectly controlled life. She’s smart, powerful, the Student Body Chair, and has a doting boyfriend. What more could a girl ask for? But everything changes when the first-ever interspecies transfer student, a pterodactyl named Pyke, enrolls at her school. There’s something about him – something primal – that causes the students to lose control whenever he’s around.

When Pyke’s band plays at the Autumn Whirl dance, his music sends the whole school into a literal frenzy. The next day no one can even remember what happened at the dance, but Shiels learns that she danced far too long with Pyke, her nose has turned purple, and she may have done … something that she shouldn’t have. Who is this winged boy, with incredible pecs and rock star talent that has swooped in on her carefully constructed life?

Special Ones

The Special Ones by Em Bailey

He keeps us here because we’re Special. Esther is one of the Special Ones – four people who live under his protection in a remote farmhouse. The Special Ones are not allowed to leave, but why would they want to? Here, they are safe from toxic modern life, safe from a meaningless existence, safe in their endless work. He watches them every moment of every day, ready to punish them if they forget who they are – all while broadcasting their lives to eager followers on the outside. Esther knows he will renew her if she stops being Special, and that renewal almost certainly means death. Yet she also knows she’s a fake. She has no ancient wisdom, no genuine advice to offer her followers. But like an actor caught up in an endless play, she must keep up the performance – if she wants to survive long enough to escape.
What Dog Knows cover
What Dog Knows by Sylvia Vanden-Heede and Marije Tolman

When Wolf finds a fact-filled book in the library, he thinks he will at last  outsmart his clever friend, Dog.

The two friends spar as they learn all about mummies and skeletons; robots, knights, and pirates; dinosaurs and dragons; rockets and the moon. As always with Wolf and Dog, there is just as much to learn about getting along together; about friends and enemies, food and fleas.

 

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My Top 10 Picture Books of 2015

This year has been another great year for picture books.  There has been a good mix of laugh-out-loud picture books to read aloud to groups and picture books with lots of details to share one-on-one.  Below is my list of favourite picture books from 2015 (some with links to my reviews).  I’ve been doing lots of school visits in my library role this year and most of the books below have been real winners with the kids I’ve read them to.  Some of them I didn’t get a chance to review (these I’ve elaborated on) but they have proved to be very popular.

  1. Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas by Aaron Blabey
  2. Little Red Riding Hood (Not Quite) by Yvonne Morrison and Donovan Bixley
  3. The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers
  4. I Want Spaghetti by Stephanie Blake
  5. My Dead Bunny by Sigi Cohen and James Foley
  6. The Mystery of the Haunted Farm by Elys Dolan
  7. Thelma the Unicorn by Aaron Blabey – another winner from Aaron Blabey.  This was the book that got me hooked on his stories.  It’s about a pony called Thelma, who really wants to be a unicorn.  She discovers that fame isn’t all that its cracked up to be and that being yourself is more important.  Boys have groaned when they have first seen it but they laugh along with the story too.
  8. The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton – for a debut picture book this is absolutely brilliant!  Princess Pinecone wants to be a warrior and she needs a big, strong, fast horse to help her.  Her parents don’t get her wishes quite right and she ends up with a short, fat little pony that farts a lot.  This little pony might not be what she asked for but together they become a great team, and help the meanest warriors show their cuddly sides.  Kids from Year 1-8 have all loved this book and I never get sick of reading it aloud.
  9. Imaginary Fred by Eoin Colfer and Oliver Jeffers – Two huge names come together to bring imaginary friends to life.  It’s a quirky, funny and absolutely stunning book.  Fred is the best imaginary friend you could ask for, but he always finds that he isn’t needed anymore and he fades away.  Then one day, a boy called Sam wishes for a friend and everything changes.  It’s a book that I want to share and tell everyone about.  The only downside is that it is too long to read to a group of children.  I love it though and it will be one that I’ll read again and again.  Check out the book trailer here.
  10. The Cow Tripped Over the Moon by Tony Wilson – I always enjoy retellings of fairy tales and nursery rhymes and this book is a hilarious take on Hey Diddle Diddle.  The cow tries again and again to jump over the moon but she keeps messing up.  She trips over the moon, crashes into the moon, and sails straight over the moon, but she is determined to do it.  It’s a perfect book to share with pre-schoolers and it will have them laughing out loud.  It had me in stitches!

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