Book Review: The Cat from Muzzle, by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Scott Tulloch

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_the_cat_from_muzzleDwayne is a cat who made a 5-week trip from Kaikoura back to his original home of Muzzle Station in Southern Marlborough. While this story is based on a true story, what and who he encountered can only be imagined, in this case by Sally Sutton and Scott Tulloch.

Dwayne is a tough tabby cat with sharp claws.  He loves living at Muzzle Station. The bleating sheep, the gentle cows and the clucking chooks. Moving day comes around. They leave the farm, flying to their new home. Dwayne does not cope. He howled and howled as he doesn’t want to move to Kaikoura. The new house is big and bright but all he wantsis to be back at the Station, so off he goes, one determined cat to start his journey back to Muzzle.

Off Dwayne leaves walking and walking until his paws were sore. He walked for hours and days, eating what he could along the way. A friendly hunter shared his fire, inviting Dwayne to come and live with him but this Muzzle cat had somewhere else to be.

This is a wonderful story of tenacity and courage. I read this to my 4 ½ year old granddaughter Quinn who is the proud co-owner along with her older sister Abby, to two cats. One is called Gus, who is a tabby and a big fluffy puss called Rocky (so named to give him mana among other cats!). Quinn wanted to know why Dwayne wanted to go back to Muzzle Station and not stay with his owners. She can’t imagine Gus or Rocky ever leaving her. She told me she loves them this much………………………………..!

The Illustrations by the wonderful artist Scott Tulloch are simply beautiful. This is a great book. This would make a wonderful present.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

The Cat from Muzzle
by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Scott Tulloch
Published by Puffin NZ
ISBN 9780143773085

Book Review: Dig, Dump, Roll, by Sally Sutton, with illustrations by Brian Lovelock

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_dig_dump_roll.jpgFrom the bestselling creators of Roadworks, the series of books that feature all sorts of trucks and earthmoving equipment, Dig, Dump, Roll is sure to please.

With its bold illustrations and made-to-be-read-out-loud text, Dig, Dump, Roll is a joy. For example – ‘bang-a-shudder, clang-a-judder, what’s at work? Here’s a clue: it will dig big holes for you.’ Turn the page to find ‘Digger! Digger! Coming through!’

There are bulldozers, diggers, dump trucks, rollers, concrete mixers and builders – and what are they building? Somewhere you can learn and play – a school!

This will delight younger children if whoever is reading the book puts a bit of effort into making the noises that go with each piece of machinery, and for those a little older, a page at the back of the book shows different parts of the items featured.

Dig, Dump, Roll is filled with bright, colourful illustrations that bring the machinery to life for all ages. A nice touch is the fact the illustrations show both men and women driving the machinery.

Reviewed by Faye Lougher

Dig, Dump, Roll
by Sally Sutton, with illustrations by Brian Lovelock
Published by Walker Books
ISBN 9781760650803

Book Review: Miniwings – Oceana’s Kitty Catastrophe, by Sally Sutton, illustrated Kirsten Richards

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_miniwings_oceanas_kitty_catastropheSophia is a little girl with a very special secret. She has six miniwings that come to life only when she is around. Her little sister Clara is the only other person who knows. The only problem is they keep getting Sophia into trouble.

Sophia and Clara’s parents decide to go on a date and to drop the girls off at their grandparent’s house. Their grandparents run a cattery. An inspector is due to come, and of course those darn miniwings had to cause trouble. Can Sophia get herself out of trouble and solve the problems that they create?

I turned up at my daughter’s place to stay and gave our granddaughter 6 ½ year old Abby this book to read. She ran into her room, shut the door – hours of peace. Sometime later she comes out, book in hand and says – ‘I really liked that book Grandma, can I keep it, I’d like to read it again.’ What she particularly liked about it was the mischief the miniwings created and Sophia’s solution.

Make believe is something that most children indulge in. Our daughter, being a teacher, actively encourages this through play and books.

