Adventures Through Time!

The basis for so many wonderful gems in our collection of children’s fiction lies in the question of what it would be like to travel back into the past. In these books, we also meet characters who encounter children from other times, as though they have stepped from one time into another: a time slip. Clocks striking 13, medieval mansions, magical statues in mysterious gardens, sleeping in a certain bed or dressing up in historical clothing – discover what trigger it might be that could open a window for you to explore another world!

Amorangi and Millie’s trip through time / Keenan, Lauren (Children eBook Libby)
“Amorangi and Millie lost their mum. Their only clue to her whereabouts is a carving on a tree that says, I’m in the past! Rescue me! To do this, Amorangi and Millie must travel up every branch of their family tree and collect an object from each ancestor they meet. They must then be back in the modern day before the sun sets, or they’ll all be trapped forever in the past…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Charlotte sometimes / Farmer, Penelope
“It is Charlotte’s first night at boarding school. Before she goes to sleep, she sees from the window a corner of the new building. But when she wakes up, instead of the building there is a huge, dark cedar tree, and the girl in the next bed is not the girl who slept there last night. She calls Charlotte ‘Clare’, and says she is her younger sister Emily. Somehow, Charlotte has slipped back forty years to 1918 and the end of the First World War. Charlotte and Clare swap places ever night until one day Charlotte becomes trapped in 1918 and must find a way to return to her own time before the end of term.” (Catalogue)

The house of Arden / Nesbit, E.
“After the presumed death of their long-absent father, Edred inherits the title of Lord Arden and moves with his sister Elfrida into the decrepit family castle where they find an ancient spell that conjures up the magical Mouldiwarp and, with his help, set off on a journey through time in search of the lost Arden treasure.” (Catalogue)

Ming and Flo fight for the future / French, Jackie
“Twelve-year-old Ming Qong is convinced that girls must have changed the world, even if they are rarely mentioned in history books. So when Ming gets the chance to go back in time, she imagines herself changing destinies from a glittering palace or an explorer’s ship. Instead, she ends up in Australia in 1898, living a tough life as Flo Watson on a drought-stricken farm. […] But change is never easy, so how can one girl change the world?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Tom’s midnight garden / Pearce, Philippa
“Tom is furious. His brother, Peter, has measles, so now Tom is being shipped off to stay with Aunt Gwen and Uncle Alan in their boring old apartment. There’ll be nothing to do there and no one to play with. Tom just counts the days till he can return home to Peter. Then one night the landlady’s antique grandfather clock strikes thirteen times, leading Tom to a wonderful, magical discovery and marking the beginning of a secret that’s almost too amazing to be true…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The children of Green Knowe ; and, the river at Green Knowe / Boston, L. M.
“Tolly’s great-grandmother wasn’t a witch, but both she and her old house Green Knowe were full of a very special kind of magic. And Green Knowe turned out not to be the lonely place Tolly had imagined. There were other children living in the house – children who had been happy there centuries before. These enchanting, haunting stories from Carnegie-winner Lucy M. Boston are true modern classics.” –Back cover.” (Catalogue)
A stitch in time / Lively, Penelope
“Maria is always getting lost in the secret world of her imagination… A ghostly mystery and winner of the Whitbread Award,republished in the Collins Modern Classics range.” (Catalogue)

When Marnie was there / Robinson, Joan G
“Anna hasn’t a friend in the world until she meets Marnie among the sand dunes. But Marnie isn’t all she seems. Sent away from her foster home one long, hot summer to a sleepy Norfolk village by the sea, Anna dreams her days away among the sandhills and marshes. She never expected to meet a friend like Marnie, someone who doesn’t judge Anna for being ordinary and not-even-trying. But no sooner has Anna learned the loveliness of friendship than Marnie vanishes.” (Catalogue)

A tale of Time City / Jones, Diana Wynne
“London, 1939. Vivian Smith thinks she is being evacuated to the countryside because of the war. But she is being kidnapped–out of her own time. Her kidnappers are Jonathan and Sam, two boys her own age, from a place called Time City. Built eons ago on a patch of space outside time, Time City was designed especially to oversee history. But now history is going critical, and Jonathan and Sam are convinced that Time City’s impending doom can only be averted by a Twenty Century girl named Vivian Smith. Too bad they have the wrong girl…” (Catalogue)

Older readers / Young Adult:

A traveller in time / Uttley, Alison
“When Penelope goes to stay with relatives in an ancient Derbyshire farmhouse, she is drawn to the place and longs to discover its secrets. She gets her wish, and is transported back to the 16th century and a plot to rescue Mary Queen of Scots.” (Catalogue)

Legacy / Hereaka, Whiti
“Seventeen-year-old Riki is worried about school and the future, but mostly about his girlfriend, who has suddenly stopped texting him. But on his way to see her, he’s hit by a bus and his life radically changes. Riki wakes up one hundred years earlier in Egypt, in 1915, and finds he’s living through his great-great-grandfather’s experiences in the Māori Contingent. At the same time that Riki tries to make sense of what’s happening and find a way home, we read transcripts of interviews Riki’s great-great-grandfather gave in 1975 about his experiences in this war and its impact on their family. Gradually we realise the fates of Riki and his great-great-grandfather are intertwined.” (Catalogue)

Tūhono 2024: A librarian’s guide to crafting your poem

If you haven’t heard already, it’s only a few days until May 12th when Tūhono submissions close, and we still want your poems!

Tūhono is Wellington City Libraries’ annual poetry journal for kids and teens. You can find more info about how to submit, as well as this year’s theme, here.

Poetry can be a daunting form of writing for anyone, but it needn’t be! The library has lots of cool books with some great examples and techniques for crafting your own poem. You may think that your poem needs to be incredibly wise or complex, but as poet Carol Ann Duffy once said:

You can find poetry in your everyday life, your memory, in what people say on the bus, in the news, or just what’s in your heart.

So if you’ve been thinking of submitting a poem but aren’t sure where to start, this blog post aims to help you do just that! Read on to dive into the world of children’s poetry. ✨

Poetry forms

A good starting point for any poem is a bit of structure i.e. choosing a form. Of course, you can write a poem that doesn’t follow any traditional form conventions, but forms provide a great framework for your ideas to really shine! Take for example, shape poems. Shape poems are poems that are written in the shape of their subject matter. Considering that this year’s theme is hope/tūmanako, this might be a perfect form to help you visualise what hope means for you. You might like to ask yourself, what would hope look like as an object, an animal, or an icon? If you can format it how wish it to appear in the book, then we can publish it, so let your imagination run wild. 🙂

If you’re thinking of creating a shape poem, a good book to check out is Apes to Zebras: an A to Z of shape poems:

Apes to zebras : an A-Z of shape poems / Brownlee, Liz
“This gorgeous collection of animal poems from Roger Stevens, Liz Brownlee and Sue Hardy-Dawson will entrance and delight in equal measure. Featuring a full alphabet of animals, birds, and insects, with the odd extinct or imaginary creature thrown in, these beautiful shape poems are a perfect way to introduce children to poetry. Some funny, some serious, there is something here for everyone.” (Catalogue)

This book has beautiful poems in the shape of different animals, with great examples of how creative wordplay can be in shape poem form.

