Amazing things to make – New non-fiction

Little Cakes and cookies to bake

According to the author “little cakes are easier to make than big cakes, because you are handling smaller quantities.” This makes the book perfect for the beginner baker. All the recipes have great illustrations  that take you through the stages of baking step by step. There are lots of different yummy recipes to try, and they’re all a bit different to what you might find in your average baking book! A mouthwatering read for all the aspiring bakers.




Half-Hour hungries

For something a little more substantial, you might want to check this awesome book. Its focus is on dishes that are quick, healthy and tasty.  Whip up a Knickerbocker  Glory,  chicken satay skewers, nacho flavoured popcorn or a Mont Blanc. All these sound complicated and fancy , but the recipes are easy to follow. There are plenty of delicious choices, and perhaps after you see how simple everything is to make, you’ll never want to eat take out again.




Have fun with Arts and Crafts: animals

Winter is coming and so is the rainy weather. Beat the ‘stuck-inside-on-a-weekend-blues’ with these great craft projects. My favourite projects are the bendy monkeys made from pipe cleaners and pompoms, and the cute cake-pop piglets! You can make most of these projects with things you’ll probably already have around the house, so you won’t have to brave the rain to head out for crafting supplies. They’re fun and easy projects and you probably won’t need an adult hanging over your shoulder, interrupting your crafting time.




Tricks: rad stunts and sneaky pranks

This book is aimed at kids but any adult would be proud to know some of these tricks.  But ‘tricks’ doesn’t quite do the book justice; there’s plenty of skills and things to make.  These range from the simple (walk on your hands!) to the complex (booby trap a bathroom).  There are also some great pranks. Something fun to fill up your days when the weather turns.




Print it!

Bored with your wardrobe or your decor? How about customising a boring t-shirt with a rainbow print of your favourite animal? Or making some personalised stationary. The rainbow sneakers are awesome, too! This is a great book for beginner crafters, but make sure you put plenty of paper down before you rip into the paint.






The Lego adventure book

A must read for any Lego fanatic, this book will take you through different and amazing ways to make Lego models.  This book is made from the contributions of the best Lego builders in the world, and it really shows! No matter your favourite setting -Steampunk, medieval or science fiction- there’s something cool for you to make.  The builder also talks about how they come up with their ideas and share a few techniques for you to use in your own building.

The Wide World – New Nonfiction

1001 inventions and awesome facts from Muslim Civilisation

The Muslim faith is in the news a lot these days; this book will give a different perspective on what Muslims have contributed to the world civilisation  . While much of Europe was still in the Dark Ages, Muslims had started making great leaps in medicine, astronomy, cartography and the decorative arts.  For example, the first atlas was completed by Al-Idrisi in 1154. It showed most of North Africa, Asia and Europe. A 10th century Muslim surgeon, Al-Zahrawi, is considered to be “the father of modern surgery.” He completed a book called  Kitab al-Tasrif in the year 1000, which was a major influence on the development of medicine all over the world. The first example of female surgeons was found in a later Muslim book on medicine.  This is an extremely interesting book that has something to teach everyone.



What’s for lunch?How schoolchildren eat around the world

Not every kid in the world goes to school with vegemite sammies and a packet of crisps! This book not only shows what different cultures feed kids at lunch (the French meal looks particularly yummy!) but contains important information about the social context and ecological cost of what they’re eating.  It also talks about different movements in the world to make sure that everyone gets enough healthy food to eat.  It’s also a valuable eye opener for those who think that ham sandwiches are the worst thing you can get in your lunch box.




Crafts from the past

This is a great series of books that looks at the crafts of different ancient cultures. But they will also teach you how the Romans, the Greeks, the Ancient Indians, the Aztecs and the Ancient Egyptians worked, played, ate, what they believed in and how they entertained themselves.  They’re more than simple craft books (although the projects are really interesting and relatively simple to make) they are excellent resources for your history project on the ancient world. Or just to enjoy learning something new about the different cultures of the past.




World atlas of dinosaurs

Taking step further back into the world’s history, this book will guide you through which dinosaurs lived where and in what sort of habitat. New Zealand, for example, has more marine fossils, because large parts of it were still underwater during the time of the dinosaurs.  It also discusses significant sites where many dinosaur fossils have been found. It’s not a dry or boring book; there’s lots of awesome illustrations and fascinating facts to keep you reading.




