LATEST


17/02/2018 08:22 AM











































 
Witchfairy by Brigitte Minne and Carl Cneut   {Reviewed by STELLA}
When you want to fall into a picture and enter the world of a character without even reading a word, you know that you have been beguiled by some very luscious images. From the moment you pick up this book, you will be entranced. The cover and title invite you in, although with some caution as you contemplate the blue-black woods and the word witch. But there is also the word fairy with its dream-like airy qualities and a rich floral carpet which a child, cherub-faced and determined, roller-skates through. She’s heading towards the edge of the book cover. Yet more temptation: follow her and open the book. In the first paragraph we are introduced to Rosemary, a fairy, who has received a wand for her birthday, something all darling fairy children want, but not Rosemary, who is most put out. When you want roller-skates, a stupid magic wand is a disappointment. Her mother wants her to be like the other fairy children, who clutch their special toys, wands and handbags; who have the bows nicely tied in their hair, their pretty hats and frocks just so. They are sweet and have little tea-parties and tête-à-têtes just so. “They ate their cake without making crumbs. They drank tea without spilling a drop...They told only the sweetest stories with their honeyed voices.” Rosemary’s mother says no to roller-skates, worried about falls and nosebleeds, and the disgrace of the being a fairy whose hat might be askew or dress dirtied. Rosemary declares, much to her mother’s horror, “I want to be a witch”. And no one can persuade her to change her mind. Exasperated, her mother declares that witches cannot live in golden turrets - they live in the wood, so Rosemary packs her bags and flies away. Her mother knows she’ll be back soon. The witch’s wood is gloriously dark compared with the pink, red and white pages of the fairy castles. Yet it is the perfect place for Rosemary. She builds a treehouse and a boat and forages for berries and nuts. She explores the forest, which has wonderful carpets of flowers, all in hues of red - a red which has become a signature colour for the illustrator and is commonly called ‘Cneut-red’. She meets the witches, who are delightfully drawn with angled faces, grey hair and long pointed noses in contrast to the fairies who have rosy cheeks and small pert noses. We first see the witches poking their heads out of the river watching Rosemary. Are they dangerous? Author and illustrator make us wait a few pages to find out the true nature of the witches. They are kind and generous, reminiscent of kindly aunts and grandmothers, welcoming and encouraging Rosemary. They give her roller-skates and teach her how to ride a broom. Life in the woods is good and Rosemary is having a ball. Minne deftly uses words. You can almost hear Rosemary stamp her foot in defiance, even though this is never described. You can feel Rosemary’s wistful wantings even though these are not explicitly said. Minne’s skill as a writer, combined with Cneut’s illustrations, his ability to render facial emotions and to use colour, the warm reds and the cold blue-blacks to intensify those emotions and the tension inherent between Rosemary’s two worlds, will make Witchfairy a new favourite for many. Yet is the content that takes it that next layer deeper. Witchfairy tells the story of a girl who feels out of place, who doesn’t want to be what she was born to. The world of golden turrets isn’t for her - she wants to run and chase the wind, to get grubby and play a few tricks. Being a witch is a fine thing, but Rosemary wistfully looks up at the moon and wonders about her other life. And Rosemary’s mother misses her so much, she decides to visit her. They find out together who Rosemary is: neither fairy nor witch but a combination of both, a witchfairy. This is a charming adventure about a curious young child and her desire to be herself, as well as a mother’s acceptance and love of her child in whatever guise that takes. 

 
  

17/02/2018 08:20 AM



We have reviewed some of our favourite picture books for The Sapling, the New Zealand website dedicated to conversations about children's books. Click though to read the reviews and to browse their excellent website. 


13/12/2017 12:24 PM







List #9: CHILDREN'S AND YOUNG ADULTS' FICTION

Scroll this list to select from our recommendations. 


Come in or click through to browse our full selection, or ask us for our recommendations for your specific needs. 



My Dog Mouse by Eva Lindström         $30
A lovely, sensitive picture book about a child's friendship with a very old dog. 



The Wolf, the Duck and the Mouse by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen        $28
When a mouse is swallowed by a wolf, a duck already resident in the wolf's belly shows it what a good life can be lived there. How can they defend their home against a hunter? 



Tough Guys (Have Feelings Too) by Keith Negley          $28
It's not easy being a tough guy. Sometimes things just don't work out. Sometimes tough guys can be frustrated and disappointed. But it's OK to show your feelings, even for tough guys. 



The Longest Breakfast by Jenny Bornholt and Sarah Wilkins        $30
Everyone wants something different for breakfast, but what will Malcolm give them? A lovely story. 



Virginia Wolf by Kyo Maclear and Isabelle Arsenault     $30
When Virginia wakes up feeling wolfish and starts making noises that frighten the visitors, will her sister be able to charm her back to humanity by painting her a garden called Bloomsberry?



Witchfairy by Brigitte Minne and Carll Cnutt    $30
What do you do if you're tired of being a fairy? Can you be a witch? Can you be both a fairy and a witch?  
Wolfy by Gregoire Solotareff       $30
A wolf who has never seen a rabbit and a rabbit who has never seen a wolf become the best of friends. What happens when they play at scaring each other? 
>> And here they are!




On a Magical, Do-Nothing Day by Beatrice Alemagna        $28
A beautifully illustrated invocation of the wonders to be found outside on a rainy day. 


Hortense and the Shadow by Natalia O'Hara and Lauren O'Hara      $30
Hortense is irritated by the antics of her shadow, but its ability to take on new forms can be useful when you are threatened by bandits.

The Milk of Dreams by Leonora Carrington        $37
A very surreal picture book written and illustrated by the Surrealist writer and artist for her own children. Meet John, who has wings for ears, Humbert the Beautiful, an insufferable kid who befriends a crocodile and grows more insufferable yet, and the awesome Janzamajoria. 
A Case in Any Case ('Detective Gordon' #3) by Ulf Nilsson and Gitte Spee       $20
Detective Gordon is on holiday, and Buffy is the sole detective at the small police station in the forest. It is not easy for a police officer to be alone. Especially when there are strange noises outside the station at night. The third in this delightful series






The World of Moominvalley by Tove Jansson and Philip Ardagh       $65
At last, an encyclopedia of the world of the Moomins and all the other creatures who live alongside them. 


Pax by Sara Pennypacker
Pax was only a kit when his family was killed and he was rescued by 'his boy', Peter. Now the country is at war and when his father enlists, Peter has no choice but to move in with his grandfather. Far worse than leaving home is the fact that he has to leave Pax behind. But before Peter spends even one night under his grandfather's roof he sneaks out into the night, determined to find his beloved friend. 
Illustrations by John Klassen. 



The Ice Sea Pirates by Frida Nilsson      $25
When 10-year-old Siri's younger sister is captured by the Captain Whitehead's Ice Sea Pirates, she must face wolves, frozen landscapes and treacherous sailors and mermaids as she journeys through the north to rescue her. Completely involving.

The Wonderling by Mira Bartok       $28
In Miss Carbunkle's Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures, the groundlings (part animal and part human) toil in classroom and factory, forbidden to enjoy anything regular children have, most particularly singing and music. For the Wonderling, a one-eared, fox-like eleven-year-old with only a number rather than a proper name - a 13 etched on a medallion around his neck - it is the only home he has ever known. A bird groundling named Trinket gives the Home's loneliest inhabitant two incredible gifts: a real name and a best friend. The pair escape over the wall and embark on an adventure that will take them out into the wider world and ultimately down the path of Arthur's true destiny.