Of course, there are alternative forms that also deserve your consideration!

A comprehensive guide to forms for kids would be A Kick in the Head created by Paul B. Janeczko and Chris Raschka.


A kick in the head

This book covers 29 different forms through dazzlingly illustrated poems. You’ll learn about everything from villanelles to double dactyls, as well as what makes their structure unique. The picture book style also makes this more enticing for younger readers.


Another unique poetry compilation is Skinny dip, edited by Susan Paris and Kate De Goldi.
Skinny dip : poetry
This compilation is written by NZ poets, and themed around school life, with each section being broken up into the four school terms. Although there aren’t as many forms covered as A Kick in the Head, the poems in this collection are absolutely delightful, and a prime example of how even the most mundane objects can become the subject of fun, quirky and even emotional poems.

 

Other starting points

Okay, so let’s say you’ve chosen a form, you have some ideas about the theme, but you’re not sure how to ACTUALLY put them on paper.

Poetry style inspiration

If you’re looking for inspiration, Out of Wonder is a beautiful celebration of poetry and poets to get your creative juices flowing.
Out of wonder : celebrating poets and poetry / Alexander, Kwame
“Newbery Medalist and a Caldecott Honoree offer a glorious, lyrical ode to poets who have sparked a sense of wonder. Out of gratitude for the poet’s art form, Newbery Award-winning author and poet Kwame Alexander, along with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth, present original poems that pay homage to twenty famed poets who have made the authors’ hearts sing and their minds wonder. Stunning mixed-media images by Ekua Holmes, winner of a Caldecott Honor and a John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award, complete the celebration and invite the reader to listen, wonder, and perhaps even pick up a pen.” (Catalogue)

Each poem is written in the style of a famous poet, highlighting their unique style or ideas that inform their work. As you’re going through this book you could ask yourself, what is different about this poem, compared to the others? What kind of describing words, rhyming words or phrasing was used? Why did I enjoy/not enjoy about how this poem was written? You may like to ask mum, dad or a trusted adult to read through a couple of the poems with you to see what you can find. It can be useful to think about the style, rather than the topic, when reading poetry for inspiration because what the poem is about can vary a lot. And as mentioned, even the most dull topics can be reinvented by good style!

On Tūmanako/Hope

If you are wanting more help in thinking about hope/tūmanako though, you should definitely check out The Book of Hopes, which is a compilation of small poems, illustrations, stories and non-fiction writing all about hope in its many forms.
The book of hopes
“In difficult times, what children really need is hope. And in that spirit, Katherine Rundell emailed some of the children’s writers and artists whose work she loved most. I asked them to write something very short, fiction or non-fiction, or draw something that would make the children reading it feel like possibility-ists: something that would make them laugh or wonder or snort or smile. This collection, packed with short stories, poems and pictures from the very best children’s authors and illustrators, aims to provide just that. Within its pages you’ll find animal friends from insects to elephants, high-flying grandmas, a homesick sprite, the tooth fairy, and even extra-terrestrial life.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Exercise based

Getting into the nuts and bolts of things, if you’re looking for practical, exercise based activities then look no further than Poetry Prompts by Joseph Coelho.

Poetry prompts : all sorts of ways to start a poem / Coelho, Joseph

This book walks you through 41 poetry prompts, from themes, to creative writing techniques, to exercises engaging your 5 senses. With every prompt there’s also a “poetry power up” option if you want to take the prompt even further! Look out for prompts like number 6, 16 and 20, which cover onomatopoeia, metaphors, and personification. These are tried and true writing techniques which all the best poets use, you may have even learnt these in school already! Overall, this book could be a great option if you’re not sure how to express an idea in your poem, or you need a little pizazz to shake up what you’ve already written.

Te Reo Māori

Finally, you may have noticed that we are accepting submissions in English and te reo Māori. If you’re considering writing in or incorporating te reo, Rhyme & reo: aeiou, could be a perfect companion to your poetry writing depending on your existing fluency. In this book, author Jessica Ngatai breaks down each of the vowel sounds in poetic form, making it easier to come up with your own reo rhymes, and learn some new kupu!

Rhyme & reo : aeiou : a fun way to learn Māori vowel sounds / Ngatai, Jessica
“This book is an educational resource to help teachers, parents, whānau and children build confidence to use and enjoy te reo. Illustrated and featuring quirky Kiwi poems, weaving reo through the English text, with explanatory notes on the pronunciation of the vowel sounds appearing on a side-bar on each page”–Publisher information. Includes notes for parents and teachers.” (Catalogue)

Other useful books

The books mentioned are by no means an exhaustive list, but hopefully they give you something to chew on. If all else fails, this Michael Rosen handbook is a great resource for any budding poet:What is poetry? : the essential guide to reading & writing poems / Rosen, Michael
“Over many years as a working poet, Michael Rosen has thought a great deal about what poems are, what they can do and the pleasure that comes from writing and reading poetry. In this invaluable handbook, he shares this knowledge and experience in book form for the very first time. Starting with a detailed analysis of a number of classic poems, he offers a real writer’s guide to writing and performing poems, as well as a wealth of technical information and tips. He then takes a fascinating look at a selection of his own poems and explains how and why he wrote them. Complete with an appendix of poets and useful websites, and beautifully illustrated by award-winning artist Jill Calder, this is the only guide to poetry children and teachers will ever need.” (Catalogue)

And if you’re looking for some other introductory poetry collections, check out these two below:

Beastly verse
“This is an anthology of 16 animal poems for children, illustrated by the graphic artist JooHee Yoon. Authors include well-known poets such as Lewis Carroll, D. H. Lawrence and Laura E. Richards.” (Adapted from catalogue)
A treasury of NZ poems for children
“Poems by all the big names in both children’s and adult writing, from Margaret Mahy and Hone Tuwhare to Denis Glover as well as some fresh new poets”–Publisher’s information.” (Catalogue)


Poetry need not be archaic, stiff and boring. If nothing else, we hope these recommendations and tips inspire you to experiment, play and explore with language! Have fun with your creations! We look forward to seeing your hope/tūmanako poems. 🙂

Whales, Wildfire, Worries and Wasabi: New Kids Books in the Collection

Another month of fantastic new books in the kid’s collection!  So many great titles it was hard to choose which ones to share with you here.  You could read about whales, sharks or a two headed chicken!  Maybe you’re keen for adventure, and can follow the magnificent voyagers of the pacific, or survivors of a wildfire, or some impossible creatures?  Take a look at these titles below and maybe try something new!

