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<<December 2018>>
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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Childrens non-fiction, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 55
1. Chronicle Books

I got a couple of Chronicle Books today that I really HAD to share!

Swan by Laurel Snyder is one of those beautiful books that I think any young child will be entranced by.  The illustrations by Julie Morstad are amazing - the soft colors and intricate designs are stunning.  The story, the life and dance of Anna Pavlova, is one that is not well-known, and possibly not one that young children may be drawn to, but I think when they find this gem, they will open a world they didn't know existed.  Our young dancers and ballerinas will LOVE it as well!

Kate Messner has written Tree of Wonder that is a delightful story about the rainforest and how many animals can live in one tree - the Almendro Tree - in the rainforest.  The illustrations, by Simona Mulazzani, are colorful and yet realistic.  And on each spread, you can see the number of animals or insects housed in that one tree all displayed visually as well - it puts 1,024 leafcutter ants right into perspective.  Great new picture book on the rainforest - welcome addition.

I was sent both of these books, by the publisher, for a fair and honest review.

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2. A book that campaigns for Peace

PEACE WARRIORS by Raymond Huber (Makaro Press)

We've had a lot of ANZAC books, WW1 stories and now we have a book about people who have resisted war, and thumbed their nose at their captors.  Author Raymond Huber has collected stories from around the world that show peaceful resistance can make change. First of all, Raymond defines what is a peace warrior. He says it "is a person who fights for peace and justice without using violence." He gives examples:

  • The small-town boy who stood up to Hitler.
  • A high school student who faced a racist mob.
  • Mothers who protest weekly against a brutal military dictatorship.
  • A whole town that used non-violence to save thousands.
  • The ship that sailed towards a nuclear test.
Each story gives a background to why the peace warrior did what they did. Then we're given a creative non-fiction account of the incident where the peace warrior resisted what was going on. We find out what happened after their resistance, and can read a timeline of events. After each story, the reader can look up the recommended reading list that follows.

In between stories Raymond raises questions such as:

  • Is war ever right?
  • Can war be prevented?
  • Would I fight to save my family?
  • Are we killer apes?
  • Can you be peaceful and angry?
  • Does people power always work?
  • Should peace protesters break the law.
At the back of the book are more discussion questions, and a glossary.  The questions are thought provoking and Raymond extends the reader with thoughts of his own and others. He also gives websites and books they can follow up on if the reader wants to know more. There's a website readers can look at: www.peacewarriors.nz and the page on 'evidence' is worth looking at. It shows how peace can be considerably more effective than war. 

This resource should be in all Intermediate and High Schools. Teachers could counter-balance talks about the wars with a unit on how we could prevent wars, and look at ways people have done that in the past. Raymond has provided some excellent questions and stories for a starting point for lessons.

Raymond Huber is a writer, editor and teacher. His animal science-fiction novels 'Sting' and 'Wings' shortlisted for the NZ Post Book Awards. His picture book 'Flight of the Honey Bee' has sold internationally, and also shortlisted for NZ book awards.

extract from peace warriors
It is 1943 …
It’s early morning, and Sophie and Hans have finished
breakfast. On the floor are piles of White Rose leaflets,
almost 2,000 Hans reckons. They sit down and load
the forbidden leaflets into a large suitcase. Hans carries
the suitcase as they walk to Munich University in the
cool winter air. The plan is to leave the leaflets in the
corridors while the students are still in the classrooms.
Sophie and Hans know the building well, so it should
be quick and easy.
Recommended reading age: 10-14 years
RRP $25,  140 pages
50 % of royalties go to Oxfam
ISBN: 9780994117229

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3. A book to help you prepare for Halloweeen

Ghoulish Get-ups by Fifi Colston (Scholastic)

If you enjoyed Fifi Colston's last book 'Wearable Wonders' you'll be wanting this new book too.

Kids (and parents) are often invited to fancy dress birthday parties, school book week parades and Halloween trick or treating - all which require a costume. Most invitees approach them with trepidation - what to wear ... gasp! In the past, I took my children to The Warehouse for cheap costumes, or helped with rough get-ups that neither my children or I have been satisfied with. 

