Thursday, October 30, 2014

Time-slip away with Adele Broadbent

Trouble in Time by Adele Broadbent, Scholastic NZ

This is an exciting time-slip story in which 12-year-old Ben travels back in time to meet his great-grandfather in 1935. Ben is having a few problems – he doesn’t like his crotchety old great-grandfather coming to stay, and his best friend seems far too impressed by a new boy at school called Connor who’s got criminal tendencies. But one day Ben finds his great-grandfather, Charlie, sleeping like the dead, and when he touches him Ben zooms back to the unfamiliar and frightening world of 1935. It takes a while for him (and Charlie) to realise that Ben is travelling back in time via Charlie’s memories. Young Charlie and his friends are also having trouble with a mean schoolmate, and eventually everyone realises the bad guys in both time eras are related. How are Ben and Charlie going to stop Connor and his great-grandfather destroying something important and thus drastically changing the course of future events? The twin plot strands are nicely woven together, with the present-day and historical stories gripping the reader’s interest until they combine - and the problems are solved in both past and present. This would make an absorbing read for intermediate ages (especially boys) who like a comfortable blend of reality-based adventure with a light touch of fantasy.

Adele Broadbent's teen novel 'Too Many Secrets' was nominated for the New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards in 2011 and 'Just Jack' was a finalist in the 2012 Awards. Adele has also written a number of chapter books and articles for the educational market. She lives in Napier with her husband and two teenage sons.
ISBN 978 1 77543 226 5 $19.50 Hb

Monday, October 27, 2014

A delightful new kiwi story

Kuwi's First Egg by Kat Merewether

Find out how Kuwi the Kiwi looks after her newly laid egg. She knits a scarf, sings a waiata and takes it out to play but Egg doesn’t seem too impressed. When the egg begins to crack Kuwi thinks she has not done a very good job  – what can she do?
Read this delightful imaginary story about a clueless kiwi looking after her egg.
Note, in real life the male kiwi incubates the egg - parents can start a discussion with them about that. Children will enjoy the pictures, as the burrow expands and new insects make their own little homes around it, and the little kiwi’s expressions are rather gorgeous. A book that will be asked to be read again and again.

Kat has illustrated many books for authors before but this is the first book she has written and illustrated and published herself. I spoke to Kat about her book and she said that her father had worked for the Department of Conservation for many years and now works as a volunteer at Maungatautari Reserve with Kiwi Conservation so she had talked a lot about the father/egg incubation. 
"In the story there is a bit of the background that I hoped parents might pick up on… Why is Kuwi alone? (maybe the father/mate has succumbed to a predator?).  That is why she doesn't know what to do with the egg either, as it is not in her nature to be the nurturer.  

I couldn't add the gatefold 'flaps' to the digital book, but on the back cover 'flap' it has facts about the brown kiwi and a link to the website to find out more about them.  On the website I have explained more about the background of the story and about the father being the caregiver in most scenarios.  I wanted to tie in the more factual and important side of Kiwi conservation with the fun/funny story that appeals to very young children." 

On Kat's website she says:
THE IDEA BEHIND Kuwi's First Egg.

I first came up with the idea behind Kuwi's First Egg when I was surviving through the perils of life with a newborn. I felt a little like we were learning to be parents through trial and error! I made mistakes, had to ask for help, and learned so much. Kuwi is me, and any parent who feels a little like they were thrown in the deep end (and totally clueless) when they became a parent.

I had 2 year old Willow and was pregnant with my third daughter Florence, when I actually put pen to paper to write and storyboard the book. I had been reading very basic and un-stimulating books to
Willow, aimed at her age group. I wanted to write something I could read to a child of that age, that
they would enjoy as much as the parent reading it.

In my research, I discovered that the male Kiwi typically cares for the Kiwi egg. I thought that was quite interesting, and so the character Kuwi, being female, turns that idea on its head. She is a confused first-time mother Kiwi, who has found herself alone with her new egg.  The Kiwi population is so fragile, I imagine Kiwi often lose their partners to predators.  And what would happen if a pregnant Kiwi lost her mate?

I added very basic Te Reo Māori words into the story, to introduce children to a little Te Reo at a young age. The story is simply written to suit the 1-5 year age group, but it has a broader appeal due to it's sense of humour and subtle iconic New Zealand feel.

RRP $19.99
Buy back order here
Due in all good book shops mid-November

Kat's website goes live this weekend:  

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Two Picture Books for Little Girls

Auntie Ellie’s Beach House by Raewyn Caisley, illus. Lisa Allen, Duck Creek Press

This gentle, thoughtful story will strike a chord with New Zealand families – many of us have fond memories of time spent at a bach or beach house somewhere on our beautiful coastline. Leyla loves spending her summer holidays at her aunt’s house – so when Aunt Ellie says the city is moving too close and she’s decided to sell up, Layla is devastated. But a big bonfire and a sparkling moonbeam painted on the sea manage to cheer her up. “The moon will always know where we are,” said Auntie Ellie. “No matter where we go or what we do…” The last double spread illustration leaves us in no doubt about the truth of this wisdom. The style of the illustrations, done in fine black pencil and watercolour, matches perfectly with the tone of the story. The pictures are soft, subtle and dreamy, with many painted in a range of sea colours – green, blue, turquoise, lavender. I see this book being enjoyed by girls of about four to seven – especially those who are celebrating Christmas at the seaside!

