The Changeover – in all forms

Always good to read the book before watching the movie – I’ve just embarked on Margaret Mahy’s Carnegie Medal winning novel The Changeover (1984).
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Stuart McKenzie’s and Miranda Harcourt’s film version (Firefly Films) releases on 28 September.  Check out the trailer HERE.

Miss Twelve and friends are meanwhile entranced by the you tube clips on #MakingTheChangeover.

Nice moves by Radio New Zealand who are presenting the original 15-part adaptation of the book read by Miranda thirty years ago (adapted for radio by Carol Dee). Marvellous.

Find it HERE. 

RNZ also features an review of the re-realeased book by Hannah August HERE.

“BIM BAM BOOM” by Frederic Stehr

 

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Early picture books often strive for pleasing rhythm but author Frederic Stehr celebrates the discordant mess it can be in his new book “Bim Bam Boom” (Gecko press, Sept 2017).

Bashing things together to create sound and rhythm is a primal drive – the very young understand this perfectly but grown ups lose touch with this simple pleasure.

 

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Mother Owl certainly fails to find the joy in Baby Owl and friends thrashing a miscellany of her cookware. Or as the young birds rightly assert – “making music!”. Stehr captures their delight (and the cacaphony) perfectly with his simple line drawings and clever layering of text.

 

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Baby Owl gaily bangs a pot with wooden spoons – BIM BAM BIM BAM BIM. One by one her friends join her. Canary finds pot lids – TISH TISH TISH. Sparrow returns with a bowl and ladle – BOOM BOOM BOOM. Chick and Raven join the band!

 

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But it’s all over when a slightly wild-eyed Mother owl confiscates the instruments, telling the dejected little birds she’ll be back.

 

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She’s somewhat redeemed when she flourishes a delicious cake.  Replete, the youngsters wonder what to do next… and the story ends with a twist and an amusing finale on the back cover.

 

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“BIM BAM BOOM” is a simple, playful board book for toddlers. We love it.

 

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With thanks to the Gecko Press for the review copy : )

“Accumulated Power”

Just found this treasure – Margaret Mahy on the power of books and memory here in her piece on childhood favourites.  “The voices of my dead parents come to me out of the story, setting up profound sympathetic resonance in that echoing inner library, both voices mingling with mine as I read..”.

From the March/April 1997 issue of The Horn Book Magazine: Special Issue: Family Reading.

Source: “Accumulated Power”

“What Makes a Children’s Book Good?”

Okay, clearly I’m trawling for blog minnows and in a New York state-of-mind..

This article by New Yorker magazine’s Adam Gidwitz is brilliant.

“A second-grader once asked me for ‘a really, really good book,’ and I asked him, as librarians do, what he considered a good book. He eyed me with thinly veiled impatience and replied, ‘Medium-long with poisonous snakes.’ ”

(Laura Amy Schlitz, in her 2007 Newbery Medal acceptance speech)

Read it HERE

“See You When I See You” by Rose Lagercrantz and Eva Eriksson – Reviewed by Hana (9)

 

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I understood.  Really.  Who could resist that cover?  My review copy of “See You When I See You” by Rose Lagercrantz and Eva Ericsson. Gone.

My sleuthing didn’t take long.  Cue defiant nine-year-old.

“I just need it back for a while,” I say.  “You can have it after that.”

“Why do you need it?” comes her careful, tinged-with-defiance reply.

“Because I’m going to read it and tell people about it on my blog.”

I’ll tell them about it.”

“O-kay… what would you say?”

“That I love it.  And Dani is me and Ella is Tessie.  Because I’ve got white hair and Tessie’s got black hair and we are best friends and the adults can’t stop us from being best friends even though she lives far, far away.  But Dad’s not Italian like Dani’s Dad and he doesn’t say “amore” when he kisses me goodnight.  And you’re not dead like Dani’s Mum.”

Her eyes flick up at me, contemplating my alive-ness.

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“In the books Dani gets sad because Ella is so far away and there are mean boys in her class and she doesn’t like her Dad’s new girlfriend because she’s still sad about her Mum.”

Her shoulders rise and sag with a giant exhalation.

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“This time they go to the zoo and she gets lost and Ella was there with her school too and they went on an adventure and they buried their friendship necklaces in a hole in the ground.  Then they got in trouble and Ella’s teacher was mean and carried her off like a sack of something.”

