Friday, August 11, 2017

New books coming out

I've been writing furiously most of this year and two of those books have already gone off to the printers. Here's a sneak peak at the covers:

'Toroa's Journey' illustrated by Gavin Mouldey published with Potton & Burton comes out in October. It's the story of the 500th albatross who hatched nine years ago. Before he fledged the ranger put a tracking device on him to see where he flew over the next 6-8 years before he would land back in Dunedin again. This is Toroa's story of his journey to South America and the things he might have encountered on his voyage.

This is the first time I've worked with Gavin Mouldey and his illustrations are stunning. He even encouraged Potton & Burton to include fold out wings! Speaking of wings, I'm going to make (with the help of Potton & Burton) a pair of three metre wings to show kids when I tour schools.

It's going to be available in paperback and hardback!

The second book I've been writing is called 'Abel Tasman: Mapping the Southern Lands', illustrated by Marco Ivancic, published with Scholastic and due out in November.

Follow Abel Tasman's journey from Batavia (Jakarta) to Tasmania, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. Read about the perils, the mishaps, and the joys on the seafaring adventure. Find out what the indigenous people possibly thought when they saw these European sailors; the first to travel that far south. Marvel at Marco Ivancic's gorgeous illustrations. The book has been beautifully designed by Luke Kelly.

It will be available in hardback in November!

I've also finished writing a third book 'Anzac Animals' but it is still being designed ... Watch this space!

This time last year, my book 'Find Out! Volcanoes' came out. I forgot to put up a review of the book, so I'm rather belatedly putting up one now. Thanks to Lorraine Orman for the review:

DKfindout! Volcanoes by Maria Gill, Dorling Kindersley (dist. Penguin Random House NZ)

I’ve always been impressed by Dorling Kindersley’s bright, colourful and extremely visual books for children. Other publishers have copied the format to the extent that the use of numerous graphics and text boxes seems to be the standard for today’s non-fiction for children. Combine this accessible format with a popular topic such as volcanoes, and the resulting book is a winner.

Maria had already published three books on volcanoes: Volcanoes (South Pacific Press, 2008), Rangitoto (Penguin NZ, 2009) and Eruption!, New Holland, 2012). So she shouldn’t have been too surprised when Dorling Kindersley emailed her in 2015 to ask if she’d write a book on volcanoes for their DKfindout! series. She went on to put together a 64-page, very informative book that will immediately attract the eye of young readers – and adults will enjoy dipping into it too.

The layout works on the double-page spread system, with each spread having a heading such as Volcano Varieties, Deadliest Eruptions, Myths and Legends, Supervolcanoes, etc. There is an introductory paragraph on each topic followed by several colour photos and drawings with accompanying text boxes. Variety is provided by using maps, diagrams, fact boxes, columns, and different illustrative styles. There is a Glossary, an Index and a Timeline, as well as a Quiz and links to the Dorling Kindersley support websites (including their free online encyclopaedia).

Public and school libraries (and parents of volcano-obsessed youngsters) will find that primary-aged children will relish dipping into this book and sharing the fascinating information inside.

ISBN 978 0 2412 5024 2 RRP $17.99 Pb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Children's writing competition

Sharpen your pencils you've got two more weeks to write an imaginative story for the Young Authors Challenge Writing Competition. This year author John Parker, the Barfoot & Thompson team and I will be judging the stories looking for 10 winners!

Go here for application forms and writing tips.

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.