That's the beauty of this book - there's nothing expensive you need to buy. Fifi gives you tips on how to make 16 different outfits including elves, fairies, punk rockers, vampires, zombies, murderous butchers, aliens and creatures. If those costumes don't appeal Fifi shows you how to turn recycled objects such as egg cartons, paper bags, sheets, t-shirts, pants and tights into numerous outfits. She also gives tips on how to transform your face, hands, feet, ears, hair, and how to make wings, foundation, warts, boils, facial hair, guts and broken bones, wounds, stumps and bumps, and horns.  She even gives recipes for ghoulish food such as zombie fingers, and eyeballs.

It is written in an easy-to-read writing style, with colourful photographs, and designed (text boxes, captions, fonts and examples) to hook the intended audience in - children 8-14 years (though, parents will find it really helpful too). It also includes three pages on materials and techniques, and an index.

So the next time you get an invitation to a fancy dress, you can take a breath, sit down, and open 'Ghoulish Get-ups' and you'll find something that will suit, or it will inspire you and give you the tools to make your costume out of materials you have at home.

Fifi is well qualified to write such a book, she has been a finalist and award winner at Wearable Art competitions for over 18 years, and has worked in the film industry as a costumier and illustrator for Weta Workshop. She has written junior fiction novels and illustrated other people's books, and has been a long-standing presenter of arts and crafts on TVNZ's What Now and recently Good Morning. Her book 'Wearable Wonders' won the LIANZA Elsie Locke Award, was a finalist at the New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards, and was awarded a Storylines Notable Book Award.
Ghoulish Get-ups is a must-have resource for families, and school libraries.

ISBN 9781775432470
RRP $19.00

Reviewed by Maria Gill


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4. Three environmental books for children

Operation Nest Egg Chick by Maria Gill, illustrated by Bruce Potter, designed by Heather Arnold

Deep down in a dark burrow
a father kiwi snorts and snuffles in his sleep.
Underneath him, a large creamy egg lies
snug and safe from pilfering predators.

Soon the kiwi chick hatches and has to fend for itself. Will it meet a fateful end or will the kiwi chick become part of the Operation Nest Egg programme? A creative non-fiction story about two kiwi chicks; one that becomes part of the Operation Nest Egg programme and the other ... you'll have to read it to find out. Each page includes photographs and text boxes about how kiwi are being saved.

The story has been written to appeal to young children with a story and for older children who want to know more with fact boxes.

Bruce Potter has drawn his illustrations on the computer using a mix of photographs and cartoon-like figures.  When asked why he drew the kiwi with large eyes, Bruce said he wanted children to be empathetic with the kiwi.

Heather Arnold and Maria Gill have included a video and photographs of kiwi releases Maria has organised for the Department of Conservation on Motuora Island:  http://www.mariagill.co.nz/kiwireleases.html

Anne Whalley in Magpies magazine said: "Operation Nest Egg is a perfect balance of picture book and nonfiction. The narrative reads aloud well, introducing young readers to the life of young kiwi and the dangers they face... Although I found the eyes of the caricature kiwi and some predators somewhat manic in appearance, Bruce Potter's illustrations are well crafted and add atmosphere to the 'story'. Highly recommended."

Rangitoto by Maria Gill, illustrated and designed by Heather Arnold

In the middle of the Hauraki Gulf bubbles begin to appear. Soon there are explosions and fire fountains. Maori on Motutapu and the mainland watch in awe, as a volcano forms in front of them. This is a creative non-fiction story about the birth of Rangitoto and what happens when humans interact with the island.

Along with the creative non-fiction story are fact boxes, diagrams, and glossary boxes to help the emerging reader become familiar with volcano facts and terms.  The story can be read to or by younger children of 5-7 year olds, and older children 8-12 years old can read the accompanying facts.  This book is very useful after visiting Rangitoto Island to satisfy the curiosity of young minds and very helpful for volcano studies.

Rangitoto was originally published in 2009 with Penguin New Zealand. It was shortlisted for the New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards and was reprinted twice.  In 2013, the book was updated and made into a digital book with Pixel Book.  In October 2014, it was republished under the imprint Long White Cloud Books. It's bigger, it's been updated, and it has some different design features.  You'll notice that the white space has gone and the narrative now merges more with the artwork. Scientific knowledge about Rangitoto had advanced since the book had originally been published and  therefore Heather Arnold has updated several of the diagrams. 

