Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christmas 2008 books

Here are the last lot of books coming out before Christmas and two that came out earlier but we've only just had a chance to review them...

Picture Books
The Apple by Ben Brown, Illustrations by Tracy Duncan (Puffin) ISBN: 978-014-350-2920 RRP $19.95
Once upon a certain day a bright and shiny girl with green eyes, golden hair and rosy red cheeks picked a golden apple that was hanging from a magic applie tree like a second sun in the sky...
So starts this delightful picture book about Blossom a girl adopted by Granny Smith, a little old lady who found her asleep in an apple basket many years ago. Blossom is sent out to find the ingredients for her birthday cake but when she finds the golden apple she sets off a series of events she has no control over (or does she) until a giant demands she cook an apple pie specially for him...
Brown has had 17 other picture books published, two of which were shortlisted for the LIANZA awards and one that won the 2006 NZ Post Children Book Awards for 'A Booming in the Night'. Duncan is also no stranger to the children's literary world; she has illustrated numerous pictures for other authors and for her own books. For 'The Apple' it looks like she has used a variety of mediums: colouring-in pencils, lead pencil and paint and the gold embossing on the front cover adds to the effect beautifully. Pre-school and Junior school children will want this story read over and over again to them. Reviewed by Maria Gill

feeling sad, Sarah Verroken (Walker Books, Australia) ISBN: 978-1-921150-69-2 RRP$29.99
Duck is in the meadow with her little toy, Dudley. Everything around her seems gloomy. Something is wrong. Black clouds are hanging over her head, and she is surrounded by darkness. Duck is feeling very sad...
But all is not lost - when duck meets a tiny frog he tells her to cheer up and that she should look ahead. As the duck looks up and notices the brighter things in life, so does the black and white illustrations inject a bit more colour. A sombre tale but one that might help a young child that is dealing with grief or depression to look on the positive side.
Verroken first published this book in Belgium where it won Best Book design and has been nominated for two other awards. Walker Books Australia has since published it for the New Zealand and Australian markets. It is also being published in South Korea, America and Japan. Verroken is based in Wellington and has just graduated with a Master of Arts degree. She works as a freelance graphic designer and illustrates for clients around the world. Reviewed by Maria Gill
"This sweet book addresses a tough and touchy issue carefully and sensitively. Preschoolers won’t be able to help but feel sunny by the end." Courier

Non Fiction Books
Piano Rock: A 1950s Childhood, Gavin Bishop (Random) ISBN: 978-1-86979-010-3 RRP $34.99
I have a photograph. It was taken on a Box Brownie in 1949. A photo of us - Mum, Dad and me. I am little, about three. There we are standing at the railway station in Kingston, just arrived from Invercargill... On either side is a row of mountains. And up on the hill behind is Piano Rock.
This book is a keeper. Not just because you're a fan of Gavin Bishop (and who isn't), but because the book has been published in hard cover with Gavin's intricate illustrations scattered throughout this slice of life when he lived in Kingston aged 5 to 9 years old. For reading ages 8 years+ but adults with children's literature interests will also enjoy this book. Reviewed by Maria Gill See Beattie's review

Chapter Books
Thornspell, Helen Lowe (Alfred A. Knopf) ISBN: 978-0-375-85581-8 RRP $
A forbidden wood, an enchanted castle, a sleeping princess...and the prince destined to break the spell.
Prince Sigismund has grown up hearing magical tales - they help to break up the monotony of his boring life in a castle where he longs for adventure. It is not until he dreams of a girl trapped in a thorny castle and a knight riding towards him that his life begins to change. He quickly learns that the stories are true, and the heroic quest he always wished for ... begins now.
I wasn't surprised that Helen Lowe had won an inaugural Robbie Burns National Poetry award (2003) - her writing is lyrical and a pleasure to read. I had to wait in line for this book - my daughter couldn't put it down and nor could I (when I finally got my hands on it). This is Lowe's first book and she has already been signed up for another series. She writes her poetry, short stories and novels in Christchurch in between practising her second-dan black belt in aikido and representing her university in fencing. Recommended for boys and girls 9-13 years old (boys don't be put off by fairies and princesses - there are some great combat scenes and its really about a boy on a quest). Reviewed by Maria Gill Read Create Readers Blog review, Flamingnet Book Reviews

Young Adult
The 10 PM Question, Kate de Goldi (Longacre) ISBN: 978-1-877460-20-3 RRP $34.99
From the blurb: Frankie Parsons is twelve going on old man: an apparently sensible, talented Year 8 with a drumbeat of worrying questions steadily gaining volume in his head:
Are the smoke alarm batteries flat?
Does the cat, and therefore the rest of the family, have worms?
Will bird flue strike and ruin life as we know it?
Most of the significant people in Frankie's world - his father, his brother and sister, his great-aunts, his best friend Gigs - seem gloriously untroubled by worry. Only Ma takes seriously his catalogue of persistent anxieties; only Ma listens patiently to his 10 p.m. queries. But of course, it is Ma who is the cause of the most worrying question of all, the one that Frankie can never bring himself to ask.
Kate de Goldi first read this out to our writers workshop two years before the book was published. One year later (because we love her workshops) she drip fed us some more of the story. By the time the book came out we all had to buy it and it has definitely held up to its high expectations. You can't help but love the main character and Kate's exquisite writing and twists and turns of plot keep you reading to the end (I read it from start to finish in one sitting.) Though written about a teen - the book would be more appreciated by Young Adults+
Reviewed by Maria Gill Read Beattie's review.