>> Read Stella's review.
"Every now and then  there is published a book that raises the bar in Children and Young adult literature. This is such a book." - Bob Docherty
>> Visit the Wonderling website

The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon       $30
Archer B. Helmsley wants an adventure. No, he needs an adventure. His grandparents were famous explorers (until they got stuck on an iceberg). Now Archer's mother barely lets him out of the house. As if that would stop a true Helmsley. Archer enlists Adelaide—the girl who, according to rumor, lost her leg to a crocodile—and Oliver—the boy next door—to help him rescue his grandparents. Quite delightful, and with illustrations by the author. 

Also available: #2 The Doldrums and the Helmsley Curse


The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd, illustrated by Levi Pinfold       $23
In 1941 Emmaline is evacuated from London to Briar Hill hospital in Shropshire. There she discovers a hopeful deep secret: there are winged horses that live in a world through the hospital mirrors. 
"A remarkable book." - Michael Morpurgo 

DrawnonwarD: A back-to-front tale of hopelessness and hope by Meg McKinlay and Andrew Frazer       $30
The same situation can have quite different interpretations, depending on your perspective. Read in one direction, this piece of graphic invention is a dismal when read in one direction, but full of hope when read in the other. A change of perspective (or reading direction) is all you need to turn your life around.

Nevermoor: The trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend       $20
Morrigan Crow is cursed. Born on an unlucky day, she is blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks - and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on Eventide. But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor.
"Plenty of tricks, tumbles, twists and trials. Captivating, magical, daring and very good." - Stella (read her review)


Annual 2 edited by Kate De Goldi and Susan Paris         $40
Everything that was ever good about the children's annuals of the past is good about the annuals of the present compiled by Kate De Goldi and Susan Price to include the best New Zealand writing and illustration for children. Last year's Annual was hugely popular, and this year's will be, too. 



Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander by J.K. Rowling, illustrated by Olivia Lomenech Gill        $48
A sumptuously illustrated new gift edition with extra content.
"No wizarding household is complete without a copy." - Albus Dumbledore

The Severed Land by Maurice Gee      $20
A thoughtful, fast-paced adventure with a wonderful heroine. The novel opens with Fliss observing some soldiers and their cannon. Never able to break through the invisible wall, they have become increasingly frustrated with their inability to colonise the other side. As mayhem breaks loose, a drummer boy runs from the soldiers only to find himself stuck between the wall and the barrel of a gun. Fliss, for reasons unknown to her, is able to pull the drummer boy through the wall. Can they journey together to rescue the Nightingale (whatever that is)? The great story-line and compelling characters, brave and stubborn, and their interactions with friends and foes will keep you entranced and leave you wanting more.

The Murderer's Ape by Jakob Wegelius         $28
Sally Jones is not only a loyal friend, she's an extraordinary individual. In overalls or in a maharaja's turban, this unique gorilla moves among humans without speaking but understanding everything. She and the Chief are devoted comrades who operate a cargo boat. A job they are offered pays big bucks, but the deal ends badly, and the Chief is falsely convicted of murder. For Sally Jones this is the start of a harrowing quest for survival and to clear the Chief's name. 
"I don't know when I last read a book with such pure and unalloyed pleasure. It's ingenious, it's moving, it's charming, it's beautiful, it's exciting, and most importantly the characters are people I feel I know like old friends." - Philip Pullman

Zeustian Logic by Sabrina Malcolm           $25
If only real life could be like as magical as the stars in the night sky, as escapist as the stories of the Greek gods he tells his little brother to help him sleep at night, or as logical as a mathematical equation. Tuttle (Duncan) would rather look at stars, visit the Carter Observatory and play computer games with his mate, Attila the Pun, but life has other, more urgent things in train for our nerdy teen. Tuttle’s Dad, a once famous, now infamous, mountain climber has been missing, presumed dead in a storm on Mt. Everest, accused of leaving his paying customer to die on the mountain. Tuttle is determined to find out the truth, but more pressing still are his mother’s fall into depression, his younger brother’s anxiety, and how to make sure the family are fed, get to school on time and avoid all the hassles of the social worker and the persistent journalist.
>> Read Stella's review
The Empty Grave ('Lockwood & Co' #5) by Jonathan Stroud        $25
The final knuckle-whitening volume in this excellent series. Will Lucy, George and Lockwood solve the mystery of the plague of ghosts that has been afflicting London? Genuinely scary, genuinely funny, and with great characters, if you haven't read this, start with The Screaming Staircase.
"Jonathan Stroud is a genius." - Rick Riordan

La Belle Sauvage ('The Book of Dust' #1) by Philip Pullmamn       $35
The much anticipated first novel of a wonderful new series from the world of 'His Dark Materials', set ten years before Northern Lights and telling of the strange events surrounding Lyra Belacqua.

>> Also available in hardback
>> "A Triumph." - Read Stella's review


Yvain: The Knight of the Lion by M.T. Anderson and Andrea Offermann       $30
In a story drawn from Arthurian lore, Yvain kills a lord in battle and finds his fate entwined with that of the slain man's widow and that of her maid. Luminously drawn, this graphic novel is both an exploration of knightly virtues and of the lives of medieval women.
"A thoughtful, entertaining, and provocative presentation of this centuries-old story." - Booklist

'Iremonger' trilogy: Heap House, Foulsham, Lungdon by Edward Carey      $19 each
A deliciously written and possibly brain-renovating series following the fortunes of Clod Iremonger, scion of the family that rules over the great waste-heap of London, and Lucy, an irrepressible servant, who must withstand both tradition and novelty, secure their birth-objects, retain or reattain human form and somehow achieve freedom and love despite the forces that beset them on all sides. Brimming with ideas, great characters and genuine jaw-dropping moments. 
Thornhill by Pam Smy          $30
Ella is fascinated by the old house she sees from the window of her new room. "Keep Out" say the signs, but, after she sees a girl in the house's garden, Ella just has to go in. What does she find out about the house and its secrets? Will she ever be able to get back out? A chilling graphic novel.



A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge         $25
When a creature dies, its spirit can go looking for somewhere to hide. Some people have space inside them, perfect for hiding. Makepeace, a girl with a mysterious past, defends herself nightly from the ghosts which try to possess her. Then a dreadful event causes her to drop her guard for a moment. And now there's a ghost inside her. The spirit is wild, brutish and strong, but it may be her only defence in a time of dark suspicion and fear. As the English Civil War erupts, Makepeace must decide which is worse: possession or death.
From the author of the Costa Award-winning The Lie Tree

>> Read Stella's review
"Everyone should read Frances Hardinge. Everyone. Right now." - Patrick Ness
Naondel ('The Red Abbey Chronicles' #2) by Maria Turtschaninoff    $23
In the opulent palace of Ohaddin, women have one purpose - to obey. Some were brought here as girls, captured and enslaved; some as servants; some as wives. All of them must do what the Master tells them, for he wields a deadly and secret power. But the women have powers too. One is a healer. One can control dreams. One is a warrior. One can see everything that is coming. In their golden prison, the women wait. They plan. They write down their stories. They dream of a refuge, a safe place where girls can be free. And, finally, when the moon glows red, they will have their revenge.
>> Read the excellent Maresi first (and read Stella's review)!
The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe       $30
14-year-old Dita is confined in the extermination camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau. The several thousand residents of camp BIIb are inexplicably allowed to keep their own clothing, their hair, and, most importantly, their children. Fredy Hirsch maintains a school in BIIb. In the classroom, Dita discovers something wonderful: a dangerous collection of eight smuggled books. She becomes the books' librarian. Based on a true story.  



We See Everything by William Sutcliffe          $19
In a near-future, war-ravaged London, impoverished inhabitants are herded into “the Strip”, surveilled constantly by drones and periodically bombed into further submission. Gripping YA dystopia.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas     $20
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school. Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer.


Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart          $23
Imogen is an heiress, a runaway, and a cheat. Jule is a fighter, a chameleon, and a liar. Imogen is done pretending to be perfect, and Jule refuses to go back to the person she once was. Somewhere between the mansions of Martha's Vineyard and the shores of Cabo San Lucas, their intense friendship takes a dark turn. From the author of We Were Liars



Turtles All the Way Down by John Green      $30
Aza Holmes is caught in the ever-tightening spirals of her own thoughts. The book also features lifelong friendship, an unexpected reunion, Star Wars fan fiction, and a tuatara. The long-awaited new novel from the author of The Fault in Our Stars (&c). 














08/12/2017 05:12 AM




List #8: CHILDREN'S NON-FICTION

Scroll this list to select from our recommendations. 

Come in or click through to browse our full selection, or ask us for our recommendations for your specific needs. 


The Book of Bones by Gabrielle Balkan and Sam Brewster       $35
Have a look at the skeletons. Can you work out which animal they belong to, and where the animal lives? Why do these animals have the skeletons they do? Full colour images with textured skeletons give an idea how the animal operates in its natural habitat. 
>> Dry bones

Do Not Lick This Book (It's full of germs) by Idan Ben-Barak and Julain Frost      $23
Min is a microbe. She is small. Very small. In fact so small that you'd need to look through a microscope to see her. Or you can simply open this book and take Min on an adventure to amazing places she's never seen before - like the icy glaciers of your tooth or the twisted, tangled jungle that is your shirt.


Aotearoa: The New Zealand story by Gavin Bishop      $40
A breathtakingly wonderful large-format visual history of New Zealand, drawn by the inimitable Gavin Bishop. One of the outstanding New Zealand books of the year. 

Wild Animals of the South by Dieter Braun       $45
A beautiful and colourful menagerie of animals living in the southern hemisphere, a companion to Wild Animals of the North



Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin, illustrated by Giovanni Rigano          $35
A graphic novel about a refugee boy's journey of hope and desperation. 



Norse Myths: Tales of Odin, Thor and Loki by Kevin Crossley-Holland, illustrated by Jeffrey Alan Love         $37
Excellent retellings, with excellent illustrations. Crossley-Holland's versions are both enjoyable and scrupulous to the sources. 
"Kevin Crossley-Holland is the master." - Neil Gaiman

Mad About Monkeys by Owen Davies       $30
From the smallest Pygmy Marmoset to the largest Mandrill, this book provides all the facts you wanted to know (and more). 


Anatomy: A cutaway look inside the human body by Helene Druvert and Jean-Claude Druvert       $45
Here's the human body as you've never seen it before. Clever laser cut-outs, flaps and overlays explore every detail of the organs, systems and senses. 




Good-Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 tales of extraordinary women by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo     $40
100 one-page biographies of inspiring women from all times and all places, each with a wonderful full-page illustration by one of 60 artists (who just happen to all be women), including New Zealander Sarah Wilkins.
>> Watch this!


General Relativity for Babies by Chris Ferrie        $19
A clear and helpful board book. 


Egyptomania by Emma Giuliani and Carole Saturno       $45
How are mummies made? What's inside a pyramid? A beautifully drawn large-format lift-the-flap book, introducing the world of Ancient Egypt. 



If Apples Had Teeth by Milton and Shirley Glaser        $30
This silly, inventive picture book by the outstanding graphic designer of the protopsychedelic era will make your brain turn somersaults. Facsimile of the original 1960 edition. 



Follow Finn: A search-and-find maze book by Peter Goes       $30
A beautifully drawn and delightfully immersive maze boo with lots to find and an exciting plot. When goblins invade and then flee the house, Finn's dog gives chase - and so must Finn. Hours of fun. 

Women in Sports: 50 fearless athletes who played to win by Rachel  Ignotofsky        $35
A lively, beautifully illustrated survey.
"Rachel Ignotofsky provides young women with the courage and the confidence to follow the exciting paths these women have blazed before them." - Eileen Pollack
>> Also available: Women in Science
Here We Are: Notes for living on planet earth by Oliver Jeffers         $30
"Well, hello. And welcome to this Planet. We call it Earth. Our world can be a bewildering place, especially if you've only just got here. Your head will be filled with questions, so let's explore what makes our planet and how we live on it. From land and sky, to people and time, these notes can be your guide and start you on your journey. And you'll figure lots of things out for yourself. Just remember to leave notes for everyone else. Some things about our planet are pretty complicated, but things can be simple, too: you've just got to be kind."

Mixed-Up Masterpieces: Funny faces       $23
Split pages let you make a vast number of different faces from images from the British Museum collection (and have a vast amount of fun). 


Impossible Inventions: Ideas that shouldn't work by Alexandra Mizielinska, Daniel Mizielinski and Malgorzata Mycielska      $35
Just because something is impossible is no reason not to invent it. Throughout history, humans have dreamed up some improbable ideas. Some of them, while laughed at in their time, have been remarkably prescient of technology of the world centuries in their future. This wonderfully illustrated book, from the inventors of MapsH.O.U.S.Eand D.E.S.I.G.Nrewards hours of rapt attention. 

>> A comic review
A Sea Voyage: A pop-up story about all sorts of boats by Gerard Lo Monaco     $35
Two people and a dog sail out amongst ships of all kinds in this inventive pop-up book. There are even life-rings and mooring ropes. A lovely book. 

Today by Julie Morstad           $28
What should we do today? Where should we go? What should we wear? What should we eat? A beautifully illustrated book (with choices!) about all the options we have available to us every day. 
>> "Maybe I'll read my favourite book. Can you guess what it's about?"



Dinosaurium by Lily Murray and Chris Wormell       $42
A beautifully illustrated large-format book from the wonderful 'Welcome to the Museum' series. The latest facts with a retro feel. 



Cloth Lullaby: The woven life of Louise Bourgeois by Amy Novesky and Isabelle Arsenault        $35

A beautifully illustrated children’s book outlining Bourgeois' early connection with textiles via her family’s work as tapestry restorers for generations in France, her early connection with nature, and her path to becoming an artist. While studying mathematics in Paris, Louise’s mother dies and Louise abandons her studies and begins her work as a painter and sculptor -  a homage to her mother.  


Illumanatomy by Silvia Quintanilla, Francesco Rugiand and Kate Davies        $40
Wonderful large-format illustrations of the wonders of the human body. See 3 images at once, or use the filters to untangle them.



Animals of a Bygone Era: An illustrated compendium by Maja Säfström         $30
Animals that no longer exist are just as fascinating as animals that still do. This beautifully illustrated book introduces us to some you'll know and some you won't, and describes many of their surprising quirks. 
A companion volume to Amazing Animal Facts



Botanicum by Katie Scott and Kathy Willis        $42
An absolutely stunningly beautiful large-format illustrated guide to the wonders and variety of the plant world. Seldom do we use so many adjectives to describe a book. Part of the 'Welcome to the Museum' series. 





Pantheon: The true story of the Egyptian deities by Hamish Steele      $30
Horus, son of Isis, vows bloody revenge on his Uncle Set for the murder and usurpation of his Pharaoh father. A huge amount of fun packed into one graphic novel. 
>> Before he colored it in



Marco Polo: Dangers and visions by Marco Tabilio       $28
An exquisite graphic novel account of the explorations and inner life of the Venetian merchant who travelled through Asia as far as Chine in the thirteenth century. 
>> Have a look at Tabilio's website



The Egg by Britta Teckentrup           $34
A beautifully illustrated survey of birds in nests and in art and mythology. 





Explore! Aotearoa by Bronwen Wall       $30
Kupe! Thomas Brunner! Freda du Faur! Kieran McKay! Kelly Tarlton! Other people!