She pauses, aggrieved.

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“And Dani has guinea pigs called Snow and Flake and they live in her room!  Like my fish Lemon and Honey but they’re not guinea pigs.  Snow and Flake are really super-clever guinea pigs.  You can tell because their eyes glitter.”

She goggles her eyes rodent-style and laughs.

 

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“Dani is funny Mum.  And she knows about the silver lining.  You know – in the clouds?”

A grand, skywards arc of hand, a breathy sigh… then she (and the book) are gone.

“See You When I See You” is a new story in the acclaimed chapter book series written by Rose Lagercrantz and illustrated by Eva Ericsson, due out in July.   A stand-alone read, “See You When I See You” follows “My Happy Life”, “My Heart is Laughing”, “When I am Happiest” and “Life According to Dani.” 

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Lagercrantz and Ericsson (Sweden) are long-time friends and collaborators and it shows in this beautiful dance of words and pictures.  The stories are rooted firmly in the domestic world – main character Dani navigates the subterranean complexities of home and family life, school and friendship.  The adults in Dani’s life are fallible and she grapples authentically with a good measure of grief and disappointment. 

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Neither trite nor heavy-handed, the serious business of growing up is balanced by a sense of wonder and flourishes of twinkling humour.  This series will most likely appeal to 5-7 year-olds as a read-together or an independent read for 7-9.  We’ve eagerly anticipated and loved every book. Classics.

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With thanks to Gecko Press for the lost and found review copy.

Wonderment and Warning

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Jeannie Baker’s new picture book Circle (Walker Books 2016) has been balanced on the top of the review pile for a few weeks now. It’s been hard to ignore in the gloom of an Auckland winter – a large and luscious hardback, it’s cover sings of tropical coastlands far, far away. But that’s the thing with Baker’s work; always the high blue sky, lush greens, red earth. A palette drawn from the natural world.

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For the last 30 years, Jeannie Baker has been telling stories of nature, community and belonging. Her 14 illustrated children’s books are implicit with cautionary messages about population pressure, ecological vulnerability and cultural tolerance. Baker’s award-winning work includes “Window”, Home, “Mirror”, “Millicent” and “Where the Forest Meets the Sea.”

Baker uses an eclectic mix of materials and found objects to create richly detailed collage. Her miniature, shallow relief panoramas are made from tiny scraps of material; earth, wool, down, grass, leaves, feathers and fabric. Printed as photo-collage, they are enchanting.

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Baker’s books are generally wordless, the pictures a gentle visual narrative. Our favourite is Window (Walker Books 1991), which was shortlisted for the prestigious Kate Greenaway medal. It documents the development in a boy’s neighbourhood from rural idyll to conurbation. It’s a poignant story – the fall of nature and the passing of childhood are a potent mix.

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The detail is delightful. Baker plays with childhood talismans to tell the story of a boy growing up. Through the window we watch as the birds and bush surrender to urban sprawl and the land is inexorably tamed. In front of our eyes, the little boy outgrows superheroes and bunny-rabbits.

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Then there’s a girl. And he is gone.

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The story ends with the adult boy holding his own baby at a new window, the spectre of the city now distanced – for the time being.

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Mirror is another wordless book published to great acclaim in 2010 (Australian Picture Book of the Year). It contains two stories designed to be read separately but at the same time.

Two boys, one in Morocco and one in urban Australia, live very similar lives in two different cultures.  Opposing pages present two different pictures to compare and show how their lives, hopes and dreams are not altogether different.

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In her new book Circle, Baker uses text alongside collage to tell the story of the bar-tailed Godwits, endangered migratory shorebirds that annually follow ancient invisible pathways from New Zealand and Australia across South East Asia to their breeding grounds in Alaska.

Baker spent ten years researching the godwits, joining a group of bird scientists in the remote Alaskan Tundra and the wetlands of the Yellow Sea.

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Circle celebrates the wonder of the epic journey these tiny birds take, but more it’s a gentle assertion of the interconnectedness of our world and the collective challenge we face to preserve and protect nature in the face of global population pressure.

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The beautiful aerial seascapes and landscapes created for CIRCLE are currently on a two-year national tour of Australia.

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Baker’s next book project is Playing with Collage, an inspirational guide for children and adults.