Tag Archives: Gecko Press

Poetry Box review: The Runaways by Ulf Stark

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It is a lazy Sunday morning and I just gobbled up a children’s book (junior fiction) in one sitting. It is a delicious ONE GULP book!

The Runaways by Ulf Stark

illustrated by Kitty Crowther

Gecko Press

Gottfried Junior’s grandfather is in hospital with a broken leg and he is very cross and very grumpy and swears a lot. Gottfried Junior doesn’t mind that his grandfather is badly behaved. He does mind that his Dad can’t be bothered going to the hospital every weekend because he always has more important things to do (like doing a crossword!).

So one day Gottfried Junior makes a cunning plan with his grandfather and Adam the baker. With Adam’s help the old man and the young boy are going to run away for the weekend to the happy island – the place where Grandpa had lived with Grandma.

I love this story because it is all about being young and all about being old – and when to lie and not to lie. It is also a book about being close to death – next to the person dying and being the person about to die. Tough but important.

The story is also about taking risks and finding ways to do things that make you and the people close to you happy.

I love Gecko Press books because they know children’s books come in all shapes and sizes and can do all kinds of things.

Someone once told me that children’s books shouldn’t have old people as the main characters! I have always wondered what children think. Would children love this book as I do?  Is it ok to write grandfather stories? I think it is!

In this book Gottfried Junior knows some things about life and how to do things because he has read books. He also knows some things about life because of the time he spent with his grandfather. Maybe someone will read this book and think about their own grandfather or grandmother – about being a grandson or granddaughter.

A very delicious book that will make you feel warm inside, a little bit sad and a big bit daring!

Gecko Press page

Poetry Box review: Song of the River by Joy Cowley & Kimberly Andrews

 

My Groovy Fish poem challenge

My Groovy Fish holiday event invitations

 

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Song of the River  by Joy Cowley, illustrated by Kimberley Andrews

Gecko Press, July 2019

 

 

Joy Cowley’s delightful story Song of the River was originally published 25 years ago but Gecko Press have published a new edition with gorgeous artwork by Kimberley Andrews.

Reading Joy’s story filled me with a warm hum that I carried with me all day.

Cam lives in the mountains and he tells his grandfather he wishes he could see the sea. One day a trickle of water – running through the trees and the snow – calls out to the boy:

‘Come with me. Come with me. I will take you to the sea.’

Joy writes like a poet as she tells her story; the words ripple and chatter over the stones of its telling. I am carried along by the voice of the water. I am enchanted by the sound as the water moves down the mountain. First it sounds like snow, then like a creek, then like a waterfall, and then like leaping trout. On and on it goes with Cam running along, the view changing, the river sounds changing, and always there is the pull of the sea.

Cam might wonder what the sea looks like but what will it sound like? You will find out!

This a story about a boy wanting to see the sea. It is about imagining. It is about beginnings and endings. It is about paying attention with ears and eyes. And it is absolute treat to read – you might fill with a warm hum too.

 

Reading the book made me want to write a poem!

 

Kimberley’s illustrations fill the landscapes with life and mood. She is a trained biologist who grew up in the Canadian Rockies  and now lives in  a shipping container tiny house in Wellington. In 2018 she illustrated Explore Aotearoa (shortlisted for NZ  Book Awards for Children and Young Adults). She also wrote and illustrated Puffin the Architect published last year.

Joy Cowley is one of our most beloved children’s authors. She has won many awards and honours including the Prime Minister’s Award for Contribution to Literature (Fiction). In 2018 she was shortlisted for the Hans Christian Andersen Award.

Poetry Box review: Eva Lindström’s ‘My Dog Mouse’

my June pattern poem challenge

 

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Eva Lindström My Dog Mouse  Gecko Press 2019

 

 

This is a scrumptious book – a beautiful book – a book to nestle into on a stormy weekend and to most definitely share .

The illustrations are simple – large areas of subtle colour become the backdrop for little points of fascination. The first page is all yellow and ochre, and there in the corner of the room is a girl looking off the page to the rest of the story – the direction we as readers are heading. The words on the page are equally plain and fascinating:

 

I love Mouse.

 

 

I know by the cover and title Mouse is a dog! That intrigues me.

Good picture books always have a little bit of poetry and a little bit of plainness in them. And that is exactly what I love about My Dog Mouse. The similes are heavenly because they make Mouse come alive.

