Thursday, December 1, 2016

A great Christmas book for 4-6 year olds

Hare by Deborah Hinde (PictureBook Publishing)

I showed this book to my writers’ group and they all oohed and aahed over it. Illustrator Heather Arnold thought the art work very captivating and said it was an excellent example of artwork and white space, as well as contrasting pages. She also liked the creative way Deborah incorporated speech bubbles. We thought Deborah had cleverly introduced extra story into the art and speech bubbles for the adult reading the story to the child too. For example, the tortoise worrying the lost idea was going to be a race referring to the fable ‘The Hare and the Tortoise’, and the rabbit being indignant that the hare was taking over his/her job and then being delighted when it is presented with its first Easter egg.

The story premise is that Hare has lost his idea. [How many of us can relate to that?] The animals in the forest ask for descriptions but the Hare has no idea. The animals help him look for it, but they only come back with things they’ve found littering the forest. In frustration the hare goes back to where he lost his idea and finds it. Read on to find out what his harebrained idea is.
 
Pre-school and Junior school teachers will use the book as a great lead-in to discussions about direction and opposite words: high low, big small, etc. Also teachers can talk about the saying ‘hair-brained ideas’. And how many parents have said – go back to where you last had it - when you’re looking for something? There are lots of discussions that can come out of reading this book to pre-schoolers and 5-6 year olds. It’s going to be a family, kindy and new entrant favourite!

Deborah has illustrated over 60 books for mainstream publishers Scholastic and independent publisher Sharon Holt. This is the second book Deborah Hinde has published herself; she recently released her and Kyle Mewburn’s book The Hopplepop. Hare is the first book she has written and illustrated, and she’s done a fabulous job. I wish her good luck in her marketing and I hope it sells well.


ISBN:  978-0-473-36294-2
RRP $19.99
Buy it at all good shops or here

Reviewed by Maria Gill



Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Heather Hunt's latest book

The Cuckoo and the Warbler: A true New Zealand story by Heather Hunt and Kennedy Warne (Potton & Burton)

The Cuckoo and the Warbler is an excellent example of creative non-fiction writing. It tells the true story of the two species relationship in a way that will engage young readers. The language targets readers 4-8 years old, but could be used in the classroom for children up to 12 years. Teachers will be keen to use this resource for their native bird study, but the story is interesting enough for teachers and parents to use it as a read aloud story. It will lead to interesting discussions afterwards about why the cuckoo doesn’t incubate its own egg. The author has also included a Maori proverb and greetings that the teacher can use as a teaching point.

The story introduces us to a pair of warblers building their nest in a forest in Aotearoa. On another double page spread we meet a female cuckoo who is filling up with insects before it makes its long journey from Papua New Guinea to New Zealand. On the next page, we see a map outlining its trip and how the trade winds will help the cuckoo on its journey. From then on, we find out what happens when the cuckoo arrives in New Zealand. It finds a warbler’s nest and lays its own egg, chucking out one of the grey warbler’s eggs so that when the warbler returns it doesn’t notice it has an intruder in its midst. When the cuckoo chick hatches it gets rid of the other eggs and hungrily calls out for food. The warbler mother and father are kept busy feeding the greedy bird until it fledges to make its journey to the Pacific.

Children might feel outraged on behalf of the grey warblers but Kennedy Warne talks about the birds unique relationship in a way that helps them understand the bond between the two birds. On the last two pages, readers discover more information about the grey warbler and shining cuckoo.

Author Kennedy Warne co-founded the New Zealand Geographic magazine in 1988 and served as editor for 15 years. He now writes for the magazine and for National Geographic, as well as giving a fortnightly report on the environment on Radio New Zealand’s Nine to Noon programme. He has written several books for the adult market before.

Heather Hunt is an illustrator and exhibiting artist. Her first book Kiwi: The Real Story shortlisted for the New Zealand Post Book Awards. She also developed the ‘Backyard Kiwi’ character for kiwi recovery projects.

A highly recommended buy for schools and for children who are fans of nature. It’s a beautiful book that invites children to read several times.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Jane Bloomfield Queen-of-Humour-for-kids NZ style

Lily Max: Slope, Style, Fashion by Jane Bloomfield, illustrations by Guy Fisher (Luncheon Sausage Books)

Jane Bloomfield and Guy Fisher collaborate again for the second book in the Lily Max series. It’s not surprising Jane has set this book mostly on the slopes – she lives in Queenstown and spends most of her winter skiing at Wanaka. Her son is a champion skier competing at the Nationals and in America. However, Jane didn’t learn to ski until she was an adult and can remember the feeling of being a beginner skier amongst all the skilled skiers around her. She uses those memories for her main character Lily Max.

