Monday, May 21, 2018

Interview with Adele Broadbent author of 'Between'

Adele Broadbent is a vivacious author who lives in Napier. She works at Wardini Books during the day and writes at night. She's written four other junior fiction books:

  • Too Many Secrets
  • The Last Herrick Secret
  • Just Jack
  • Trouble in Time
And her fifth long awaited book 'Between' has just arrived in the shops.  The back blurb says:

Olly loves soccer, his mates ... and ghosts, or anything to do with the weird and abnormal. It's scary and somehow fascinating at the same time. Which is why he is drawn to the old lady who pushes a shopping trolley around the streets of his town. The sign on her driveway reads 'Martha Mischefski, Spiritualist, By Appointment Only'. Whenever she sees him Martha seems to want to tell him something.

His pain-in-the-neck auntie wants him to keep away from 'mad Martha'. His mum seems really upset that he even notices the old lady, which makes her even more interesting ... that is until they meet.

I asked Adele the following questions:

1. Where did you get the idea for your story? 
As a child I too was fascinated in all things unexplained. When one of my sons began to share that interest, it reminded me of my childhood, when I would read every book I could about ghosts, hauntings, Bigfoot etc. Just like Olly and his mates giving each other dares in Between, there was a house not far from my own that all the local kids called the witches’ house. It had a high hedge along the front, skeletal trees stretching down the drive and an old tin shed squatting at the end. Just like my character Olly and his mates, we used to dare each other to run down the drive, touch the shed and run back. No-one ever completed the dare.

There is a strong football/soccer (whichever you prefer), component to the story. Olly and his friends are competing in a school soccer competition and soccer school is their holiday activity. Soccer was a big part of my childhood and teen years and the sport is still growing in NZ.

2. Love the title – how does it relate to the story?
I had several titles to begin with, another favourite being It is or it isn’t. We’ve ALL wondered (even if privately), at some stage in our lives, about these things. Are they real, are they fake? Is it something we don’t have a scientific explanation for, or is it a hoax? Wonder, in any form, is a part of growing up, and I believe we should never lose our sense of wonder about the world around us. Between means different things – our minds swinging between the wonder and the cynic. The character Olly being between childhood and teen, and one other reason which you’ll have to read the book and find out for yourself!

3. Obviously your book is a little eerie – please tell us about some of those moments (without giving the story away, of course) …  
The main character Olly is 12 years old and loves the supernatural, paranormal and unexplained. His mates used to be into it too, but now they say that’s for little kids, Olly has to keep his wonder to himself. When he meets someone that might be able to answer his never-ending questions, he’s even more hooked. Mad Martha Mishefski (the town nut job) claims to be a psychic, and he definitely feels strange when he’s close to her. The only problem is that his mum and controlling aunty have told him his entire life to “…stay away from that woman.”
Why? Wonders Olly. She’s just an old lady – isn’t she?

4. I noticed you are having a ticketed event for your book launch – please tell me all about it and where you got the idea from? 

Yes, I’m having a celebration for my new book Between at the Old Napier Prison, on Napier’s Bluff Hill. A functioning prison until the early 1990’s, The Napier Prison is now a popular tourist attraction, where visitors can get a feel for what it was like for the inmates. They have all sorts of special events there too. Escape games, scary evenings etc.

I work at Wardini Books and had attended Gareth Ward’s (Wardini himself) Steampunk Launch for his novel The Traitor and the Thief. He held a Steampunk Ball after the official launch and it was fantastic. So when Between was on its way, I wanted to do something different too. I was thinking about my story, which is about a boy’s fascination in the Unexplained - Bigfoot, Aliens, Loch Ness, Psychics, Ghosts, Palm Reading etc and thought, ‘What can I do for Between that is different? Is there somewhere that would reflect my character’s wonder?’

The Napier Prison has lots of its own eerie stories and strange happenings, so it was a perfect choice. I have some fantastic actors lined up for entertainment while ticket holders explore the prison corridors and courtyards. Between isn’t a scary book, so I didn’t want the event to be either, having it late afternoon 4-6pm Saturday 9th June. Tickets are the best way to know how many to cater for etc. The ticket includes a signed copy of Between, entry to the prison, hot drinks and snacks and entertainment.

