Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Travelling Restaurant: Jasper’s Voyage in Three Parts by Barbara Else, Gecko Press I’ve been tossing round words like quaint and quirky and original – they all apply to this light-hearted fantasy set in a country called Fontania. Twelve-year-old Jasper Ludlow is suddenly bundled away with his family on to a sailing ship but unfortunately he is left behind – with no idea what’s going on or what caused the panic. He manages to get aboard a peculiar circular multi-coloured ship called The Travelling Restaurant, crewed by a secretive young woman and captained by a gruff elderly man. Weird things start happening as TTR sails eastwards to re-unite Jasper with his family. Non-stop adventures ensue – involving a wicked, witchy woman who is determined to become queen, a missing baby, pirates, monkeys, spying seagulls, an unreliable uncle, a magical dragon-eagle – and a whole lot more. The book is excellently presented by Gecko Press, with an eye-catching cover, cover flaps which unfold to reveal two maps (very useful), and even a postcard to use as a bookmark. The writing is lively and the plot inventive but it’s a solid read that will appeal mostly to smart readers of intermediate age who don’t mind tackling something a bit different. To be released in April. ISBN 978 1 877467 77 6 RRP $24.99 Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

Thursday, March 24, 2011

f2m:the boy within by Hazel Edwards and Ryan Kennedy
ISBN:9781876462901 , Publisher: Ford Street Publishing

"Tick the box. M or F. Male or Female are the only options 'ordinary' people know about. M for Male. F for Female. You're one or the other. But what if you're not? Like me. As I'm finding out."

All adolescents face the quest for identity, but gender change complicates 'coming of age'. Meet school-leaver Skye who is transitioning from female to male. Skye plays guitar in her all-girl band, The Chronic Cramps. Making her name in the punk music scene is easier than FTM (female to male) transitioning: from Skye to Finn, from girl to man. At the school reunion, Finn faces victimisation, but challenges the bullies.

Uncovering genetic mysteries about family heritage tears the family apart. Gran’s loved sibling Al was also Alberta. Transgender identity is more than hormones and surgery, it’s about acceptance. Going public, Finn sings FTM lyrics on TV.

With a little help from bemused mates and parents who don’t want to lose a daughter, but who love their teenager, Finn is transitioning.

Read the first 12 pages for free here. See the trailer.

Awards & Recognitions: Included in White Ravens 2011, displayed at Bologna Book Fair.

Top Five YA novels for 2010 on Literary Clutter review blog (George Ivanoff)

Hazel Edwards and Ryan Kennedy co-wrote the novel f2m:the boy within and collaborated via Skype using a webcam. By writing together online and using web conferencing, they developed the entire novel using web 2.0 tools.

Australian Author Hazel Edwards has written over 200 books for children and adults. This is New Zealand author Ryan Kennedy's first book.
Book Reviews

•The Great Raven - Book Review "It’s well-written and answers a lot of questions"
•The Reading Stack - Book Review:"Give it a try. f2m blew my mind"
•Read Plus - Book Review: "Recommended"
•Aussie Reviews - Book Review: "A groundbreaking novel"
•Paper Tigers Blog - Book Review: "It’s a fast-paced and compulsive read"
•The Gender Centre, Australia - Book Review: "F.T.M. the boy within is a valuable addition to teen literature and should be in every school and public library"
•Reader's Corner – Book Review: "superbly written and well researched"
•Mortal words - Book Review: "a great, easy read"
•Cheryl Morgan - Book Review: "very approachable and non-confrontational."
•Bookie Monster - Book Review: "should be mandatory reading"
•Rooster Tails contains 'fan art' . 'going to recommend f2m to my Mum.'
•The Year in Review' ' delighted to see the YA market producing good books about trans characters'. Cheryl Morgan

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Three new non-fiction books

In love with Moko: The story of a New Zealand dolphin by Val Bird & Nikki Slade Robinson

This 100 page fact/fiction book tells stories about Moko the dolphin from Whakatane. First is the fictional diary of Aroha's diary:

Dear Diary
I hate to start this diary off in a grim tone BUT:
Mum's a bi grouchy and bad-mooded.
"All you can think about is Moko," she complained while we were having dinner.
"He loves me," I told her.
Then she gave me a nasty squinty-eyed look and said ...
"I wish that big fish would go live somewhere else!"
"He's NOT a fish," I told her, "he's a MAMMAL."

