Monday, December 22, 2014

An assortment of books for the holidays

Doodle Bug by Bruce Potter (Draconis Publishing)

Bruce Potter lets his pen take over his imagination and doodles creative characters and scenes in this picture book for children. There's a little story to complement the pictures about Doodle Bug walking through the doodles and finding all sorts of characters - it encourages children to find him in the pictures.

The illustrations are a mix of pencil drawing and computer art with black and white, and colour illustrations. At the back of the book, Bruce shares where he got the inspiration for the book. He says that he has always loved doodling and finds it helps him think more clearly and often that is when he creates something new. He encourages children to do the same.

When Bruce gives talks to schools he draws the doodles in front of the kids; first asking what they'd like to see. Bruce can draw anything.  Kids get so excited they yell it out when they've found Doodle Bug.

A fun book for 3-6 year olds. Could be used in the Junior school art programme to encourage children to doodle and create characters from their imagination.

Hear Bruce sing the Doodle Bug song:

ISBN: 978 0 473 28113 7
RRP $25.00
Bruce has just released an e-book version too.
To find details go to his website:

The Bumper Book of New Zealand Wildlife: to read, colour and keep by Dave Gunson (New Holland Publishers)

Dave has collected 90 wildlife species he's included in the New Zealand Birds, Garden, Shore and Sea Life Books into one bumper edition. You'll find birds, fish, insects, and marine life. Kids can draw them; noting their colours from the colour editions also in the book, then pull them out and hang them on the wall or fridge. Teachers could use them as templates for their Junior classes.  Also included are facts about the featured animals.

Will be useful for the holidays, as it will keep kids occupied and also increase their wildlife knowledge of New Zealand species.

Dave Gunson is a prolific writer and illustrator of children's books. He's written seven titles in the 'All About' series, four board books for young children, and written and illustrated many picture books and activity books.

ISBN: 978 1 86966 427 5
RRP: 19.99

No cover available at time of writing blog.

The Story of a New Zealand Truck Driver by Mary Kelleher, music by David Parker

For something a bit unusual (in a delightful way) and on subjects little boys are bound to what to know more about ... have a look at the this book.  For starters it's a fold-out mural book that you can hang on a wall or sit on a table.  The artist has created the pictures from a collage of raw materials such as sacking, felt, buttons, string, photographs and material. (I hope she holds an exhibition one day so we can see the originals!) The story is embroidered onto woven material and are snatches of conversations between the truck driver and the people he meets. If you play the CD these words have been transformed into a song from the tune 'Baa Baa Black Sheep'. On the other side of the mural are fact boxes about the journey Truck driver Bertie Williams has when he travels over the hills and valleys of Banks Peninsula from 1920 to 1960. Kids will learn about wool bales, cocksfoot, Indian motor cycle and Side car race, vehicle author licences, snow blizzards, kerosene, and the hills of Bank Pensinsula. On the back page is a map of the journey and the CD.  Other books in the series include 'The Mill is Kaiapoi' with more to come. Go to to find out more and see their other murals.

After reading the book, teachers could encourage children to make a class mural about the history of their area.  A great resource for schools when studying local history.

ISBN: 978-0-473-28703-0 
RRP $39.99

Release the Beast by Romy Sai Zunde, illustrated by Cinzah Merkens (Beatnik Publishing)

A little boy is feeling naughty and unleashes his inner beast. 

"When I get mad, the beast boils in my bones. He stomps in my feet and roars in my mouth. He does anything he wants, and no one can stop him, not even mummy. He can make anything he dreams happen, and the beast never, ever gets into trouble."

When baby wants to play with the blocks the inner beast stomps and kicks down the blocks and shuts mummy in a box and eats baby Noah for breakfast.When his father tells him to hurry up, again his inner beast wakes up. Same when he's told to eat up all his vegetables, and go for a bath. His inner beast does whatever he wants. Or does he?

Read this delightful story with clever artwork - stylised in mix of black ink pen and water colour paint - about how kids and grown-ups can feel rage and can express those feelings through imagination rather than carrying it out. Kindergarten and Junior Primary teachers could read the story and use it as an introduction to a unit about feelings and anger management.  The book will let children know that anger is normal; adults and kids feel it too.

"A fun and quirky reminder that there's a beast in all of us - and why wouldn't he come out when you've been told to do something you don't want to do again! Being able to recognise your frustration for what it is, is what counts.'  Karyn Henger, Editor, Little Treasures Magazine

ISBN: 978-0-9922648-1-9
RRP $24.99

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Three Picture Books for the Christmas Tree

Go Home Flash by Ruth Paul, Scholastic NZ

I loved Bad Dog Flash, and this sequel is just as much fun. Ruth Paul uses minimal text to convey the feelings of the little dog, cleverly including rhyme and repetition. Here’s an example: “Sniff smell, find smell, strong smell, p-o-n-g smell! Wrong smell?” The story is simple – Flash wants to go out and run and play, but every time he does someone says, “Go home, Flash!” The pencil and watercolour illustrations are light and bright with plenty of white space, and Flash is particularly appealing with his black button eyes, cheeky grin, and puppy-fuzz fur. The simplicity of the words and the uncluttered illustrations make this book suitable for both one-to-one sharing and reading aloud to a group in a pre-school centre. Recommended.