5. Who is going to love your book and why?
Anyone 9+ really. It might be a story around the unexplained, but like all my other novels, there is a secret to discover and unravel. As always, it’s also about family. Olly and his mates are all 12, attending the same intermediate, and dealing with normal daily school life, including school crushes and a boy that has plagued his entire school life.

Review coming soon ... Watch the book trailer!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Another natural history book in the 'Whose ... is this?' series

Whose Home is This? by Gillian Candler, illustrated by Fraser Williamson (Potton & Burton)

Following on from the success of 'Whose Beak is this?' and 'Whose Feet are these?' Gillian and Fraser have collaborated again to bring you 'Whose Home is This?' It is published in its familiar small size - just right for small hands to hold.

The book begins with:

"One the forest floor and up in the trees, 
on the sand and in the sea, animals
and shelter.

They make homes from
sticks and stones,
create hard shells
or choose clever hiding places.

Can you guess an animal from its home?"

The book then describes in words homes in snowy mountains, on the shore, in wet mudflats, hanging from a tree, in a cavern, on the ocean floor, etc. Keen young eyes need to guess what animal lives there with visual and text clues. The identity of the animal is shown on the next page in a full page picture. The book ends with names of animal homes (rookery, nursery, twiggy nest, rocky crevice, etc., to help them keep safe and secure. On the last double page spread are small circular pictures of all the animals and the page they can be found on. The very last page has notes on why the author has called them animal homes rather than a place or shelter, and a summary of the type of homes, and an environmental message of what to do if you find one.

An excellent resource for 4-6 year old children. Children are very interested in the world around them at this age - and ask lots of 'why' questions. This book will help children and parents to answer those questions, and no doubt formulate many more.

Gillian was a secondary-school teacher before moving into educational publishing with Learning Media in Wellington, where she worked on a wide range of publications for children, including books about science and the environment. She currently works as a writer and an educational publishing consultant from her home in Pukerua Bay. Gillian is passionate about understanding and appreciating New Zealand’s wild places, however close to home they might be.

Fraser Williamson is an internationally recognised artist/illustrator whose work ranges from large illustrative paintings to quirky children’s books that try to amuse and entertain. Fraser wishes to portray characters and environments that allow for imagination and diversity. His work has featured in magazines, books and ad campaigns, both nationally and internationally, and he regularly exhibits his paintings at the Flagstaff Gallery in Devonport, many of which now adorn walls in Auckland, Melbourne, Finland, Malta and London.

Take a look inside.

Teaching Resource here.

ISBN: PB 9780947503666 ~ HB 9780947503673
RRP (paperback) $14.95 (hardback) $24.99

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Something new from Television Journalist Miriama Kamo

The Stolen Stars of Matariki by Miriama Kamo, illustrated by Zak Waipara (Scholastic)

I only heard about Matariki over the last couple of years - mostly through children's books. Matariki is the Māori name for a cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades. It rises in mid-winter and for Māori, it heralds the start of a new year.  Matariki literally means the 'eyes of god' (mata ariki) or 'little eyes' (mata riki). (Teara, 2016). Over the last couple of years, it has been celebrated more widespread and teachers often teach a unit study on it every year. 

Mirama Kamo set the story in Birdling's Flat, as it is a setting she is familiar with - her family have had a bach there for many years. The wild environment and starry skies stirred her to write a story/myth about the stars in the Matariki constellation.

The Stolen Stars of Matariki is a picture book story about two children, Sam and Te Rerehua, visiting their Grandma and Pōua at Te Mata Hāpuku (Birdling’s Flat). While collecting agate and fishing for eels from the beach they look up at the stars and their Grandma tells them stories. One night their Grandma notices two Matariki stars are missing from the constellation. They suspect the naughty
patupaiarehe playing on the beach with two glowing rocks have somehow stolen them from the sky. It’s up to Sam and Te Rerehua to save the stars.

Miriama has expertly told the story within a story from the point of view of two children. Inspired by childhood memories of eeling and storytelling with her grandparents. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book are donated to the restoration of the lake, Te Roto o Waiwera. It's an eye-catching book with Zak Waipara's stylised artwork. He created the illustrations with watercolour paint and pencil, and Adobe illustrator using a Wacom tablet. 

