Category Archives: Illustrators

Winners of the 2013 LIANZA Children’s Book Awards

The winners of the 2013 LIANZA Children’s Book Awards were announced in Wellington last night.  The LIANZA Children’s Book Awards are awarded by librarians for outstanding children’s books by New Zealand authors and illustrators.  There were some wonderful books on the shortlist again this year, including some of my favourite books of 2012.

I was really glad to see two of my favourites in the shortlist.  Rachael King’s Red Rocks and Mandy Hager’s The Nature of Ash were the winners in their categories.  They are both amazing books and it’s so good to see them get the recognition and awards that they deserve.  Check out the full list of winners below.

LIANZA Junior Fiction Award – Esther Glen Medal
For the most distinguished contribution to literature for children aged 0-15.

Red Rocks by Rachael King, (Random House New Zealand)

LIANZA Young Adult Fiction Award
For the distinguished contribution to literature for children and young adults aged 13 years and above.

The Nature of Ash by Mandy Hager, (Random House New Zealand)

LIANZA Illustration Award – Russell Clark Award
For the most distinguished illustrations in a children’s book.

A Great Cake by Tina Matthews, (Walker Books Australia)

LIANZA Non Fiction Award – Elsie Locke Medal
For a work that is considered to be a distinguished contribution to non-fiction for young people.

At the Beach: Explore & Discover the New Zealand Seashore by Ned Barraud and Gillian Candler, (Craig Potton Publishing)

LIANZA Librarians’ Choice Award 2013
Awarded to the most popular finalist across all awards, as judged by professional librarians of LIANZA.

My Brother’s War by David Hill, (Penguin NZ)

Te Kura Pounamu (te reo Māori)
Awarded to the author of a work, written in Te Reo Māori, which makes a distinguished contribution to literature for children or young people.

Ko Meru by Kyle Mewburn, translated by Ngaere Roberts, illustrated by Ali Teo and John O’Reilly (Scholastic)

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Picture Book Nook: Luther and the Cloud-makers by Kyle Mewburn and Sarah Nelisiwe Anderson

What would you do if a choking, thick, black cloud of pollution covered your home?  Would you sit back, worrying, and wait for it to go away and for someone else to sort it out, or would you want to find a solution?  In Kyle Mewburn and Sarah Nelisiwe Anderson’s new picture book, Luther and the Cloud-makers, this is the issue that Luther and his family face.

At the end of a wide, green valley lies a secret village, full of laughter and singing…until one day the clouds come.  As the clouds gather, turning day to night, Luther sets out to find the cloud-makers and make them stop, before it’s too late.  He meets many cloud-makers along the way, but can he convince them to see the error in their ways?

LutherLuther and the Cloud-makers is a powerful story with an ecological theme, about a boy who stands up for what he believes in.  It shows children that even one small act can make change happen and make the future brighter.  When everyone in his village is sitting around feeling sorry for themselves, Luther decides to do something about the problem and make the cloud-makers stop.  It’s a unique take on the ecological and environmental theme that will entertain and educate readers.

The story is full of Kyle Mewburn’s characteristic word-play and he paints a vivid picture with his language.  I love the way he describes the air in the valley as ‘so fresh your skin soaked it up like an old, dry sponge dropped in the sea,’ and he describes the pollution cloud as ‘tongue-tingling, nose-crinkling.’  Kyle makes the cloud-makers sound so menacing by using words like ‘rumbling,’ ‘belching, booming,’ ‘roaring’ and ‘crackling.’

Sarah Nelisiwe Annderson’s illustrations for Luther and the Cloud-makers are superb and really suit the tone of the story.   I love the way that Sarah has contrasted the colours throughout the book.  At the beginning of the book there are lots of bright and vibrant blues and greens to highlight how clean and fresh the village is.  Then the oozing black clouds appear and bring darkness to the landscape.  When Luther meets the cloud-makers Sarah has used lots of red, orange and black to highlight the danger and evil nature of the cloud-makers and their pollution.  When he finally gets to the city, almost all colour has disappeared, to be replaced by grey and black.  It’s on the last few pages that Sarah gives your eyeballs a wake-up call.  One of the things I really like about Sarah’s illustrations is the way that she frames them and uses different panels on the page.  One of my favourite examples of this in the book is when everything goes dark in the village and the animals become confused.  This style will certainly appeal to older children who like graphic novels.  I’d actually really like to read a graphic novel (or even a wordless picture book) written by Sarah.

