Mr Miniscule and the Whale by Julian Tuwim, illustrated by Bohdan Butenko, Book Island, ISBN 9780987669681, RRP $18
There’s something in stories about teeny tiny things meeting big giant things that always appeals to children and in that vein they will thoroughly enjoy Mr Miniscule and the Whale. Mr Miniscule is a wee little explorer who goes off in search of a big blue whale… what will he find? Where will he go? What is that giant blue thing?
I won’t ruin it, of course, because this is another delightful children’s book from Book Island, who are really producing absolutely fantastic book treasures at the moment. Mr Miniscule and the Whale is actually a classic Polish book and that’s what I love about Book Island; they’re bringing us gorgeous and unknown (to those of use who don’t have any additional language skills!) books in English translation. And everyone loves finding hidden treasure.
As with all Book Island books Mr Miniscule and the Whale is beautifully illustrated with high production values. I’m seriously thinking of setting up a shelf just for displaying Book Island books.
The story is rhyming which makes it good for reading out loud and it’s detailed without being too long – perfect for slightly older toddlers. I highly recommend you search this out – along with any other Book Island titles – you won’t be disappointed!
By Tine Mortier, Illustrated by Kaatje Vermeire, Book Island
A stunning and deeply moving picture book, Maia and What Matters is the story of Maia and her beloved grandma. Dealing compassionately and appropriately with issues of loss and grieving, as well as old age, this is a wonderful book to share with children and to treasure for years to come.
By Terry Pratchett, Doubleday
Amazingly, Raising Steam is the 40th Discworld novel and Terry Pratchett remains as fresh as ever. The book takes us back to Ankh Morpork and raconteur Moist von Lipwig, now in charge of bringing the steam train to the varied population of Discworld. With his characteristic dry wit and a plot that races along, Pratchett delivers another highly enjoyable read.
By Brandy Wehinger, Random House
Zombies may be so last year but fun and romantic stories are timeless. Blue is the debut teen novel from New Zealand author Brandy Wehinger and it’s an enjoyable, fun read, and the perfect antidote for teens hung up on Twilight or Stephen King. Summer may be over for kids but they can still enjoy a beach read.
By James Scott, Random House
Another debut novel, this one has an authentic horror voice. The Kept takes us to rural New York State in the late 19th century, examining long-held family secrets and the deep desire for revenge. Genuinely literary prose combined with a darkly haunting story make The Kept a satisfying and troubling read.
Maia and What Matters by Tine Mortier & Kaatje Vermeire, Book Island, ISBN9780987669667, RRP $29.99.
The most beautiful picture book I’ve seen this year, Maia and What Matters is the latest from Kapiti Coast publisher Book Island – further proving that the best New Zealand publishers are congregating around Wellington.
Maia is “an impatient scamp”, lucky enough to have a Grandma just the same. They romp delightfully through Kaatje Vermeire’s absolutely stunning illustrations, capturing your heart with Tine Mortier’s equally delightful text.
Age does come for us all, however… and Grandma falls ill and suddenly she doesn’t romp (or talk) like she used too. Then tragedy strikes that little bit deeper.
I want to frame every page of this book. The pictures are beautiful and the story is gentle, heartfelt and honest in its depiction of the relationship between generations.
A book to make you wish you told your grandparents how much you loved them while they were with you. Or to remind you to romp with your grandchildren.
Sir Mouse to the Rescue by Dirk Nielandt and Marjolein Pottie, Book Island, RRP $24.99, ISBN9780987669629, Available now.
Another new title from the new New Zealand (new) publisher, Book Island, Sir Mouse to the Rescue is the thoroughly charming tale of Sir Mouse and her best friend Dragon. Suitable for early readers that are almost ready for chapter books, I think Sir Mouse will be particularly enjoyed by girls for its twist on the usual fairy tales of helpless female princesses and brave male knights.
Sir Mouse is a knight (“bold Sir Mouse”) who tries to rescue the Prince, battles Cat (a fellow knight), hangs out with her best friend Dragon and contemplates living happily ever after. She sometimes takes herself a tad too seriously but fortunately Dragon is there to keep her company… plus Dragon may not be so silly as she originally seems.
Sir Mouse to the Rescue has lovely illustrations that are a mixture of cartoon and collage and the stories are broken up into short “chapters”, making this a great present idea for readers who are feeling too old for “picture books” but aren’t quite ready for true chapter books.
A final bonus? Sir Mouse thinks marrying the Prince and living happily every after is a CRAZY idea.
Mouse sighs. “A princess does not wear a suit of armour,” she says. “A princess has no sword. A princess is not a knight. Can you see me wearing a posh dress?”
“It might look lovely on you,” says Dragon.
When Dragon has gone home, Mouse tries on a posh dress. She stands in front of the mirror. Ridiculous, thinks Mouse.