“Finding Granny”, one of EK Books’ series of picture books, deals with the re-discovery of a grandparent who’s suffered a stroke, and has the person the child knew “locked in their own brain”.
Meeting a grandparent soon after the stroke can be scary for the child who has been close, and now sees their grandparent changed.
Within this wonderfully illustrated and written picture book, the authors show the reader Edie and her Granny enjoying each other’s company before the stroke. Then, to Edie, Granny doesn’t look like Granny anymore. The doctor shows Edie and her Mum what has happened to Granny, and Edie joins Granny during art therapy. Gradually Edie realises her granny is still there. Life will be different, but just as good.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Kate Simpson always thought writing was something ‘other’ people did, until she gave it a try! She got her break in publishing when she won the Pitch Your Manuscript competition run by the NSW Writer’s Centre at their Kids and YA Festival in 2016. Kate also publishes a Kid’s Lit PODcast called One More Page – more info at Kate’s FaceBook Page . This is her first picture book.
ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR Gwynneth Jones drew all through her maths book at school, so left to study art. Since then, Gwynneth has been imagining and drawing madly, exhibiting, and creating picture books, among them the highly acclaimed Don’t Think About Purple Elephants (also by EK Books).
Published July 2918 by EK Books,
an Imprint of Exisle Publishing, Auckland, NZ,
Finding Granny is one of a series of ‘Books with Heart on Issues That Matter’. Teacher notes are available. Recommended Age Group 4-8 years. Finding Granny is available from wherever great books are sold… www.EKBooks.org and Amazon.com
This story’s premise is that, to make a change and find new experiences one must have courage. Even though it may seem scary, it is worth it in the end. It is amusingly related through the adventures of ‘Book’ who reaches out at last to take its first step to meet a reader, Emma. Emma’s life is full of adventures she has found in other books. But up to now, Book has seen other books return damaged by readers, which is why he is scared. However, when he does take that first step, he gets to have his own wonderful adventures as Emma takes him to different places.
SILLETT could have done the ordinary – she could have written about a timid child (‘Timid Tabatha’?), but by using a normally inanimate object she has created a comforting distance between a nervous reader and his fears. It is a delightfully unusual approach to writing to help children.
Words such as potential, gumption, or pizzazz may not be in the independent vocabulary of many child readers younger than eleven or so, so an adult reading to a child will have opportunities to explain these, and extend the child’s vocabulary.
KING’s illustrations give delightful character to each book in Library, and to the imagery of Book’s and Emma’s adventures.
Exisle says: Scaredy Book contains the perfect message for kids afraid of leaving their comfort zone (and hand-wringing helicopter parents too!).
It is written by Devon Sillett, a former radio producer who is now doing her PhD in Australian Children’s literature. Devon is passionate about the capacity for books to inspire the imagination, and about libraries as jumping off places for exciting voyages into the unknown.
These themes are explored in her latest picture book, Scaredy Book, in which Book lives at the library and desperately wants to go outside, but is intimidated by all the things that might happen ‘out there’. A page might get torn. Book’s cover might get dirty. Book might never be returned to the library! Meanwhile, Emma loves visiting the library and delights in the many adventures to be had in the stories she finds there. When Emma meets Book, they find they are just what each other needs. Together, Book and Emma move out of their comfort zone to try new things, meet new people, and enjoy a few quiet adventures — climbing trees, laughing in the rain, and even cheering along at a soccer match. Along the way, they discover that ‘out there’ needn’t be scary if you just take it one step at a time.
Children and parents alike will enjoy this story about being brave, taking risks, and living to tell the tale!
The Author: Devon Sillett is a former radio producer, turned writer and reviewer. She has loved books as long as she can remember — so much so that she even married her husband Matthew in a library! Currently, she teaches in the writing department at the University of Canberra, where she is also a PhD student, researching Australian children’s picture books. Her first picture book, The Leaky Story, was published by EK in 2017.
The Illustrator: Cara King is a designer and illustrator, who runs her own design business, Caratoons.
“Scaredy Book” (published 2018) by King & Sillett is available from E K Books as a hard-cover and teacher notes are available. Recommended age group: 4 to 8 years.
