Book Review: Where’s Kiwi NOW? Illustrated by Myles Lawford

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_wheres_kiwi_now.jpgWith more than 800 things to spot this will keep the younger ones in your family occupied for an hour or two.

Kiwi is in his flying egg time-travel machine. Can you spot him?  Where is he?  Stegosaurus, Tyrannosaurus and Who-saurus? An you spot some of his mates; Sporty Sheep, Gumboot Guy, Wacky Wizard, Tricky Tuatara or Mystery Moa? They are all there. Are they visiting the Ice Age Rage or are they in the time of the taniwha and mystery moa or are they in the battle of the beasts – a riot in Rome where swords clash and chariots race? They have to be there somewhere.  What about the medieval upheaval in the dawn of dungeons and, dragons. Exploring across the high seas with cannons on pirate ships, plundering jewels and gold and so much more??

A book designed to keep the reader on their toes, seeing which character they can find out of Kiwi and his mates.

The attention to detail in the illustrations is staggering and having a Kiwi version of Where’s Wally is an added bonus for fans.  Suitable for all ages big and small, this is a great book to engage with the younger members of your family.

My granddaughters Quinn (4 years old) and Abby (7 years old) were both leaning in to me to see who could spot one of the characters the fastest. Great entertainment.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Where’s Kiwi NOW? 
Illustrated by Myles Lawford
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775435266

Book Review: Where’s Kiwi? Around the World, illustrated and written by Myles Lawford

Available in bookshops nationwide.cv_wheres_kiwi_around_the_world

There are more than 800 things to spot in this “story”. Kiwi has itchy feet wanting adventure and places to see. This is the second book that I have had the pleasure of reviewing by Myles Lawford.

Kiwi in this story is taking off in a worldwide adventure, starting in Australia and ending in a Pacific Island. This is an interactive story with the reader being asked to find Kiwi and his mates in each illustration; Sporty Sheep, Gumboot Guy, Wacky Wizard and Tricky Tuatara.

Each double page covering each country visited is full of surprises with the 4 ½ year old in our family finding each character in record time.

I love books like this as it is an opportunity for me as a Grandma to work with a grandchild finding the characters. This is a lovely book and would make a wonderful addition to the Christmas wish list of any child.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Where’s Kiwi? Around the World
illustrated and written by Myles Lawford
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775433415

The blog to end our 20-day blog tour!

BookAwards_CC_900x320_v3_bannerWe have just finished a fabulous four-week tour around our authors inspirations, aims and achievements with their Children’s Choice finalist books. Now it is time for you to help your kids to vote their favourite book and author to win: they will be in to win a selection of finalists for themselves and their school if they do! Kids can select a winner in each category; the winning book of each category will win a prize at the Book Awards ceremony on Thursday 13 August. Thank you to all of the other blogs who have hosted these interviews!

Children's_choice_ya_fic_V2jpgDuring the first week of our tour, we heard from the Young Adult fiction finalists. We heard from Ella West (who, like any good super author, writes under a pseudonym) who dedicated Night Vision to Trish Brooking, because she still takes her out for lunch, after looking after her as Otago Education College Writer in Residence in 2010. We learned that Natalie King has not one but three pseudonyms, and was inspired by a dream of a lake to write the book Awakening, which begins with a mysterious necklace drawn from a lake. While Jill Harris sadly passed away in December, Makaro Press publisher Mary McCallum told us that she published her book The Red Suitcase because the opening chapter inside a Lancaster bomber had her riveted. I Am Rebecca was a return to a character that author Fleur Beale had written about before, in I am not Esther. She told us that the secret to her amazing characters is simply to “walk in the shoes of the character so that what happens to the character informs the story.” Our final YA author was Nelson-based Rachael Craw, who had two interviews in two different places! Spark was also inspired by a dream, which took 5 and a half years to come to fruition: she had to learn to write first! She was inspired by the power of DNA when she met her birth mother.

Children's_choice_picbook_v4Week two saw us jump back a few reading years to the Picture Book finalists. Scott Tulloch ran I am Not a Worm past fellow Children’s Choice finalist Juliette MacIver and her kids, and her oldest son Louis suggested what became the final line in the book: “I like butterflies.” Yvonne Morrison, author of Little Red Riding Hood…Not Quite, told us she was about to leave NZ for a new job in Vietnam, living on a jungle island and managing a centre for endangered primates! Donovan Bixley covered two finalist books in one interview, Little Red and Junior Fiction book Dragon Knight: Fire! and he said that working with the same authors again and again means he can just do a messy scribble at the early stage of illustrating, and they will trust him to flesh it out!  Jo van Dam wrote doggy rhymes for her own children when they were young, and this became Doggy Ditties from A to Z. This is illustrated by Myles Lawford, who had to do a lot of research to make sure he illustrated each breed accurately. Peter Millet answered his own question about pets in the army with The Anzac Puppy, illustrated by Trish Bowles, who used to get in trouble at school for drawing: she now gets rewarded for it! Juliette MacIver likes to feature things in her books that children see in their everyday lives – “monkeys, old wooden galleons, pirates, for example, things that children encounter most days on their way to kindy or school.” Marmaduke Duck and the Wide Blue Seas was the third in the series by her and Sarah Davis, who reckons Juliette sometimes writes things in just to annoy her: ”52 marmosets leaped on board”?!? Seriously!!? Do you know how long it takes to draw 52 marmosets? Much longer than it takes to write the words “52 marmosets”, that’s for sure.”