How to change the world with a ball of string

“History makes it look as though everyone knew what they were doing all along. In fact, it wasn’t like that at all. Stuff happened by accident or had the opposite result from what was intended…” This is a great book for those who like history but may not like the gore of the horrible histories books. It’s just as interesting, as it talks about all the odd connections or coincidences or actions that may seem improbable but had an enormous effect on civilisation.  For example, did you know that the Black Death made life a lot better for the surviving peasants? There were so few left that Lords had to pay them to work in the fields. Wages and the standard of living got a little better, but this event shaped the modern economic system.  Other intriguing sections include “Lose an empire…over a cup of tea,” and my personal favourite, “Base a philosophy on beans.” This is definitely worth a read if you’re interested in history.



I wonder why Columbus crossed the Ocean

This is a great book for younger readers on the same subject: the whys and whats and hows of the history of exploration. From the earliest explorers to the space race, this book will give you a good basic understanding of how people explored the world around them.  It’s not just about Western explorers, either: people mentioned include the Arab traveller, Ibin Battuta who’s journey lasted 24 years and the amazing Chinese explorer Zheng He.


Art Attack – Learn to draw everything with new non-fiction books

Learn to draw enchanted Princesses

Anyone who who wants to draw Disney princesses  (and other Disney heroines!) can’t go past this awesome book. It takes you step by step through how to draw all them all, from Snow White and Sleeping Beauty to Tiana and Rapunzel.  It’s pretty detailed: first it teaches you how to draw their basic figure, then their face and after you’ve mastered those you can work on action poses and facial expressions. It also teaches you how to draw them at different stages, as well, like Tiana as a frog and Mulan as a soldier.  This is a great book for more advanced artists.




Draw Animals

This is a great general art book on how to draw realistic pictures of your favourite animals.  But this book doesn’t just stick to your boring cows and cats and dogs; it also features pre-historic creatures,  such as the Indricotherium (try saying that three times fast!) and the creatures of legend, such as the Gryphon and the Hydra. Another book for the more advanced artist, but don’t let that scare you off! Practice makes perfect, after all.





13 Art Illusions Children should know

Do you know what tromp l’oeil is? Or atmospheric perspective? From the very earliest paintings, clever artists have used all sorts of tricks to fool the viewer into seeing the painting in a different way. This book will reveal all these tricks and how they were created. It takes you on a journey through time, showing you how artists got cleverer and cleverer at fooling the eye. It will teach you something new and perhaps you can introduce some of these concepts to your own art work.




Xtreme Illusions

This book is on the same subject but focuses more on the modern types of optical illusions. It doesn’t focus on the history or the more technical aspects of how these illusions are created, but it’s a fun book to read.




How to draw series

If you’d like to take your art skills to the next level, these are the books for you! Their motto is “An art school in a book” and that is true.  We’ve featured the “how to draw” series before, but these two new books( How to draw perspective and How to draw still life) are worth featuring on their own.  These books will take you through the more technical aspects of drawing without being too difficult to understand.  It will explain clearly everything from vanishing points to negative space.

New non-fiction: From the earth to the stars

Star Wars origami : 36 amazing paper-folding projects from a galaxy far, far away

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…someone decided to make a book for people who love both Star Wars and origami. Make your favourite characters and ships and monsters from all six films. This book is probably better for those who have some basic origami skills already, but take out a few more of our origami books and you’ll be good enough to tackle these great paper sculptures.




Pixar Character Encyclopedia

Pixar makes great movies, there’s no doubt about that! Now you can get the inside scoop on all of your favourite characters, from Woody the Cowboy to Merida, the rebellious Scottish princess. It also covers the ‘smaller’ characters who you might have missed the first time around.






How they croaked: awful ends of the awfully famous

This talks about the lives and especially the ends of the lives of the great and good and not so good. Scientists, royalty, composers and explorers all feature, with special attention paid to the medical facts behind each person’s death.






