Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Stories, Activities, and fun all in one book

ANNUAL edited by Kate de Goldi and Susan Paris (Gecko Press)

Kate de Goldi and Susan Paris wanted to produce a book that appealed to the intelligent enquiring child. The child they were. A child that reads well above their age, devouring sophisticated language, but not ready for YA themes.

They’ve broken all the rules and started from scratch beginning with the stark orange cover with gold drawings, and endpapers that invite you to find the story. The contents page is a piece of art in itself. Dylan Horrocks produced each page title in the form of a poster or newspaper heading.

The stories, articles, activities, comics and poems have been written by mostly beginner writers or experienced adult writers. Kate wanted to give some gifted first-time authors an opportunity, and also encourage adult authors to enter into the world of children’s literature; hoping to break down barriers. You will also find some well-known children’s authors: Barbara Else, Joanna Orwin, Bernard Beckett and Ben Brown.

One of my favourite pieces in the book is Paul Beavis’s visual spread on storytelling (page 44-50). He uses his monster character, from his two books, to show how to get started with a story, how to draw your characters, create visual conflict, use contrast and conflict to build a story, show not tell, and how to wrap it all up. Lastly, he shows the young reader how to make their own 8-page book to write their story in. Teachers will want to use this to inspire story-writing and illustrating in their class. 
Some of the material is quite sophisticated like the photographs and some of the artwork. There's also some excellent activities that young children will enjoy. Such as Gavin Mouldey's maze and maps and spot the difference, Dylan Horrock's game board, and Fifi Colston's stunning bottle people. There's even a song and its chords called 'Always on your Phone'.

When considering who you would buy it for, I think you have to stop thinking in children’s ages but in their reading ability. Kids that are eight years old but sophisticated readers will love it, as will 12-14 year olds who like to visually pore all over a book. Adults who are lovers of children’s literature will also want it. A book you will want to dip in and out for years. Would make a great Christmas present.

ISBN: 978-1-776570-77-5
RRP $39.99 (hardback)

Buy at all good bookshops and online here

Maori culture and wisdom all in one book

Mauri Ora: Wisdom from the Maori World by Peter Alsop & Te Ray Kupenga (Potton & Burton)

Mauri Ora is a beautiful book to hold. From the engaging photo on the front of a mother and baby sharing a laugh, to the gold edging on hardcover and pages, to the striking collection of black and white photographs throughout the book and the choice of Maori proverbs.

In the Introduction the authors suggest if you want to know more about a culture get to know their proverbs. They talk about the power of proverbs and how you can ‘use your signature strengths and virtues in the service of something much larger than you.’

Peter Alsop and Te Ray Kupenga have structured the book in six parts (virtues):

1.      Maatauranga – Wisdom – applying experience, knowledge and judgement
2.      Maaia – Courage –  staring down adversity and draw on strength
3.      Atawhai – Compassion – drawing on different emotions depending on the situation
4.      Ngaakau Tapatahi – Integrity – doing what is right
5.      Whakahautanga – Self Mastery – modifying behaviour and actions for desirable effect
6.      Whakapono – Belief – acknowledgement of the spiritual realm

They explain what those virtues are and before you launch into reading those virtues it  suggests that the book presents options and invitations ‘a whakatauki menu waiting for the right occasion, time or place’.

The first proverb in Wisdom is titled ‘Maatanga – Experienced’: Ekore e mau i a koe, he wae kai pakiaka: You will not catch the feet accustomed to running among the roots.’  You won’t find an explanation for this proverb, instead the book invites you to ruminate and think about what it means to you. On the opposite page is a full page historical photograph of a Kuia carrying a young Maori child on her back looking at you (photographer).

They've chosen photographs that depict Maori culture. You’ll find intimate photographs of family, famous Maori elders, and Maori going about their work. This book would be a great addition to Secondary School libraries; inspiring its students. As well as a book for the home library, and as a gift for expatriates or overseas friends. Would make an excellent Christmas present.

ISBN: 978-0-947-503147
RRP $39.99
Have a look inside the book here
Buy the book here

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: www.mariagill.co.nz.

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:  http://childrenswarbooks.blogspot.co.nz/  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!