Kia ora, I'm a Children's Librarian and my passion is for...
- Illustrated Books - picture books to graphic novels
- Children's Books: Board boards, Picture Books Chapter books and great Read-Alouds
- Graphic Novels and Comics (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.
I have a lot of books checked out at once and my arms are sore from carrying big bags of books around every day. Bringing home lots of library books and goodies makes me feel like I am on a shopping spree – only most of the items are free!
- Blog posts - Posts on New Zealand music and writers, motherhood, children's literature and authors and more
Just out and worth a shout - funny titles for children...
Latest titles recently released by favourite funnymen...
- World's Worst Children #3 by David Walliams
- 104-Storey-Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton - published July 2018
- Dogman #5 Lord of the Fleas by Dav Pilkey - published September 2018
- Wimpy Kid #13 Meltdown by Jeff Kinney - due out October 2018 - pre-order your hold for this title:
- The Top Secret Undercover Notes of Buttons McGinty by Rhys Darby. New Zealand funnyman from Flight of the Conchords, Jumanji and more joins a group of comedians turned children's authors like Peter Helliar, David Walliams et al. Funny asides, kiwi colloquialisms. Features hand-written and drawn elements. This book is funny! Published October 2018
Recommended reads so far this year...
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 The follow-up to the well-received initial compilation of inspiring stories, this book contains more amazing girls (of all ages) - some many may not have hear of, some very famous (JK Rowling) or current pop culture icons (Beyonce) and some that you might not agree with (politicians) and some actually born not that long ago.
These new profiles were compiled after stories poured in from readers of the first book about more amazing females from around the globe and is a showcase of diversity. Inside you'll find: revolutionaries, scientists, artists, musicians, athletes... girls going against the grain of their times or overcoming obstacles. Another keeper of a book, this book will last years and sustain repeat reads! Worth noting that one of the illustrators in New Zealander Sarah Wilkins. Read more about Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 from the publisher.
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 is an entirely new collection of 100 more bedtime stories about extraordinary women from all over the world. It boasts a brand new graphic design + 100 incredible new portraits created by the best female artists of our time.
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."
To 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
Best Books for Grown-ups I've Read Lately... all women memoirs of sorts...
I Feel Bad: All Day, Every Day, About Everything by Orli Auslander. This book's a delightful find - a quick comic read that'll make folks attempting to "adult" snicker. Orli feels bad about everything she does - even when she does the opposite of what makes her feel bad in the first place. So she draws cartoons about how she honestly feels to get her dark thoughts out of her system. Many parents will be able to relate to her angst over parenting her children well and, equally, wanting to get away from them. Women will commiserate alongside her. The scraggly drawn illustrations add to the fact that that she's as imperfect as the rest of us.
There are No Grown-Ups: A Midlife Coming-of-Age Story by Pamela Druckerman, the author of the well-known book French Children Don't Throw Food. Well-written observations about the invisible decade of being in your 40s - a time when life's major milestones are either behind you or before you (eg having children and marrying or retiring).
Is it Bedtime Yet? edited by Emily Writes Recommended read! Bite-sized essays on parenting from a diverse cross-section of New Zealand parents - fathers, older parents, Maori mothers, gender diverse parents, single parents, parenting children with disabilities - this book is quite a cross-section of parenting configurations and styles although one thing they all seem to have in common is a lack of sleep! Emily's essays that are dotted in-between are funny and sometimes a bit of ironic piss-take on parenting. If you're in the earlier stages of parenting, this book is for you! There are so many versions of 'normal' in here you'll both find yourself reflected in these stories and validate that however you are doing at it, it is okay.
And Now We Have Everything: On Motherhood Before I Was Ready by Meaghan O'Connell. It's fair to say this is the book Meaghan wishes she had before she had a child - an honestly refreshing look at the early days and months of new motherhood - from a traumatic caesarean experience to feeling low post-birth, despite a supportive hands-on partner. Meaghan chronicles the honest thoughts and feelings many of us have had about this time of our lives but don't speak often enough about.
Memoirs, Graphic Novels, Humour, Contemporary New Zealand Fiction, Music, Motherhood and more - My Completed List of Adult Literature - Recommended Reads!
Choice children's books
Best of 2017
Favourite Illustrators of 2017
- 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 of 2017
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.
Favourite New Zealand Childrens & Young Adult Titles of 2017
Glitterewings Book Week Blunder Recommended new Scholastic book series called Miniwings by top-notch New Zealand children's author Sally Sutton. Funny capers of 2 sisters and 6 magical Miniwing horses who lead them into trouble and chaos... in this case, during their attempts to dress up for their school's Book Week competition. There's a visit from a famous horse book author a lot like real Diamond Horse author Stacey Gregg. I especially liked her horse named Canterbury, who is "quite plain on the outside... but inside he's strong and brace, and he never gives up. And it's what on the inside that counts." 6 books in the series due out, full of colour illustrations, bouncing text and a glossary of their 'fabbo' lingo with words like 'perskery' and 'spukey'. Great for middle primary age readers.
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.
Non-Fiction Favourites of 2017
Do Not Lick This Book
Fantastic microscopic images of paper, your teeth and your bellybutton... Main character is Min the microbe who takes you on a tour, with her friends like fungus. A unique take on presenting science simply. Invites the reader to get interactive with the book to get super duper up close!
Keith Haring Inspirational true story of a talented artist who, from a young age, was compelled to draw, draw, draw - including up walls, buildings and outdoors. Celebrates an artist wanting to make art accessible to everyone. A generous soul: the more he gave away, the more he got back. Jive drawings, breakdancing and city street life. Fantastically illustrated of course! Great inspiration for kids.
Wordless Wonders of 2017
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.
Books with Spunk
Two recent books on similar themes - one for older children and the other a young adult read:
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."