Category Archives: authors

2014 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults Finalists

colour-logo-rgb-large1It’s finally here – the day I can shout about the wonderful books that we have chosen as the finalists in the 2014 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.  It was a mammoth task, reading our way through 120 or so books, to choose just 20 to be named the best books for children and young adults in New Zealand from last year.  It was incredibly difficult choosing only 20 books but we believe we’ve chosen the best books in each category and I’m looking forward to all the events during festival week that will celebrate these books, authors and illustrators.

Congratulations to all the finalist authors!  Check out the list below.

Picture Books

  • Machines and Me: Boats by Catherine Foreman
  • The Boring Book by Vasanti Unka
  • The Three Bears (Sort of) by Yvonne Morrison, illustrated by Donovan Bixley
  • Toucan Can by Juliette MacIver, illustrated by Sarah Davis
  • Watch Out, Snail! by Gay Hay, illustrated by Margaret Tolland

Junior Fiction

  • A Winter’s Day in 1939 by Melinda Szymanik
  • Dunger by Joy Cowley
  • Felix and the Red Rats by James Norcliffe
  • Project Huia by Des Hunt
  • The Princess and the Foal by Stacy Gregg

Young Adult Fiction

  • A Necklace of Souls by RL Stedman
  • Bugs by Whiti Hereaka
  • Mortal Fire by Elizabeth Knox
  • Speed Freak by Fleur Beale
  • When We Wake by Karen Healey

Non Fiction

  • An Extraordinary Land by Peter Hayden and Rod Morris
  • Anzac Day: The New Zealand Story by Philippa Werry
  • Flight of the Honeybee by Raymond Huber, illustrated by Brian Lovelock
  • Beginner’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Paul Adamson
  • Wearable Wonders by Fifi Colston

Maori Language Award

  • Taka Ki Ro Wai by Keri Kaa and Martin D Page

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Timmy Failure: Now Look What You’ve Done by Stephan Pastis

Clueless detective Timmy Failure is back on the case in his latest book, Now Look What You’ve Done.

He doesn t like to pull rank. To reveal that he s this guy: Timmy Failure, founder, president, and CEO of the greatest detective agency in town, perhaps the nation. But he is. And he s about to crack the biggest case of his generation: a school competition to find a stolen globe. It s his ticket to bringing home a $500 prize, which is guaranteed to set him up for life. But someone is clearly trying to game the system. Hoodwink. Con. Defraud. So it s up to Timmy Failure, with the dubious help of Total, his lazy polar-bear partner, and his unlikely new ally, eccentric Great Aunt Colander, to find a way to avenge these shenanigans. Defeat this injustice. If he can only get his entry form in on time.

If you’re looking for a book full of ‘greatness,’ ‘shenanigans,’ quirky characters and antics that will make you laugh out loud, then Now Look What You’ve Done is the book for you.  Timmy’s latest shenanigans have everything I loved about the first book, but even sillier.  There’s more Molly Moskins, more Total (Timmy’s 1500 pound polar bear partner), more Corrina Corrina (aka The Wedgie or The Weevil Bun), but there are also hilarious new characters, like Timmy’s Great-Aunt Colander (inventor of the Boom-Boom Shoe Wheel).  Stephan’s cartoons are hilarious and add extra humour to the text.  I love the way that they capture Timmy’s somewhat strange outlook on the world.

The thing I love the most about the Timmy Failure books is the language that Timmy uses.  He sounds like a hard-boiled detective, even when he’s talking to his mum.  Kids who read these books will certainly increase their vocabulary.

Timmy Failure: Now Look What You’ve Done is perfect for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Big Nate.  It has been kid-tested and passed with flying colours.  I read both of the Timmy Failure books to my 10 year old boys and they absolutely love them.  I often hear them quoting things from the books.

Grab a copy from your library or bookshop now.

 

 

 

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Wonderful collections for little New Zealanders

Random House New Zealand have just released two new collections of stories for young New Zealanders.  Stories for 6 Year Olds and Stories for 7 Year Olds are chock full of short stories by some of our best local authors, and they’ve been specifically chosen for these age groups.

In these two books you’ll find stories by Kate de Goldi, Barbara Else, Margaret Mahy, David Hill, Sandy McKay, along with some talented new authors.  The stories are a mixture of the ordinary and the extraordinary, and about all sorts of things, from pets to monsters, climbing trees to camping.

They’re perfect books for their age groups, with a font size that’s appropriate and appealing stories.  They can be read by the children themselves or read aloud by parents or teachers.  There is something for every reader in these wonderful collections.

 

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Guest Post: Juliet Jacka on Night of the Perigee Moon

Think up your best insult, and be in to win a copy of Juliet Jacka’s award-winning Night of the Perigee Moon.

Do you like magical talents, talking cats, dogs and bats? Or how about fantastical feasts, yo-yo masters and entomologists in the making?

Then my book’s for you. Here’s the blurb.

All Tilly Angelica wants for her thirteenth birthday is to be normal! But with her changeover party looming and her mad, magical family gathering from near and far, Tilly is set to inherit a terrifying or tantalising talent of her own. But what if she inherits Hortense’s talent of super-smelling, with an oversize nose to match?

As the enchanted Angelicas gather and Arial Manor becomes a madhouse, Tilly’s troubles are tripled by her creepy cousin Prosper, and his sinister plot to bewitch the family by harnessing the powers of the Perigee Moon.

Halfway through the book, my heroine Tilly has to come up with a hit list of inventive insults. Here are three of her favourite ones.

“You’re an ox, an ass, a slubberdegullion!”

“You belligerent fleck of llama spit.”

“Earth vexing hedge pig.”

Can you come up with something similar? Send me your best one-liners (no rude words, thanks!), and the winner gets a free, signed copy of my book.

Have fun! Get inventive. Then email me at nightofperigeemoon@gmail.com

Juliet
Night of the Perigee Moon, winner of the 2013 Tom Fitzgibbon Award.

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Winners of the 2014 ALA Youth Media Awards

The winners of the 2014 American Library Association (ALA) Youth Media Awards were announced yesterday in the US.  These awards, which include the prestigious Newbery, Caldecott and Printz awards, are presented to the top books, video and audio books for children and young adults.  Here is the list of the 2014 award winners:

  • John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature:

Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures,” written by Kate DiCamillo.

Four Newbery Honor Books also were named: “Doll Bones,” written by Holly Black; “The Year of Billy Miller,” written by Kevin Henkes; “One Came Home,” written by Amy Timberlake; and “Paperboy,” written by Vince Vawter.

  • Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children:

“Locomotive,”  by Brian Floca and illustrated by Brian Floca.

Three Caldecott Honor Books also were named: “Journey,” written and illustrated by Aaron Becker; “Flora and the Flamingo,” written and illustrated by Molly Idle; and “Mr. Wuffles!” written and illustrated by David Wiesner.

  • Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults:

“Midwinterblood,” written by Marcus Sedgwick, is the 2014 Printz Award winner.

Four Printz Honor Books also were named: “Eleanor & Park,” written by Rainbow Rowell; “Kingdom of Little Wounds,” written by Susann Cokal; “Maggot Moon,” written by Sally Gardner, illustrated by Julian Crouch; and “Navigating Early,” written by Clare Vanderpool.

  • Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults:

Markus Zusak is the 2014 Edwards Award winner. His books include: “The Book Thief” and “I Am the Messenger,” and “Getting the Girl” and “Fighting Ruben Wolfe.”

  • May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award recognizing an author, critic, librarian, historian or teacher of children’s literature, who then presents a lecture at a winning host site:

Brian Selznick will deliver the 2015 lecture.

Author and illustrator Brian Selznick graduated from Rhode Island School of Design intending to be a set designer for the theater, but a stint at Eeyore’s children’s bookstore in New York City changed his mind and his first book was published while working there. He left to pursue a full-time career in children’s book illustration, but he still designs theater sets and is a professional puppeteer. Among his award-winning works are illustrations for two Sibert Honor Books and a Caldecott Honor Book. His groundbreaking “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” was awarded the 2008 Caldecott Medal.

  • Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award for most distinguished informational book for children:

“Parrots over Puerto Rico,” written by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore, and illustrated by Susan L. Roth, is the Sibert Award winner.

Four  Sibert Honor Books were named: “A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin,” written by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet; “Look Up! Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard,” written and illustrated by Annette LeBlanc Cate; “Locomotive,” written and illustrated by Brian Floca; and “The Mad Potter: George E. Ohr, Eccentric Genius,” written by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan.

  • Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for the most distinguished book for beginning readers:

“The Watermelon Seed,” written and illustrated by Greg Pizzoli, is the Geisel Award winner.

Three Geisel Honor Books were named: “Ball,” written and illustrated by Mary Sullivan; “A Big Guy Took My Ball!” written and illustrated by Mo Willems ; and “Penny and Her Marble,” written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes.

  • YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults:

“The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi,” written by Neal Bascomb, is the 2014 Excellence winner.

Four other books were finalists for the award: “Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design,” written by Chip Kidd ; “Imprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans During World War II,” written by Martin W. Sandler; “Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles, America’s First Black Paratroopers,” written by Tanya Lee Stone; and “The President Has Been Shot! The Assassination of John F. Kennedy,” written by James L. Swanson.

For the full list of ALA award winners you can read the press release on the ALA website.

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Win Pinocchio by Michael Morpurgo

“Now – there’s no point in pretending here – I was, and still am deep down, a puppet. Everyone knows Pinocchio is a puppet. I reckon I must be just about the most famous puppet the world has ever known. But the truth is I’m not just a puppet, I’m more than just bits of wood and string. I’m me. So I thought it was about time that I, Pinocchio, told you my story…”

So begins this stunningly beautiful interpretation of the classic story. Michael Morpurgo channels Pinocchio’s words to tell the famous puppet’s story in his own inimitable, cheeky and always funny way.

To celebrate Michael Morpurgo Month I’m giving away 2 copies of Michael Morpurgo’s latest book, his retelling of the classic story, Pinocchio.  It’s a beautiful little book, with colour illustrations by Emma Chichester Clark.  Even if you’ve read the story of Pinocchio before, you won’t have heard Pinocchio’s story quite like this.  Michael Morpurgo has a great way of bringing classic stories alive and retelling them in a way that is unique and entertaining.

Thanks to everyone who entered.  The winners are Stephanie and Vicki.

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More Than This by Patrick Ness

If you’re a regular reader of my blog you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of Patrick Ness.  He’s one of my favourite authors and I love everything he writes, whether it’s for adults or teens.  It’s been a particularly good year for fans of Patrick this year, as he’s published two books, one for adults, called The Crane Wife and a Young Adult book called More Than This.  The thought of a new Patrick Ness book always gets me excited, because I never know quite what to expect.  When Patrick revealed the details about More Than This, he gave just enough to whet reader’s appetites but left you with a huge sense of mystery.  When I picked up my copy of the book, Patrick hooked me in straight away and it haunted me right until the end.

A boy named Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying, his bones breaking, his skull dashed upon the rocks. So how is he here? And where is this place? It looks like the suburban English town where he lived as a child, before an unthinkable tragedy happened and his family moved to America. But the neighborhood around his old house is overgrown, covered in dust, and completely abandoned. What s going on? And why is it that whenever he closes his eyes, he falls prey to vivid, agonising memories that seem more real than the world around him? Seth begins a search for answers, hoping that he might not be alone, that this might not be the hell he fears it to be, that there might be more than just this.

More Than This is a tense, suspense-filled read that haunts you, so that every waking minute you are thinking about the story and trying to figure out what’s happening.  It’s one of those stories that is very difficult to explain to people without ruining the story for everyone.  I haven’t felt so obsessed with a book in a long time, wanting to just loose myself in the story and help Seth reveal the mystery of the world in which he finds himself.  Just when you think you’ve figured out what’s happening, the story takes a completely different turn.

Patrick Ness is brilliant at creating suspense (fans of his Chaos Walking Trilogy are familiar with this) and there are plenty of cliff-hangar endings in More Than This. There were so many times that I finished a chapter and had to immediately go onto the next to find out what happened.  I’m sure there were times when my colleagues wondered where I had disappeared to.  There were a couple of times where I cursed Patrick Ness out loud.  He really knows how to keep you addicted to a story!

Like his other books, Patrick has created very real characters who you feel for and are rooting for.  You follow Seth’s journey to find out what has happened to him, while at the same time, putting together the pieces of his life and discovering what led him here in the first place.

One of my favourite things about More Than This is the ending, which leaves the story open, but left me totally satisfied.

I can’t recommend Patrick Ness’ books highly enough and More Than This is one of his best.  He just keeps getting better and better.  Grab a copy of More Than This now. You won’t regret it!

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Celebrate Michael Morpurgo Month this November

November 2013 sees a month-long celebration of Michael Morpurgo’s wonderful stories, marking his 70th birthday this year.

Throughout November the Michael Morpurgo website is hosting brand new author videos, audio downloads and competitions, focussing on a different book each day. From War Horse to Beowulf and The Butterfly Lion to Kensuke’s Kingdom, celebrate 70 years of Michael Morpurgo’s stories this November.

Michael Morpurgo is one of my favourite authors and every one of his stories is wonderful so I think it’s fantastic that there is a month dedicated to him.  I’ll be sharing some of my favourite Michael Morpurgo books here on the blog this month.

Here’s Michael Morpurgo talking about Michael Morpurgo Month:

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John Boyne talks about Stay Where You Are And Then Leave

The day the First World War broke out, Alfie Summerfield’s father promised he wouldn’t go away to fight – but he broke that promise the following day. Four years later, Alfie doesn’t know where his father might be, other than that he’s away on a special, secret mission.

Then, while shining shoes at King’s Cross Station, Alfie unexpectedly sees his father’s name – on a sheaf of papers belonging to a military doctor. Bewildered and confused, Alfie realises his father is in a hospital close by – a hospital treating soldiers with an unusual condition. Alfie is determined to rescue his father from this strange, unnerving place

I’m loving John Boyne’s latest book, Stay Where You Are And Then Leave. Here’s John talking about the book

Stay Where You Are And Then Leave is out in bookstores and libraries now.

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Skulduggery Pleasant: Last Stand of Dead Men by Derek Landy

War has finally come. But it’s not a war between good and evil, or light and dark – it’s a war between Sanctuaries. For too long, the Irish Sanctuary has teetered on the brink of world-ending disaster, and the other Sanctuaries around the world have had enough. Allies turn to enemies, friends turn to foes, and Skulduggery and Valkyrie must team up with the rest of the Dead Men if they’re going to have any chance at all of maintaining the balance of power and getting to the root of a vast conspiracy that has been years in the making. But while this war is only beginning, another war rages within Valkyrie herself. Her own dark side, the insanely powerful being known as Darquesse, is on the verge of rising to the surface. And if Valkyrie slips, even for a moment, then Darquesse will burn the world and everyone in it.

Last Stand of Dead Men is the second to last book in Derek Landy’s wonderful Skulduggery Pleasant series, and it sure is one tense, action-packed read.  The further we’ve been getting to the end of the series, the more dramatic the events of each book have been.  The magic world has been teetering on the brink of war for some time now and it’s in Last Stand of Dead Men that war finally breaks out between the Sanctuaries.  An epic magic battle ensues, with death and destruction galore.

As the front cover says, ‘no one is safe.’  The characters that we’ve come to love are caught up in the middle of the war and not everyone survives.  Heroes become villains, enemies fight together, some people aren’t who we thought they were, and others look completely different from the last time we saw them.  Derek also introduces us to new characters and creations, my favourite of which are the Warlock’s minions, the Wretchlings.

Last Stand of Dead Men is the darkest of the series so far and we see the darker side of Skulduggery coming out.  While it doesn’t have the same humour as some of the earlier books, the scenes with Scapegrace and Thrasher provide some light relief and had me laughing out loud.  One of the things I like the most about Derek’s books is his brilliant dialogue and there is plenty of this in this book.

Skulduggery will do anything to save Valkyrie and I certainly can’t wait until September next year to find out how it all ends.  Will Skulduggery save her or will Darquesse destroy the world?

Last Stand of Dead Men is out now.  Grab a copy from your library or bookshop.

Win a copy of Last Stand of Dead Men!

Thanks to HarperCollins NZ I have 3 copies of Last Stand of Dead Men to give away.  All you have to do to get in the draw is enter your name and email address in the form below.  Competition closes Friday 4 October (NZ only).

 

 

 

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