Miriama Kamo is an award-winning journalist. She is the anchor of TVNZ’s flagship current affairs programme Sunday and Māori current affairs programme Marae. Miriama has worked on many of TVNZ’s key programmes including 1 News at 6 as a newsreader. She is also a keen writer who has published in Metrol, NZ Herald and The Spinoff and is currently trying her hand at writing a screenplay. This is her first book with Scholastic NZ.

Zak Waipara is a former NZ Herald graphic artist and HOD of Animation at Animation College.  Zak
Waipara (Rongowhakaata, Ngati Porou, Ngati Ruapani, Ngati Kahungunu) is now a Digital Media lecturer at AUT. He has worked as a designer for Māori Television’s children’s show Miharo, illustrated comics and a range of books, and created animated music videos. He is the illustrator of Horeta and the Waka (Scholastic NZ). Born in Milton, in the South Island, Zak now lives in Auckland.

Stuff article about Miriama Kamo's book.

ISBN: 9781775435341
RRP $17.99

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Where art, calligraphy and collective nouns collide ...

A Kaleidoscope of Butterflies & other such collective nouns by Kate Hursthouse (Little Love)

Fresh from the postbox is a landscape hardback book about collective nouns. First time author illustrator Kate Hursthouse has used her skills as an artist and calligrapher to show what the collective noun names are for a group of animals.

The cover shows a kaleidoscope of butterflies - never knew that ... and that is not the weirdest one. There's a circus of puffins - colourfully illustrated in red and yellow with puffins dancing in a circus environment; a galaxy of starfish - the calligraphy paying homage to the mapping of stars in a constellation; a parliament of owls - with owls looking very business-like gripping a bar; and a memory of elephants - decked out in Indian adornment and swirly writing. And it keeps going ... you should see what a group of tigers are called! There are flamingos, sea horses, turtles, zebras (probably my favourite page), dragonflies, penguins, etc. Quite a wide range of animals from marine and land environments.

I couldn't quite believe what some of the collective nouns were called so checked them out on the Internet. I found most of them, but there are a few that I couldn't find such as a tangle of octopus. One site said there isn't a collective noun for octopus because they're solitary animals, another called them a 'consortium' of octopus. I also read that after a comedy show called a group of gorillas a flange of gorillas, scientists began calling them that collective noun too. So some collective nouns might have been made up and have shown up on the Internet and thereafter were called that.

Teachers, parents, and children will delight in this book. It's colourful, fun and kids will learn something from it. It's not written in 'story' style - it's more a non-fiction book just stating what each collection noun is for each animal. But I imagine it will stir children's interest, imagination and creativity.

Teachers (or parents with home schooled children) could use this book for a springboard for interesting and fun activities with children. Children could find more unusual collective nouns and design their page to complement it - like Kate Hursthouse has done. Along the way, children will learn more about collective nouns, develop their penmanship, practice drawing animals and put it altogether using their burgeoning design skills.  Students could go here for more weird collective nouns. They could also try to make origami dragonflies, teachers could use it for a lesson on use of plurals, an art lesson on patterns in nature and stylising those patterns for art, and a thinking skills activity making up their own collective noun for an animal. A creative teacher, parent or child will have a lot of fun with this book.

If you fall in love with the artwork you can buy them from Kate Hursthouse on her website. Here's a screen shot of some of the prints:

I enjoyed the humour in some of the illustrations - check out that cool looking llama!

ISBN: 978-0-473-42235-6
RRP (Hardback) $30

Monday, May 14, 2018

Long awaited new book from Tina Shaw

Make a Hard Fist by Tina Shaw, OneTree House

Sixteen-year-old Lizzie is getting anonymous letters. Lizzie Q, I love U reads the first one. Not threatening, but Lizzie is uneasy. It’s not her friends being stupid, so who is it? And why does she feel as if she’s being watched, particularly in the park down the road? Lizzie tries to get on with her life, doing her long-distance running and working in the local library. And then … Lizzie is attacked by a man in the park. Fortunately a dog-walker comes along in time to stop the vicious attack.

On the surface, Lizzie recovers. But inside she thinks, not safe, not safe anywhere. Life goes on, ordinary things happen. But another anonymous letter comes. Lizzie’s problems are nowhere near being over.

