Archive for August, 2011

My Last Post as Star Author

It’s the last day of August, so it’s also my last post as Star Author.

Thanks to:

1. Zac, for the chance to be Star Author.

2. Everyone who has posted a comment.

3. The team at Harper Collins who published my book.

4. Everyone who gave me such good reviews.

5. Friends, family, and the Twizel community for your support.

To the kids in Christchurch and elsewhere: Keep reading, keep writing good stories, keep looking out for each other.

In the words of Walt Disney (who invented Disneyland)

“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.”

E noho ra


From your August Star Author

Sandy Nelson

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Cauliflower Ears by Bill Nagelkerke – Chapter 5

Chapter 5: Team talk

‘Listen up now,’ said our coach, Mr Marlow.

We stopped exercising and listened up.

Mr Marlow had been a top player in his day. We knew this was true because of his cauliflower ears. The left one especially was flattened and lumpy from having been in too many scrums and rucks.

Mr Marlow’s ears had given the Green’s our other name. We didn’t often use it as a name ourselves. It was the rival teams, especially the Reds, who did. Whenever they called us the Cauliflower Ears, which was each time we played them, they used it as an insult. But we took it as a compliment, just as Mr Marlow had suggested. We’d even put it into our team slogan to show how proud we were of it. Grubber had written the slogan. He was good at writing poems.

‘This is a noteworthy day,’ Mr Marlow continued.

We all nodded. It couldn’t get any more noteworthy than this. The Greens were in the Grand Final for the first time ever.

‘Repeat after me,’ said Mr Marlow.

‘This is a noteworthy day,’ we repeated.

‘It’s the Grand Final of the Junior Home World Cup.’

‘It’s the Grand Final of the Junior Home World Cup.’

‘And futhermore . . . ’

Mr Marlow paused for a second or two, then went on.

‘. . . it’s Wings’ last match with the Greens.’

I felt really weird when Mr Marlow said that. It made it seem more real than ever.

When mum and dad had first announced that we were going to live in Wellington I felt:

  1. like a stunned mullet
  2. angry
  3. sad
  4. more angry
  5. a little bit excited

But I knew we didn’t really have much choice. My parents were both from Wellington originally and they’d always said they’d go back there when they got the chance. Now the chance had come. Besides, boths sets of grandies and most of my aunts, uncles and cousins lived there, too.

‘You’ll find another team to play in,’ said Mum.

‘Maybe.’ I said. ‘But they’ll be nothing nearly as good as the Greens.’

Wings’ last match with the Greens.’

Everyone turned to look at me as they repeated Mr Marlow’s words. I turned away and gazed at the muddy ground. We’d played together for so long, it was going to be tough to quit. That’s why we had to win today. Mr Marlow had called this game my swansong, my final appearance.

‘We can do it,’ Mr Marlow said.

‘We can do it,’ we repeated as one.

‘We can win.’

‘We can win.’

‘All it takes . . .’

‘All it takes . . .’

‘Is applying the skills we’ve learnt and practised . . .’

‘The skills we’ve learnt and practised . . .’

‘Our determination . . .’

‘Our determination . . .’

‘And consideration . . .’

‘And consideration . . .’

‘For each other . . .’

‘For each other . . .’

‘And . . .’

‘And . . .’

‘The opposition.’


‘I’m waiting guys.’

‘The opposition,’ we said, knowing that consideration was the last thing the Reds would show us.

‘Great stuff,’ said Mr Marlow.

Then we chanted the Green Team’s slogan. It was short but sweet.

Three cheers

For the Cauliflower Ears!

‘Remember,’ said Mr Marlow, ‘you’ve come this far by fair play and by following the rules, so don’t let yourselves down.’

Then Grubber said the thing we’d all be thinking. ‘But the Reds give me the jitters Mr Marlow. They’re thuggish. That’s why everyone calls them the Devils.’

‘And that’s why you’re proud if they call you the Cauliflower Ears,’ said Mr Marlow.

‘Why?’ asked Sprigs.

‘Because you know how to play the game,’ said Mr Marlow. ‘And a good game played by Cauliflower Ears will always beat a bad game played by Devils.’

‘They foul all the time,’ I said,‘and they always try to make sure the ref doesn’t see what they’re up to.’

‘Then they’ll be the losers, whether they win or not,’ said Mr Marlow, which sounded strange but true at the same time. Not that we wanted the Reds to win, of course.

‘I’ve got to go to the toilet,’ said Grubber, suddenly all jittery.

