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: 1914 Riding Into War, by Susan Brocker

This book is available now from bookstores nationwide. cv_1914_riding_into_war

Scholastic New Zealand have developed a series of books called ‘Kiwis At War’ to commemorate the First World War. This is the first in the series and presents the story of Billy, an underage teenage soldier, and the journey he makes with his beloved horse, Tui, to the other side of the world. As part of the mounted rifles regiment, Billy and his best friend Jack are excited to be embarking on this adventure.

Of course, what they encounter is far worse and more challenging than anything they could have imagined. Abandoning their horses in Egypt, the boys head into the Gallipoli war zone with hundreds of other New Zealand and Australian young men.

The ANZAC story will appeal to many, and it’s a great way to teach the history of this time to young New Zealand and Australian readers. But this book is also a story of friendship, fear, survival, and loss. It’s a compelling and emotional story set in a period of history that has touched many lives. I particularly liked the focus on the relationship between the boys and their horses. All too often, when we think of war we forget about the wider picture: the hundreds of horses that perished; the families at home waiting to hear of news of their loved ones; and the smells and sounds of war.

This is a great story and many young kiwis will enjoy reading it.

Reviewed by Gillian Torckler

1914: Riding into War
by Susan Brocker
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN  9781775432067

Email digest: Wed 27 June 2012

This 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.

Fact of the day
Reading will never be ‘the new black’ because it never goes out of fashion 

Events and happenings
Special Guest in the Cook the Books Kitchen! Chef & Author Chris Fortune

Book News
Read about the New Zealanders at the Poetry Parnassus at this year’s Cultural Olympiad

NZ author enjoys success.

Book review
The Drovers Quest by Susan Brocker

From around the internet
A great video from Random House about what goes on behind the scenes at a publishing house

So many beautiful books and posters, lovingly presented by Will Schofield

A very amusing article about the erotica you should be reading that isn’t 50 Shades of Grey

Kurt Vonnegut was the manager of a Saab dealership (and 23 other early jobs of famous authors)

Highly recommend following #thingsnottosaytoawriter today

Book review: The Drovers Quest by Susan Brocker

This book is in bookshops now.

I absolutely loved this book. It was full of suspense the whole way through and was a definite page turner.

The story is about Charlotte and her quest to join the drove so she can get to the West Coast. The reason for wanting to get to the West Coast is so she can look for her father, who has supposedly been killed for a golden nugget larger than his fist. However, to do this she must disguise herself as a boy, as the droves would never hire a girl back in 1866.

It had me intrigued when she decided to look for her father, even though she believed he had dumped her into a convent home after thirteen years. It implied she still had some kind of hope that he still loved her.

Her father’s friend, Tama, is Maori, and all throughout the drove is amazing everyone with his stories of Maori culture, such as the patupaiarehe, the fairies who live in the fog. He especially makes a mark on one of the drovers, and American immigrant, Joseph. Joseph moved from America to run from his past. His Mum is a Cherokee, and taught him how to ride and track. He makes fast friends with Charlotte despite her attempts to keep everyone away from her so noone will suspect she is really a girl.

But Charlotte has to spill her secret when she jumps into a river and nearly drowns. Joseph said he had to take her clothes of otherwise she would freeze to death. Charlotte and Joseph become very close, and it is proved when Joseph goes after Charlotte when she goes missing.

I liked how the author split the points of view between both Charlotte and Joseph to give a 3D view of the story. It keeps you thinking, ‘do they know?’ all throughout the story.

The plot was very well thought out since just when you thought everything was over, something else happens! The ending was a happily-ever-after moment, but a well planned one at that.

Reviewed by Melissa Smith, aged 12.

The Drovers Quest
by Susan Brocker
Published by HarperCollins
ISBN 9781869509071