Associate Professor Ian Smith from the University of Auckland fact-checked the book. Emeritus Professor Kenneth D. Collerson PhD, FAusIMM endorsed the book:

It is a richly annotated book that contains an excellent glossary of geological terms about volcanoes. Facts about volcanoes, the interior of the Earth and the formation of magmas, although described in lay terms, are nevertheless scientifically sound.
I believe that Rangitoto is an excellent educational book that could be used as a resource by teachers in elementary schools.
As an earth scientist, I am happy to fully endorse this book for its geological content. It makes great reading, even for a professional geologist.

See links and teaching resources here.

Draw New Zealand Birds by Heather Arnold (DragonSauce Books)

Draw New Zealand Birds shows children and adults how to draw eight different native birds in pencil, gesso, and coloured pencil.  You will learn what equipment to use, how to use it, and also learn interesting facts about each of the native birds.  Heather shows how to draw each bird step-by-step and also how to advance some of the pictures into coloured artwork.

The book was originally published by Reed Publishing in 2007 and reprinted several times. It won the LIANZA Esther Glen award and was a 2008 Storylines Notable Book (non-fiction category).

It has been republished under the Dragonsauce Book imprint.

Reviewers in the past have said:

It is great to see rel­ev­ant draw­ing sub­jects; the New Zealand Birds. This lovely book encour­ages appre­ci­ation and facil­it­ates the need to look in detail and provides a for­mula to ensure success.
Good Teacher, 2007

This intriguing book, by Heather Arnold, (published by Reed, 2007) showing how to draw nine of New Zealand’s native birds will captivate any budding young artist. Each bird is introduced by describing where it lives, its feeding and breeding activities.National Library, 2007 

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5. Two new non-fiction titles from New Holland Books

Playing Rugby League with Benji Marshall, co-written with Lynn McConnell (New Holland)

Benji Marshall shares rugby league tips and lessons in this 206 page book filled with description, photographs and quotes. Benji speaks directly to his audience of 10-18 year old boys (and adult rugby enthusiasts) in a conversation tone inspiring teenagers how to improve their game and also get the most out of their life. For all rugby enthusiasts and fans of Benji Marshall at the back is a description of Benji's 10 favourite games. An example of subjects covered include: the object of the game; how to pass, kick, goal-kick, tackle; and captaincy, leadership and coaching; fitness; and the right approach to league.

The book would appeal to rugby enthusiasts who also enjoy reading. However, even if they aren't readers you can tell your rugby fan the great thing about non-fiction is you can start anywhere in the book, where you want and just dip in and out whenever you want.

It's more than a how-to book about rugby it is also Benji sharing his knowledge and wisdom about growing up as a male in New Zealand, how to overcome mistakes and struggles, and to rise to be the sports person you want to be. Also recommended for High school and Intermediate school libraries.

Benji Marshall is a professional rugby league footballer currently with the St George Illawarra Dragons and ex-captain of the New Zealand national team - the Kiwis. 

Co-writer Lynn McConnell is a freelance writer/editor at NZ Sport Daily with 14 years of internet sport journalism, and 27 years of newspaper journalism, and author of over 15 books for adults.

ISBN: 9781742574387
RRP $34.99

For younger children ...

The New Zealand Nature Activity Book by Dave Gunson (New Holland)

An activity book that parents will want to buy for their bored 6 -12 year olds in several weeks time. It's got quizzes, activities, cut-out masks and mobiles, science experiments, spot the bugs, book plates, mazes, craft activities and lots more. Kids could take it away on holiday or use it on wet inside days at home (or the caravan/tent/bach) or do the activities outside in the sunshine.

For the parents - kids will learn scientific terms and get to know place names, and names of bugs while they're having fun; without even realising they're learning something.

The book follows on from the 'The New Zealand Wildlife Activity Book' by popular illustrator Dave Gunson. Dave has written and illustrated the 'All About' series which includes Birds, Insects, Plants, Seashore, Sea Life, Garden Wildlife; as well as the 'Read, Colour and Keep' colouring-in books; the encyclopaedic 'Big Book of New Zealand Wildlife'; and even board books for the very young.

