Tag Archives: Gecko Press

Poetry Box review: Anna Fiske’s wonderful How Do You Make a Baby?

 

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Anna Fiske How Do You Make a Baby Gecko Press 2020

 

This is the most brilliant, moving, informative children’s book on how to make babies that I have ever read! It is inclusive and witty and contains plain facts, but is so much more than more than plain facts.

 

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The first sentence invites us ALL into the book:

‘YOU WERE A BABY ONCE.’

 

We are all part of this book. The book shows that our world is made up of many different kinds of families: mother father, mother mother, father father.

The book also begins with love: ‘MAKING A BABY BEGINS WITH LOVE. THERE ARE MANY DIFFERENT KINDS OF LOVE.’

It might be things we love to eat, do, visit, see. The people we love to be with. But there is also the special love of couples.

Before we encounter sperms and eggs, vaginas and penises, we encounter things a loving couple might love to do together. And then it shows couples doing loving things, some of which are sex.

The book then slowly goes through the development from sperm meeting egg to baby arriving in the world.

And just as the baby is taking shape so too are the parent(s) as they prepare for a baby in their lives / life.

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We are reminded that all births are different, that millions of babies are born everyday all over the world and that:

 

A NEW BABY IN THE WORLD IS ONE OF THE MOST BRILLIANT AND BEAUTIFUL THINGS THERE IS.

 

EVERY CHILD IS DIFFERENT. THERE’S ONLY ONE LIKE YOU. IT’S A MIRACLE THAT WE ARE BORN AND EXIST. IT’S A MIRACLE AND SO PERFECT THAT YOU ARE YOU.

 

 

These are the last sentences in the book, and they made me want to cry. The thought here is so wise, and so filled with sparkling HOPE. So yes this is a book about how you make a baby, but it makes sure it is part of a bigger story than biology. Maybe I am so hooked on this book because it underlines how each and every human life is precious. How we are all miracles and all unique. I am sitting here, in these terribly troubled times, wanting the world to absorb this message. Every baby and every life matters. Life is a miracle.

I love this book. I would have loved sharing it with my children when they were young.

 

Gecko Press page

Poetry Box bubble time: a very glad Gecko Press reading diary

 

 

 

Over the past few months I have been gobbling up books published by Gecko Press (along with others). I had planned on posting reviews of children’s books while we were in lockdown but I found it hard to write and my blog got so busy doing other things for children.

But these Gecko books were a wonderful escape hatch when I couldn’t leave my bubble. At the weekend I read them all again and realised what a comfort they were when my mind was so fuzzy. I was also intrigued to recall how I connected with them when the world was wobbly and full of unknowns and now, when our backyards feel a whole lot safer, I connect a little differently.

 

My Gecko Press Reading Diary

 

 

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A Bear Named Bjorn by Delphine Perret, Gecko Press

 

NOT MUCH HAPPENS IN A BEAR’S LIFE.

OFTEN BJORN DOES NOTHING AT ALL

BUT HE’S NEVER BORED,

 

First of all this is a medium-sized hardback, with black & white drawings, that fits in your hand perfectly (well when you are as old as me). Even before you start reading you know this book is a treasure. All the sentences are in capital letters (it’s is a growing trend!) which might seem odd but just adds to the perfectness of every choice the publisher and the designer made.

Secondly the drawings are like exquisite little poems so I ‘read’ those before I read the story. They have an EH Shephard feel (he drew for AA Milne’s books) but they have their own personality that could only ever belong to Delphine Perret.

Thirdly the story is magic. It felt just right to be reading this in lockdown because Bjorn is a big fan of catalogues and ordering things online (I began to order a few things online). Bjorn loves his cave (everything seems just right!) but one day a big delivery truck turns up with a ‘plump three-seater sofa’ that he has won. Unexpectedly. He is told the big red sofa will ‘change his life and make him very happy’. Hmmm!

When my delivery van turned up with fresh fish during lockdown I was very happy. When it turned up with scrumptious avocados I was also very happy. Change my life? Ah those advertising catalogues.

BUT by the time Bjorn got the sofa inside the cave, and his friends dropped by, his life wasn’t exactly changed in a good way. You will have to read the story to find out what the arrival of the BIG RED SOFA actually meant to Bjorn.

I loved this story because I read it at a time when I was thinking about what I needed in my life and what I wanted in my life. I have found myself being a whole lot less wasteful.