Luther and the Cloud-makers is a wonderful picture book to read to children young and old, and it’s a must-have book for teachers.

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Picture Book Nook: Wonderful new picture books from Nosy Crow

Nosy Crow are one of my favourite publishers of picture books.  Their picture books are quirky, funny, and they look stunning! They’re the sort of picture books that you’re happy to read to your kids again and again, because you love them as much as they do.  Here are three of my recent favourites from Nosy Crow.  You have to go and get these from your library or bookshop and read them right now.

Weasels by Elys Dolan

Weasels – what do they do all day? Eat nuts and berries? Frolic in leaves? Lurk in the dark? Argue with squirrels? Hide in their weasel holes? Well, all these are wrong. What they really do is . . . plot world domination. Find out how their dastardly plans are foiled in this hilarious, off-the-wall debut picture book from a shiny new star in the children’s book firmament, Elys Dolan.

It’s almost impossible to put into words how original and witty this book is: imagine spoof James Bond meets Scaredy Squirrel if you can. It’s packed with cross-over humour to amuse kids and big kids too. The art is stylish yet accessible and full of details for poring over time and time again – there’s always a new joke to find! And there are machines and maps and even a laboratory . . . oh, and lots of lots of weasels.

Troll Swap by Leigh Hodgkinson

Timothy Limpet feels out of place in the troll family – he likes things to be just so, and most trolls, frankly, don’t. Tabitha Lumpit likes things to be loud, loopy and messy and she feels a fish out of water in her very neat family. Sometimes they wonder if their families really see them for who they are, so when Timothy and Tabitha meet on the bridge they decide each other’s family is a better fit and they swap places . . . with hilarious and touching results.

Based around the time-honoured theme of home is where the heart is, this warm and witty story is a celebration of the individual and offers a valuable lesson on not judging others.

Check out Leigh Hodgkinson’s other hilarious picture book from Nosy Crow, Goldilocks and Just the One Bear.

Books Always Everywhere by Jane Blatt, illustrated by Sarah Massini

A joyful celebration of the physical book in all its glory! For the very young, books can be anything – from a chair, to a tower, to a hat – but the best thing they can be . . . is a book… and it’s never too soon to share a good book with your little ones.

The simple text, written by debut author Jane Blatt is brought to life by Sarah Massini’s delightful and nostalgic illustrations of babies and toddlers discovering the new, magical world of books.

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Picture Book Nook: Dog Loves Counting by Louise Yates

Louise Yates creates picture books that combine two of my favourite things – dogs and books.  Louise introduced us to her book-loving Dog in Dog Loves Books, and then came Dog Loves Drawing.  Dog is cute, lovable, totally addicted to books and one talented wee pooch.  Dog shows how exciting and fun reading can be.  Louise’s latest book is Dog Loves Counting and it’s an absolutely terrific book.

Dog can’t get to sleep.  He loves books so much that he just can’t stop reading.  Dog tries counting sheep, but it’s not working – perhaps there are some other creatures he can count?  Soon Dog is off on an adventure, finding friends and numbers in unexpected places.

Dog Loves Counting is a cute, funny story in which Dog takes us on a journey inside a book to help him solve his problem.  Louise had me from the first page,

‘Dog loved books.  He loved reading them late into the night and didn’t like to leave them for long.’

You immediately relate to Dog and you want him to be your best friend.  When he can’t sleep he reaches for a book and hopes that it might help.  He discovers all sorts of creatures and makes some new friends within the covers of his book.  Not only that, it also helps him with his problem of not being able to sleep.  The text is simple, yet fun and I really like the way it flows over the page.  Louise has created a sense of anticipation of what creature will be on the next page and what there will be to count.

I love Louise’s illustrations, from the loveable Dog and his stacks of books, to the multicoloured Dodo, the Three-Toed Sloth, and the Five-Lined Skink.  Each of the pages made me laugh, but I especially like the picture of Dog in bed, surrounded by sheep with books in their mouths.  The way that Louise has incorporated the numbers into the story is really clever too and it makes the story more interactive for children.  Louise has also created some stunning endpapers too that add an extra surprise to the book and incorporate numbers, stars and the creatures from the story.