Oceana’s Kitty Catastrophe is a lovely story and one that will hopefully activate your little one’s imagination. Miniwings aren’t a million miles from My Little Pony, so this relationship could well see this series become a hit with a lot of little girls.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Miniwings – Oceana’s Kitty Catastrophe
by Sally Sutton, Illustrated by Kirsten Richards
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775434856


Book Review: Ambulance, Ambulance!, by Sally Sutton and Brian Lovelock

cv_ambulance_ambulanceAvailable now in bookshops nationwide.

There’s been a crash, the ambulance is to the rescue. Sirens blaring, it reaches the site of the accident. A child has fallen off his bicycle.

‘Bleep, bleep, Emergency!
News just through:
Crash, crash, there’s been a crash.
Let’s go, crew!
Nee nar nee nar nee nar nee nar… ‘

I read this book to Quinn who at 2 ½ years of age is always falling off or over something – often her own two feet or off her bike. Fortunately, it’s never been anything major: nothing that a cuddle and a sticking plaster doesn’t solve. She loved this book and couldn’t get enough of the story, with me having to read it several times.

The illustrations are bright and colourful, and fit in very well with the accompanying text.

The author Sally Sutton and illustrator Brian Lovelock are the  award-winning creators of  bestsellers Roadworks, Demolition and Construction – all favourites.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Ambulance, Ambulance
by Sally Sutton and Brian Lovelock
Published by Walker Books
ISBN 9781925126303

Book Review: When We Go Camping, by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Cat Chapman

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

when_we_go_campingSally Sutton has written a number of popular children’s books, including Roadworks and Construction, and the Diary of… series that features a range of animals, such as a frog and a pukeko.

When We Go Camping follows a family camping trip and the trials, tribulations and excitement of a holiday in the outdoors. A great book to read out loud to young children, it contains rhymes and onomatopoeia that evokes what’s happening on the pages.

When we go camping, we bang in the pegs,
Bang in the pegs, bang in the pegs.
Guy ropes are tricky; they trip up our legs!

Smacketty tappetty bopp-io.

Each page has a version of that phrase, keeping continuity throughout the book – zippetty zappetty flopp-io; slappetty whacketty swash-io, etc, ending with hushetty shushetty snore-io as they sleep off their adventures.

The illustrations by Cat Chapman are charming and will keep young ones (and those reading the book to them) amused for ages, hunting out all the things needed for a successful camping trip. Older children can read along, while younger ones can help point out certain things like the family dog (who gets a look-in on almost every page), a teddy bear, sunhat, jandals, sausages, flies – and even a possum in the loo (that page includes a hilarious rhyme about the long drop).

With good weather fast approaching, this book would make a great Christmas gift for those heading away on a camping holiday this summer.

Reviewed by Faye Lougher

When We Go Camping
by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Cat Chapman
Published by Walker Books
ISBN 9781921977787

Add these authors into your popularity stakes this Christmas

While approximately half of all international book sales are made up by sales of books for Children and Young Adults, less than 1/3 of NZ book sales are in the Children and Young Adult category. Why is this? The talent is certainly here – perhaps it is a matter of name recognition?

Looking at the bestsellers charts for international Children’s & YA, parents and kids buy based on author name. Right now, Andy Griffiths is hovering at the top of the charts for his Treehouse series. David Walliams also sticks on the chart like glue: I didn’t even realise he’d written seven books until his visit to the Auckland Writers’ Festival made that clear. In the domestic market, names like Lynley Dodd, and Kiwi story author Bob Darroch stick around, with backlist sales being incredibly strong.

With this in mind, here are a whole load of still-living, possibly-overlooked amazing NZ authors that you should bring into your child’s reading world as early as you can.

Picture Book Authors

Donovan Bixley
cv_little_bo_peepDonovan is New Zealand’s king of expressive illustration. His sheep in Little Bo Peep and More (Upstart Press) are hilarious, and his illustrations of kid’s classics Wheels on the Bus and Old MacDonald’s Farm (Hachette NZ) are brilliantly original. With several original stories under his belt now – the award-winning Monkey Boy (Scholastic NZ, 2014), for one – I can’t wait to see more.

cv_ghoulish_getupsFifi Colston
Home costume creation must-have Ghoulish Get-ups (Scholastic NZ) is just the latest in a great range of books that multi-talented creative Fifi Colston has to offer. Her award-winning Wearable Wonders (Scholastic NZ)  is essential for any young creative soul, and she has illustrated more books than I can count, in a career spanning 30 years. The Red Poppy, written by David Hill (Scholastic NZ), was just gorgeous, and Itiiti’s Gift, with Melanie Drewery (Puffin), is another classic.

