Tag Archives: picture books

My Top September Kids & YA Releases

x298

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.

9781848124875

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?!

9780571330447.jpg

 

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.

9780734416636

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.

xdon-t-call-me-bear-.jpg.pagespeed.ic.mt1P6yIEvk

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!

Iron FIst

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.

SuperRabbit_Cover_med

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.

Don't Cross the Line_Cover_med

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?

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under books, children's fiction, new releases, picture books, young adult fiction

My Top August Kids & YA Releases

9781848125339

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.

9781760113360

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?

9781760113278

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?

9781848125698

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?

9781471405853

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?

9781408839560

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!

1464933986354

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.

1464934041287

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.

9781925355246

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.

9781743535004

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!

large_9781775433743

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!

GIraffe_cover-PAPERBACK-IB.indd

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.

Gus's Garage_Cover_med

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.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under books, children's fiction, children's nonfiction, new releases, picture books

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under author video, authors, books, Illustrators

My Top May Kids & YA Releases

 

9781760290641


 

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.

9781471403200

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.

9781471405105

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.

9781408878415.jpg

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.

9781408864821

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.

9781408869970.jpg

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.

TickleMyEars_Cover_HR_RGB

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!

y648

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?

y649

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.

y647.png

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…?

Leave a comment

Filed under books, children's fiction, new releases, picture books, young adult fiction

My Top April Kids and YA Releases

y450-293

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.

flawed

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.

World ends
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.

1457656550071
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.
1456878493905
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?

1094 LetsPlay_CVR_2.indd

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?

hot-pterodactyl-boyfriend-9781471144677_hr

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.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under books, children's fiction, new releases, picture books, young adult fiction

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!

1 Comment

Filed under books, children, picture books

Laugh out loud with Aaron Blabey

If you need a good laugh all you need to do is read a book by Aaron Blabey.

Aaron Blabey has become one of my favourite author/illustrators this year.  Not only are his books incredibly funny, he is also really prolific.  By the end of this year Aaron would have published 6 books through Scholastic!  This year he has given us Pig the Fibber (a follow-up to Pig the Pug), Thelma the Unicorn, Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas, I Need a Hug (released this month), and two episodes of his brilliant series for younger readers, The Bad Guys.  Every one of these books is a winner in my eyes.  I love Aaron’s sense of humour, which appeals to kids and adults alike.  His picture books are perfect to read aloud and I have shared them with kids from Year 1 to Year 8 this year, with resounding success.

I hope that we have many more Aaron Blabey books to look forward to next year.  Here are my two favourites from Aaron this year.

Piranhas

Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas

This is the story of Brian (love the name!) a Piranha who should like meat but much prefers fruit and veges.  His friends aren’t happy and try to put him on the right track.  He tries to persuade them that ‘fruit is the best’ but they would rather eat feet, knees and bums.  This is a hilarious read that has kids and adults cracking up.  The idea of the story is great and it works really well.  There is so much expression in both the text and the illustrations.  Brian is just so happy being who he is but the other piranhas get really frustrated with him trying to get them to eat fruit and veges.   I also like Aaron’s extra added features in the front and back of the book that explain all about piranhas and bananas.  This is a picture book that will be read again and again.

The Bad Guys

This is my favourite series of 2015.  It’s perfect for kids from ages 7-12 and has all the things that make Aaron’s picture books so great – a unique story, laughs galore and great illustrations.  Episode 1 introduces us to the ‘Bad Guys’ of the story, Mr Wolf, Mr Shark, Mr Piranha and Mr Snake.  They’re always portrayed as the bad guys, with their shark teeth and nasty natures, but all they want to do is be good guys.  Mr Wolf gathers his friends together and they come up with a plan to become good guys.  Nothing seems to go as they planned though.  In Episode 2 the bad guys are trying to make good again so they come up with a new plan – rescue 10,000 chickens from a high-tech cage farm.  This time they’re joined by a new guy, Legs, a computer genius tarantula.  He’s a good guy with a bad reputation too so he wants to help out and do something good.

