Archive for Animals

Little brothers

web cover low resI have two brothers, both younger than me, but only one that I think of as my ‘little brother’. He’s called Andy and he was born when I was six and going to Karori Normal School. My brother Pete is so close in age I can barely remember a time in my life without him (he was my first best friend), but I remember the day Andy was born. I drew a picture at school of what looked like a tadpole with a baby’s face – Andy in his white blanket. You couldn’t see his fuzz of red hair. I wrote underneath about ‘my baby’, and about how I liked bathing him and looking after him.

When he started walking I was Andy’s unpaid protector, dragging him from the edges of bush tracks and wharves, sure he’d die a terrible death (and convinced my mother wasn’t paying enough attention.) Later, I rolled my eyes when his little friends came over and played cars and Lego – brmmm, brmmm etc. Boys!

Andy liked collecting things, small things. He ate the cuffs of his jerseys. He was loud and sticky. His hair got redder and redder, and he got taller … and taller.

When I was writing Dappled Annie and the Tigrish, I gave Annie a little brother called Robbie. He’s six years younger than Annie – he’s 4 and Annie’s nearly 10 – and like my brother Andy, he’s loud and sticky, and likes collecting small things. He collects them in his pockets so that when he walks he rattles. His father calls them the shinies.

I hadn’t expected Robbie to be such an important character in the book. When I first wrote it, he stayed at home with his mum while Annie went on her adventure with the tigrish. But he didn’t like that. Neither did I. I kept feeling something was missing.

So I rewrote the book and found that (without being asked) Robbie charged off on the adventure too. Much to Annie’s annoyance at first – because he is loud and he is sticky and he is 4 … but, like all little brothers, she discovers he has his moments. When they’re stuck in the Giant Wood with all sorts of scary things going on, Robbie’s collection of shinies and ‘commando moves’ help save the day.

Robbie has a lot of my brother Andy in him, but he has other important little boys wrapped up in him too: especially my son Adam and godson Ned – who were/are both loud and sticky and smart and adventurous. There are glimpses too of my brother Pete and son Paul who did less of the loud, sticky, physical thing and more talking, and two little boys who came regularly to my house when I was writing: Lincoln and Carter.

Boys! Who’d be without them? As a big sister of two, and a mum of two (and a girl too, my youngest), I know I wouldn’t. Above all else these lovely boys have given me a lot to laugh about. Here’s a taste of Robbie in the book. He and Annie are visiting Mr and Mrs Hedge who are part of the hedge at the end of the garden. There’s a nest of baby fantails for Robbie to see, including Bud, the smallest …

Robbie climbed up so his blue shorts were level with Annie’s eyes. She could see his back pocket had bulgy bits where he’d put his little things, what he called his shinies: small stones and bottle tops and dice and Lego bricks and walnut shells. They weren’t all shiny, really, but their dad said Robbie was a magpie and magpies liked shiny things, so that’s how they came to be called that.

Annie could see the way Mrs. Hedge had cupped her branches around Robbie and was watching him closely. Just a glimpse of her eyes, and then they were gone.

“Bud’s the littlest one,” said Annie. “The one with the wobbly head.”

“Getting bigger,” said Mrs. Hedge, “and noisier—listen to that squeaking! They think you’ve brought worms, Robbie.”

“One, two, three, four, five,” said Robbie, counting. “There are five baby birds.”

“They’re hungry,” said Mr. Hedge. “Bud especially—he misses out. He’s small and the other babies push him aside.”

“Worms,” said Robbie, and he pushed one hand into his back pocket. Out came a broken rubber band. Robbie wiggled it in front of his nose, sniffed, then pushed it back where it had come from. He fiddled around some more. A cotton reel. String. Then a fat thing that was brown and pinkish. It wriggled.

“Here, Bud,” Robbie said, and dropped it into the nest.

All Annie could hear were the cicadas. Then:

“He did eat it!”

“Yes, he did,” said Mrs. Hedge. “Thank you, Robbie.” And the leaves parted, and there were the leafy eyes. Robbie didn’t see them—he was too busy watching the nest.

“In one gulp!” said Robbie.