Author Val Bird combines fictional diary entries with facts and true stories about Moko. Another section of the book includes Moko's diary - giving a timeline of his short life. The third part includes 50 stories and poems from local people, who had the fortune to experience Moko. The last half has facts about dolphins and information about how you can help them. "Entertaining, poignant and educational, In love with Moko is a heartfelt tribute to this unforgettable dolphin and all the friendships he forged in his short but meaningful life." Younger children will enjoy the many photographs and illustrations, older children will like to dip in and out reading the different parts of this book.

A portion of the money raised from this book will go to WWF, which is involved in dolphin conservation and marine ecology.

Nice day for a war: Adventures of a kiwi soldier in World War 1 by Chris Slane and Matt Elliott (Harper Collins)

Nice Day for a War is based on the diaries of author Matt Elliott's grandfather. Corporal Cyril Elliot enlisted for war at aged 17/18 years lying about his age so that he would be old enough to join. Cyril served nearly four years in the army; training first at Trentham, sailed to Egypt and then travelled overland to France; where they fought the Germans from the trenches. He suffered injuries, rested in Britain for a while, then returned to Europe until trench fever overcame him and he had to spend more time in hospitals. Just after he was discharged on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month the Armistice agreement was signed and Cyril Elliot was able to return to New Zealand. Using information from Cyril's diaries, army personnel file and army pay books author Matt Elliott tells the story of Cyril's war experience relaying it in award-winning Chris Slane's cartoons, non-fiction text, photographs, and scans of other war material. It's a fascinating read for 10-14 year old boys and adults. Will be an excellent teaching resource for ANZAC Units for Intermediate and High schools.

See Nice Day for a War on Facebook and some of Chris Slane's illustrations at

ISBN: 978-1-86950-901-9 RRP $ 29.99 Release date April 2011

Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot by Sy Montgomery, photographs by Nic Bishop (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children)

American Author Sy Montgomery and New Zealand photographer Nic Bishop travelled to remote Codfish Island off the southern coast of New Zealand to observe the Kakapo Recovery Team in action saving the kakapo.

It's hours past midnight. You'd think any self-respecting parrot would be asleep. But not Lisa.

No, despite, the late hour, this huge, soft, moss-green bird, looking somewhat like a parakeet who has eaten one side of the mushroom in Alice in Wonderland and grown into an eight-pound giant, decides this is a great time to waddle out of her nest - a nest that's not in a tree, like a normal parrot's, but underground ...

Creative non-fiction recounts like above, interspersed with fast fact boxes, and Nic Bishop's breathtaking photography ensures that this is a captivating read. Targeted for intermediate-aged children and above (including adults) you'll read about the intensive breeding programme, meet some comical kakapo characters and some of the dedicated people living on the island to help the kakapo have more offspring. Highly recommended. (Maybe difficult to buy in New Zealand - I bought mine through Amazon.)

Nic Bishop will be at the Storylines Family Day in Kerikeri on Saturday 27th August and Auckland on Sunday 28th August.

Classroom Activities

ISBN 978-0-618-49417-0

Friday, March 11, 2011

For intermediate-aged readers

Chronicles of Stone by Vincent Ford, Scholastic NZ
This is a bind-up (or compilation) of the three books in this acclaimed series, Scorched Bone, Set in Stone, and Tribal Ash. Given that the individual titles are still selling for $21 each, it’s is a good buy at $36. For those who haven’t read the series, it’s set in the Ice Age (around 10,000 years ago) and describes the adventures of twins Trei and Souk as they leave their diminishing tribe and travel north to discover the secret of another tribe’s superior weapons. These weapons have enabled the fearsome Northmen to kill mammoth and dominate the neighbouring tribes. Meticulously researched, the book provides fascinating details of human society in ancient times, as well as telling a suspenseful tale of adventure, sacrifice, friendship, and family obligations. Aimed at confident readers of intermediate and early teenage levels, this is a story that will keep youngsters reading hour after hour, day after day... Teaching Notes available via .
ISBN 978 1 86943 824 1 RRP $36
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