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Test Your Book Knowledge

Hi again Christchurch and other kids (and adult and teen readers too!)

It’s almost the end of August. My second-last chance to blog as Star Author.

Tonight I have some book questions for you. They are the questions I wrote for Twizel Area School students last week for our ‘Win a Book Competition’ that I organised as part of Book Week. We also had some awesome quotes about reading, shared storytime, bedtime stories in the library, a book character dress-up day, quiz questions about books for our general knowledge quiz, a parent reading display … and every kid was given a fun bookmark.

Here’s the questions. Test yourselves, or test someone younger or older than you! I’m not going to post the answers. I reckon you can find out the ones you don’t know all by yourself, or else blog the wonderful Zac! Or you could ask your teacher!


What is the name of Kanga’s baby?

Is Schnitzel von Krumm a dog or a cat?

What colour is Thomas the Tank Engine?

Finish the name of this book by Kyle Mewburn: Hill and ___ 

What sea mammal did the Little Yellow Digger help to save?

 Who tried to catch the sun using ropes?


 What does Finnigan want to be?

 How many books are in the Narnia series?

 Who wrote George’s Marvellous Medicine?

 Who is God of the Sea in Maori legends?

 What country does the writer Micheal Morpurgo live in?

What does fantasy mean?


Who wrote ‘The Mummy with No Name’?

Are these writers New Zealanders?

Micheal Morpurgo

Enid Blyton

Robert Louis Stevenson

Fleur Beale

Craig Smith

David Hill

Sherryl Jordan

Roald Dahl

Margaret Mahy

Joy Cowley

 Is ‘Bow Down Shadrach’ about a horse or a dog or a lion?

Who wrote ‘The Runaway Settlers’

Who wrote ‘Under the Mountain’

Finish this book title by Patricia Grace: ‘The Kuia and the ___’



Who wrote and illustrated the picture book ‘Hill and Hole?’

Finish this book title by Maurice Gee: ‘Under the ___’

Which New Zealand writer won two major writing awards this year for her book for teenagers ‘Fierce September?’

Ken Catran has written a book with the name ‘Smiling ___’

Which new New Zealand author from Napier wrote ‘Too Many Secrets’ and ‘Just Jack’?

Which wizard in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ lives in the Black Tower in Isengard?

Are (or were) these writers New Zealanders?

C.S. Lewis

Jackie French

Jackie Rutherford

William Taylor

Which mythical creature is half lion / half eagle?

 In Greek mythology, who was the God of War?

 Which is the shortest of Shakespeare’s plays?

 In Maori legend, who is the Sky Father?

 Which dwarf could turn straw into gold?

 Mmm, did I get you thinking? Do you need to go to the library to do some research, or go online?

Hey – today we looked in our dog’s vet book and found out that we missed her birthday. It was last Sunday. Kim is one year old and cuter than ever! If you missed it, there’s a photo of her on one of my posts earlier this month.

Here’s a link to my class blog. We’re just learning how to blog. Blogging for the wonderful Christchurch Children’s Library blog has helped me improve my skills.

Here’s another photo of the landscape near where I live – a land of big blue skies and feathery clouds (and maybe some more snow later this week!)Just one more thing for today: Have you heard the story of Mackenzie and his dog? Mackenzie was an early settler in New Zealand, a shepherd from Scotland. He was imprisoned for stealing sheep and taking them through the Mackenzie Country to sell them in Otago. Mackenzie had a dog named Friday. Well, the area where I live is the Mackenzie Country. I love it here!

Take care out there!

From your August Star Author, Sandy Nelson

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Across the Nightingale Floor.

I found that Across the Nightingale floor was one of the best books I’ve ever read.

Takeshi is one of the very few people who has the supernatural powers that help him cross the legendary nightingale floor.Cover image

Meanwhile in his dark fortress Lord Iida is surveying his masterful nightingale floor, named so because it sings like a nightingale whenever someone steps on it. Thinking no one could cross his special floor he slept soundly for once.

Takeshi is being used as the pawn between some of the greatest warlords in the middle country. Can he survive this part of his life or will he be killed!?

Amazing book, I recommend  ages 12+ 10 out of 10.


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Cauliflower Ears by Bill Nagelkerke – Chapter 4

Chapter Four: Jitters

Kick-off was at eleven. At ten-thirty both teams, the Greens and the Reds, the Cauliflower Ears and the Devils, were warming up at opposite ends of the playing field.

