Friday, July 22, 2016

Helping kids deal with anger

The Horse and the Hurricane King by Loretta Crawford, illus. Ra Savage, Four Seas Books (

Four Seas Books is a new enterprise set up to publish children’s books which will help children manage anger and similar negative emotions. Loretta was inspired to write the book by her son who needed ways to manage his angry feelings. Ra Savage is an artist, photographer and qualified life coach.

The text begins, “Once there was a boy who was always angry. He fought with his friends. He battled with his brother. He protested to his parents. He even shouted at the sun for shining.” One night the boy goes for a ride with a dream horse who provides him with a magic net in which to blow all his angry hurricane breaths, then the horse sinks the net into the river. At the end the boy’s negative emotions are washed away and he finds peace.

The illustrator uses a combination of media including photography, sketching and Photoshop to create an appealing dreamscape. Text appearance, page design, and background colour themes are skilfully used to convey the boy’s emotional journey from anger to acceptance to joy.

The book is written for a niche market, but its serene text and calming pictures have enough appeal to enable it to be sold in the general children’s book market. I can see it being of interest to primary school teachers and child therapists as well as to parents wishing to introduce their children to breathing therapy and meditation. There is a QR code and a reference to an internet site where children can listen to a meditation about finding their special animal friend.

For availability check the website given above. The book is also available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats; Wheelers have the printed book for sale for $19.99.

ISBN 9780473353384 Pb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Hopplepop Returns!

The Hoppleplop by Kyle Mewburn and Deborah Hinde, Lizard Lane Books (c/o PO Box 455, Te Awamutu 3840); also available from

This delightful picture book was first published by Scholastic New Zealand in 2004. It became an all-time favourite, and this second revised edition is greatly welcomed. Most Kyle Mewburn fans will know that this story launched Kyle’s picture book writing career – since then he has published 25 picture books. For those who don’t know the story, the narrator takes us slowly through his/her cottage looking for the elusive Hoppleplop. Various friendly monsters are discovered in different rooms, but where is the Hoppleplop? There are two surprises at the end, one easy to spot but the other is more subtle and may need an adult reader to ask a leading question – whose hand is holding the Hoppleplop?

Debora Hinde’s zany illustrations are brightly-coloured and very detailed; young readers will enjoy poring over them to spot unusual (and sometimes spooky) objects and recurring motifs.

The new edition has been re-designed in that the cover is different, there are new illustrated end-papers, and a new title page. The layout of the story-and-picture pages looks to be the same as the earlier edition, but there are three pages added at the end which give us interesting background detail from both writer and illustrator.

My youngest grandson is four and still loves picture books, thank goodness. I’m looking forward to sharing this one with him. Heartily recommended for reading aloud one-to-one and to small groups in preschool centres and junior classes.
Kyle Mewburn has written over 50 books, been published in over 27 countries and has won numerous awards. The Hopplepop was his first book; published in 2014 with Scholastic. Kyle said he is always delighted and a bit surprised when kids tell him it's their favourite story. For more information go to
Deborah Hinde worked as a graphic designer before illustrating children's books. The Hopplepop was the second book she illustrated. Since 2003 she has illustrated over 28 books including the award winning Te Reo Singalong series and the popular counting books '10 Kooky Kiwi', '10 Goofy Geckos' and '10 Plucky Penguins'. For more information:
ISBN 978 0 473 35530 2 RRP $28 (hardback); $20 (soft cover)

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Another kiwi book

Tama the Kiwi Tiki Tours New Zealand by Beks Bongiovanni, illus. Laker [Craig]

Published in 2015, this book is available for variable prices (around the $18 mark) in several bookshops, including some online sites. It’s also available at the website

The website says: “Tama the Kiwi Tiki Tours New Zealand is the first in a series of children’s books designed to inspire that great Kiwi spirit of travel and adventure! Starting off in his incredible homeland, Tama explores the landscapes, cities, beaches and farmlands, so kids in New Zealand and around the world can get to know this magical country.”

Tama is an appealing little cartoon kiwi who begins his tour of New Zealand at Cape Reinga and finishes it on Stewart Island. Each destination is given a colourful double-spread illustration with a block of partially rhyming text eg. “Auckland, the City of Sails, Kia Ora Sky Tower! Tama explores the Hauraki Gulf, feeling its beauty and power. East coast to west, white sands to black, four season in one day, with a jacket in his pack.”

This book would appeal to tourists looking for a children’s book about New Zealand’s highlights, and also to New Zealanders wanting to send a picture book to young relatives overseas. There is no plotted story as such, but the bright illustrations are eye-catching and would intrigue pre-schoolers and young primary-aged children.

ISBN 978 0 473 33606 6 Pb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Touch and Feel Hairy Maclary

Snooze with Hairy Maclary by Lynley Dodd (Penguin)

When my son and daughter were one years old we read every touch and feel book we could buy or get out of the library. Our children loved patting the bits of fur, silk or vinyl. Even when they were babies I'd direct their chubby little fingers over the well-placed bits of material until they knew what to do themselves.

Touch and feel books engage two of young children's senses: sight and touch. This is considered 'food for the brain'. Every time toddlers/babies' senses are stimulated it sends signals to the brain, which increases their ability to learn. It's laying the foundation for learning more sophisticated skills such as identifying objects by touch and using fine-motor muscles.

Parents who grew up with Hairy Maclary will love introducing this touch and feel book to their babies and toddlers.
Readers are first introduced to the cast of doggy characters lounging in the sun outside of Hairy Maclary's house. They can touch the corduroy material on the house roof before turning the page. Next, they'll see Hairy Maclary snoozing in the shade, and can feel his black furry stomach. Over the next few pages, we meet cats and dogs sleeping on ledges, in glades, on a wall, in front of a fire and tucked up in bed. A great first introduction to the Hairy Maclary series.

ISBN: 978-0-14-350728-4
RRP $19.99


Friday, July 8, 2016

Books for Bub

Kaakahu: Getting Dressed
Kararehe: Animals
Kanohi: My face

Written by Kitty Brown, illustrated by Kirsten Parkinson (Reo Peepi Taapui Ltd)

If you've got a new baby or a toddler in the family and would like them to learn te reo Maori from a young age then these three books will do the trick.

Otago cousins Kitty Brown and Kirsten Parkinson have published three te reo Maori board books for babies and toddlers. Kaakahu: Getting Dressed' shows toddlers getting dressed one item of clothing at a time until they are putting on their shoes. This is really appropriate for young toddlers learning to dress themselves independently.

In 'Kararehe: Animals' each page depicts a farm animal with a repetitive phrase: 'This is a ...'. Young toddlers will enjoy pointing and naming the animals.

The third book introduces the names of all the facial features starting with head and ending with lips. Encourage your toddler to point to their own head, eyes, nose, etc, as you turn each page.

At the back of each book is a handy pronunciation guide:

a ... up            e ... egg        i ... key       o ... paw          u ... shoe          

On the last page is a glossary of all the words in the book, how it sounds (phonetics) and the English word for the Maori word.

The illustrator has used a limited palette, which almost makes the pictures look luminous. Babies will like looking at the big eyes of the children and animals.

Buy them here:
$16.99 each