Saturday, April 1, 2017

Volcano Books Galore!

Over the years, I've had five volcano books published. Here's an update on the books:

Eruption! Discovering New Zealand Volcanoes
'Eruption!' sold out eighteen months ago, but has recently been reprinted again and is now available! I'll have it for sale on my website soon but in the meantime you should be able to get it at your local bookstores.

The book explains the basics of volcano science, alongside diagrams and colour photographs of some of our most spectacular volcanoes. To make it interesting for 6-12 year olds, the narrator for the book is Volcanica, reporter for the Magmatic Press. The book also has interactive codes for kids to research, and links to fascinating volcano videos.

DKfindout! Volcanoes

'Volcanoes' was published by one of the largest children's non-fiction book publishers in the world. It is part of a series of books that helps kids find out answers to questions they've always had about subjects.Other books in the series include 'Ancient Rome', 'Science', 'Solar System', 'Animals', 'Dinosaurs'. It includes access to a free online encyclopedia:

'Volcanoes' includes information about volcanoes from all over the world. The end papers include quizzes, fact sheets on types of eruptions, and a timeline of eruptions. Complementing the many subjects covered are over 200 photographs. It's packed with explosive facts and amazing pictures. It's a small book filled with BIG IDEAS. Available from all good bookstores.

Rangitoto: The rock standing in the ocean

 'Rangitoto' is a creative non-fiction story about the birth of Auckland's most iconic volcano. Told like it is just happening, kids will see the many stages of a volcano eruption, plus what happens in the aftermath. Heather Arnolds stunning illustrations show the effects of the explosions on the habitat. Children can have the story read to them, older students will find the added extra fact boxes and timelines useful for projects.

'Rangitoto' shortlisted in the New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards in 2012. It is available in digital and picture book format.

The other two volcano books are 'Volcanic Eruptions'' and 'Under Your Feet' available through the Book Depository.

If your child or students would like to make a shield volcano, download this template.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

2017 Notable Book Awards

Congratulations to all the recipients:

Storylines Notable Books List 2017

The Storylines Notable Books List 2017, for books published in 2016, has been announced. The award-winning titles are:
Picture Books
  • If I was a Banana by Alexandra Tylee, illustrated by Kieran Rynhart (Gecko)
  • Gwendolyn! by Juliette MacIver, illustrated by Terri Rose Baynton (HarperCollins UK)
  • Tuna and Hiriwa by Ripeka Takotowai Goddard, illustrated by Kimberly Andrews (Huia)
  • Maui – Sun Catcher by Tim Tipene, illustrated by Zak Waipara (Oratia)
  • Gladys Goes to War by Glyn Harper, illustrated by Jenny Cooper (Penguin Random House NZ)
  • Fuzzy Doodle by Melinda Szymanik, illustrated by Donovan Bixley (Scholastic NZ)
  • Gorillas in our Midst by Richard Fairgray, illustrated by Terry Jones (Scholastic NZ)
  • Henry Bob Bobbalich by Juliette MacIver, illustrated by Link Choi (Scholastic NZ)
  • Witch’s Cat Wanted Apply Within written by Joy H Davidson, illustrated by Nikki Slade-Robinson (Scholastic NZ)
  • The Harmonica by Dawn McMillan, illustrated by Andrew Burdan (Scholastic NZ)
  • Rasmas by Elizabeth Pulford, illustrated by Jenny Cooper (Scholastic NZ)
  • The Best Dad in the World by Pat Chapman, illustrated by Cat Chapman (Upstart)