We needed the warm up, and not just to get our muscles loose and supple. It was really chilly out on the field. Our breaths were puffs of steamy white.

‘Just listen to that,’ said Grubber.

‘What?’ asked Sprigs.

‘The roar of the crowd.’

Sprigs and I looked round. The single stand had several dozen people on it, their hands wrapped round thermos flasks. There were also about fifty supporters standing in little groups on the sidelines, marching on the spot to keep warm. The Red Brigade and the Greenies. But you’d hardly call it a crowd. And it certainly wasn’t roaring.

‘That’s not a crowd you’re hearing,’ I said. ‘It’s your heart drumming.’

‘That’s what it is,’ agreed Sprigs.

‘Is not,’ said Grubber, but he clutched his chest all the same.

‘It’ll be because your dad’s staying to watch the game,’ I said.

Wings was right, even though Grubber wasn’t going to admit it. He’d managed to drag his dad out of bed and make him solemnly swear to stay for the whole game. Now Grubber wasn’t sure it had been such a good idea. He always felt queasy before a game.

Today he felt worse than usual. His lips were dry and his stomach was doing flip-flops. His heart, now that he had his hand over it, was definitely banging away like a jack-hammer. Grubber wasn’t surprised Sprigs and Wings could hear it. The whole team probably could. Actually, he’d never felt this bad.

‘I thought I was going to be late,’ said Sprigs, as we stretched our legs and swung our arms. ‘Man, it was hard finding matching laces.’

This time Grubber and I looked at each other. ‘Can’t have been as hard as me having to wake my dad up,’ said Grubber.

‘You two can laugh,’ said Sprigs, ‘but no way was I playing without a matching bootlace.’

‘We’re not actually laughing,’ I pointed out.

‘Not yet you aren’t,’ said Sprigs.

‘What I don’t understand,’ Grubber said, ‘is why you only replaced one of the laces. They come in pairs. You could have put in two new ones.’

Sprigs shook his head. ‘I just had to leave one of the old laces in,’ he explained. ‘They’ve been my lucky laces all season.’

‘Don’t we know it,’ I said.

Sprigs was our top scoring fullback. He hadn’t missed a goal kick all season. We were all depending on him, and his lucky laces, in the Grand Final.

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Some of my Favourite War Stories

Tena koutou to anyone who is reading this.

It is a funny feeling writing to anybody and everybody, but I am getting used to it. I do love getting your comments, and I am sad that my month as Star Author is almost over.

Here’s a picture of the view of Aoraki Mount Cook from just up the road from where I live – aren’t I lucky! I took this photo from the Kettle Hole walking track at the southern end of Lake Pukaki. The Kettle Hole is a large hole in the ground that was created by a large hunk of melting ice leftover from when the Tasman Glacier was huge.

Here’s a link to some Department of Conservation information about the Kettle Hole track and other short walks in the amazing area where I live:

Today, in my home town of Twizel (a little town with a population of only about 1200 and no traffic lights), we have had the basketball finals. I watched 2 games, one in which my son Josh played for the Twizel Schoolboys team, and one in which my husband played. It was a very exciting afternoon!

Now they are at the prizegiving, and I am writing to you … about some of my favourite children’s war stories. Many, but not all, are about World War Two.

Here goes:

1. My favourite children’s war story still has to be The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier. That’s because that is the book that got me hooked on history. I posted about it earlier this month.

2. Micheal Morpurgo is one of my favourite authors, and one that is quickly becoming the favourite of many students at Twizel Area School where I teach. That’s partly because I keep recommending his books to them, and reading his stories aloud too. Michael is an English writer who has written lots of books. Two of his recurring themes are war and animals.  I especially love Kensuke’s Kingdom, An Elephant in the Garden, War Horse, private peaceful, Shadow, Toro! Toro! and The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips.

Cover: Shadow

A librarian once told me that I write like Michael Morpurgo! What highly valued praise but totally undeserved. Michael Murpurgo is a definetly a writer to try if you haven’t already. Here is a link to his website:

3. I equally love the writing of Australian writer Jackie French. Some of my favourite war stories by Jackie are Macbeth and Son ( a truly enjoyable and clever story), Hitler’s Daughter, Pharoah, and The Donkey Who Carried the Wounded. Here’s a link to Jackie’s website:

cover pic

4. I also love how Susan Brocker writes. Susan is a New Zealand writer, whom I have been lucky enough to meet at a couple of writer’s meetings. Susan and I share a love of animals, except that I am wary of horses and she loves them. Two of my favourite war stories are written by Susan and are about horses. They are Brave Bess and the ANZAC Horses and Dreams of Warriors(which is set in N.Z. during World War Two). Susan is published by HarperCollins NZ, just like me!  

