Books for young and old(er) – our selectors share cool new stuff

CoverThis month our children’s selectors have been enjoying purchasing some wonderfully illustrated titles that they are sure adults will appreciate as much as children will enjoy.

Birds of a feather by Francisco Pittau
Stunning book about birds with interactive guessing games and many lift-the-flaps and pop-ups. Beautifully illustrated and includes interesting facts about each bird this is a book that will bring enjoyment to both the adult and child  

The fairy-tale princess : seven classic stories from the enchanted forest  by Su Blackwell
This is a stunning book with each fairytale emerging from the page through a series of intricate paper sculptures. Each fairytale has its own particular visual flavour: for example, the story of “Sleeping Beauty” is blue and dreamy, while “The Princess and the Pea” is green and summery.   


Grimms fairy tales by Lisbeth Zwerger is very different visually from The fairy- tale princess but still stunning.

So that adults do not feel left out of the wonders of fairy tales, we are pleased that Philip Pullman,  the well-known author of the Dark Materials series has chosen his favourite Grimms fairy tales to retell in his own unique voice. Designed to be read by adults, but a reviewer on National Radio said that her child enjoyed the stories as well.

Summer reading treasures

My summer reading has been disappointingly dismal so far. I had selected several works of fiction that I intended to consume over the course of my summer holiday whilst lounging languorously in the North Island sun (looking luscious of course!)  Sadly, there wasn’t much lounging to be had with a three year old demanding to be entertained), and not one of my selections managed to capture my imagination or attention long enough for me to finish them, leaving me feeling disgruntled and out of sorts that I had some time and nothing GOOD to read close to  hand.

It was inevitable then, that amazing books would catch my eye and clamour for my attention the minute I returned to work.  First to catch my interest this morning was a little gem entitled Pounamu Treasures Ngā Taonga Pounamu by Russell Beck with Maika Mason.  A quick flick through shows that the text and accompanying images (taken by Andris Apse) gently introduce the reader to the world of Pounamu, discuss the geology associated with pounamu, before looking at traditional weaponry, adornments, and tools.  The author then investigates the European influence on design and current contemporary carving designs.  The photography captures the absolute beauty and elegance of the pounamu and taonga showcased within this publication and I can’t wait to get this home to have a more in-depth read.

My second discovery was made soon after, again while browsing the shelf.  Entitled Te Hao Nui, The Great Catch, I feel in love with the cover art before i had even opened the book. A quick dip into its depths over morning tea reveal that I appear to have stumbled across an unexpected treasure trove of stories of unique and beautiful objects.  Stephen Fox writes in the foreword that, “This publication celebrates the rich and diverse collections of Te Manawa.” (The Museum of Art, Science and History based in the Manawatū), the back cover blurbs states it “provides fascinating insights into the history, people and places of the Manawatū and beyond. Dame Judith Binney is also quoted on the back cover- “Storytelling is an art deep within human nature.  It follows that the art of transmitting the ‘histories that matter’ to successive generations is as old as human existence.”

Thus far, the stories encapsulated in the table of contents look promising.  Each entry details the story of a different object, complemented by an impressive selection of delectable imagery by Michael Hall.  A small selection of the treasures showcased within include; a Polish Army League paperweight, Brydon Speedy’s Pā Kahawai, Queen Anne Boleyn’s Purse, a Senufo mask from the Ivory Coast, Mere Ngareta’s Kahu Kiwi, Regent Confectionery’s Sweet Roller, Helena Harcourt’s Fencing Uniform or my absolute favourite thus far, Phoebe Pinfold’s Pine needle tea set. I have delighted in showing this section to everyone in the workroom this morning– I think it is indescribably fascinating that someone would have had the time and patience to create and construct an entire tea set from pine needles, macrocarpa nuts and straw.

So, as of this morning my summer reading looks like it may be on the up and up. Have you read either of these or do you have any suggestions I can add to my list?