Children's New Releases 

August Children

Gleebooks Bookshop - Friday, July 19, 2013



Inside Outside by Lizi Boyd 

This beautiful book about a child playing takes us inside a house, and outside the house, through the seasons, and through all kinds of weather. The use of a few small die cut windows on each of the internal pages shows us what's happening inside, and gives us glimpses of outside, at the same time. And vice versa. I like the small child-sized scope of the book: a child's home, set against the bigger backdrop of each of the seasons. The illustrations appear to have been drawn on brown paper, with delicate black lines. A limited palette of gouache paints has been used to great effect—and it's unusual to see gouache used so sensitively. I really like this book. It captures the essence of play, as well as being wonderfully executed. Very nice endpapers too! ($22.95, HB)  Louise

The Octopuppy by Martin McKenna 

Jarvis is as debonair, intelligent, dexterous and exemplary a pet as anyone could want, especially Edgar, who’s eager to train his new pup. The fact that Jarvis is an octopus means that Edgar’s expectations, and life as a pet owner, face some adjustments. Even Sheldon, who proposed a pet octodog in The Big Bang Theory, would succumb to the charms of this endearingly offbeat comical story. ($25, HB)  Lynndy

My Friends by Taro Gomi

Taro Gomi is one of Japan's most prolific children's books illustrators and writers. His books are deceptively simple, his sense of design and use of the page are always interesting from the adult perspective, and his child audience always responds to his light hearted sense of whimsy and fun. My Friends is a book about a little girl who learns from her friends how to do things: she learns to walk from her friend the cat, she learns to smell from her friend the butterfly, and she learns to sing from her friends the birds. The text is wonderfully spare with a Haiku-like rhythm, and the vibrant illustrations extend the text. Less is more with this joyful book, starting with the completely plain, shiny hot pink endpapers, and its warm watercolour illustrations. ($10, PB; 9.95, BD)  Louise



The One and Only Ivan

by Katherine Applegate, (ill) Patricia Castelao Ivan is a show gorilla who has spent his life performing. He doesn’t remember his family or his life in the jungle. But when a new elephant called Ruby arrives he realises that he needs to get them both to a safer place. With the help from some friends and Ivan’s artistic talents can they make it to that safer, happier place. This book is great for animal lovers and people who love a great read. It was awarded the 2013 Newbery Medal. I would recommend for ages 8+.  ($15, PB; $24, HB)  Aine Bailey (age 11)

Alanna: The First Adventure

, Book 1 in The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce ($18 PB) Alanna of Trebond is a young girl, who wants more than anything to be a knight! One problem: only boys are allowed to train to be knights. Alanna: The First Adventure follows the titular character’s journey after she gets the clever idea to swap places with her twin brother in order to become a knight-in-training. Pierce imaginatively guides her readers into an entirely different world—exploring themes of gender, magic, stereotypes, discrimination, and the definitions of courage & friendship through her skilful use of language. Alanna has as many flaws as strengths; her brother, Thom, is an intelligent young man whom you can’t help but love; and all the young pages, squires & knights of Tortall have characteristics that make for ideal fictional companions! This is a perfect beginning to a perfect series, which is aimed towards 11 to 16 year-olds, but girls in particular will identify with Alanna and remember her courage and spirit long after reading. Age 13+. Axel (age 14)

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner

Sally Gardner’s dystopian young adult novel Maggot Moon is unsettling, and thrilling. Short chapters carried by the voice of a charming protagonist bring an austere pseudo-England crackling into what passes for life there. Standish Treadwell is a social outcast, marked by his varicoloured eyes and dyslexia: a target in a society intolerant of difference - a society obsessed with reaching the moon. Despite this, spending time with Standish is delightful; albeit a delight punctuated by the legitimately terrifying acts of violence he witnesses, and a bleak finale. Maybe not for the faint-hearted, but still fantastic: winner of the 2013 Carnegie Medal. Age 13+. ($19.95, PB)  Joshua

The First Third by Will Kostakis

After reading this book it will be difficult to buy bed linen straightfaced, or to consider anything other than the comfort and high quality of your purchase. Why? The answer to that is just one of the many reasons to read this novel, which is brimming with intelligence, heart and soul. Kostakis has mined the core of his own Greek background to bring to life Billy—a tender, hapless hero beset by the sacred responsibility of a promise to his grandmother, and of becoming the glue holding his family together.  A heavy burden for a 17 year-old boy who’d rather focus on getting his romantic life under way, with or without the collusion of his best friend Lucas. I love the description of their closeness: ‘We weren’t the exact same person, he was three times four and I was two times six. We both equalled twelve; we were just made of different parts.’ Lucas has cerebral palsy, which he uses as both a source of humour and a friendship litmus; and the apparent ease of his gay relationships contrasts with Billy’s conspicuous lack of success with girls. The title harks back to a musing on life by Billy’s grandmother, and is perfect for this novel. Bittersweet and cloaked in warmth, The First Third is a snapshot of modern life, family, friendship, of relatable people striving for acceptance and something better in life. It’s also a reminder that the truth is often obscured by a veneer cultivated for self-protection. Moving and well-written, it is a welcome addition to the under-represented genre of contemporary realism. [BTW, Will, if any publishers are reading this, I’m just as willing to agitate for the revival of Loathing Lola as I was when it was declared out of print. Surely the prevalence of ‘reality’ entertainment renders its satire even more topical now, quite apart from the universality of the story, which deserves a new audience? Here’s hoping!] ($18, PB)  Lynndy


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