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6. Librarian publishes two children's books

Motiti Blue and the oil spill by Debbie McCauley (Mauao Publishing)

There have been several educational articles in school journals about the Rena disaster but this is the first children's book that is related to the subject. Debbie has cleverly told the story from the perspective of Motiti Blue - a little blue penguin. When the container ship called Rena becomes stuck on the Astrolabe Reef Motiti Blue had been diving deep for his dinner. When he swam upwards "he found himself in the middle of a black sticky ocean". We're also introduced to a Kaumatua who watches silently; tears of sadness rolling down his face, as he looks at the sticky goo. He then sees something move on a rock - it's Motiti Blue. Find out how he rescues the blue penguin and Motiti's road to recovery.

Written alongside the creative non-fiction story is the story told in Maori (in italics so you're alerted it's not part of the story).  On each double page spread there are also text boxes which give more information about what is happening. For example, on page 15 we find a timeline of what the National Oiled Wildlife Response team do to help the oily wildlife; on page 16 there's a diagram showing how the oil spill affects penguins; on page 20 we find out what they feed the little blue penguins.

On each page there are vibrant large and small photographs. At the back of the book is a timeline of the Rena disaster, a large map showing what parts of the coastline was affected, and a diagram showing how the Rena grounded onto the reef. On page 32 there are extra penguin facts, and a text box on how you can help. Use your q-code finder at the back of the book to go straight to the website.

The front cover artwork - understated but striking - was created shortly after the accident by Elliot Mason. The endpapers show 365 little blue penguins that were returned to the wild.

This book is going to be a very useful resource for the classroom. Social Studies teachers could use it when studying 'disasters' and Science teachers could use the book when looking at the affects of oil spills on wildlife. Children will want to read it for enjoyment too. Young kids could have the story read to them or read it themselves. Older children will enjoy reading the extra facts. It could be used in kura kaupapa schools too, as it has Maori translations on each page.  Tamati Waaka translated the story into Te Reo Maori.

A well thought out book that is packed with lots of interesting facts. Highly recommended.

ISBN: 978-0-473-26869-5
RRP $28.95 (hardback)

Taratoa and the code of conduct by Debbie McCauley, illustrated by Sophie McCauley

Prior to a battle in 1864 between Tauranga Maori and British, a young Maori leader wrote a Code a Conduct for the battle. He wished that mercy be shown to those wounded during the fighting, that unarmed women and children be not harmed; along with two other rules. Find out who won the battle and whether they stayed true to the Code of Conduct. Read how a similar code of conduct was later signed at the Geneva Convention. 

As well as reading about this important piece of history, young readers will find out about other famous peace keepers around the world.

Each double page spread has the creative non-fiction story told in English and Maori. Each page also has several other fact boxes and a central illustration. A Q-code will take you straight to a webpage that tells you more about the book and extra information about the topic. The artwork was painted by 15 year old Sophie, the translation by Tamati Waaka, and Sarah Elworthy designed the book.

Social Studies teachers could use the book when studying peace keepers, and the history of New Zealand. Kura Kaupapa schools will find it a handy te reo resource.

ISBN: 978-0-473-26895-4
RRP $24.95 (hardback)

Find both books at the following companies: Academy Book Company, Arts Centre Bookshop, Books A Plenty, McLeods Booksellers, Paper Plus Blenheim, Tauranga City Library, Total Library Solutions, Tourism Bay of Plenty, Trade Me, Wheelers Books.

Debbie McCauley also wrote 'Motiti Blue and the oil Spill' and when she isn't writing children's books she works as a librarian at Tauranga City Library.

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7. Monkey Colors

Hillary has another great book review for us!!

Monkey Colors

*I was sent a copy by the publisher for review purposes.

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8. Clothesline Clues to Jobs People Do

What a fun review!  Thank you, Hillary!  I totally agree - this is such a fun book to share with your little ones!

Clothesline Clues to Jobs People Do

*I was sent a copy by the publisher for review purposes.

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9. Week-end Book Review ~ What We Wear: Dressing Up Around the World by Maya Ajmera, Elise Hofer Derstine, and Cynthia Pon

Maya Ajmera, Elise Hofer Derstine, and Cynthia Pon,
What We Wear: Dressing Up Around the World
A Global Fund for Children Book/Charlesbridge, 2012.

