Books I’m Giving This Christmas by Stella Chrysostomou

Stella Chrysostomou and Thomas Koed have just opened VOLUME, Nelson’s newest bookshop. Between them, they have decades of experience in bookselling, and Stella has been on our board for many years. Here is what Stella is buying for her friends and family this Christmas.  And you can win them: just tell us one book you plan to buy for Christmas in the comments, and/or over on Facebook!

Heap House, by Edward Carey (Hot Key Books) 9781471401572
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After hearing Edward Carey at the Auckland Writer’s Festival in May, I was fascinated by his description of the world of the Iremongers, and this has been the find of the year for intriguing and excellent children’s writing. The third in the trilogy, Lungdon, has just been published, but start with Heap House. In the opening pages we are introduced to the unusual Iremonger family, who live on the outskirts of London where they collect and sift the rubbish which has grown into great moving heaps with a life-force all of its own. Meet Clod and the serving girl, Lucy, and begin an adventure of twists and turns, the unexpected and surprising. The language is captivating, the world is fascinating and the plot is both philosophical and beguiling. Great as a read-aloud, for summer family reading, and for 12+. Sarah Forster interviewed him earlier in the year, if you are keen to learn more.

The Wish Child, by Catherine Chidgey (VUP) 9781776560622
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Recently released, Catherine Chidgey’s The Wish Child is a stunning portrayal of war-time Germany through the eyes of two children, Sieglinde, from a middle-class family in Berlin, and Erich, from a farm near Leipzig. Theirs is a story of secrets, fear and overwhelming loyalty – for both the right and wrong reasons – a story that plays out in an atmosphere of paranoia and loss. Yet there is beauty in the small details and the happenstance relationship between Sieglinde and Erich. Chidgey’s novel is reminiscent of Jenny Erpenbeck’s End of Days; it’s beautifully crafted, building tension and foreboding and never letting the reader off the hook. The narrator’s voice is one of haunting sadness, all-telling yet allusive. The Wish Child is a must-read for this summer.

This Model World, by Anthony Byrt (AUP) 9781869408589
cv_this_modern_worldIf you are looking to keep abreast of developments in contemporary NZ art, go no further than Anthony Byrt’s This Model World. Immensely readable, Byrt combines serious art discussion with his own personal take on our contemporary artists, as well as letting us into his world as a critic. Drawn from interviews conducted at the artists’ studios, the conversations flow and we are given an insight into what compels these artists to make, how they frame themselves in the world, and the ideas they discuss through their work. Artists include Shane Cotton, Judy Millar, Peter Robinson and Yvonne Todd. This Model World is remarkable in its ability to be simultaneously very personal and informative, with Byrt intertwining his own life into these observations about art and the place of art in our lives.

Hotel, by Joanna Walsh and Dust, by Michael Marder (Bloomsbury Academic) 9781628924732 and 9781628925586
cv_hotelBig ideas can come in small packages (a principle we represent at VOLUME!), and the books in the excellent ‘Object Lessons’ series published by Bloomsbury each take an everyday object (bread, hood, password, bookshelf, silence, &c) and explore the deep strata of meaning and cultural resonance inherent in that object but to which we are usually blinded through familiarity. Favourites read so far include Hotel by the incomparable Joanna Walsh (which correlates the breakdown of her marriage with her time spent as a hotel reviewer, and plays rigorously with the idea of the hotel and with the idea of home that is its complement and shadow) and Dust by Michael Marder (which explores the philosophical weight of the universal substance which is comprised of things that have lost both identity and form).

cv_children-of-the-new-worldChildren of the New World, by Alexander Weinstein (Text Publishing) 9781925498387
The debut short story collection, Children of the New World, is the brainchild of American writer Alexander Weinstein. The opening story, ‘Saying Goodbye to Yang’, sees a family sitting around the dining table watching Yang, a sophisticated big brother robot, malfunction. In the story ‘Children of The New World’ a couple live a virtual existence, complete with two perfect children, a nice suburban house and everything is wonderful until they venture into the Dark City. Their adventuring brings a virus into their perfect world, creating chaos. Many of the characters in the stories are disconnected from each other and from place, addicted to their programmes, technological implants, computer generated improvements and virtual worlds. Weinstein gives us wry stories – many are darkly funny – which question our obsession with technology, social media, perfection, identity and our desire to recreate ourselves. Set in a near-future this collection is both entertaining and thought-provoking.

