Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Hi Bookworms,
Hope you are all reading some brilliant books over the holidays and adding to your Holiday Reading Logs. Remember, all reading and listening to stories count - so if you're reading the cereal box in the morning totally engrossed in the stories, or listening to your brother or sister reading, or if  you're reading to someone (or something) it all counts - make sure you note it on your log. AWESOME.....

Today's reviews are a mix of wonders -  picture books, poetry, novels, and non-fiction. Enjoy! Oh yes, to free up space on this page, the Extra comments trialled a couple of posts back has been replaced by the Read more link. Genius! 

 The Story Blanket written by Ferida Wolff, Harriet May Savitz and illustrated by Elena Odriozola
Drawing you deep into snowy, ‘once upon a time’ lands, this wonderful story is perfect for sharing with whānau.  It tells of an elderly storyteller who sprinkles kindness as she does stories. As each villager is warmed by the tales of Babba Zarrah, they are also warmed by her gifts. These gifts are spun from the ‘story blanket’, the very patchwork that gathers everyone together to listen to the wonder of words. But what happens when there is no story blanket left? Read more... 

A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children edited by Paula Green, Illustrated by Jenny Cooper.
I really love this book of poetry, this anthology, because the poems included bring magic to the ordinary, shining the sun on the everyday and making it astonishing. Among the many things written about in this awesome collection are things that may vex us, make us smile or even laugh out loud, cause us to ponder, make us stop, inspire dreams,  prompt invention, or simply just help us to see things more clearly or for the first time (even though we’ve passed these things every day like forever). This treasury celebrates words, wonders and cool stuff like Mars, puffins, rain, sneezes, spiders, aliens and outrageous pets! And the illustrations just seem to lift the poems right off the page. It’s a joy to read and can be dipped into or read cover to cover. Imagine suddenly springing up and reading a poem out loud to your parents then just quietly sitting back down again as though nothing happened. Brilliant!

Gangsta Granny by David Walliams
This is just too funny. What more can I say about a book by one of the funniest and creative children’s authors. A young boy dreads going to his Granny’s, she loves cabbage soup and nothing ever happens. Then one day he finds out something about her that just turns his (and her) life upside down. Jewellery heists, mobility scooters, the Tower of London, the Queen, smelly cabbage soup and much more create an hilarious adventure that will have you laughing one minute and squirming in your seat the next.

The Big Green Book written by Mary Hoffman and illustrated by Ros Asquith
This is an awesome book on conservation that will have you thinking of the many ways you can help protect our wonderful world. It will spark some amazing conversations and ideas.

Often, the problem of, for example, pollution, seems huge and unmanageable. Though we think about these problems, we may feel helpless and ask “I’m just one person, what can I do?” This book empathizes with this thought and very cleverly demonstrates how a huge problem, idea or thought can be broken down into smaller, more manageable pieces. The book begins by exploring how earth is a small dot in a ginormous universe then zooms in for a much closer look at Planet Earth. It looks at the different environments, what inhabits earth, and some of the things that are negatively impacting on life. The Big Green Book not only suggests many ways in which we can all help, but also encourages us to challenge, to critically think about the way we live, the way we so often take things for granted or don’t really think about why we do things or where things come from, or what they’re made of, or even if they are necessary. Equally inspiring and exciting is that it encourages us to think about and actually create solutions to some of the problems. This book empowers us to realize and use our voice to help in both established and innovative ways.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Hello Bookworms,

Here are a couple of new reviews to inspire, puzzle and hook your reading bug, artistic creativity and environmental interests... 
A Tower of Giraffes: Animal Bunches written and illustrated by Anna Wright

This brilliant picture book introduces us to some very curious terms for animal groups. We often talk about a ‘herd of elephants’ or a ‘flock of birds’, but you will be absolutely intrigued by some of the extraordinary names that author/illustrator Anna Wright introduces us to. All the animals covered are illustrated in a wonderful collage of paint, ink and/or fabric – some look bemused, some playful, others mischievous or just chillin', and all will make you grin.

