Children's New Releases 


 - Monday, February 03, 2014
2014: A new year, and there’ll be new authors and illustrators to discover amongst all the other offerings which are already enthusing us here in Gleebooks’ realm of youth literature. Thank you to all those customers who gave us feedback—not only on last year’s Gleaner-featured books, but also on our suggestions over Christmas—it helps us as booksellers and your acknowledgement is one of the vital factors keeping our passion alive.

Picture Books

Alphablock by Christopher Franceschelli (ill) Peskimo ($19.95, BD) Sturdy cardboard pages, with die-cut letters ofthe8alphabet, take us through from A to Z. Each letter can be looked through, revealing a scene behind. Cheerful pictures with very slightly unfinished textures and retro colours all contribute to this friendly and inviting block of a book. Sturdy in size and stature, the Alphablock would be perfect for any pre-school child learning their alphabet. Louise


The Worst Witch and the Wishing Star by Jill Murphy ($17, HB) A new Worst Witch book is always a treat, and this one is no exception. This beloved series started in 1974, with Mildred Hubble as a very endearing, but very accident prone, student at Miss Cackle's Academy for Witches. Always full of humour and harmless incidents, The Worst Witch books are really boarding school tales, with a bit of magic thrown in. Mildred and her friends are now in Fourth Form, and despite the extreme winter weather, the term is starting off very well. Jill Murphy is an excellent illustrator as well as author, and the book is generously illustrated throughout, with black and white line drawings, silhouettes, and lovely illuminated letters as chapter starters. Louise

Hard Luck: Diary of a Wimpy Kid V. 8 by Jeff Kinney Hard Luck continues Greg’s life through middle school. With his first world problems, this is surely one of the best books yet in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. The book goes on to talk about losing his best friend Rowley to a girl, making Greg jealous. When he becomes a complete loner he calls on his last resort: FREGLY only to get Fregly popular. This is a very enjoyable book and uses loads of humour. Taj (age 12) ($15, PB; $18, HB)

The Middle of Nowhere by Geraldine McCaughrean ($20, PB)  It is often through the eyes of others that we more clearly see ourselves, and this is certainly the case with McCaughrean’s latest novel which is heartwarming, tragic and defiantly humane. Focussing on young Comity, named so hopefully by her parents, the story illuminates the conditions and history of the Overland Telegraph in the late C19th. After the sudden death of her mother from snakebite, Comity vacillates between maintaining the values so thoroughly instilled by her mother, and questioning everything that has hitherto determined her life. Mute with grief, her father retreats into his work and Comity’s friendship with Fred, the young Aboriginal boy who shared her lessons, strengthens, becoming the mainstay of her life. The arrival of an unwanted assistant, the leering, disrespectful Quartz Hogg, upsets the entire telegraph repeater station and shatters Comity’s fragile lifestyle and the mind of her father, now a delicate bereft husk. Hogg’s racism and incendiary manipulation had me seething with impotent rage as well as aching with pity and sympathy for Comity and Fred, even while I was heartened by Comity’s resilience and defiance. Offsetting the more grim events are abundant moments of humour and stirring nobility. Likewise the contrast between life at the telegraph station and the cultures of Fred’s indigenous community and that of Punjabi lad Moosa—both boys are radiant with life and imagination, honour and understanding. The Middle of Nowhere, presenting our own history and geography through such a compassionate lens and wonderful imagery, reinforces my awe of McCaughrean’s skilful wordsmithery. Lynndy

Classic Poetry

The Conference of the Birds by Farid Ud-Din Attar adapted and illustrated by Peter Sis Adapted from the C12th Persian classic (which was not aimed at younger readers), this rendition by Peter Sis yields more with each reading. One of my favourite illustrators since my very first encounter with his work, in Tibet: Through the Red Box, Sis has continued to impress and intrigue with his sensitive originality, and this book invites you to glory in the sumptuous art. In language accessible to all ages Sis has distilled from the original epic poem of almost 5,000 lines the journey of all species of birds led by the hoopoe to find the true king, into an allegory of faith and life. Older readers will  recognise the beauty and decipher the levels of meaning; but don’t let this discourage you from sharing it with younger children as they, too will find much to ponder in Sis’s lyrical version. Profound and inspirational, this is a book to revisit and re-examine, letting its universal truths seep into your soul: art, poetry and spiritual journey all in one! Treat yourself to the hardcover edition: the paper quality, textures and layout make it a more stunningly attractive objet d’art. ($42, HB; $27, PB) Lynndy

In the Toy Box

We now have in stock a very appealing range of toys, games and craft supplies from eeBoo, the American toy manufacturer. eeBoo states 'Literacy, story telling, drawing, imaginative play and basic math are among the skills that eeBoo products encourage'. They have literacy based card games, as well as all the old favourites like Snap and Happy Families; familiar board games like Slips and Ladders (an award winner, and I’m so glad it's not Snakes!), and inventive new ones like Gathering a Garden; old fashioned lacing cards, and many fun craft activities such as felt animal kits, paper chain and flower garland kits. Additionally there are attractively updated traditional supplies: pipe cleaners, coloured paddle pop sticks, and scissors. eeBoo toys are reasonably priced, high quality, and are always very nicely illustrated. Louise


The ABC of My Childhood

These stories danced in my imagination, bringing me face to face with dark murder, deceit, betrayal and sacrifice; encouraging me to feel things as the character felt them or even to understand truths that could be reflected in the everyday. Yet these tales also taught me about friendship, endurance, love and all that is good about the world. Books transported me to different lands and countries to meet new people and take part in the most epic of adventures.  I have compiled a list of books that changed, moved and taught me. I could never tell you my absolute favourite author or book, so this list was hard to compile (I haven’t anything for C or Q) and is only a fraction of those books I dearly love.
a Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi; b The Book Thief by Markus Zusak; d Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier; e The Earthsea Quartet by Ursula Le Guin; f Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen; g The Ghost’s Child by Sonya Hartnett h Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling; i Igraine the Brave by Cornelia Funke; j The Janna Mysteries by Felicity Pulman k The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness; l Lyra’s Oxford by Phillip Pullman; m The Mousewife by Rumer Godden; n No Place for Magic by E. D. Baker; o Obernewtyn Chronicles by Isobelle Carmody; p Protector of the Small Quartet by Tamora Pierce; r The Robe of Skulls by Vivian French; s Stardust by Neil Gaiman; t The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien; u The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann; v The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle; w Wenny has Wings by Janet Lee Carey;  x Xanadu edited by Jane Yolen; y You Come Too by Robert Frost; z Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O’Brien. Meaghan