Louise’s Dog books aren’t just for kids, but also for book-lovers everywhere.  In her character Louise has perfectly captured how much I love books and what makes them so special.  Grab Dog Loves Counting and Louise’s other Dog books from your library or bookshop.

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Picture Book Nook: Bang by Leo Timmers

I’ve been a huge fan of Leo Timmers ever since Gecko Press first introduced us to his work when they published Who’s Driving? Each book of Leo’s that Gecko publishes seems to be funnier and more clever than the last.  Leo’s latest book from Gecko, Bang, is his best yet.

Bang is virtually wordless but Leo Timmers proves that you don’t need words to tell a hilarious story.  It all starts with a book-loving deer who is driving his car while reading.  Everyone knows that’s a bad idea and that it’s not going to end well.  What starts off with one ‘Bang,’ quickly escalates into a multi-vehicle pile-up, with animals, food, clothes, and paint ending up in one huge mess.

I absolutely love this book!  Leo brings his characters to life in his characteristic, vibrant illustrations.  I love how each of the animals have their own distinct personality and a vehicle that seems to be a perfect match for them and their outfit.  The cat has a very small, pink car and the rabbit has a very long car to fit all her children. Leo’s characters also have very expressive faces that portray all sorts of emotions throughout the story, from the horrified expression of the pig before he crashes, to the stressed expression of the mother rabbit.

There is a wonderful sense of anticipation throughout the whole book.  Each time a new character crashes you wonder what effect it will have on the other characters, and it often has unexpected results.  The sign of a excellent picture book is being able to turn the page and not know what will happen next.    Just when you think you know how the story will end, Leo surprises you.  Each time you read the book you’re bound to find some quirky detail you didn’t see last time.

The book has been beautifully produced by Gecko Press, with delightful end-papers and the wonderful fold-out page right at the end.  One of the reasons I love Gecko Press picture books is that they produce beautiful hard-back editions that will be treasured for many years, and this book is no exception.

Bang is a picture book that adults will love just as much as children and you’ll want to read it again and again. Thank you Gecko Press for bringing us the magic of Leo Timmers!

Win a copy of Bang

Thanks to Gecko Press I have a copy of Bang 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 10 May (NZ only).

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Learn to draw from Oliver Jeffers and Jeff Kinney

If you’ve run out of things to keep your kids entertained in the last few days of the holidays why not get them drawing.  Who better to teach them than Oliver Jeffers and Jeff Kinney!

Oliver Jeffers teaches you how to draw a moose.

Jeff Kinney teaches you how to draw Greg Heffley

Jeff Kinney teaches you how to draw Manny Heffley

 

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Picture Book Nook: Ted by Leila Rudge

I mentioned recently that I’m a sucker for a good dog story, so when I first saw Leila Rudge’s new picture book Ted I fell in love.  Ted, the little dog who is the subject of the story, graces the front cover in various poses wearing his little green jumper.  I knew right away that I would love Ted and you will too.

Ted is a smart dog, with his own jumper. But he has lived at the pet store for as long as he can remember and nobody seems to notice him. Will Ted ever find the perfect place to live? Ted joins the circus, enters a pet pageant, and takes a job as a guard dog, but nobody notices him.  When he least expects it, Ted gets noticed.

Ted is a superb picture book by a very talented author and illustrator.  Ted is a loveable character that children certainly will notice and want to take home. The story is great to read aloud and will have children laughing and hoping for Ted to find a home.  The illustrations are both cute and funny, with lots of quirky details that children will point out.  I particularly like where Ted puts his collar when he’s a guard dog.  The end papers even add to the story (compare the ones at the front to those at the back).

The ending of the book is absolutely hilarious and I definitely didn’t see it coming.  I thought it had all gone horribly wrong for Ted, just when things were looking up.  You’ll just have to read it to find out what happens.

Ted is the perfect book to snuggle up with and share before bed on a cold Winter’s night, so grab a copy from your library or bookshop now.

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Jez Alborough reads Nat the Cat’s Sunny Smile

Jez Alborough is the creator of some wonderful picture books, including the classic Duck in the Truck.  I am a huge fan of his books, with their bouncy, rhyming text and bright, cheery illustrations.  Nat the Cat’s Sunny Smile is his latest book and the first in a fantastic new series.  I’ve been following the creation of Nat the Cat through Jez’s Facebook page.  It’s really interesting to see the steps of putting a picture book together and the different stages of the illustrations.