Children's_choice_JUNIOR_V4We began the Junior Fiction category with an interview with Kyle Mewburn, author of Dragon Knight: Fire!, the first in a new series for the younger Junior Fiction age-group, and a finalist in both the children’s choice and the judges’ lists. Kyle doesn’t let his ideas float around “in case they escape, or some sneaky author steals one.”  The lead character in 1914 – Riding into War, by Susan Brocker, was inspired by her grandfather, Thomas McGee, who served as a mounted rifleman in WW1. Desna Wallace lived through the Canterbury Quake, and the character of Maddy popped into her head on the way home from work as a school librarian one day. “It was a bit crowded in there, so I sat down and wrote it out,” she said. Stacy Gregg‘s story The Island of Lost Horses began when she fell in love, with a picture of an Abaco Barb horse, the breed featured in this story; which is inspired by real events. Suzanne Main won the Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon award for the manuscript for How I Alienated My Grandma. This came with an offer of publication from Scholastic NZ, which enabled her to keep backing herself and her work to succeed.Children's_choice_NON_FIC_V3

The Non-fiction category tour began with the double-nominee (in judge’s and children’s choice lists) Māori Art for Kids, written and illustrated by the husband and wife team, Julie Noanoa & Norm Heke. Their aim was “to create something for families to connect with and appreciate Maori art.” Poet Sarah Jane Barnett featured poetry title The Letterbox Cat & other poems by Paula Green and Myles Lawford on her blog The Red Room. Paula says, “When I saw the way the zesty illustrations of Myles Lawford danced on the page, I cried!” Maria Gill followed up her New Zealand Hall of Fame of 2011 with New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame: 25 Kiwi Champions – she says the toughest task was to decide who to leave out. Gorgeous illustration guide book A New Zealand Nature Journal, by Sandra Morris, was featured next on NZ Green Buttons. Sandra’s favourite thing to do when not drawing or managing her illustration agency, is tramping, unsurprisingly!  Philippa Werry was in last year’s awards with her great Anzac Day book, and this year she was a children’s choice finalist for Waitangi Day: The New Zealand Story, featured on Barbara Murison’s blog. Philippa focused this book on the day itself, as opposed to the treaty, and she enjoys doing cryptic crosswords while contemplating writing.

While this tour is ending, we will be carrying on our celebration of the book awards, promoting the judges’ list in the Book Awards for Children and Young Adults in the run-up to the awards announcement at Government House on 13 August 2015. There will be giveaways and reviews, and fun besides, so watch this space!


For the full links list for the Book Awards, please head here.

Other blogs involved were: NZ Booklovers blog, Booknotes Unbound, Around the BookshopsThrifty Gifty, My Best Friends are Books, NZ Green Buttons Blog and The Red Room.

Book Review: We wish you a Kiwi Christmas, by Lynette Evans, illustrated by Myles Lawford

cv_we_wish_you_a_kiwi_christmasAvailable at bookstores nationwide.

We Wish You a Kiwi Christmas
is a delightfully “kiwi” version of the traditional song “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”, with gorgeous illustrations.

The story follows an excited little Kiwi on Christmas Eve when she discovers Santa and his broken-down sleigh, calls in all her flying friends to act as Santa’s reindeer to get those presents delivered. For an extra touch of delight, as she’s sitting with Santa on his sleigh, we get the verse:

She looked all around,
And with a soft, dreamy sign,
Said, “Who dares to say
That kiwis can’t fly!”

Published by Scholastic in time for Christmas 2014, there is no need to save this one for under the Christmas tree, the accompanying CD makes this great fun to read and sing in the lead up to Christmas Day.

The story runs through once in English, then repeats with a Māori translation, with slightly different illustrations and a few more verses to a page, so there is room to discuss new aspects of the story, even if you don’t read/speak Māori. As an added advantage there is also a small glossary of English-Māori words at the back of the book, to aid in translation for non-speakers.