Hand-Coloured New Zealand, by Peter Alsop (Potton & Burton) 9780947503154
cv_handcoloured_new_zealandHand-Coloured New Zealand is a stunning publication from the dream team of Peter Alsop and publisher, Potton & Burton. From 1945, Whites Aviation produced the best hand-coloured photographs. This book is a tribute to the expertise of the company that produced these works, to the photographers and colourists whose work was exquisite. There are in-depth chapters about Leo White, the company founder; Clyde Stewart, chief photographer and head of colouring; and my favourite entitled ‘One of the Girls’ about Grace Rawson and her work as a colourist at Whites. The book is generously illustrated; many images will be familiar, either glimpsed on an aunt’s wall or as large-scale photographs in public buildings. This beautifully produced publication is a must for collectors, photographers and for anyone interested in New Zealand’s social history.

by Stella Chrysotomou

Book Review of Gus’s Garage, by Leo Timmers and Q & A with James Brown

Hardback available this month from bookshops nationwide.

cv_guss_garageThe most magical picture books tell their story in images, as much as in words. Gus’s Garage, by Leo Timmers, is the best example of seamless storytelling I have seen recently, joining Timmers’ other wonderful books for early picture book readers.

Gus runs a garage, and sure he sells petrol, but what he really does is provide unique fixes for every possible situation he and his various animal drivers encounter. HHe reminded me a lot of my Uncle Jack, an engineer, who had a seemingly insurmountable ability to fix anything his friends brought him.

As Gus fixes problems, his pile of stuff gets smaller. My 5-year-old, Dan, caught on pretty quickly as to what was happening in the book, and was avid in trying to guess which unlikely object from Gus’s fix-it pile was going to be used to solve the drivers’ problems. He was particularly happy about predicting Miss P’s solution for her too-hot car: weld a fridge on top of her car, of course!

Timmers writes in Flemish, and to get the words just right for this book, not only did Gecko get Bill Nagelkerke to translate it; but they asked poet James Brown to adapt this translation to make it bounce along. The book is written in rhyming couplets in pairs, with the second pair as a refrain: ‘Let’s see, I have some bits and bobs. This goes with that. There. Just the job!’

I asked James a few questions about adapting this text, and his answers are below:

Picture books, poetry – same/same right? How closely *do* they relate?
Actually, there are connections. Being succinct, being able to work with rhyme and rhythm – both poetic skills that transfer well to children’s picture books.

In Leo’s pictures there are lots of small details that change gradually as the story develops.
Poets like particulars! I never tired of Leo’s pictures. In fact, I kept noticing more and more. They give you an overall picture of what’s going on very quickly, but then there are all those tiny details changing as the day passes. You really can look at them over and over.

I see Leo Timmers has admired your adaptation of Gus’s Garage – how did you find adapting a translation without understanding the original work? Do you think this gave you more or less freedom with language?
Well, I had a literal translation to steer by, and I looked closely at the language and could see that it rhymed and had a regular rhythm. Except with the refrain, I didn’t have too much freedom. The text had to agree with the images. The refrain was crucial. It had to be right because, well, it repeats, and it had to work for a US audience. Gecko Press gave me good advice – they said it’s got to rollick! So I kept that in my head. If the lines weren’t rollicking, they weren’t working.

Have you ever adapted a work – even in English – to a different form? Were there any similarities in this process?
I don’t think I have. I’ve done a few vague poetic adaptations – ‘Diary Extracts from Scott’s Voyage to Discover the West Pole’ parodies Scott’s diaries and Pooh Bear’s expedition to discover the North Pole. I’ve spent 10 years adapting some badly written museum labels into clear and occasionally engaging English.

What do you think that a well-adapted work, no matter the genre, can give us?
Well, it opens works up to new audiences. I love Yehuda Amichai’s poem ‘The Diameter of the Bomb’, but really I love Chana Bloch’s and Stephen Mitchell’s translation of it – I’d never have been able to read it in Hebrew. Wordsworth’s poem ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’ – the daffodil poem – is possibly an adaptation of his sister Dorothy’s diary entry recording the same event. It depends on if he wrote it independently or used her diary to jog his memory. Her diary entry is good, but his poem is dazzling. Half of Shakespeare’s plays were adaptations of other plays.

Adaptations can show different points of view. Some are better than the original. Francis Coppola’s Dracula movie is a pretty good adaptation. Not sure about all those TV adaptations of Sherlock Holmes, though.