“I would think so,” said Mr. Hedge. “That was a nice fat worm.”

“I’ve got my worm-hunting tee-shirt on,” said Robbie, “that’s why I found it,” and he waved towards the rose bush. “You know, Mrs. Hedge, birds are cute dinosaurs, too.”

That’s when the leaves around Robbie shivered and shivered. Then they shook and shook. And a sound like a huge wave rushed towards them. Annie tugged hard at one of Robbie’s back pockets.               “Let’s get down.”

Robbie stayed as he was.

Annie tugged again—sharper this time—and the pocket wriggled. A cute something was in there. She let go.

The wave of sound made her feel like she’d jumped into a pool of icy water—there were goosebumps all over her arms and neck. Whatever it was, it was coming closer, sweeping the wire fence and crashing across the lawn…

Wind. Sending the wire fence twanging, billowing the sheets on the line, pushing and shoving its way between Annie and Robbie and the Hedges, roaring in their faces. Mrs. Hedge’s mouth moved but didn’t make a sound as she struggled to keep a grip on the nest. Mr. Hedge gripped Mrs. Hedge.

“Robbie,” yelled Annie over the torrent of air, “get down!”

from Dappled Annie and the Tigrish (Gecko Press 2014)

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Flight of Fantasy

dappled annie and the tigrish coverKia ora! On the cover of my book Dappled Annie and the Tigrish you can see the tigrish flying. You can’t? Are  you sure? Check out the word ‘Tigrish’ …. anything there?

Ah yes, the tiger stripes (they’re lovely to stroke too when you hold the cover), and what’s that slipstream effect  on the page, wooshing silkenly past the ‘grish’ of ‘tigrish’, in front of Annie and into the hedge? That, my friends,  is the tigrish.

There are illustrations inside the book, too – by illustrator Annie Hayward – but nowhere do you see the lovely  tigrish. Not even a peek. Okay, maybe a feather. You see Annie  Hayward and Gecko Press and myself decided  we’d prefer to leave the reader to imagine the magical, glowing  tigrish all for themselves.

When I started writing Dappled Annie, I knew I wanted to have a large magical creature in it. Why? Because I  love characters like the Luck Dragon in Neverending Story and Aslan in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  And because my daughter, Issy, loved the dragon in Cornelia Funke’s Dragon Rider, and because I know so    many young readers like my niece Libby and goddaughter Daisy who love love love stories with animals in  them, and even better if the animals are kind, magical creatures  that befriend the main character who might be  called  Issy or Libby or Daisy or Annie …  all well and good, but there don’t seem to be enough of such stories.

So somehow, as happens when you write, the tigrish appeared in my story. I can’t even remember how I came by the name. I guess he brought it with him. I didn’t intend for him to fly, but when I was talking to Annie Hayward about him (we talked a lot as I wrote the book), she said, ‘Of course he flies.’

Annie’s like that, she lives in the world of the imagination, and flying, magical creatures are as real to her as her pet dog, Ruby. In fact, I started writing Dappled Annie because I saw a painting Annie did of some magical hedges, and then it seemed absolutely right to call the main character Annie.

So should the tigrish fly? I didn’t even have to think about it. Of course the tigrish flew! And what fun it was to write. Not only do people love big, kind, magical creatures in stories, they also love when anything and anybody flies! Think of characters like Peter Pan and Mary Poppins … and on to the Luck Dragon and beyond.

I had to think hard about how the tigrish would fly – would he have wings all the time or just when he flew? how would he take off from the ground with them? how would the children hang on? what would they feel up there? what would they see? This is the fun of being an author, answering questions that only your imagination can answer.

I am going to invite a bunch of children at Wellington’s Capital E to give it a go over the holidays with me. I’m running a writing class on October 9 called Flight of Fantasy where 8-10 year olds will work with me to invent their own flying creature and write a story around it. I am very very excited about this. Read about it here. 

Meanwhile, here’s a taste of the tigrish taking off for the first time, with Annie (9) and her brother Robbie (4) on his back. They’re scared because they don’t know what’s happening. The tigrish has run through Annie’s garden and is leaping over the fence into the field beyond  … and beyond that are the Giant Woods …

Landing on the other side of the fence, there was no heaviness or jolting—the tigrish just seemed to glide into the grass, and the grass let him in.