A Bear Named Bjorn got me thinking, but it also got me laughing! In one episode a catalogue inspires Bjorn and his friends to dress up like humans.

There are lots of ways I am reminded of Winnie the Pooh because this is a book of living, of ordinary everyday life that is full of friendship and wisdom and unexpected things. I love it so much.

 

REALLY? IT’S THAT TIME? THIS MORNING

THERE’S A CHANGE IN THE AIR.

YOU CAN SMELL IT IN THE LEAVES

PILING UP AT THE FOOT OF THE TREES,

IN THE FAINT WHIFF OF MUSHROOMS.

THAT’S IT, THE SAME AS EVERY YEAR.

EXCEPT, NOT EXACTLY.

 

 

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Hattie by Frida Nilsson, illustrated by Stina Wirsén, Gecko Press

 

This is what it says on the back of the book:

Hattie lives just outside of nowhere, right next to no one at all.

I love this – it intrigued me and made me pick up the book and start reading AT ONCE!  Hattie was waiting for school to start and she just couldn’t wait. Again I ponder on the chords between real life and the book I am reading. In lockdown I felt like I lived on the edge of nowhere and the somewheres were so topsy turvey. All the children were walking up and down our country road keeping an eye out for teddies and fascinating things because schools were closed.

AT LAST SCHOOL! Hattie loves school but she does like to bend rules. Playing horses ends up with someone locked in the school shed which ends up with her mother sad which ends up with the new banana fabric for the old chair abandoned on the floor which ends up with Hattie running away to the forest which ends up with:

Up in the sky small cold stars shine, but on the ground it’s as dark as the underworld.

What happens next  …. you will have to read and found out yourself – except I will say the banana-fabric chair gets finished.

The episodes in Like A Bear Named Bjorn will make you laugh – especially the dumpling cake one which was not exactly the sweet cake Hattie was expecting – but you know Hattie she likes to bend the rules. She manages to avoid eating it. Another day Hattie plays a mean trick and Richard throws up but is she to blame? And can you imagine what happens when Hattie goes to the hairdresser and asks for ‘tufts’?

An extra favourite scene: Papa suggests making a gingerbread house at Christmas but then decides the duck house outside would be easier. They argue and then compromise: a simple duck house with gingerbread ducks on the roof. Meanwhile Hattie’s mum likes to make tottering Norwegian cakes that are almost as tall as Hattie. Ah my tummy filled with glee! Yet the best bit of this gingerbread episode is an act of kindness.

I also love this book to the moon and back. The edge of nowhere is a very good place to spend time when our world is still a bit wobbly. Hattie reminded me of audacious Pippi Longstocking – but Hattie is her own extraordinary self, and she’s excellent company.

 

 

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The Wolf and the Fly by Antje Damm, Gecko Press

 

A nifty board book that is both a story and a memory game. Wolf is so hungry his tummy is rumbling. On the page opposite are eight things he might eat. Turn over and try remembering which one is missing. Wolf keeps eating one thing at a time and you have to keep remembering what he ate by being a very excellent memory detective.

How will it all end? Yes hungry wolf is now full wolf, but I didn’t exactly guess what happened next!

A very cool book.

 

 

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My Mama by Annemarie van Haeringen, Gecko Press

 

I’ve known my mama for a long time.

For my whole life, actually.

 

My Mama is a big gorgeous hardback picture book with big gorgeous illustrations of elephant Mama, and sweet little illustrations of her rather mischievous child. The child is pretty much telling us everything mamas are good for (to climb up like a mountain or hide behind) and everything they are good at (parking the cars neatly in the toy box, hiding behind mama). This is a heartwarming read – the illustrations are divine – perfect when you need a feel-good book.

 

I really want to fly.

Mama says that you can do anything if you really want to.

It’s true. You can see I’m already good at it.

But my mama finds it hard to let it go.

 

 

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All the Dear Little Animals Ulf Nilsson, illustrated by Eva Eriksson, Gecko Press

 

Esther finds a dead bumble bee and decides the dead bumble needs a funeral. Her younger friend is scared of dead things but agrees to help. He is good at writing poems so writes a poem for the funeral. They bury the bee, make a cross, lay flowers, cry a little and say the poem. With the help of Esther’s wee brother, Puttie, they start a funeral home. It is hard finding dead things but they make funerals for  a mouse, a hamster, a rooster, a hedgehog, a bird. The young poet writes something especially for each sad occasion.

The story shows how important the things we do together at funeral time are, as are the things we choose to do ourselves.