I know you were involved in the fantastic board book series that Te Papa Press put out a couple of years ago – what else is in the pipeline, Children’s books-wise from you? (or poetry-wise!) 
The board books were fun to do. I’ve recently done a few poems for the School Journal and one for [Gecko Press’s upcoming] Annual. I’ve just made some space in my life to focus more on my own creative projects – like my overdue poetry manuscript. I love Edward Gorey – I’d love to do something like him. I’d love to write a children’s book. I need a publisher! I need an illustrator! I need to write something.


While you are all waiting for James’ next poetry collection, pick up Gus’s Garage and put it in your ‘most treasured’ collection of picture books. It’s there in ours, alongside The Magical Life of Mr Renny.

Review and interview by Sarah Forster

Gus’s Garage
by Leo Timmers, translation by James Brown
Published by Gecko Press
PB ISBN: 9781776570928 (avail November)
HB ISBN: 9781776570935

Giveaway: Go to our Facebook page for a chance to win a hardback copy of Gus’s Garage, thanks to Gecko Press.

Interview with Maria Gill about New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame: 25 Kiwi Champions

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New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame: 25 Kiwi Champions was voted for by kiwi kids all around New Zealand as a finalist in the Children’s Choice list for the Book Awards. Author Maria Gill has written many book awards finalists, including New Zealand Hall of Fame, which won the non-fiction category of the Children’s Choice awards in 2012.

Maria is a fulltime writer, and lives in Matakana. We wondered how she came up with her latest book, and how she narrowed down the sports stars, and this is what she told us.

Maria Gill_NZ Sports Hall of Fame1.  As an author, you must have a lot of ideas floating around. How did you decide to write this book in particular?
In past awards the judges said there was a need for more books for boys – and where were the sports books. I had intended the New Zealand Hall of Fame book to be part of a series, and a sports book seemed the obvious one to do next.

2. Tell us a bit about the journey from manuscript to published work. What was the biggest challenge you faced in publishing this book?
First of all I had to decide who I was going to include in the book. The list of 25 sports people was constantly being revised. I even polled people – should I have Dan Carter or Richie McCaw? I contacted sporting agencies and asked them who they would recommend. I had to weigh a sporting legend up, who the target age might not know, against an up-and-coming star that they would know. Then I had to gather information about the sports stars, and that proved to be quite a challenge for some of them.

Sometimes they were touring overseas and were impossible to contact. If someone had written a biography about them, I could read that and take notes. If there wasn’t a biography, I had to trawl through a lot of newspaper articles, radio and television interviews to put a story together about them. Problems occurred if the media articles were incorrect. We sent each sports person/manager their biography and asked if they could fact check it. This helped to prevent any misinformation being printed in the biographies.sportshalloffame_page2

3. How did you tailor this book to the age-group it reaches?
Marco Ivancic’s life-like caricatures immediately draw the age group to the book. I wrote the biographies from when the sports people were their age (8-14 years) and included any problems they had to overcome. I wanted kids to realise that problems can be overcome, and dreams reached. A constant message that came through the book was that it takes a lot of dedication to make it to the top. Everyone has the potential to do that if they are prepared to do the hard work. I also included the sports stars training programme and at the back of the book kids can write up their training schedule. They can also set goals to help them achieve their sporting dreams.

4. Who have you dedicated this book to, and why?
I dedicated the book to my Dad. When I was young, he always encouraged us to do sport such as athletics and ice skating. He had organised one of the first national sporting events in New Zealand and was mad keen on many types of sports.

5. Can you recommend any books for children/young adults who love this book?
David Riley has written some chapter books on famous sports stars such as Jammin’ cv_jammin_with_steven_adamswith Steven Adams, Off-loading with SBW and Steppin’ with Benji Marshall.

6. What is your favourite thing to do when you aren’t reading or writing, and why?
I love to dance. I started ballet when I was five years old but gave it up at nine years of age. (Mum had to catch two buses with three kids for me to do it.) I figure skated for a few years and competed nationally. In my early twenties, I returned to dance and have been doing it regularly since. All the dancers in my ballet class are over 40 years old now. We can still do a mean pirouette. I love to dance because I am exercising while doing something creative.

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For more information about Maria Gill or  New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame: 25 Kiwi Champions, go to Maria’s website.

Teaching notes for the title are here.

Bob Docherty has reviewed the title here.

We are drawing to the end of the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults children’s choice blog tour, with just two days left! Our last feature was about The Letterbox Cat & Other Poems, by Paula Green & Myles Lawford, on Sarah Jane Barnett’s website The Red Room. Tomorrow, we will feature A New Zealand Nature Journal, on NZ Green Buttons.

To be in to win a copy of New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame: 25 Kiwi Champions, comment on this Facebook post to tell us your favourite sports star.