If Sharks Disappeared written and illustrated by Lily Williams

I really like this picture book because it helps us understand how everything is linked and why it is so very important that we look after this beautiful world we live in. If Sharks Disappeared takes a look at what happens if all the sharks that swim in the beautiful oceans were no more. Simply told, with bold illustrations, this book gives us lots to think about, including suggestions on how each one of us can be, even in a small way, kaitiaki of these magnificent wonders of the sea.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Hello Bookworms,

It's the third week of school for 2018 already, WOW! I hope you've all handed in your Holiday Reading Logs to your teachers as the draw day is this Friday, February 23rd, so good luck everyone!

We're going to keep updating this blog with book reviews and news and you'll notice that another section has been added called Extra. This is for parents/caregivers, teachers, librarians and anyone else (including you) interested in reading a little more about why these books ‘work’.

Two more amazing books...

Brownstone’s Mythical Collection: Arthur and the Golden Rope by Joe Todd-Stanton
Arthur and the Golden Rope tells of a young boy’s quest to defeat Fenrir, the huge beast of the Norse world.  As he ventures forth Arthur Brownstone, our faithful hero, must seek the help of the Norse God, Thor, in this sweeping journey to save his village from the ancient threat. Brimming with monsters, gods, weathered maps, enchanted talisman and extraordinary happenings, this tale hurdles you, bold reader, through the many trials faced by the unassuming young Arthur. Yet, you’ll want to hang back; engrossed in each picture, the detailed illustrations, by author Joe Todd-Stanton, capturing your curiosity and imagination.  But, is it the magic that swirls around Arthur that helps him through or is it his own inner self that he must trust in? Oh yes, and the book is also an exciting introduction to spellbinding Norse Mythology.

EXTRA: for parents/caregivers, teachers, librarians and anyone else interested in reading a little more about why this book ‘works’.
This is an amazing and beguiling book – it’s a daring adventure, yet, just like the main character, there is a humbleness about it. This is brought about, in part, by the pace of the story, the finely spun characters and the protagonist’s tangible fears and apprehensions. As we read we gain a real sense, here, of legend and of the time-honoured beliefs upon which the narrative is based. The illustrations are highly detailed and have a graphic novel style and appeal about them. Their earthy colours add depth and, in sync with the many symbols, costumes and mythical entities depicted, layer in simultaneous impressions of a time long passed and timelessness. All these features, along with many more, work together to deepen and extend the reading.

Smart About Sharks by Owen Davey
Smart About Sharks takes the young reader on a remarkable voyage with its in-depth exploration of the magnificent creature, the shark. It delves into such things as what makes a shark a shark, different kinds of sharks, what they like to eat and what likes to eat them. Another aspect it covers, and another reason I like this book so much, is how we can help protect these extraordinary marvels of the sea from current threats. The information and Davey’s detailed illustrations are fantastically fascinating. Awesome!

EXTRA: for parents/caregivers, teachers, librarians and anyone else interested in reading a little more about why this book ‘works’.
The text and illustrations complement one another, each extending the other so the whole becomes more than the sum of its parts. Combined with the layout, in particularly, the book’s structure and the placement of the images and text, this interaction layers in a fluidity that reflects and harmonises with the underwater milieu. For the reader, this seamless orchestration results in an enriched understanding of sharks and the vast marine environment they inhabit. This book, engaging curiosity and wonderment, will inspire the intrigued young reader to discover even more information about this diverse ecosystem.





Thursday, 1 February 2018

Hi Readers, 

I can't believe how quickly the holidays have flown by - what a wonderful break. Hope everything's going cool with getting ready for school. See you all on Wednesday, February 7th.

Remember, though, you have until 20th February to hand in your Holiday Reading Log, so even when you're back at school there's still heaps of time to read more and add to your log.

Onward bold readers, to the reviews...

The Story Machine written and illustrated by Tom McLaughlin
I love this picture book. It’s all about story and how pictures, like words, can create the most magical imaginings.  Elliott is a discoverer and one day unearths an old typewriter that just seems to create wondrous stories, at first in words and then in pictures. But when it breaks down, Elliott must find another creator of story and, in so doing, discovers who the real writer was all along. This is a great story that emboldens the young reader to discover the writer within.

We’re All Wonders written and illustrated by R.J. Palacio
We’re All Wonders, by the author of the novel Wonder for older children, celebrates the uniqueness in all of us, be it in our physical appearance or in our inner self.  In this picture book the younger reader now also gets to meet Auggie, the main character in Wonder, as he dreams of a world nourished by kindness where difference is embraced rather than shunned. Though sad at times, it is uplifting and universal in its message and will spark much thought and discussion. It is one of those gems to be shared. I feel enriched and thankful for having read it.

The 78-Storey Treehouse written by Andy Griffiths and illustrated by Terry Denton.
Incredibly funny, filled with absurd and bewildering happenings, mind-boggling structures and zany, eccentric characters this book, the sixth in the series, left me reeling. What a totally wacky story – it’s brilliant! Andy’s and Terry’s treehouse is astonishing, with any number of madcap features and contraptions, and when the chance to be movie stars comes their way, life gets even crazier. But for Andy things don’t go exactly as hoped.  Banished not only from the set and, more alarmingly, from his treehouse, Andy also finds himself best-friendless as Terry and the acting gibbon, Mel Gibbon become best-film buddies. Oh no, what is Andy to do now? Who will illustrate his books and will he ever be able to climb the many wondrous levels of his dear treehouse again? Read this book or any in the series, I’m sure there’ll have you in stitches.


Prehistoric Actual Size by Steve Jenkins
I find these kinds of books fascinating – books that enable the reader to see the actual size of things through comparison or by illustrating to scale. The latter is exactly what Steve Jenkins does in Prehistoric Actual Size. In exploring a diverse range of prehistoric life, Jenkins brings us an amazing look at the real size of some off the most fascinating creatures to have roamed land or sky. Employing collage to illustrate these now extinct creatures, Jenkins has created a striking impression of depth, texture and colour. For the larger animals, he has created the actual size of, for example, their heads, their feet and huge talons, or just their GIGANTIC teeth. There’s a glossary providing more information on each creature featured and their complete image (not in actual size).  Jenkins also gives a brief discussion on fossils and comment on the surface appearance (colour, tones and texture) of the animals illustrated. Amazing stuff!
Plus, Steve Jenkins’s use of collage may just inspire the reader to craft their own favourite animal, flora or landscape in collage. This would be a brilliant art activity for the imagination that uses bits and bobs around the home. Happy reading and creating…

Love Our Ocean written/presented by Steve Hathaway & Riley Hathaway; photography by Richard Robinson & illustrated by Jamie McDell
Another absolute favourite of mine are books on the environment and the conservation of its many taonga, and I think Love Our Ocean is a standout title on this subject. Delving into the fascinating ocean world, the book is based on a New Zealand Aotearoa T.V. programme, Young Ocean Explorers, that aired about three years ago. Father and daughter team, Steve and Riley Hathaway take readers on an amazing journey, introducing us to many of the creatures inhabiting earth’s extraordinary oceans. Giving incredible insight into life under the waves and enabling us to really reflect on the wonder surrounding us, Love Our Ocean is crammed with true stories and adventures and more highlights are provided through interviews with field experts. Fun oozes from these retellings and the passion this duo have for marine life is immense. As part of sharing their amazing adventures, Steve and Riley encourage all children to discover, explore and become equally fascinated by this wonderful ecosystem. Conservation is central to their work and the book offers some very practical ideas on how everyone can help, advocating that children can have a strong voice in this area. The whole book is truly inspiring, engaging the young reader’s interest and curiosity with intriguing stories, striking photography and creative design. You can read it cover to cover, or simply dip into it – it’s just remarkable!

Happy reading...

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Hi Bookworms,

Here are some more wonderful stories for the family to enjoy....

The Very Cranky Bear and The Very Itchy Bear by Nick Bland
With huge hearts, these two titles just ooze fun, laughter and dollops of kindness. Nick Bland’s dry humour and his wonderfully animated illustrations will leave you chortling for a long time. Brilliant to read-aloud, these books are an absolute delight for the young reader. Bland has a true writer’s gift.
The Very Cranky Bear sees a group of plucky, well-meaning characters try to nudge Bear out of his crankiness. But their attempts are a little topsy-turvy to what Bear wants and the results are gloriously funny. In The Very Itchy Bear, Bear discovers what friendship really means while adrift in the great BIG blue sea.  Simply marvellous!

 The Cat With The Coloured Tail written by Gillian Mears & illustrated by Dinalie Dabarera
Mr Hooper and The Cat With The Coloured Tail love driving around in their ice-cream van, and people just love their moon-cream ice-creams. The cat has a magical knack of finding people who are sad and the moon-creams have a magical knack of bringing happiness. Mr Hooper and the cat also absolutely adore discovering heart-shaped objects and spend hours searching and admiring these wonders which appear in such everyday places as leaves, clouds, ice-creams and ant nests. However, a darkness alerts the cat to a terrible sadness and together, Mr Hooper and The Cat With The Coloured Tail travel to find what’s troubling and to put the world to right.
This is a deeply tender story, heart-breaking at times, gloriously heart-warming at others. A short chapter book, with beautiful soft pencil illustrations, The Cat With The Coloured Tail is a triumph, a stunning read aloud that carries the world in its pages.
Arabel’s Raven written by Joan Aiken & illustrated by Quentin Blake
Another short chapter book, Arabel’s Raven is a totally wacky tale about Mortimer, a raven, which, found injured on the road, ends up creating absolute havoc for its adopted family. Not only does it eat the most outrageous things, but it somehow manages to get completely entangled in a brazen jewel heist. Wildly funny, this is a great read. Look out for others in the series about this rather extraordinary character.

Pax by Sara Pennypacker
This is an astonishing tale of 12 year-old Peter and his pet fox, Pax. War is coming and Peter’s father, choosing to enlist, sends the boy to his grandfather. Tragically, on his father’s orders, Peter must set Pax free. This sets off a string of events that bring both heart-breaking sadness and enriched joy as grieve-stricken Peter risks everything to find his beloved fox.
Told from the perspective of Peter and Pax through alternating chapters, this story is filled with adventure, danger, sorrow and life. The author, Sara Pennypacker, weaves a gentle wisdom through the narrative in parallel with the harsh reality of war, offering the reader much to think about, discuss and reflect on. For mature senior primary school readers +.


Saturday, 20 January 2018

Hi, how's the holiday reading Bookworms?
Keep filling out your Holiday Reading Log. If the sock monster has filched your log, or you've put it in a safe place that you just can't find now or you've simply lost it, no need to worry - just record your reading on an A4 piece of paper - it will pop into the box for the draw just as happily. Remember to note how many pages you've read/listened to as well as the title of the book. Brilliant!!
The Stone Lion written by Margaret Wild & illustrated by Ritva Voutila

It is said that some creatures of stone, if their heart truly wishes, may be set free, if only for a very short time and only once. Will the stone lion outside the city’s library have this chance and, if so, will he use it to run through the woods as he desires or will another’s need call to him?
With beautifully detailed illustrations, this picture book is a tender story of compassion, courage and belief.

Rosie Revere, Engineer written by Andrea Beaty & illustrated by David Roberts

Rosie loves inventing and spends her evenings tinkering in her attic designing and creating all manner of wonderful thingamajigs. But without the confidence she needs to believe in herself and share her wonders with others will she ever be able to call herself an “engineer”? Enter great-great-aunt Rose….
A fabulous, uplifting story about perseverance, this book is an awesome lead into discussions around reshaping that thing called “failure”. It is also great inspiration for taking a closer look at famous and not so famous inventors and trailblazers. Other titles by this duo, Andrea Beaty and David Roberts, (and held at Rotorua Library), are Ada Twist, Scientist and Iggy Peck, Architect.  Brilliant books for the tinkering, creative mind.

 The Bad Guys Episode 1 by Aaron Blabey

In this utterly crazy, madcap adventure Mr Wolf is determined to rid the world of the misunderstandings ‘story’ has created about wolves, sharks and other creatures often perceived as not the most caring and friendliest of characters. However, the other “bad guys” kind of like their darker side and struggle to get with Wolf’s new direction.  This is the first ‘episode’ in a totally wacky, seriously funny series.

Polly and the Puffin written by Jenny Colgan & illustrated by Thomas Docherty

Polly finds a wounded Puffin one night during a terrible storm and must come to terms with having to set it free again after it has recovered and gained the courage to fly. Docherty’s pictures illuminate the humour, light and life of this delightful adventure.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Hi Readers,
The holidays are just zooooooming by, but there's still oodles of time to add to your Summer Reading Logs.
 I’m Just No Good at Rhyming and Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups written by Chris Harris and Illustrated by Lane Smith.

In my first post back in December I chatted about my love of poetry and how it illuminates even the most routine things, making them sparkle and fizz, enabling us to see them anew. This book, again, does just that. Buzzing with dazzling “nonsense” and utter silliness, these poems question, ponder, celebrate and wonder at the little things in life, and in so doing, grapple with some big stuff too. Lane Smith’s comic drawings capture both the absurdness and brilliance of each entry in this uproarious collection. The book is truly hilarious and telling, shining with dragon sized scales of wisdom.
What is also really special about this zany new collection, I think, is that it inspires us to write our own poetry about things that worry, confuse, irk, bamboozle, scare, delight, amuse, gladden, enrich or enchant us. In this way, not only are we able to share these wonders and puzzles with others, but we get to understand or appreciate them just that little bit more too.

All the Colours of Paradise written by Glenda Millard & illustrated by Stephen Michael King (Book 4 of the Kingdom of Silk series)

Perry Angel, a young boy, is adopted into the Silk family who live in the countryside. Welcomed into their enchanting home, named the Kingdom of Silk, with its vegetable patch, chickens and rustic barn filled with curious bits and bobs, Perry slowly begins to feel he belongs. He loves to draw and paint and listen to stories and adores the family dog, Blue, who is his constant companion. Making sense of the world is still tough for Perry, but with the help of his best friends Layla, Griffin and Mr Jenkins, his new mum and dad, and his teacher, he grows in confidence and learns to be himself. That is until something happens that threatens to upset Perry’s new life forever.
In this chapter book for young readers 8+, the author, Glenda Millard, has captured the wonder of family, kindness, friendship and difference. Eloquently written, the book is heart-warming and sad, uplifting and moving – it is a powerful gift of story. I’ve also read Layla, Queen of Hearts, another title in this series, and both remind us of the power of love and kindness, and are great read-alouds for the whole family to enjoy – like a warm fire in winter that nurtures and strengthens. I believe there are now seven titles in the series, but only this title reviewed here appears to be held by the Public Library.

The Moon Dragons written by Dyan Sheldon & illustrated Gary Blythe
This is a magnificent tale of silver dragons, a selfish king and a courageous orphan. When a whisper spreads that dragons still live in the hills surrounding his village, a king demands they be captured. Many fail to find even a trace of these creatures, yet the king’s promise of riches draws seekers and hunters from all around. When a young girl of the village hears of the dragons’ existence, she too is drawn into the quest, mesmerized by their mythical charm.

The Whales’ Song written by Dyan Sheldon & illustrated Gary Blythe (sorry, this title doesn't appear to be held by the Public Library anymore but, as I’d reviewed The Moon Dragons, I thought I’d tell you about this one too).
This profound picture book tells of a young girl’s belief in an old tale about the beautiful, almost otherworldly song of the graceful, haunting giants of the sea.

Gary Blythe’s illustrations in both of these books are totally captivating, luminous in colour, intricate and rich in detail. Simply outstanding, these wonders are for everyone aged 4 to 104.

The King and the Sea written by Heinz Janisch & illustrated by Wolf Erlbruch

With gentle, humorous wisdom, this delightful book celebrates the freedom and wonder of all things. Though just buttons in size, each exchange between a king and his surrounds offers a universe of meaning. Much to  rejoice and ponder….