Picture Books

The great storm whale / Davies, Benji

“Return to the world of The Storm Whale in this dramatic new adventure from globally successful and award‑winning picture book creator, Benji Davies. One stormy night, Noi’s grandma tells him a story. It is a story of a girl, a whale and a friendship that will echo down the generations.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

I’m fabulous crab / Greenberg, Nicki

“Henry the crab grows tired of his dull life, vowing to reinvent himself as blingy, bedazzled, and fabulous.” (Catalogue)

Victor : the wolf with worries / Rayner, Catherine
“Victor the wolf has lots of worries. He worries that he isn’t brave enough, that he isn’t big enough and that he isn’t fierce enough. In fact, Victor feels anxious about almost everything. But when Victor shares his concerns with his best friend Pablo, he starts to feel a bit better. And with Pablo’s help, Victor learns even more ways to deal with those pesky worrying thoughts. And as the worries grow smaller, Victor feels a bit bigger, a bit braver, and bit fiercer inside!” (Catalogue)

Comic Books

Wildfire / Bard, Breena
“Julianna loved her life in rural Oregon. She loved taking care of her farm animals and being part of her local 4H club. But then the unthinkable happened… a wildfire destroyed her family’s home. In the aftermath, her family relocated to Portland, Oregon, where Julianna hopes to put everything behind her. Believing the fire to be the result of kids playing with fireworks, she certainly isn’t interested when her parents and younger sister start getting involved in the growing climate change protests. Emotional and inspiring, Wildfire shows readers that healing from tragedy can take many forms and demonstrates what it means to take action in the face of climate change – and how that action can be different for each of us.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Kariba / Clarke, Daniel
“Siku has always called the Zambezi River her home. She understands the water – and strangely enough, it seems to understand her, too, bending to her will and coming to her aid in times of need. But things are changing on the river – a great dam is being built, displacing thousands of Shonga people – and things are changing in Siku, too, as her ability to manipulate water grows out of control, and visions of a great serpent pull her further from reality and her loving father, Tongai. When Tongai ventures to the Kariba Dam to find a cure for Siku and never returns, she sets off to find him with the help of Amedeo, the young son of Kariba’s chief engineer. But Siku soon discovers that her father has been shielding a terrible secret: Siku is actually the daughter of the Great River Spirit, Nyaminyami, and the only way to bring about the necessary rumuko – a ritual which has brought balance to the Zambezi for centuries – is for Siku to give up the only life she’s ever known.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Beak to the future / Angleberger, Tom
“The two-headed chicken is back, with twice the adventure, twice the jokes, and a lot more heads (wait, did they just accidentally turn into a double-headed space snake?). Having lost the Astrocap somewhere in the multiverse, our intrepid hero dons the Timecap to scour the timestream, which looks a lot like broccoli, in search of it. But danger and drama await with every time-hopping POOZB! of the Timecap, including hungry dinosaurs, fierce werewolves, poet Emily Dickinson, a fish with a mustache who wants to talk about feelings, and even the return of the chicken’s archenemy, Kernel Antlers, the shape-shifting moose!” (Catalogue)

Chapter Books

Calling the whales / Bilan, Jasbinder
“After rowing out to an island near their seaside home, Tulsi and Satchen discover a whale that has been trapped in a fishing net. Determined to try to free the poor creature, they repeatedly dive down into the freezing sea to cut the netting, but eventually, exhausted and with a storm rolling in, they have to admit defeat. As they head for home to seek help, their boat capsizes in the storm and they’re left clinging to it, dangerously adrift. Just as they think all is lost, help arrives from an unexpected source …” (Catalogue)

This is how I roll / Florence, Debbi Michiko
“Susannah Mikami dreams of becoming a famous sushi chef like her dad. And this summer, she plans to learn everything about his traditional kitchen. Only he refuses to teach her, and won’t tell her why. Is it because he doesn’t want her to embarrass him in front of the documentary crew filming at his restaurant? Or worse, because she’s a girl? Either way, Sana decides he’s not the only one who can keep secrets. So when she meets Koji, a cute boy who wants to help her cook up some trouble in the kitchen — and film online tutorials to show the world her mad skills — Sana is all in. But sneaking around means lying to her parents, something Sana’s never done before. Can she take the heat, or will she get out of the kitchen for good?” (Catalogue)

Impossible creatures / Rundell, Katherine
“A boy called Christopher is visiting his reclusive grandfather when he witnesses an avalanche of mythical creatures come tearing down the hill. This is how Christopher learns that his grandfather is the guardian of one of the ways between the non-magical world and a place called the Archipelago, a cluster of magical islands where all the creatures we tell of in myth live and breed and thrive alongside humans. Then a girl, Mal, appears in Christopher’s world. She is in possession of a flying coat, is being pursued by a killer and is herself in pursuit of a baby griffin. Mal, Christopher and the griffin embark on an urgent quest across the wild splendour of the Archipelago, where sphinxes hold secrets and centaurs do murder, to find the truth – with unimaginable consequences for both their worlds.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Non-fiction

Mangō : sharks and rays of Aotearoa / Barraud, Ned
“The oceans surrounding Aotearoa New Zealand are home to over one hundred astonishing and strange species of sharks and rays. This fact-filled book takes you down into the fascinating underwater lives of these expert hunters, illustrates their evolution and explores their place in our culture. And it explains why these ancient fish and their environments need our kaitiakitanga more than ever.” (Catalogue)

The observologist / Clarkson, Giselle
“Observology is the study of looking. An observologist makes scientific expeditions, albeit very small ones, every day. They notice interesting details in the world around them. They are expert at finding tiny creatures, plants, and fungi. They know that water snails glide upside down on the undersurface of the water; not all flies have wings; earthworms have bristles; butterflies taste with their feet. An observologist knows that there are extraordinary things to be found in even the most ordinary places. Facts combine with comics, detailed illustrations, science, and funny stories in this unique, warm, and fascinating account of the small things all around us. Graphic and comic illustrations with funny talking insects make this a playful and informative book one to be treasured in the classroom.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Those magnificent voyagers of the Pacific / Crowe, Andrew
“This epic story begins 5000 years ago, when the ancestors of Polynesians discovered ways to ‘see’ over the horizon to find and settle new islands. As their landfinding skills grew, these people took ever bigger strides across the vast Pacific until they reached South America. It was not until almost every habitable island scattered across the world’s largest ocean was discovered and settled, that others would gain the skills and courage to head far from shore, allowing two great voyaging traditions to meet.” (Catalogue)

For more new books from the collection, go to: What’s new / December 2023 (wcl.govt.nz)

Silent Wonders: Exploring Wordless Picture Books

Wordless books?