Annie leaned over to see, and when she did, she tipped slightly and her hands slipped, and Robbie gripped, and she had to sit up quickly to keep balance. She held more tightly to the fur. That’s funny, she thought, is it softer? It was thicker around the shoulders, anyway, but now it was as if her hands were sinking into a feather quilt. She stared at the golden back with the slashes of black across it like black crayon, and the way the fur fell away in long sweeps, flaring out on either side of the powerful shoulders like…she cried out. Wings! The tigrish had wings!

The great creature tensed its muscles and released them, and two enormous dappled wings—muscle by muscle, feather by feather—unfolded. Then the tigrish leapt forward—no, lifted off into the afternoon.

“Fly-ing!” yelled Robbie. He sounded excited now.

Annie shut her eyes. She could feel the air rushing past and around her like the windy days when she walked the hills with her dad. And she could feel the muscles of the tigrish tense and release each time the wings lifted and fell. Such a strong wide back.

Flying! Was there anything else like it? Slowly, she opened each eye.

 

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Drawing mutant carnivorous plants: a chat with Sabrina Malcolm

How do you turn ordinary looking plants into walking, talking mutants? That’s what the wonderful illustrator Sabrina Malcolm has to do in The Fly Papers books. I asked her a bit more about how …

sabrinaWhen you start coming up with ideas for turning particular carnivorous plants into sentient mutants – what are some of the things you think about?

Sabrina: I always need to think about how the creature will move around, and how it will perform whatever actions are required by the story. Dion’s roots, for example, became his way of getting around; and his traps came in handy for things like opening louvre windows.

The eyes have always been particularly important, because they’re one of the most important ways of showing the creature’s thoughts and emotions. Other parts of the creature can be helpful with that, too — for example, Dross’s leaves can look bedraggled, or lively and excited; and similarly with his eye stalks.

Of course, these things are always decided in consultation with the author and designer!

dionDo you use real plants or photos for reference (or both)?

Sabrina: I use real plants when I can, but photos can be useful too, especially if I’m drawing while a plant has died down for the winter. Venus flytraps, for example, can look very poorly during the winter months.

How do you make the plants’ eyeballs express emotion?

 Sabrina: Eyelids are the crucial thing: without them, it’s much harder to show emotion. They can take on some of the job of eyebrows — pulling down for a frown, narrowing together to show suspicion, or rolling right back in fear.

The eye stalks can be helpful, too — if they’re rearing back, it can convey fear, and lunging forward can show aggression.

Okay, if you were Bette Noire – and you could create a mutant plant or animal in your lab – what might it be?

 Sabrina: A cow with cheesecake-flavoured milk. Oh, and edible brussels sprouts.

 

Sabrina is the illustrator of all The Fly Papers books, and also an author. Last year she wrote and illustrated a beautiful picture book: Blue Moon Bird.

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Win a Wild Things magazine pack

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur March Star Author, Johanna Knox, has been blogging about editing the Wild Things magazine for the Kiwi Conservation Club.  The KCC has very kindly sent us some copies of last year’s magazine to give away to some lucky Christchurch Kids Blog readers.  Wild Things is packed full of information about local wildlife, stories and activities.

Thanks to everyone who entered.  The winners of the magazine packs are – Ewen, Tegan, Asta and Logan.

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How to edit a magazine (part 3)

Writing isn’t part of every editor’s job – but it’s part of mine. For each Wild Things magazine I write an episode of Owl Kids plus at least one article. I also write word puzzles and devise a board game.

Here’s how we make the game:

First, I think of an idea. Then I draw a rough draft and start testing it on my family. I test it over and over, each time making small changes to the rules until it all works. It’s fun at first, but after several days my kids are begging me please not to make them play the game again!

Once the game is devised, there’s still plenty to do. The game wouldn’t be the game without Rob Di Leva, the designer. So when I’ve settled on the final instructions for it and made a draft layout, I send it all to him. At this stage it doesn’t look much fun to play!