Juliette MacIver
cv_yak_and_gnuWith her latest picture book, Yak and Gnu (Walker Books), being her 12th picture book in 5 years, Juliette MacIver and her flawless rhyming verse have become one of the perennials of the NZ book world. Her first book, Marmaduke Duck and the Marmalade Jam (Scholastic NZ), is the boys’ favourite; my personal favourite from her backlist is Toucan Can (Gecko Press). Most of her books are illustrated by the equally wonderful Sarah Davis.

cv_trainsCatherine Foreman
Catherine Foreman has a way with words for the younger kids in your family. Her 2015 book, The Roly-Poly Baby (Scholastic NZ), is a lovely short tale for your adventurous baby. Her 2013 series ‘Machines & Me’ still comes out most nights in our family – Trains in particular. Take note, writers of NZ – we need more good books about trains!

Ruth Paul
cv_stompRuth’s latest is the third in a group of dinosaur books, What’s the Time, Dinosaur? (Scholastic NZ) Not only are Ruth’s illustrations delightful, she can even rhyme! Our family favourites are Stomp! (board book just released), Two Little Pirates , and The King’s Bubbles (all Scholastic NZ).

Sally Suttoncv_zoo_train
All aboard the Zoo Train (Walker Books)! Sally is another fantastic picture book writer that isn’t anywhere near as well-known as she ought to be. Every child needs a copy of Roadworks (Walker Books). Be ready to hide it when it becomes a must-read Every Single Night. There are two follow-ups too – Demolition, and Construction.

Junior Fiction & Non-fiction

Kyle Mewburn
cv_dragon_knightKyle Mewburn has collaborated with Donovan Bixley for both of his recent junior fiction series’, Dinosaur Rescue (8 books, Scholastic NZ), and Dragon Knight. Begun early in 2015, this series is already 4 books strong. Both of these series are full of silly laughs for lovers of Captain Underpants and Diary of a Wimpy Kid, with a bit of Horrible Histories for good measure. He also has a 24-title-strong picture book list too: Duck’s Stuck (Scholastic NZ) and No Room for a Mouse (Scholastic Aus) are family favourites.

cv_cool_nukesDes Hunt
Cool Nukes author Des Hunt specialises in action-packed, environmentally-conscious writing. He has written about glaciers (Shadows in the Ice), mining (Frog Whistle Mine) and treasure-hunting (Cry of the Taniwha). There is something in his 22-book strong backlist for every adventure-loving 8-12-year-old.

Elizabeth Pulford
cv_sanspell‘Bloodtree Chronicles’ author Elizabeth Pulford is an incredibly diverse writer, writing for every age range. Her Scholastic fairy series Lily was published worldwide, and her most recent picture book Finding Monkey Moon (Candlewick Press) is being feted all over the globe. Junior Fiction series ‘Bloodtree Chronicles’, beginning with Sanspell, is perfect for the magic-loving kids in your life.
Philippa Werrycv_anzac_day_the_new_zealand_story
Author of non-fiction titles Anzac Day and Waitangi Day (New Holland), Philippa is another multi-talented author, writing ably across age ranges. Her most recent books have focused on war, and the New Zealand experience of war, but an old favourite of mine is junior fiction title The Great Chocolate Cake Bake-Off.

WW1 series, Scholastic NZ
cv_1915_wounds_of_warScholastic has a current book series commemorating New Zealanders’ wartime adventures. This began last year, with 1914: Riding into War, by Susan Brocker (another great underrated writer), then 1915: Wounds of War, by Diana Menefy (you guessed it, another). It will go for another three years, and is good reading for kids who enjoy Michael Morpurgo and other war-focussed writers.