Wordless books, far from being ‘silent’, possess the ability to express a variety of feelings and emotions using only pictures! Colours, shapes and illustrations team up to craft awesome adventures, from wild fantasy worlds to personal heartwarming tales.

Guess what? These books are like a secret language everyone can understand. They are perfect for all kind of readers – from those just starting out to multilingual enthusiasts. Whether you’re a grown-up looking for a break from words or sharing the magic with a little one, these books promise a rich experience for readers of all ages.

Don’t skip out on this selection. We’ve got some classic stories and some fresh picks that let you dive into amazing stories without a single worry about words. And wait! there are some breathtaking pages that will have you absolutely hooked.

Ready for a wordless adventure?

All-time classics

The snowman / Briggs, Raymond
“When his snowman comes to life, a little boy invites him home and in return is taken on a flight high above the countryside.” (Catalogue)

The lion & the mouse / Pinkney, Jerry
“In this wordless retelling of an Aesop fable, an adventuresome mouse proves that even small creatures are capable of great deeds when he rescues the King of the Jungle.” (Catalogue)
The red book / Lehman, Barbara
“A little girl walking to school finds a red book in a bank of snow. At school, she opens it to find pictures of a tropical island and a young boy. The boy in her book finds his own red book in the sand. As they turn the pages, they discover themselves looking at each other. The girl has an idea and buys a huge bunch of balloons and floats into the sky. The boy watches her float off in the pages on his book.” (Adapted catalogue)

Great adventures

Wolf in the snow / Cordell, Matthew
“When a wolf cub and little girl are lost in a snowstorm they must find their way home.” (Catalogue)

Journey / Becker, Aaron
“Using a red marker, a young girl draws a door on her bedroom wall and through it enters another world where she experiences many adventures, including being captured by an evil emperor.” (Catalogue)


Migrants / Watanabe, Issa
“The migrants must leave the forest. Borders are crossed, sacrifices made, loved ones are lost. It takes such courage to reach the end. At last the journey is over and the migrants arrive. This is the new place. With forceful simplicity, Migrants narrates the journey of a group of animals leaving a leafless forest.” (Catalogue)

Points of view

The little barbarian / Moriconi, Renato
“Once upon a time, there was a little barbarian who was about to embark on a very dangerous journey. The brave adventurer knew there would be many perils ahead, including one-eyed giants and venomous snakes, manticores and sea serpents. Luckily, a barbarian can always rely on the trusty steed…” (Catalogue)
Zoom / Banyai, Istvan
“A wordless picture book presents a series of scenes, each one from farther away, showing, for example, a girl playing with toys which is actually a picture on a magazine cover, which is part of a sign on a bus, and so on.” (Catalogue)
Flotsam / Wiesner, David
“A pictorial discovery of what happens when a camera becomes a piece of flotsam. A sophisticated picture book. Suggested level: junior, primary.” (Catalogue)


Slice of life

Float / Miyares, Daniel
“Wordless picture book about a boy who loses his paper boat in the rain”– Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)

 


Professional crocodile / Zoboli, Giovanna
“In this book without words, Mr. Crocodile gets up every morning and carefully gets ready for work — but just what is his job?” (Catalogue)

Author Spotlight: Katherine Rundell

“It was a very fine day, until something tried to eat him…”

Katherine Rundell‘s books blend magical delight with tales of adventure and courageous young protagonists. They’re great for reading aloud for different aged family members, or for tamariki to read to themselves (under the duvet with a torch, we won’t tell!)

With the release of Katherine Rundell’s latest book, Impossible Creatures, we have compiled a list of some of her other wonderful reads.

Impossible creatures / Rundell, Katherine
“A boy called Christopher is visiting his reclusive grandfather when he witnesses an avalanche of mythical creatures come tearing down the hill. This is how Christopher learns that his grandfather is the guardian of one of the ways between the non-magical world and a place called the Archipelago, a cluster of magical islands where all the creatures we tell of in myth live and breed and thrive alongside humans. […] Then a girl, Mal, appears in Christopher’s world. She is in possession of a flying coat, is being pursued by a killer and is herself in pursuit of a baby griffin. Mal, Christopher and the griffin embark on an urgent quest across the wild splendour of the Archipelago, where sphinxes hold secrets and centaurs do murder, to find the truth – with unimaginable consequences for both their worlds.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Rooftoppers / Rundell, Katherine
“Everyone thinks that Sophie is an orphan. True, there were no other recorded female survivors from the shipwreck which left baby Sophie floating in the English Channel in a cello case, but Sophie remembers seeing her mother wave for help. […] So when the Welfare Agency writes to her guardian threatening to send Sophie to an orphanage, she takes matters into her own hands and flees to Paris to look for her mother, starting with the only clue she has – the address of the cello maker. Evading the French authorities, she meets Matteo and his network of rooftoppers – urchins who live in the sky. Together they scour the city for Sophie’s mother before she is caught and sent back to London, and most importantly before she loses hope.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The wolf wilder / Rundell, Katherine
“In the days before the Russian Revolution, twelve-year-old Feodora sets out to rescue her mother when the Tsar’s Imperial Army imprisons her for teaching tamed wolves to fend for themselves.” (Catalogue)

The explorer / Rundell, Katherine
“Fred, Con, Lila, and Max are on their way back to England when the plane they’re on crashes in the Amazon jungle and the pilot dies upon landing. For days they survive alone, until Fred finds a map that leads them to a ruined city, and to a secret.” (Catalogue)

The good thieves / Rundell, Katherine
“Vita’s grandfather, Jack, has been cheated out of everything he owns by a conman. Vita is determined to set things right with a lawless, death-defying plan. –Adapted from cover.” (Catalogue)

Cartwheeling in thunderstorms / Rundell, Katherine
“Will must find her way after she’s plucked out of a wonderful life in Zimbabwe and forced to go to boarding school in England”–Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)

The book of hopes
“In difficult times, what children really need is hope. And in that spirit, Katherine Rundell emailed some of the children’s writers and artists whose work she loved most. ‘I asked them to write something very short, fiction or non-fiction, or draw something that would make the children reading it feel like possibility-ists: something that would make them laugh or wonder or snort or smile… I hope that the imagination can be a place of shelter for children and that this book might be useful in that, even if only a little. This collection, packed with short stories, poems and pictures from the very best children’s authors and illustrators, aims to provide just that.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

For younger readers:

The zebra’s great escape / Rundell, Katherine
“”A girl, a zebra, a dog and a squirrel set forth on a great adventure. Mr. Spit is out to get them – but bravery and brilliant friends are a match for anyone”–Back cover.” (Catalogue)

For the adult in your life:

Why you should read children’s books, even though you are so old and wise / Rundell, Katherine
“Katherine Rundell – Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and prize-winning author of five novels for children – explores how children’s books ignite, and can re-ignite, the imagination; how children’s fiction, with its unabashed emotion and playfulness, can awaken old hungers and create new perspectives on the world. This delightful and persuasive essay is for adult readers.” (Catalogue)

Graveyard Shakes: Kids’ Comics for Halloween!