This was my draft layout for the September 2013 game:

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Rob spends a lot of time and imagination turning each game into something that people would actually enjoy.

Here’s what he did with the plan above.

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Notice that he’s not just a fantastic designer, but a wonderful illustrator.

In fact, if you think Wild Things looks interesting and fun in general – that’s all thanks to Rob. While I’m writing and editing, he’s spending hour after hour taking care of the visual side. Behind every good-looking magazine (or book) is a great designer!

Okay. Once everything is written, illustrated, edited, and designed, and the whole magazine is almost ready to be printed – one last task begins. Proofreading.

This takes ages, and involves the editor and several others going over and over every part of the magazine to try and make sure it’s absolutely, perfectly, incontrovertibly correct – while the designer fixes all the spotted errors.

Now, let me tell you a secret that all editors know. No matter how well you think you’ve done your proofreading, at least one mistake will somehow creep through and end up in the printed magazine.

You just have to hope it’s nothing serious …

For example, you wouldn’t want a single dot left out of an email address so that everyone sends competition entries to the wrong place, causing great panic and an urgent phone call to tech support, who have to drop everything to get all the emails redirected from the wrong email address to the right one …

You wouldn’t want that.

But that is just an example, of course.

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How to edit a magazine (part 2)

In my last post I talked about planning each issue of Wild Things magazine. That’s fun – but here’s what’s MORE fun:

Deciding who to invite (or beg) to contribute.

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Who are your favourite authors and illustrators?

Imagine you could create a magazine and invite them all to do something for it. Who would you ask to do what?

Who would you ask to design and draw a beautiful maze?

Who would you ask to write an article about your favourite animal?

Who would you ask to write a hilarious skit? And whose illustration might go brilliantly with that skit? You can team them up.

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I can hardly describe how exciting it is to send off emails to writers and illustrators I admire, enquiring if they’d do a particular job for Wild Things, and then waiting for their reply.

Occasionally they’re too busy, but usually they say yes. (Yay!) Then I send them more details about the job, so they can get going. I try not to give  TOO MUCH detail – it’s better if they have loads of freedom. Because what’s the point in asking creative professionals to do a job if they can’t be creative?

Here’s the most brilliant thing of all:

The finished work that they send back is ALWAYS different from how I thought it would be – and way better. I’m in awe of how these people’s imaginations work. New Zealand has many amazing professional writers and illustrators!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter this exciting bit, I have to do boring stuff: make sure the contributors send in invoices so they can get paid, and sometimes ask them to fill in tax forms.

Strange things can happen …

Have you seen the book, Watch Out, Snail!? It’s about Powelliphanta – incredible, rare, giant snails that live only in New Zealand. They’re way more awesome than the common garden snails that eat your precious vegetables.

The book’s illustrator is Margaret Tolland, and for one issue of Wild Things, she made us a beautiful maze where you have to help a Powelliphanta snail find its food.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWell, I think the common garden snails that keep trying to live in our letterbox must have been jealous, because when she sent me her tax form, they ate it! All they left were a few shreds of holey paper.

I had to email Margaret, apologise profusely, and ask her if she could send another tax form, because snails had eaten the first!

More about editing a magazine soon. In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for your favourite NZ authors and illustrators in any Wild Things issues you see. (And beware the letterbox snails.)

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How to edit a magazine (part 1)

Have you ever made a class magazine?

I love working on magazines, so I couldn’t believe my luck when I got a job editing Wild Things. That’s the magazine of KCC – the Kiwi Conservation Club. KCC has members all round the country – kids like you – who get together to have fun and help save the environment.

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So. What does the Wild Things editor do?

I start planning each issue about three months before it has to be printed.

First I talk to four important people:

  • Tiff, the manager of KCC
  • Rob, the graphic designer and art director of Wild Things
  • Marina, who edits the Forest & Bird magazine (the adult’s version of Wild Things), and
  •  Mandy who’s in charge of the KCC website.

These four are always having brilliant ideas, as well as hearing important news, so I have to figure out the best way to fit all their ideas and news into one issue.

