Blog Archives

Quality assured, Guy Somerset

Annual Kate De Goldi and Susan Paris (eds) Gecko Press, $40.00, ISBN 9781776570775 Would it kill Wellington children’s publisher Gecko Press to once – just once! – say “Sod it, really, who can be bothered?” and bung out some bit

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Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review

Drawing pictures in the mind, Barbara Else

Coming Home to Roost Mary-Anne Scott Longacre Press, $20.00, ISBN 9781775538592  The Road to Ratenburg Joy Cowley Gecko Press, $20.00, ISBN 9781776570751 Twice now I’ve been a marker at a regional Lit Quiz where teams of top intermediate age readers

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Posted in Children, Literature and Review

Glory or gory? Caitlin Walker

The Bakehouse Joy Cowley Gecko Press, $20.00, ISBN 9781776570072 Viewed from a distance of seventy-plus years, 1943 was history soup, everything mixed up, and it was difficult to separate reality from what he had read or been told. One event,

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Posted in Literature, Review, YA Reviewers and Young adults

Foreign countries, Kathryn Walls

The Bakehouse Joy Cowley Gecko Press, $20.00, ISBN 978177650072 The Knot Impossible: A Tale of Fontania Barbara Else Gecko Press, $25.00, ISBN 978177650041 The Girl Who Rode the Wind Stacy Gregg HarperCollins, $25.00, ISBN 9780008124304   Joy Cowley’s The Bakehouse

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Posted in Children, Fiction, Literature and Review

Hurtling along, armed with a map, Eirlys Hunter

Soup and Bread
Nōnen Títi
Nōnen Títi, $25.00,
ISBN 9780994107732

The Pirates and the Nightmaker
James Norcliffe
Longacre, $20.00,
ISBN 9781775537694

The Volume of Possible Endings: A Tale of Fontania
Barbara Else
Gecko Press, $25.00,
ISBN 9781927271377

Two of these titles are fantasies with large dollops of magic, yet I happily suspended disbelief and became immersed in their worlds. The third is supposedly set in the here and now, but instead of getting lost in it I kept noticing inconsistencies – it just wasn’t credible. Believability is crucial to fiction, and it can’t be achieved unless a novel’s characters are operating in a particular and sustained world. It doesn’t matter how unfamiliar the setting is – 12th-century Laotian temple, Antarctic scientist’s lab, a dragon’s lair – there has to be enough plausible detail to allow the reader to feel secure that the writer knows what they’re talking about. The writer may well have only visited the location in their imagination, but that’s all that should be necessary to bring the place to life. The wardrobe, those furs, that lamppost – of course we’ll believe in Narnia. The more specific a place, the more real it will seem, and the more believable the story.

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Posted in Children, Fiction, Literature and Review

Reading, writing and arithmetic, Barbara Else

Speed of Light
Joy Cowley
Gecko Press, $20.00,
ISBN 9781877579936

Teddy One-Eye: The Autobiography of a Teddy Bear
Gavin Bishop
Random House, $35.00,
ISBN 9781775537274

The ACB with Honora Lee
Kate De Goldi (drawings by Gregory O’Brien)
Longacre, $25.00,
ISBN 9781869799915

Three stars of New Zealand literature, three award-winning books, three very different approaches and audiences: how is any reviewer to manage this daunting assignment?

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Posted in Children, Fiction, Literature and Review

Happy birthday Gecko Press

Publisher Julia Marshall reflects on a decade of readers and reading.

Gecko Press is turning 10 this year. It is banal to say that in these 10 years there has been a lot of change (though of course it is true). But 10 years is not long to gain much in the way of perspective. I can’t imagine what it was like to be publishing books back when booky people at least were reading every novel published by a New Zealand writer, for example. Or, when no books were being published by New Zealanders, or the period of the long lunch. (We are pretty hard pressed to get lunch at all these days.)

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Rhyming pleasures, Linda Burgess

Over the Hill to Greytown
Tania Atkinson (Viv Walker illus)
Wai Art Press, $20.00,
ISBN 9780473252526

Bruiser and the Big Snow
Gavin Bishop
Random House, $21.00,
ISBN 9781775534860

Toucan Can
Juliette MacIver and Sarah Davis
Gecko Press, $20.00,
ISBN 9781877467547

The sun did not shine, it was too wet to play, so Sophie, who was having tea with her mummy in the kitchen, spied Tom Thumb, who was in the cupboard. Can’t go under it, can’t go over it, and Alfie got in first and the door shut behind him. I’ll eat you up, I love you so. Your father was put in a pie by Mrs McGregor. And into the water they fell. Frances will only eat bread and jam. Captain Najork came with his hired sportsmen. The cat from Brazil caught a very bad chill. “EEEEEOWWWFFTZ” said Scarface Claw. The little yellow digger will sort it.

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Posted in Children, Literature and Review

Hormones and hedges David Hill

Into the River Ted Dawe Longacre, $20.00, ISBN 9781775536048 Dappled Annie and the Tigrish Mary McCallum (Annie Hayward illus) Gecko Press, $20.00, ISBN 9781877579912 Anyone present when Into the River won the Senior Fiction and Book of the Year categories

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Posted in Children, Literature, Review and Young adults

New seeds for old, Kathryn Walls

The Mijo Tree Janet Frame (Deidre Copeland illus) Penguin, $25.00, ISBN 9780143569428 A Book is a Book Jenny Bornholdt (Sarah Wilkins illus) Gecko Press, $25.00, ISBN 9781877579929 Dunger Joy Cowley Gecko Press, $20.00, ISBN 9781977579462 Janet Frame sent the typescript

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Posted in Children, Fiction, Literature and Review
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