Nat the Cat’s Sunny Smile is available now in NZ from Random House.

Watch the video below to see and hear Jez reading Nat the Cat’s Sunny Smile and singing the song from the book.

 

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Picture Book Nook: The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen

What do you get when you bring together the author of weird and wonderful stories, Lemony Snicket, and the award-winning illustrator Jon Klassen?  You get The Dark, a whimsical tale with stunning illustrations about a boy who is afraid of the dark.

Laszlo is afraid of the dark.  He lives in a big house, with a ‘creaky roof, smooth, cold windows and several flights of stairs.’  The dark also lives in this house and it hides in lots of different places. Laszlo thinks that if he visits the dark in the dark’s room, maybe it won’t come and visit Laszlo in his room.  However, one night it does come and visit Laszlo and tells him that it has something to show him…down in the basement.

The Dark is a unique take on the theme of being scared of the dark and it’s a wonderful collaboration between these two very talented people.  Jon Klassen’s illustrations are the perfect match for Lemony Snicket’s delightful and humourous text.  I really love Jon’s illustration style as he achieves so much with very little detail.  The way that he has contrasted the light and dark in this book is spectacular.  The dark is a character in the story and I love the way that Jon has portrayed this, especially when the dark is hiding in the cupboard or behind the shower curtain.  Some of the pages are almost completely black, apart from Laszlo and the details that we see in the beam of his flashlight.  The text has a uniquely Lemony Snicket style and tone, and it certainly took me by surprise.  I love the language that he uses to describe the house and the dark itself.

‘The voice of the dark was as creaky as the roof of the house, and as smooth and cold as the windows, and even though the dark was right next to Laszlo, the voice seemed very far away.’

If you know a child that is scared of the dark, The Dark, is the perfect reassuring story to read to them.  It’s also the perfect book for Jon Klassen fans who will be drooling over his illustrations.

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Fast Five with Jenny Cooper

  • Why did I want to be an illustrator?
I never knew you could be an illustrator, but I always drew, at home, when I was young. Then I grew up and discovered that there was a whole world of picture books for children, and even though I had other jobs like teaching and advertising, I couldn’t help being drawn to children’s illustration, because I had spent so many thousands of hours, as a child, doing that sort of art. So in a way, I had no choice, it just happened naturally.
  • What is the best thing about being an illustrator?
The best thing is when you do a picture that you are really proud of. This doesn’t happen often, usually I am disappointed in my work. But just sometimes, maybe one picture out of 10, I do something that really surprises me, astonishes me and makes me think, how did I paint something that good? When that happens, it makes all the other, average, illustrations, worth it.
  • What is your favourite New Zealand Book?
The Year of the Shining Cuckoo by Joyce West. It is not in print now, I bought it second hand and read it once a year.
My favourite NZ picture books are  probably A Booming in the Night, by Helen Taylor, or Dragor, by Philip Webb
  • What do you love most about New Zealand?
New Zealand to me means freedom and space. I didn’t notice the  space and peace and quiet here until I had travelled in Europe, where the beaches are so full you don’t have room to put down a beach towel. And I can be in the mountains in an hour, if I want, or beside a beautiful clean alpine lake. And I love our relaxed and unfussy way of life, as Kiwis are basically trustworthy and trusting of other people, and I really hope it stays that way. Doors don’t always have to be locked, and a lost wallet will probably be returned, and if you want to live in an unusual way, up a mountain or on a boat, you are free to do it.
  • What do you love most about libraries?
If I go into a library for one book, I always come out with 5, there are so many interesting things to read about. But unlike the internet, where you are alone, libraries are always full of other people. Libraries are friendly, the people are helpful, and I always come out feeling I have spent my time well, and learned something. And of course, the books are free!
Jennifer Cooper is a children’s book illustrator with a background in graphic design.  Jenny has illustrated books for Melanie Drewery, Yvonne Morrison, Joy Cowley, and Jane Buxton, among many others.  Jenny’s most recent collaboration is with the Topp Twins for their version of There’s a Hole in My Bucket and Do Your Ears Hang Low?

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