Pick ‘n’ Mix: Volume 2, Scholastic NZ
Luckily for New Zealand authors, the Scholastic editors had too many stories for one anthology (Volume 1 was published at the end of last year) so they published a second volume. I have to confess a bias – I was fortunate enough to be included in this anthology. Like all good assortments, there’s a theme to suit everyone – humour, adventure, fantasy, animal, family, plus blends of everything. Favourite contributors include David Hill, Elizabeth Pulford, Janice Marriot, Kyle Mewburn and William Taylor – to name just a few. Each story is suitably illustrated by Jenny Cooper, and I was intrigued to see the different fonts used for the titles of each tale. The cover is attractive (lollies!!), and the subtitle “assorted Kiwi stories” invites the reader to dip in. This would make an excellent read-aloud for teachers needing to fill in ten minutes with their primary and intermediate classes.
ISBN 987 1 86943 994 1 RRP $21.99
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

Friday, March 4, 2011

Three new NZ non-fiction children's books

I am a Whale by Barbara Todd illustrated by Helen Taylor
I swim through the sea
Then I lift up my tail
And dive down to the deep

The fourth book in the I am a ... series introduces 4-6 year old children to interesting facts about whales in rhyme. The reader learns the difference between toothed and baleen whales, their feeding habits, what makes them a mammal, how they use echolocation to find their prey, and problems they face. On the last three pages are more facts and activities for children to learn more about whales. A useful resource for Junior Primary and kindergarten classes, and parents with children who crave facts.

Barbara Todd has written more than 10 books on marine wildlife, covering topics from albatross and penguins to whales and sea lions. Based in Nelson, she spends several months of each year researching orca off the Pacific coast of North America.

Illustrator Helen Taylor has illustrated many natural history books. A Booming in the Night co-produced with her writer husband Ben Brown, won the NZ Post New Zealand Best Picture Book Award in 2006.

ISBN: 978-1-86966-298-1 RRP$16.99 (New Holland)

All About: New Zealand's Sea Life by Dave Gunson

This is the sixth book in the All About series. Other books in the series include birds, plants, insects, seashore and The Past. Dave Gunson introduces 60 of our most interesting sea creatures and plants. Written for the 6-9 year old reader each double page includes one large or several small coloured illustrations and 100 words of text about the sea creature being featured. Some pages also include text boxes with additional interesting facts. An index is included on the back page.

An excellent resource for middle school Primary and for children who enjoy devouring facts.

Dave Gunson is a prolific author of children's books. His repertoire includes such classics as Dave Gunson's New Zealand Wildlife, Kiwi of the Great Forest, and Lost Worlds of Aotearoa. Dave has also illustrated many other authors' books including Which New Zealand Bird? by award winning Andrew Crowe.

ISBN: 978-1-86966-284-4 RRP $24.99 pp64 (New Holland)

Young Gardener: get your hands dirty by Janice Marriott

Following on from Yates Young Gardener: Growing things to eat, Janice Marriott's latest gardening book is packed full of fun outdoor activities to do in your garden. Children will learn how to make raised beds, things with edible flowers, a worm wheel, a miniature gardem, a bird garden and lots more. To entertain children there are quizes, jokes, interesting fact boxes and many diagrams and illustrations to show how it is done.

A great present for grandparents to give their grandchildren.
RRP $24.99 (Harper Collins)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Following the major Canterbury earthquake of September 2010, Quaky Cat brought comfort and much-needed funds to Canterbury children and their families. No-one involved with the book's production could ever have envisaged that, less than six months later, Christchurch would be struck again, this time by an even more devastating earthquake.
15,000 copies of the book were gifted by Scholastic to year 1 and 2 children in the Christchurch region at the end of 2010, and 50% of Scholastic’s proceeds from sales of Quaky Cat are being donated to Christchurch charities.
So far, $50,000 has been raised for the author’s and illustrator’s chosen charities, the Christchurch Women’s Refuge and Te Tai Tamariki.
This fundraising is now in a new phase supported by the Scholastic international community. Scholastic will be donating funds from worldwide sales of Quaky Cat to the Christchurch Mayoral Earthquake Appeal administered by the New Zealand Red Cross. The author and illustrator royalties will continue to be donated to their chosen Christchurch charities.
Through Quaky Cat, we can all support the children and families affected by the devastating Christchurch earthquakes.