Saturday, December 19, 2009

More books for Christmas

Young MacDonald Had a Farm by Anna Crosbie, illustrated by Scott Tulloch ISBN 9781869507909 $19.99 (Harper Collins)

Old MacDonald had a farm.
Ee-aye-ee-aye-oh!
And on that farm he had a baby.
Ee-aye-ee-aye-oh!

With a waaugh waaugh here!
And a waaugh waaugh there!
'Isn't he cute?' Old MacDonald said.
'Our very own son! We've called him Trev!'

The author has cleverly used the Old MacDonald format, to tell the story of Trev growing up and taking over the farm from Old MacDonald and his Missus. Trev gets out his tractor (broom-broom here), the plough (clunk-clunk there), the digger (digga-dig here), the grader (scrape-scrape there), the quad bike (vroom-vroom here), the dump truck (chugga-chug there), the post driver (boom-bang here), the hay baler (snip-swoosh there), and the harvester (swish-slash here) to transform the farm - and then he gets a girlfriend... With all those big boys toys you can imagine a few 3-4 year old boys enjoying the noises those machines make.

Anna Crosbie grew up in rural Canterbury - surrounded by tractors! This is Anna's first book for children; her other books include: How to publish your own books and A little book of house messing.

Scott Tulloch is a professional artist and illustrator who lives and works in Martinborough. He has written the much-loved Willy series. Scott's drawings appeal to children and adults; his illustrations containing their own back-story and humour.

Real Life by Ella West (Longacre Press) ISBN: 978 1 877460 39 5 rrp $19.99 Readership: 12 years plus

'The call me a finder. I find places for the Project. I can think about a place in my head and then I am there. It's called travelling.'

This is the much anticipated conclusion of the suspenseful Thieves trilogy. In 'Real Life' Nicky and her fellow travellers are trapped back at the Project. To keep them from escaping they've been forced to wear tracking bracelets that can't be removed. While thinking of a way to escape she discovers a small slice of freedom by joining a swim team in a nearby town. But when terrorists threaten, Nicky is sent on a mission...

Ella West lives on a rural property at Janefield near Mosgiel, and works as a journalist. Ella is the winner of the 2006 Louis Johnson/Creative New Zealand Bursary for New Writers and Thieves was a finalist in the 2007 NZ Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. The sequel to Thieves, Anywhere but Here, was published in August 2008 and was shortlisted for the Sir Julius Vogel Award in 2009.

Pony Club Secrets: Victory and the All-Stars Academy by Stacy Gregg

ISBN: 978-0-00-727033-0 RRP $14.99

It wasn't what Issie had been expecting at all. When she first found out that she had made the National Young Rider Squad and would be travelling to Melbourne to compete, she had naturally assumed she would be riding one of her own horses. She had been torn, trying to decide which one she should take - Blaze or Comet... It was impossible to choose between them. It came as a total shock when Chevalier Point's head instructor, Tom Avery, broke the news to Issie and the other club riders that they wouldn't be taking any of their horses with them.

As it turns out - Issy gets to pick the perfect horse: Victory, a brown thoroughbred for her week long training course. The new instructor, nicknamed Voldemort because she's a hard-taskmaster, is hard to impress. But Issie has other things to deal with too; a room-mate that drives her nuts and a secret in the stable that's proving hard to keep...

Horse-mad and animal-loving girls will love this next instalment of the Pony Club Secrets. This is the nineth book in the series with more to come in 2010. An enjoyable read for 9-12 year old readers.

Check out Stacy Gregg's site for details about a competition beginning December 8th and finishing 31 January 2010.

Every time a new Pony Club Secrets book is published a donation is made to the Horse Welfare (formerly the International League for the Protection of Horses).
Reviewed by Maria Gill

Monday, December 14, 2009

Non-fiction books from New Holland

I am a Dolphin by Barbara Todd, illustrated by Helen Taylor (New Holland Publishing)
ISBN: 9781869 662646 RRP $14.99

I am a dolphin
That lives in the sea
My home has no fences
I'm wild and I'm free

Barbara Todd brings to life non-fiction facts in the form of lyrical poetry. The young reader (4-6 years) will find out how dolphins breathe, swim, find food and care for each other. On the last page you'll find more facts about dolphins.

This is the second book in the 'I am a ...' series. It aims to introduce wildlife facts in a simple but catchy way. The pictures are a mix of photography and cartoon characters.

Barbara Todd has studied dolphins, whales and seabirds for the past twenty years. She has written ten other children's natural history books.

Helen Taylor has illustrated many New Zealand children's books; most notably 'A Booming in the Night' co-produced with her writer husband Ben Brown, which won the NZ Post New Zealand Best Picture Book Award in 2006.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

More Picture Books

Moonrabbit by Megan Kelliher, illustrated by Dominique Ford (Penguin)
RRP $30.00 (hardback) ISBN: 978-0-14-350335-4

In the stillness of night after moonrise
from hilltop to river and glen,
behind soft, sleepy eyes and baby-sweet sighs
live the dreams of a world full of children.

