Category Archives: New Zealand

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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Celebrate International Book Giving Day this February 14th

February 14th is not only Valentine’s Day. It is also International Book Giving Day – a day dedicated to getting new, used, and borrowed books into the hands of as many children as possible.

Well known children’s authors from around the world including Andy Griffiths, Chris Haughton, Ed Emberley, Ed Vere, Peter H. Reynolds, Sandy Fussell, Terry Denton, Janeen Brian, Barney Saltzberg, and Hazel Edwards are giving books to children on February 14th and are encouraging others to do the same.

I’m going to be clearing out my personal library and donating some of my unwanted books to schools and doctors’ surgeries in my community.

There are 3 simple ways that you can get involved:

1. Giving a Book to a Friend or Relative.

Is there a child in your life who would enjoy receiving a book on February 14th? In lieu of or in addition to a card or box of chocolates, choose a good book from a bookstore or public library to give to your child, grandchild, friend, or neighbor.

2. Leaving a Book in a Waiting Room or Lobby.

Choose a waiting room where kids are stuck waiting and there are few to no good books available. Purchase a good book, and deposit your book covertly or overtly in your waiting room of choice. The goal here is to spread the love of reading to kids, so choose a fun book, nothing controversial.

3. Donating a Book.

Wrap up a box of children’s books that your kids have outgrown and get them into the hands of children who could really use a book or two. Donate your books to your local second hand store, library, children’s hospital, or nonprofit organization working to ensure that all kids have access to books.

International Book Giving Day is helping to bring books to the children all over the world that need them the most.  Organisations, including Books for Africa, Room to Read, and Duffy Books in Homes here in NZ, work to get books into the hands of children in need, and every donation counts, whether it is monetary or giving new and used books.

At bookgivingday.com  you can register t0 support International Book Giving Day, download a gorgeous IBGD poster and print book plates to put in the books you give on the day, and find out about some of the authors and illustrators who have already pledged their support.

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Judges Diary: Highlights so far

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.

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Judges Diary: Oh the anticipation!

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.

NZ Post books 1

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.

NZ post books 2

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.

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New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards Judge Announcement

I’m thrilled to finally be able to announce that I’ll be joining Barbara Else and Ant Sang as a judge for the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards next year.  I’m incredibly honoured to be a part of the awards and it’s very exciting.

I’ve been a part of the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Festival for the last 3 years, as the coordinator for the Canterbury Festival.  This is a role that I have loved as it has given me the chance to take the finalist books out to my region and share them with children of all ages.  The roadshow that our Canterbury committee did this year for the Festival was one of the best experiences I’ve had as a librarian, as we got to talk about the finalist books and read them to so many children in our region.  Having the opportunity to actually be one of the three people choosing which books are the best books in New Zealand over the past year feels absolutely incredible.  We have so many talented authors and illustrators in New Zealand who create some magical, captivating, adventure-filled and even heart-breaking books, so it is going to be a huge task to choose the best.

I’m going to have lots of reading ahead of me – approximately 120 books!  I’m certainly looking forward to receiving my first box of books and starting my reading.  There will be books that I’ve already read and loved, but there are sure to be some treasures that I’m yet to discover.  I hope to share some thoughts on my life as a judge here on the blog and talk about some of the books I’m reading.

How exciting is it to be a judge? Let Kermit show you:

To find out more about the 2014 judges check out the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards website.

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Picture Book Nook: Toucan Can by Juliette MacIver, illustrated by Sarah Davis

Juliette MacIver and Sarah Davis are incredibly talented in their own rights, but when they combine their talents they create magic.  Juliette and Sarah have previously worked together on the wonderful Marmaduke Duck books for Scholastic, and when I heard they were collaborating on a new picture book for Gecko Press I knew it was going to be a great book.  In their new picture book for Gecko Press, Toucan Can, Juliette and Sarah introduce us to a very colourful and talented Toucan.

Toucan can do lots of things!

Toucan dances!

Toucan sings!

Toucan bangs a frying pan!

Can you do what Toucan can?

 

Toucan Can is one of my favourite picture books of the year.  It’s got all the ingredients of a wonderful picture book.  Juliette MacIver’s delightful text will tangle your tongue and trip-up your lips, and once you get going you just can’t stop.  Toucan certainly can do lots of things but I’d like to see him try to read this book perfectly without tripping up.  Sarah Davis’ illustrations are absolutely stunning and they make the colourful characters jump off the page.  I love Sarah’s style of illustration because you can see each brush stroke and pencil line, and the colours she uses are so rich.  I really like the layered effect that Sarah has used in these illustrations.  The further back the animals are in the illustration, the more faded and washed out they are.  The expressions on the animals faces are also delightful.  Toucan especially has lots of different expressions, from ecstatically happy as he dances to slightly worried when he’s asked ‘Can Toucan do what YOU can do?’

One of the things I like the most about Toucan Can is that it addresses the reader and engages you.  You’re asked ‘Can you do what Toucan can?’ and Juliette suggests there are many things that you can do that Toucan can not.  Sarah’s illustrations also bring the focus back to the reader.  As Toucan and his friends dance, juggle, flip and flop, they’re looking out at you from the page.

Everyone should go out and grab a copy of Toucan Can to treasure and read again and again.  It is certain to add colour and laughter to your life and will have you dancing along with Toucan and his friends.

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Picture Book Nook: Machines and Me series by Catherine Foreman

Catherine Foreman, author and
illustrator of the award-winning picture book, The
Cat’s Pyjamas
, has just released the first two books
in her fantastic new series, Machines and
Me
, with Scholastic NZ. Machines
and Me
is a series of four picture books that each
focus on a different machine. The first two books (out now)
are Planes and
Tractors, with
Boats and
Trains coming soon.

I absolutely love these books!
They’re bright and bold, so will appeal to very young
children. Every page is colourful and the machines really
stand out on the page. The text is simple but has a really
nice rhythm to it. The thing I like the most about these
books though is that they are perfectly suited to the age group.
Catherine Foreman gives a simple
explanation of what each machine does and how it works, but she
does so in a fun way. I also really like Catherine’s design
of the books, with the text following the direction of the machines
and matching the size of the machines. I’m always looking for great
books to share with babies and their parents at our sessions in the
library and these books are perfect. They’re large and the
illustrations are vibrant so they can be seen from further
away. The simple, rhyming text makes them perfect to read
aloud to a large group too. Get your hands on a copy of the first
two Machines and Me books,
Tractors and
Planes
, and keep an eye out for Boats
and Trains, coming soon
to a bookshop and library near you. They’re a must for any
home library and would be an absolute hit in preschools.

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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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Win a signed copy of Wearable Wonders by Fifi Colston

Wearable Wonders is Fifi Colston’s fantastic new book that’s bursting with creativity, tips, tricks and ideas to help you make your own wearable wonder.  Fifi has been in Christchurch this week, running workshops for children as part of the TV2 KidsFest, and I got the chance to have a chat with her.  I’m a huge fan of Fifi’s books and I grew up watching her on What Now.

Thanks to the wonderful publisher of Wearable Wonders, Scholastic NZ, I have a special signed copy of the book 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 Wednesday 31 July (NZ only).

Thanks to everyone who entered.  The winner is Sandra Worthington.

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