Saturday, September 24, 2011

Picture Books for Early Childhood

Stomp! by Ruth Paul (Scholastic)

STOMP through the swamp
Over the hump JUMP
In the jungle ROAR
Swish your tail and THUMP

So go the dinosaurs on their stomp through the swamp. They squish-squash berries, hop over rocks, until they stop and cause a dinosaur jam.  Then they turn around and swing through the swamp the other way until something happens to their leader...

Ruth Paul's artwork is gorgeous - totally appealing to the four and under target audience. I can see kindergarten's having a lot of fun with this book.  The kids will take turns being the leader as they stomp around the kindergarten doing all the fun things dinosaurs do. On further readings children will notice the onomatopoeia words in smaller print; and perhaps will come up with some of their own.

Scholastic has published the book on glossed card, which will ensure little hands won't bend the pages in their excitement to read the book. The book's A3 size enables groups of 40 children to see the illustrations and print easily too.  Ruth Paul has created the illustrations in pencil and then coloured it in Photoshop on the computer. She co-designed the book with Vida Kelly.

Ruth's other books include: The Animal Undie Ball, Superpotamus, Two Little Pirates and The King's Bubbles.

A must have for Under fours and all kindergartens!

Tarantula Boo! by Lucy Davey, Illustrated by Philip Webb (Scholastic)

Safe behind glass at Zurlington Zoo,
lived loveable larrikin Lenny Lassoo.
Lenny was furry and fuzzy and hairy,
and liked to play tricks that were frightfully SCARY.

Lenny Lassoo loves to play tricks at the zoo - his favourite game is Tarantula Boo! He waits until school children press their noses against the glass then out he jumps from hiding to scare the wits out of them - all in fun, of course. But though he is a trickster he really is a lonely Lenny Lassoo. He dreams of a friend to share his home and fun. He gets the chance to look for one when the glass on his cage is cracked and he escapes. Does he find a friend at the zoo or does he get a surprise himself?

Another great book for Under Fives (and will also be appreciated in the Junior School at Primary too).  There's rhyme, alliteration and use of onoomatopoeia to keep the children interested in the language. Along with changing font sizes and Philip Webb's playful illustrations that are bright and fill the A3 sized page.  A wonderful read-aloud for the kindergarten and Junior School.

Watch the mini movie here
This is Lucy Davey's nineth book for children.  She won the Joy Cowley Award with her book 'Out of Bed, Fred!' in 2011. 

The Treasure Thief by Beatrice Rodriguez (Gecko Press)

Rooster, Hare and Bear bid adieu to their friends Fox and Chicken and start their sea voyage back home to the farm. En route they wash up on a desert island where Rooster discovers a mysterious white orb. Oblivious to his companions, Rooster is possessed by the orb. His faithful friends follow him home, surviving toxic toadstools, piranhas and tiny bats. What is the powerful orb and what will they discover when it cracks open?

This is the second picture book from Beatrice Rodriguez following after The Chicken Thief. Again there are no words but the illustrations tell plenty of what is happening. Children at Kindergarten and Junior School will enjoy making up their own words; and putting their own spin on the story.

Giraffe Attack by Chris Gurney, illustrated by Aki Fukuoka (Scholastic)

"Goodness me!" said Mum.
Will you listen to that din?
There's a nasty old giraffe outside,
trying to get in!"

Jack overhears members of his family talking about the fierce and flustery giraffe making things go clang, or trying to get his Grandma by the ankles, and shaking the house to its knees. Poor old Jack is terrified by the time he goes to bed. When something goes clump, thump, kerplunk on the roof he thinks the giraffe had come to get him. He hollers for help!

A wonderful story for children to understand that sometimes you can misunderstand what grown-ups are saying. Sometimes words that sound the same don't mean the same. And sometimes you have to rein in your imagination because it can get out-of-control.

Chris Gurney is a master of clever use of language. She uses rhyme, alliteration and lots of onomatopoeia - making it a great read aloud for kindergarten and Junior School children.  Children will delight in guessing what is really making all that noise. This is Chris Gurney's nineth book with number 10 coming out just in time for Christmas (and yes, it does have a Christmas theme).