E K Books is an imprint of Exisle Publishing, NZ
RRP (NZ) $24-99
Presented by the publisher, Exisle Publishing, with these three new releases for review was an instant delight. Beautifully bound, delightfully illustrated, and all with a story both entertaining and enlightening… they are ideal for a shared reading experience for non-readers.
Such fine books are they, that they were immediately snagged by an Early Childhood Education teacher trainee for use at her pre-school centre. I had to fight to retain them until this review was written! For each book, I have summarised the story outline, and included the official blurb provided by Exisle. I have also calculated the “Initial Independent Reading Age” (using NZ’s Noun Count method) so parents may allow an older child to read it to the younger child. Refer to * notes within each book’s details.
Exisle says: A warm, uplifting picture book about a family bound by love as they cope with their grandmother’s dementia.
When your grandmother can’t remember your name it should be sad, but maybe it is just an opportunity to tell her more often how much you love her. Over the years, the little girl in Grandma Forgets has built up a treasure trove of memories of time spent with Grandma: sausages for Sunday lunch, driving in her sky-blue car to the beach, climbing her apple trees while she baked a delicious apple pie, and her comforting hugs during wild storms. But now, Grandma can’t remember those memories. She makes up new rules for old games and often hides Dad’s keys. Sometimes Dad is sad because he has to hold onto the memories for both him and his mother now, but fortunately his daughter is only too happy to help him make new memories to share. This is a warm, hopeful story about a family who sometimes needs to remind their grandmother a little more often than they used to about how much they care. She might not remember any of their names but she will always know how much she is loved. Red says: So many children have grandparents going through this stage, bewildering to the children. This book is perfect for helping them understand.
Hardbound ISBN 978-1-9235336-47-7
Paperback ISBN 978-1-9253358-1-1
* Initial Independent reading age 7 ½ to 8 ½
Exisle says: A heart-warming celebration of the power of love, and how it’s our similarities, not our differences, that matter most.
Setting out to visit their loved one, a child curiously asks a fellow commuter, ‘Who are you going to visit?’, and in answer to this simple question, the child learns about the love and loss in the life of a stranger. A father who lives apart from his small daughter, a husband who has lost his wife, a granddaughter who is forgotten by her grandfather, and a mother who fears for her son’s recovery. After each conversation, the child understands that the other commuter has someone in their life that they love ‘as much as I love you’, and it is this understanding that allows the child to explore the most universal of human experiences: the power of love in the many different forms that it can take. Visiting You also explores a sense of community. Under his mother’s supervision, a young child reaches out and connects with the people around them; they’re not scared of strangers, or people who might ‘look’ scary, or people who are different to them. Sometimes it can take conscious decision and determination to look past outward appearances. Visiting You encourages us to find the similarities between people instead of focusing on differences, to recognise some part of ourselves in the life of a stranger. Red says: One of a child’s social challenges is accepting differences with their social environment. This book introduces them kindly to people who are not so different from anyone else.
Hardbound ISBN 978-1-925665-66-8
* Initial Independent reading age 9 to 10 years
Exisle says: A whimsical story about friendship and nurturing our creative flair.
Sadie wants to be a painter, just like her best friend, Tom. She loves playing with colour and finding shapes in unlikely places. But whenever Sadie picks up a paintbrush she makes a big mess. So instead, she spends her time working in the garden or playing with Tom. But, one day, Sadie gets a look at things from a different perspective — and makes a big discovery about herself and her own creativity. The Art Garden is a whimsical story about friendship and finding our creative flair. It encourages children to explore different ways of expressing themselves and celebrates the importance of individuality and self-acceptance. Red says: Some children soon realise they cannot “do” what others can; this book helps them understand that it is not necessary to give up on what a child can do, for struggling to imitate what another child can do – all children have different learning styles, and different ways of expressing their creativity.
Hardbound ISBN 978-1-925335-59-0
* Initial Independent reading age 11 ½ TO 15 ½
While Mary was exploring the old house she and her family had inherited, she discovered a crystal necklace and an old book telling the story of a sad Queen trapped in her castle.
When she and her brother and sister drew pictures on the story map, they never dreamed they would soon be transported into the fantasy world of Brigitha, where their pictures had become real, and were causing problems! They were soon enlisted by a grumpy Queen’s Guardsman who insisted that they must undo the damage they had caused, and help to free the Queen.
This is a story for children aged ten and above. Teenagers and adults who enjoy fantasy adventure will also love this book.
Arthur raised his fist to knock on the door, but just as he did so, it swung open with a crash. Inside the doorway stood a short, plump woman wearing a pair of bright green dungarees over a bold floral print shirt. Her face was round and her cheeks were rosy pink. Her eyes were as bright and green as her dungarees and seemed to shoot sparks at Arthur. On her head a small cap perched precariously on top of a mass of curls which spilled in an orange riot around her face. She stood with her feet apart and her hands on her hips.
“So,” she shot at Arthur. “You’re finally back. Where is it that you’ve been all this time?”
Arthur straightened himself up to his full height, squared his shoulders and replied with quiet dignity. “I’ve been on the queen’s business, as you well know.”
The woman remained standing rigidly in the doorway. “The queen’s business! Sixty years, Arthur. You’ve been gone sixty years! You’re lucky I’m a resourceful woman, with plenty to do with my time, otherwise I might be pretty angry with you right now.” She glared at him fiercely, her right foot tapping.
Arthur cleared his throat.
“Wynda, I know. I’m sorry. I was trapped and there was no way to let you know what had happened. Let’s go inside and I will tell you all about it.” He turned to the children. He gave a slight bow and his voice became formal, “Allow me to introduce you to my wife, Wynda.”
ISBN eBook: ISBN: 9781311312785
About Vicki Arnott
Born in Foxton, New Zealand, and raised in the Manawatu area,
Vicki now lives in a rural community near Rotorua, in the Bay of Plenty, surrounded by views of Mt Tarawera, forest, and farm paddocks.
Vicki writes fantasy adventure and science fiction for early teens and young adults. Her love of writing began at primary school and she has always dreamed of becoming a writer. She got serious about her dream in 2015, when she reduced her hours of work as a school teacher to work on her first novel The Crystal Bluebird, a fantasy adventure for children and adults.
She is currently working on her second novel Children of the White Dragon, a science-fiction adventure, and her third novel, also science-fiction and as yet untitled.
Other genre that interest Vicki are romantic comedy and magical, heart-warming Christmas stories. She’d like to write screenplays in those genre, in addition to science fiction and fantasy.
Vicki’s goals include: get better at writing, continue to write and publish, write screenplays and be involved in the production of movies.
Her interests include walking, ceroc dancing and an occasional game of golf. She also likes painting and drama, and has organised many school productions in addition to her involvement in amateur theatre productions with the Rainbow Entertainers Drama club. She recently realised another dream when she planted her first rose garden. She spends her spare time watching movies, and steals early-morning hours to read because she is so undisciplined when it comes to books, that once a book is started it doesn’t get put down until it’s finished.
Can a picture book without words still tell a story? Absolutely it can! Bee & Me tells a heart-warming and positive tale of an unusual friendship, with an environmental message for us all. The joy of stories related only in pictures is the freedom it opens up for each reader to fill in the details, both large and small, from the starting point that the illustrations provide. As no two readers are alike, the book then becomes unique to each person who discovers it; we each bring our own voice to the story. Giving the reader freedom to add their own depth and experience offers a wonderful opportunity for ‘big readers’ (parents, grandparents etc) to introduce ‘little readers’ to talking about a story and asking questions about what they see. Without text there is plenty of scope for their imaginations to fill in what is…
This Māori language, 59 page picture book is an amazing compilation of story, artwork and photography, decorated and enhanced with examples of Māori weaving and carving patterns.
Publisher Tania was kind enough to relate the story to me in English (I am not bilingual) which I can summarise for you. As a Māori reader, you will get more out of the book than I can, so bear with me.
It is the true story of a rural home, surrounded by farmland, in the area of Ngati Porou, on which after an extremely rainy stormy night, the woman of the house looking out her window realises her mare is in difficulties. On closer investigation, she sees the mare has foaled overnight. The foal is still trapped in the birth sac, and in such deep water the mare cannot assist it to break free.
Friends come to help; they drag the foal onto higher ground, wrap it in a blanket with the hopes of saving the exhausted foal, who is very cold after being submerged in water. The mare is incapable of anything, so exhausted is she after birthing in the night and struggling in the flooded paddock.
The mare has shared her paddock with a pig, and is used to its smell. The pig comes to the foal, and tears open the birth sac. It licks then rubs against the foal, for so long it tires and drops to rest in exhaustion. It returns to the foal and now starts treading with its forelegs on its back, until finally the foal comes alive. The mare returns, and coaxes the foal to stand and feed.
This book is a strong mixture of the expertise of the story teller and of the illustrator. Every page has its own significance to te tikanga Māori, to rural communities, and to – especially – spell-bound children.
The publishers have assured me there is a solid intention to produce an English language version in the future. I will happily announce that here when it happens.
Translations of the front cover (thanks to publisher Tania)…
Main Title – Taka Kiro Wai = Fell in the water
Sub-title – He Kōrero Pūrākau mo Tētāhi Hoiho = A story about a horse (Yellow circle sub-subtitle – He Kōrero Pūrākau Tūturu Tēnei = This is a true story
ISBN 978-0-473-18406-3 paperback
Publication 2013 by Tania&Martin, Rotorua NZ. Book is to be launched 22nd November,
and can be purchased via www.taniaandmartin.com/shop
Illustrations here are photographs I took of the review copy I read,
and in no way do justice to the book’s Real art.
From the moment I realized the fantasy is set in New Zealand, is well written, and its antagonists are a family of parents and teenagers, I knew the author is on a winner.
His descriptive passages are vivid; we See the green bush, the space between the shimmer curtain, the safe haven, the dream worlds … in efficient writing which drew me on, reading until ungodly hours of the morning.
His characterization is realistic. 13 year old Cole and sister 17 year old Lily are astonished to discover their parents are part of a fantastic “other world” in parallel to ours. In Gap-Space – between the Shimmer and Dream-Time – they quickly become enmeshed in the world of the Guardians, acquiring skills and powers to help the Guardians keep back the VELI, who are able to absorb innocents, change them to Veli, use them.
Cole and Lucy become part of the Guardians’ quest to discover and return keys to the Shelter, and find they can move to other Shelters around the world. The chase and fight scenes are full of action, described in a way that will appeal to the young adult or adolescent reader. Finishing with an unresolved dilemma, Lawless leaves us demanding “where’s the next in the series?”
Intended for the ten to thirteen year old boy, it is proving popular with older age groups and with girls and women as well. Heck, I’m sixty-two and I want to read the sequel!
“Dreamtime“, part one of the series Guardians of the Shimmer
Author: Garth Lawless
Illustrator: Joyce van der Lely
Publisher: OceanBooks, PO Box 4075, Mount Maunganui South, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand 3149
This Kindle collection of 15 of Lyman Franl’s OZ books comes with added content: essays on its Influence, Television Adaptations, Theatre adaptations, Literary Adaptations, Comics, Favourite BAUM quotations, free access to an Audiobook, and publisher’s notes. To find this treasury – I’m rapt! It’s all here – except for mention of the many other books about the world of OZ written by other writers contracted by BAUM’s original publishers – one being Lyman Frank’s own son. NZ’s English Curriculum included for students in Years 7 & 8 (Levels 3 & 4) to study literature compared to visual media. I had chanced across a book (non-fiction) describing how the series of books became so popular, at $1 each and bought six copies; I’d get NZ’s National Library service to send copies of books by L F BAUM; I had the Angela LANSBURY television documentary of the 50th anniversary, and bought a class set of The Wizard of Oz itself. When I left that school, I left behind all those resource. I promised my classes I’d have “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” played at my funeral. (I’m still of that mind-set.) For families, and educators, get this for your own delight and for the new generation of Oz fans which will always arise once introduced to the books. Will post a pic of the cover soon. What is your favourite Baum book or character? Do Comment about this entry or about the author, or the book. If you have read the book itself, then Rate the Book (not this post, please). Thank you