Category: Uncategorized

End of Summer Vacation

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One last week of vacation this summer that starts with a big meeting out of town. It also has my oldest returning to college and a week of bonding with my youngest, preparing for the school year, reading and recovering from the oldest being gone again.

May you survive all of the transitions the end of summer brings!

2016 New Zealand Book Awards

New Zealand Book awards for children and young adultslogo

The winners of the 2016 New Zealand Book Awards have been announced. The winner of the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year and winner of the Elsie Locke Non-Fiction Award is

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Anzac Heroes by Maria Gill, illustrated by Marco Ivancic

Other winners include:

PICTURE BOOK AWARD

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The Little Kiwi’s Matariki by Nikki Slade Robinson

ESTHER GLEN JUNIOR FICTION AWARD

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From the Cutting Room of Barney Kettle by Kate De Goldi

YOUNG ADULT FICTION

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Battlesaurus: Rampage at Waterloo by Brian Falkner

RUSSELL CLARK ILLUSTRATION AWARD

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Much Ado About Shakespeare by Donovan Bixley

Visit the site for more award winners including the ones voted on by children in New Zealand.

Quit Calling Me a Monster by Jory John

Quit Calling Me a Monster by Jory John

Quit Calling Me a Monster by Jory John, illustrated by Bob Shea (InfoSoup)

The main character in this book does not want people to just call him a monster. Sure, he may look like a monster. He may sound like a monster. He may live in your closet or under your bed. But how would you feel if everywhere you went people screamed and called you “monster.” After all, he doesn’t go around calling humans names like “little meat snack” does he? He’s a very well behaved and polite monster. Wait, OK, so he IS a monster, but he’d much rather you call him Floyd Peterson instead. Can you do that?

Two picture book masters come together for their best collaboration yet in this very funny picture book that speaks directly to how stereotyping and labels make someone feel. The text is gorgeously written and works beautifully when shared aloud, particularly by someone willing to go full out on the voicing of Floyd. The twist at the end is wonderful as well.

Shea’s art is incredibly playful with Floyd blending into darkness and also disappearing against furry backgrounds. Shea has created a rather friendly and polite monster but also one that has a scary side too, the perfect mix.

Funny and smart, this picture book looks at how names hurt even if you are a monster. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley received from Random House Books for Young Readers and Edelweiss.

Plants Can’t Sit Still by Rebecca E. Hirsch

Plants Can't Sit Still by Rebecca Hirsch

Plants Can’t Sit Still by Rebecca E. Hirsch, illustrated by Mia Posada (InfoSoup)

Plants can’t walk or run or even fly, but they don’t stay still either! This jaunty picture book captures the many ways that plants manage to move, even though they are rooted to the ground. They squirm out of the soil. They turn towards the sun. They creep underground and spring up in new places. They can climb walls and even eat bugs. Some fold shut at night while others open only in the moonlight. Then there are the seeds that use all sorts of tricks to move to new places to grow. That’s where they start to move all over again.

As a person with a native garden that overtakes the entire front of house this time of year, I am very aware of plants being able to move! I love the dynamic quality of this book as well as the surprise factor where children will wonder about how plants in their lives are moving since they don’t appear to be doing much at all. Hirsch selects plants that children will experience in their normal lives: milkweed, strawberries, tulips, morning glories, and maple trees. She uses simple language to explain how the plants move and grow, making this a science book that preschoolers will enjoy. Those looking for more detail can turn to a section in the back of the book.

Posada’s illustrations beautifully enhance this picture book and its fresh look at plants. The illustrations are done with cut paper collage and watercolor. They fill the pages with bursts of color, zings of green and plenty of earthiness too. The colors are perfectly chosen to evoke the real nature of the plants like the changing colors of the maple leaves and the burst of fuzz from a dandelion.

A great new book on plants and the surprising ways they move, this is a fascinating read. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

City Shapes by Diana Murray

City Shapes by Diana Murray

City Shapes by Diana Murray, illustrated by Brian Collier (InfoSoup)

Various shapes are shown in a vibrant urban city in this picture book. A young girl walks through the city, takes public transportation and notices shapes as she goes. There are the squares of boxes and trucks. Rectangles form glass on the skyscrapers, windows and benches. Triangles are flags and sails. Wheels are circles along with manhole covers. Musical instruments in a band show oval shapes in their drums and lights. Diamonds fly as kites and stars fill the night sky. The girl returns home to bed, just as the pigeon who took flight on the first page returns to her nest, both listening to the noises of the city around them.

This dynamic picture book celebrates the beauty of urban life, the movement and rush of it all, the variety you find there. Seen through the lens of finding shapes in real life, this picture book would be a great way to look outside your own windows and see shapes there too. The bright friendliness of the city streets makes for a refreshing picture book. The text reads as a poem, filled with rhymes and rhythms that match the city setting.

Collier’s illustrations are a gorgeous mix of media, incorporating collage in a way that makes the shapes stand out but also fit into the setting too. It’s very cleverly done. The little girl in the book is based on Collier’s own young daughter. Her face is filled with enthusiasm throughout the book, her attitude wonderfully contagious.

A beautiful, colorful and shape-ly book that celebrates urban life. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

Barnacle Is Bored by Jonathan Fenske

Barnacle Is Bored by Jonathan Fenske

Barnacle Is Bored by Jonathan Fenske (InfoSoup)

Hanging off of the bottom of a dock is not the most exciting life. Barnacle has times of day when he is cold and wet and other times when he is dry and hot. The tide comes in and out, the waves roll in, the sun goes up and goes down. Barnacle is particularly jealous of the merry life of a polka-dotted little fish nearby. He knows that the fish has to have a lot more fun than Barnacle does. He must go diving with dolphins and frolic with other fish. Just as Barnacle is completing his fantasies about how much better the little fish’s life is than his own, an eel comes along. Gulp!

Put this down as another rather dark picture book that I adore. I must admit to having a type and this one is particularly pleasing with Barnacle being entirely jealous of what another fish has that he does not. It’s an emotion that children will relate to readily. The text is very brief and fast-moving. Barnacle’s voice is a pleasure to read aloud, from his slow tones of boredom through to the joys of being a fish and all the way to the end when he realizes what he actually has going for him.

The illustrations are very appealing and have the feel of a cartoon. Done in flat colors, they play up the facial expressions of Barnacle and the other fish to good effect. The looks of boredom are particularly clear and take it so far that it’s humorous. The page turns are nicely done as well, adding to the theater of the book.

Perfect for the boredom of summer days, this seaside book will surely refresh or at any rate give everyone a good jump at the end. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.