  • ANZAC Heroes by Maria Gill, illustrated by Marco Ivancic (Scholastic NZ)
  • See Play Do: A Kid’s Handbook for Everyday Creative Fun written & illustrated by Louise Cuckow (Beatnik)
  • Bruce Wants to Go Faster by Dreydon Sobanja, illustrated by Murray Dewhurst (Inspired Kids)
  • Armistice Day: the New Zealand Story by Philippa Werry (New Holland)
  • Speed King: Burt Munro, the World’s Fastest Indian by David Hill, illustrated by Phoebe Morris (Penguin Random House NZ)
  • Jack and Charlie: Boys of the Bush by Jack Marcotte (Penguin Random House NZ)
  • The Beginner's Guide to Netball by Maria Tutaia (Penguin Random House NZ)
  • Cricket with Kane Williamson by Kane Williamson (Penguin Random House NZ)
  • The Cuckoo and the Warbler: A True New Zealand Story by Heather Hunt, illustrated by Kennedy Warne (Potton & Burton)
  • Much ado about Shakespeare written and illustrated by Donovan Bixley (Upstart)

Junior Fiction

  • The Road to Ratenburg by Joy Cowley, illustrated by Gavin Bishop (Gecko)
  • Annual edited by Kate De Goldi and Susan Paris (Gecko)
  • The Diamond Horse by Stacy Gregg (HarperCollins UK)
  • Rona by Chris Szekely, illustrated by Josh Morgan (Huia)
  • Enemy Camp by David Hill (Penguin Random House NZ)
  • The Impossible Boy by Leonie Agnew (Penguin Random House NZ)
  • Grandad’s Wheelies by Jack Lasenby, illustrated by Bob Kerr (Penguin Random House NZ)
  • Barking Mad by Tom E Moffatt (Scholastic NZ)
  • Sunken Forest by Des Hunt (Scholastic NZ)

Young Adult

  • Lonesome When You Go by Saradha Koirala (Makaro)
  • Coming Home to Roost by Mary-anne Scott (Penguin Random House NZ)

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Young Authors Challenge Latest Book

Barfoot & Thompson sponsors the Young Authors Challenge competition with all the proceeds going to the Starship Hospital. I've had the pleasure of being one of the judges for this competition and the editor of the book. This year there were nine winning entries. I spent a couple of hours in a workshop with the winning entrants and had a 1:1 session with each of them. At the end we have a book launch. Here's some pictures and a video of Kevin Mealamu, who has been an illustrator for nine of the books, explaining the process.


Buy the book here
All proceeds go to the Starship Foundation!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Anzac Heroes wins Margaret Mahy Book of the Year Award

ANZAC Heroes by Maria Gill wins Margaret Mahy Book of the Year

Left:  Judge Fiona Mackie, Scholastic publishing manager Lynette Evans, illustrator Marco Ivancic, author Maria Gill, TV personality and MP Maggie Barry, at the NZ Book Awards for Children & Young Adults

“Simply stunning, with gold-standard production values,” say the judges of the winner of this year’s Margaret Mahy Book of the Year Award in the prestigious New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. ANZAC Heroes is also the winner of the Elsie Locke Award for the Best Book in the Non-Fiction category.

Maria Gill’s book ANZAC Heroes, illustrated by Marco Ivancic and published by Scholastic New Zealand, is a collaboration between writer and illustrator at its best. From nurse and pilot to soldier and spy, this book offers a beautifully arranged cast of ANZAC heroes from World War I and World War 2, and includes lifelike illustrations with maps, a medal room, fact boxes, index and a glossary. Each hero has a personal story and timeline.

Fiona Mackie, convenor of the judging panel says, “ANZAC Heroes was impossible to put down. The book brings to life the people who risked everything, left everything and lost everything as they participated in World Wars 1 and 2. There’s carefully chosen material, never overwhelming the reader, but not skimping on detail either. The meticulous research brings these heroes to life creating the perfect book package. Readers will learn an amazing amount about the people who represented, fought and, sometimes, died for us.”

The 2016 judging panel was convened by teacher-librarian, Fiona Mackie; librarian, Kathy Aloniu; and author Melinda Szymanik. In addition, English academic, Professor Martin Salisbury was the advisor for the Russell Clark Illustration Award. Professor Salisbury is the Professor of Illustration at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, UK; he leads its MA Children’s Book Illustration programme that he established in 2000. He has been a member of the international jury for a number of illustration and picture book awards.