Spooky season is upon us, and we just so happen to have you covered for some great reads from our comic and graphic novel collections.

If you like the idea of a witch who uses her cauldron to make pizza, an avenging-warrior-ghost-hog, or a girl who meets her new best friend by summoning a spirit at a seance tea party, then these are for you!

Junior Comics

Witches of Brooklyn [1] / Escabasse, Sophie
“Effie moves to Brooklyn to live with her strange aunt and soon discovers that she might be a witch.” (Catalogue)

Graveyard shakes / Terry, Laura
“When Katia runs away from her private boarding school her sister Victoria goes looking for her, accidentally stumbling into the underworld of a nearby graveyard inhabited by ghosts and a man named Nikola, who is preparing a sinister spell.” (Catalogue)
Séance tea party / Yee, Reimena
“After watching her circle of friends seemingly fade away, Lora is determined to still have fun on her own, so when a tea party leads Lora to discovering Alexa, the ghost that haunts her house, they soon become best friends.” (Catalogue)

Ghost hog / Weiser, Joey
“Truff is the ghost of a young boar, fueled by fury towards the hunter who shot her down. She has a lot to learn about her new afterlife, and thankfully the forest spirits Claude and Stanley are there to guide her! However, they soon find that her parents, along with their fellow animal villagers, have been kidnapped by the malicious mountain demon Mava! Truff wants to help, but… the hunter is finally within her grasp, and if she lets him go, she may never get her revenge! Is vengeance all that being a ghost is good for? Or is there something stronger keeping this little pig tethered to the living world?” (Catalogue)

Skull Cat. Book 1, Skull Cat and the curious castle / Shurtliff, Norman
“It’s Scully the Cat’s first day as the new garden-keeper at a spooky castle… but when everyone goes missing, is he brave enough to become a hero? Draw your sword and let’s find out! Even though the castle is an eerie place, full of dark secrets, Scully is excited to start his new job and prove himself to be a great gardener. But wait a minute… what happened to all his co-workers? Were they devoured by bloodthirsty vampires? Spooked by a love-struck ghost? Pranked by a comic-reading goblin? Enchanted by a sleepy sorcerer? Will Scully have to become the hero and uncover the truth behind Le Dark Chateau? He never signed up for this!!”– Publisher’s website.” (Catalogue)

Sorceline / Douyé, Sylvia
“For as long as she can remember, Sorceline has had a knack for the study of mythical creatures. Now a student at Professor Archibald Balzar’s prestigious school of cryptozoology, she’s eager to test her skills and earn a spot as one of Balzar’s apprentices. But for all her knowledge of gorgons, vampires, and griffins, Sorceline is mystified by her fellow humans. While she excels in her studies, she quickly clashes with her classmates, revealing her fiery temper. When one of her rivals suddenly disappears, Sorceline must set aside her anger and join the quest to find her. But the mystery only deepens, leading Sorceline on a journey far darker and more personal than she expected.” (Catalogue)

YA Comics

Unfamiliar. 1 / Newsome, Haley
“Young kitchen witch Planchette gets an incredible deal on a new house in a magical town. Turns out, there’s a reason: it’s haunted! After unsuccessfully attempting to get these unwanted ghosts to leave, she realizes the only thing to do is to help them with their problems. Along the way, she befriends a shy siren who hates being popular, a girl battling a curse, and a magically-challenged witch from a powerful coven.” (Catalogue)

Summer spirit / Holleville, Élizabeth
“Summer for Louise means sand, surf, and… the supernatural. Louise spends every summer at her grandma’s house with her older sister, cousins, and Rodin the dog. But, this year, her plans to relax and read comics on the beach are about to be turned upside down by a mischievous ghost, bored with being forced to haunt the same house. While the other girls are wrapped up in romance and teenage problems, Louise takes refuge with her new paranormal BFF, determined to escape the drama and just enjoy her summer break, something that is proving to be a lot harder than she anticipated.” (Catalogue)

The Okay Witch / Steinkellner, Emma
“Thirteen-year-old Moth Hush loves all things witchy. But she’s about to discover that witches aren’t just the stuff of movies, books, and spooky stories. When some eighth-grade bullies try to ruin her Halloween, something really strange happens. It turns out that Founder’s Bluff, Massachusetts, has a centuries-old history of witch drama. And, surprise: Moth’s family is at the center of it all! When Moth’s new powers show up, things get totally out-of-control. She meets a talking cat, falls into an enchanted diary, and unlocks a hidden witch world. Secrets surface from generations past as Moth unravels the complicated legacy at the heart of her town, her family, and herself.” (Catalogue)

Detective Fiction for Kids: Historical Heroines!

As well as classics like Nancy Drew and The Famous Five, we have some wonderful kid detectives bringing mystery and day-saving antics to our shelves! Here are some of our favourites that all happen to be set in times past, from 1700s London to 1930s Hong Kong, and are all the start of their respective series.

We have the unstoppable Deepdean duo, Hazel Wong and Daisy Wells of the Wells and Wong Detective Agency, in the Murder Most Unladylike series. This series truly gets better as it goes on, with highlights being A Spoonful of Murder and Death in the Spotlight – but individual favourites may be particular to each reader.

Drama and Danger provides a gripping read starring another detecting pair – Lizzie Sancho and Dido Belle- and also offers an educational picture of 18th century London through the eyes of Black residents and real historical figures and events. We look forward to the second book in the Lizzie and Belle Mysteries!

Aggie Morton and her new friend Hector provide a charming take on some grisly crime scene investigating in The Body Under the Piano; their characters inspired by queen of crime-writing, Agatha Christie, and her fictional detective, Hercule Poirot.

Explore more from our catalogue in the list below:

Junior Fiction

The body under the piano / Jocelyn, Marthe
“A smart and charming middle-grade mystery series starring young detective Aggie Morton and her friend Hector, inspired by the imagined life of Agatha Christie as a child and her most popular creation, Hercule Poirot. For fans of Lemony Snicket and The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency. Aggie Morton lives in a small town on the coast of England in 1902. Adventurous and imaginative but deeply shy, Aggie hasn’t got much to do since the death of her beloved father . . . until the fateful day when she crosses paths with twelve-year-old Belgian immigrant Hector Perot and discovers a dead body on the floor of the Mermaid Dance Room!” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The detective’s guide to ocean travel / Greenberg, Nicki
“For as long as she can remember, Pepper Stark has wanted one thing: to join her father, the Captain, aboard the magnificent RMS Aquitania on a voyage to New York. She has never been allowed to set foot on her father’s ship, until now. From the decadent food to the star-studded passenger list, travelling First Class on Aquitania is every bit as glamorous as Pepper had imagined. And most dazzling of all is American stage sensation Perdita West, wearing the world-famous Saffron Diamond around her neck. When the priceless jewel disappears mid-voyage, Pepper unexpectedly finds herself entangled in the crime. With the Captain’s reputation at stake, Pepper and her new friends set out to solve the mystery. But finding a missing diamond isn’t so easy on Aquitania, where everyone has something to hide.” (Catalogue)

Murder most unladylike / Stevens, Robin
“Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong set up a secret detective agency at Deepdean School for Girls to solve the murder of their Science Mistress, Miss Bell.” (Catalogue)

If you enjoy the Murder Most Unladylike series, we recommend the spin-off based on Hazel Wong’s younger sister, May:

The ministry of unladylike activity / Stevens, Robin
“1940. Britain is at war, and a secret arm of the British government called the Ministry of Unladylike Activity is training up spies.

Enter May Wong: courageous, stubborn, and desperate to help end the war so that she can go home to Hong Kong (and leave her annoying school, Deepdean, behind forever). May knows that she would make the perfect spy. After all, grown-ups always underestimate children like her.

When May and her friend Eric are turned away by the Ministry, they take matters into their own hands. Masquerading as evacuees, they travel to Elysium Hall, home to the wealthy Verey family – including snobby, dramatic Nuala. They suspect that one of the Vereys is passing information to Germany. If they can prove it, the Ministry will have to take them on.

But there are more secrets at Elysium Hall than May or Eric could ever have imagined.” (Catalogue)

Premeditated Myrtle : a Myrtle Hardcastle mystery / Bunce, Elizabeth C
“When twelve-year-old aspiring detective Myrtle Hardcastle learns her neighor in quiet Swinburne, England, a breeder of rare flowers, has died she is certain it was murder and that she must find the killer.” (Catalogue)

Drama and danger / Williams, J. T.
“Twelve-year-olds Lizzie Sancho and Dido Belle are from different worlds – Lizzie lives in Westminster in her dad’s tea shop, while Belle is an heiress being brought up by her aunt and uncle at grand Kenwood House – but they both share a love of solving mysteries. And when their eyes meet in the audience of the Drury Lane theatre one night, both girls are sure they’ve seen something suspicious on stage. Lizzie and Belle soon find themselves on the trail of a mystery – and becoming best friends. But can they work out what’s going on in time to prevent a murder?”–Publisher’s description.” (Catalogue)

Comics

Goldie Vance. Volume one / Larson, Hope
“Move over Nancy, Harriet, & Veronica. There’s a new sleuth on the block! Sixteen-year-old Marigold “Goldie” Vance lives at a Florida resort with her dad, who manages the place. Her mom, who divorced her dad years ago, works as a live mermaid at a club downtown. Goldie has an insatiable curiosity, which explains her dream to one day become the hotel’s in-house detective. When Charles, the current detective, encounters a case he can’t crack, he agrees to mentor Goldie in exchange for her help solving the mystery.” (Catalogue)

Enola Holmes : the graphic novels, Book one / Blasco, Serena
“Fourteen-year-old Enola Holmes wakes on her birthday to discover that her mother has disappeared from the family’s country manor, leaving only a collection of flowers and a coded message book. With Sherlock and Mycroft determined to ship her off to a boarding school, Enola escapes, displaying a cleverness that even impresses the elder Holmes. But nothing prepares her for what lies ahead.” (Catalogue)

What Comes Next? Warriors

Many parents will be familiar with the challenge of finding their tamariki interesting and exciting books to read after they finish a fantastic series, and the library is here to help. In our series “What Comes Next?” we provide some recommendations for children after they’ve finished a popular series. Last month we looked at the hilariously unlucky Series of Unfortunate Eventsand this month we have focused our attention on the long-running Warrior Cats series by Erin Hunter.

For many tamariki the Warriors books are one of the first big series they really dive in to. And whether they make their way through all the books or are looking for something to read after they’ve gotten their fill, we’ve done our best to find something for everyone. We haven’t included the other Erin Hunter books in this list, but if you haven’t read them yet then check out Seekers, Survivors and Bravelands

Librarian’s tip — If you are reading the Warriors series and aren’t quite sure what order you’re meant to be reading them in, we recommend visiting Fantastic Fiction, who’ve done all the hard work of putting all those books in reading order for you!

Younger Kids:

Young kids have quite a few options when it comes to animal-focused books with lots of adventure. Kathryn Lasky’s Guardians of Ga’Hoole is simply excellent, and Lucky by Chris Hill is sure to delight kids, with a fun squirrel as the main character. Animorphs by Katherine Applegate needs no introduction to many people, who wouldn’t remember a book where kids gain the power to transform into animals? Finally, a newer book with panthers as main characters is The Lost Rainforest by Eliot Schrefer.

The capture / Lasky, Kathryn
“When Soren, a barn owl, arrives at St. Aggie’s, a school for orphaned owls, he suspects trouble and with his new friend, a clever elf owl named Gylfie, embarks on a perilous journey to save all owls from the danger at St. Aggie’s.” (Catalogue)

Mez’s magic / Schrefer, Eliot
“Caldera has forever been divided into those animals who walk by night and those who walk by day. Until the eclipse. Now Mez has discovered that she can cross the Veil and enter the daylight world. Her magical power has unknown depths, but she must rush to discover it after a mysterious stranger arrives at her family’s den, bearing warnings of a reawakened evil. Saving Caldera means Mez must leave her sister behind and unite an unlikely group of animal friends to unravel an ancient mystery and protect their rainforest home.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Lucky / Hill, Chris
“Every day is a fight for survival when you’re a young squirrel lost in the world. And for Lucky, it gets even tougher when he finds out he’s the only red squirrel in a city park fought over by grey ones. Lucky needs fortune on his side to win a place in their hearts. But when he discovers a plot that threatens his new home, is his luck about to run out?”–Back cover” (Catalogue)

Invasion / Applegate, Katherine
“When Jake, Rachel, Tobias, Cassie, and Marco stumble upon a downed alien spaceship and its dying pilot, they’re given an incredible power … a power they must use to outsmart an evil greater than anything the world has ever seen.” (Catalogue)

Older Kids:

If you’re on the older side, and looking for Young Adult reads with similar energy to Warriors then we’ve found a few books you’ll probably enjoy. While Gone by Michael Grant doesn’t have any animals, it does have teenagers with mysterious powers trying to solve a mystery in a Lord of the Flies-esque society. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater does have animals in the form of werewolves as main characters and Protector of the Small by Tamora Pierce is an excellent fantasy series sure to delight fans of Warriors who enjoyed the political intrigue.

