Children's New Releases 

October 2017

Gleebooks Bookshop - Wednesday, October 11, 2017


Why Can’t I Be A Dinosaur?by Kylie Westaway, (ill) Tom Jellett ($25, HB)
Nellie is not happy to discover that her ‘dinosaur day’ has clashed with Aunt Daisy’s wedding. She can’t possibly wear a dress today! After much stomping and roaring she settles on a brilliant compromise. A delight to behold, she clomps down the aisle strewing pink petals, green dinosaur feet poking out from the hem of her purple bridesmaid’s dress. Go Nellie! Mandy (Just as irresistible as their previous book, Whale in the Bath LB.)


The Variety of Life by Nicola Davies (ill) Lorna Scobie ($30, HB)What a wonderful celebration of the amazing diversity of the natural world, with millions of species of plants and animals living in water, on land and in the sky! Delightful illustrations are accompanied by fascinating facts, endangered species are marked with a star and everything is given both its common and scientific names. Introductory notes and a comprehensive glossary complete the picture. Readers of 6+ will surely revel in this exploration of biodiversity. Mandy

Play in a Box by the National Theatre, (ill) Hui Skipp ($28, BX)
Discover how to create, direct and act in your very own play in this brilliant kit from the National Theatre. Inside find everything you need to put on a show, including ideas and inspiration for the characters, settings and plot, as well as tips for staging, costume, make-up, props, sound and lighting. Contains 30 Character Cards, 8 Setting Cards, Plot Twist Book, 32-page Stagecraft Handbook, a programme, and tickets to colour in. This kit will be the perfect gift for all young actors, directors and theatre-lovers.

All About Theatre by the National Theatre ($28, HB; $25, PB)
Teamed with Play in a Box this gives a completely rounded access to all aspects of theatre productions. Described by Benedict Cumberbatch as ‘a brilliant introduction to theatre’, this fascinating book by the National Theatre shows how plays like War Horse and many others are made. It’s packed with interviews with famous directors and actors, like Meera Syal, Julie Walters and Ben Whishaw, and productions like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and One Man, Two Guvnors. Hear from experts at the world-famous National Theatre about every aspect of stagecraft, including prop-making, set building and lighting design, and discover, from concept to final curtain, how plays are made.


Titania and Oberon by William Shakespeare, retold by Jo Manton (ill) Phyllis Bray ($25, HB)First published in 1945, this is a retelling of the story of the King and Queen of the fairies from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Told simply, and with plenty of direct quotes from the play, this is an extremely beautiful book. Phyllis Bray was a very popular artist, designer and mural painter, and her lithograph illustrations for this book are something else. Very much of their time, with loose expressive lines, flowery colours and small details that will delight, the artist’s vision of fairyland is all it should be. Wonderful endpapers, a gorgeous clothbound cover, and full double pages of colour pictures will take the reader away on gossamer wings, ‘over hill, over dale… swifter than the moon’s sphere’. Very highly recommended. Louise

The Iliad/The Odyssey by Homer, retold by Gillian Cross (ill) Neil Packer ($50, BX)
Whether you are familiar with Homer’s classic works, or you are about to embark on them, this gorgeous presentation box is a covetable gift. In Cross’s retellings, these epics are brought within the range of any reader while retaining the thrilling authenticity of the originals, and Packer’s bold stylistic illustrations add drama and visual appeal to render the stories even more memorable. Not only essential reading for any bibliophile, but also a superb prize or special reward! Lynndy

In Praise of Beatrix

Beatrix Potter doesn’t need me to promote her, her books sell in a steady stream, and she is one of the most recognisable children’s illustrators of all time. However, I would like to say how completely I love her books—for illustration and story alike, and how much I value those small, child’s hand sized hardcovers, their sober cream jackets, with the restrained typeface and shiny coloured vignette. There are lots of new versions, all pleasant, big picture books, colourful board books and treasuries of all the tales. But it’s the small, plain hardcovers that I love, and always buy for any important new baby. My goddaughter will have had her new baby by the time this comes out, and I’ve already chosen his selection: The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck, The Tale of Mrs.Tiggy–Winkle, The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse, The Tale of Peter Rabbit (of course), and possibly my favourite children’s book of all time, The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher. Louise


A Murder Most Unladylike Mystery series by Robin Stevens ($17, PB)There are children who love mystery novels, and enjoy nothing more than a murder in the library, with a piece of lead piping. I admit I was one myself (although I don’t like adult crime novels), and when I was young, Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers were my writers of choice. These days there are plenty of more appropriate mystery series for young readers, but Robin Stevens’ A Murder Most Unladylike Mystery series, is my absolute favourite. Two English schoolgirls, Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong, set up a detective agency at their boarding school. Set in England in the 1930s, these books have all the hallmarks of the genre—bad weather, grim school mistresses, gormless parents and so on. Not all the books in the series are set in the school, and they are progressive—the characters age with each book, which makes them more dynamic to read as a whole. People have said these books are Agatha Christie meets Enid Blyton, but I think they are more than that. The narrator, Hazel Wong, has been sent to school in England from Hong Kong, and her insights as an outsider are often very amusing, and sharp. Each volume has a map and a list of characters, which definitely help set the scene. Louise

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
Wow! This is an outstanding debut, and the start of a series by Australian author Townsend. Cursed heroine Morrigan, who was born on Eventide, the unluckiest day of the year, is destined to die on her 11th birthday… until she is whisked away by a strange man to Nevermoor, a fantasy version of London. The problem is that Morrigan can only remain in Nevermoor, and escape death, if she earns a place in the city’s most prestigious organization—the Wondrous Society—by passing four difficult and dangerous tests. This has every element one could possibly ask of a fantasy novel: risk, captivating twists, an alternate world, snarky wit, credible characters, cunning inventions and utterly delectable whimsy. By far one of my favourite books this year, Nevermoor is a novel I urge you not to miss!! ($17, PB) Lynndy


A Skinful of Shadows by Francis Hardinge ($25, PB)I’ve been a fan of Francis Hardinge since her first book and it’s regrettable she was largely overlooked until winning the 2015 Costa Prize with The Lie Tree. At least now she attracts deservedly close attention from other luminaries such as Patrick Ness who proclaims: ‘Everyone should read Frances Hardinge.  Everyone.  Right now.’  She is a writer who invests every book with astounding originality and I am confident this book, her most recent, will prove equally imaginative. Unfortunately there were no advance copies, so I’ll trust the publisher’s blurb to entice readers: ‘This is the story of a bear-hearted girl... Sometimes, when a person dies, their spirit goes looking for somewhere to hide. Some people have space within them, perfect for hiding. Twelve-year-old Makepeace has learned to defend herself from the ghosts which try to possess her in the night, desperate for refuge, but one day a dreadful event causes her to drop her guard. And now there’s a spirit inside her. The spirit is wild, brutish and strong, and it may be her only defence when she is sent to live with her father’s rich and powerful ancestors. There is talk of civil war, and they need people like her to protect their dark and terrible family secret. But as she plans her escape and heads out into a country torn apart by war, Makepeace must decide which is worse: possession—or death.! Lynndy

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