While browsing Hot Key Books website I came across these two videos about the anatomy of a book. Tristan Banks, a Production Controller at Hot Key Books tells you all about the parts of a book and the different finishes that are used.
Hot Key Books are a UK based publisher who publish ‘stand out, quality fiction’ for 9-19 year olds. Every time I go and check out their website to see what they’ve got coming up I add most of their books to my TBR pile. They have introduced me to some wonderful new authors and some really original stories, including the marvelous Fleur Hitchcock. Last year I loved her debut book, Shrunk, so when I heard she had a new book coming out I had to grab it. The Trouble with Mummies is her latest book and it’s sure to have kids roaring with laughter.
Sam comes home one day to find his family turning strange – his mum is redecorating using hieroglyphics and his dad is building a pyramid in the back garden. He hopes it’s just a weird new fashion… but then the strangeness starts to spread. With the help of his friends Ursula, Henry and Lucy the Goat, Sam must save his town from rampaging Roman rugby players, hairdressers turned cavewomen, and a teacher who used to be a ‘basket of kittens’ but now wants to sacrifice the Year Ones to the Aztec sun god. As history invades Sam’s world, will he be able to keep the Greeks away from the Egyptians and discover the cause of the Mummy madness?
The Trouble with Mummies is a crazy adventure, where history comes alive and the kids have to solve the mystery before it’s too late. When Sam’s parents start acting weirdly he gets the feeling something strange is going on. Then his teacher dresses up in a wetsuit covered in feathers, and his PE teacher lines his class up in ranks and throws a javelin at them, so Sam knows that things aren’t right. The people in his town get weirder and weirder and it’s up to Sam and his friends to figure out what is causing them to act so strangely. Is it something they ate or drunk or have they all just lost their minds?
Fleur brings her love of history into the story with the different ancient peoples. Sam’s parents become Egyptians, painting the house with hieroglyphics and building a pyramid, Miss Primrose becomes an Aztec and plans to sacrifice Sam’s friend Henry, and Ursula’s parents become Trojans. It’s the perfect book for those kids who are really interested in history and ancient civilizations in particular. If you know a Horrible Histories fan, you need to get them this book. If your kids don’t already love history, then this book might just get them hooked. You’ll certainly never look at your museum the same way again!
The thing I love the most about Fleur’s books is that they are unique stories full of imagination that are aimed at younger readers. Forget Zac Power and Beast Quest, get your boys reading Shrunk and The Trouble with Mummies and they’ll be hooked on books. Both of Fleur’s books also make great read alouds and they’re bound to have both you and your children laughing out loud.
What better way to hook readers in than show them the Hot Key Books ‘What’s in it?’ book key – Cavemen, Pyramids, Romans and Beards. Who wouldn’t want to read a book with all that in it?
Check out this video of Fleur Hitchcock reading the first chapter of The Trouble with Mummies:
Will Hill is one of those authors that just keeps impressing me. I was blown away by his first Department 19 book when it came out in 2011, then he took things up a notch last year in Department 19: The Rising. Now Jamie, Larissa and Department 19 are back and even more awesome than ever in the latest installment, Department 19: Battle Lines.
As the clock ticks remorselessly towards Zero Hour and the return of Dracula, the devastated remnants of Department 19 try to hold back the rising darkness. Jamie Carpenter is training new recruits, trying to prepare them for a fight that appears increasingly futile. Kate Randall is pouring her grief into trying to plug the Department’s final leaks, as Matt Browning races against time to find a cure for vampirism. And on the other side of the world, Larissa Kinley has found a place she feels at home, yet where she makes a startling discovery. Uneasy truces are struck, new dangers emerge on all sides, and relationships are pushed to breaking point. And in the midst of it all, Department 19 faces a new and potentially deadly threat, born out of one of the darkest moments of its own long and bloody history. Zero Hour is coming. And the Battle Lines have been drawn.
Department 19: Battle Lines is full of everything I loved about the previous books – vicious blood-sucking vampires, cool weapons and technology, suspense, action, violence, and Frankenstein. Battle Lines is the biggest book yet (at 702 pages) and there is so much happening. I’d love to know how Will keeps track with everything that’s happening. You finish a chapter and just want to go straight on with the next one to find out what’s happening with the other characters.
Like the other books in the series, there are lots of different threads of the story and many characters whose story we’re following. If the Department didn’t have enough problems dealing with the attack on The Loop and the imminent rise of Dracula, they have another crisis to deal with. Patients from mental institutions around the world have been ‘turned’ and escaped, leaving incredibly powerful and unpredictable vampires running loose. It’s up to the Operators, including Jamie and his new recruits, to hunt down and terminate them before they create havoc. While Jamie is out hunting vampires, his friends are busy with their own important tasks. Kate helps carry out interviews to try and find the leaks within the Department, Matt works on a cure for vampirism as part of the reformed Lazarus Project, and Larissa is sent to NS9 in America to help them and select a team to bring back to the Department. A descendant of of the founders of Department 19 is also out for revenge and threatens to blow the Department wide open by exposing them. All of this is happening while Dracula bides his time in a chateau in France.
Will’s range of characters is great, from the members of Blacklight to the vampires and the minor characters. With each book you find out more about the main characters and get introduced to new ones. One of the things I really liked about this book was that Will is introducing new characters who will go on to play a greater part in the series.
The pages of the book are dripping with vampire blood and you can almost smell the charred vampire flesh. Will’s vampires explode like a balloon when staked in the heart and they burst into flame when shot with a UV gun. There’s more than enough blood, gore and violence to keep any horror fan happy.
I can’t wait to find out where Will takes us from here. I know one thing for sure – whatever happens, it will be epic!
Win Department 19: Battle Lines
Thanks to HarperCollins NZ I have a copy of Department 19: Battle Lines 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 17 May (NZ only).
Joy Cowley has written many wonderful stories throughout the years and she has created characters that children have grown up with. I don’t think you can go through primary school in New Zealand without reading one of her junior readers or being read one of her picture books. Clean Slate Press have published many of Joy’s stories and they’ve just released a delightful new picture by Joy Cowley and illustrated by Amy Lam, called Breakfast.
Each morning the breakfast dishes get themselves ready for breakfast. The jug gets all the dishes and cutlery, table and chairs ready for the noisy, messy children that come racing downstairs for breakfast. After yet another ‘breakfast war,’ the children leave ‘jam in a puddle and milk in a pool’ as well as bent spoons and broken cups and plates. When the children are gone, the breakfast dishes clean everything up and fly into the dishwasher with smiles on their faces.
Breakfast is a story that children (and parents) will be wishing was true. If only all your dishes would magically transport themselves to the dishwasher when we leave the room! Joy has taken an everyday occurrence and turned it into a magical experience. Children will have a good giggle at the antics of the breakfast dishes, while parents will relate to the chaos of breakfast time. It’s a simple story with rhyming text that makes it great for sharing with younger children.
Amy Lam’s soft, but colourful illustrations are the perfect match for Joy’s text. The dishes all look happy, and even when they’ve been battered and bent, they’re ready to jump back in the dishwasher and do it all again tomorrow. I love the cover with the splash over the title and it’s sure to stand out on the shelf. Clean Slate Press have once again produced a beautiful hardcover picture book, with very cute end papers.
Breakfast will make a great addition to any school or home library.
There are some general Schools Resources on the Booksellers NZ New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards pages – http://booksellers.co.nz/awards/new-zealand-post-childrens-book-awards/2013resources.
Check out these books and their activity ideas:
- A Great Cake by Tina Matthews – Classroom ideas on the Walker Books Australia website.
- Mister Whistler by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Gavin Bishop – Maria Gill’s teacher’s resource for the What Lies Beneath exhibition.
- Remember That November by Jennifer Beck, illustrated by Lindy Fisher – Maria Gill’s teacher’s resource for the What Lies Beneath exhibition.
- Mister Bear Branches and the Cloud Conundrum by Terri Rose Baynton – Teacher’s notes on the HarperCollins Australia website.
- The ACB with Honora Lee by Kate De Goldi – Teacher’s Resource Kit on the Random House NZ website.
- My Brother’s War by David Hill – Teacher’s Notes on the Penguin Books NZ website.
- Red Rocks by Rachael King – Teacher’s Resource Kit on the Random House NZ website.
- The Queen and the Nobody Boy by Barbara Else – Teacher’s Notes on the Random House NZ website.
- Uncle Trev and the Whistling Bull by Jack Lasenby – Teacher’s Notes on the Random House NZ website.
Young Adult Fiction
- Earth Dragon, Fire Hare by Ken Catran – Social Sciences Unit on the HarperCollins NZ website.
- The Nature of Ash by Mandy Hager – Teacher’s Resource Kit on the Random House NZ website.
- Snakes and Ladders by Mary-anne Scott – Teacher’s Notes on the Scholastic NZ website.
- At the Beach by Gillian Candler and Ned Barraud – Activity ideas on the Craig Potton Publishing website.
- Taketakerau: The Millenium Tree by Marnie Anstis – Teacher’s Notes on the Taketakerau website.
My Brother’s War by David Hill is a finalist in the Junior Fiction category of the 2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards. This was one of the books that I hadn’t read at the time it was released, but I read it recently as part of my challenge to read all of the 2013 finalists.
I’ve been a huge fan of David Hill since I was a kid. I remember See Ya Simon being read to me at school in Year 6, laughing out loud one minute then crying the next. One of the things I love about David is that he hasn’t stuck to one type of story. He’s written historical stories, hilarious school stories, thrilling adventure stories, and even some science fiction (Bodies and Soul is one of my favourites). David is a finalist in the 2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards with his novel, My Brother’s War, which offers a different perspective on the Great War and the New Zealanders who went to fight.
Well, I’ve gone and done it. I’ve joined the Army!
Don’t be angry at me, Mother dear. I know you were glad when I wasn’t chosen in the ballot. But some of my friends were, and since they will be fighting for King and Country, I want to do the same.
It’s New Zealand, 1914, and the biggest war the world has known has just broken out in Europe.
William eagerly enlists for the army but his younger brother, Edmund, is a conscientious objector and refuses to fight. While William trains to be a soldier, Edmund is arrested.
Both brothers will end up on the bloody battlefields of France, but their journeys there are very different. And what they experience at the front line will challenge the beliefs that led them there.
My Brother’s War is a compelling story about two brothers who have very different opinions and experiences of the First World War. William feels very strongly that he needs to play his part in the war and so he enlists in the army. The people in his town commend him for being brave and doing his part. He believes he is doing what is right to protect his country and the people he loves. He can’t understand his brother and thinks that his refusal to enlist is ‘wrong and stupid.’ His brother, Edmund, is a conscientious objector who believes it is wrong to go to war and kill other people. The story switches between their two points-of-view so you see the huge differences in their experience of war. The story is mainly told in the third person, but each of the characters write letters to their mother which gives more of an insight into their thoughts and feelings.
You experience the build up to the fighting and the horrible conditions of the battlefield through William’s story, but it was Edmund’s story that shocked me. I knew a little about conscientious objectors before reading this book but Edmund’s story really opened my eyes to how horribly they were treated. Conscientious objectors like Edmund were labeled cowards and treated like second-class citizens. Edmund constantly refuses to obey army orders, but in the end really has no choice. He’s put on a boat and taken to France where he is forced on to the battlefields. In the training camps he is locked away with little food and water, and he also faces excruciating punishment for not following orders. Edmund is incredibly strong-willed though and stands by his principles.
A quote from Edmund towards the end of the book sums up war perfectly , ‘I never knew some men could do such dreadful things to one another, and I never knew some men could be so kind and brave.’
My Brother’s War presents a view point of war that hasn’t been dealt with before and it’s a story that all older children should read. It would be a great book to share as a class text in Year 7/8 as it would create a lot of discussion.
Take the SLIME TEST and find out.
- Have you ever wondered where ideas come from and how stories are made?
- Would you like to know the true stories behind some of Andy and Terry’s books and characters?
- Would you like to discover 45 great ways to have fun with words and pictures?
SCORE: If you answered YES to any of these questions, then this is definitely the right book for you! If you answered NO to all of these questions then you are an IDIOT and this is DEFINITELY the right book for you!
Once Upon a Slime is a must-have book for young writers and fans of Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton. The book is crammed full of ideas from Andy and Terry’s books to get you writing and have fun while doing it. There are heaps of examples of the crazy, stupid and disgusting stories from Andy and Terry’s books, along with 45 writing and storytelling activities. They give you ideas for writing lists, instructions, cartoons, letters, personal stories, poems and pocket books. You can have a go at:
- Designing your own crazy machine
- Draw something exploding
- Make an ‘I hate’ list
- Write a list of scary things
- Make the unbelievable believable
- Write your own time wasting cartoon
The book is aimed at kids so it’s easy to read and great to dip in and out of. It’s also a great resource for teachers as there are heaps of great writing ideas that are quick and fun ways to get kid’s imaginations flowing.
I tried using some of the activities on the Christchurch Kids Blog last week as a school holiday activity and got some really cool writing from the kids. Check out their Andy Griffiths Writing Challenge samples and why not try them yourself.
Grab a copy of Once Upon a Slime from your library or bookshop now and let your imagination run wild!
Here’s a video of Andy Griffiths talking about the book and trying some of his own writing activities:
Like many of you, I can’t go walk past a bookshop without going inside to have a look. Often I emerge minutes (or hours) later with books that I don’t have the money for or time to read, but I now have new worlds to explore and friends to make. While walking past a chain bookstore this morning I noticed their sale table had some awesome books on it for a fraction of their normal cost so I grabbed some to give away here on the blog.
I have 2 sets to give away of:
- Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness
- This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel
- Flip by Martyn Bedford
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).
Thanks to everyone who entered. The winners are Lynley and Annie.
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).
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