A teacher at school organises self-defence lessons for Lizzie and some other girls. The trainer is a young Polynesian guy, a street fighter with a troubled past. Lizzie grows to trust him and his mantra for self-defence, make a hard fist. Is it enough to help Lizzie survive when her stalker has another go?

This is a very real and credible story with a heroine many teenage girls will relate to. The tension stays tight all the way, and although we know Lizzie will be attacked again (and will be able to defend herself this time) we still want to follow Lizzie to her eventual success. The theme of learning to protect one’s self is a very important one, so I’m happy to recommend this for secondary school libraries.

ISBN 978 0 47339 706 7

RRP $20.00 Pb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

See 'Make a Hard Fist' teaching Resource in Teacher Notes

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Another new book for One Tree House

Wedlock by Denis Wright, One Tree House

Fifteen-year-old Lucy doesn’t have an easy life. She lives with her father who’s an ageing rocker playing in an ageing band and still getting into booze and drugs, and with her grandfather, who’s a feisty ex-prize fighter suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. Lucy is sick of babysitting these two no-hopers. But her life takes a surprise turn when she’s kidnapped by members of a crazy revivalist cult and is told she’s the Maiden, “the chosen vessel for the seed of our Master.”

Lucy initially fights against her kidnappers, even managing to escape from a remote farm in the Wairarapa. But unfortunately the cult members find her again and keep a closer watch over her. Overtones of Stockholm syndrome creep in as Lucy makes friends with a young male cult member, starts to enjoy the peaceful farming life, and begins to wonder if she should stay voluntarily and become the Master’s wife. But after Lucy has been in captivity for five months, jealousy and betrayal invade the cult and she finds herself in huge danger…

It’s a challenging, suspenseful story that pulls the reader along with plenty of twists and turns, but I did find myself skipping big paragraphs of rhetoric as the cult members try to convert Lucy to their weird ideas. I also had trouble reconciling the stroppy Lucy of the first few chapters with the passive, submissive Lucy of the rest of the book. However fans of Denis Wright’s first two YA books will no doubt be keen to read this one.

ISBN 978 0 473 42186 1 RRP $20.00 Pb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman    

Friday, May 11, 2018

A new look for a favourite series…

Dawn Raid by Pauline (Vaeluaga) Smith, Scholastic New Zealand

This is the latest title in Scholastic’s very popular My New Zealand Story series. I was interested to see the colourful stylized cover, which is very different to the realistic covers of previous books in the series. I asked the Scholastic people about the cover, and they replied, “It is a new look for the series, and as we reprint backlist titles we will be redesigning them with new covers. It’s basically a fresher look with a more contemporary feel – something that we hope will resonate with more readers, and not just in the sense of a school textbook. There are so many important stories told in this series that we wanted to give it a new lease on life.” I’ll be looking forward to seeing what they come up with.

This story takes place in the middle of 1976, anchoring its setting very firmly in the first sentence, “I can’t believe the first McDonald’s in the WHOLE country is here – in Porirua! – at the shopping centre in Cobham Court.” That brings back memories for my husband and me of taking one toddler and one newborn son to McDonald’s so we could have a special treat!

Enough nostalgia. The story focuses on 13-year-old Sophia and her family. Her father is Tongan, and her mother is Pakeha. Sophia is mainly interested in getting a job and earning some money so she can buy a pair of white go-go boots. But as she continues with her diary, interacts with her schoolmates, and does well in the school speech competitions we realise that she’s observant and thoughtful. 

Mention is made early on about the Government-controlled dawn raids on houses belonging to Islanders – raids that were meant to locate overstayers. The theme continues throughout Sophia’s diary entries, so it’s no great surprise when a dawn raid hits Sophia’s extended family - and chaos ensues.

It’s an easy and interesting read, with good use of slang and teenage pre-occupations to make the setting vivid and believable. Recommended for intermediate and early teen readers who want to know more about the history of Pacific Islanders in New Zealand.

