Kim – Staff Pickles

 Kim - Staff Pickles

Kia ora, I'm a Children's Librarian here with some great recommended reads for kids!

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  • Blog posts - Posts on New Zealand music and writers, motherhood, children's literature and authors and more

2019 children's titles to get excited about:

  • The Top Secret Undercover Notes of Buttons McGinty by Rhys Darby. New Zealand funnyman from Flight of the Conchords, Jumanji and more has penned a first-person adventure for children - sharing the adventures of Buttons McGinty with funny asides, kiwi colloquialisms, hand-written and drawn elements. Read our interview with Rhys Darby here. In April, Darby completed his second book in the series so watch this space for publication of Episode 2.  
  • Fing new release by David Walliams  "Meet the Meeks! Librarians Mr and Mrs Meek will do anything to keep their darling daughter, Myrtle Meek, happy. But it's not enough for Myrtle, who always wants more, more, more! When Myrtle declares that she wants a FING, there's only one problem...WHAT IS A FING? Mr and Mrs Meek's hilarious quest to find a Fing takes them from the forbidden vaults of the library, through the pages of a mysterious book called The Monsterpedia, and to the furthest corners of the jungle! But will they ever find a Fing...?"
  • You’ve met the World’s Worst Children – now prepare yourselves for something much, much worse in David Walliam's forthcoming book The World's Worst Teachers. Think your teachers are bad? Wait till you meet this line-up. These ten tales of the world’s most splendidly sinister teachers will have you running for the school gates. A delightfully dreadful collection of gruesome grown-ups. Dr Dread teaches Science and is half man, half monster. Mrs Splatt, the dinner lady, serves the most revolting food you could possibly imagine. Miss Seethe is ALWAYS furious – and she’s on a detention rampage... Meet them all terrible teachers when the book is released for publication late June 2019. 
  • Jeff Kinney's latest book Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid: Rowley Jefferson's Journal was released April 2019 - told from Rowley's Point of view. And the title and cover of his #14th book has been revealed: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Wrecking Ball (due for release Nov 2019). The story: an unexpected inheritance gives the Heffley family a chance to make major improvements to their home. But they soon find that construction isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. When things get rough, will the Heffleys be able to stay . . . or will they be forced to move? 
  • The 117-Storey Treehouse is due out late August 2019. Andy and Terry's treehouse now has 13 new storeys, including a tiny-horse level, a pyjama-party room, an Underpants Museum, a photo-bombing booth, a waiting room, a Door of Doom, a circus, a giant-robot-fighting arena, a traffic school, a water-ski park filled with flesh-eating piranhas and a treehouse visitor centre with a 24-hour information desk, a penguin-powered flying treehouse tour bus and a gift shop. You can put a hold on a copy from the library now, in advance.
  • Dav Pilkey's latest in the Dog Man series: For Whom the Ball Rolls (released 13 August - place a hold now) and Dog Man #8: Fetch-22 (due out December 2019)
    Raina Telgemeier's latest graphic novel - Guts - is due for release October 2019. From the hugely popular creator of Smile and Sisters comes another true story: "Raina wakes up one night with a terrible upset stomach. Her mom has one, too, so it’s probably just a bug. Raina eventually returns to school, where she’s dealing with the usual highs and lows: friends, not-friends, and classmates who think the school year is just one long gross-out session. It soon becomes clear that Raina’s tummy trouble isn’t going away . . . and it coincides with her worries about food, school, and changing friendships. What’s going on? Raina Telgemeier once again brings us a thoughtful, charming, and funny true story about growing up and gathering the courage to face — and eventually conquer — her fears."

    Share Your Smile: Raina's Guide to Telling your Own Story
     "Get ready to journal and make comics with Raina Telgemeier, master storyteller and creator of Smile, Sisters, Drama, and Ghosts! Have you ever thought about telling your own story, whether it be true or imagined? Are you interested in writing, drawing, or both? If the answer is yes, this fun, colorful, and interactive journal is for you! With guidance from Raina herself, brainstorm ideas, make lists, paste in personal photos, and use your imagination like never before to create your own stories. For additional inspiration, special behind-the-scenes info from Raina’s own comics-making adventures is featured inside!" Place a hold on a copy from Christchurch City Libraries.  

Recommended reads of 2018

Oh Boy: A Storybook of epic NZ men - Stories about Kiwi men who followed their dreams and made the world a better place.

Inspired by Rebel Girls comes a similar book celebrating inspiring New Zealand women... 

Go Girl : A Storybook of Epic New Zealand Women compiled by Barbara Else "is a collection of true stories about New Zealand women who have done extraordinary things. They strove for their goals. They weren't afraid to step up or speak out. They blazed a trail for others to follow. This book was written to show that YOU can join them! Just some of the amazing women whose stories you will find in this book are Dame Whina Cooper, Janet Frame, Farah Palmer, Lucy Lawless, Kate Sheppard, Nancy Wake, Sophie Pascoe, Margaret Mahy, Lydia Ko, Merata Mita, Lorde, Rita Angus, Te Puea Herangi - and many more. This is a book that should be on the beside table of every Kiwi girl, from age seven to one hundred and seven."