I ask myself: What could we make a puzzle or game or skit out of? What should have an article written about it? How long should the article be? What might we have to leave out, or maybe put in a later issue?

I have to remember we have only 24 pages in an issue. Sometimes I wish I could cram in a bazillion and six things – but then the writing would be so tiny you’d barely read it.

After much scribbling and typing and deleting and retyping, I have a plan I’m happy with. Part of it looks like this. See what it shows? (Enlarge it by clicking on it.)

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Yes – you just got a sneak peek at what will be on each page in the next issue.

In publishing jargon, that’s called a ‘flat plan’. I’m not quite sure why, but I suppose it makes sense: it is a plan, and it is flat (usually … unless it’s spent too long in my messy bag, or our cat Smoofie has been sitting on it.)

The next step is to see what Tiff, Rob, Marina, and Mandy think of the flat plan.

Hmmm … I haven’t shown this one to them yet – you’re the first to see it!

I better go show them now. More about how to edit a magazine soon.

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The lure of mystery

Hi everyone – I’ve been looking forward to being your March author.

Do you like mystery?

I do. Growing up, my favourite book series was The Three Investigators. I longed to discover this gang was real and join them as investigator number four –  I mean, they really did need a girl.

I also loved those mysteries you have to solve yourself, like the Encyclopedia Brown stories – except I got impatient and looked up the answers. Then I’d feel angry at myself and try to brainwash myself into believing I’d worked them out on my own.

ImageThe stories I love writing are also mysterious ones. The Fly Papers is full of mystery.

Another series I’m working on is The Owl Kids. It’s for a magazine called Wild Things and has wonderful illustrations by Adele Jackson. (Like the one on the left right!ahem, 45 years old and I still get my left and right mixed up sometimes.)

I’ll talk more about it soon, but you can read the first episode here – and solve the first of its mysteries.

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Book Reviews with Bite

One of the great things about the Christchurch City Libraries Catalogue is that you can add your own book reviews.

One of the great things about South Christchurch Library eBook Club is that the kids in it LOVE to do book reviews. Can you see where this is going?

Recently we read some fantastic animal books and recorded some quick video reviews using Mojo Masks, an app that lets you wear a virtual mask while you record videos.

Video TabTo see these awesome videos, click on the catalogue links, scroll to the bottom of the page and choose “Videos” under Community Activity. Why not make your own video reviews of books and add them to the catalogue?

ABC Zooborns by Andrew Bleiman

Top 10 Minibeasts: deadly and incredible animals by Jay Dale

Manukura: the white kiwi by Joy Cowley

Foxes by Sally Morgan

Birds by Terry J. Jennings

Killer Pets by Tony Hyland

And if you do add a video review to the catalogue, let us know in the comments below, so we can check it out!

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Bundles of Book Lists

Did you know the Library has lots of book lists that we’ve made especially for you? There’s nearly 50 lists of books that we’ve chosen from our catalogue about different subjects. So if you like spy stories, animal stories or ghost stories, you can find some good reads on here. As well as HEAPS of others.

We’ve also got a whole lot of “If you like…” lists. These are lists that tell you some more good books to read if you like a particular series or author. Some of our lists are Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Jacqueline Wilson and Geronimo Stilton. Check out our lists to see if we’ve got some good suggestions for your favourite book or author.

If you’re looking for suggestions for the Science Alive Reading Adventure challenge of the Summertime Reading Club, we’ve made some lists for that too! Check out ALL of our kids lists on our Catalogue.

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National Geographic just for you

There are a few things that you can not avoid in life and homework is one of them! Here at Christchurch City Libraries we want to make homework as painless as possible. To help beat the due date blues, we welcome National Geographic Kids online.

National Geographic Kids can be searched by itself or  through the National Geographic Digital Archive. This resource is geared toward 6-14 year olds and it includes:

  • National Geographic Kids magazine 2009-present (3 month embargo);
  • National Geographic Kids books which include award-winning photos and maps;
  • Kid-friendly, downloadable images perfect for assignments.

Have a play and see what you think! You can find this electronic resource 24/7 through the catalogue or at the Source, all you need is your library card number, PIN and a sense of adventure and wonder!
Who doesn’t want to know that two unmanned spacecraft have been travelling through outer space for 33 years?

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Phantom of Terawhiti by Des Hunt

It’s the school holidays and Zac thinks he might go crazy with boredom. He’s living in exile with his disgraced father on the remote Terawhiti Station on Wellington’s wild southwest coast. Then Zac and his dad witness a boat sink during a storm. Investigating further, Zac finds a set of unusual animal prints on the beach. Whose boat is it? And what creature could have made the prints? Soon armed men are prowling the coast, and threatening Zac, his friends and his family. He must do all he can to protect the Phantom of Terawhiti from those intent on hunting it down.

Phantom of Terawhiti is an action-packed adventure story, packed with mystery,  armed and angry Russians, brainless hunters, wild weather, a car chase, and a race against time.  Des Hunt is a gifted storyteller who never fails to write a story that grips readers and makes you keep turning the pages to find out what happens next.  In Phantom of Terawhiti there are plenty of heart-stopping moments, especially when Zac and Jess clash with the Russians.  The mystery of the ‘Phantom of Terawhiti’ draws you in and, even when the creature is revealed, you wonder how it will survive in the wild with the hunters trying to track it down.

Like the main characters in his other books, Zac and Jess are just normal Kiwi kids, who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time (or maybe the right place at the right time).  Zac gets dragged by his dad to come and live on the remote Terawhiti Station, and it’s while he’s here that he discovers the wreck of the yacht and the paw prints in the sand.  When they discover the Phantom of Terawhiti, Zac and Jess know that they must do everything they can to protect it.

Phantom of Terawhiti is one of Des Hunt’s best books so far and I can’t wait to see where in the country he will take us to next.

4 out of 5 stars

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Scrap – Oh My Dog

Scrap 2In the second of the Scrap series, Scrap starts life with a new team on the hills of Rocky Ridge Station. He’s still got a lot to learn, but at least he knows where his mum is. But to see her he has to get past Buster, the massive team leader, and the man that tried to drown him as a pup.

It’s interesting that every good story has a shape. It builds to a point towards the end of the story, everything depends on that moment and in a good story you never know quite how it is going to turn out.  In this story that high point is pretty scary and you wonder if Scrap will even survive. Can you think of one moment in any story you’ve read where you’ve been so drawn in that you just have to keep turning the pages to find how it all ends?

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Scrap – Tale of a Blond Puppy.

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Hi everyone,

I’ve got a new series coming out very soon, about a blond heading dog. It was partly inspired by this dog, Lana, who is a working sheepdog and won the National Heading Dog Champs in 2007. She’s blond, which is quite an unusual colour for a heading dog and some farmers don’t like them as they think the sheep don’t react the same to a blond dog. I wanted to write a book about a working sheepdog for a long time and her story gave me the inspiration I needed.

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Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins.

Gregor the Overlander is about a boy named Gregor who lives in an apartment in New York with his mother, grandmother and two sisters. One day, he goes to the laundry room with his sister Boots, and they discover the Underland.  The Underland is a place hundreds of feet under New York filled with giant bats, cockroaches, rats, scorpions and strange people, who send Gregor and Boots on a quest searching for their missing father.

My favorite character is Luxa, the queen of the Underland.  She is a little arrogant but very brave.  Gregor the Overlander is the first in a five book series. I give it a 8 and a half out of 10. Gregor the Overlander is suitable for 9 to 13-year-olds; boys and girls alike.  Suzanne Collins is also the author of the best-selling trilogy The Hunger Games.

By Luka, age 11

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Amazon Adventure by Willard Price

This book is about two boys called Hal and Roger and their dad who set out in the Amazon to look look for rare and exciting but also dangerous animals to put in the zoo they run.

From time to time they get into trouble and soon they hear that the zoo and their house burned down because of a fire. Their father has to leave so he can help with the house that means Hal and Roger are left alone to tackle some of the biggest and most dangerous species in the world…

Roger is 14 and very funny and cheeky at times but Hal, well Hal is quite different. He is serious, thoughtful, kind but sometimes he does have quite a sense of humour.

