Summer is the perfect time for hanging out with friends. This Summer you might hang out with old friends or make some new friends. Books are the perfect place for doing this. You might hang out with Greg Heffley, Percy Jackson, or Hermione Granger. I’ve made a new friend recently called Blizz Richards, from Kevin Sherry’s new book, Meet the Bigfeet (the first book in The Yeti Files series).
While I was walking to work this morning I was scrolling through my iPod, trying to decide what NZ music to listen to to start off NZ Music Month. Fly My Pretties? Split Enz? The Great Kiwi Song Book?
It was a difficult choice but I settled on one of my favourite Kiwi artists, Dave Dobbyn.
Listening to Dave got me thinking, what is my favourite Kiwi song, the one that reminds me of this great country we live in? After a lot of deliberating I have to say that my favourite is Slice of Heaven by Dave Dobbyn, with Herbs on back-up. My reasoning is because it’s connected to Footrot Flats: A Dog’s Tale, that classic Kiwi movie that I loved when I was a kid, and still do. The opening notes (Da, da, da, do, do, da, da, da) cheer me up no matter what mood I’m in and it’s one of those songs you can’t help singing along to.
What’s your favourite Kiwi song? Why makes it such a Kiwi song?
Auckland has The Big Day Out, The Girls’ Day Out and now it has The Wordy Day Out – the coolest event at the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival. As soon as I saw this event featured in the festival programme, I knew I had to get to Auckland no matter what.
For those of you who haven’t been drooling over the programme for the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival, The Wordy Day Out, on Saturday is “a fun day featuring some of the best, brightest and liveliest authors around – all of whom happen to be labelled YA (young adult) authors.” Looking through the list of authors attending, I think they got the description spot on. Some of my favourite YA authors are there, including New Zealand’s own Brian Falkner, Bernard Beckett and Karen Healey, as well as some amazing international authors, including Cassandra Clare, Garth Nix, and Meg Rosoff. There really is something for every fan – whether you’re into fantasy, horror, adventure, thrillers, gothic or sci-fi.
I’m truly buzzing with excitement, waiting to listen to these fantastic authors whose stories I love. I’ll hang on every word and be first in line to get my books signed after each session. Stay tuned for my report next week.
My first couple of reads for the year have been dystopian novels and this looks to be a growing trend in Young Adult fiction. Personally I love dystopian novels. I love the imaginations of these authors who build a society that could easily exist in the not-too-distant future. They take a small piece of today’s society, such as social networking or consumerism, and ask ‘what if this got totally out of control?’
In Rae Mariz’ debut novel The Unidentified, 15 year-old Katey (AKA Kid) goes to school in the Game, an alternative education system run by corporations. These ‘Games’ have been set up in disused shopping malls, so where there used to be shops, there are different spaces that students can go to try new products and participate in activities to increase their ‘score.’
The students vie with each other to be noticed and sponsored (or ‘branded’) by the corporations, thereby giving them celebrity status and financial freedom. Students each have iPad-like devices that they use to update their profile pages and live streams. When Kid witnesses a mock suicide staged by an anonymous group called the Unidentified, she begins to doubt the system. The story will strike a chord with teens and they’ll be able to really relate to Kid and the suffocating world she lives in.
If you’re a fan of YA dystopian fiction there are plenty of titles to choose from. Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games Trilogy is the most obvious choice (and the most popular) but here are a few others I recommend:
Across the Universe is the absolutely amazing debut Young Adult novel by Beth Revis and I can already tell that it is going to be one of my favourite books of the year.
The story starts with Amy who, along with her parents, is being prepared to be cryogenically frozen for the next 300 years as they travel to a new planet. Her parents and the other adults on the ship all have special skills that will help to colonise this new planet, while Amy is a nonessential, just there because of her parents. There are also others on board the ship, Godspeed, who are not frozen but keeping the ship moving on it’s course. Elder is one of these people. He is the youngest person on the ship and the one chosen to lead the next generation. When Amy is violently woken 50 years before they are due to arrive on the new planet, she creates tension in Elder’s carefully ordered society. On a ship in the middle of space where everyone has the same skin and hair colour, similar features, and never questions the rules, Amy is not welcomed.Amy’s questions and Elder’s own discoveries lead them to uncover the lies that Eldest has been telling them all about the ship and their quest for Centauri-Earth.
Beth Revis leads you on a rollercoaster ride, with lots of unexpected twists and turns. Across the Universe has something for just about every reader – a dystopian society, science fiction, mystery, murder, and a touch of romance. It’s the first book in a new trilogy and I really can’t wait to read more. Get your hands on what is going to be one of the most talked about YA novels of 2011.
You’re in your favourite bookshop, scanning the shelves. You get to the section where your favourite author’s books reside, and there, nestled in comfortably between the incredibly familiar spines, sits a red notebook. What do you do?
The choice, I think, is obvious:
You take down the red notebook and open it.
And then you do whatever it tells you to do.
From these opening sentences of Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares I was hooked. Set in New York in the days leading up to Christmas, and a few days after, the story alternates between the characters of Dash (written by David Levithan) and Lily (written by Rachel Cohn). Lily is the girl who left the notebook in the bookshop for just the right guy to come along and accept the challenges found inside. Dash accepts the first challenge and leaves the notebook for Lily to collect. The notebook continues to be passed back and forth between them, with the help (and sometimes hindrance) of their friends and family members. They decide to meet each other, but will the boy and the girl in the notebook measure up to the boy and the girl in reality?
I loved everything about Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares. Dash and Lily are great characters with lots of personality, and their family and friends that help them complete their dares are hilarious. The authors have created a real sense of time and place and I really wanted to be there with Dash and Lily, celebrating Christmas in New York. It’s the perfect book for this time of the year, whether you love Christmas (like Lily) or loath it (like Dash).
Gecko Press have been keeping up their tradition of producing English language versions of curiously good books from around the world. Here are three of the best recent releases.
The Noisy Book by Soledad Bravi is a board book filled with bright, bold illustrations and lots and lots of noises (over 100 pages). There are noises you would expect to find, like ‘The cat goes meow,’ ‘The horse goes neigh,’ and ‘The rooster goes cockadoodle doo.’ But what I like most are the noises you don’t expect, like ‘The cold goes aachoo,’ ‘Mummy goes kiss kiss,’ and ‘The power socket goes NO!’ This is the perfect book to share with babies and toddlers because everyone can enjoy making the noises.
The Fierce Little Woman and the Wicked Pirate is a newly illustrated edition of one of Joy Cowley’s most loved picture books. I loved this book as soon as I set my eyes on it! Sarah Davis‘ illustrations are absolutely stunning and she has captured Joy Cowley’s characters perfectly. Thank you Gecko Press for giving this wonderful story new life.
H.O.U.S.E (or Habitable, Objects, Unique, Spatial, Extraordinary) by Aleksandra Machowiak and Daniel Mizielinski is a fascinating book about contemporary architecture for kids. It’s a book for all those children (and adults) who are fascinated with buildings of all shapes and sizes. Inside, you’ll find spiky houses, inflatable houses, houses in trees and houses underground, from all over the world. The authors explain the inspiration behind the design of each house, as well as the materials used to build it, and where in the world it can be found.
These are just three of the latest and greatest books from Gecko Press. I’m sure we can look forward to more curiously good books from Gecko Press next year.
To celebrate the release of Margaret Mahy and David Elliot’s beautiful new book, The Moon and Farmer McPhee, we are having a special farm themed Storytime this Thursday, 25 November at Central Library from 10:30-11am.
Come along for stories, rhymes, music and a chance to win a copy of the book.