Stories for Boys Who Dare to Be DifferentTo be honest, there is a such a surge in publishing of titles like Rebel Girls (eg. Girls Who Rocked the World) that my young daughter can't take me trying to foist yet another one upon her. She has rejected any more attempts by me to feminise her reading or try to empower her as a female because, she says, her favourite cuddly teddy bear is a boy and he is getting left out. So there you go. So with that in mind, check out Stories for Boys Who Dare to Be Different - finally something about boys akin to all the empowering books for girls currently being published telling succinct true stories about inspiring people. New Zealand's own Taika Waititi is in here alongside David Attenborough and Dynamo. Full page illustrations. My son and I have discovered a lot of people we've never hard of and researching their background - be it rap stars or Native American Indians Memoirs, Graphic Novels, Humour, Contemporary New Zealand Fiction, Music, Motherhood and more - My Completed List of Adult Literature - Recommended Reads!

Choice children's books


My Top Picks of Children's Books of 2017 - by month

Best Board Books and Picture Books of 2017
My Top Read-Aloud Picture Books of 2016

Favourite Illustrators 

Jean Jullien and Elise Gravel 

Great Graphic Novels 

  • Swing It, Sunny by Matthew Holm. I enjoyed this nostalgic and bittersweet memoir-like graphic novel, a follow-up to Jennifer & Matthew's Holm's Sunny Side Up. This story of a girl named Sunny growing up in 1970s America is one big nostalgia trip for me - with TV shows like The Six Million Dollar Man, bellbottom jeans, Pet Rocks, baton twirling... and I had forgotten all about the fad of weaving your own potholders. The innocence of Sunny's life is juxtaposed by her delinquent older brother, who she adores, but their family can't understand his bad behaviour. For older youth on upwards, if you want your children to get a sense of what it was like growing up in the 70s, give them this.
  • Home Time (Book One) Campbell Whyte - looking forward to Book Two coming out one day
  • The entire Phoebe and Her Unicorn series by Dana Simpson. Sardonic.

Impressive Interactive Books and Wordless Wonders

The Forest 

Bugs - ibook Augmented Reality book (with free downloadable app for apple or android). Make creepy crawlies come to life, climb on your hand and supersize them. There's bees, praying mantis, cockroach, spider and more but my favourites: The world's largest butterfly flying, the (Hercules) beetles battling and there's even a New Zealand weta in here! Kid-tested - all ages will be wowed by this Digital Magic book!

Wild - This latest addition to the fabulous Photicular series of chunky sized books features 8 endangered animals in action: moving images of tigers licking, gorillas picking, elephants splashing and pandas gnashing. An engaging way to learn about nature.

Small Wonders  I love this wordless book of miniature photography that reimagines the ordinary world! So clever! Although not officially a children's book, your child will enjoy these images... Check out Tanaka' s Instagram page and his website for more fantastical scenes with model figurines and ordinary household items, food and office supplies.

The Forest by Riccardo Bozzi  An allegorical view of human life as an exploratory journey through an ancient forest. Here, sensory experience and the textures of the material world are rendered through die-cuts, embossing, cutouts, and two gatefolds. A beautifully considered work. Visually stunning metaphorical meditation on life, using the forest as a representation of new birth to mature growth and the cycle of life. The watercolour forest is sumptuous and subtle embossing impressive. An incredible and quietly profound book highly recommended for all ages, children and adults alike.

Books with Spunk

Recent books on similar themes - older fiction and young adult reads. 

The First Rule of Punk

I was coincidentally reading this book around the same time as seeing the new Pixar movie Coco - the both feature a young musical Mexican trying to be true to themselves, despite family disapproval, and both come to a head with an important talent show on the Day of the Dead, showcasing not just their music but determination to find their 'voice'. In The First Rule of Punk, Malu struggles: both to fit in as a punk at a new school after being forced to move cities and culturally, to embrace her Mexican heritage despite being a half-caste (she hates cilantro). Her Spanish falters despite having a 'SuperMexican' for a mother. Her new classmates call her a 'co-co' - like a coconut: brown on the outside, white on the inside, hence the name of the band Malu forms, the Co-Cos. What does it look like to be in touch with with one's culture and what does it really mean to be punk? A fair helping Spanish language and cultural information deepen this coming of age story. There's also lots of cool zine-like vignettes throughout the book to both express her feelings and disseminate cultural history. 

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu. "Vivian Carter is fed up with a high school administration that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment, and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv is fed up with always following the rules. Her mom was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the '90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother's past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She's just blowing off steam, but what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution."

This Beats Perfect A contemporary young adult novel about finding your voice. There's music, social media and girl duets with boy. The title's a play on words and the 2 main characters, striving musicians, are held back by a fear of failure not too dissimilar to the author's own life experiences. Author Rebecca Denton grew up as a teen in Dunedin in the early 90s, heavily influenced by the kiwi music scene and went on to work in the music industry - it shows through the novel, which includes a playlist. A warm-hearted light holiday read for me that hit the spot for re-imagining my own youth, if framed by today's globally connected technology. It compelled me to get in touch with the author and interview her about the musical and creative influences for this story. You can read our interview here.

My area of reading passion and knowledge is around:
  • Illustrated Books - picture books to graphic novels
  • Children's Books: Board boards, Picture Books Chapter books and great Read-Alouds
  • Graphic Novels and Comics (for children and adults - autobiographical especially)
  • Autobiographical stories, from graphic novels to rock music memoirs
  • New Zealand writers and women writers
  • Authors and stories that are irreverent, quirky or observational and/or that contemplate coming of age, parenthood, relationships and the human condition
  • Speculative fiction (dystopia) and all things counterculture and ecological/environmental
  • Great examples here of all of the above genres on my completed shelf list.