The te reo Māori entries were judged by librarians Te Rangi Tangohau and Lawren Matrix, and Auckland Museum’s Senior Outreach Programmer, Mereana Taungapeau. The convenor of the te reo Māori panel was University of Auckland Kaitiaki Māori librarian Riki-Lee Saua.

The winners of the 2016 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults and HELL Children’s Choice Awards were announced at a ceremony at Wellington’s Circa Theatre on the evening of Monday, 8 August. The Awards are a unique celebration of the contribution New Zealand’s children’s authors and illustrators make to build national identity and cultural heritage.

The Best First Book Award winners are Sophie Siers and Helen Kerridge for Allis the little tractor. A perfect blend of text and illustration, the judges thought this book had a nostalgic feel without being old-fashioned. “The book is understated, gentle and warm.”

Patricia Grace wins the Te Kura Pounamu Award for the best book in te reo Māori with Whiti te ra! Translated by Kawata Teepa, this book shares the history behind New Zealand’s most famous haka, Ka Mate. The judges acclaimed this book: “Its stunning artwork and simple language are used to convey an inspiring message of overcoming challenges. Suitable for all ages, this book is a riveting read that will capture hearts and minds.”

The Little Kiwi’s Matariki, written and illustrated by Nikki Slade Robinson, is the winner of the Picture Book Award. Little Kiwi takes the reader on a rapid journey, rousing the forest creatures from their slumber as she urges them to come and see the most wonderful sight. English and te reo Māori are blended together naturally and comfortably in this winning book.

Wellington author Kate De Goldi wins the Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction with From the Cutting Room of Barney Kettle. “Surprising, gripping, heart-breaking and ultimately incredibly moving, this novel stood out right from the start. This book is packed with warmth, wonderful language, rich and witty observations, compelling characters and layers of message and meaning,” the judges commented.

Brian Falkner’s Battlesaurus: Rampage at Waterloo is the winner of the Young Adult Fiction Award. This book draws the reader into a world both familiar and unfamiliar – a battle between England and France, at Waterloo, with a plot-altering twist – dinosaurs as weaponry! The judges said that the convincing plot made them believe that Napoleon actually had saurs at the battle of Waterloo, and the cliff-hanger ending left them desperate to find out more.

Taupo illustrator Donovan Bixley wins the Russell Clark Award for Illustration in Much Ado About Shakespeare. The judges commended this book for its tremendous achievement. “Each illustration tells a story that rewards close examination, providing a rich experience for readers, with the added bonus of a lovingly curated lesson in art history. These illustrations are a technical tour de force.”

The full list of winners of the 2016 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults is:

·                     Margaret Mahy Book of the Year and winner of the Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction

Prizes: $7,500 for the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year and $7,500 for the Non-Fiction Award

ANZAC Heroes by Maria Gill, illustrated by Marco Ivancic; Scholastic New Zealand

·                     Best First Book Award: Prize $2,000

Allis the little tractor by Sophie Siers, illustrated by Helen Kerridge; Millwood-Heritage Productions

·                     Te Kura Pounamu Award for the best book in te reo Māori: Prize $7,500

Whiti te rā! by Patricia Grace, translated by Kawata Teepa, illustrated by Andrew Burdan; Huia Publishers

·                     Picture Book Award: Prize $7,500

The Little Kiwi’s Matariki written and illustrated by Nikki Slade Robinson; David Ling Publishing (Duck Creek Press)

·                     Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction: Prize $7,500

From the Cutting Room of Barney Kettle by Kate De Goldi; Penguin Random House (Longacre)

·                     Young Adult Fiction Award: Prize $7,500

Battlesaurus: Rampage at Waterloo by Brian Falkner; Pan Macmillan Australia (Farrar Straus Giroux)

·                     Russell Clark Award for Illustration: Prize $7,500

Much Ado About Shakespeare illustrated by Donovan Bixley; Upstart Press

New Zealand children enthusiastically voted for their own specially selected finalists’ list for this year’s HELL Children’s Choice Awards. Each book wins $1,000. The winners are:

·                     Te reo Māori

Te Hua Tuatahi a Kuwi written and illustrated by Kat Merewether, and translated by Pānia Papa; Illustrated Publishing

·                     Picture Book

The House on the Hill by Kyle Mewburn, illustrated by Sarah Davis; Scholastic New Zealand

·                     Junior Fiction

The Girl Who Rode the Wind by Stacy Gregg; Harper Collins

·                     Non-Fiction

First to the Top by David Hill, illustrated by Phoebe Morris; Penguin Random House (Puffin)

·                     Young Adult Fiction

Stray by Rachael Craw; Walker Books

HELL general manager Ben Cumming says HELL is delighted at the response to this year’s HELL Children’s Choice. “As sponsors of the Children’s Choice Awards, and champions of child literacy, we are really encouraged to see how invested young readers are in Kiwi literature. Getting kids excited about books is exactly why we’ve been involved with the Awards for the past three years, and why we continue to drive our Reading Challenge through schools and libraries across the country.

“We’d like to thank everyone who voted this year, and to congratulate the winners picked from what was a rich and varied group of shortlisted titles. Creativity is at the heart of what HELL stands for and, more importantly, it is what drives young readers to keep picking up books and be inspired.”

Fiona Mackie says the judges were heartened by high quality of books, and the number of first-time authors and illustrators who submitted their books for the awards. “We were also impressed with the high standards of publication from smaller or niche publishers who are creating material that rivals the well-established publishers. On behalf of the judges, I want to say that being able to read, appreciate and enjoy the best literature in New Zealand for children and young adults is an amazing privilege. With increasing sales of books for children and young adults over the past year, the New Zealand book industry is in fine fettle.”

The New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults could not exist without the generosity, commitment and vision of its sponsors. The New Zealand Book Award Trust is grateful to all these organisations for their support: Creative New Zealand, HELL Pizza, Copyright Licensing Limited, Book Tokens (NZ) Ltd, Wellington City Council, Nielsen Book Services and the Fernyhough Education Foundation.

The New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults are administered by the New Zealand Book Council on behalf of the New Zealand Book Awards Trust.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Anzac Heroes Shortlisted twice!

The New Zealand Children's Book Award judges must have liked 'Anzac Heroes', because they have shortlisted it in the non-fiction category. Here's more information about the Book Awards.

Kids have also selected it as one of their three favourite non-fiction books too. If you want to vote for it (and you are under 18 years old) you can go here to vote.

Anzac Heroes has been getting great reviews around the country.  I've given talks about my latest book in Hamilton, Tokoroa, Taupo, Matamata, Queenstown, Wanaka, Alexandra, Cromwell, and with Duffy Books in the Taumaranui area this year.

Remarkables Primary School students help me act out a story in Queenstown

Southwell Primary students acted the same story in Hamilton.

The book has also been in the What Lies Beneath Exhibition. The exhibition started at Auckland Central City Library, moved to Birkenhead Library and is currently at Queenstown Library. Next it goes to Palmerston North Library. I'm going to speak at the library with Glyn Harper and David Hill on the 13th July at 4.00pm. If you live local - do come along to meet us.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Anzac Heroes Launched!

Local Children Learn About ANZAC Heroes

Accomplished children’s author Maria Gill shared stories of ANZAC men and women of WWI and WWII when she officially launched her latest book ANZAC HEROES at the National Army Museum today.
Over 100 school children from Waiouru and Ohakune Primary Schools, and Tokoroa Intermediate were treated to a workshop session with Maria and talented Illustrator Marco Ivancic which included stories of our Anzac heroes, research methods and the use of photos as a reference for art.

Museum Marketing Manager Nicola Bennett said, “We are delighted to have an author of Maria’s calibre here today, the Museum has assisted with the provision of some of the photographs in this wonderful book and it is fitting that it be launched here so close to ANZAC Day.”

Maria has travelled the country giving ‘author talks’ and this is the start of a series of ‘Anzac Hero’ talks planned to children across the country. “I want to get the message across that these soldiers thought they were going on a big adventure but that was far from the truth. They had to face a lot of hardship and it was quite an achievement to make it home, said Maria.”

Ohakune Primary School teacher Alison Whale said, “It has been particularly fantastic for the children to meet the actual Author and Illustrator and learn about their craft first hand.”

Anzac Heroes gives children an overview of the two World Wars, and takes them on a journey with some of the heroes, focusing on the triumphs and tragedies of 30 heroic Australians. The book is well supported with detailed maps, timelines and charts as well as stunning life-like illustrations and historical photos.

Maria, a former school teacher has written 45 children’s books receiving accolades including seven Storylines Notables and has been shortlisted for six LIANZA Elsie Locke Awards and two New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards. This is the second book Marco and Maria have collaborated on, the first, New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame, was a 2015 Storylines Notable Book and was shortlisted for the 2015 LIANZA Elsie Locke Non-Fiction Award.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Anzac themed books and school visit

Next year is the centenary commemorations of the war in France during WWI. If you are teaching an Anzac unit and have started looking for resources and planning events, here are some you might be interested in:

Due out late February 2016 is my new book ‘Anzac Heroes’ (Scholastic), which tells the stories of 30 Australian and New Zealand men and women during WWI and WWII. Readers will find out about significant battles fought during those two wars and how Australian and New Zealand men and women survived and contributed to the war. Also included are world maps showing where the battles were fought, a timeline of world events, historic photographs, and action illustrations by Marco Ivancic. Includes the stories of army, navy and airforce men, as well as five women and four indigenous soldiers.  

I’ll be sharing stories from the Anzac Heroes book and information about the two world wars while touring the country giving ‘Anzac’ talks – see poster above. If you would like to book a visit, please contact Rosemary Tisdall, New Zealand Book Council or myself.  I’ll use PowerPoint, videos, props, and encourage children to interact with the presentation.  If your school is outside of Auckland I'll need to organise several school visits in your area to make it viable. Already planned is a Taupo tour from 11-15th April and a Queenstown tour from 6-10th June. If you are in those regions and would like a school visit please contact me.

From February onwards you can access a free Anzac teaching resource from my website:

We’re planning a ‘What Lies Beneath Exhibition’ with a focus on children’s war books at several venues around the country. I will keep you informed once venues are confirmed.

Other resources that will help you with your planning are:

Philippa Werry’s blog:  Philippa has reviewed most New Zealand and Australian books written with a war theme. Philippa has also written three excellent war books herself ‘Anzac Day’, ‘Dawn Parade’ and ‘Best Mates’.

For younger children, I’d also include Glyn Harper’s three picture books (illustrated by Jenny Cooper):  Jim’s Letters, Le Quesnoy, Roly the Anzac Donkey.  Plus David Hill’s book (illustrated by Fifi Colston) ‘The Red Poppy’, and Peter Millet’s ‘The Anzac Puppy’.  There’s also been some excellent Australian Anzac stories told by Claire Saxby.

For older children: David Hill, Ken Catran, Morris Gleitzman, and Jackie French have written several war-themed junior fiction novels. There’s also the excellent ‘Kiwis at War’ series published by Scholastic: 1914 ‘Riding into War’ by Susan Brocker, 1915 by Diana Menefy, 1916 by David Hair. Also Anna Mackenzie’s ‘Evie’s War’.

You probably know about these sites:

Good luck with your planning!