Here’s a link for you:

Brave Bess

And of course …

5. Once, Then, and Now by Morris Glietzman. These stories, set during World War Two, will make you cry and make you hug those you love. Warning: To be read with an adult close by.

Once cover

6. Not to be missed from my list, the well-known war story Goodnight Mr Tom, by Michelle Magorian, the story of a child evacuated from the London Blitz in World War Two. It’s a beautiful story but not for younger readers.

7. And, I could keep going forever … Boy Soldier by Cola Bilkuei … mmm this is probably one for the teenagers among you too. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s one of my 15-year-old Josh’s favourites.

 Boy Soldier: The Journey of a Child Soldier

8. I also totally love Chocolate Cake with Hitler by English writer Emma Craigie. I haven’t read any other books by this author but I love this one. I can’t get the link to copy but it’s a book worth searching for yourself.

9. The Boy in Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne. I need to re-read this book because the main thing I can remember is a really sad part, but I know its a highly rated war story for children. It made Zac’s Top 5 War Stories list.


I hope this list of some of favourite war stories is useful and that you are finding  some books you would like to read. These are all books I recommend to kids in my class and at my school, but often for the more mature / older readers. I have copies of most of the books I have recommended on my bookshelf. I collect children’s and teenagers books like other people collect shells or Weet-bix cards or fancy clothes. For me it’s books! (and the human impact of war is something I am especially interested in). 

Here are a couple more recommendations for teenagers (in fact all of the books I have recommended would be enjoyed by teens and adults with a love of good stories mixed with history).

1. The Book Thief – by Markus Zusak (simply stunning, completly heart-breaking).

2. tamar – by Mal Peet

As I write this this I keep thinking about how few books there seem to be that have been written for children and teens about the events of World War Two in the Pacific – the war that was closest to us here in New Zealand and Australia. That’s one thing I wanted to do, to write about the war near us. I’m proud that the story of H.M.A.S. Canberra was told for young people in The Ghosts of Iron Bottom Sound. Here she is – I love this image.

A few years ago I read two books by an Australian writer about an Australian boy finding out at his Grandad’s war in the Pacific. I think his Grandad was involved in building the Kodoko Trail when he was a Japanese prisoner of war. I really want to read the books again but I didn’t write down the name of the books or the author. Does anyone out there know the books I might be thinking of? I’d love to hear from you.

Hey Zac – I think your libraries in Christchurch would have all of these books and that you’d have read most or all of them. How right am I?  And I think that you and the other librarians in Christchurch love helping kids find books, just like librarians everywhere do.

Zac, thank you so much for choosing me to be one of your Star Authors!

Before the end of the month, I’ll tell you more about the amazing Book Week we just had at Twizel Area School.

Take care everyone.

Ka kite Ano and Kia Kaha (I’ll write again soon and be strong, especially Shaky Town kids).

From your August Star Author

Sandy Nelson

Proud author of only one book …


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Cauliflower Ears by Bill Nagelkerke – Chapter 3

Chapter 3: Butterflies

Grubber felt sickish. He always did before a game. His stomach had gone swimmy, his head felt light and floaty like a helium-filled balloon.

‘Maybe you’d better stay home,’ said his mother.

‘No chance,’ said Grubber.

‘But if you’re feeling crook wouldn’t it be more sensible?’

‘It’s not that sort of crookedness,’ Grubber explained.

‘Crookness,’ his mum corrected.

‘Whatever. It’s butterflies I’ve got. I can feel them dancing around.’

‘Are you sure that’s all it is? If you’re not fit to go, then sit the game out. It’ll keep your dad happy. ’

Course I’m fit!’ said Grubber. ‘I wouldn’t miss the game even if I really was sick.’

‘In that case, go and try waking your dad again.’

Grubber went to the bedroom where his dad was fast asleep after doing his nine hours on night shift. Grubber shook his dad’s shoulder.

‘Come on Dad. The big game’s starting soon. I need you to run me over.’

His dad groaned.

‘Hurry Dad, please, we’ve got to be there in less than an hour.’