Ned Barraud & Gillian Candler
cv_in_the_bushNed and Gillian have paired up on four books about New Zealand nature so far, and each of them have been extraordinarily good. In the Bush is the latest from this pair, but there is also On the Beach, In the Garden, and Under the Ocean. All are published by Potton& Burton. So, no matter where you are going this summer, there is a book in this range for you. Another kiwi author who writes and illustrates in the same area is Andrew Crowe.

cv_new_zealand_hall_of_fameMaria Gill
Most recently, Maria is known for her ‘Hall of Fame’ books – New Zealand Hall of Fame and New Zealand’s Sports Hall of Fame; but she has also got a huge backlist of nature publishing under her belt. If it explodes (Rangitoto, Eruption), has feathers (Call of the Kokako, Bird’s Eye View) or indeed fins (Save our Seas), she is bound to have written about it. Get your eco-ranger onto her books now!

Young Adult Fiction
David Hill
cv_first_to_the_topMy Brother’s War and The Deadly Sky (Penguin NZ) are just the most recent in a very long list of books for young adults that the wonderful David Hill has produced. He has recently branched into picture book writing, with Red Poppy and First to the Top (Penguin, 2015). In his YA list, his sensitive portrayal of awkward teendom, and his wit, is what sets him apart from others.

cv_evies_warAnna Mackenzie
Author of the recent release Evie’s War, Anna Mackenzie has been an essential part of the YA scene in New Zealand for many years. The Sea-Wreck Stranger was the first in a series exploring the fate of a stranger in a close-knit community. Cattra’s Legacy and Donnel’s Promise took us back into history, and reminded me a bit of Tamora Pierce’s books, with their fierce heroine.

Brian Falkner

cv_recon_team_angel_vengeanceRecon Team Angel (Walker Books) is the most recent series from Falkner, and it is a must-read for lovers of the ‘Cherub’ series. He began his writing career with junior fiction, incorporating the Warriors (The Flea Thing) and Coca Cola (The Real Thing); then moved into future-tech YA, with Brain Jack and The Tomorrow Code. He is a master of fast-paced action-packed adventure fiction.

Finally, a few you ought to know by now: Kate De Goldi, Elizabeth Knox, Fleur Beale, Mandy Hager, Bernard Beckett, and Ella Hunt. Introduce your teens to them, and they’ll read all of their books. They are brilliant. See my post from a couple of years ago for more about teen fiction writers in NZ.

by Sarah Forster

Book Review: Zoo Train, by Sally Sutton & Daron Parton

Available in bookstores nationwide. cv_zoo_train

I love the rhythm of this book. It chugs and choo-choos along compulsively, taking you along for the ride. So much so, in fact, that I entirely missed the subtext in the illustrations, which meant I was as baffled as my 4-year-old when the child in the story had lost his belt, his hat, his scarf and his lunch by the time they arrived at the lake.

Sally Sutton is best known as the writer of Roadworks, Demolition and Construction, and her skill with rhyme is wonderful. She is excellent at making just the right onomatopoeic words fit at the right time, and this book rhymes perfectly and naturally, without losing the rhythm of a train.

The illustrations are frosty-looking: you can see the chill in the air with all of the parents and children bundled up warm, and the seals basking on the ice floe. The subtext is cleverly rendered by illustration, and referred to in the words once you slow down and take notice of them! My 4-year-old enjoyed poring over the illustrated endpapers as well, figuring out what all the animals were, and whether they were in fact in the right place.

While I enjoyed the circular nature of the story – train goes to lake, stops, then heads back to where it came from, I couldn’t help being a bit annoyed by the child who decides that instead of having a group picnic, everyone has to go with him back to the beginning because he has lost his lunch (and a few other things.) Trust me, I know kids are like this, but perhaps in an ideal world (the world of books) they wouldn’t be?!

That said, this is a pretty perfect book for kids aged 2-6. Animals, trains, and chugga chugga rhyming text choo choo, what more can you possibly want? This is a rollicking read, perfect for little ones who like to figure out clues as you are reading the book aloud to them, and for those who simply like trains.

Reviewed by Sarah Forster

Zoo Train
by Sally Sutton and Daron Parton
Published by Walker Books
ISBN 9781922179876

Book Review: Catch That Plane! By Sally Sutton, illustrated by Sylvie Currin Korankova

Available in bookstores nationwide. 