Ages: 4-7

Dressing up means something a little different to everyone, but for children dressing up is always important.  It might mean trying on a parent’s clothes in the back of a closet, putting on a costume for a performance or holiday, painting your face, playing pretend, or wearing a team uniform for a big game.  No matter where, dressing up is special, but the details of dressing up differ considerably depending on the traditions of one’s culture.

Though the outfits vary greatly from place to place, the reasons for dressing up unite us all.  This richly photographed book of smiling children from around the world dressing up in every imaginable way will open windows onto other cultures for children everywhere.  Whether vibrant beads on the head, neck, and shoulders of a Kenyan child or identical navy blue baseball caps on a Japanese team, it is clear that children everywhere delight in dressing up, whatever the occasion.  Captions accompanying the photos suggest the different reasons people wear special clothing and where to find people wearing such garments: folk festivals, cultural events, religious rituals and even school.  A world map highlights the countries the photographed children call home, underscoring the point that dressing up is universal.

Children will recognize the familiar in these pages and will also be delighted to see their counterparts in other countries dressed so differently.  The pictures are likely to inspire a sense of wonder that may lead young children to think about what they share and how they differ from people of other cultures.  The authors also make suggestions for learning more about dressing up all over the world such as going to museums, making masks and costumes on your own, and visiting cultural institutions and festivals.

Expressing one’s self and experiencing one’s culture through clothing is an important part of developing self-identity. This makes What We Wear a perfect book to have on the shelves of a pre-school or primary grade library, inspiring kids to see themselves and children everywhere as part of a global community.

Abigail Sawyer
November 2012

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10. A children's book about tomtits

Mr RG the adventurous tomtit by Barbara Hughes-Cleland (Arun Books)

Education Officer for Tiritiri Matangi Island and ex-teacher Barbara Hughes-Cleland wrote the story about Mr RG while on a Royal Society of New Zealand Teacher Fellowship Scholarship.

The story is about Mr RG a young male tomtit nd his translocation from the Hunua Ranges to Tiritiri Matangi. We follow the story of his courting his mate, their feeding their young, and being protected from predators by volunteers working in the Hunua Ranges. Mr RG was transferred along with 31 of his relatives to Tiritiri Matangi where he should have lived a happy stressfree life. Read the story to find out what happens to him (and you'll be pleased it is not a sad ending) ... It made the headlines!

The story is written in creative non-fiction style (like a story) and is illustrated with a mix of photographs and cartoons. There's three maps, a glossary, and references.

Suitable for Junior and Middle school (and even Kindy-aged) students.  They'll love the cute cartoons and gorgeous photographs - and Mr RG is rather adorable.

Illustrator Josie Galbraith recently graduated with an MSC in Biosecurity from the University of Auckland. She enjoys painting, drawing and illustrating.

Barbara is a passionate conservationist and volunteer guide on Tiritiri Matangi (as well as being the education officer).

Buy it here

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11. Celebrating Anzac Day with a children's non-fiction book

Anzac Day: The New Zealand Story by Philippa Werry (New Holland)

Have you ever wondered when Anzac Day started and what it is all about? And why they chose the red poppy as a symbol of remembrance.  Perhaps you know a bit about the second world war but the first war is a little fuzzy ... Then this treasure of a book has been written just for you.

Children's author Philippa Werry covers the Gallipoli campaign, New Zealand at war from 1914-1918, how we remember our dead and returned soldiers, and how Anzac Day is remembered then and now. Philippa has also included what happened to New Zealanders at the western front, to the Maori battalions in the Great War, and to the Pacific Island volunteers in France and Palestine. Along with recounts from returned soldiers and nurses, fact boxes about well-known battles, and little stories about incidents from the wars; are 122 photographs, paintings, excerpts from letters, quotes, poems and other images - which culminates in a pictorial historical account that celebrates the spirit of the ANZACs.

Families of returned and deceased soldiers, teachers and children will thoroughly enjoy this fascinating book, which tells the story of Anzac Day in New Zealand and around the world. An excellent resource for the Upper Primary and Intermediate classroom.  See Philippa's trailer and teaching notes here.