ISBN 978 1 77543 475 7 RRP $17.99 Pb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

How science is revealing Sharks' secrets

New Zealand's Great White Sharks by Alison Ballance (Potton & Burton)

Many people from my generation were scared-stiff of sharks after watching the world-famous film 'Jaws' and yet very few people die of shark attacks per year. You are more likely to be run over or be in a car accident or drown! I don't see many people being scared of 'roads' or 'cars' or the 'ocean' because of it. It just shows how powerful a film can be.

Scientists who study sharks have long felt they are misunderstood animals. Alison Ballance, a zoologist, diver, wildlife film-maker and radio presenter on RNZ National, has written New Zealand's Great White Sharks book to demystify these large creatures and solve a few puzzles.

Firstly, don't be put off the rather conservative cover; open the page and you'll see a watercolour splash on the endpapers, and then some stunning photographs of sharks underwater. Within the 84 pages you'll find out about the Great White Shark Project, the team involved, what they used to tag the sharks, and how they tag them. You'll learn about special shark features, including they have a strong sixth sense, and 20 percent of their brain is dedicated to smell! And how you can identify individual sharks (if you ever happen to be up close and personal with them), and how you can work out how old they are by their size.

Read on and you'll find out what they eat, how they're built for the kill, how they navigate, and where they live around the world. You'll also read about the Australian Great White Shark Project, Australia's shark nurseries, and mothers and babies in New Zealand.

Lastly, the book ends with the puzzles that scientists have solved and what is still unsolved. There is also a helpful glossary and index. A book for kids who love to discover secrets of the natural world and shark lovers!

Listen to Alison Ballance's interview with Kim Hill here.

ISBN: 978-0-947503-18-5
RRP $29.99 (Hardback)

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Te reo Maori early readers

Te Whare by Ngaere Roberts, illustrated by Christine Dale (One Tree House)

In order to review this book and the next I had to use the trusty online te reo Māori dictionary. I did take two te reo Māori papers while at University (many, many years ago) and one year at Teachers College but I'm very rusty now.

In Te Whare the reader is taken inside the door and asked to look at things beside each other. First we look at the wall beside the door, then the window beside the wall, the table beside the window ... until we see a teddy bear beside a sleeping baby.

At the back of the book is a picture dictionary showing the words beside their picture. Readers can learn extra words that don't feature in the text but are shown in the pictures such as the pram, gumboots, etc. All will help a child in a kohanga reo and kura kaupapa school increase their te reo Māori vocabulary. Really useful for home schoolers and families bringing their children up in a bilingual environment too.

The pictures have most likely been drawn on the computer and use a limited palette of colours including black silhouettes - designed to not overwhelm the beginning te reo Māori reader.

A much needed resource!

ISBN: 978-0-47339-707-4

RRP $20

Ko Kiwi mā by Ngaere Roberts, illustrated by Christine Dale (One Tree House)

Written completely in Maori including front and back covers and imprint pages.  Teachers and parents will need te reo Māori knowledge to use the books with their students or children. Or you can do what I did and use the online te reo Māori dictionary.

In Ko Kiwi mā young readers learn how to count our native animals in te reo Māori.

He Kiwi
Kotahi te kiwi,
kei rō ngahere.

(My translation)
A Kiwi
One kiwi in the bush/forest.

We then count two Tīwaiwaka on the tree, three kahawai in the sea, four tuatara on top of the rock, etc., until ten scallops. The last double page spread shows the counts the animals (without the environment added).

Christine Dale has used a limited palette of colours: white, blue, black, green, and small specks of red on some of the computer generated pictures. Simple no fuss pictures that won't distract the young reader from the text.

Another much needed resource for kohanga reo and kura kaupapa schools, as well as bilingual families.

ISBN: 978-0-47339-706-7

RRP $20

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Magical creatures in an enchanted forest

Amy's Dreaming Adventuers: The Enchanted Forest by Chrissy Metge, illustrated by Dmitry Chizhov (Duckling Publishing)

Amy loves fantasy, fairies and more,
But only in dreams can Amy explore.
So into her bed Amy jumps each night
with Snowy her owl who helps her take flight.

Written in rhyme, Amy goes to bed each night knowing she'll go on an adventure while she sleeps. First Amy meets fairies, then frogs, trolls and more magical creatures in the forest, until Amy sees something she has always wanted to meet. Her dream fulfilled she flits back to bed. Is it real or not?