ISBN 978 1 77543 245 6 RRP $19 Pb
Kakapo Dance by Helen Taylor, Penguin NZ

Helen Taylor’s distinctive artwork is the first thing to catch the eye, with the brilliant green kakapo staring beadily from the front cover. The inside illustrations offer excellent renditions of New Zealand native birds in all their colourful splendour – bellbird, kereru, whio, pukeko, and so on. The story uses accumulated verse and onomatopoeia to compare the birds’ movements and songs with kakapo’s thudding and booming. This book has uses over and above the standard reading aloud situation, especially for parents and teachers of pre-schoolers. Children can be encouraged to join in with the chorus and make noises to match the birds’ songs; adventurous adults can encourage children to imitate the movements of the birds – hopping, gliding, waddling, etc. The book will also be useful as a school resource to support the study of New Zealand native birds.

ISBN 978 0 143 50601 0 RRP $19.99 Pb

 My Aunt Mary Went Shopping by Roger Hall, illus. Daron Parton, Scholastic NZ

This is another entertaining text using accumulated verse and rhyme to encourage preschool children to join in and have fun with words – and it’s an old favourite. It was originally published in 1991. Here’s an example of the text format: “My Aunt Mary went shopping and she bought a giraffe, a scarf for the giraffe, a goat, and a coat for the goat.”  And so on. The unlikely pairings of animals and gifts allows the illustrator to come up with some hilarious pictures. Try to imagine pigs in wigs… The style is quirky, the colours are smooth and bright, and children should enjoy the way-out cartoon animals.

ISBN 978 1 77543 215 9 RRP $19.50 Pb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Librarian publishes two children's books

Motiti Blue and the oil spill by Debbie McCauley (Mauao Publishing)

There have been several educational articles in school journals about the Rena disaster but this is the first children's book that is related to the subject. Debbie has cleverly told the story from the perspective of Motiti Blue - a little blue penguin. When the container ship called Rena becomes stuck on the Astrolabe Reef Motiti Blue had been diving deep for his dinner. When he swam upwards "he found himself in the middle of a black sticky ocean". We're also introduced to a Kaumatua who watches silently; tears of sadness rolling down his face, as he looks at the sticky goo. He then sees something move on a rock - it's Motiti Blue. Find out how he rescues the blue penguin and Motiti's road to recovery.

Written alongside the creative non-fiction story is the story told in Maori (in italics so you're alerted it's not part of the story).  On each double page spread there are also text boxes which give more information about what is happening. For example, on page 15 we find a timeline of what the National Oiled Wildlife Response team do to help the oily wildlife; on page 16 there's a diagram showing how the oil spill affects penguins; on page 20 we find out what they feed the little blue penguins.

On each page there are vibrant large and small photographs. At the back of the book is a timeline of the Rena disaster, a large map showing what parts of the coastline was affected, and a diagram showing how the Rena grounded onto the reef. On page 32 there are extra penguin facts, and a text box on how you can help. Use your q-code finder at the back of the book to go straight to the website.

The front cover artwork - understated but striking - was created shortly after the accident by Elliot Mason. The endpapers show 365 little blue penguins that were returned to the wild.

This book is going to be a very useful resource for the classroom. Social Studies teachers could use it when studying 'disasters' and Science teachers could use the book when looking at the affects of oil spills on wildlife. Children will want to read it for enjoyment too. Young kids could have the story read to them or read it themselves. Older children will enjoy reading the extra facts. It could be used in kura kaupapa schools too, as it has Maori translations on each page.  Tamati Waaka translated the story into Te Reo Maori.

A well thought out book that is packed with lots of interesting facts. Highly recommended.

ISBN: 978-0-473-26869-5
RRP $28.95 (hardback)

Taratoa and the code of conduct by Debbie McCauley, illustrated by Sophie McCauley

Prior to a battle in 1864 between Tauranga Maori and British, a young Maori leader wrote a Code a Conduct for the battle. He wished that mercy be shown to those wounded during the fighting, that unarmed women and children be not harmed; along with two other rules. Find out who won the battle and whether they stayed true to the Code of Conduct. Read how a similar code of conduct was later signed at the Geneva Convention. 

As well as reading about this important piece of history, young readers will find out about other famous peace keepers around the world.