The skull in the rock: how a scientist, a boy and Google Earth opened a new window on human origins

This is one of the most interesting books on paleontology that we have in the library. It begins with the nine year old Matthew,  finding a fossil while on an expedition with his Dad, the famous paleontologist, Lee Berger.  Or does it? Professor Berger was using the Google Earth app to look at fossil rich areas in a whole new way, and noticed there was an area that might need a second look…this book is as much about the processes of paleontology as it is about this very important find. A must read for those interested in paleontology, the origins of mankind and how new technology can help us take a different look at the past.



 The Impossible Rescue

Most New Zealanders know about the extraordinary feat of endurance that Ernest Shackleton undertook to survive the Antarctic wastelands.   The Impossible Rescue is a similar story from the polar (get it?) end of the world.  Three hundred American whalers were trapped in the Arctic after their ships had been trapped by ice. This book tells the story of the small group who set out to help them.





From mud huts to skyscrapers: architecture for children

This is one of the best books about architecture that we’ve got in the library. Using simple language and great illustrations, it takes you through the history of the main types of mostly Western architecture, talking about the unique features of each one. It’s a brilliant introduction to the way buildings have changed over time.

New non-fiction: Things that go bump in the night

Paranormal Files

We’ve got a cool new series of books called the Paranormal Files, for all you ghost hunters and alien watchers out there. While there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about such things, these books are a fun read. They contain many interesting stories from all over the world, like the terrifying story of the Kuchisake-onna, a Japanese ghost who you wouldn’t like to meet on a dark night! You might think you have read all you need to know about such things as stories are often repeated across different books. Any ghost enthusiast will be able to tell you about Borley Rectory or Glamis castle, but this book has a whole load of new stories that will send a shiver up your spine…or convince you to go looking for ghosts yourself.

The other books in the series are interesting, too. For cryptozoologists (people interested in animals whose existence has not been confirmed by science)  there’s a cool book on Bigfoot and other Ape-men. Sadly it doesn’t mention New Zealand’s own Moehau man, but there are stories from almost every other continent.


Fossilized Series

If you’ve got an interest in the remains of the past, check this series out. They’re a good introduction to Paleontology (the study of fossils ) with some great pictures and information about where fossils are found, how the paleontologists find out how old they are,  and what they show about the creatures and people of the past.


Draw 50…

After reading those books you may need  some light relief. Or you may want to make your own stories about all the things you’ve found out.  In that case, the “Draw 50” books are great. As the title suggests, there are 50 things in here that the book will teach you to draw.  The instructions are a lot more detailed than a lot of ‘how to draw’ art books; you start out with simple lines and then add detail on top of that. That’s pretty cool, as it helps you create a drawing with the correct proportions. There are many books in the series, so have a look through the catalogue.


Weird and Wonderful New Non-Fiction

Unusual Creatures: a mostly accurate account of some of the world’s strangest animals

Amateur biologists, this one’s for you! While some of the ‘facts’ are rather tongue in cheek (I’m sure we’re all aware that P Diddy is not an expert on puffer fish) the majority of the information in this book is really interesting. For starters, it explains Biological Classification, which is a way of organising different types of animals. It then shows how each animal is classified under this system.  But the main attraction is the weird and wonderful creatures contained within. From the Flying Snake to the Jesus Christ Lizard (so called because it can walk on water) this book will tell you all about Mother Nature’s more odd creations.




The Magic School Bus inside the Earth

This one’s a classic…I remember the Magic School Bus books from when I was a kid! But the information’s as fresh and as useful as ever. It’s  a cross between a picture book and a science book, so it’s  good for younger readers.  What’s really handy is the pronunciation guide at the back!




 The Alien Hunter’s Handbook

This may seem a little bit “out there” but this book is extremely useful! The beginning of the book defines exactly what constitutes “life” is, talks about what the stars are made of, and how life on earth is supported by water, the sun, and the intricate web of plants and animals that feed off each other to survive.  It’s a book that’s more about the hard science behind what life on other planets might look like, rather than your average book about alien abductions, little grey men and flying saucers.





Drawing the villains in your graphic novel 

To write a proper story you need conflict; and if you’re writing a superhero story then you need a proper villain. This book will show how to draw many different types of villains, from the Wicked Warlord to the Mad Scientist to the Evil Queen. This isn’t a book for those who’ve just started out drawing their own comics, but if you’ve got a bit more experience then this should be a handy source of inspiration.