This book is a beautiful production with its glossy cover slip over hard cover, illustrations beginning on the end papers and large size. The text is easy to read, though not your usual style. Instead you'll find white text on night sky illustrations and the print meanders across the page.

This is a delightful bedtime story for young children about a magical moonrabbit that slips down to Earth on a moonbeam to grant a sleeping child a wish...

Article in Bay of Plenty Times:
A friendship between two Tauranga mums has resulted in a children's book being published by industry giant Penguin.
Moonrabbit was written by Megan Kelliher, and illustrated by her close friend Dominique Ford.
It's a tale about a mystical white rabbit who lives on the moon, and grants the wishes of sleeping children.
The idea was born from a painting by Dominique of a white rabbit in a moonlit forest clearing.

Reflections of a Solitary Hamster by Astrid Desbordes and Pauline Martin
RRP $24.99 56 pp Recommended age: ages 5 upwards (Gecko Press)

Remember the snoopy comic strips? Written in the same vein, you'll find the musings of a hamster and his relationship with his forest animal friends. It is said to be a humorous take on French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Reveries of a Solitary Walker. It is one of those humorous comics that you will enjoy dipping in from time to time. I can see senior school (8 years+) upwards getting the most value out of the tales.
Not surprisingly, Astrid Desbordes has written books for adults on philosophy and religion; this is her first book for children.

Mole: For me the most beautiful word in the world is 'friendship'. What's yours?
Hedgehog: Uh... loyalty.
Rabbit: Adventure.
Snail: Commonsense.
Hamster: Waffles.

Big Bouncer by Dawn McMillan, illustrated by Ross Kinnaird
RRP $18.95 (Penguin) ISBN: 978-0-14-350387-3
Remember me? I'm Big Bouncer!
In that 'sniff-bottom' story I was the announcer.
Back then I was gruff,
bossy and rough.
I was so COOL.
Nobody's fool.
Everyone called me THE MAN!

Have you ever wondered what happened to Big Bouncer? Well, he's back loud and proud and claiming HE'S THE MAN until... he meets the girl dog of his choice. He spruces up his act to win her over, then becomes the FAMILY MAN!

Another humorous tale by award winning team: Dawn McMillan and Ross Kinnaird. 'Why Do Dogs Sniff Bottoms?' won the Children's Choice category of the NZ Post Book awards in 2003 and in 2005 it was awarded New Zealand Booksellers Gold.

When Dawn McMillan isn't teaching part-time at her local primary school, she's at home with her husband Derek and cat Josie writing children's books. She's written 18 picture books and over 130 educational readers for the international market.

Ross Kinnaird comes from an art directing and illustration in advertising background. Nowadays, he's happiest storytelling and illustrating in classrooms around New Zealand.

Fick & Friends: The Bushfire by Jamie Lawrence, illustrations by Mark Russell
RRP $14.95 ISBN: 978-0143503514 (Penguin Puffin)

It was a beautiful sunny day
in Maddsville so Mr Meena,
the local grocer, and his
family decided to go on a picnic.
As they made their way into the busy,
little did they know that some naughty
campers hadn't put out their campfire
properly. Some sparks had blown into
the dry grass and had started a fire.

It sounds like another job for Flick the Fire Engine. He's now a fully fledged fire-fighting engine and raring to go. When he sees smoke rising in the horizon; Flick and his friends race to save Mr Meena and his family and put the fire out.

This series has been written specifically to teach young Primary aged children (and kindergarten children) how to be safe around fire, in story format. On the last page, you'll find Flick's Top 10 Bush Safety Tips for Your Family. Young children will enjoy the use of onomatopoeia (formation and use of words to imitate sounds) throughout the book: 'Ree woo Ree woo Ree woo'.

Stories from our Night Sky by Melanie Drewery, illustrated by Jenny Cooper
RRP $25.00 61 pp ISBN: 978-0-14-350375-0

This is a treasure trove of Maori poems and legends; some are contemporary, others are traditional but all have in common the night sky. The poems are written in Maori and English. You'll recognise poems like 'Twinkle, twinkle little Star' and others you'll think - that sounds familiar: Out in the night time, In a hole in a tree. Lived an old mother morepork, And her little ruru three... The stories are also an eclectic mix such as tales of the forefathers, to Grandad telling a story to his grandson about tuatara, or little Hana overcoming her fear of the dark - something for everyone.

Teachers will find this a useful resource for their Myths and Legend Reading unit and also to inspire children to write modern day legends.

Reviewed by Maria Gill