Monday, November 30, 2015

A Hairy Maclary cloth book

Hairy Maclary and Friends: Cuddle and Play by Lynley Dodd (Mallinson Rendel)

There's been the books, compilations, a touch and feel book, board books and now it's the Cuddle and Play crinkly book. The Hairy Maclary books have been a huge success with the under four year olds. Parents enjoy reading them to their young ones, too.

In this cloth book, young babies will enjoy meeting Hairy Maclary, Slinky Malinki and Zachary Duck. A stanza from each book fills one double page spread. Babies can chew the corners, scrunch the crinkly pages, and even dump it in the bath and this book will survive!  It comes in a box with a see-through cover.

I am sure it will be a favourite Christmas present for toddlers!

ISBN:  978014350616
RRP $26.00
Available: 3 December 2015 onwards

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Interactive Junior Fiction Adventure book

Dragons Realm (You Say Which Way) by Eileen Mueller, Fairytale Factory Ltd

Eileen lives in Wellington and writes for children and teenagers, as well as doing editing work (she is one of the editors of the popular Twisty Christmas Tales anthologies). Visit her at

Here she turns her hand to interactive adventure – similar to the Twistaplot and Choose Your Own Adventure series published a couple of decades ago. The book comes in electronic and paperback versions, and I read it on my Kindle. The interactive capabilities (click on a link to make your plot choice) made it a very easy process compared to the old “turn to page 56” setup that I remember. The basic plot involves the hero (you – it’s written in the second person) fleeing from some bullies and ending up in a different world where dragons and other supernatural characters abound, some good, some evil. I didn’t follow all the plot strands, but read enough to get an idea of how it works. Most strands involved at least half a dozen choice opportunities, and when you reach the end there’s a brief summary that more or less wraps up that particular story. Navigation is carefully explained, and there’s a link to a summary of the choices available if you get confused.

Evaluating characterisation, setting, plot and style as per an ordinary book is pretty well impossible for this genre, so all I can say is that it would probably be most enjoyed by boys of about 8 to 11 who find reading a full-length, sequential chapter book to be fairly daunting. The interactive game-type element should appeal to readers who’d rather look at a screen than a printed page – they’ll have heaps of fun and develop their reading skills at the same time.

ISBN (print version) 9781519288363 RRP (print, Amazon) $9.95; (Kindle, Amazon) $2.97; 214pp (print version)

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

Monday, November 23, 2015

Starship Hospital children's book launched

Home Sweet Home and Seven Hearty Tales edited by Maria Gill, illustrations by Keven Mealamu and other talented Kiwi artists

I had the pleasure of being one of the judges for the Barfoot & Thompson Young Authors Challenge. This year the theme was 'Home Sweet Home' and we had a wide mix of entries from over 1200 children. The eight winners were:

'Home Sweet Home' by Josephine Sim, Cockle Bay School, illustrated by Keven Mealamu

"Mr Cat" by Antoine Ashman, Glenbrook School, illustrated by Tracey van Lent

"My Family, My Home" by Jenna Hainsworth, Beachlands School, illustrated by Erika Pearce

"Black Cat's Venture" by Lucy Li, St Dominic's College, illustrated by Anna Harrison

"Rangi Ruru" by Emilia Finer, Kerikeri High School, illustrated by Jun Arita

"Spotty's New Home" by Caleb Palmer, Elium Christian College, illustrated by Kate Diprose

"The Topsy Turvey Day" by Ben Davies, Patumahoe School, illustrated by Keven Mealamu

"Rodney's Adventure" by Nicola Daria, Royal Oak Primary, illustrated by Jun Arita

Young readers will read charming stories about how turtles got their shell, a lonely cat found a new home, a jellyfish accepted who he was, a cat learned a valuable lesson, a lost owl found his mother, a young prince adopted a dog, a boy survives a crazy day, and a rabbit helps solves a problem for others before solving his own problem. They are delightful examples of creative writing from 8-13 year old authors.

The stories have been illustrated by three full-time artists: Tracey van Lent, Jun Arita and Erika Pearce. As well as Kate Diprose a gorgeous 7-year-old girl who is a patient at the Starship Hospital, ex Silverfern player Anna Harrison, and All Black Keven Mealamu, who finished his artwork while competing at the World Cup. The kids were delighted to work closely with the illustrators and see the finished artwork in the book.

All proceeds go to the Starship Foundation. Buy it at your local bookstore or online.

RRP $20

Friday, November 20, 2015

New sport book for teenagers

The Beginner's Guide to Adventure Sport in New Zealand by Steve Gurney (Random House)

It's not surprising that Steve Gurney has written this useful guide for teenagers and beginner sportspeople.  He wrote his autobiography (two versions) several years ago and he is very passionate about adventure sports.  As he says at the back of his book, "Adventure racing is one of the fastest-growing secondary school sports. The number of students joining adventure racing teams has doubled between 2010 and 2015." A book on the subject is long overdue and who better to write it, than adventure sport legend Steve Gurney.

In the style of the two other books in this series, 'The Beginners Guide to Hunting and Fishing' and 'The Beginners Guide to Rugby', there are many colourful photographs and graphics to complement the 176 pages of text.

Beginner adventure sport enthusiasts will find out what to do, what to wear and equipment they will need, and how to keep safe while participating in these disciplines:

  • Open-water swimming
  • Trail running, tramping and fastpacking
  • Paddling
  • Orienteering and Navigating
  • Snow Sports
  • Climbing
  • Triathlon, multisport and adventure racing

There are tips on how to how to read a map, use a compass, gear maintenance, first aid, as well as training schedules, advice on nutrition and how to look after yourself for a race before, during and after. Great advice and tips. Could even save someone's life one day.