Philippa Werry is an accomplished children's writer of junior fiction, plays, poems and articles. Several of her books have shortlisted for awards notably the Queensland children's choice Bilby Awards in 2004, New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards in 2009, and she won a Storylines Notable Book Award in 2008.

Go to Philippa Werry's website for more information and activities: www.philippawerry.co.nz

If you're in Auckland come to her book launch:

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12. Wicked Wearable Wonders' book!

Wearable Wonders by Fifi Colston (Scholastic)

Fifi Colston is one talented lady. She writes, she illustrates, she presents at conferences/workshops/TV programmes, she's the craft queen, and she's one of the Wearable Arts' veterans. Who better to write a book about it!

Fifi Colston at the book launch
I love children's non-fiction books that knows how to capture children's attention with eye-catching graphics, striking artwork/photographs, and well-written text. Fifi delivers in bucket-loads. She gives suggestions on where to find ideas, how to make templates and models, information on writing plans, the tools of the trade you need, where to find interesting materials and what to make with it, and how to put it all together. She also reminds designers to construct the whole picture: hats, masks, tails, wings, fingers and toes - and how to make it come alive with colour and pizazz.
The reader is also led through what to do at the Wow performance: getting the model sorted, what to do with make-up and hair, how to organise a choreographer and music, lighting and technology - and even the dress rehearsal - no detail is left out.

We're even treated to an interview with a Wow model, and the King and Queen of Wow: Sir Richard Taylor and Tania Rodger.

This book will be treasured by girls and boys as young as eight years to adults. There's tips and tricks for anyone who loves to make their own wearable wonder or people like me who are craft-challenged but secretly would love to give it a go. Now where's my glue-gun ...

Awesome Fifi!

ISBN: 978 1 77543 158 9
RRP $21

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13. New sport biography from author David Riley

Offloading with Sonny Bill Williams by David Riley (2014)

Author teacher David Riley has hit the right note with another biography about a rugby league star – this time Sonny Bill Williams (SBW). David opens with a training session that gives the essence of SBW’s ethos – he treats the sport as a professional job and wants to learn from everyone around him. He often turns up to training sessions with an exercise book and pen ready to take notes. It has often inspired others, especially younger players, to do the same.

We find out that SBW started rugby league at six years old and always threw himself into the game. At Intermediate and High school coaches wanted him to play league and union for the school but his heart was first with league. Interestingly, he is still having that tug-of-war in his adult years.

We learn that SBW has also played American Football and boxing – he shows no fear – but had to give them up for rugby. We hear about SBW’s choices that got him into hot water and how he has tried to correct that as he has matured. We get the minute-by-minute commentary and scoring of important games, extra facts that complement other text on that page, and colour photographs from a variety of sources. At the back we read tips and life’s lessons from SBW, see a list of his favourite things, and a timeline of his life.

David has written a comprehensive biography about one of the world’s most popular sport stars. Years 5 – 10 aged boys (and girls) will thoroughly enjoy reading how SBW has gone from being a local boy into one of the World Cup rugby league and union legends. Essential for all school libraries!

Available as a print and e-book from all good book stores and by emailing: [email protected]

Or order direct from his website

See an exhibit about the inspiration for David's book at the National Library from Friday 21st March until 20th April and at the Gala Night on Friday 28th March, 6pm, National Library. RSVP if you'd like to come along: mariagill at ihug.co.nz  All invited!


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14. Books to celebrate Commonwealth Games and Sports

Commonwealth Games fever is nearly upon us. I remember as a teacher always scrabbling around trying to find resources that I could use in my classroom when the Games were on.  Here are two that will be very helpful and sport-mad kids will love them:

Go for Gold: Sports Puzzle Book by Barbara Telfer, illustrated by Peter Bray (Scholastic)

A puzzle book with 101 activities for kids to work out. There are word finds, codes, puzzles, clues, crosswords, matching challenges, hurdles and mazes for children to find out more about the different sports and countries competing.

Packed with fun facts about a huge range of sports and sporting events, including the Commonwealth Games, Summer and Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, X Games and more.

Barbara Telfer has authored a number of very successful puzzle books over the years including The
Great Animal Puzzle Book, The Great New Zealand Puzzle Book and Santa’s Kiwi Holiday Activity Book.

Great for fast finishers and rainy days in the classroom or at home.