Gone / Grant, Michael
“In a small town on the coast of California, everyone over the age of fourteen suddenly disappears, setting up a battle between the remaining town residents and the students from a local private school, as well as those who have “The Power” and are able to perform supernatural feats and those who do not.” (Catalogue)

Shiver / Stiefvater, Maggie
“In all the years she has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house, Grace has been particularly drawn to an unusual yellow-eyed wolf who, in his turn, has been watching her with increasing intensity.” (Catalogue)

First test / Pierce, Tamora
“Ten-year-old Keladry of Mindalen, daughter of nobles, serves as a page but must prove herself to the males around her if she is ever to fulfill her dream of becoming a knight.” (Catalogue)

Hopefully you’ve found something to dive into after finishing Warriors, and catch us next time for another blog on a popular series, we haven’t quite decided which one yet, so feel free to drop some suggestions down below!

What Comes Next? A Series of Unfortunate Events

Finding new pukapuka for your tamariki can be a challenge, especially when they can get through a big series in just a couple of weeks. Well, the library is here to help! In our series “What Comes Next?” we try and tackle the tricky challenge of helping you find the next book after a great series. If you haven’t seen our blog from last month on Ranger’s Apprentice, then be sure to check it out if your tamaiti loves fantasy or archery! This month we are focusing on the delightfully dreary Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, with humorous recommendations for those who enjoyed the series.

A Series of Unfortunate Events has delighted children with the Baudelaires woeful escapades for well over two decades now and the series has only grown in popularity following the Netflix adaptation. While no one is quite like Lemony Snicket, we’ve put together our best picks for tamariki who loved this series.

Younger Kids:

Luckily for tamariki there are heaps of excellent books which lean into the darker side while remaining humorous and fun. The Spiderwick Chronicles are a great fit for tamariki who like fantasy with just a little bit of scary, and so is the hilarious Floodseries by Colin Thompson. Chris Riddell brings us a gothic mystery complete with a ghostly mouse in Goth Girl, and if you found yourself rooting for the villain, then check out The Crims by Kate Davies which features a whole family of criminals.

The field guide / DiTerlizzi, Tony
“When the Grace children go to stay at their Great Aunt Lucinda’s worn Victorian house, they discover a field guide to fairies and other creatures and begin to have some unusual experiences. Suggested level: primary, intermediate.” (Catalogue)
Neighbours / Thompson, Colin
“Nerlin and Mordonna Flood have seven children, most of whom were made in a cellar, using incredible mystical powers. Betty is a normal little girl – but she’s a useless witch. Her attempts at magic often go wrong, with unexpected yet welcome results. When the next-door neighbours rob the Floods, they find out what the Floods do to bad neighbours” (Adapted from catalogue)
Goth Girl and the ghost of a mouse / Riddell, Chris
“A deliciously dark offering from the award-winning author-illustrator of the Ottoline books” (Catalogue)
The Crims / Davies, Kate
“When her notoriously inept family of criminals is wrongly accused, Imogen, the only truly skilled criminal, uses her skills to clear their names.” (Catalogue)

Older Kids:

For the older ones who want that dark-humor vibe after reading or rereading A Series of Unfortunate Events we have got you covered. Skullduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy is another fantasy with darker vibes that older kids are sure to love, and Ms Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs is perfect for older kids who love a bit of mystery. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman has been on my TBR for ages, and if you ever need to laugh about doomsday then look no further than this excellent book. And if you want even more Neil Gaiman then check out The Graveyard Book which features another child in unfortunate circumstances, raised by ghosts in a graveyard after the murder of his parents.

Skulduggery Pleasant / Landy, Derek
“When twelve-year-old Stephanie inherits her weird uncle’s estate, she must join forces with Skulduggery Pleasant, a skeleton mage, to save the world from the Faceless Ones.” (Catalogue)
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children / Riggs, Ransom
“After a family tragedy, Jacob feels compelled to explore an abandoned orphanage on an island off the coast of Wales, discovering disturbing facts about the children who were kept there.” (Catalogue)

 

 


Good omens : the nice and accurate prophecies of Agnes Nutter, witch / Pratchett, Terry
“According to the Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch – the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. People have been predicting the end of the world almost from its very beginning, so it’s only natural to be sceptical when a new date is set for Judgement Day. But one fast-living demon and a somewhat fussy angel would quite like the Rapture not to happen.” (Adapted from catalogue)


The graveyard book / Gaiman, Neil
“After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.” (Catalogue)

We hope you’ve enjoyed these recommendations, we certainly had fun diving into the dark and twisty humour that Lemony Snicket does so well! Catch you again next time for recommendations on a classic children’s series which centres cuddly creatures that you might just have at home.

2023 NZCYA Book Awards: Winners Announced!

It’s hard to believe another whole year has rolled around since Gavin Bishop’s luminous Atua: Māori Gods and Heroes took the literary world by storm during the 2022 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, but last night at a joyous ceremony at the Pipitea Marae here in Te Whanganui-a-Tara, the 2023 NZCYA Book Award-winners were announced, to much fanfare and celebration.

This year, the Supreme Winner was multi-talented author and illustrator Mat Tait, for his book Te Wehenga: The Separation of Ranginui and Papatūānuku. This beautifully-crafted pukapuka not only won the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year Award, but also the Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction, and it is the first reorua/bilingual book ever to take out the Supreme Award. Our most heartfelt congratulations go to Mat, who has created a taonga to be treasured for generations to come.

Find Te Wehenga: The Separation of Ranginui and Papatūānuku, and the books that won the other categories on the night, on our catalogue below. For more literary greatness, be sure to check out our earlier post highlighting all of the finalists as well — congratulations to you all for your marvellous contributions to the world of children’s books in Aotearoa.


Margaret Mahy Book of the Year Award; Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction

Te Wehenga : the separation of Ranginui and Papatūānuku / Tait, Mat

Judges’ comments: Te Wehenga: The Separation of Ranginui and Papatūānuku presents the Māori creation pūrākau in a bold design using universal elements recognised across iwi. The bilingual text is poetic, and integrated into the artwork on each page in a way that draws readers into an interactive experience, inviting them to turn the book as they become immersed in the darkness of the space between Papatūānuku and Ranginui. The production values are exceptionally high, and the result is a book that is — like the story — a taonga, to be shared, closely read and enjoyed in both te reo Māori and te reo Pākehā… [Read more on the New Zealand Book Awards Trust website]

Our thoughts: This book feels like something genuinely special to hold. The story is one that will be familiar to many New Zealanders, as it has been told and re-told in multiple guises over the decades, but the way in which the artwork and bilingual text work together to engross the reader here is something truly unique. The initial darkness of the illustrations brings the reader physically closer to the page, challenging them to discern the beautiful details glowing softly in the dimness. As life flows into the world, the artworks too brighten, and the feeling of reaching the final, glorious spread is something similar to taking a deep breath after holding it for a long time. We hope you all enjoy experiencing this story as much as we did.