Hardback, ISBN 978-1-877378-95-9, RRP: $29.99
Paperback, ISBN 978-1-877378-96-6, RRP: $19.99

Bye! Bye! Bye! By Juliette MacIver, illus. Stephanie Junovich, Scholastic NZ

People who love Juliette MacIver’s Marmaduke Duck books (like me) will find this charming picture book is totally different. It will probably appeal more to the little girls in your family. Written in rhyming text with assonance and escalating repetition, the story uses a first-person point of view to show a child’s sadness at going on holiday and leaving her numerous pets behind. There’s a pleasant surprise for the narrator at the end – which is more like wish fulfilment than reality, so parents planning Christmas holidays may need to do a bit of explaining… The illustrator (twice short-listed for the Storylines Gavin Bishop Award) has produced lush, realistic illustrations using watercolour and watercolour pencils. Everything about the pictures is soft and gentle, with much use of calming white space. The publishers say the book is suitable for age three to seven - but I would tend to recommend it more for the younger end of the scale. Book-loving two-year-olds will enjoy it, and I think it will be especially useful in pre-school centres that include younger children.

ISBN 978 1 77543 225 8 $19.50 Pb
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

Saturday, October 18, 2014

First of the Christmas picture books

The Toy Fairy by Stephanie Thatcher, Duck Creek Press

My grandchildren thoroughly enjoyed Stephanie’s two previous picture books, Great Galloping Galoot and The Quiet Pirate. This story is a bit quieter and more contemplative than those two, and I have a sneaking suspicion it may appeal more to the (only) granddaughter because of the fairy aspect. Parents will have a secret chuckle to themselves because the plot begins with Joe “forgetting” to put away his toys at bedtime. He’s convinced Dad is removing the toys, despite Dad telling him they’ve been taken by the Toy Fairy. But when Joe lays a trap and stays awake, he ends up with a huge surprise. The Toy Fairy takes a lot more than just a few toys… There’s a handy little moral peeping through at the end of the story. Stephanie’s pencil and watercolour illustrations are done in calm muted colours that match the homely setting of    the story – and make it an excellent book for bedtime reading. However pre-school centres and early primary classes may find it useful as a “settle-down” read-aloud for groups. (Also available in hardback).
ISBN 978 1 877378 99 7

210 x 255, 32 pages
Hardback, ISBN 978-1-877378-98-0, RRP: $29.99
Paperback, ISBN 978-1-877378-99-7, RRP: $19.99
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

Monday, October 13, 2014

Another great junior fiction book for boys

The Deadly Sky by David Hill, Penguin NZ

There’s always a lot to learn in David Hill’s books – I actually enjoy the information as much as the stories. This YA novel is set in 1974 and looks at French nuclear testing at Mururoa. I should remember many of the events described in the story – I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t until I read about them in this book. The story is written from the point of view of Darryl, who’s in the fourth form at school (Year10). He’s been watching some TV programmes about nuclear bombs and has managed to get himself thoroughly confused about the ethics of nuclear testing. His dilemma is temporarily put aside when he travels with his mother to a beautiful island called Mangareva in the same archipelago as Mururoa. But violent anti-nuclear protests in Tahiti increase his unease, especially when he meets some of the young people involved. The plot winds inexorably towards a situation where Darryl, his mother, and a planeload of people are put in extreme danger…

As with all of David’s books, the style is straightforward and easy to read, the characters are homely and believable, and the plot gallops along. It makes an excellent read for teenage boys – and I hope a few girls read it too. It’s also available as an e-book.

BTW, congratulations to Penguin NZ for the eye-catching cover, and for their brainwave of designing similar covers for David’s latest three books. They look like an unofficial series, and will hopefully encourage young readers to read them all.

ISBN 9780143308157 $19.99 Pb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman     

Friday, October 3, 2014

A book to help you prepare for Halloweeen

Ghoulish Get-ups by Fifi Colston (Scholastic)

If you enjoyed Fifi Colston's last book 'Wearable Wonders' you'll be wanting this new book too.

Kids (and parents) are often invited to fancy dress birthday parties, school book week parades and Halloween trick or treating - all which require a costume. Most invitees approach them with trepidation - what to wear ... gasp! In the past, I took my children to The Warehouse for cheap costumes, or helped with rough get-ups that neither my children or I have been satisfied with. 

That's the beauty of this book - there's nothing expensive you need to buy. Fifi gives you tips on how to make 16 different outfits including elves, fairies, punk rockers, vampires, zombies, murderous butchers, aliens and creatures. If those costumes don't appeal Fifi shows you how to turn recycled objects such as egg cartons, paper bags, sheets, t-shirts, pants and tights into numerous outfits. She also gives tips on how to transform your face, hands, feet, ears, hair, and how to make wings, foundation, warts, boils, facial hair, guts and broken bones, wounds, stumps and bumps, and horns.  She even gives recipes for ghoulish food such as zombie fingers, and eyeballs.

It is written in an easy-to-read writing style, with colourful photographs, and designed (text boxes, captions, fonts and examples) to hook the intended audience in - children 8-14 years (though, parents will find it really helpful too). It also includes three pages on materials and techniques, and an index.

So the next time you get an invitation to a fancy dress, you can take a breath, sit down, and open 'Ghoulish Get-ups' and you'll find something that will suit, or it will inspire you and give you the tools to make your costume out of materials you have at home.

Fifi is well qualified to write such a book, she has been a finalist and award winner at Wearable Art competitions for over 18 years, and has worked in the film industry as a costumier and illustrator for Weta Workshop. She has written junior fiction novels and illustrated other people's books, and has been a long-standing presenter of arts and crafts on TVNZ's What Now and recently Good Morning. Her book 'Wearable Wonders' won the LIANZA Elsie Locke Award, was a finalist at the New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards, and was awarded a Storylines Notable Book Award.
Ghoulish Get-ups is a must-have resource for families, and school libraries.

ISBN 9781775432470
RRP $19.00

Reviewed by Maria Gill