The Bad Guys books are short, chock-full of illustrations (sort of like a comic), and absolutely hilarious!  I chuckled my way through these first two episodes and I’ll eagerly await more escapades of The Bad Guys.

Leave a comment

Filed under authors, books, children's fiction, funny, humourous, picture books

Perfect Picture Books from Nosy Crow

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – Nosy Crow books are spectacular!  They always publish the best picture books and their books for older children are getting better and better.  I reviewed some of my favourite Nosy Crow books back in August, including There’s a Bear in my Chair, Superhero Dad, and Use Your Imagination (you can read my review here).  One of my favourite authors, Barry Hutchison, has published a hilarious series with Nosy Crow, starting with The Shark-Headed Bear-Thing.  It’s one of my favourite books of 2015 and you can read my review here.

Nosy Crow publish so many great books that I’ve always got a book of theirs that I want to shout out about.  Here are four of my recent favourite Nosy Crow books.

Flip Flap Jungle by Axel Scheffler

Axel Scheffler is one of my favourite illustrators so it’s great that he’s so prolific. This is the third title in Axel Scheffler’s Flip Flap series (there’s also Flip Flap Safari and Flip Flap Farm).  It’s a zany flip book where you’ll meet animals you know and some you don’t know.  What do you get if you cross a leopard and an armadillo? Well that would be a leopadillo!  And what about a porcupine and a chameleon? Why a porceleon, obviously!  There is a wonderful rhyme accompanying each animal which are great by themselves but are even funnier when you mix the animals up.  These books are perfect for sharing one-on-one but they also work well with a big group (I’ve used them at Story Time in the library and the kids were laughing at my crazy creature creations). With 121 different combinations this book will keep kids entertained for ages!  See what weird and wonderful creatures you can come up with.  All of the Flip Flap books are also available as apps which are heaps of fun to play with.  You swipe the screen to create new animals and hear the poems read aloud, plus there are sound effects and jungle music.  Check out the Nosy Crow website for more details about the apps.

The Mystery of the Haunted Farm by Elys Dolan

I love Elys Dolan’s books!  Her previous books, Nuts in Space and Weasels, are hilarious and her illustrations are chock full of lots of quirky details (including references to spy and sci-fi movies).  Elys’ latest book, The Mystery of the Haunted Farm, is even better.  Strange and spooky things are happening down on the farm and Farmer Greg knows just who to call – Ghost Hunters.  The three little pigs are the best guys for the job, with the latest ghost-hunting gadgets, including the Scare-o-Meter and the Phantom Finder 5000.  The farm has a serious zombie duck problem and there are ghosts, vampires and mummies wandering around.  Strangely though, the Phantom Finder 5000 isn’t picking up any unusual activity.  Something fishy is going on and it’s up to the Three Little Pigs to find out what.  This is a brilliant book that kids will want to come back to again and again.  Elys has put so much detail into her illustrations and kids will have heaps of fun reading all the speech bubbles.  The text is hilarious and the humour works on several levels.  Adults will enjoy reading it just as much as the kids.  It’s a picture book that’s perfect for older readers to as they’ll get some of the references that younger children will miss.  I really like the size of this book too (it’s larger than usual, making it great for sharing).  Grab a copy of The Mystery of the Haunted Farm and check out Elys Dolan’s previous books too.

Box by Min Flyte and illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw

Box is a perfect picture book for pre-schoolers (and anyone who loves making stuff from old boxes).  Four toddlers find some boxes with toys inside them.  After playing with their toys for a while their attention turns to the boxes.  But what will they do with all those boxes?  They use their imaginations and turn their boxes into all sorts of exciting things.  This is a delightful story about all the fun that you can have with boxes.  There are lots of flaps (or boxes) to open and pull-out pages, giving children the sense of anticipation, wondering what might be inside the box.  There are boxes of all sizes, from little boxes to big boxes, and even boxes inside boxes.  The book even looks like a box, with a slot to look through.  Min Flyte’s text encourages children to participate in the story and Rosalind Beardshaw’s illustrations are adorable.

