Posts Tagged ‘Imagination’

The Grizzled Grist Does Not Exist by Juliette MacIver, illus. Sarah Davis. Pub. Gecko Press, 2022.

August 30, 2022 Comments off


A gem of a picture book from a NZ writer who has won the picture book award before with That’s Not a Hippopotamus, also reviewed on this blog.

Ms. Whiskersniff who prefers Ms Whisk takes her class of daredevils on an outdoor trek up the Dismal Hills. The children are excited and not worried about The grizzled grist that loner and hider Liam insists exists and that Ms Whisk insists does not exist.

The trip up the Dismal Hills is eventful with Liam hiding and seeing things the other children do not see. Then catastrophe as Ms Whisk and the children except Liam are captured by a large net put there by the grizzled grist. What is going to happen and what will Liam do? You will have to read it yourself to find out.

Superb illustrations with the characterisation of Ms Whisk and the Grizzled Grist brilliant. The language and text is rhyming and very witty making this picture book one of the best of the year.

Check the picture of the grizzled Grist at the end of the book and also the class photo at the start. Wonderful story.

The Monkey and the Moonbeam by Jonathon Smith. Pub. Little love imprint Mary Egan Publishing, 2022

July 13, 2022 Comments off

Where is the most comfortable bed you have ever slept in? NicNic asks his mom this as she is telling stories before the children went to sleep.

NicNic in his bed of soft leaves dreams of sleeping on flamingo feathers in Chile, a lions mane in Tanzania, a kangaroo’s pouch in Australia, powdery snow in the Himalayas and other places.

After all his adventures he realises that the best sleep is related to something else. I wonder what it is? Check this Picture book out and see for yourself.

A read aloud story for young children with superb illustrations. NicNic is a monkey living with his mum and dad and we see him in various guises and in various environments.

I did worry on first reading about whether there are flamingos in Chile. There are in the Atacama desert.

An excellent first publication. Some good wisdom for parents.

There’s a Moa in the Moonlight. He Moa kei ro Atarau by Dawn McMillan, illus. Nikki Slade Robinson, Translated Ngaere Roberts. Pub. Oratia, 2021.

November 23, 2021 Comments off

I have often imagined what it would be like to see a moa. What if all the extinct creatures of NZ or indeed the World could all come back? Well the little girl in this story has found a way to do it. Check out the ending to this story and see how she has done this.

There’s a moa in the moonlight, He’s in our garden plot. He’s munching all our melons, he likes the seeds a lot” So begins this rhyming text story that brings back many of NZ’s extinct creatures including the Haast Eagle, the Huia, the kawekaweau or lizard and others.

They all come into the garden and it reminds us of what we have lost and how easily we could lose other precious creatures. But the little girl has found a way to keep them. Superb.

Nikki Slade Robinson illustrates with accurate pictures and gives each animal a personality.

After dawn McMillan’s rhyming text is Ngaere Roberts’ Maori translation which makes this picture book more valuable as it can be used to teach the Maori language.

Rush! Rush! by Elena de Roo, illus. Jenny Cooper. Pub. OneTree House, 2021.

February 23, 2021 Comments off

A young girl opens her bedroom window then with her pyjamas still on plus a light dressing gown, she charges off into the world with a mission.

Under the trees, through the grass, across the sheep paddocks, past the lake where the eels are, under the manuka, across the dunes to the sea. It is a breathless trip told with beautiful linked text full of alliteration and rhyme. On the beach there is a surprise, read it and find out what.

The illustrations are breezy, you can feel the wind as it sweeps the girls hair on her rush to the beach.

The combination of Pulford’s writing and Cooper’s illustrations is a winner. I feel breathless after reading it.

Pages & Co Bk. 3 Tilly and the Map Stories by Anna James. Pub. HarperCollins, 2020.

December 21, 2020 Comments off

The magic of reading is to the fore in this third part about Tilly and Oscar who are bookwanderers. That is the skill of being able to enter into a book and relate to the characters and the action that happens.

Librarians are a power crazy lot, at least in my experience, and the Underwood siblings are trying to squash bookwandering by binding source editions in the British Underlibrary. This has an effect in other countries like France and USA and stops book wandering unless the source edition of a novel is kept outside of Britain.

Tilly and Oscar have some clues to a theory that a supreme power called the Archivists, who are elusive, have the ability to halt the shenanigans of the Underwood’s. The clues lead them to a book in the Library of Congress in Washington so off they go in secrecy to meet Orlando and Jorge at the library. Adventure and treachery await them.

Well written with the characters of Oscar and Tilly having good values and personal character. My favourite part is when they bookwander into Midsummer Night’s Dream and meet Titania, Oberon, Puck and Bottom. Should they stop the love potion being given to Titania? Read it and see. We also meet Shakespeare himself. Where there’s a Will there’s a way.

Fans of the series will love it and it leaves a few plot lines open for another book.

Max and his Big Imagination Bk7 The Cave by Chrissy Metge, illus Dmitri Chizhov.