Tell us what you want (what you really really want) – and win*

Hello to all of our blog-readers! If you have just started following our blog and receiving our emails and posts, a special hello to you. I love seeing your ‘likes’ and comments come in, it just proves that the connection our followers have to books and New Zealand’s literary culture is genuine and passionate.

An introduction: my name is Sarah ForsterIMG_1298[1], and I have been running this blog for just over a year now, on behalf of Booksellers NZ. My role is to run all of the direct digital communications for Booksellers NZ, as Web Editor – you can find me on twitter, on Facebook over several pages, sending our regular newsletters Words of the Day (click to register), The Read and Preview of Reviews, and on our website. Booksellers itself is a membership organisation for bookstores in NZ – with over 300 member bookstores nationwide. We help our members to run their businesses in the best possible way, and we help them, especially, to sell books.

The focus of this blog is to fill in the cracks of mainstream media review coverage. We cover the big books, sure, but not all of them, and we are just as interested in those books that are not as likely to gain column inches. The areas in which we have a particular pool of talent are Poetry, with the likes of poets Sarah Jane Barnett, Emma Barnes, and English lit student Elizabeth Morton helping us to cover almost everything that comes out in the poetic field; Non-fiction, with reviewers including Gordon Findlay and Kimaya McIntosh; Literary fiction, with reviewers Chris Howe, Elizabeth Heritage and Feby Idrus; and Children’s books with myself, teachers Rachel Moore and Marion Dreadon, Angela Oliver covering YA, and tireless grandmother Christine Frayling. We have a lot of other amazing reviewers that I haven’t mentioned, and you can check out some of their short bios here.

IMG_0562[1]We have such a breadth of reviews now that I am going to start trying to focus on one specific area of literature per day, with daily kids’ book reviews at 4pm when I have them. My initial plan for is for Monday to be Non-fiction; Tuesday to cover Poetry and/or New Zealand fiction; Wednesday to cover International fiction blockbusters of various genres; Thursday to focus on Literary fiction; and Friday to be small and self-publishers day. All of this depends on how many reviews I get in each week, but I am fairly confident we will be able to keep it going!

My own reading is very broad – I will give pretty well anything a go, and I have sometimes have a hard time letting books fly off my desk when I really want to read and review them! But with a background of six years working with kiwi authors at the New Zealand Book Council as Education Programmes Manager, and with my two children aged 2 and 4, my real passion lies in kiwi children’s and YA books. Our children’s book publishing culture is massively strong, and shows every signs of continuing to thrive, despite the doom and gloom predictions for the industry overall.

This is where I ask for your input.
Our blog popularity is rising constantly, thanks to review coverage of major festivals and the quality of our reviews – but what else would you like to see? Author interviews? Summaries of international reviews for bestselling international titles? More personal blog pieces from myself and booksellers? A bit more genre fiction? Introductions to new publishers?

Comment below before 5pm this IMG_1299[1]Monday 29 September, and be in to win a pack of books: A New Zealand Book of Beasts, by Annie Potts, Philip Armstrong and Deirdre Brown (AUP), The Son-in-Law, by Charity Norman, The Lost Pilot, by Jeffrey Paparoa Holman, and Built for Caffeine, by Ben Crawford.

Thank you for reading us – Sarah.

* I sincerely apologise if you now have the Spice Girls in your head…

Words of the Day: Tuesday, 19 November

words_of_the_day_graphicThis is a digest of our Twitter feed that we email out most Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Sign up here for free if you’d like it emailed to you.

Book reviews
Book Review: A photo album, a scrapbook and World War 1

New Releases
Look at these handsome devils! The Penguin Horror series, curated by Guillermo del Toro, just landed.

New Release: Union Jax, by Jax Hamilton (Bateman)

Giveaway
Giveaway: Who Killed Scott Guy? by Mike White @AllenAndUnwin

Events
Booksellers: get in touch with John McIntyre if you want to go to the Wellington Book Trade Christmas Do this Sunday at the Southern Cross.

Book News
Buying an e-reader this Christmas? Go to your local indie & buy a Kobo. They get a cut from books too!

At last the showdown: Eleanor Catton versus Dan Brown.

From around the internet
Publisher BURN! (But not the books. Don’t burn the books, guys). @samelworthy @FergusVUP

Neil Gaiman’s advice to aspiring writers  #NaNoWriMo

What is the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year and how is it chosen?