ISBN 978-1-77543-222-7

NZ RRP $10.00

New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame by Maria Gill, illustrated by Marco Ivancic (New Holland)
Due out 1 August 2014

Read the biographies of 25 Kiwi Champions.  From sailors to swimmers, rugby players to rowers, shot put athlete to aerobic competitor - you'll meet the athletes at the top of their game. You'll read about their training programme, their high and low moments, how they got into the sport, and what they're doing now. Illustrated by the very talented Marco Ivancic with caricatures, and professional photographs and graphics. Teenagers (and adults) won't be able to put it down.

Free teaching resource on website this week: www.mariagill.co.nz

New Zealand Hall of Fame won the New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards Children's Choice in the non-fiction category, was shortlisted for the LIANZA awards, and was awarded a Storylines Notable Book Award.

RRP $24.99
ISBN:  9781869664220

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15. Theo

I was sent a copy of the new DVD Series, Theo - Teaching Children God's World, and boy, am I impressed. As the Director of Children's Ministries at our church - I can see so many uses for this series. The clips are short enough to show as an intro to a lesson - and yet enticing enough to catch kids' attention and reach them with deep theological truths. The animation is wonderful - and I just love it that in the clips I saw, Theo always starts by singing a great hymn of the faith - those that can be so easily lost on our kids today. This is quality - and is something our kids will grasp hold of and be taught deep truths!

About Theo
The animation series of Theo guides children and adults through a careful study of systematic theology. Theo discusses doctrines about sin, Godʼs character, the Bible, salvation and godly living with easy-to-understand illustrations that make children want to learn more about the Christian faith.
Theo Presents recognizes a universal fact: children and adults alike love cartoons. Theo captures the attention of young minds with liberal amounts of humor and high quality animation to present the Gospel of the Christian faith through the teachings of Theo and with the use of his two object lessons, Belfry and Luther.
Theo Presents is designed to serve as a multi-media resource tool that will help men, women and children fulfill the Great Commission of Christ, to go into all the world and make disciples and to teach those disciples Godʼs Word. The multi-media outlets include a DVD series, curriculum, books and iPhone/iPad app. Each of these facets are designed to work with one another or individually.
Theo was created to reach kids of all ages. The lessons and teachings of Theo can be used for Sunday school lessons, Christian school curriculum, missions, evangelism and homeschooling.

If you would like to learn more about Theo - visit the webpage or the Facebook Page.
The app for the Ipad and Iphone is superb and my girls are loving playing with it. And do not miss the curriculum for churches - another great resource.
Here is what else I love about this project:

The Buy 1 - Give 1 campaign!
For every Theo DVD purchased, Whitestone Media and Child Evangelism Fellowship® will send a child in need their very own copy of Theo.
You can log onto TheoPresents.com after making your own purchase, and select the region of the world you'd like another copy of Theo to be sent.


About the creator - MICHAEL JOENS
Mike Joens has produced and directed scores of animated commercials for toy companies such as Milton Bradley, Hasbro, Kenner, McDonaldʼs and Playskool. In addition to commercial work, he produced and directed the animation segments for the award-winning video series “McGee and Me,” as well as the animated “Adventures in Odyssey” for Focus on the Family. After a waiting period of over 30 years, God opened the doors to Joens for the production of

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16. Week-end Book Review – Alicia Alonso: Prima Ballerina by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, illustrated by Raúl Colón

Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, illustrated by Raúl Colón,
Alicia Alonso: Prima Ballerina
Marshall Cavendish, 2011.

Ages 10+

Alicia Alonso, the latest in a series of portraits of Latin figures by award-winning author and poet Carmen Bernier-Grand, is written in lyrical free verse, a style that particularly suits the dramatic life of this beloved Cuban dancer.

Alonso’s long career has been marked by many difficulties. Already a highly regarded dancer in Cuba, she and her young fiancé, also a dancer, immigrated to New York in 1937, when Alicia was 15 and pregnant. She resumed ballet as soon as her daughter was born. In a field known to destroy bodies and careers early in life, Alonso continued dancing until she was in her seventies, despite diminishing vision from a detached retina that led eventually to blindness.