 

I hope you pick at least one book from here to fill you with joy

 

t h a n k   y o u  G e c k o   P r e s s

 

 

 

 

Poetry Box: Dear Joy Cowley letters, aroha nui from us all

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To celebrate the arrival of  Joy Cowley’s magnificent new book of poems and stories published by Gecko Press (with zany illustrations by Giselle Clarkson), I invited a few people to join me in writing letters to Joy – two children, a parent and an author.

Here is my review of the book.

 

Joy can listen to me read the letters:

 

 

Dear Joy Cowley

For a long time I have wanted to see your poetry for children back in print – so how delightful to see the gorgeous new edition of your stories and poems published by Gecko Press. Your poems fill me with happiness – they are playful and have such an elastic imagination and fine ear at work children adore them.

I have always loved your commitment to writing for children – not just in the glorious stories and poems you write but in your engagement with children. I am thinking of the letters you write them, the way you pay attention to their dreams and experiences, the support you give the fabulous Storylines and the ongoing support you give writers.

To be a writer is a very private thing but it is also a public thing – and you have shown how to inhabit the world with generosity, kindness and empathy. This matters.

Like so many other people, I have had a long history of reading your work, by myself and with my daughters, and it has enriched our lives with wisdom, humour and humaneness.

To celebrate the arrival of your wonderful new book I have invited a few others to write to you too – some children, a parent and an author.

Ngā mihi

Paula Green

 

Dear Joy,

Your poems are incredible, fascinating and full of fun! Every word on the page jumps like a tiger and soars like an eagle! I used to read your poems when I was younger, they helped me through a tough time. When I felt the weight of the world, your poems lifted me back up. I’m so grateful that there are amazing people like you creating stories and poems that brighten people’s days. I hope, aspire, and dream to be able to make poems like yours one day.

Thank you

from Gabbie, age 12,  Newlands intermediate

 

 

Dear Joy

I am writing to you with a big thank you for the amazing stories you have created for every kind of reader.

In a teaching setting, I use your stories no matter what age group I am working with.  I love starting the youngest ones on a path to a love of reading with the wonderful characters in the Mrs. Wishy Washy books.  My older, often struggling, readers always draw affinity with dear Greedy Cat (who is not so secretly my favourite of your characters).  And I can sit back and enjoy reading aloud the likes of Dunger and Speed of Light to my Year 7/8 groups.  Indeed, if a Joy Cowley book comes out in any class, everyone smiles.

At home, our bookshelves are lined with your work, as my children will always share that you are their favourite author.  The reason?  Because of your style, your imagination, but most of all because you have always been there.  They have grown up with, and through, your stories.  You have inspired their own writing, and presented opportunities for them to explore and develop that.  Each child has a copy of Just One More right beside their bed, ready for those times when they just want to wind down with a familiar favourite.

And for me personally, when I read about you, I am filled with admiration.  Your amazing life of flying planes, motorbike riding, woodturning and more is so inspiring… so many adventures to be had!  Amongst all that, you have given us all adventures of our own, through your writing.   You accept challenges for what they are, and get on with the doing.  And somehow, you have always had time for everyone, replying to fan mail, participating in local events, and helping young writers on their way.

You are a truly astonishing person, and I am so grateful for all you do.  I can’t wait to read “Silence” once it is published.  The kids are not the only ones who seek out Joy Cowley books!

Warm regards

Robyn Lovewell, Wellington

 

Dear Joy

I am writing to say how much I appreciate you and your wonderful stories!

I honestly don’t know which is my favorite, there are so many.  Snake and LizardThe Wild West GangHero of The HillBow Down Shadrach? But the book that lives by my bed is Just One More, which I still read all the time…with dragons in libraries and horses on escalators and then of course Jack and his hole that follows him around – that one makes me laugh even when I tell other people the story.

There is a good reason why you are so famous and probably NZ’s favourite author.  Your junior books always have funny bits in them.  Your older kids fiction books always have something to make you think.  And you have such a variety of books, long stories, short readers, poems, little kid books, grown up books.  There is something for everyone in what you have written.  I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t like a Joy Cowley book.

I hope that more stories can jump out of your head so there will be even more Joy Cowley books to fill up the C shelf at the library.

Thank you for being such an awesome writer.