Robby & Hoot by Joy Cowley, illustrated by Phillip Fickling (Puffin)

Come, little robots! Stop clanking and clattering!
Switch on your ears and switch off our chattering.
I have an interesting story for you
about a long friendship that's trusty and true.

The teacher robot tells them a story about Robby Robot looking for a second-hand toe. While searching in the junk yard he hears a little blue car wailing just before it is about to be crushed. In a daring move, Robby jumps into the car and drives it to safety. That's not the end of the journey, though, as swarms of security droids chase them. The two have to problem solve how to get out of the yard undetected to safety - can they do it?

Four to six year old boys are going to love this book about robots and chases. They'll enjoy the tension when it looks like the escaping pair are caught, and realise it is important not to give up hope. At the back of the book there are cut-outs for the boys to pull-out then they can enact the story with their own Robby Robot and Little Blue car figures along with the  Security Bts and shrieking Crusher.  Will keep boys amused long after the story has been read.

Joy Cowley is one of New Zealand's greatest authors. She's had over 200 children's books published and received awards from here and overseas.  Joy had a son who was a reluctant reader (she was slow to read herself when young) so she really knows how to motivate them with great story, wonderful use of language, and that little bit extra - cut-outs to encourage them to listen to stories.


Hairy Nose, Itchy Butt by Elizabeth Frankel, illustrated by Garry Duncan (Exisle Publishing)

Late one afternoon, down in the ground,
Hairy-Nosed Wombat woke up with a frown.
He stretched and yawned, rubbed his eyes and scratched his ear.
Then a strange sensation came over his rear.

Hairy-Nosed Wombat goes in search of a tree first, then a salt bush, next a big log, and then an old mallee stump each time they have been cleared by loggers and bulldozers. He had run out of ideas of how to scratch his butt and was on the way to his burrow when he found that was gone too. Poor old Hairy-Nose Wombat was devastated - what will he do?

A perfect story to have in the classroom (Junior through to Intermediate) because it is a great conservation conversation starter for children.  It will help children understand the effects logging and clearing of land has on wildlife. On the back page is information about how the Southern hairy-nosed wombat is one of only three wombat species found worldwide, all of which occur in Australia. Plus information about their behaviour and how it sometimes gets them into trouble. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New Non-Fiction for Children

New Zealand Bird Calls by Lynnette Moon, Geoff Moon, John Kendrick, and Karen Baird

Listen to the calls of 60 of our native New Zealand birdcalls.  Read about those birds and look at their photographs to find out more about them. Each bird entry includes information about habitat, distribution, appearance and behaviour of the bird, along with a description of its call.

New Zealand Bird Calls is an essential guide for any beginner or bird enthusiast to enjoy in the field or at home.  Schools will find it helpful for native bird studies. Its handy size makes it easy to carry on a bush walk.

This is Lynnette Moon's third book on the subject of birds. Her late husband Geoff Moon, was an outstanding bird photographer with many books to his name.

Notable wildlife sound recordist John Kendrick has been capturing New Zealand birds on film and tape for half a century. His daughter Karen Baird, who prepared his calls for this collection, has worked for both the Department of Conservation and the Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society, as well as running private wildlife tours with her husband.

ISBN: 978-1-86966-310-0  RRP $29.99

I Spy NZ Art published by the Auckland Art Gallery

Play 'I spy with your little eye something beginning with... the 26 letters of the alphabet. To complement the letters you'll find artwork from New Zealand's most well-known artists.  For example, in - 'I spy Aa ... You'll see John Pule's oil on canvas 'Take these with you when you leave'. Keen eyes can see that there is an aeroplane, animals and an automobile in the painting.

This book could be used throughout the Primary and Intermediate as a starting point of looking at different types of art.  However, the book is small (slightly bigger than a board book) so not big enough to share with the whole classroom.  Also, the concepts are quite difficult, for example, 'a' for 'abstract' so though the alphabet would appeal to young children they're not going to get those more 'abstract' ideas. 

