Monday, October 31, 2011

Three New Non-fiction Books

The Book of New Zealand Records and Firsts by Stephen Barnett (Scholastic)

On the front cover the book promises Biggest, Fastest, Most Unusual and More - and you certainly get that. First we find out which Kiwis have set records for the fastest, deepest and longest. We meet adventurer Shaun Quincey who rowed the fastest across the Tasman, 17-year-old Elliot Nicholls who broke the world record for the fastest texting whilst blindfolded, then two young lads who dove the deepest depths, the boat that set a new world record for the fastest time around the world in a powerboat, and the tap dancer who danced 610 taps a minute, and lots more. Next, we see the biggest and most such as the world record chocolate bar, the world's record price for a bird's feather, the largest wasp nest recorded in New Zealand, the man who learnt more than 58 languages, the biggest ball of tape, the most expensive tiny piece of paper, the biggest children's sporting event in the world, and the cricketer who set the world record for the greatest number of tennis balls caught in one minute. Thirdly, we're treated to some of the most unusual records (didn't we just have some of those). Like the Twisty Twinz who climbed into a perspex box and set a new world record, the seven-legged lamb, and the World's steepest street (in Dunedin). Lastly, are the New Zealand firsts such as the pigeon post, the coach who took jogging to the world, the adventurer who climbed the highest mountain, the bungy jumpers and more.  Great reading for kids who like their facts.  Ideal for Middle, Senior Primary and Intermediate-aged classrooms.

RRP $17.00  ISBN: 978-1-77543-031-5

The Small Blacks Annual by Peter Harold (Penguin)

Printed on glossy paper in A4 size and 96 pages long we have another rugby book for kids. This time the focus is not on the All-blacks but rather the kiwi kids aged 5-12 who play rugby. There's loads of photographs of kids playing rugby, stories, articles about famous rugby players, activities, interesting facts such as why do we get stitch and how do we get rid of it, tips on rugby skills, recipes, quizzes, jokes, Maori vocabulary, cartoons, poetry, songs, and news articles - phew! A lot is packed in for rugby fans to saviour.  For ages 8-12 year olds who are rugby mad.

RRP $19.99, ISBN: 978-0-1433-0657-3

The Big Book of New Zealand Wildlife by Dave Gunson (New Holland)

The Big Book of New Zealand Wildlife is a comprehensive collection of birds, animals, insects, fish, plants and fungi in one single volume. If it looks familiar - yes, it is a compilation of all the 'All About' series books produced in encyclopaedia format. You'll find over 400 species of New Zealand natives brought to life with colourful illustrations and interesting facts. Designed to be easily accessible for 7-14 year olds.  An excellent reference book that would be useful in every Primary classroom and home.

Dave Gunson wrote the successful All About series, produced colouring-in books to complement them, and illustrated numerous books (approximately 150) over the years. Dave is a keen artist and has been involved with a number of group and solo exhibitions over the years.

Hardback $39.99, 160 pages, ISBN: 978-1-86966-297-4

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Christmas Books

There's a Hole in my Bucket sung by The Topp Twins, pictures by Jenny Cooper
(Scholastic)  CD inclusive

There's a hole in my bucket,
dear Liza, dear Liza
There's a hole in my bucket,
dear Liza
a hole.

You've probably heard the song before - it's a favourite with pre-schoolers. What makes it special is having a book and CD for children to read and play over and over again. Jenny Cooper's illustrations are a treat - the expressions of the two characters are hilarious (especially Liza getting more and more annoyed with Henry). Lots of fun for 4-6 year olds and will be popular in the kindergarten and Junior Primary school classes.

The Topp Twins are a truly original comic and musical duo - this is their first book for children. They see There's a Hole in My Bucket as a fun way to encourage kids to pick up a book, believing that learning to read is vital, no matter who you are or where you are from.

Illustrator Jenny Cooper has illustrated numerous children's books. Jenny said that while she drew pictures for this book she listened to the song over 200 times!
RRP $26.00

All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth by Don Gardner, illustrated by Katz Cowley, sung by Craig Smith  (Scholastic) CD inclusive

Everybody stops and stares at me,
These two teeth are gone as you can see,
I don't know just who to blame for this
But my one wish
on Christmas Eve
is as plain as can be...

You've probably guessed it - it's his two front teeth. Little chimp thinks about all the things he could do if he had two front teeth; whistle, sing songs, wish people Merry Christmas... Will he get them?

Another bright and beautiful book from Scholastic.They've taken a well known Christmas song and paired it with popular duo Katz Cowley (illustrator) and Craig Smith (singer/songwriter). Don Gardner penned the song in 1944 and asked a class of 22 second graders to complete the sentence: "All I want for Christmas is...' and then 'began smiling as he heard 16 of them lisping wishes without the help of one or two both front teeth' (LA Times, 2004). That was his inspiration for the song in this book. Katz Cowley went through two earthquakes in Christchurch while illustrating this book and moving six times across two countries. Craig Smith wrote 'The Wonky Donkey' which was co-winner of the APRA Children's Song of the Year award in 2008.

Sure to be another popular book for 4-6 year olds for Christmas.  A must have for all kindergartens and Junior Primary School classes.

Christmas in the Bush by Lindy Kelly, illustrated by Lyn Kriegler
(Harper Collins)

What will Christmas be like this year?
Josh wondered as he arrived at his dad's farm. Christmas with Mum in the city was always fun.
The farm was a fun place for holidays, with Dad, his dog, Scout, and the bush near the house. But Christmas?

Christmas with Dad is going to be different alright; no christmas tree, no big christmas dinner with ham and turkey, and apparently Santa doesn't even come this far out in the woods. His father says he has something a bit special up his sleeve - but what could beat a traditional Christmas...

At first Josh thinks this is going to be the worst Christmas ever but though it doesn't start with all the traditional trimmings it turns in to the best Christmas he has ever had. What beats presents under a christmas tree - read out to find how to have a bush Christmas. An enjoyable read for children from 4-6 years. Helpful for those children from recently separated families especially if they're experiencing a different Christmas for the first time.

Lindy Kelly has written numerous short stories for Learning Media, picture books for educational companies and several children's books for Harper Collins. Lyn Kriegler has illustrated 22 picture books, seven chapter books and 25 readers. Lyn's artwork is bright and busy - plenty to keep young children's attention.

RRP $19.99  Release date November 2011

Willbee the Bumblebee, story by Maureen Thomson and Craig Smith, illustrations by Katz Cowley, music by Craig Smith (Scholastic)  Includes book, CD and Willbee toy.

Willbee the Bumblebee came out in 2010 and now it is back packaged together with toy, book and CD in gift box format - sure to be a popular present for the under 5s.

RRP $31.00

Beach Bag Boogie by Lindsay Wood, illustrated by Rebekah Holguin
(Harper Collins)  RRP $19.99

When Jasper woke up, things felt very
strange - there were whoosh-whooshing
sounds and his bedroom had changed.

Jasper wakes up in a tent beside the sea. Everything is new and different and exciting. Jasper can feel tingling over his skin and a jig-jiggling urge to get dancing set in... He does the sleeping bag shimmy,
the slip slop slap samba, the beach bag boogie...  Lots of fun alliteration as she read about a young boy's fun day camping at the beach.

A fun book for 4-6 year olds - sure to be popular in kindergartens and Junior Primary School too. I can see lots of children bursting to get up and doing some of those jiggling dances while listening to the story.  The illustrations are bright and colourful with some white spaces for the text. Recommended for the holidays!

RRP $19.99

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Christmas Books

Bruiser by Gavin Bishop (Random)
Bruiser was a machine on a mission.
"Oi! Get outof my way!" he said.
"I've got a motorway to build!"
On Monday he ploughs through five hills, Tuesday he crushes ten rocks, one Wednesday he tears up three forests ... until Friday when he gets stuck in a ditch. He makes such a racket trying to get out he wakes up the magpie chick and Mother Magpie is not impressed. Will he get out and what will happen to the magpie family?
A digger story for the four-year-old boy who is impressed with big machines. I remember my son being obsessed with road machinery - he would have adored this story. I love the way Gavin has woven an environmental message into the story; with the digger changing his ways and caring for nature after his experience with the magpie family. Sure to be a hit!
Gavin Bishop is one of New Zealand's best-loved author/illustrators for children. He has written and illustrated many books and won numerous national and international awards.
PB $22.00 HB $34.00 ISBN: 978-1-86979-451-4
Stuck in the Mud by Brett Avison, illustrated by Australian Craig Smith (Five Mile Press)
On Mum and Ted's farm
there's a very large barn,
where the hay and the horses
are kept.
And right at the back, past some seeds in a sack, is where Milky the cow often slept.
Milky liked to stay nice and warm in the shed chewing her cud. But one day she goes out and gets stuck in the mud. The family rush over to help her with their assorted wheels: quad bike, pick-up Ute, bigger truck, and then they bring in friends and the services with their big metal pulley, the fire brigade, crane, and chopper. Will Milky get out and will they ever be able to salvage the rest of the wheels ...
Brett Avison has written another successful picture book that will appeal to the under five year old. Children will love the surprise pop-up twist at the end. The paper is nice and thick, which will ensure it will last those excited fingers turning the pages. Australian Craig Smith's (not to be confused with New Zealander Craig Smith) wonderful colourful artwork fills every large page. Children will enjoy looking at the detailed scenes on every page.
Aucklander Brett Avison's first book 'A Bigger Digger' sold out on its first print run. Both books are being published together in the United Kingdom. This is his second book and will most likely be the basis for an ongoing series.
Australian Craig Smith has been a prolific, award-winning illustrator. His witty, humorous artwork is enormously popular with children. He has a wonderful sense of the absurd and a terrific eye for detail.
Hardback $24.99 ISBN: 978-1-74248-642-0

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Two new Chapter Books by two talented Nz authors

The Half Life of Ryan Davis by Melinda Szymanik (Pear Jam Publishing) E-book

Apparently my older sister Mallory was perfect. That's not how I remember her, but it's what my mother tells me when I'm doing something wrong.  My sister certainly looks perfect in all the photos mum has plastered her bedroom with ... But I guess it doesn't matter whether she was perfect or not. It's impossible to be as good as someone who's just a memory.

Ryan feels the weight of his sister Mallory's disappearance on his shoulders. Instead of hanging out with his bestfriend Alex he has to babysit his younger sister Gemma all the time. It kind of cramps his style when trying to chat up Kim - the girl he has set his sights on. Mallory has been gone for a couple of years now. His father left home not long after and his mother still hasn't given up hope Mallory is still alive. Ryan stopped believing that ages ago.

Was she murdered, abducted or did something else cause her disappearance? Will Ryan's life ever return to normal? And does it have anything to do with that stranger who watches him at the skate park... Author Melinda Szymanik keeps you guessing right until the very end in this contemporary thriller for 11 - 15 year olds. An exciting read for boys and girls, and for parents who'd like to know how a 15 year old boy thinks. (I have a 15 year-old-son and I thought Melinda got into the head of a teen boy very convincingly.) One of the first books from the new Pear Jam Publishing House. Watch out for the website, audio book, and printed books coming soon... E-book available now through Amazon and Barnes & Noble now for $6.85.Paperback available 1st December. A must buy!

The very talented Melinda Szymanik writes picture books (her second picture book The Were Nana won the Children's Choice in the New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards, The House that went to Sea came out in September), chapter books (Jack the Viking), short stories (for numerous Australian and New Zealand Anthologies), including educational stories for Learning Media. She has a Masters in Zoology but chooses to write children's books full-time.

Yes by Deborah Burnside (Harper Collins) Available November 4th 2011

Luke is what you would call my only friend. When we were little kids our favourite game was pirates and that's when I started calling him 'Legless, because that's definitely a pirate name, and he called me 'Ahoy there, Marty'. Well, he didn't call me 'Ahoy there' but 'Marty' with the 'Ahoy there' first, get it? Just like pirates, or how we thought pirates would talk. Sometimes he'd say, 'Ahoy there, Mixed-up Marty!' Mixed-up Marty, that's me all right, and Luke is Luke with only one-and-a-half legs.

Marty has a lot on his plate. His mother is leaving home to fly around the world for three months. This leaves his dad in charge and he thinks Marty is a loser. He's also just started an Enterprise group with his bestfriend Luke, and three others, which with all the in-fighting and crocheting doesn't leave much time for his overdue homework. On top of all that Marty is autistic; he finds faces hard to work out and he doesn't like to be touched. How will this help him get to first base with Francesca? How will get on without his Mum? Will the Enterprise group ever got on long enough to make a decision?

A moving and sometimes funny book about an Autistic teen boy navigating adolescence and making sense of the world through his mixed up mind. Author Deborah Burnside checked out the Young Enterprise Scheme at her local high school while researching for the book. While dwelving into the mind of an autistic teen boy she discovered that her own son had similar problems (and as Deborah emphasises - its not about her own son).  Highly recommended for 11-15 year olds.

Deborah Burnside lives in Taradale and is the mother of three sons. Her first novel On a Good Day was shortlisted for the 2005 LIANZA Awards and was a Storylines Notable Young Adult Fiction Book the same year. Her first junior novel Night Hunting was a 2009 Storylines Notable Junior Fiction Book. Her children's non-fiction book It's True: This Book is a Load of Rubbish was part of the popular 'It's True' series in Australia.

RRP $22.99 ISBN: 9781869509255

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Scholastic's Picture Books for Christmas!

Marmaduke Duck and Bernadette Bear by Juliette MacIver, illustrations by Sarah Davis

On Hollyhock Hill, at the very tip top,
Marmaduke Duck had a marmalade shop.
Marmalade jam, from the roof to the floor!
A matchless, marvellous marmalade store!

Marmaduke Duck's marmalade store is a roaring success. Animals queue up for miles to buy his wares until Bernadette Bear opens up a honey shop next door.  Then everyone troops to the newest and trendiest store to buy Bernadette Bear's honey. Poor Marmaduke is devastated. He closes his shop and walks off in despair until he sees something that makes him stand up and fight for his store. But sometimes what you wish for doesn't feel that good when you get it. How do Marmaduke and Bernadette resolve the issue? Read and find out...

What a wonderful story to show children that being cooperative and not always competitive helps everyone be happy - a win-win situation for all.  In today's competitive economic market people sometimes do resort to devious means to get attention from the public - at the expense of others.  Though this message will be lost on the very young - they'll enjoy it just because it is a good story, older children will possibly see the moral link.

The book is even more likeable with Sarah Davis's illustration:  the expressions on the animal's faces, and the wonderful bright use of colour. I love it when the duck is reading a book on 'Know Your Predators' while a fox and a stoat walk into the shop. Instead of being scared of them, Marmaduke Duck hand feeds them some marmalade. There's lovely touches of humour in the pictures and the text. Highly recommended for kindergarten and Junior-Middle School children.

This is the second in the Marmaduke books. 'Marmaduke Duck and the Marmalade Jam' was a finalist in the NZ Post Children's Book Awards in 2011.  The judges said it was, 'A real romp of a story ... gorgeous and vibrant ..."
Piggity-Wiggity Jiggity Jig and the Christmas Baby by Diana Neild, illustrated by Philip Webb

Piggity-Wiggity Jiggity Jig
was a festive-y name for a small sort of pig.
His home was emblazoned in red, gold and green
and quite dazzled the eyes with its tinselly sheen.

Piggity and his clan get ready for Christmas. Relatives arrive with presents and children prepare for the concert. Though, Piggity is clearly not pleased with the role he is given. Who will take his place and will there be another role for Piggity?

A lovely story about families getting together and everyone working co-operatively to make an event happen.  Diana Neild expertly jiggles the language to make it rhyme and keep to the rhythm - making it fun to read.  A great read-aloud story for kindergarten and Junior School children.

This is the fifth story in the Piggity-Wiggity (not including the Book of Pigtivities) series. Piggity-Wiggity Jiggity Jig was a NZ Post Book Honour award, plus Storylines Notable Book in 2009. Piggity-Wiggity Jiggity Jig Goes to Dad's Cafe was a finalist in he 2010 NZ Post Book Awards.

On the Road to Tuapeka by Ben Brown, illustrated by Scott Tulloch

Heka the weka
and Reka the weka,
on the road to tuapeka,
saw a bus ...
a double decker!

The two wekas jump on board the bus along with several other animals along the way. None of them know where they want to go but are content to enjoy the view along the way. When Possum Pete pulls into the caravan park for the night they meet a strange little man with a barbecue and pan. He invites them for dinner - they are thrilled, until they find out they are on the menu. Will they get away or will the funny little man have a delicious stew?

The story reminds me of Wombat Stew but is a thoroughly kiwi version. Kindergarten and Junior school students will enjoy the rhythm and and rhyme and will have a chuckle over the amusing illustrations.

Ben Brown writes children's books, non-fiction and short stories for children and adults. Ben Brown's 'Fifity-Five Feathers' was shortlisted for Te Kura Pounamu and Russell Clark Awards in 2005, A Booming in the Nigh won Best Picture Book award at the 2006 NZ Post Children's Book Awards. Scott Tulloch is the author/illustrator of the recent Scholastic title 'Tom and the Dragon' as well as the Willy books. He has illustrated for other authors numerous other books too.

The Elves and the Cloakmaker by Chris Gurney, illustrated by John Bennett
Kahu the Cloakmaker toiled night and day,
an honest and hard-working man,
weaving his cloaks in his own special way
with his knotted and gnarly old hands.
There is a lot to do weaving cloaks - it keeps Kahu and his wife busy all day. So much so, they are exhausted at night and fall asleep during their toil. Over the night, four little fairy elves come  and finish the cloak, weaving special bird feathers into it. It's a beautiful sight and the owner is thrilled. Soon lots of orders come in for their cloaks and luckily for them the elves come in and finish them off. One night Kahu and his wife hide in the pantry and watch the elves at work. They hatch a plan to thank the elves ...

The Elves and the Shoemaker tale is transformed into a New Zealand story with not shoes but Maori cloaks as the magical product.  Instead of elves it's the special fairy folk from Maori tales called the Patupaiarehe - pronounced: Pah-too-pah-ee-ah-reh-heh.'The Elves and the Cloakmaker' is bound to be enjoyed by Kindergarten and Junior-Middle Primary School children. They'll love the language and humorous illustrations.

This is Chris Gurney's sixth book in the Kiwi Corker series. That's half of the books in the series plus she has written another two books: 'Hester's Blister' and 'Giraffe Attack'.  Chris writes with a faultless sense of rhyme and rhythm and shows great humorous talent.

Former BBC animator John Bennett has illusted two other books: Hinemoa Te Toa and The Boxing Day Test.  He now works full time as a cartoonist and illustrator.