The Big Book of Bugs and The Big Book of Beasts by Yuval Zommer     
Giant, splendidly illustrated, satisfyingly fact-filled books in the same series as The Book of Bees!

Bright Ideas for Young Minds: 70 step-by-step activities to do at home with your child         $40
An excellent resource for everyone from young parents to grandparents, showing how to provide developmentally rich experiences without specialist equipment. 










18/11/2017 06:45 AM


















A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge    {Reviewed by STELLA}
A Skinful of Shadows is an immensely compelling novel for children and adults alike. Like Philip PullmanFrances Hardinge creates wonderful characters, intriguing plots, and ideas that will stay with you long after you shut the covers. In 2015, she won Costa Book of Year in 2015 with The Lie Tree, an intriguing tale of truth, science and faith set in the Victorian era on a remote island (his is now available in a deluxe edition with illustrations by Chris Riddell). A Skinful of Shadows is set in England in the 1640s, the Civil War is brewing, Puritans and Catholics are at loggerheads, and so is the King and parliament. In a small village called Popular, Makepeace lives with her mother. Making a piecemeal living from lace-making and odd jobs, they live in a small barren room in the home of her aunt and uncle, barely accepted by them or the village. When her mother dies, Makepeace is sent to the home of the aristocratic Fellmotte family, where she becomes a kitchen skivvy. Makepeace, an illegitimate child, has the Fellmotte gene, one that enables them to possess ghosts. The Fellmottes have dangerous and dark plans for her - ones that will consume her in their obsession to preserve the family line, the Fellmotte power and property. Not everyone is an enemy, though, and she makes plans with her half-brother James to escape Grizehayes. After many failed attempts, the chaos of the Civil War gives them the perfect opportunity to escape. When James lets her down, Makepeace finds herself in an even more precarious situation, but with the help of a bear and her overwhelming desire to survive she begins a journey across England to find a document worth more than gold, a document that will grant her freedom from the Fellmotte family and ensure their fall from grace. Like all good mysteries, there are plenty of turns and forks on the road, and those that help and those that hinder. Yet the more intriguing elements are those that involve the ghosts or the souls that are possess, some of which are malevolent, others helpful. Makepeace is an excellent heroine and her relationship with Bear is endearing. A story about power, possession and purpose, it’s on my list of excellent children’s books of 2017.

11/11/2017 06:55 AM



















Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend   {Reviewed by STELLA}
Nevermoor is the word that’s been on everyone’s lips over the last few months. Australian author Jessica Townsend's children’s book was pitched by her agent at last year’s Frankfurt Book Fair, where it created an eight-publisher bidding frenzy, with Hachette finally winning. The book has been sold into 25 territories and film rights have been sold to 20th Century Fox. So this is a big deal for a debut author. Comparisons, unsurprisingly, have been made with Harry Potter, and the first book in the series was recently released to much fanfare. Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crowintroduces us to our plucky heroine, the cursed child Morrigan Crow, and a new fantastical world of magic, both bright and dark, colourful characters (some untrustworthy), exclusive societies that only the bravest and most talented qualify for, talented children (friends and foes), magical beasts, and much more! With the opening chapter letting you know that the main character is about to die, who could resist reading on? Morrigan Crow is due to die before her eleventh birthday, cursed from the day she was born. She is feared and ostracised - her family can’t wait to be normal - she is the agent of disasters, big and small. When Eventide begins earlier than anticipated, Morrigan knows her days are numbered. On a whim, she attends (much to her Mayoral father’s annoyance) Bid Day, a ceremony where apprentices are chosen for elite schools. When Morrigan’s name is called out for a scholarship, not once but several times (unheard of!), no one is more surprised than her. Uproar ensues. How can this cursed child be chosen? With the countdown on, the coffin ordered, the last meal ready to be eaten, Morrigan will never be an apprentice. As she sits for the last time in her family home, something quite extraordinary happens! Jupiter North of the Wunderous Society has come to collect her. And so the adventures begin. Plenty of tricks, tumbles, twists and trials. Captivating, magical, daring and very good.

04/11/2017 07:34 AM
























The Wonderling by Mira Bartók  {Reviewed by STELLA}
A woebegone creature without a name, referred to as Puddlehead, Plonker or Groundling but known as Number 13, has grown up in a horrible orphanage run by the bitter and nasty Miss Carbunkle. The Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures is not a place you would want to call home. Groundlings, creatures of all kinds, some part human, part creature, live a miserable existence which consists of school, where they are reminded that their sole purpose is "to toil and suffer in silence", and work in the factory - a factory where Miss Carbunkle is up to some kind of no good. The Wonderling, as he will be known later, is a shy, gentle fellow, part fox, part dog, part human, with one ear, who stutters and tries to remain unnoticed. One day he sees a group of bullies tormenting a small creature and, despite his terror, steps in to rescue the bird-like Trinket. Trinket and the Wonderling become firm friends. Trinket, an enterprising and mechanically minded young bird, gives the foxy groundling his first name, Arthur. She's determined to escape the orphanage - no easy task with its fortifications, boarded-up gates, mastiffs pulling on their chains, and sneaks among the orphans willing to relay information to the nasty Carbunkle or the snivelling Mr Sneezeweed. Escaping the orphanage will be just the first in the adventures for the pair. After a chaotic yet successful escape, Trinket and Arthur find themselves on the road, heading towards the city of Lumentown. Trinket must first go to the sea to track down her Uncle, while Arthur, with an address, a scrap of blue blanket and a gold key, heads towards the town alone. He makes friends and enemies on the way and falls into the path of the charming, not altogether trustworthy Quintus, who helps him to learn a trade. Arthur’s attempts to find his family or find out who he is become more and more distant, and when he's captured and sent under to a filthy and grim world to work in the mine it seems like it's the end of the line. Will he ever find Tintagel Road, see his friend Trinket again or find out who he really is? Running alongside Arthur’s story is the mystery of Miss Carbunkle. Why is she so nasty and what is she up to in her factory? Why does she wear those ridiculous red wigs and who is her twin sister? There is plenty of adventure and magic in this fantastical world, with nods to Dickens and elements of steampunk. Add in a map, adorable illustrations and compelling writing all packaged in a divine hardback, Mira Bartok’s The Wonderling: Songcatcher is a wonder. The next in the series will be called The Singing Tree.



04/11/2017 07:33 AM













The Wolf, the Duck and the Mouse by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen   {Reviewed by STELLA}
The new picture book from the award-winning duo of Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen is a charmer. I was drawn in by the cover, a wolf between the trees, his two eyes naively drawn on one side of his head. Look a bit closer and you spot the duck and the mouse. The colour palette, sombre blacks, greys and ochres with the occasional lively accent, is classic Klassen. The drawings, with their collage-like characteristics, are atmospheric and playful, and Klassen is adept in capturing the protagonists, giving the story those extra layers of quirkiness. And his style is perfect for this story, a fable-like tale, which starts with misadventure yet becomes a delightful reflection on collaboration, complete with humour. A mouse is travelling through the forest when he meets a wolf and, alas, he is eaten. The wolf, fortunately, swallows this small morsel whole, and just when the poor mouse dreads this is the end, he hears a noise coming from within the belly. A duck is happily ensconced in the belly-home of the wolf, enjoying a very safe and civilised life, yet sometimes giving the poor wolf a guts ache. The duck, a clever fellow, helpfully calls up suggestions for a cure and the companions are well catered-for, including celebratory wine on occasion. All goes along well enough until the hunter comes a-calling…. Delightfully told and wonderfully illustrated with just the right balance of wit and tension, this will be a picture book to enjoy multiple times.


28/10/2017 08:52 AM


Our Book of the Week this week is La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman, the first book of 'The Book of Dust', the eagerly awaited new series set in the same universe as 'His Dark Materials'. 