“I’m never clear on how ‘self-help’ differs from ‘help.’ Books help.” Andrew Solomon, By the Book

@vicbooks Living Among the Stacks: the Dream vs. the Reality

Book discovery problems in the e-world…

Please, Will Somebody Re-Design These Covers? | ShelfTalker

Win! With the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards

This year, as part of our promotion of the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards, we’ve been working with keen bloggers.

They’re doing amazing work reviewing books, engaging their kids with the stories, baking cakes (from A Great Cake) and creating beautiful things inspired by our finalist books. They’re real gems.

In that spirit, here’s a couple of giveaways happening at the moment that we don’t want you to miss out on.

Win a copy of Maumahara ki tērā Nōema (Remember that November) by Jennifer Beck, illustrated by Lindy Fisher and translated by Kawata Teepa over on Miriam’s blog.

To enter, just leave a comment after Miriam’s book review – she’s also created a video of her reading the book out loud, which means it’s a great bedtime listen for kids.

Win a one-off child’s coat inspired by Mr Bear Branches.
Lisa was inspired by finalist book Mr. Bear Branches to sew a one-off child’s coat. This is a very special giveaway and you’ve got until Friday to enter to win.

Enter by leaving a comment on Lisa’s blog.

Good luck!

Written by Emma McCleary, web editor at Booksellers NZ

Book review: Blastosaurus by Richard Fairgray and Terry Jones + giveaway

cv_blastosaurusAsk your local bookshop about this book today.

A six foot tall mutated triceratops from the year 69, 211, 821 BC roams both the present and future in order to find four other humanoid dinosaurs, the Raptors, and bring them to justice for their murders and crime. Of course his mission would come easier if he wasn’t a towering green skinned man with horns. Though even with this setback he manages to go forward and fight for his goal, which along the way involves three young human allies, monsters, robots, an interfering Police force and panicked civilians.

Blastosaurus takes place in three separate time periods, the past, the present and the future. All of which Blastorsaurus travels through in order to avenge his mother who was killed by a gang of four human-like raptors. Both the raptors and Blastosaurus lived natural dinosaur lives in prehistoric times until their genetics were mutated by humans from the future. Using a time travel pod the raptors and Blastosaurus go forward in time to a future city controlled by robots and living under fear of ‘monsters’. This is where Blastosaurus encounters three young adults; Richard, Emma and Alana. A group that goes by the name of ‘freedom fighters’. Angered by the Raptors and how they have managed to turn this city; Freakout City into a chaotic mess Blastosaurus decides to travel to the present day to stop them from causing destruction before they can.

The story is based around the perils of Blastosaurus and the lives of the three children. Richard Greene is the main child and a self proclaimed allie of Blastosaurus. He offers to partner up with Blastosaurus to defeat the Raptor gang. Richard is an imaginative child, who adores comics and the superhero genre. Richard’s other friend is Alana, a level headed if sometimes harsh girl. There’s also Emma and her younger brother Sam. Blastosaurus himself is a dinosaur driven by the goal to find and kill the raptors that killed his mother. He is a stoic character with mostly good intentions in mind.

The art of blastosaurus is great, it’s detailed and has a good colour scheme. Emotion and action is portrayed well on the characters. The settings are also a strong point giving the comic a strong and usually dark atmosphere. The style in both art, writing and story is reminiscent of the absurdities of comic books before the 21st century. The dialogue is straightforward and highlights each character’s emotions and thoughts with ease, it’s also witty and often finds some humour even in dark or upsetting situations.

The people involved in the creation of this text are Richard Fairgray (who is notably legally blind, with only 3 percent of his vision in one eye) – Co-writer and artist, Terry Jones – Co-writer, Tara Black – Colourist, Rob Levin – Editor and Darick Robertson drew the cover with Richard P. Clark colouring it.

New Picture (2)New Picture (3)

Images from Blastosaurus the online version, pages 92 and 159.

It’s always refreshing to see comics created by the hands of talented New Zealanders being published. Comics and Graphic Novels can be often overlooked or overshadowed by other forms of writing. Buying this book (or any other form of comic) will show support to both the authors and the comic industry as a whole and while this book does end unfinished the reader can continue reading the adventures of Blastosaurus online at this link : http://blastosaurus.com

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys thrilling action based, crime solving adventures (that of course span over a few different time periods).

Reviewed by Brittney Huxford

Blastosaurus
by Richard Fairgray and Terry Jones
Published by Square Planet
ISBN 9780473220464

WIN A COPY OF BLASTOSAURUS
Thanks to the publishers we have a copy of Blastosaurus to give away. Leave a comment below and we’ll draw a random winner on Monday, 25 March 2013.