Lily Max has told her classmates she can ski; an absolute porky – she’s like a pre-beginner. She hopes to distract everyone with her customised ski suit; only problem is, it's a school ski suit and she was told to NOT LILY MAX-IMISE IT. That's just waving a flag at Lily Max. Her sister Angelica sums it up when she finds it hiding under the bed, "That's ex-trah-eeem-ly OUT-RAY-JUSS, Lily Max".

It's not a Lily Max story without a fashion show. Lily goes into hyper-drive with fashion ideas, while trying to work out the family mystery with her grandma. Find out whether Queen-of-mean Violet gets the better of Lily Max this time, and whether she can go from Klutz to Klammer-wannabe ...

This book is even better than the last. You'll be laughing-out-loud on every page. I loved the precocious child voice of Lily Max, the antics she gets up to, and the sub-plots that run along with the day-to-day dramas of being a left-of-the-field student in a square-box world.

For young girls who loved Jane's first book 'Lily Max: Satin, Scissors, Frock'. If your daughter or student hasn't read any yet but enjoyed Victoria Azaro's Saffron series, or Lauren Child's Ruby Redfort's series - then this is the perfect book for quirky creative kids. Adults will enjoy it too.

Great cover, too!

www.lilymax.co.nz

ISBN: 978-0-908-689934

RRP $22

Buy it here or at your local store


Friday, November 18, 2016

More Christmas Goodies ...

The Kiwi Hokey Tokey, illus. Stevie Mahardhika, Maori lyrics Ngaere Roberts, Scholastic NZ

It wouldn’t be Christmas without another Kiwi-themed picture song book from Scholastic. The cartoon illustrations are bright, repetitive, and very in-your-face. The jolly-looking birds and animals involved in the familiar dance range from kiwi to sheep. Most of the book is taken up with the English text, with the Maori version on the last seven pages. There’s also an accompanying CD with popular Pio Terei singing the song. This is a good pre-schooler present for under the Christmas tree, especially if you think you’re going to suffer from Christmas carol overload… Also excellent for pre-school centres where the young ones can dance and sing along.

ISBN 978 1 77543 411 5 RRP   Pb $21


Parakeet in Boots by Chris Burney, illus Myles Lawford, Scholastic NZ

This is the latest title in Scholastic’s well-known Kiwi Corkers series (Great New Zealand Yarns). It’s a local-flavoured version of the old Puss in Boots story, delivered in humorous rhyming text: “There once was a farmer, who fell ill and died, leaving three sons and a farm to divide.” The digitally-created cartoon illustrations feature a cheeky and very cunning parakeet wearing ugg boots. This would be great for reading aloud to groups in pre-school centres because of the expansive and colourful pictures.

ISBN 987 1 77543 438 2 RRP   Pb $14



A Is for Aotearoa: a Lift-the-Flap Treasure Hunt by Diane Newcombe and Melissa Anderson Scott, Penguin Random House NZ

It’s not long since these two produced a similarly formatted picture book called A Is for Auckland, though the first one did not contain an interactive lift-the-flap feature. This story starts with Girl and Bird discovering a message in a bottle that sets them off on an alphabetical jaunt round the country. At each location, the reader must study the clues in the double-spread illustrations, and also lift the flap to read more clues about where they are. Some of the locations are easy to identify, but others are more challenging. Fortunately there is an informative list of solutions in the back. The illustrations are done in a complex style that combines collage, speech bubbles, black-pen outlines and subdued watercolours, so there’s a lot going on in every picture. I think pre-schoolers wouldn’t appreciate all the elements in the pictures  without an adult’s assistance. But younger primary-aged children would cope with the challenge of the location puzzles, and should enjoy spotting the subtle humour hidden on every page.

ISBN 978 0 14 350730 7 RRP $25 (not published till 28 November) Pb


Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

Monday, November 14, 2016

For Brian Falkner fans

Shooting Stars by Brian Falkner, Scholastic NZ

Brian Falkner has written successfully in several different genres – here’s another work from him that’s different to anything he’s written before. With my librarian’s hat on, I’d say this is a mix of adventure/survival and social issues, written mainly for teenage boys (although book-addicted girls will read it too). Egan Tucker is the 15-year-old narrator who has lived all his life in a remote hut in the Coromandel bush, with only his mother to raise him and books to educate him. When his mother vanishes while on a trek to the nearest grocery shop, Egan must emerge into society to find out what has happened to her.

Armed with a bow and arrow, Egan makes his way to Auckland. The reader is made uneasy by seeing through Egan’s eyes the dangers and cruelties of 21st-century urban life. Egan meets a group of street kids – meanwhile trying to locate the friendly deer culler whom he’d met in the bush months beforehand.