Highly recommended for Intermediate and Secondary schools. Teenagers 12 years and upwards will find it visually attractive, and informative. High-energy sporting kids can dip in and out reading sections every time they sit still long enough to read it. I know my son will love it, but it's not just for boys - sporting girls will devour it too.

ISBN: 978-1-77553-837-0
RRP $35, 176 pp

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Rhyming stories with an environmental message

The Sea and Me by Bianca Begovich, illustrated by Scott Pearson (Create Books)

Rhyming verse story about catching only what you need, never taking more than you need for a feed and leaving the sea clean.


The Bugs and Me by Bianca Begovich, illustrated by Scott Pearson (Create Books)

Rhyming verse story about taking care of bugs because they play an important role in our ecosystem.


The Trees and Me by Bianca Begovich, illustrated by Scott Pearson (Create Books)

Rhyming verse story about caring for our forests and wildlife.

The three books in the series follow a similar formula encouraging children to take small actions to protect the environment. Complementing the storyline are fact boxes with interesting information about different marine animals and mammals, recipes, etc. Young children (4-6) will enjoy the rhyming text and colourful cartoon-like illustrations.

Go to site for comprehensive teaching resources.

ISBN: 978-0-9941227-0-4 The Bugs and Me
ISBN: 978-0-9941102-6-8 The Trees and Me
ISBN: 978-0-473-28173-1 The Sea and Me

Printed books $17.00

Saturday, November 14, 2015

An exciting new voice in junior fiction

Lily Max: Satin, Scissors, Frock by Jane Bloomfield (Luncheon Sausage Books)

If you're a fan of Lauren Child, Victoria Azaro and Alan Bradley's precocious child characters then you'll thoroughly enjoy Jane Bloomfield's first book 'Lily Max: Satin, Scissors, Frock'.

Lily Max is a fashion designer extraordinaire. When her school puts on a ball with a promise that the boy and girl with the best outfits are crowned King and Queen - Lily Max goes all-out to design a spectacular outfit. However, her arch enemy Violet is also just as determined to win and will do so at all costs. Who will be crowned Queen? Will Lily Max be dateless? Can she beat her arch enemy to win the circus assistant job and will she ever hear from her BFF in the States?

Jane has developed delightful characters, with hilarious lines. There's drama, great costumes, and DIY assessories - sure to be popular with 8-12 year old girls. Guy Fisher's quirky illustrations complement the text.

Buy it at Unity online Bookstore or all main bookstores.

ISBN: 978-0908689910
RRP $22

Reviewed by Maria Gill

Monday, November 9, 2015

Two Picture Songbooks for Christmas

Two Picture Songbooks for Christmas

Jungle Bells, sung by Anika Moa, illus. Stephanie Thatcher, Scholastic NZ
If you’ve been waiting for Scholastic’s usual pre-Christmas offerings of picture songbooks with CDs, here are two of them (see also review below). This one is sung in light-hearted fashion by a popular New Zealand singer, and illustrated by a favourite artist, so it can’t go wrong. I recited the words of the song (presumably written by Scholastic staff?) to myself, and decided that Anika Moa’s version is the best way to approach this. Stephanie’s cheerful illustrations of jungle animals are full of action and colour and reward extra examination with little extras in the pictures. I can see that children’s librarians and teachers of children aged about three to five will find this book useful for activities combining looking, singing and maybe some movement.
ISBN 978 1 77543 364 4 RRP $21 Pb

Dingle Dangle Scarecrow, sung by the Topp Twins, illus. Jenny Cooper, Scholastic NZ
This is the fifth book in the popular illustrated songbook series begun by There’s a Hole in My Bucket. I have to admit I’m not familiar with the song but it certainly bounces along with lots of repetition in this version merrily sung by the Topp Twins. Jenny Cooper’s humorous illustrations are a delight – as usual. I enjoyed reading the information about the singers and the illustrators on the fold-over flap – on both this book and the one reviewed above. Who’d have guessed that Jenny Cooper had trouble drawing cows?? This book will also appeal to librarians and teachers of young children, and I imagine that given the words of the chorus about shaking hands and feet, it offers a good opportunity for children to stand and use up some energy. I’m not going to say which book is better – my advice is buy them both!
ISBN 978 1 77543 194 7 RRP $21 Pb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

Friday, November 6, 2015

More dinosaurs from Ruth Paul

What's the time, dinosaur?  by Ruth Paul (Scholastic)

When my son was four years old, he LOVED everything dinosaur.  One of his favourite games at kindy also was 'What's the time, Mr Fox' - putting the two together - sure to be a huge winner with 4-6 year old children.

Big and small dinosaurs creep up to Tyrannosaur, Mr Rex, then Stegosaur and other dinosaurs, as they take their turn to lead. You can tell by the expressions on the dinosaur faces that they're loving the thrill of approaching and then running a

way from the head dinosaur. What happens when it is the little dinosaurs' turn? Is it time for bedtime or do they have a surprise in store for the big dinosaurs. 

This is the third book in the dinosaur series, following on from the popular 'Stomp' and 'Dinosaur Dad'. Little kids will enjoy tiptoeing, stretching and roaring their way through the story. I can imagine it will be the favourite game at playtime, after a reading.

RRP $19.00
ISBN: 978-1-77543-319-4