>> Read Stella's review below.

>> Two other books from Lyra's world: Lyra's Oxford and Once Upon a Time in the North

>> Daemon Voices (Pullman on storytelling).

>> La Belle Sauvage is also available in hardback. 

>> "The philosophical underpinning of this book is deeply concerned with how authoritarian regimes take power."

>> Pullman: "'The Book of Dust' is about Dust. ... 'The Book of Dust' is not a sequel or a prequel but an equel."

>> 5 minutes with Philip Pullman

>> The Golden Compass film was based on Northern Lights. 

>> On Dust

>> He's already finished writing the sequel! 

>> Some other books by Pullman

Review by STELLA: 
The first in 'The Book of Dust' trilogy is a triumph. I sat down and read it in one sitting and there was no way anything was going to interrupt me (you have been warned!). It’s been almost 20 years since The Amber Spyglass, the third book in 'His Dark Materials' series, and leaving the world of Lyra was difficult for many. La Belle Sauvage is set 10 years before Northern Lights, Lyra is a baby in the care of the nuns at Godstow near Oxford. We are back in the world of daemons, the struggle between the religious order and scientific learning, and the mysterious questions about Dust. The Magisterium’s power is growing in Brytain and there is an increasing sense of unease in the populace. Here we meet Malcolm, an eleven-year-old boy - curious, inventive and good. He helps out at his parent’s pub, clearing glasses and scrubbing pots, he lends a hand to the nuns across the river and it is here he comes across Lyra and her daemon, Pantalaimon. While 'His Dark Materials' references Milton’s Paradise Lost, this series belongs to Spenser’s Faerie Queen, with touches of the Biblical Great Flood and Gothic storytelling. It feels like all the questions you still had as a reader after completing the previous trilogy are now going to be visited again, amplified - and maybe some answers might be forthcoming. While many of the characters are familiar, we learn more about them and their ambitions. Lyra’s mother, Mrs Coulter, is ever more daunting and compelling and Lord Asriel, her father, maddening and heroic. We are introduced to the fledgling secret organisation formed to resist the fascist and fanatical power-keepers, and the wonderful Hannah Reif, a reader of the wonderful Alethiometer, as well as the strange and dangerously obsessive former scientist who haunts Malcolm. Malcolm is drawn into a world which becomes increasingly dangerous and complex, and his loyalty toward the child is undaunting. As tensions rise, so do the rivers. It rains and rains, and Malcolm, tipped off by a Gyptian, readies his boat, the beautiful canoe, La Belle Sauvage, keeping an eye on the welfare of the child, Lyra. He rescues her as the walls of the nunnery collapse, and, along with the tough and mealy-mouthed Alice, who works at the pub, they start a journey down the Thames, across a flooded Brytain, in swift and dangerous currents. It’s a perilous journey physically, emotionally and mentally, stretching the youths to the edges of their capabilities. Pullman pulls no punches with La Belle Sauvage, with its allegorical layers and deliberations on science, religion and the psyche. It's dark, compelling and incredibly intriguing. Complex, intelligent writing for children, teens and adults alike. 



14/10/2017 11:24 AM

















The Empty Grave ('Lockwood & Co' #5) by Jonathan Stroud   {Reviewed by STELLA}
If you are a reader of the 'Lockwood' series, you will understand the excitement and also the apprehension of reading The Empty Grave. Excitement because it is the fifth in the series and there is so much to find out. What were they up to on the Other Side? Why is ‘the problem’ getting worse? Will Lockwood, Lucy and George survive finding out? And who is Penelope Fittes, and what is she up to? And apprehension, because it’s the final 'Lockwood' book! And it's so good! If you haven’t read any of this series, it’s time to start with the Screaming Staircase immediately. The Empty Grave opens with our intrepid heroes in the final resting place of Marissa Fittes, the famous and supposedly dead ghost hunter. Unsurprisingly, a jaunt into the crypt doesn’t go exactly to plan, and things just get more dangerous from there on in. As the forces that police the ghost-hunting agents become more draconian in an attempt to stifle the truth, Lockwood & Co. become increasingly curious and determined to find out what is going on. The Fittes agency is on the offensive, the Orpheus Society more secretive, and someone wants Lockwood, Lucy and George eradicated. Whose empty grave awaits, and will this be the end of the road for our young agents? There are plenty of twists and turns in this last action-packed book, and also answers, some that may surprise you! Always a tricky thing, a final book to a wonderful series, but Jonathan Stroud expertly pulls it off. It has the classic intrigue, deceptions and scariness of the first four, as well as all the failings of our human team, their commitment to truth, and their determination to overcome the evil misdoings of others who are obsessed with the ghosts, the dangerous pull of the Other Side and the desire to manipulate life and death. Thrilling, frightening and altogether brilliant. 

26/08/2017 12:19 PM





















Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell     {Reviewed by STELLA}
When the Queen Mary, a Victorian liner, sinks, a baby with hair the colour of lightning is found inside a cello case floating on the English Channel. She is discovered by eccentric scholar Charles Maxim, who names her Sophie and takes her into his home, much against the advice of the authorities. While Sophie sometimes eats off an atlas or writes her sums on the wallpaper, she is surrounded by music, words, and love. When the inspectors come, despite the best efforts of Charles and Sophie to tidy and clean the house and make themselves presentable, the authorities conclude that now that she is thirteen Maxim is not a suitable guardian, and Sophie is to be moved to an orphanage where she will be taught to be a proper young lady. In a fit of fury, Sophie destroys the cello case that saved her life, only to find a clue, and away they head over the channel to Paris. On the run from the authorities, Charles and Sophie are mother-hunting. Sophie is convinced her mother survived the sinking of the ship and she’s determined to take risks to find her. Risks that involve a strange boy, Matteo, and a band of wayward children who live above the streets of Paris on rooftops or in treetops, eking out a precarious existence - one that is preferable to the orphanage or workhouse. Can Sophie trust these unusual, secretive children? Will she be courageous enough to face physical danger and determined enough to believe in herself? Katherine Rundell creates magic with her cast of characters and description of place. Sophie is a wild child and determined young woman you warm to immediately: stubborn, intelligent, brave and vulnerable. Matteo is a perfect companion: resourceful, secretive and daring. Charles is an adult who brings the rules, lives by the heart and is loyal to the core. Rundell is an exquisite writer, her pace is spot on, the plot inventive and her language witty. You will find it hard to leave Sophie behind when you close the final page of this adventurous and warm-hearted novel. Fortunately,Rundell has several other titles to her name, the latest has just arrived -The Explorer

26/08/2017 11:09 AM






























Letters from a Lost Uncle by Mervyn Peake  {Reviewed by THOMAS}
“You will understand, unless you are very stupid, how exciting it is after so many years spent in searching for the White Lion, to feel so close to him.” The characters of Peake’s fictions, finding conventional society too narrow to contain them, turn their backs upon all that is familiar, traditional and expected of them and choose the path of loneliness that is the only alternative, monopraxis establishing no maps to variance, to learn that the path of loneliness is one to be beaten for oneself. Where there is no route forward a route must be made forward, and to carry on is to carry on with no companion but perhaps an oddity not of the same order of being as oneself. This is a melancholy path but it would be gritless to despair for to despair is the intended fate of all who turn their backs on lit windows and dining tables. One such wanderer, a “lost uncle”, though to whom he is lost is unclear, finds himself, one-legged but with a useful spike to complete his complement of limbs, more suited to the hazards and loneliness of arctic wastes than he is to human company, and travels north in search of the White Lion, whose image he has seen on a stamp. The longing of the Peakesean wayfarer draws him to the cold far edges of the mind, where snow may be swept by wind into a vast column, clearing the underlying ice so that the monsters that swim beneath may grin up as he passes. He has only a mutant turtle-dog named Jackson for company and to carry his gear. And the lion? Single-mindedness such as the uncle’s cannot fail, but the prize is bound to disappoint, the White Lion to be vast but old and on the point of death, the animals of the North all gathered for its farewell. And out of such loneliness, from this nowhere to which such uncles belong, from these experiences from beyond the usual ambit of experience, why these letters posted back to an undifferentiated nephew, these, in this case, distinctive pencil drawings with typewritten scraps of text pasted on? Does the letter, the book, the artefact, the text perform an inward urgency, tethering the sojourner to a sanity from which they might otherwise be distant? Or is there a magnanimity in production when to not produce would be less draining: does a writer imagine that the world might somehow be better (or worse) for their imposing their words upon others or upon at least the possibility of others? The task of an explorer is to explore. Is there any quest that does not leave a trace?