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Robert Ballard and Punctuation

Hi everyone,

Today I have been thinking about Robert Ballard, the man whose book inspired my book THE GHOSTS OF IRON BOTTOM SOUND

Robert Ballard says that the sea is the world’s biggest museum. He loves finding and exploring shipwrecks (he found Titanic, H.M.A.S. Canberra – the ship in my book, Bismarck, and many others). He also believes strongly in the importance of protecting the oceans. Robert Ballard is definetly one of my heroes.

Here is a link to an interview for children, about him. If you search for yourself, you will find lots of other information, including photos and U-tube clips. If you look at shipwreck books in a library or bookshop, there’s a very high chance that you’ll find some books by him.

 I have also been thinking about punctuation and how important it is.

Do I sound like a teacher?

Mmm, maybe that’s because I am. But I am also a reader and a writer.

Someone once told me that ‘punctuation is the secret code of writing.’

I agree.

So kids, take care with your punctuation. Be kind to your readers!

And be kind to yourself. Treasure the wonderful person that you are.

From the August Star Author

Sandy Nelson


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Cauliflower Ears by Bill Nagelkerke – Chapter 2

Chapter 2: Lucky laces

‘Mum!’ yelled Sprigs. ‘One of my lucky boot laces just snapped.’

‘Snap back at it,’ said his mother.

‘That’s not funny!’ said Sprigs.

‘I thought it was,’ his mother said. ‘Go and find another lace then,’ she suggested.

‘I’ve looked,’ said Sprigs frantically. ‘There aren’t any spares.’

‘Take one of the laces out of your school shoes,’ his mum said.

‘They’re not the right sort. They’re much too short!’

Sprigs’s mum sighed and glanced at her watch. ‘I’ll get the car. If we leave straight away we should have time to stop off at the mall to buy a new pair.’

Sprigs looked unsure. ‘What if new ones bring me bad luck?’ he said.

‘Don’t be so superstitious,’ said his mother.

‘I can’t help it,’ said Sprigs. ‘These laces have taken us right to the Grand Final of the Junior Home World Cup. It could be disastrous for us if they miss the game.’

Sprigs’s mum raised her eyebrows. ‘Get real,’ she said.

Sprigs took no notice. Instead, he poked the broken lace into the turned-over top of one of his rugby socks. ‘There,’ he told it. ‘Now you’ll still be able to help us win the game.’

‘My son who talks to bootlaces,’ sighed Sprigs’ mum.

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What is a writer?

Hi everyone,

Tonight I’ve been back to school. That’s because we’re having a Book Week at Twizel Area School and I’m organising it!  Tonight we had bedtime stories in the library. Kids came in their pyjamas and bought their teddies. We had 4 stories. I read ‘Who is Brian Bear?’ by Helen Taylor (one of my boys favourites when they were little) and First Snow by Kim Lewis (a story about a little girl who lives on a farm). Our Principal Mr Bill Feasey read one of Lynley Dodd’s wonderful books, Schnitzel von Krumm. Lastly Twizel’s doctor, Doctor Tim Gardner read Bad Jelly the Witch. He was fantastic at the character voices. After milo in the staffroom everyone went home to bed.

We’ve been doing lots of other wonderful Book Week things too. I might tell you some tomorrow. Anyway … 

I was going to write more about my fascination with old house but instead I’ve been thinking about what makes a person a writer. Here are some of my thoughts:

* A writer is a reader. You have to read to write. They go together.

* A writer has stories in his or her head. Stories that won’t go away. Stories that need a home.

* A writer loves words and wants to make them dance.

I’m a writer.

Are you?


I never knew that I could make words dance

Or make them walk through people’s heads.

I love it that I can!

Take care out there, especially you kids in Shaky Town. Sometimes life can be a bit tough. Remember the good times and look after the people that have a place in your heart (and other people too!).

From your August Star Author

Sandy Nelson

Oops: I nearly forgot:

Here is a link to some information about H.M.A.S. Canberra, the ship in my book. It has some pictures of her, including one of her sinking the day after the Battle of Savo Island. She was scuttled. That means she was sunk because she was beyond repair. Eightyfour Australian sailors died the night of the battle, including the Captain.


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Old Houses

Ki ora everyone.

I hope you’re having a great week at school. I hope you’ve got a great book to read at the moment.  Books can take you into other worlds.

I love old houses. Sometimes we stay in an old house next to the railway line in Oamaru when we go there for swimming lessons for my boys. Here is a poem I wrote about the house. Does it paint a picture in your mind? I hope it does.

The House on Humber Street

The house where shadows hide in corners

And mats walk.

 The house where an artificial Christmas tree

Stands empty in the corner. Waiting.