Each double page spread has the creative non-fiction story told in English and Maori. Each page also has several other fact boxes and a central illustration. A Q-code will take you straight to a webpage that tells you more about the book and extra information about the topic. The artwork was painted by 15 year old Sophie, the translation by Tamati Waaka, and Sarah Elworthy designed the book.

Social Studies teachers could use the book when studying peace keepers, and the history of New Zealand. Kura Kaupapa schools will find it a handy te reo resource.

ISBN: 978-0-473-26895-4
RRP $24.95 (hardback)

Find both books at the following companies: Academy Book Company, Arts Centre Bookshop, Books A Plenty, McLeods Booksellers, Paper Plus Blenheim, Tauranga City Library, Total Library Solutions, Tourism Bay of Plenty, Trade Me, Wheelers Books.

Debbie McCauley also wrote 'Motiti Blue and the oil Spill' and when she isn't writing children's books she works as a librarian at Tauranga City Library.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Two new non-fiction titles from New Holland Books

Playing Rugby League with Benji Marshall, co-written with Lynn McConnell (New Holland)

Benji Marshall shares rugby league tips and lessons in this 206 page book filled with description, photographs and quotes. Benji speaks directly to his audience of 10-18 year old boys (and adult rugby enthusiasts) in a conversation tone inspiring teenagers how to improve their game and also get the most out of their life. For all rugby enthusiasts and fans of Benji Marshall at the back is a description of Benji's 10 favourite games. An example of subjects covered include: the object of the game; how to pass, kick, goal-kick, tackle; and captaincy, leadership and coaching; fitness; and the right approach to league.

The book would appeal to rugby enthusiasts who also enjoy reading. However, even if they aren't readers you can tell your rugby fan the great thing about non-fiction is you can start anywhere in the book, where you want and just dip in and out whenever you want.

It's more than a how-to book about rugby it is also Benji sharing his knowledge and wisdom about growing up as a male in New Zealand, how to overcome mistakes and struggles, and to rise to be the sports person you want to be. Also recommended for High school and Intermediate school libraries.

Benji Marshall is a professional rugby league footballer currently with the St George Illawarra Dragons and ex-captain of the New Zealand national team - the Kiwis. 

Co-writer Lynn McConnell is a freelance writer/editor at NZ Sport Daily with 14 years of internet sport journalism, and 27 years of newspaper journalism, and author of over 15 books for adults.

ISBN: 9781742574387
RRP $34.99

For younger children ...

The New Zealand Nature Activity Book by Dave Gunson (New Holland)

An activity book that parents will want to buy for their bored 6 -12 year olds in several weeks time. It's got quizzes, activities, cut-out masks and mobiles, science experiments, spot the bugs, book plates, mazes, craft activities and lots more. Kids could take it away on holiday or use it on wet inside days at home (or the caravan/tent/bach) or do the activities outside in the sunshine.

For the parents - kids will learn scientific terms and get to know place names, and names of bugs while they're having fun; without even realising they're learning something.

The book follows on from the 'The New Zealand Wildlife Activity Book' by popular illustrator Dave Gunson. Dave has written and illustrated the 'All About' series which includes Birds, Insects, Plants, Seashore, Sea Life, Garden Wildlife; as well as the 'Read, Colour and Keep' colouring-in books; the encyclopaedic 'Big Book of New Zealand Wildlife'; and even board books for the very young.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Books by Nicholas Rumble

Kaki: A living Treasure by Nicholas Rumble

Kaki and his friend are minding their own business when Poaka comes along and threatens them with 'nasty words'.  Tara Piroe sticks up for Kaki and gets his revenge on Poaka. Will Poaka learn his lesson?

Sam's First Swim: A photographic adventure by Nicholas Rumble

Sam's hungry but his mum just wants to sleep. He dives off the rocks but he can't swim in the rough waters. Will he drown or will a friend come to his rescue?

Kim the Greedy Kingfisher: A photographic adventure by Nicholas Rumble

Emma the egret flies to New Zealand and is happily fishing in a swamp when along comes Kim the kingfisher, who snatches Emma's fish out of her mouth. Penny the pukeko is not impressed and has words with Kim. Will Kim learn to share?

Published by Nicholas Rumble under the imprint Beautifully Brilliant Books (I might add you've got to have a lot of confidence to call your company that name). The stand-out feature of the books is the photography; the images are close-ups of rare birds in nature. Nicholas crawls through streams and waits long hours - often under camouflage netting - to capture the right pictures. They are stunning photographs.

Nicholas combines his love of photography with a desire to teach children the skills of: perseverance, sharing, compassion, anti-bullying, and following your dreams. The stories are fictional with a moral lesson. Other books in the series include: Sheer luck: the Junior Detective; Mr Penguin and the rainbow stone; A beautiful song; Finding Dottie the Dotterel.  Could be read to, with or by 5-7 year old children.

ISBN: 978-0-473-21830-0
RRP $14.99 or buy the set for $79.99 with free shipping
Buy direct from his website: