N.B. All views and opinions expressed in this post are my own. They in no way reflect those of the 2014 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards judging committee.
It’s now three weeks since I got my first lot of books that were submitted for next year’s New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards. I’ve been mixing up my reading, switching between junior fiction and young adult fiction. So far, I’ve been really impressed with the quality of the writing and the range of genres represented. Deborah Burnside’s Rebecca and the Queen of Nations transported me back in time, Vince Ford’s Scrap: Tale of a Blond Puppy introduced me to the life of a sheep-dog, I spent a week in a hut with no power in Joy Cowley’s Dunger, and I met a young Odysseus in Catherine Mayo’s Murder at Mykenai. One of my favourites so far has been Bugs by Whiti Hereaka, a Young Adult book about the unfolding lives of three young people in their last year of school in small-town New Zealand.
At the weekend I read my way through the 49 submitted picture books, labeling them and sorting them into 4 piles. There are some truly brilliant picture books, some really bad ones, and quite a few in between. It’s been interesting looking at what picture books have been included in ‘Best of 2013′ lists. There have been a couple that others have highlighted at ‘bests’ which I consider fairly average, but I’m not going to name them. It’s easy to identify the brilliant picture books, by their high-quality production and design, stunning illustrations, and text that flows and bounces. Here are a couple of my picture book highlights:
I’m looking forward to meeting with my fellow judges and hearing their opinions of the books that they have read. I’m curious to find out whether we have similar opinions on our top books.
Imagine my surprise when I came back from a couple of days away to find 3 big boxes of books waiting for me. Ever since the announcement that I’m going to be a judge for the 2014 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards, I’ve been wondering which books will be chosen to be considered for the awards. There have been so many wonderful New Zealand books published in the last year and I’ve had quite a few favourites.
When I couldn’t wait any longer I opened the boxes to find 104 beauties (only the first lot of submissions) waiting for me to open their covers and discover the stories and information that await inside. I was glad to find my favourites, those stories that have stuck in my mind, as well as some I had really wanted to read but hadn’t got around to, and some books that I hadn’t even heard of. There are some whose covers and design jump right out at you and beg to be read, and others whose poor design and production will be barriers for some readers discovering the story within the pages.
I sorted the books into those that I have read and those that I haven’t, and as you can see by the photo there is quite a difference. My first goal is to go back through those I have read so far this year and remind myself what it was that I liked/didn’t like about them, then start some serious reading of my ‘to-be-read pile.’
My mountain of books awaits me so I must get started. I’ll report back soon on how the reading is going and what gems I have discovered.
Greg Heffley’s on a losing streak. His best friend, Rowley Jefferson, has ditched him, and finding new friends in middle school is proving to be a tough task. To change his fortunes, Greg decides to take a leap of faith and turn his decisions over to chance. Will a roll of the dice turn things around, or is Greg’s life destined to be just another hard-luck story?
Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book 8: Hard Luck, is due out in November from Puffin Books.
What if your whole world was a lie? What if a single revelation – like a single choice – changed everything? What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected? The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered – fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories. But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature – and of herself – while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice and love. Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.
Allegiant, the final book in Veronica Roth’s Divergent Trilogy is out now. I’ve been hearing good things about it and I’m curious to find out how the series ends. I thought the second book, Insurgent, was a bit lacklustre, so hopefully Allegiant will be a satisfying conclusion to the series.
It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is the just the right person to step in and save him. What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight, and misspelled poetry – and that Flora will be changed too, as she discovers the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart.
Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures is the latest book from award-winning Kate DiCamillo. I’m a huge fan of Kate’s (The Tale of Despereaux and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane are among my most favourite books) and this book sounds just as marvellous.
Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures is available now from your library or bookshop.