Egan finds there is plenty he doesn’t know about his own family background. He ends up living with his sports-star father – but be warned, it’s far from a happy ending. This story is an absorbing read with an unforgettable hero, packed with action and emotion, but it poses many uncomfortable questions about the ethics of our modern lifestyle. You’ll still remember Egan’s story many years later.

ISBN 978 1 77543 360 6 
RRP $21 Pb
Ages: 12 years +


Reviewed by Lorraine Orman    

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Des Hunt's latest junior fiction

Deadly Feathers by Des Hunt, Torea Press (www.deshunt.com)

Des is still being published by Scholastic NZ, but he has set up his own imprint to publish a range of shorter novels (eg. Crown Park and Skink Gully). He’s found his niche with stories that have a strong environmental theme, wrapped up in plenty of action and adventure. This novel is set on Stewart Island (and probably based on ideas given to Des by the children and teachers at Half Moon Bay School). The hero is 11-year-old Noah, recent and reluctant arrival on the island with his parents. He’d much rather be enjoying his old life in Auckland.
Noah stumbles across a weird situation – a glimpse of an exotic parrot in the bush, along with a dead kaka. Even a city boy like Noah knows this is not normal. His friend Hailey is not quite sure what to make of his descriptions. But then they discover a lone ocean-going yacht anchored in a quiet bay. And everyone knows that soon one of the most endangered birds in the world is coming to Stewart Island – they have to find out if there really is a disease-carrying parrot loose in the bush…
It’s an easy and interesting read that should appeal to boys of about 8 to 11 who like stories of adventure with an outdoor setting.

ISBN 978 0 9941226 2 9 
RRP $12 Pb


Reviewed by Lorraine Orman   

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Christmas Goodies From Scholastic New Zealand ...

The Little Yellow Digger: Book and Jigsaw Puzzle by Betty and Allan Gilderdale, Scholastic NZ
Every pre-schooler in New Zealand should have a copy of this classic picture book about diggers getting stuck in the mud. If you know someone small who hasn’t got a copy, this handsome book and 48-piece jigsaw boxed set would make an enticing present for under the Christmas tree. Note that the jigsaw is not recommended for children under 3 years.
ISBN 9781775434313 RRP $25 Pb





A Kiwi Night Before Christmas by Yvonne Morrison and Deborah Hinde, Scholastic NZ
This is a re-jacketed 2016 limited edition of the first version published in 2003. The back cover proudly states, “New Zealand’s best-selling Christmas book”, and I’m happy to believe it. In case you don’t already know it, this picture book offers a New Zealand version of the old English classic poem: “’Twas the night before Christmas, and all round the bach not a possum was stirring; not one we could catch. We’d left on the table a meat pie and beer, in hopes that Santa Claus soon would be here.” Naturally, New Zealand icons abound – my favourites are the sheep standing in as Santa’s reindeer. It’s illustrated in bright bold multi-coloured double-spreads, so pre-schoolers will enjoy poring over the pictures.
ISBN 978 1 77543 427 6 RRP $21 Hb

Marmaduke Duck and the Christmas Calamity by Juliette MacIver and Sarah Davis, Scholastic NZ
This is the fourth title in the popular series about Marmaduke Duck and Bernadette Bear and Co., and fans of the whacky rhymes and action-packed illustrations won’t be disappointed. Santa plus elves plus reindeer have accidentally fallen down a snowy crevasse – so who’s going to deliver all the presents? The answer is easy – just imagine Bernadette Bear dressed as Santa, while the magic sleigh is pulled by an ox, an orangutan, a pig, a polar bear, a dog, a lamb, a frog and a ram! The Duck is standing in as head Elf, naturally. Great fun for reading aloud any time of the year, but especially enjoyable at Christmas.
PS. Santa and friends do get rescued at the end!
ISBN 978 1 77543 390 3 RRP $19 Pb


The Topp Twins Treasury of Sing-Along Stories, illustrated by Jenny Cooper, Scholastic NZ
This is definitely a “WOW!” book. It looks fabulous with its glossy hardback format and an arrangement of Jenny Cooper’s cheeky song characters on the front cover, along with fancy gold lettering for the title. The five rollicking songs inside have already been published separately: Do Your Ears Hang Low?, There’s a Hole in My Bucket, The Farmer in the Dell, She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain, and Dingle-Dangle Scarecrow. But this is a great chance to keep your favourite songs in one convenient volume (the CD is packed inside the front cover). Jenny Cooper’s illustrations are delightful, and having them all in one big book makes them even more hilarious. This picture song book would be great to help families with their long summer drives to the beach… 
ISBN  978 1 77543 430 6 RRP $30 Hb


Reviewed by Lorraine Orman