Picture Book Award

Duck Goes Meow / MacIver, Juliette

Judges’ comments: Bold, munificent colours saturate the page, with animals rotund and lively, their hand-lettered animal sounds seamlessly blending into a flawless rhyming text. Readers are taken on a hilarious jaunt as these animals negotiate and encourage Duck to say the right thing, anticipation and humour building with each page turn. The little duck plucks at the heartstrings by being true to itself, and challenging our assumptions. Duck Goes Meow distills all the elements of a great picture book into a celebration of the unexpected, with a conclusion that surprises the animals and readers alike.

Our thoughts: We are so happy for author-illustrator pair extraordinaire Juliette MacIver (a local Wellingtonian!) and Carla Martell — this win is so thoroughly deserved! The absolute beauty of this book is in its simplicity — the design is clear, the humour perfectly-pitched for very young readers, and the text carries the reader inevitably through to the surprising, sweet ending. Plus it’s the favourite book of this children’s librarian’s 19-month-old niece — how could it not win?!


Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction

Below / Hill, David

Judges’ comments: From the squeeze of the hourglass on the cover, to the story’s heart-thumping climax, a gripping sense of claustrophobia pervades this novel. The restricted point of view, oppressive setting and accelerating sense of danger conspire to close the reader in, yet the writing feels expansive. Relationships, reactions and conflicting positions are skilfully drawn, as two pre-teens rely on ingenuity and analytical thinking to help them survive in the collapsing heart of a mountain. As the stakes get higher and the chances of survival lower, the reader is left gasping. Below is a white-knuckled, powerful read, from one of Aotearoa’s most exceptional storytellers.

Our thoughts: Below is palpably the work of an experienced author at the absolute top of his game. It seems anything David Hill takes his pen to turns to gold, and this book is no exception — it’s fast-paced and engrossing, while still taking the time to explore the nuances of each of the characters we meet and expand upon their relationships in a way that makes the whole dynamic feel authentic. We found this one to be absolutely un-putdownable, and we suspect you will find the same.


Young Adult Fiction Award

Iris and me / Werry, Philippa

Judges’ comments: Iris and Me is audacious and daring, much like its subject Iris Wilkinson, who wrote poetry, fiction and journalism using the pen name Robin Hyde. This exploration of Iris’ life is astonishingly original. Written in verse with a unique narrative voice, this is heartbreaking yet hopeful historical fiction. The book is impeccably researched and exquisitely written, and its quality is clear from its charming cover to its extensive endnotes. The many hardships that Iris suffers — including mental health issues, disability, and poverty — are sensitively handled and give insight into the life of an important New Zealand author while being relevant to rangatahi today. This is poetry our young people can relate to.

Our thoughts: The judges describe this book as audacious — certainly it’s true that crafting a book in verse is a bold and impressive endeavour, especially one which flows and sings as naturally and compellingly as Iris and Me. What really shone through for us was that in this rich, kaleidoscopic exploration of the life of a significant, and today sadly underappreciated, New Zealander — her perseverance, her bravery in the face of misogyny and adversity, her suffusing love of travel and humanity despite her struggles — there is something in this book for almost every reader to resonate with. We are lucky to have had the opportunity to speak to Philippa about the creation of this book earlier this year — watch her full interview with our Fiction Specialist Neil here.


Russell Clark Award for Illustration

A portrait of Leonardo : the life and times of Leonardo da Vinci : a literary picture book / Bixley, Donovan

Judges’ comments: Donovan Bixley excels in this illustrated biography of Leonardo da Vinci. Relishing the challenge, he plays joyously with puns and puzzles while demonstrating masterful use of tools that were developed by the great artist himself. Composition, perspective, light and colour are used to great effect, with a strong underpinning of drawing and digital skills, creating a vibrant historical read that is also a fluent and delightful feast for the eyes. A Portrait of Leonardo is enticing and accessible to young readers, a great example of words attributed to the master: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Our thoughts: How exciting to see Donovan recognised for his consummate skill as an illustrator and storyteller with this award! A Portrait of Leonardo is a fresh and energetic take on the biographical form, and one could sit for hours, nose pressed against the page, following the pencil strokes and vibrant flashes of colour as they move from image to image, linking the whole story into one deliciously detailed whole. A fitting tribute to one of history’s greatest ever artists and inventors, and as Donovan said during his acceptance speech, a take on his life that could only have been envisaged in New Zealand. This book is a triumph, and well deserving of its win in an absolutely stacked field.


Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award for Te Reo Māori

Kua whetūrangitia a koro / Te Paa, Brianne

Judges’ comments: Matariki te tohu o maharanui. Matariki te tohu o te pito mata. Matariki te tohu o te ao hou. Kua Whetūrangitia a Koro is a traditional Māori narrative tailored to fit a new world and new audience. The significance of this story, its context, and its poetic use of te reo Māori place it in a stratosphere of its own. Much like Matariki, Kua Whetūrangitia a Koro represents authentic Māori stories being told in te reo Māori that will inspire and educate Māori, Pākehā, and all people of New Zealand and the world. Haramai tētahi āhua!

Our thoughts: Something about this pukapuka ataahua feels incredibly warm and embracing, even while it takes you on the absolute emotional rollercoaster that it does. The poetry of the reo and the simple tangibility of the illustrations infuse this book with a sense of spirituality and wonder while also giving it a quality of ‘groundedness’ that will make this a staple for any whānau who are looking for ways to navigate through tough situations, like the loss of a loved one. This is a book that will take your hand and sit beside you as long as you need, and we are grateful to Brianne Te Paa and Story Hemi-Morehouse for bringing it into the world for all to learn and grow from.


New Zealand Society of Authors Best First Book Award

The Lighthouse Princess / Wardell, Susan

Judges’ comments: The Lighthouse Princess stands out as a picture book that combines poetic writing and whimsical illustration to create a sum that is greater than its parts. This clever alchemy is all the more astounding considering it is both the writer’s and the illustrator’s first foray into publication. With details that draw a child’s eye into the world of the Lighthouse, and language that lures us from page to page, Rose Northey and Susan Wardell take the reader to an escapist hideaway on a rocky coast inhabited by creatures both real and imagined. Like the boy in the story, once invited in, many will choose not to leave.

Our thoughts: Okay, we did say this last year as well, but the category of Best First Book is becoming increasingly hotly contested as, year by year, more and more extremely talented writers and illustrators throw their hats in the ring. As librarians, it’s incredibly exciting for us to see such an assured debut from author Susan Wardell and Wellington-based illustrator Rose Northey — and we simply cannot wait to see what they both choose to create next. This picture book is absolutely charming and engrossing from cover to cover, and we predict it will soon become a firm bedtime or storytime favourite with whānau all over the country. Ka rawe!