From

Daniel L, Year 6, Adventure School, Wellington

 

Dear Joy

When Beth and I dropped in to see you a few years back, you gave us an excellent lunch; spilled a bit on yourself and said “Oh, Great!”; showed us the glowing wood work you were doing in your workshop, talked about kindness and spirituality, mentioned mutual friends with affection, and asked after MY writing.

I thought this was so typical of you – generous, wry, adventurous and versatile, sincere, always aware of others. Many people will talk about your writing, which I admire just this side idolatry, but I wanted to mention you. You are a joy to know. Every time I meet you, I go away feeling affirmed and loved. Live for ever!!

David Hill

 

 

Poetry Box review: Joy Cowley’s scrumptious The Gobbledegook Book

 

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Joy Cowley with illustrations by Giselle Clarkson, Gecko Press

 

see below for two pop-up Joy Cowley challenges! I have some surprise giveaways!

 

Gecko Press has published the most gorgeous anthology of Joy Cowley’s favourite stories, poems and nonsense rhymes. Everything about this book is perfect. The size. The feel of the paper. The way the words dance on the page. The way the stories and poems dance in your mind. The way words are so deliciously playful. And the way Giselle Clarkson’s heavenly illustrations are poems on the page.

This is a book to treasure.

This is a book to read when the rain slaps the windows so you feel warm inside.

This is a book to read when you feel a bit flat and dreary and need a book to set you soaring.

This is a book to snuggle up with and read to your mum or dad, or your son or daughter, or your best friend. Even a cat would start purring. Even the howling wind would listen.

 

‘The Tiny Woman’s Coat’ is the first poem in the book and is about a tiny woman who needs a coat and needs help to get it.

Joy sets her imagination dancing like the autumn leaves and brings in a porcupine and a horse and hey presto! A happy ending. You will have to read it to find out how these things fit into the story but here is the first verse:

 

The tiny woman wanted a coat.

“Where will I get the cloth?”

“Try some of our leaves,”

said the autumn leaves.

Rustle, rustle, rustle.

 

Enter this anthology and you will find intriguing cats and a storm of ducks, jellybeans and tractors, a cheese trap and elephants. Oh and even an old singlet!

You will definitely grin from ear to ear.

The poems move and squawk and whoosh!

You will find old favourites such as ‘Nicketty- Nacketty, Noo-Noo-Noo’ and ‘Greedy Cat’.

 

Like Margaret Mahy, Joy is the Queen of Having Fun with WORDS, especially made up words. I love ‘Goggly Gookers’.

Grandma has her own names for things – spectacles are goggly gookers, gardens are fizz-bustles, cabbages are grimlings, cows are clops and pickles are bundajins. See what you make of the last verse! I adore it.

 

“Grandma, Grandma,

put on your googly gookers.

The clop is in the fizz-bustle

eating all the grimlings.

If you don’t get her out

you’ll be in a bundajin.

And that’s a fact.”

 

Joy is also the Queen of WHAT IF POEMS. Like what if you drop your jellybeans – what a ROLLICKING WHOOSH of story-book imagination in Do Not Drop Your Jellybeans’ – follow what happens when the jellybeans get dropped and you end up (after all kinds of catastrophes and calamities) on an iceberg! Wow!

I love the writing so much because Joy is our poetry trapeze artist: her words swing and soar with such agility on the line. I love how every line flows so sweetly with rhyme and invented words; the words that fit together like music. And all the delicious music goes hand in hand with storytelling that is equally delicious. The combination makes you feel so GOOD. Here is the start to ‘Super Jumble’:

 

There was trouble in the jungle

wen a buffalo tried to swingle

like a monkey from a bundle of vines.

 

He got into a tangle

and was left there to dangle

at a very awkward angle, in the lines.

 

 

The Goobledegook Book is the perfect book to read up a mountain or by a river, in the tent when you go camping or in the kitchen as the soup simmers, or in bed before you nod off to sleep and dream of cats and more cats and acrobatic words.

I love this book so much.

Gecko Press page

 

Two challenges for you

If you love this book tell me what your favourite poem or story in it is and why you like it in a few sentences and I will post some answers.

I would also love to post some fan mail for Joy Cowley. Write a letter to Joy saying what you love about her books – a bit about you – anything! I will post some and then she can get to read them.

I will have some giveaway surprises for some lucky young poetry fans!

 

Deadline: Friday October 25th

Send to: paulajoygreen@gmail.com

Include your name, age year and name of school (or say home schooled)

Don’t forget to write Joy Cowley challenge in the subject line so I don’t miss your email.

I will post on Monday 28th October.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!