The Soul Bird

“Inside the soul, right in the very middle of it, there’s a bird standing on one foot. This is the soul bird…” This is an excellent book for understanding what is means to have a soul, using simple language and pictures to discuss very complex ideas.






Universe: journey into deep space

Another great book for the astronomers among you. This beautiful book will explain the wide universe beyond our tiny solar system. It talks about what different types of planet there are, and what you might find on them, depending on their proximity to the nearest star. It also looks at what happens to stars when they burn out. The reference section at the back is also very good. The illustrations are beautiful and it manages to convey just how big the universe really is and how we know so little about what lies beyond our (tiny) galaxy.


Picture books for Christmas

The Christmas day kitten 

Mrs. Pickering calls in the vet James Herriot to look at one of her dogs. While he’s there, he notices a cat wandering in and out of the house. Mrs. Pickering explains that the cat, who she calls Debbie, is a stray. On Christmas day James Herriot is called to Mrs. Pickering’s house, because Debbie is very sick. But Debbie has bought a surprise for Mrs. Pickering…





Zoe’s Christmas List

Zoe wants just one thing for Christmas: a Kylie Kurlz doll.  So she sets off to the North Pole with her faithful dog Beans to tell Father Christmas in person.  There they meet a baby bear and Zoe learns some important lessons about friendship.






Mog’s Christmas

Everything is wrong in Mog’s house. For a start, everyone is busy doing strange things and there are too many new people about. A large walking tree frightens her enough that she goes onto the roof and refuses to come down. Will Christmas be the same without Mog?






The Christmas Giant

Humphrey the Giant and Leetree the elf are great friends. They help Santa by making the wrapping paper for all the presents.  Then, one day, Santa gives them a special job; grow a Christmas tree for the workshop! They work hard all year to make sure the tree is perfect, but sometimes the best laid plans go wrong.






The Story of Christmas

This is a simple re-telling of the Christmas story. Mary and her husband Joseph  must travel to the town of Bethlehem for a census. But Mary is expecting a very special baby, and all of the inns are full…The beautiful, rich illustrations set it apart from other books telling the same story.






 A kiwi night before Christmas

If you’re bored of stories about snow and cold, and are looking for a book that reflects what a New Zealand Christmas looks like, this is probably the book for you! It transfers the famous ‘Night before Christmas’ poem to a more contemporary New Zealand setting. Santa in black singlet and stubbies, anyone?






Olive the other reindeer

Thinking that “all of the other reindeer” she hears people singing about include her, Olive the dog reports to the North Pole to help Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. A fun an entertaining story about an ambitious wee dog.

Books for Hanukkah

Hanukkah, or Chanukkah, is a Jewish festival that starts on the 8th of December and lasts eight days.  It celebrates the recapture of the Temple from the Greeks and its re-dedication. It also celebrates a miracle by which the Jewish people had only enough holy oil for one day, but it lasted for eight days.  To commemorate this, Jewish people who celebrate Hanukkah light candles in special nine-branch candelabrum known as a menorah.  One candle is lit on the first night of Hanukkah, two on the second, and then this continues until all the candles are lit. The candles themselves are not used for any other purpose, even to light the other candles in the Menorah, so the ninth candle is used to light all the others. During Hanukkah, special food is eaten such as latkes and sufganiyot, a pastry similar to a doughnut.  A game is also traditionally played during Hanukkah that involves a driedel, which is a spinning top.

The latke who wouldn’t stop screaming

A latke is a potato pancake traditionally served at Hanukkah. This particular latke is very annoyed because people keep thinking he’s part of Christmas. He keeps explaining that Hannukah is completely different from Christmas, but no one listens! Will he ever find a happy ending? Of course, this book was written by Lemony Snicket (Of the Series of Unfortunate Events fame) so a happy ending may not be what you’re expecting.





Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins

Hershel of Ostropol is tired and hungry.  It’s the first night of Hanukkah and he’s cold and hungry. Luckily he finds a small village, but goblins are stopping the villagers from celebrating Hanukkah! But Hershel isn’t afraid of goblins, so he sets off to fight them. Eventually the Goblin King comes to fight him, but Hershel has a plan.






This lovely picture book follows a family’s preparations for Hanukkah. They light the menorah, make delicious food and decorations for their holiday meal.  It’s told in simple rhyming language and is great for younger readers.