Catch That Plane! is a picture book that combines a rhythmic text-style with high energcv_catch_that_planey illustrations to create a fun book that has been enjoyed by every child I have shared it with.

The book follows the journey of a family who are heading to the airport to catch a plane – and they’re late. The text is filled with wonderful descriptive words that create a sense of urgency: chasing, hustling, dashing, flurry, puffing, scooting. Fans of Margaret Mahy and Lynley Dodd will appreciate the rich language.

The illustrations are just lovely. Initially they look very simple, but they cleverly catch the wide range of emotions and situations you might see at an airport, and again, that sense of urgency is everywhere with subtle line emphasis. Each picture is worth closer examination – while the main family are getting swiped and scanned through security, at a distant desk an officer frowns while examining a bag, while the passenger radiates frustration and impatience.

The children in my class of 5-year-olds who enjoyed the book the most remembered their own trips, particularly if they had travelled recently overseas, because they remembered the bio-security beagles. They loved being able to relate their own experiences to the book and share what they knew. I can also envisage Catch That Plane! working really well as a pre-travel primer for children who haven’t experienced air travel before, to give them a sense of all the things that will happen before and after they board their plane.

My favourite 2- and 4-year-old boys also enjoyed the book; Mr 4 was all eyes as we read through the story, taking it in, while Mr 2 loved the pictures, pointing to things he wanted to know more about. For the child who is really into the story and wants to know more, there’s a great child-friendly glossary at the end of the story.

Highly recommended as a read-aloud book for 2 – 7 year olds.

Reviewed by Rachel Moore

Catch That Plane!
by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Sylvie Currin Korankova
Published by Walker Books AU
ISBN 9781921720680

Book Review: Construction, by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Brian Lovelock

Sally Sutton and Brian Lovelock will be at the Wellington Storylines Family Day this Sunday 24 August. The Children’s Bookshop will be selling this book there, but it is not released into other stores until Monday 1 September. 

A few years ago I knew nothing about pre-school construction books, but since having my son – a serious collector of anything to do with diggers – I feel I can claim expert status.cv_construction

Construction is the new children’s book by Sally Sutton and Brian Lovelock, the pair who created the award-winning Roadworks and its followup, Demolition. Sutton has been quoted as saying, ‘For me, language is music. I want my books to sound good!’ This is certainly the case with Construction, which is noisy and energetic. Aimed at ages two to five, the story follows the construction of a library, from a digger first breaking the ground, to the building’s roof going on. At the end of the story a group of children visit the new library: ‘Ready … Steady … Read!’

Construction uses a similar structure to that of Roadworks – a description of the action followed by onomatopoeic words – and while this isn’t original, it’s certainly effective. The repetition and rhyme allows pre-schoolers to easily learn the story, and they will be excited to make these sounds along with the reader. As a parent, the book is fun to read aloud. For example, the first page: ‘Dig the ground. Dig the ground. Bore down in the mud. Shove the piles in one by one. Slip! Slap! Thud!’

Brian Lovelock has created the book’s illustrations with pigmented inks, and the bright colours and paint splatter effect are textural and interesting. While both my son and I enjoyed making the loud noises, it was Lovelock’s illustrations that held our interest. My son asked about many of the details and this allowed me to talk to him about the different aspects of the construction process. Through the illustrations Lovelock brings concrete mixers, diggers, trucks, powertools, and a pair of very splattered painters to life. The painters page is probably my favourite: ‘Glug! Glop! Gloop!’

Lovelock’s style is three dimensional and technical, and he often uses perspective to create interest. We see the library roof being fitted from a bird’s-eye-view, while the illustration of the skill-saw is a closeup. These are wonderfully open and generous illustrations. One of the most positive aspects of the book is the female builders, some of who are in charge of the action. This is a change from other picture books about heavy machines or building sites, which often have all male characters. The book’s final message, that “the library’s here for everyone” and kids can “borrow all you need,” is also different from other building books, which often focus on the machines and noise. It’s a sweet reminder that it was a book that let us see into the world of construction.

Written by Sarah Jane Barnett

Written by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Brian Lovelock
Walker Books, 2014
$15.99 RRP, hardback
ISBN 9781922077301