He mihi Kirihimete Kiwi,
mihi kau ana mō te Tau Hou,
mīharo, tumeke,
ka mau te wehi !

My only issue is that, as a non-Māori speaker, I found the phrasing quite difficult to get my tongue around. As with the English, they have kept the spirit of the song and story more than they have the metre of the song, so some of the pronunciation is quite fast, and some of the sentences are a bit crammed. However, if, like me, you don’t speak Māori, don’t worry too much, a few plays of the very clear CD and you’ll be singing along at the top of your lungs in no time.

Most of us know the tune, so although the CD isn’t strictly necessary, it does help with getting the phrasing right. However, it’s a wonderful addition just by itself. Pio Terei has a distinctive voice which lends itself perfectly to this song. He’s backed up with children singing, and bird song is brought into the mix throughout.

Wonderful illustrations, amusing text, and a lovely CD… this book definitely puts the merry in a Kiwi Christmas.

We Wish You a Kiwi Christmas
By Lynette Evans, Illustrated by Myles Lawford
Māori lyrics by Ngaere Roberts
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN  9781775432678

Book Review: Where’s Kiwi?, illustrated by Myles Lawford

Available in bookstores nationwide.cv_where_kiwi

There are more than 800 things to spot in this book. Kiwi has itchy feet, wanting adventure and sights to see. There are waves to surf, rivers to raft, cities to explore and mountains to climb. No mountain is too high and no river too wide for our kiwi. He’s fearless and unstoppable.

This story sees our hero touring the country, from the sub-tropical north to the icy south. This is an interactive Where’s Wally-style story, with the reader being asked to find Kiwi and his mates in each illustration, with themes like Sporty the Sheep, Gumboot Guy, Wacky Wizard and Tricky Tuatara.

Each double page from Surfs Up and the Big Smoke, to Deep Freeze and many more, has detailed illustrations, depicting scenes throughout New Zealand – each one full of surprises. To find Sporty, Gumboot, Wacky and Tricky is not as easy as I first thought. I was amazed just how quickly my 3-year-old granddaughter found each character – she was quicker than me!

This is a really lovely book and with Christmas looming this would make a wonderful addition to the gift-giving list.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Where’s Kiwi?
Illustrated by Myles Lawford
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775432883

The artful recreation of a Kiwi Christmas story in Hutt City – Giveaway below

cv_the_twelve_days_of_kiwi_christmasThink of your favourite childhood storybook. And now imagine yourself as a child seeing that storybook come to life. That’s exactly what’s happening in downtown Lower Hutt next month to celebrate Myles Lawford’s children’s book The Twelve Days of Kiwi Christmas.

The lively picture book is a delightful take on The Twelve Days of Christmas carol. But as the title suggests, it comes with a Kiwi twist. The partridges and pear trees have gone, and instead Kiwi kids will read, and sing, about a summertime Christmas with chocolate fish and boogie boards.

To boost the festive mood, Hutt City Council is running a scavenger hunt through Lower Hutt CBD based on The Twelve Days of Kiwi Christmas. Twelve shops in the CBD will display an artwork based on one of the 12 gifts in the book. Kids of all ages can then use the storybook trail map (see link below) to find the art pieces. They’ll find a letter attached to each display, which will spell out a Christmas message, and be their entry into the draw to win fantastic prizes.


Tony Yates’ sculpture of a giant meat pie is one of the 12 art displays in Lower Hutt that’s bringing a kids’ Christmas storybook to life.

It’s a neat way to promote The Twelve Days of Kiwi Christmas. And for kids, it’s a fun, interactive way to enjoy the story. It lifts the story off the pages and recreates it in their world. Each artwork is created by artists from The Learning Connexion in Lower Hutt. These artists give their own spin, their own interpretation, their own ideas to the words – and what better way to show children that words in a book aren’t limited to the pages, but can take on their own forms in their imagination and be recreated as art.

Learning Connexion logoArtist Michaela Miller’s brief was to create art that reflected the book’s “eight flying Frisbees”.

Although Michaela specialises in painting, she decided to experiment in photography. For her work, she will literally have to fling and then photograph Frisbees from hilltops, before adding her creative spin through Photoshop.

The result is stunning. And without giving too much away, the Frisbees will be in high colour against a black and white background.

The artists can, and do, indulge in a topsy-turvy world. Just like Caitlin Morris’ watercolour painting depicting the fifth day of the Kiwi Christmas. Chocolate fish dangling like baubles on a pohutukawa tree? Well, why not? In art, as in storybooks, anything can happen. Real world rules don’t apply.

Tony Yates is another of The Learning Connexion artists involved in the project. His work is a sculpture of an oversized mince pie. Tony spent a week moulding the clay before painting it to give it that look of golden, freshly cooked pastry.