14/08/2017 09:47 AM


The winners of the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults have just been announced!

2017 Margaret Mahy Book of the Year: SNARK by David Elliot
Copyright Licensing NZ Young Adult Fiction Award: The Severed Land by Maurice Gee

Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction: My New Zealand Story: Bastion Point by Tania Roxborogh

Elsie Locke Award for Non Fiction: Jack and Charlie, Boys of the Bush by Jack Marcotte

Picture Book Award: That's Not A Hippopotamus! by Juliette MacIver and Sarah Davis

Te Kura Pounamu Award: Te Kaihanga Māpere by Sacha Cotter, translated by Kawata Teepa, illustrated by Josh Morgan

Russell Clark Illustration Award: Snark by David Elliot

Best First Book Award: The Discombobulated Life of Summer Rain by Julie Lamb





12/08/2017 12:34 PM















 {The 'Lockwood & Co.' series, reviewed by STELLA}
I started reading Jonathan Stroud’s 'Bartimaeus Trilogy' when I should have been reading something else this week! (I’m blaming this in my son’s exclamation “I can’t believe you haven’t read this yet. You have to.”) - a hazard when there are so many excellent books to read and always new titles arriving on my pile. Reading Stroud took me right back to my first encounter with his writing for children and teens, The Screaming Staircase, the first in the 'Lockwood & Co.' series. For fifty years, London has been haunted by ghosts, and the only people how can quell these beings are young, talented agents. There are several Psychic Investigations Agencies, but none are quite like Lockwood & Co. For a start they are a small team of three, they don’t have an adult ruling the roost and they do have a reputation for getting into quite a fix every once and so often. They are also extremely good at their job: Lockwood himself is brave, unflappable (you could definitely say he enjoys danger - maybe too much!) and highly skilled; George is the brains of the organisation - the one who will delve into the puzzles behind the ghostly problems finding the key that may quite often save their lives; and Lucy is smart, brave, and has an unwavering ability to tune into ghosts, especially the disaffected and trickiest ones. All in all, it’s dangerous, scary and filled with wonderful details and excellent characters. As the series continues the world of Lockwood & Co. becomes increasingly complex, the ghosts more malign, the apparitions more startling and the machinations and jealousies of the agencies increasingly mysterious. With titles like The Screaming Staircase,The Whispering SkullThe Hollow Boy and The Creeping Shadow, these are not for the faint-hearted. Yet Stroud isn’t all about scares; he uses humour excellently and draws out the relationship between our three heroes with pithy dialogue and the epic values of loyalty, courage and compassion. The fifth and final book, The Empty Grave, is due in September!

29/07/2017 01:21 PM





















Book-related games and activities that are enjoyable ways to introduce children to concepts and story telling structures. A favourite at VOLUME isStory Box. The box contains 20 double-sided puzzle pieces that can be arranged (and re-arranged) to make wordless fairy tales. The illustrations are playful and clever allowing for different interpretations depending on the nieghbouring cards. An array of characters from gnomes and brave children to kings, witches (who may or may not be friendly) and wolves, against backdrops of farms, forests and mountains where people live in humble homes, majestic castles and forest trees give children an endless array of possible stories. My favourite cards include the wolf flavouring the tied-down gnome with salt and pepper, the strange giant pink rabbit who is busily nibbling away at the palace, the princess on her moped in the night-time forest, and gnomes lamenting some catastrophe, their boxes of tissues well in use. Sturdy, and with plenty of story-telling possibilities: ideal for 3-to-6-year-olds.                                       {STELLA}


Animals at Home is a matching card game for young children. 27 animals nee to find their homes. This great for small children - they are introduced to a variety of animals, some of which will be familiar (horse, bee, mouse), others perhaps new to them (beaver, platypus, mole). All the cards remain face up and the matching begins. Where does the beaver live? Who goes home to the cave? The illustrations are bright and clear and the text is restricted to nouns. There are clues in the colour backgrounds - you're right when the background colour matches. To make the game a little more challenging it can be a matching memory game with all the cards turned face down. Sturdy cardboard pieces are just the right size for little hands.
{STELLA}






For children who love animals, Amazing Animal Facts is brilliant. This is produced in book form as well as a boxed file set. The box contains 50 postcards (25 different animal fact cards, so one of each can be posted) that can be coloured in and sent as postcards or kept as information file cards. The file box is segmented into five categories; Sea, Forest, Field, Jungle and Sky, with 5 different animals apiece. The Blue Whale fact card tells us that its heart is as big as a car and that it has a belly button, that the Sloth is so slow that it grows green algae on its fur, and that flies are deaf, poop every 5 minutes, and that a group of flies is called a business. Wonderfully designed, with intriguing facts perfect for young enquiring minds (and plenty for adults to learn too)!                   {STELLA}

15/07/2017 09:36 AM













 

Philip Pullman’s latest book is The Adventures of John Blake: Mystery of the Ghost Ship, a graphic novel illustrated by Fred Fordham. Serena is sailing around the world with her family when a storm picks up and she is swept overboard. She’s rescued by the daring John Blake and finds herself on the mysterious ghost ship, the Mary Alice. Crewed by an assortment of sailors from different eras, souls rescued by the ship, they include a Roman engineer from 210, a slave of the Barbary pirates picked up in 1614, and Blake from an experimental expedition in 1939. And if adventures at sea and time travel aren’t enough there’s a present day villain, a wealthy tech mogul, who is out to find the Mary Alice and John Blake. What does Blake have that could be so important to a man who controls communications via his best-selling device, the Apparaptor? And he’s not the only person chasing the Mary Alice, awaiting sightings and news of a ship appearing in a strange fog and disappearing just as suddenly. Serena gets caught up in this high-stakes chase through time and across the seas. Can she help Blake and the crew of the Mary Alice overcome pirates, armed thugs and the crazed behaviour of a megalomaniac, and will she get back to her family? The Adventures of John Blake is a superb story filled with an exciting plot, conspiracy and mystery. Fordham's illustrations are excellent - with both nostalgic and modern elements, they fit the time-travel concept perfectly. Layered with intriguing characters, who we just get a glimpse of in this book, I’m sure there will be more John Blake adventures to come.     {Reviewed by STELLA}
> Click herehere and here for some spreads. 