August 13, 2020 Comments off

max caveMax and his Big Imagination Bk7 The Cave by Chrissy Metge, illus Dmitri Chizhov. Pub. Duckling Publishing 2020.

The seventh book in this series dealing with childhood issues with this one handling “afraid of the dark”.

Ever had your children drag blankets from their beds and make a cave with furniture in your lounge? I have and it is fun. Max’s mum does this to help Max with his fear of the dark and she gives him a torch to help him. But Max goes further, he uses his imagination to create a glow worm cave. Read it and see what happens.

Superbly illustrated by Dmitry Chizhov who gets the glow worms just right and enhances the text with his dark images.

Here in the Real World by Sara Pennypacker.

February 15, 2020 Comments off

real worldHere in the Real World by Sara Pennypacker. Pub. HarperCollins, 2020.

This easy to read novel with short chapters for primary and Intermediate students, is a delight from beginning to end. It is set in Florida and Sara Pennypacker’s style reminds me of Kate Di Camillo.

Over protection is one of many disadvantages of being an only child. Ware is eleven and a half years old and is a disappointment to his hard working parents. He knows they are disappointed and he would like to change completely.

I think he is a fabulous person. He is a dreamer, a thinker and above all an artist. He struggles to meet and mix with people and prefers to be with his own fantasies. He is the type of boy who when he closes the door to his room, every cell in his body breaths a sigh of relief.

He is put in a childminding school during the summer holidays after his grandmother who he calls Big-deal, and he hates it. Over the fence from the play centre is an old churchyard and he goes in there to play. It reminds him of a medieval castle and his great love is the code of a knight which concentrates on fairness.

Ware meets Jolene in the yard and she is a die hard realist but the two get on with lots of disagreement and banter. Jolene plants a garden in the old churchyard and Ware builds a moat around the old church tower.

Then an older girl Ashley tells Jolene and Ware that the bank is going to sell the church site and destroy the work they are doing.

Read it and find out what happens. Brilliant ending. One of the best of the year.

Orphans of the Tide by Struan Murray.

January 31, 2020 Comments off

orphansOrphans of the Tide by Struan Murray. Pub. Puffin, 2020.


Always nice to read a children’s novel by a new author who has a great imagination.

Struan Murray creates a totally believable world that has been through the Drowning. The sea has risen enormously and the only known city left is built on a mountain and is called the City. The City is a character in it’s own right in this novel.

The plot is mysterious and action packed and it is about survival in this watery world. It begins when a whale is washed up on the roof of a house close to the waterfront. Ellie the main character knows that whales start decomposing in the stomach which produces gas and needs to be opened up before it explodes.

The opening starts a panic in the town. Ellie slices the whale open and a boy is extracted from the intestines. Ellie names him Seth and wants to protect him from the townsfolk who have judged him to be a Vessel for the main foe of the people who they call the Enemy.

The Inquisitors in the City have the job of hunting the Vessel down and killing it. Seth is the first Vessel in 23 years, but Ellie, her friend Annie and mysterious character Finn have other ideas.

Between chapters there is the story of the previous Vessel who has left the Diary of Claude Hestermeyer. Does it hold the secret to what is going on?

Ellie is a superb character. Her mother was an inventor and she herself has many skills and a respected role in the town. But she has a deadly secret which you can find out about by reading this novel. The last 50 pages are gripping.

Highly descriptive  novel for intermediate and junior high school students that will make you think. There is a map in the front to guide you. A great start to my reading year.


What’s In The Box? by David Minty.

January 23, 2020 Comments off

whats boxWhat’s In The Box? by David Minty. Pub.   2019.

This is a picture book of discovery and imagination. Aren’t they all?

Two friends coloured yellow, one wearing a pirate hat, the other a hat with a pompom and long straps, find a box on the shore. They ponder what’s inside it their imaginations run wild.

Could it contain “a crab with wonky eyes” “an entrance to a tunnel full of turkeys” ‘a box full of treasure” or “penguins with rocket boosters”.

I am afraid it is none of these but there are visual clues on nearly every page as to what is inside the box. See if you can spot them.

Simple written text and simple expressive illustrations full of colour. An excellent second book to My New red Car also reviewed on this blog.

A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers & Sam Winston.

October 19, 2019 Comments off

child of booksA Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers & Sam Winston. Pub. Walker Books, 2019.

“The universe is made up of stories, not atoms”. This is a foreword to this wonderful picture book about reading and imagination.

A young girl sits on a raft and declares “I am a child of Books. I come from a World of stories”. She floats on a sea of words describing many great works of fiction, to a young boy’s house and together they travel over mountains of make-believe and lose themselves in forests of fairy tales and other imaginations  to a house where anyone can come.

The illustrations are often made with words and enhance the magical world that reading can invoke.

Sophisticated picture book but easy to understand for primary, intermediate and secondary readers. In fact for everybody.

A superb piece of work.

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