I would give these series 10/10 they are so good. I think children ages 7 or over would enjoy these books so if you’re 7 or over and you like adventure books then you’d better get reading!

By Sarah Powley

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Our own “Wild West” story

Hi everyone! It’s wonderful to be invited along to chat to you all and I’m looking forward to sharing a bit of my writing journey with you. As you can see from the books I’ve written, it’s obvious where much of my inspiration comes from! I’m animal mad, and that includes all animals – dogs, horses, wolves, cats, I love them all, and many of them pop up in my books. I also love learning about our fascinating past so often I try to weave history into my stories as well.

This is certainly true for my latest book, The Drover’s Quest, which is set in the 1860s gold-mining era. It’s the story of a headstrong girl who disguises herself as a boy so she can join a cattle drove across the Southern Alps to find her missing gold-digger father. During this time, many cattle were driven from Christchurch to the West Coast over the newly formed Arthur’s Pass to feed the miners. Charlotte (“Charlie”) has many adventures and mishaps riding her horse and working her dog across the wild mountain pass.

This story was inspired by the horses in my life and the trekking I do for pleasure. I love riding through the bush and having fun rounding up our pet cow, Bubbles, on my horse. And horses feature largely in our pioneering past. They were the main form of transport of course, but they were also used to move vast herds of cattle and sheep across the land. In some ways, our history in the late 1800s was similar to the taming of the “Wild West” of America. Rugged pioneers, bush cowboys, gun-toting outlaws, and desperate diggers feature in our past too. In The Drover’s Quest, many of these colourful characters gallop through the pages. I hope you’ll enjoy their journey.

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Red Rocks by Rachael King

While holidaying at his father’s house, Jake explores Wellington’s wild south coast, with its high cliffs, biting winds, and its fierce seals. When he stumbles upon a perfectly preserved sealskin, hidden in a crevice at Red Rocks, he’s compelled to take it home and hide it under his bed, setting off a chain of events that threatens to destroy his family. Can he put things right before it’s too late?

Red Rocks is a magical adventure story, set in New Zealand.  Rachael King has taken the Celtic myth of the selkies and transplanted it into a New Zealand setting that kiwi kids will relate to.  Jake is an average kid who gets sent to live with his dad for a few weeks, and like any kid, soon gets bored and sets off to explore the coast.  I really liked Rachael’s interesting cast of characters, from old Ted who lives in a run-down shack along the coast, to the mischievous Jessie and mysterious Cara.

One thing that I really love about Red Rocks is Rachael King’s beautiful writing.  She’s very descriptive so she paints a vivid picture of the wild, windy coast.  It’s the sort of book that you want to read snuggled up in bed because you almost feel the biting wind and the freezing ocean.

Reserve your copy of Red Rocks at the library.  You can also win a copy this week on Free Book Friday.

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Meet our June Star Author Susan Brocker

Our fantastic June Star Author is New Zealand author, Susan Brocker.  Susan has written a wide range of books for children and teenagers.  Some of them are non-fiction about topics like wildlife conservation and natural science.  Her favourite books are stories she’s written about her favourite things, such as horses, dogs and animals of all sorts.  She loves bringing history alive and making it exciting.

We have lots of Susan’s books in the library, including Restless Spirit, Brave Bess and the Anzac Horses, A Wolf in the Wardrobe, and her latest thrilling historical story, The Drover’s Quest.

Thanks for joining us Susan.  We look forward to hearing all about your books and your writing.

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June Star Author Competition

Our fantastic June Star Author, Susan Brocker has been writing some great posts about her stories and giving us some cool writing tips.  One of her books that Susan has been talking about is her latest book, The Drover’s Quest, a historical story set in 1860s New Zealand.  It’s a fantastic book and you can read my review of it here on the blog.

We’re starting our monthly Star Author Competition again this week with your chance to win a copy of The Drover’s Quest by Susan Brocker.  Thanks to HarperCollins NZ we have 3 copies to give away.  All you have to do is leave a comment, with your name and email address, telling us:

What is your favourite animal story?

This competition has now closed.  The winner is Tierney.

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