01/07/2017 02:10 PM















Zeustian Logic by Sabrina Malcolm    {Reviewed by STELLA}
If only real life could be like as magical as the stars in the night sky, as escapist as the stories of the Greek gods he tells his little brother to help him sleep at night, or as logical as a mathematical equation. Tuttle (Duncan) would rather look at stars, visit the Carter Observatory and play computer games with his mate, Attila the Pun, but life has other, more urgent things in train for our nerdy teen. Tuttle’s Dad, a once famous, now infamous, mountain climber has been missing, presumed dead in a storm on Mt. Everest, accused of leaving his paying customer to die on the mountain. Tuttle is determined to find out the truth, but more pressing still are his mother’s fall into depression, his younger brother’s anxiety, and how to make sure the family are fed, get to school on time and avoid all the hassles of the social worker and the persistent journalist. And Tuttle also has the aggravating presence of Boyd, the petrol head neighbour who drives him insane. Zeustian Logic is reminiscent, in style, of Kate De Goldi’s The 10pm Question, with its compelling main character, serious issues – in this case the death of a parent and the fallout this has for a family – mixed with humour and compassion, against a backdrop of the everyday ups and downs of being a young teen coping with secondary school and of attempting to find resolutions to sometimes impossible problems. The book is cleverly set a year on from the event that changes this family’s lives – the relations and friends have been supportive and cared for them but now everyone has got on with their lives while Tuttle and his mother and brother are still living in a limbo-land, one in which grief is still ever-present, where the pressures on this young man are reaching a breaking point. Sabrina Malcolm has written a brilliant book about a boy coping with the death of his father and the impact that grief has on a family. In this climate of chaos, sadness and anger, Malcolm avoids clichés and resolution to create an ultimately affecting story about recovery from trauma and how family are the anchor points in their own constellation.


21/06/2017 10:47 AM


 
The 2017 CILIP Carnegie Medal for Outstanding Book for Children and Young People:
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
It's early 1945 and a group of people trek across Germany, bound together by their desperation to reach the ship that can take them away from the war-ravaged land. Four young people, each haunted by their own dark secret, narrate their unforgettable stories. They converge in a desperate attempt to board an overcrowded ship in a Baltic port, which is tragically then sunk by a torpedo. Based on a true story, the incident was the worst maritime tragedy ever.
 
 
The 2017 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal for Outstanding Book in Terms of Illustration:
There is a Tribe of Kids by Lane Smith
Lane Smith takes us on a colourful adventure through the natural world, following a child as he weaves through the jungle, dives under the ocean and soars into the sky. Along the way he makes friends and causes mischief with a dazzling array of creatures both large and small - but can he find a tribe of his own? Full of warmth and humour, There Is a Tribe of Kids is a playful exploration of wild childhood - of curiosity, discovery and what it means to belong.
 
 
The Amnesty CILIP Honours:
Carnegie: The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon
Greenaway: The Journey by Francesca Sanna
 
 

17/06/2017 01:55 PM














Gecko Press produce excellent books for younger readers, and they have a knack for finding those quirky tales that will make you smile and have children laughing, commiserating and cheering for their favourite story friends. An early chapter book series, with short chapters and plenty of pictures dotted throughout, is 'Detective Gordon', written by Ulf Nilsson and illustrated by Gitte Spee. The First Case introduces you to Detective Gordon, an old toad (he’s 19!) – the police chief of the forest. When Squirrel discovers that 204 of his 15,704 nuts have been stolen he is understandably upset and rushes through the forest to report the crime to the famous detective, insisting that his missing nuts must be found. Detective Gordon stands vigil at the scene of the crime, and, when a young mouse flits away with another nut, he makes to pursue her. Unfortunately, he’s frozen and stuck under a mound of snow. The young mouse digs him out, and then she is promptly taken to the police station, which is warm and snug, with a comfortable bed and plenty of cakes (Gordon has a penchant for a nice cup of tea and cake for every meal and between times too, and he sometimes (but don’t tell anyone) nods off). When the detective discovers the mouse has no name, no home and only stole the one nut due to extreme hunger, he takes pity on her, promptly names her Buffy and feeds and homes his new assistant. And then it's time to solve the crime! Squirrel’s becoming further agitated by his missing nuts and wants the criminals caught, but who is it? With snow falling and the tracks being covered, can the Chief and his new assistant catch the culprits? A lively and charming story with plenty of cake and lots of heart. There are three 'Detective Gordon' books, so far, to be enjoyed.

{REVIEWED BY STELLA}




    




10/06/2017 02:06 PM



This week's BOOK OF THE WEEK is See You When I See You by Rose Lagercrantz and Eva Eriksson 
Dani is on a school trip to the zoo, and the teacher tells the children how to stay safe and not get lost. But Dani gets separated from the others. Suddenly another class is rushing up the path and at the back of the noisy crowd is someone she recognizes: Ella! The good friends are so happy to be together again and Ella wants to play. What should Dani do? Follow her best friend in the whole world or do as the teacher said? 


>> Read Stella's review


>> This is the fifth book about Dani and her friend Ella. Have you read the others? 


My Happy Life
Dani is probably the happiest person she knows. She's happy because she's going to start school. Dani has been waiting to go to school her whole life. Then things get even better  -  she meets Ella by the swings. After that, Dani and Ella do everything together. They stick together through wet and dry, sun and rain, thick and thin. But then something happens that Dani isn't prepared for.
My Heart is Laughing
Dani's been trying her best to stay happy ever since her best friend Ella moved away. But when some girls in Dani's class start being cruel to her, it starts a chain of rather unhappy events. It would all be okay if only Ella would move back.
When I am Happiest
It's the second-to-last day of school and Dani's so happy she could write a book about it! In fact, that's exactly what she's done, although it's not quite finished yet. Now the book is in her backpack with all the other things she has to take home before the summer break. But then Dani gets some bad news. How will she ever be happy again? 
Life According to Dani
Its Dani's first summer vacation and the best ever! She is staying on an island with Ella, her best friend in the world. Dad is still in hospital but he calls every day, and Ella and Dani stay busy building huts, fishing, exploring, and swimming. Then Dad turns up, but with his new girlfriend! This is not the visit anyone had imagined. 






>> Bouncing back!


>> Do you read Swedish?






10/06/2017 02:05 PM
















See You When I See You by Rose Lagercrantz and Eva Eriksson  {Reviewed by STELLA}
Swedish duo, writer Rose Lagercrantz, who has a genius for telling a simple story well, for capturing the small yet significant moments in Dani’s world, and illustrator Eva Eriksson, with her delightful, evocative pen-and-ink drawings, bring us the fifth book in the 'Dani' series, a wonderful Gecko Press series about Dani, a young girl who will steal your heart and appeal to the younger children in your life. We first met Dani in the delightful My Happy Life, and since then we have walked alongside Dani as she has started school, made friends, found out about bullies, lost a friend, got into a few scrapes, been happy and sad, scared and worried. Now, in book five, Dani is well at home at school and she is off to the zoo for a class trip. The rules are clear, and if you get lost you must wait where you saw your class last. Well, Dani does get lost, but when a class from a different school runs by in an unruly manner, who should she see? Ella! Her best friend. And suddenly the dilemma, stay put or follow Ella? Of course, Ella has grand plans that involve them adventuring on their own, and headstrong Ella is difficult to resist. Dani is delightful, loyal to her friend, conscious of what she really should be doing, torn between the rules and what feels best. Alongside this innocent adventure, is another : Dani’s father, still recovering from an accident, is doing his best to get Dani to like Sadie, the new person in his life. Yet he’s not quite getting it right. And why is Ella so upset - why does she think their friendship is in danger? Can Dani make it better? The great thing about this series is the ability of the author to create a character like Dani who doesn’t always do the ‘right’ thing, but is always full of heart, with stories that children will relate to, focusing on their concerns and worries, while also creating a sense of joy and a little mischief. 