Poles Apart by Jeanne Willis and illustrated by Jarvis

Jeanne Willis is a prolific author and whenever I see her name on the cover of a picture book I know it will be a winner.  The combination of Jeanne’s story and Jarvis’ illustrations make Poles Apart a winner to me.  The story follows the Pilchard-Browns, a family of penguins who set out on a picnic and get incredibly lost and find themselves at the North Pole.  Everybody knows that penguins belong at the South Pole and when Mr White, the friendly polar bear finds them he decides to help them get home again.  We follow Mr White and the Pilchard-Browns as they pass through America, England, Italy, India and Australia before they finally make it home.  Then Mr White has to make the 12,430 mile journey all the way back home to the North Pole.  I loved following this funny penguin family and their helpful polar bear friend on their journey.  Jeanne Willis certainly makes the journey entertaining by adding little details, like saying hello in different languages as they pass through the countries.  The penguin children, Peeky, Poots and Pog keep you entertained with their silly antics too.  Jarvis’ illustrations take you on a colourful journey around the world and children will be able to spot the landmarks from the different countries.  Poles Apart is sure to be a book that will be read again and again.

Leave a comment

Filed under picture books

My Most Anticipated Kids & YA November New Releases

Harry Miller’s Run by David Almond, illustrated by Salvatore Rubbino (Walker Books)

Liam just wants to go out running with his mates – it’s not long till the Junior Great North Run, and there’s training to be done. But Mam needs him today, to help old Harry clear out his house. Harry knows a thing or two about running. When he was a lad, he says, he ran all the way from Newcastle to South Shields. “But Harry,” says Mam, “that’s thirteen miles!” Harry grins. “Different times,” he says. This is the story of that day: of sweltering heat, clattering boots, briny sea air and the heavenly taste of ice cream; the day when Harry and his pals ran and ran and ran through the blazing sunlight all the way to the sea.

Fairytales for Mr Barker by Jessica Ahlberg (Walker Books)

Peep through the holes in this delightful fairytale adventure.

“Once upon a time, there was a troll,” says Lucy. But Mr Barker isn’t listening. He’s off on his own fairytale adventure. Who will he and Lucy meet and will their story end happily ever after?

Illuminae: The Illuminae Files 1 by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Allen and Unwin)

The year is 2575, and two rival mega-corporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, exes Kady and Ezra – who are barely even talking to each other – are forced to fight their way onto the evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But the warship is the least of their problems. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results. The fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what the hell is going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

The Grunts on the Run by Philip Ardagh, illustrated by Axel Scheffler (Allen and Unwin)

Over the years, the Gruntshave made more than a few enemies. But fortunately they’re all safely behind bars. Or are they? There’s been a prison break-out, and three of them are after REVENGE. It’s time for the Grunts to go On the Run. This last book brings back some familiar faces from the series and solves a couple of mysteries too.

The Imaginary by A.F. Harrold, illustrated by Emily Gravett (Allen and Unwin)

Rudger is Amanda Shuffleup’s imaginary friend. It’s a funny old life, not actually being there, but someone’s got to do it.

Nobody else can see Rudger – until the sinister Mr Bunting arrives at Amanda’s door. Mr Bunting hunts imaginaries. Rumour says that he eats them. And he’s sniffed out Rudger.

Soon Rudger is alone, and running for his imaginary life. He needs to find Amanda before Mr Bunting catches him – and before Amanda forgets him and he fades away to nothing. But how can an unreal boy stand alone in the real world?

Stripes No, Spots! by Vasanti Unka (Penguin Random House)

Tiger claims that stripes are best. Leopard insists that spots are tops. Their squabble turns into a quarrel; the quarrel becomes a battle; and, by lunchtime, the jungle is a complete mess.

Monkey calls a meeting of the Jungle Council and all the animals put their heads together to come up with a plan. Their cunningly stylish way of resolving matters will bring out the best in everyone . . . well, almost everyone.