I love the front cover though, with its cut-out 'NZ' and koru design behind. I also like the answers with small paintings at the back to see what objects you'll find for that alphabet. A book for art teachers and children who have an interest in art. To commemorate the opening of the newly refurbished and expanded Auckland Art Gallery.

Order enquiries to Judy Davies, Retail Manager:

Party Food for Girls by Alessandra Zecchini & Arantxa Secchini Dowling (New Holland)
This book is a delight to behold. From the scrumptious cover, gorgeous use of colour and design, and photographs to make you salivate.  The book hadn't been in my house half an hour before my 12-year-old daughter had pilfered it and begun whipping up cupcakes with icing (very delicous, I might add).  We've been leaving it around the house for her to make more yummy cakes and sweeties.

This book will inspire many young chefs and will make a wonderful birthday or Christmas present. With 50 recipes, tips and variations, and a full A4 photograph for every recipe (plus step-by-step photographs) - the young chef will find plenty of ideas to prepare party food.  At the back of the book you'll find conversion tables, a glossary, an index, stencils and patterns.

Alessandra Zecchini is a food writer and travel journalist living in New Zealand with her husband and two children. This is her third cookbook and the first written with her 12-year-old daughter Arantxa.

Shaun Cato-symonds has worked with Alessandra on all three of her books, and his food photography graces many more quality publications and advertising campaigns worldwide.

ISBN: 978-1-86966-299-8  RRP $29.99

The Raupo Phrasebook of Modern Maori by Scotty Morrison (Penguin)

Written in a user-friendly manner, with everyday New Zealanders in mind, and with a focus on modern-day language, The Raupo Phrasebook of Modern Maori is the guide that no home or school should be without.

As well as common phrases, the book covers dialects, grammar and pronunciation; answers to key questions; idioms and slang; proverbs and speeches; and provides information on the ever-changing history of te reo Maori. Useful vocabularly lists are also given for each section. Whether you're a beginning speaker of te reo Maori, a visitor, or fluent in Maori - you'll be surprised at how much you can learn from this book.  Schools will find this a very useful resource for every classroom and library. 

Author Scotty Morrison is the well-known presenter of the Maori current affairs programmes Te Karere and Marae Investigates. He holds a Diploma of Teaching, Bachelor of Education and Masters degree (Education) from Waikato University and is currently working towards his PhD at Massey University.
ISBN:   978-0143566106  RRP $35

Reviewed by Maria Gill

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Brian Falkner's Latest Title

Northwood by Brian Falkner (Walker Books)

When Rocky the Samoyd tells Cecilia Undergarment that he is starving to death, Cecilia can only do one thing - save him. It requires subterfuge, daring and innovative thinking - talents Cecilia can draw upon easily. She doesn't expect it will lead to her getting lost in the dark forest of Northwood though. The same forest her doting parents had always told her never to go near. The same forest where ferocious black lions roam. How will she get out and what else does she find in that dark forest...

Brian Falkner has tried a different style from the rest of his books. Firstly, he uses the third person omniscient (universal) - narrator talking to the reader, and secondly, his main character is female. Thirdly, it is also a fantasy story whereas his others have had a science fiction or contemporary feel.  But like most of his characters Cecilia does have a special talent - the ability to talk to animals. The story is about the little guy (in this case Cecilia) overcoming the odds - she problem solves how to get out of the forest; listening to her intuition on how to do it.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and girls 8-12 years old will do also.  I can imagine this book having universal appeal. It will be for sale in New Zealand, Australia, America and England (and I am sure many other countries).  I'm really proud of how successful Brian Falkner has been and he deserves to be - he's put the miles in.  He spends most of his year touring schools and he's so good at giving talks he's booked up months in advance in Australia and New Zealand (and probably America too).