He’s old and fat with ears as

thin as pancakes.

 

The girl loves taking Mouse for a walk and everything they do is slow, slow, slow.

They need time to look at things (teeth, clouds, things flying in the wind).

 

The girl is very good at looking after Mouse when she takes Mouse for a walk.

I won’t ruin this delightful story by sharing the ending but this is a story of kindness and of sharing.

 

It is a story of  E M P A T H Y   (which is a mix of kindness and listening and sharing)

 

and it is such a treasure of a book that reading it once is simply not enough. You have to read it again and again and then find a best friend to read it to. Plainness and poetry are such a perfect mix. I see both in the story and in the illustrations. A universe of stars for

 

My Dog Mouse!

 

Gecko Press page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry Box LOVE LOVE LOVES Eric Veillé’s An Encylopedia of Grannies

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Eric Veillé, An Encyclopedia of Grannies, Gecko Press, 2019

 

You can tell by now I only post reviews of books I love on Poetry Box – books I want you to

dash

dart

swivel

climb

somersault

backflip

in a FLASH

to find

 

and this one requires extra dashing and darting because this book is so cool.

Eric Vevillé’s Encyclopedia of Grannies filled me a warm glow because it is

funny and wise and imaginative and real! All in one glorious package.

 

Eric opens our eyes to grannies – to what they can do and feel and remember.

This feels really important to me because our elders feel really important to me.

 

Every page is a treasure house of good feelings, a sizzling banquet of questions. I was reading this in a waiting room and I kept laughing out loud and so everyone else started to laugh out loud. I wanted to read them the book! But I came home and read it to my partner Michael as we ate lunch.

 

 

I am SAVING my FAVOURITE page for my May poetry challenge

but I love the page where a granny sits high up in a tree in the dark of night with her grandson eating extra long filled rolls. I love that adventurousness. The page is called ‘Wisdom’. Eric reminds us that:

 

Grannies know a lot of things!

So let’s make sure to ask them

the important questions.

 

Then the grandson asks in his speech bubble: ‘Grandma when we’re dead, will we still have potato chips?”

And the grandma replies in her speech bubble: ‘Definitely!’

 

A good book makes you feel the world differently – it might make you laugh, it might make you ponder. An Encyclopedia of Grannies does all these things. We get to see grannies in a thousand new lights! I highly recommend this book. I plan to give a copy away in my poetry challenge next month so give my MAY poem challenge a go (Y0-8). I will post around May 1st. Do get young passionate writers to watch out for it.

 

 

The Gecko Press page

 

Eric Veillé was born in 1976 in Laval and studied at the Duperré School in Paris. While working as an artistic director in publishing, he decided one spring day to devote himself to writing and children’s book illustration. He has since released many books including The Bureau of Misplaced Dads and My Pictures after the Storm (Gecko Press).

 

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Poetry Box noticeboard: Storylines Notable Books 2019

Storylines Notable Books List 2019

The 2019 Storylines Children’s Literature  Notable Book List, for the highest quality books in four genres published during 2018, is compiled from more than 100 entries from publishers by expert panels of authors, teachers, librarians, academics and parents.

The annual list was begun by Storylines in 1999 and selection is eagerly sought by authors, illustrators and publishers. It provides a useful reading and purchasing guide to families, schools and libraries, and to young readers.

Go here to see the list
If you have a favourite on the list let me know why you love it and I will post your comments and the book cover.
paulajoygreen@gmail.com
This was my favourite. I posted about it on the blog because I LOVED it so much!
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The Mapmakers’ Race, Eirlys Hunter, Gecko Press, 2018

The Mapmakers’ Race is a glorious read.

If you are looking for a story that ripples with imagination and sings in the ear because it is so beautifully written, this your perfect holiday read. I adore it.

The Santander family is an adventurous family and they are hoping to go on The Great Map Race to win lots of money. But the father is mysteriously not back from exploring and the mother got left behind in a train mishap.

So it is up to the four children to get to the finishing line first (it takes a month) and chart the best train route through treacherous terrain.

Most of the other teams are so greedy to win they will do anything to get there. Villainous!

Once I started reading this book, I didn’t want to stop. I loved the characters and their special skills, especially the way Francie draws the maps for the train routes by seeing everything from above. She doesn’t talk but she has a special sight skill that drains her rather perilously at times.

I also grew very fond of young Beckett who drove them in a horse and trap to the race meeting. He ended up travelling with them because he wanted the train route to go through his neglected village. He turned out to be a godsend because he made their food supplies stretch further in the most delicious ways.

 

Plus there are the bonus little stories that get told to Humphrey, the youngest sibling, to soothe him. Oh and the mechanical horses that belong to another team!

This book, like Barbara Else’s magnificent Travelling Restaurant series, is set to become a classic because it has all the ingredients that make a story shine: suspense, tricky situations, learning curves, real things shifted a little by an agile imagination, fascinating places and equally fascinating characters.

I was sorry when the book ended but I spotted a launch point for a sequel. Fingers crossed!

Congratulations Eirlys Hunter on this must-read book.

 

Gecko Press page

 

From Gecko Press – a spectacular book on rivers for children with a 48 hour popUP poetry challenge and giveaway

 

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Rivers are such fascinating things. I used to swim in Nelson rivers in my summer holidays. Nowadays I find the braided rivers of the South Island so so beautiful.

Gecko Press have published a magnificent book about rivers by Peter Goes:

Rivers: A visual history from river to sea

It is a big beautiful entrancing glorious book. Each page is filled to the brim with facts and drawings that you can dip and dive into for weeks on end.

You will discover what lives beside a river, what you get to do on rivers and what state rivers are in. Plus the geography and history of rivers.

A fascinating fact: Hardly any water from the Colorado River in the United States makes the sea as most is used for drinking water.

Anothering fascinating fact: Lantern fish in the South Pacific Ocean make light.

A third fascinating fact: The Yakutian horse in Kazakhstan can find grass even under thick snow.

If you like facts and other places and very curious things – and like going to museums or visiting foreign countries or travelling back in time – then this is just the book for you!!

 

 P o e t r y   B o x    HIGHLY RECOMMENDS   this book

 

 

A popUP poem challenge for you

I  really love the things people build to get over rivers. This book has inspired me to write a poem about it.

I challenge you to write a poem about a river – any way you like!

 

Deadline 5pm on Sunday 9th December.  You have 48 hours!

Send to paulajoygreen@gmail.com

Include: your name age year and name of school.

Don’t forget to put RIVER POEM in subject line so I don’t miss your email.

I will post some poems on Monday 10th of December if I get any and have a copy of the book to give to one lucky poet (Y0 – Y8).

Please share this with a friend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cook’s Cook: Poetry Box talks to Gavin Bishop

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Gavin Bishop, Cook’s Cook: the cook who cooked for Captain Cook, Gecko Press, 2018

 

 

Gavin Bishop’s latest book Cook’s Cook: the cook who cooked for Captain Cook is a reading treasure trove.

Enter the book and you will go on a long sea-voyage of discovery – not from the view of the famous people on board but from the one-handed cook, John Thompson.

Cook’s Cook is a a bit like a cook book crossed with a history book crossed with a story book crossed with the most delightful picture book. There are fascinating facts, gorgeous drawings, little imaginings. Every page holds your interest. I definitely learnt new things.

Because the book was so sumptuous and filled me with such curiosity, I invited Gavin to join me in an slow-paced email conversation.

If I lived in the Wairarapa I would have gone to a Cook’s Cook event in August: you got to dine on a three-course meal inspired by the one-handed cook who fed Captain James Cook and crew aboard the HMS Endeavour. Wow!

Gavin, Tainui, Ngāti Awa, has published over 70 books and has been translated into 12 languages.

 

 

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Our conversation

 

Paula: I have lingered over Cook’s Cook for days because every page is full of little fascinations. What kind of research did you do for a book with such splendid detail?

Gavin: I read a lot of books about the voyage of the HMS Endeavour and Lieutenant James Cook. There are lot written about this expedition. Besides modern histories there are the logs and journals written by various people who travelled on the ship. And there are books written for adults as well as for children. The people at Captain Cook Memorial Museum in Whitby, England were very helpful when I emailed them with questions and so were the librarians at the Australian Maritime Museum.

It was while I was reading some material on a particularly useful web-site that I came across the name of John Thompson. He had only one hand and was the cook on the Endeavour, much to James Cook’s initial disgust when Thompson was appointed by the Admiralty. There is little known about him and he was barely mentioned in any of the ship’s records, even when he died of dysentery in Batavia. Joseph Banks, in his journal, complimented him on his cuttlefish soup but that is about it. From my point of view, this was a good thing. I could give him any sort of personality I wanted to.

 

Paula: I get goosebumps reading the old journals! Did anyone draw or paint food? In logs or journals or in their role as artist? Tupaia for example? I loved his watercolour and pencil drawings.

Gavin: I didn’t find any drawings specifically of food. I found a few scenes of life below deck in the galley or on the mess deck where, if food was included, it was incidental. I did read though, that the ships belonging to the British navy were stocked before each voyage with provisions supplied by the Victualling Board. The admiralty had its own farms, gardens, butchers and bakers that provided meat, bread (biscuits), grain and vegetables and fruit for their ships that were setting out from England in large numbers to explore the world during the 18th century.

The only drawing by Tupaia of food that I know of, is the famous one where he is offering a lobster to Joseph Banks. Tupaia wasn’t a great artist in the European naturalistic style, but his drawings give us some very interesting and important information. A lot of people on the board the Endeavour, but probably not the crew, produced drawings. It was the only way of making a visual record of the things and places they saw. James Cook, the captain, drew a lot too and when all the official artists died after their time in Batavia the scientific men in Bank’s team and some of the officers all had to their bit with pen and paper.

 

Paula: I spent a few months this year cooking with one hand and it is tricky! It is hard to imagine how John Thompson did this for a ship’s crew, but your book has brought life on board alive through both drawings and words. What was the most surprising thing you discovered (apart from a cook with one hand)?

Gavin: Well, as John Thompson said himself. “It only takes one hand to stir the porridge!” To be fair, he had help. A member of the crew from each table on the mess deck was rostered for a week to help with the mixing of the puddings and the serving of the food.

I came across many strange bits of information, things I had never heard of. A ‘fother’, the name of the patch made from a sail stuck down with a mixture of teased rope and animal dung was something new to me.

I also found it intriguing to read that George Dorlton, one of the two Jamaican servants and an ex-slave, part of the Joseph Banks party, was a qualified plant collector. He had previously worked for a botanist. It was suddenly obvious why Banks, the naturalist, had taken him along on the Endeavour.

 

Paula: Were you tempted by any of the recipes? The albatross recipe seemed gourmet with the prune sauce and ginger but so many things made my stomach curl. Like eating albatross or dog!

Gavin: If the texture and flavour was right I think I could eat most of things mentioned in ‘Cook’s Cook’. I’m sure a vegetarian dog would make a delicious stew, but I think albatross might be a bit salty and strong, rather like muttonbird. It would be an acquired taste.

I was interested to see that quite a lot of spices, pepper and ginger were used in the cooking on ships at the time of the Endeavour voyage. Of course as the food onboard aged, it would become very undesirable. Joseph Banks mentioned that the taste of weevils in the ship’s biscuits was very spicy. Others knocked their biscuits on the table to shake the weevils out. Some crew held the biscuit over a flame to encourage the weevils to leave.

The salted beef and pork would have been a culinary challenge though, especially after it had been in barrels for a couple of years. There is mention of it being towed behind the ship in a net in an attempt to soften it up and reduce the salt content.

 

Paula: What was the hardest thing doing this book and what was the most rewarding?

Gavin: The most difficult thing about this book was dealing with the huge amount of information that exists about the voyage of the Endeavour and the people on board. Deciding what to include and what to leave out was a constant challenge. It was rewarding though, when I realised I could deal with this problem by concentrating on the cook’s story and trying to see the historical events that took place, through his eyes.

In my book the voyage unfolds more or less as it did according to James Cook’s journals, all the dates and places are historically correct but the emphasis on certain details is skewed by what I thought might have been interesting or important to the cook, John Thompson. Of course that had a lot to do with food, and later, when the ship was sailing around Aotearoa, it was his hope for a little bit of glory. He wanted a river or a mountain named after him. And like his captain he failed to see the country was already named by the tangata whenua, the Maori. I have shown this in the illustrations where the faces of Ranginui and Papatuanuku are seen in the sky and in the land. Their presence was there for anyone who looked with a perceptive and intelligent eye.

 

Thanks Gavin!

Gecko Press page

Video of Gavin talking about his new book