Chrissy Metge along with being an animator/producer/production manager also writes and publishes children's books. She has also written four 'Max and his big Imagination' books. This is the first in the Amy's Adventure series.

The bright colourful computer generated artwork fill each double page spread.

For young girls (4-6 years) who like pink, fairies and other magical creatures.

See an interview with Chrissy here.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

For Treaty studies

The Treaty of Waitangi in Tauranga: Te Tiriti o Waitangi ki Tauranga Moana by Debbie McCauley, Tamati Waaka, Whare Joseph Thompson (Mauao Publishing)

The Treaty of Waitangi in Tauranga: Te Tiriti o Waitangi ki Tauranga Moana is a non-fiction narrative picture book story about the Treaty and Tauranga's part in it. It took author Debbie McCauley three years to write the book. Along the way she consulted local iwi, found an extensive array of pictures and photographs, had Tamati Waaka translate the text into te reo Maori, and Whare Joseph Thompson illustrate the book. I'm going to mention the designer Sarah Elworthy here too, because she's done an excellent job.

The story starts in 1840 in Waitangi where the treaty was written, discussed and signed in the hope that it would bring peace to New Zealand. Nine copies were sent out. Two were sent to Tauranga; one a written copy that was never signed, and the other a copy (known as Sheet 5), the one that Tauranga Maori signed. Debbie gives the reader the context in which Sheet 5 was signed (or not, some chiefs refused to sign it), and what happened in the aftermath.

Alongside the narrative story, are numerous timelines for the period 1824 up to the present. There are also text boxes on significant incidents that happened during that period, pictures and information about artifacts, as well as images of the treaty itself.  The book will be very useful to schools in the Tauranga region, but I think schools outside that region could find it informative too.

Debbie’s first book for children was Taratoa and the Code of Conduct: A Story from the Battle of Gate Pa which was a finalist in the 2015 LIANZA Children’s and Young Adult’s Book Awards. Her second children’s book, Motiti Blue and the Oil Spill: A Story from the Rena Disaster, won the Best Non-Fiction category in the 2015 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. It was chosen as a 2015 White Raven by the International Youth Library in Munich, Germany. The Blind Foundation also selected Motiti Blue and the Oil Spill to be produced in braille, large print and e-text.

ISBN: 9780473412142
RRP (Hb) $39.95

Picture book story based on true life experience

Bruce Finds a Home by Kathryn Van Beek (Mary Egan Publishing)

Bruce Finds a Home is loosely based on a real life kitten called Bruce who was found on the streets when only a few days old. In the picture book story, six year old Kate finds the kitten on the way to school. She knocks at every door in the street and asks if they'll give the kitten a home and a name. A tatooed lady, the Reverend, and a gentleman can't give the kitten a home but suggest several names. Who will look after the kitten and how will they find its name?

The true story of Bruce is that the author illustrator Kathryn Van Beek found the kitten and documented its progress on social media. In the process thousands of people around the world watched Bruce grow up.

Kathryn asked a local school for ideas on how to develop the story, then crowd funded the expense of printing the book and released it in February 2018. Kathryn also drew the bright intricate pictures.

For children who love cats or anyone who has watched Bruce grow up and want a keepsake.

And here's the real Bruce:

ISBN: 978-0-473-39173-7
RRP $20

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

A picture book, a language lesson, and a waiata all in one!

Weka's Waiata by Nikki Slade Robinson (David Ling Books)

Five fluffy weka chicks are excited their koro (grandfather) and kuia (grandmother) are coming to visit them but they don't know what to do to surprise them. Kiwi suggests they make up a song. Each little weka runs to their special place to open up their hearts to find the words for their song. Together they make up a special waiata to delight their grandparents.

Along the way little tamariki can learn how to pronounce the Maori vowels the correct way and learn a
song to sing. Musical parents or teachers can learn the chords at the back of the book to play the tune for children to sing.

Weka's Waiata is a sequel to Ruru's Hangi and The Little Kiwi's Matariki - winner of the Best Picture Book at the 2016 book awards.

Nikki has illustrated over 60 children's books and readers.

  • Hardback, ISBN 978-1-927305-37-9 RRP: $29.99
  • Paperback, ISBN 978-1-927305-38-6, RRP: $19.99