Exploring new borders: New non-fiction

What is contemporary art?

Read this book and parents dragging you along to an art gallery will never be boring again. In fact, if you read this book, you might end up knowing more than your olds! This book takes you through different types of contemporary artist and what they use, which is everything from crushed cars to rocks to eggshells. Of course, painting is also featured but not in any way you might have seen before. It goes without saying that this book has great pictures of all the art works, and next time you go to an art gallery, you’ll look at things in a whole new way.




Great Britain: everything you ever wanted to know

Despite it’s title, this book doesn’t cover the great battles, powerful monarchs or mighty castles of British history. Instead it covers all the ‘cool’ bits of British culture; tea, James Bond and Nessie. It’s also got great information on mainstays of life and history in Britain, such as the ‘great’ schools such as Eton and Harrow, eccentric aristocrats and the Beatles.  This is not your average history book, but a fun read if you happen to be  interested in what makes Old Blighty so unique. There library also has two other books in this series, on China and on Australia.



The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia

This book is an excellent reference for those interested in history. It covers human history from 4000 BCE to the present, and at almost 500 pages, you wouldn’t want to read it all at once! Instead, use it as a ‘jumping off’ point for when you’ve got a homework assignment on the Thirty Years War or The Boxer Rebellion. You’ll learn who, what, where, why and how…and then use these references to find more information! Despite being crammed full of facts, this book is hardly dry reading. There are plenty of interesting photographs and illustrations to go along with the text.




My cookbook of Cakes

Want to bake delicious cakes but too scared? This book is perfect. Its recipes are simple but delicious, and there are plenty of cakes to choose from. Whether you prefer rose petal cupcakes, a zesty orange drizzle cake or berry and vanilla cheesecake, you’ll find all your tastes catered for. And don’t worry, chocoholics, there’s plenty of recipes for you, too. Every step is illustrated with cool pictures, so this is a great book for beginner bakers.





Ninjago masters of Spinjitzu : character encyclopedia

Lego fan? Check out this cool new character encyclopedia about the heroes and villains of the Lego series Ninjago, which features four young ninjas training hard to defeat various monsters. It will tell you all about each character and the changes they go through as the series progresses. It also goes into great detail about the figures themselves; how they change from series to series, in both appearance and personality. This is a must read for any Ninjago or Lego Fan!




Five minute faces and Wild faces

If you’ve got a Christmas party coming up, and are looking for costume ideas, these books are a great resource. They’ll teach you all the basic skills of face painting, how to run a stall and how to create basic accessories to improve your costume.  The first book, Five Minute Faces, has a whole range of different faces; Miss Muppet, pirate, joker, skull and jester to name a few. The faces in the second book, Wild Faces, focuses more on animal faces and the make up’s more complex.  But if you want to win first place with your tiger costume, this is the book for you!




Make an animation

If you want to be the next Walt Disney, this is the book for you! It talks about the different types of animation, such as traditional hand-drawn animation to stop-motion animation made from ‘found’ objects. It will also show you how to make storyboards and shoot your own masterpieces.

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

Everyone’s excited about the release of the first of Peter Jackson’s films based on The Hobbit, by J. R R. Tolkien. It is a prequel to the Lord of the Rings, and tells the story of Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit who impulsively goes off on adventure with a group of dwarves and a wizard named Gandalf.  On this journey Bilbo meets elves, orcs and dragons, and finds that he is braver than he ever could have thought. Even today it’s unique among other fantasy books in that its main character is not chosen by destiny to be a hero; rather, he chooses his own path and sticks to his own principles.  It would be unfair to reveal anymore of the plot, but the book itself is well worth reading whether or not you go to the film.



The Hobbit was published in 1937, although it was not an immediate success. While it was loved by the critics, it was not immediately popular with the reading public. The English edition, published by Allen and Unwin, featured illustrations by J.R.R Tolkien himself.  Indeed, the book cover to the left is a picture by J R.R Tolkien.  Not all editions of the book feature his artwork.  We’ve got many different editions of The Hobbit in the library; there’s a graphic novel, one full-cast dramatisation, one  read by a single actor ,  a copy in Dutch, an annotated version, plus all the books about the movie that will be flooding our shelves! Click on the pictures below to check out the books we’ve got in our collection