The book is also illustrated with Donovan Bixley's illustrations and they're perfect for the story. They look slightly sinister helping to build the spookiness of the Northwood Forest but he also draws very likeable characters.  Donovan's illustrated over 50 children's books and he's a real star (you've got to see him in person - he wears a tophat for the occasion and he puts on a real funny show for the kids). We call him the 'Talented Mr Bixley'.

Highly recommended!

ISBN:  978-1-921529-80-1  RRP $22.99

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wings by Raymond Huber, Walker Books Australia
I haven’t read the first book in this series, called Sting (a finalist in the NZ Post Children’s Book Awards Junior Category for 2010) but that didn’t matter. I had no trouble picking up the characters and the story. Ziggy the honey bee, together with several others of his family, are taken by their human keeper to Tokyo to solve the problem of local bees going missing. They meet Mitsu, a local bee, who tells them about the mystery. After some adventurous investigations the bees discover that a scientist has invented a pesticide fatal to bees. Ziggy and Mitsu end up hunting for the mystical ice orchid which contains life-saving pollen – but first they must solve the riddles of a guardian snake. Most of the story is successfully told from the point of view of Ziggy, but the focus is necessarily limited. So additional background information is provided through extracts from the diary of Dr Sophie Domisse, the keeper of Ziggy’s hive. It’s a straight-forward easy-to-read adventure story for readers of about eight to ten, with a smart, eye-catching cover. Interesting information about bees and their importance in our environment is included at the end. Raymond Huber’s website at offers background information and activities.
ISBN 978 1 921720 20 8 RRP $17.99
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

T-wreck-asaurus by Kyle Mewburn, illus. Donovan Bixley, Scholastic NZ
Stego-snottysaurus by Kyle Mewburn, illus. Donovan Bixley, Scholastic NZ
These are books 1 and 2 in a new series called Dinosaur Rescue. The combination of all things revolting and dinosaurs is bound to be a winner – with boys aged about 8 to 11. Girls won’t be interested. Each book is 96 pages so they look quite solid, but there’s not much text on the pages and a lot of space is taken up with black pen pictures, boxes, maps, diagrams, etc. Arg is a Neanderthal boy – but he happens to be a genius. Well, a genius compared to the rest of his tribe. He even wears clothes! In the first book Arg discovers a secret valley where he meets a genius-level T-rex who can actually speak. Arg calls him Skeet. In the second book Arg and Skeet try to prevent a flu outbreak among the dinosaurs. All adventures include copious amounts of poo, snot, farts, slime, and stink – so be warned. Donovan Bixley’s action-packed cartoon illustrations are a perfect match for the text – gross is the best word to describe the whole package...
ISBN 978 1 77543 019 3 RRP $12
ISBN 978 1 77543 020 9 RRP $12
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

Lily Gets Her Wings by Elizabeth Pulford, illus. Aki Fukuoka, Scholastic NZ
Lily Has a Secret by Elizabeth Pulford, illus. Aki Fukuoka, Scholastic NZ
Books 1 and 2 in a new series for girls called The Littlest Angel, these can only be described as sweet. However I was impressed by the excellent book design. Lily features on the covers as a cute little redhead, flying against a sparkly pastel sky, with her name in silver and her halo rather askew. The inside pages are tinted with pastel colour, as are the numerous cartoon illustrations, while the edges of the pages have a sparkly foil coating. Writing about angels involves creating a supporting theology, and I was interested to see that there is no religious aspect whatsoever included in these stories. Lily and her cohorts are more like traditional fairies than traditional angels – and they have all the foibles and faults of young humans. In the first book Lily is trying to get into an Angel Academy, and is competing for one vacant place with another angel. But things keep on going wrong for Lily – she gets in one scrape after another. In the second book Lily breaks an Academy rule by smuggling an injured kitten on to the premises – her attempts to keep it hidden are complicated by some terrible damage she causes to a precious harp... Lily is always in trouble, but everything works out in the end. Girls of around 7 to 10 who love reading traditional books about fairies will be attracted by the pretty covers and should thoroughly enjoy the series.
ISBN 978 1 77543 022 3 RRP $12
ISBN 978 1 77543 023 0 RRP $12
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman