Tag Archives: Gecko Press

In the hammock: Eirlys Hunter’s sumptuous The Mapmakers’ Race




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.


A pop-up challenge: if you read this book and love it, I am happy to post some letters or reviews by children on my blog.   paulajoygreen@gmail.com


Gecko Press page







In my hammock: Reading ‘Wolfy’



Wolfy  by Grégoire Solotareff, Gecko Press, 2018


Julia Marshall of Gecko Press said this was a book she had wanted to publish for years and I can see why.

Wolfy was originally published in French in 1989 as Loulou.

Picture-book stories can do many things. They can make you laugh out loud. They can make you keep turning pages without taking a breath to the very last page because they are so good. They can make you stop and look at the illustrations for what seems like a year because they are so good. They can be fun or serious or mysterious. They can be excellent to read aloud.

Wolfy is like a fable – a story with a message or a moral. It is not a SHOUTY message but a quiet message that shares something important about being human.

There is a rabbit who has never met a wolf.

There is a wolf who has never met a rabbit.

They get to be best friends even though wolves usually eat rabbits.

But then they play:  Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?


And for a few pages things get DARK and SCARY but not like you     may        think.

It is like listening to a piece of music that is sweet and calm and then gets LOUD and TERRIFYING.


And then …..

And then …..


you get my favourite page where the rabbit is lying on his bed face down sobbing.

I nearly cried.


Oh another favourite page: I love the rabbit reading in bed early on!


And then …..

And then ….


Well dear reader, you have to find this fabulous, exquisitely written, divinely illustrated, heart-stopping, uplifting story to find out what happens next.

This is a gem of a book and will no doubt become a classic for English readers.

I adore it!


PS: If you read it and love it: send me a letter to put on the blog: paulajoygreen@gmail.com


Gecko Press page








In my hammock: reading Maria Jönsson’s Valdemar’s Peas

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Valdemar’s Peas by Maria Jönsson, Gecko Press, 2018


This picture book is just for me because when I was a child I used to think I was Pea Green not Paula Green  –  but I hated peas and I would hide them in my pockets and out they would spill when I would least expect and what ho! my face would turn red.  Maybe I should have called myself Apple Green because I loved apples, especially from my aunt and uncle’s orchard.

In this gorgeous gobble-in-a-second and lick-your-lips book

Valdemar is a young wolf who knows exactly what he likes!

Yes he likes fish fingers and yes he likes ice cream.

But like me he hates PEAS but he has a far more CUNNING plan at dinner than I ever did.


Yes indeed I highly recommend this PEA FILLED book with its divine illustrations. It will put a smile on your face as you read.


Gecko Page here


My May challenge is a festival of poems about epic women (and that might be our aunt or grandmother or best friend!!). I have posted it here!


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Gecko Press’s The Old Man is essential reading especially in a long power cut



The Old Man   by Sarah V and Claude K Dubois  Gecko Press  2018



Last Tuesday we had such a storm in Auckland I couldn’t sleep with the rampaging wind. I live near Bethells Beach where the storm really roared and rattled. It felt like the wind was going to pick our house up like a kite and whisk it down the valley to the sea. But instead the house was a strong anchor. I was glad when morning came and I could see.

We lost power for 5 nights and, even though it was a pain at times, I learnt from the experience. We had no running water because we live in the country but got buckets out of the water tank.  We couldn’t use the internet. We couldn’t have showers or flush the toilet. I went to bed early and woke up early. I wrote things in my notebooks and read novels. I listened to National Radio by candlelight.

On the radio news I heard about the terrible hurricane in Fiji and my heart went out to people who had lost so much. I heard about the war in Syria and my heart went out to the families there.

I felt like my problems were little problems.



Most importantly I read a new book published by Gecko Press:

The Old Man   by Sarah V and Claude K Dubois


The story is about a homeless man huddling under a blanket.

He could be anyone of the homeless people I see on the streets of our cities and maybe even towns.

He has nowhere to call home, he has no food, and he has no one to hug and share his stories with.

In the story a young girl sees the homeless man and offers him her sandwich and says he looks like a teddy bear. He doesn’t remember his name.

I got goosebumps as I read this book and then I cried in the candlelight.

It is so beautifully written and so beautifully illustrated and it will make you feel something about something that matters.


I read this book and it put the Auckland storm in perspective. I have somewhere to live with roof and walls and windows. I have a name. I share my life with you. I have a garden and I can restock my empty (after the power cut) fridge with food.

I have a home.

I am really really hoping you read this book because although this book is sad it is also full of hope. The little things we do matter. I love this book so very much.



Based on Gecko Press’s spectacular invention book: You still have time to do the Holiday challenge 

Don’t forget: You have until Friday April 27th to do the APRIL challenge (on the way poems – perfect for the holidays too!!).





A Poetry Box holiday challenge inspired by Impossible Inventions: Ideas that shouldn’t work (Gecko Press)



Impossible Inventions: Ideas that shouldn’t work, Aleksandra & Daniel Mizielinski and Malgorzata Mycielska, Gecko Press, 2018

Find out the book here


I have just read the most AMAZING book from from Gecko Press:


Impossible Inventions: Ideas that shouldn’t work


It gave me an idea for some tricky holiday challenges to get your poetry teeth into!


Inside the book

… you will find glorious illustrations to match magnificent ideas.

Sometimes people have thought of bold ideas that everyone thought were CRAZY and WOULD NEVER WORK.

Some make you laugh, some NEVER worked, some make you think the inventor was a GENIUS!!!!!!

Did you know Heron of Alexandria thought of automatic sliding doors 200 years ago? Everyone thought it was a trick of the gods.

You will discover the Passenger Dragon, the Bubble Messenger, the Bird Ship, a personal Cloud Maker, a Concentration Helmet, Ice Tunes and many more.

This book is RIVETING



I really love it and I think YOU will love it too!


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Three holiday poetry challenges


poems can be simple tricky smooth flowing use hardly any words use lots of words


1. Extraordinary inventions that DID work


Hunt for some extraordinary inventions. You could go to the library or use the internet with the help of someone.

We might not think it is EXTRAORDINARY now but maybe it was then.

Write a poem about the invention.

Test out strong verbs.

Use physical words to describe it.

Play with how many words you put on the line.

Listen to the poem.

Try three different endings then pick your favourite.

Make your poem tell a story.

Make a really short poem that uses the best words to describe the invention (especially verbs).

Travel back in time to when it was invented. Show me that time in your poem. Just a word here, and a word there.


2. Extraordinary inventions that DID NOT work: 

You might find one of these to write a poem about – you could write a poem about one in the book! You will get a MOUNTAIN of inspiration there. I think those 25 inventions are HUNGRY for poems.


3. OOOOOOOH   EXTRA TRICKY challenge: try writing a poem about an imaginary invention.  You imagine it!



Deadline: Saturday 27th April

Send to: paulajoygreen@gmail.com

Include: your name, age, year and name of school

Important: Put Invention poem in subject line so I don’t miss it.


I will post some favourites on May 3rd and have a book surprise for at least one poet.


Don’t forget: You have until Friday April 27th to do the APRIL challenge (on the way poems – perfect for the holidays too!!).


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In the hammock: Gecko Press’s The Yark by Bertrand Sartini






This is a new feature on both my blogs where I share thoughts on books I have enjoyed reading – whatever takes my fancy.

I do like the idea of lying back in a hammock with the sounds of birds and insects in the background and losing myself in a book.

I have just read The Yark by Bertrand Santini

with illustrations by Laurent Gapaillard

and translated by Antony Shugaar

published by Gecko Press, 2018



My Case History of the Yark


The Yark’s badness: The Yark is a monster who eats children

The Yark’s weak spot: The Yark only eats good children

The even weaker spot: good children are hard to come by

The stupid move: the Yark tries to trick Santa

The smart move: Charlotte knows exactly what to do in a Yark attack

The biggest mistake: Jack

The best location: the lighthouse

The turning point: Madeleine

The shiny light of the story: the power of kindness and love

The supreme delight: the illustrations

Scare rating: I didn’t hide under the couch

Eating recommendation: I gobbled this in a nanosecond it is so good


Gecko Press page

read the first chapter here



A flash challenge: you have two days to send me a poem entitle The Yark. Use my case history to imagine this monster.


Deadline: Thursday at noon   (you have 48 hours!!)

Send to: paulajoygreen@gmail.com

Include: your name, age, year and name of school

Please put: The Yark in the subject line so I don’t miss your poem

I will post my favourite poem and send it to Gecko Press to read.



Poetry Box April Challenge  is here









A very good picture book: Jenny Bornholdt and Sarah Wilkins’s The Longest Breakfast






The Longest Breakfast written by Jenny Bornholdt, illustrated by Sarah Wilkins

Gecko Press, 2017


I love breakfast. I love pouring my homemade granola in the bowl, picking strawberries from the garden to slice on top, adding a dollop of yoghurt and a swish of apple juice.

MMMMMMM! Heaven!

I love hearing the birds sing in the bush and watching the sea mist roll in from the ocean.


Now I have a breakfast story to love too. It feels special like The Tiger Who Came to Tea feels special. It is just the story to read aloud while you munch on pancakes or toast or boiled eggs (or granola!).

The story: The children are hungry and their dad is trying to find just the thing to hit the right hungry spot.


When I say children – there are a lot! Say 8! If you include the neighbour and friends.

Everyone seems to want something different and baby is giving his clues (toot toot buzz buzz).


I whizzed through the book, I drizzled through the drawings, I sizzled and word swam and got hooked.

The writing is plain and the story gets moving.

The drawings feel alive and the characters are EYE catching.


And the ending is perfect – a little breakfast surprise that makes the whole book glow!