Cool Nukes by Des Hunt (Scholastic NZ)

Professor Walter Mayhew has always been weird, but an explosion in his backyard lab sends him over the edge. Soon afterwards he disappears in bizarre circumstances. Then three of his youngest and cleverest students – thirteen-year-olds Max, Jian Xin , and Cleo – start getting cryptic messages which seem to be the plans for a nuclear device – one that could solve all of mankind’s energy problems.

At first they welcome the opportunity to make something spectacular for the upcoming ExpoFest science fair. But this machine, if it works, will be worth a fortune, and Max soon becomes the target of a criminal gang. As the day of the ExpoFest approaches, the pressure increases until Max is forced to choose between completing the task or saving the life of his best friend.

The Bloodtree Chronicles: Bragonsthyme by Elizabeth Pulford (Scholastic NZ)

When the Bloodtree loses its last leaf, there will be no more stories in the Silvering Kingdom . . .

The Silvering Kingdom is the home of fairy tales but the kingdom and all those within are in danger of vanishing because the Bloodtree – the source of all stories – has been poisoned.

In Book 2 of the series, Bragonsthyme’s story is frozen in time. It is up to Abigail (Spindale) and Flint to track down the story’s happy ending by finding the dark master Treolle’s last words, thus helping the Bloodtree to heal.

The Roly-Poly Baby by Catherine Foreman (Scholastic NZ)

The roly-poly baby rolls through the house, past her cat, her sleeping grandad, her mum and older siblings in the kitchen, then outside into the elements and the autumn leaves, and then back into her mother’s arms for her evening bath.

The Bad Guys: Episode 2 – Mission Unpluckable by Aaron Blabey (Scholastic NZ)

The Bad Guys are back with a daring plan to rescue 10,000 chickens from a high-security cage farm! But how do you rescue chickens when one of you is known as The Chicken Swallower? Join The Bad Guys as they return for more dodgy good deeds with a new member of the team. And watch out for the super villain who might just be the end of them! Good deeds. Whether you like it or not…

Liquidator by Andy Mulligan (David Fickling Books)

LIQUIDATOR! The brand-new, delicious and wildly popular energy drink. “For those who wanna win!” The company that makes it is set to earn a fortune, with its global launch climaxing at an international rock concert that will SHAKE the planet. The only problem?An innocent child is dying. Meet Vicky and her class-mates – their work experience is about to spin totally out of control as they uncover a secret that could change the world. And put them all in mortal danger.

Olive of Groves by Katrina Nannestad, illustrated by Lucia Masciullo

Olive has always dreamed of attending boarding school, but Mrs Groves’ Boarding School for Naughty Boys, Talking Animals and Circus Performers is not what she expected. To tell the truth, dear reader, it is not what anyone expected!

The headmistress is completely bonkers and Pig McKenzie, school bully and all-round nasty swine, is determined to make Olive’s life unbearable.

Olive, however, is clever, sweet and kind, and soon gains the loyalty and devotion of three rats, a short-sighted moose, a compulsive liar and a goose who faints at the sight of cherries.

But will friendship and wits be enough when Pig McKenzie puts his Truly Wicked Plan into gear? Or will Olive be cast out of Groves forever?

 

Leave a comment

Filed under children's fiction, new releases, New Zealand, picture books, young adult fiction

My Favourite NZ Books for Kids and Teens

I love New Zealand books and I’m happy to shout it from the rooftops.  We have so many wonderful, talented authors and illustrators here in NZ who write for kids of all ages.  My personal mission, as a librarian and a blogger is to spread the word about New Zealand books and get as many kids (and adults) reading them as possible.  I’ve also had the absolute joy of judging our New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, which really highlighted the breadth of literature that we have here in New Zealand for our young people.

I’ve read and reviewed many NZ books here on My Best Friends Are Books over the years.  I’ve got so many favourite books that I come back to again and again (especially picture books).  Here are just a few of my favourite NZ books for kids and teens, along with the links to my reviews if you want to know more about them:

There are many more fantastic books that I’ve missed off this list, so it is no way complete.  I have a New Zealand category here on the blog so if you want to find more New Zealand content click on the category on the right hand side of the page.

Leave a comment

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