Bernier-Grand tells the story in touching word-sketches of key moments in Alonso’s life: selection for the role of Swanilda in Coppélia; romance with Fernando Alonso, her eventual husband; parental disapproval of ballet as a career; separation from her daughter during her U.S. tours; learning Giselle while blind and hospitalized by using her fingers as her feet; ballet shoes stuck to her feet with dried blood; eventual refusal to dance in Cuba while Batista was in power.

“She counts steps, etches the stage in her mind.
Spotlights of different colors warn her
she is too near the orchestra pit.
She moves, a paintbrush on canvas…
She imagines an axis
and pirouettes across her own inner stage.”

Raúl Colón’s stylized pastel illustrations poignantly evoke ballet’s beauty and Alonso’s suffering, despite which she has had one of the longest, most esteemed careers in ballet history. Vision in one eye was partially restored in 1972. Alonso, who founded the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, still choreographs dances at age 92.

Back matter includes a detailed biographical narrative of Alonso’s life; lists of some of the ballets she has danced and choreographed and awards she has won; a glossary; an extensive bibliography of sources and websites; and notes on the text. While the simple story of the ballerina’s life will appeal even to very young children, the reference material is rich enough for an older child to use for a research project. In the process of understanding a woman artist’s life struggles, young readers will also learn much about U.S.-Cuban relations.

Charlotte Richardson
February 2012

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17. Non-fiction books for your classroom

If you're looking for great non-fiction books for your classroom or to put on display in your library (or to buy for your kids) check out these excellent books:

Digging Up the Past: Archaeology for the young and curious by David Veart - 12+

Nice Day for a War: adventures of a kiwi soldier in WW1 by Chris Slane & Matt Elliott - 12+

The Big Book of NZ Wildlife by Dave Gunson - 6 -12 years

The Book of NZ Records & Firsts by Stephen Barnett - 8-12 years

Party Food for Girls by Alessandra Zecchini - 10-14 years

The Raupo Phrasebook of Modern Maori by Scotty Morrison - 12+

New Zealand Hall of Fame by Maria Gill - 8-14 years

The Call of the Kokako by Maria Gill - 8-14 years

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18. Animal Spots and Stripes/ Animal 1 2 3

Chronicle Books has a wonderful duo of picture books to help your little ones learn their numbers and more!  Animal 1 2 3 by Britta Teckentrup is a book our little ones will love!  The pictures are large and colorful and the fold-out pages are so much fun.  The numbers are giant and your little ones can even trace them with their fingers as they follow along.  Animal Spots and Stripes by Britta Teckentrup is another fun title that shows the reader a spotted and then a striped animal on each page - some of which are hidden under the giant flaps.  I know your little ones will LOVE these - make sure not to miss them!

*I was sent copies for review purposes by the publisher.

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19. Backseat A-B-See

Maria van Leshout has written Backseat A-B-See, a book I only wish I'd had when my kids were smaller!!  What a fun book - It is a look at road signs via the ABC's!  All done on black and white pages that look like actual roads, this book is not only visually stimulating but fun to explore and see all of the different kinds of road signs too.  And just see if you can guess which sign they find for the letter "z"!!  Don't miss this fun book for kids!

*I was sent a copy for review purposes by the publisher.

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20. Sylvan Dell Goodies

Here is another superb review from Hillary -

Over a Steaming Cup of Tea - Sylvan Dell Publishing

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21. More Sylvan Dell by my Favorite Guest Blogger

I asked my resident guest blogger, Hillary, if she would be willing to read a couple of Sylvan Dell books for me and blog about them - fortunately we agree - you can't get much better than Sylvan Dell!! :)
Here is her review!

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22. Lerner Goodies!

I have another super review for you from Over A Steaming Cup of Tea...
Can you Tell A Cricket from a Grasshopper?

*I was sent these books by the publisher for review purposes.

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23. Eight Days Gone

Hillary has another informative blog post:
Eight Days Gone

*I was sent a copy for review purposes by the publisher.

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24. Presidential Pets

Over a Steaming Cup of Tea has another fun blog post for us!

Presidential Pets

*I was sent a copy for review purposes by the publisher.

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25. Out on the Prairie

Thank you, Hillary, for another superb book review!!
Out on the Prairie

*I was sent a copy by the publisher for review purposes.

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