 The house with the formica table

And chrome-legged chairs

That drag me back to my childhood.

 The house with shelves of books

That swallow time.

 The house with the flowery curtains

And faded seascapes

And a cupboard that is not a cupboard at all

But a netting-sided safe

From pre-fridge days.

 The house where trains roar past in the night

Like giant dragons from make-believe land.

 The house that hides behind a hedge.

 The house where snails cling

To the underside of the back verandah

And flowers I cannot name

Push through cracks in the concrete.

 The house with history in the air.


Do you agree that books can swallow time?

Do you think some houses and other places have history in the air?

Ka kite ano

From Sandy Nelson

Author of The Ghosts of Iron Bottom Sound 


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Cauliflower Ears by Bill Nagelkerke – Chapter 1

Bill Nagelkerke is a fantastic local author and one of our previous Star Authors on the blog. Bill has written some great books, including Old Bones and Sitting on the Fence, which are set in Christchurch.  As well as being a writer, Bill has also translated books, reviewed books for magazines and newspapers, been a judge for book awards, and he used to be a Children’s Librarian at Christchurch City Libraries.  

Bill has very kindly given us permission to publish his rugby story, Cauliflower Ears, right here on the blog.  We’ll post a new chapter every second day over the next four weeks so you’ll need to keep checking the blog to follow the story.  A huge thank you to Bill Nagelkerke for sharing this wonderful story with us!

Chapter 1: Getting ready for the big game

All over town members of the Green Team, sometimes called the Cauliflower Ears, were getting ready to play their final game of the season.

At Number 13 Lucky Street I was eating breakfast, wondering if Mum was going to make it back from Wellington in time for the kick-off.

At Number 54 Hoani Street, Sprigs was inspecting his boots, holding them up by their lucky laces.

At Number 217 Templeton Drive Grubber was wondering if he was going to be able to get his dad to wake up in time to take him to the big game. And also wondering if he would manage to get his dad to stay and watch for once.

My name, by the way, is Wings. You’ll have guessed that Wings, Sprigs and Grubber are our rugby nicknames, not our real names.

It was Saturday. The Saturday, the day of the big game, the Grand Final of the Junior Home World Cup series. The game in which we, the Green Team, were playing our arch rivals, the Reds, sometimes known as . . .  the Devils.

‘It’s just a game,’ my dad said as I wolfed down a great plate of porridge.

‘You don’t understand,’ I said. ‘It’s not just any game, it’s the game. It’s the Grand Final. In more ways than one,’ I reminded him.

You see, Mum had got an important new job in the capital, in fact she was already working there a few days each week, and we would soon be moving cities. This was going to be my last game with the Greens. Ever.

‘I know it’s important . . .’ began Dad, but I didn’t give him a chance to finish.

‘This is the one game we have to win,’ I said.

‘Well, just remember this,’ said Dad as he tidied the breakfast things away. ‘You’ve always given it your best shot, one hundred percent plus. No one can do more than that.’ He looked at me. ‘And don’t they say that the most important thing isn’t winning or losing, it’s how you play the game?’

‘Huh,’ I said. ‘Not when it comes to the Grand Final of the Junior Home World Cup. No way.’

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I enjoyed the book Cookie by Jacqueline Wilson.

It’s about a girl called Beauty who lives with her mum and dad. Beauty gets bullied at school and her father bullies her and says that she is ugly!!

Unlike her father ,her mother is really kind she doesn’t get mad at her or hits her or even say that she is ugly. Beauty gets called ugly at her school and she doesn’t have any friends although there is a girl called Rhona who likes her but Rhona is a friend of the girl that bullies Beauty (Skye)and Skye will make fun of Rhona if she hangs out with Beauty.

And her father has silly rules like she’s not allowed to get a pet or spill anything on the floor or accidentally brake the mirror.

When Beauty’s birthday comes up her father spoils her. He asks her what she wants and she says that she wants a bunny, of course   because she watches a show called Sam and Lilly and she is obsessed with Lilly (the bunny).  After that her dad gets very angry because she told him that she wants to get a pet !! So in the morning when its Beauty’s birthday her dad wakes her up with a big horrible beast and it seemed to be a big purple rabbit !! But I’m not going to tell you the whole story you have to read it .

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Twizel Area School students with my book!

Hi everyone,

Since I started being a writer I have had amazing support from the Twizel community and children.  Lots of the students at school have a copy of The Ghosts of Iron Bottom Sound. I love it at Silent Reading time (we call it D.E.A.R. which stands for ‘Drop Everything and Read) because lots of kids read my book then. It’s a funny but lovely feeling seeing them reading a story that I wrote!

Remember, The Ghosts of Iron Bottom Sound is a book for ages 9 up, for girls and boys, and for older people too. This photo is taken in my classroom. I teach Year 4-5 students, a wonderful group of them. We’re all going skiing at Ohau on Wednesday – yaahoo!

Here’s some sad news: Harper Collins have decided not to publish my sequel, The Lucky Ship. That’s because not enough people are buying children’s books at the moment, and because they already have enough other great books to publish. I am very disappointed (I even cried a bit), but I am happy that The Ghosts of Iron Bottom Sound got published, that it got such good reviews, and that so many children (and adults) enjoy reading it. Maybe I’ll get something else published one day. I hope so. I love writing, and my editor told me I am a fantastic writer so that helps me feel a bit better.

Here’s the photo of some Twizel kids. I am proud to know them all!

I don’t have many days left to be Star Author, so I’ll try to post lots this week.

Have a good week

From your August Star Author

Sandy Nelson

who lives in the beautiful and vast land of tussocks and mountains

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Countdown to Skulduggery Pleasant: Death Bringer

Skulduggery Pleasant is one of my favourite book characters and I always look forward to his latest battle against the forces of evil.  Luckily I only have to wait a few more weeks as the sixth book, Death Bringer is due out in New Zealand on September 1.  I can’t wait to be reunited with Skulduggery, Valkyrie, Ghastly and Tanith.

If you haven’t read any of the Skulduggery Pleasant books by Derek Landy I highly recommend them.  They’re filled with action, mystery, thrills, chills, brilliant characters and perfectly-timed humour.  If you want a taste of this awesome series, here’s the book trailer:

You can reserve your copy of Death Bringer at your local library now.

Keep your eye on the blog for your chance to WIN a copy of Death Bringer!

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Ohau Ski Area and Images of The Battle of Savo Island

Hi readers,

It’s Sunday morning. The sun is shining and I’m off skiing at my favourite skifield very soon: Ohau, where the sun shines, the snow invites, the views are spectacular, there are no lift queues, and my friends are dotted around the field or eating noodles and drinking coffee in the little cafe. It’s a great place. Ohau means place of wind and yes, it can be windy there, but not today!

Here’s a link to Ohau Ski Area, a photo of Lake Ohau taken by my son Josh (15), and a couple of poem that have come into my head when I have been skiing at Ohau.


On the Chairlift at Ohau

The tiniest of snowflakes

Dance through the late afternoon air.

One lands on my black trouser leg.

A white star.





Thoughts from the Boulevard

My thighs are screaming.

I stop.

I look.

What is this word in my head?

An obsolete airline.

A small freshwater duck.

A greenish-blue colour.

Lake Ohau.


(That poem was published in Crest to Crest by Wily Publications. It is a poem adults might understand more than kids because one of the meanings of Teal is that it is the name of an airline that used to be in N.Z. a long time ago – a time that my 7 year-old twins would call the olden days!)

And also for you today blog readers: Something from history …  

Images from Guadalcanal in August 1942, the time in history that I wrote about in my book. It looks kind-of beautiful, but actually it must have been terrifying and heart-breaking.

More soon …

From your August Star Author

Sandy Nelson


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Rugby read #3: Sitting on the Fence by Bill Nagelkerke

With only 3 weeks to go until the Rugby World Cup kicks off, we want to share some rugby reads with you.  If you love rugby and reading, then these books are for you.  This week’s Rugby Read is Sitting on the Fence by Christchurch author, Bill Nagelkerke.

It is 1981 and Martin senses big trouble brewing at home.  The South African rugby team has been invited to tour New Zealand.  Martin’s sister, Sarah, is out to stop the tour in protest against South Africa’s racist apartheid system.  His rugby-mad dad is equally determined that the tour should go ahead.  Martin wishes the whole thing would simply go away.

“You just fence-sit like a dumb bunny,” Sarah tells him.  But Martin would just rather not take sides.

Then a new school leads to a new friendship, and Martin is faced with a choice.  He can walk away, or he can become involved in something that will end up being bigger than anybody could have predicted.  The story is based on the Springbok rugby tour of New Zealand in 1981 when the nation was divided between pro and anti tour supporters.

Recommended for 9+

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Earwig and the Witch by Diana Wynne Jones

Diana Wynne Jones is the queen of fantasy.  She was writing the fabulous Chrestomanci series, about orphans, witches and magic long before J. K. Rowling and Harry Potter came along.  She has written lots of books, including the Chrestomanci series and Howl’s Moving CastleEarwig and the Witch is the magical book that she wrote before she died earlier this year.

Earwig is a an orphan girl who lives at St Morwald’s Home for Children with her friend Custard.  Earwig is quite happy living here and she says that “anyone who chose me would have to be very unusual.”  She is a pretty unusual child but she seems to be able to make anyone do anything that she wants, like cooking her favourite food or playing hide and seek in the dark.  One day a very strange couple come to the orphanage looking to adopt a child.  The woman has two different coloured eyes and a raggety look to her face, and the man is very tall and looks like he has horns on his head.  They adopt Earwig, but she discovers that the woman is a witch and only wants her as a slave to help her with her spells.  Earwig is trapped in the house and wants nothing more than to go back to the orphanage with her friends.  Will she be able to outwit the witch and escape?  And who or what is the mysterious man with the horns?

Earwig and the Witch is a funny story about a feisty girl trying to fit into her new family.  All the characters are quite strange and I especially liked Thomas the cat.  The cover is very cool and really draws you in, with the spiderwebs and spiders crawling all over it.  Marion Lindsay’s illustrations are spectacularly spooky and I love the little pictures of crows or spiders on each page.  The only thing I didn’t like about this book was that it ended so suddenly.  I would have liked to know more about her life in the house.  Earwig and the Witch is perfect for those girls who don’t like fairies, but who still like a bit of magic.

Recommended for 7+     7 out of 10

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Shrine of Remembrance – Melbourne

Hi everyone!

It’s snowing in Twizel and it’s quite probably snowing where you are too! My school, Twizel Area School is closed today. I’ve been to school anyway and done lots of work, and I’ll go back soon, but I’m just having a break at home while my boys play in the snow. They are making a very high fort just outside the window from where I am sitting!

Today I want to tell you about my trip to Melbourne last year. I’ve already told you I got to meet my email-friend Mac Gregory. Well, my family and I also visited the Shrine of Remembrance – Melbourne people call it ‘The Shrine.’

The Shrine is Melbourne’s war memorial. It’s not really a museum. It’s more a place for remembering and for showing respect. It’s a beautiful and sad place and I cried when I was there. Here are some photos from our time at The Shrine of Remembrance. Note that H.M.A.S. Canberra, the ship in The Ghosts of Iron Bottom Sound, is one of the ships named on the plaque.

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Guest Post: Brian Falkner on 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Northwood

Brian Falkner’s new book, Northwood is one of the best books I’ve read lately. I always enjoy his books because they’re really unique.  I asked Brian if could tell us a little bit about Northwood, so here are 10 things you didn’t know about Northwood.

1. Northwood, Lake Rosedale, Brookfield, and many of the other place names in the book are real places in Albany where I used to live.

2. When it says at the beginning “usually at this stage of a story the person telling it has some idea of how it will end, but I can tell you quite honestly that I have no idea at all” … that was true! I wrote the first chapter without any idea what would come next. The story just grew naturally and I found out what was going on one chapter at a time!

3. To some extent Northwood was inspired by my favourite Roald Dahl book: Matilda. I wanted to write a book like that about a girl with a special ability.

4. The very last sentence in the book is based a quotation from Bhudda that I found intriguing. I actually used this quote also in Brainjack, but it got removed in the final edit.

5. As a kid I loved Enid Blyton books, full of mystery and secret passageways. I always wanted to include a secret passageway in one of my books, and finally I did, in Northwood!

6. The story of Princess Annachanel of Storm was originally going to be a book by itself. The idea sat around for a long time and I never managed to turn it into a book, so I decided to include it as part of Northwood. I thought it worked well and added a sense of history to Castle Storm.

7. Jana, who comes from the Bahamas, originally spoke in “Broken English” which is a version of English spoken in the Bahamas. However it was a bit hard to understand, so we changed it to English, with just of tint of the Bahamanian style of talking.

8. I once had to spell rhododendron at a Trivia night, and failed.

9. Mr Jingles,who owns the safari park in Northwood, was the name of the mouse in a Stephen King story called “The Green Mile”.

10. My favourite line in Northwood is when Cecilia tries to explain to the twins where pizza comes from. I won’t explain it, you have to read it.

I hope you enjoy reading Northwood as much as I enjoyed writing it!

See ya


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