06/05/2017 08:32 AM





















The Palace of Glass by Django Wexler  {Reviewed by STELLA}
The third in 'The Forbidden Library' series, The Palace of Glass is the best yet! Alice, having discovered Geryon’s role in the disappearance of her father, is determined to get the better of him, and put the wrongs to right. To do this she has to ask for Ending’s help. Ending, a giant talking cat, is the guardian of Geryon’s Library. Alice doesn’t know whether she can trust Ending, but she has little choice - Ending can help her discover new powers and give her the information she needs to overturn Geryon’s power. When Geryon is called away to a meeting with the other old Readers, Alice sees her chance to enter the world which will take her to the Palace of Glass. She enters a strange world of fire and ice, meets a fire sprite, Flicker, who will be her guide to the dangerous Palace of Glass, where she must find a portal book with a potent spell, a spell strong enough to capture Geryon. Alice will have to gather her magical creatures and her powers, and keep her wits about her as she battles her foes and her supposed allies. Who can she trust? And where will this confrontation take her? The 'Forbidden Library' series is a great adventure with a remarkable heroine. There’s much to think about here, with lessons about power and corruption, loyalty and trustworthiness, all wrapped up in a compelling story about a girl who wants to do the right thing by her fellow apprentices and by the amazing magical creatures who have been cajoled and trapped by the might of the Readers. 

29/04/2017 03:17 PM










We have had some excellent children’s illustrated non-fiction arrive recently. For those fascinated by outer space, there is a great new book from Martin Jenkins with excellent Stephen Biesty illustrations: Exploring Space: From Galileo to the Mars Rover and Beyond is informative and appealing. From Galileo's telescope and early astronomy to the birth of flight, the Space Race and life on the Space Shuttle, to what future space travel will look like, this book will spark the imagination and intrigue those that look towards the stars. The wonderful cross-section drawings of Biesty’s detailed illustrations add that magic touch. For those that would rather keep their feet on the ground, who are keen on the environment and nature, The Book of Bees! is a stunner. Author Piotr Socha is one of Poland’s most popular cartoonists. A graphic designer and illustrator, he is also the son of a beekeeper. The Book of Bees! is filled with excellent historical detail, delightful and informative facts about the humble, but ever necessary, bee; and all this is wrapped in wonderfully designed and illustrated package. A standout book that will delight children and adults alike. Also not to be missed for animal lovers: Dieter Braun's Wild Animals of the North and, available from June, Wild Animals of the South.
{Reviewed by STELLA}

24/04/2017 05:36 AM



SCHOOL HOLIDAY WOLVES
Usually the wolves turn up in the second week of the school holidays. Here are a few books to help you cope. 
Virginia Wolf by Kyo Maclear and Isabelle Arsenault       $30
When Vanessa's sister Virginia is feeling wolfish and frightens the visitors, Vanessa sets out to calm her. Will Vanessa's drawing skills and imagination do the trick? 

Wild Animals of the North by Dieter Braun      $45
A remarkably beautiful book, short-listed for the 2017 Kate Greenaway Medal
>> Just look at this!

(In case you were wondering, South will be available in June.)
The Wolves of Currumpaw by William Grill       $33
This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of a wolf, Old Lobo, the wolf that no one could capture. In 1893, a respected naturalist and hunter, Ernest Thompson Seton, left New York in a bid to rid the ranchers of Old Lobo and his pack. This wasn’t as easy as Seton thought it would be and after many failed attempts he noticed another wolf, the beautiful she-wolf Blanca, and this ultimately led to the capturing of Old Lobo. This is a beautifully told story with stunning illustrations, which also reflects on the impact of Seton’s hunt for Lobo, his regret at his success and his growing awareness of wild places and the animals that belong in them. 

I am the Wolf... and Here I Come! by Benedicte Guettier      $20
The wolf is getting dressed. What's he going to do when he is ready? (Clue: he is very hungry). An enjoyable board book to share (clue: it closes with a snap like a wolf's jaws). 
Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin       $20
It’s Germany, 1956, and Hitler has won the war. Yael, an eighteen-year-old woman, is part of the Resistance and she has a mission – a dangerous one – she is charged with assassinating Hitler. As a child, Yael was in a camp and experimented on – the experiment, which was successful, has given her a gift that can be used against her enemies. In 1956 a famous motorcycle race, for the creme de la creme of youths, crosses Hitler’s Europe. After years of training, Yael is ready to join this often-dangerous race, where allegiances are necessary to survive and to win is difficult. But win Yael must so she can get to the Victors’ Ball.  This novel draws you in slowly and then grips you with its teeth and doesn’t let up until the end. Followed by Blood for Blood
The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell      $15
Beautifully written, exciting and unusual. Feodora and her mother live in the snowbound woods of Russia, in a house full of food and fireplaces. Ten minutes away, in a ruined chapel, lives a pack of wolves. Feodora's mother is a wolf wilder, and Feo is a wolf wilder in training. A wolf wilder is the opposite of an animal tamer: it is a person who teaches tamed animals to fend for themselves, and to fight and to run, and to be wary of humans. When the Russian Army threatens her very existence, Feo is left with no option but to go on the run.
Help! The Wolf is Coming! by Cedric Ramadier and Vincent Bourgeau      $20
The wolf is coming and (predictably) he wants to eat us. Perhaps if we tilted the book, he might have a hard job of catching us. With a bit of imagination there are quite a few ways we might make things hard for this wolf.
Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk       $23
Annabelle has lived in Wolf Hollow all her life: a quiet place, still scarred by two world wars. But when cruel, manipulative Betty arrives in town, Annabelle's calm world is shattered, along with everything she's ever known about right and wrong. When Betty accuses gentle loner Toby - a traumatised ex-soldier - of a terrible act, Annabelle knows he's innocent. Then Betty disappears...Now Annabelle must protect Toby from the spiralling accusations and hysteria, until she can prove to Wolf Hollow what really happened to Betty. There are no wolves in this book. 
What Dog Knows by  Sylvia Vanden Heede and Marije Tolman    $20
Wolf and Dog are cousins. In some ways they are similar; in some ways very different. When Wolf finds a book of facts in the library, he thinks he can outsmart Dog. But can he?
HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

















08/04/2017 08:01 AM
















Two children's fantasy series reviewed by STELLA.
This week at our children’s book group for 9-12-year-olds our topic was fantasy (anything magical: dragons, wizards, witches, ghosts). Why do we love imaginary worlds and what do they tell us about our own world? I chose two books with a similar theme - Inkheart by Cornelia Funke and The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler. I read both of these some time ago, but they still stick with me. In both, the characters literally fall into books and into danger - wild rides where truth is uncovered and obstacles are overcome. Each have interesting girl protagonists, Meggie in the 'Inkheart' series and Alice in 'The Forbidden Library' series; both have a least one missing parent; both explore the need to trust, yet be wary of, strangers; and both have an incredible power - one that will help the characters overcome great obstacles to free the ones they love.

Cornelia Funke’s series is a complex, multilayered tale of mythical and magical proportions. When a stranger knocks on Meggie’s door one night, her life is turned upside down. Dustfinger, a fire-eater and performer, has come to find Mortimer (Meggie’s father), a bookbinder with a strange power: he is a Silvertongue with the ability to talk characters out of books. But for every character that comes out, something must go in. Dustfinger comes with news of Meggie’s mother and dangerous times, and Mortimer is pulled back into a world which he has tried to keep hidden from Meggie, who soon learns she has some incredible powers herself.

When you see a by-line that says "Books open new worlds. Especially for Alice", you can’t help but be tempted, and this was my introduction to The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler.  When Alice's father disappears, presumed drowned, Alice is sent away to live with the strange Mr. Geryon at his dark and unfriendly home, which includes a mysterious forbidden library. Banned from entering, of course Alice is curious, and so begins a tale of talking cats, books that you fall into, moving shelves, unusual and sometimes frightening creatures, foes and friends, and Alice's discovery of her quite remarkable talents. The Mad Apprentice is the second book in the series, where Alice meets other children like her and learns more about the sorcerers that they are apprenticed to, and the third book, just arrived at Volume, is The Palace of Glass.