Tony says the kids in his family are especially excited by the project. They can’t wait to see his work displayed as part of the story trail.

The Twelve Days of Kiwi Christmas also comes with a CD so kids can sing along in both English and Māori.HCC_TE AWA_lockup_CMYK_Teal TeAWA

Kids will love singing along with the book, and if they head out to Lower Hutt over the next couple of weeks, they can see with their own eyes, the ideas of The Twelve Days of Kiwi Christmas come to life.

Booksellers New Zealand has three copies of The Twelve Days of Kiwi Christmas to give away. Click through to their facebook page to enter, or enter below.

What: The Twelve Days of Kiwi Christmas storybook trail
Where: Lower Hutt CBD
When: November 30 to 24 December

Download your Story Trail map here.

A Rafflecopter giveaway

Article by Jolene Williams, Hutt City Council, in promotion of their Christmas celebrations.

Book Review: The Letterbox Cat & Other Poems, by Paula Green, illustrated by Myles Lawford

Available now at bookstores nationwide. Paula writes children’s poetry blog Poetry Box. 

There’s a nice collaboration going between author Paula Green and illustrator Myles cv_the_letterbox_catLawford in this quirky little collection of onomatopoeic and physical verse.

Some poems are little more than physical graffiti, others mere lists. Poetry here is almost the wrong explanation for these. One favourite of mine is called ‘Our Dogcat’, plays with the conventions: Our playful cat/is a dogcat because she/can fetch a toy/and bring it back,” “Nooooo,” said my three-year-old, “That’s not right. Barney (our cat) wouldn’t fetch a ball. Dogs do that!” And that’s the point. Green likes to play with our minds but she can’t fool us − even the littlies know the rules. Dogs fetch balls, don’t they? Yet, this is a slightly challenging book − I found myself unsure exactly who the audience was at times. Perhaps it’s a book for all ages, one to grow with, like the best books are.

The ideas are simple, with the straightforward poetry easy to read out loud. The trickier ones are the more visual pieces. ‘Kite’, for example, is a two-page text spread in the shape of a kite in the wind, with a flourishing tail and a long string of words from the ground to the sky. I would imagine that all 7-year-olds would get a kick out of this nifty trick of breaking out of the standard ol’ left to right prose conventions. It reminds me of the cool little pictures I used to create when I first used MS Word and Excel.

Cats appear and reappear. The title poem is a taster − of the quirky eccentricities of our feline friends. ‘The Greedy Cat’ is my favourite. He likes his pizza and cheese and hamburgers and porridge and scoffs, scoffs, scoffs the lot. And then he naps, content and full. It’s nothing new, but the way the words come alive and literally drift around the page brings a delightful touch to the poem. It’s written with a certain naivetë, almost as if a child wrote it.

Dogs appear, too. Like the clumsy, cacophonous ‘Molly’ whose a genuine bull in the china shop. There are plenty more examples to find here, but I’ll let you find those − just watch out for literary vertigo.

Reviewed by Tim Gruar

The Letterbox Cat & Other Poems
by Paula Green, illustrated by Myles Lawford
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775432234

Book Review: Doggy Ditties from A to Z, by Jo van Dam, illustrated by Myles Lawford

This book is available in bookstores nationwide.doggy_ditties_from_a_to_z

This book was a huge hit with my class of five year olds.  It has the key ingredients for success – lovely big illustrations, lots of language play, and lots and lots of dogs!

A breed of dog is introduced for each letter – from Affenpinscher to Zuchon – with a “ditty” to describe the traits of the dog. The ditties come in a variety of styles, from limericks to rhyming couplets, and a variety of rhyme schemes. The variations add interest, and are make the book perfect for dipping into to read a few poems here and there.

The illustrations are good humoured and fun, and Lawford captures the “personalities” of the dogs van Dam is describing beautifully.  My class were excited when they could identify with the letters, giving lots of other examples of words that start with “n”, for example. They were laughing out loud at some of the scrapes the dogs got into (using the word nude is always going to send five year olds into fits of giggles, let’s be honest!), and we all learned about breeds of dog that were new to us.

When my daughter was still of an age to want bed time stories, we used to have an agreement of one story and three poems. This is the sort of book that would have been great for our bed time routine; there is a lot of variety in the poems, and they’re all quite short, which keeps the rhyming schemes fresh and snappy.

I enthusiastically recommend this book for pre-schoolers to about seven year olds. It’s a lovely book to read to aloud, and while some of the names of breeds are tongue-twisters – such as Xoloitzcuintil! – independent readers will enjoy practising their rhyming skills while reading to themselves.

Reviewed by Rachel Moore

Doggy Ditties from A to Z
written by Jo van Dam, illustrated by Myles Lawford
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775431886