Base, Graham Uno’s garden 2006
‘Uno builds a home and garden in the magnificent forest among the playful puddlebuts and feathered frinklepods, but as the place becomes more and more popular, it is overtaken by tourists and buildings until the forest and animals seem to disappear altogether.’ Quite sophisticated maths concepts—could be used up to and including high school level. Also good for conservation/ecological use.Other Sophisticated Picture Books by Graham Base include Animalia, Eleventh hour; The waterhole and The worst band in the universe
*Bedard, Michael; ill. Barbara Cooney Emily (1992) 2007 edition‘When a mother and child pay a visit to their reclusive neighbour Emily, who stays in her house writing poems, there is an exchange of special gifts. Includes brief factual information on the life of Emily Dickinson.’ (A reissue of an older title).
Cali, Davide; ill. Serge Bloch The enemy
‘A tale drawing on parallels with the First World War is narrated by a lone soldier, who tells of his loneliness, deprivations, fears, irritations and, finally, his resolve to end his part in the war. In exploring his own emotions about a conflict seemingly without end or reason, he comes to suspect his enemy is not the inhuman barbarian he has been warned about, but may just be a frightened, tired victim of propaganda like himself.’ Intermediate/secondary
*Carbone, Elsa; ill. E. B. Lewis Night running : how James escaped with the help of his faithful dog 2008
‘A runaway slave makes a daring escape to freedom with the help of his faithful hunting dog, Zeus. Based on the true story of James Smith’s journey from Virginia to Ohio in the mid-1800s.’ Intermediate upwards.
**Celenza, Anna Harwell; ill. JoAnn E. Kitchel Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in blue’ 2006
‘In 1924, American pianist George Gershwin composes his masterpiece, Rhapsody in Blue, in less than five weeks. Includes historical note.’ Accompanied by audio CD of the melody. Sophisticated in content--Suggested level: intermediate/senior
Clark, Mary Higgins; ill. Wendell Minor Ghost ship : a Cape Cod story 2007‘While visiting his grandmother on Cape Cod, nine-year-old Thomas encounters a ship’s cabin boy from centuries past.’ Primary, intermediate
Connelly, Bernardine; ill. Yvonne Buchanan Follow the drinking gourd : a story of the Underground Railway 2005
‘A young slave girl sets off north with her brother and mother, following the star in the Drinking Gourd, or Big Dipper, that points to freedom’. Suitable for primary, intermediate or more senior use.
[ The ‘drinking gourd’ referred to is the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters, the same constellation that Maori refer to as Matariki and that is significant to a wide range of different cultures]
Edwards, Luke Ock von Fiend 2007
‘Ock von Fiend lives on the outskirts of town and doesn’t have many friends because he is a vampire. Luckily he has his teddy, Van Munster who is currently possessed, the neighbourhood werewolf, his part-monkey undead grandfather and his music to keep him busy.’ Intermediate level upwards
Edwards, Wallace The painted circus 2007
‘Presents 22 circus stunts and invites the reader to solve the visual puzzles in every image. Includes such optical illusions as impossible objects, moving patterns, visual distortions and geometric illusions.’
Ellwand, David; ill. Christine Tagg Cinderlily : a floral fairy tale 2003
Flowers represent all the characters in this version of the classic fairy tale, which is presented in the form of a ballet, with rhyming text. Illustrations created on computer using photographs of real flowers
* Fleischman, Paul; ill. Barry Root The birthday tree 2008
‘When Jack goes to sea, his parents watch as the tree planted at his birth reflects his fortunes and misfortunes.’ Sophisticated in content.
*French, Jackie; ill. Bruce Whatley The Shaggy Gully Times : the punniest newspaper you’ll ever read 2007
‘A fictional newspaper filled with humorous articles, puns and jokes by and about the Australian animals of Shaggy Gully.’ Middle primary, intermediate, high school.
*Friday, Stormy; ill. Phyllis Saroff Signal’s airport adventure 2006
‘Two kittens, Signal and Telegraph, are being taken to Friday Harbor by their new owners. But Signal runs away and gets lost at the airport. Suggested level: junior, primary.’ A disappointing purchase, but is always out on loan because of the pretty pictures
*Gaiman, Neil; ill. Gris Grimley The dangerous alphabet 2008
‘A rhyming tale of adventure, piracy, danger and heroism told in twenty-six alphabetical lines involving two children, a boat and a treasure map’. Sophisticated in content.
*Gravett, Emily Little Mouse’s big book of fears 2007
Little Mouse describes all his fears including teratophobia (fear of monsters), ligyrophobia (fear of loud noises), and whereamiophobia (fear of getting lost)’. Collage illustrations with flaps and map detail. Wide age range
*Greder, Armin The island 2007
‘One morning, the people of the island found a man on the beach, where fate and ocean currents had washed his raft ashore. When he saw them coming he stood up. He wasn’t like them’. Carries a powerful message about the de-humanising effects of fear that turns into paranoia. The many applications of this book could include racism and /or prejudice generally; treatment of refugees; or a possible Christian allegory. Suggested level: intermediate/ secondary
Note: Translation of Die insel.
*Gusti Half of an elephant 2006
‘An elephant loses his back half, and the sections wander around the world trying out new partners and discovering the advantages of being separate. Illustrations created from discarded objects and digital images arranged in collages’. Suitable for all levels
Kahukiwa, Robyn Matatuhi 2006
‘Mata was adopted into a Pakeha family and knows very little about her Maori heritage. But then one day Mata’s class visits the museum. What she discovers there will change her life forever.’ (Maori resource)
**Johnson, Angela; ill. Loren Long I dream of trains 2003
‘The son of a sharecropper dreams of leaving Mississippi on a train with the legendary engineer Casey Jones.’ Middle primary upwards
*Khan, Rukhansa; ill. Ronald Himler The roses in my carpets 2004
‘When a young boy and his mother and sister come to a refugee camp to escape the war in Afghanistan, he finds some comfort in the beauty of the carpets he is learning to weave.’ Teacher input recommended if used below intermediate level.
Lehman, Barbara Rainstorm 2007
‘In this wordless picture book, a boy finds a mysterious key which leads him on an adventure one rainy day’. Suitable for all ages
*Lee-Tai, Amy; ill. Felicia Hoshino A place where sunflowers grow 2006
‘While she and her family are interned at Topaz Relocation Center during World War II, Mari gradually adjusts as she enrolls in an art class, makes a friend, plants sunflowers and waits for them to grow.’ Wide age range
Li, Cunxin The peasant prince 2007
‘In a poor village in northern China, a small boy is about to be taken away from everything he’s ever known. He is so afraid, but his mother urges him to follow his dreams. For soon he will become one of the finest dancers in the world. Based on the true story of Li Cunxin’s life’
Liao, Jimmy; English text adapted by Sarah L. Thomson The sound of colors : a journey of the imagination 2006
‘A lonely young girl who is losing her sight uses a trip on the subway as a springboard for her imagination. Her mind takes her on a colourful journey where she swims with dolphins, sunbathes on a whale’s back and follows a butterfly to her destination. ..Suggested level: intermediate, junior secondary.... originally published in Chinese by Locus Pub. Co. in 2001’
Light, John; ill. Lisa Evans The flower 2006
‘Brigg lives in a small grey room in a large grey city. Upon finding a book in the library he discovers pictures of bright vibrant objects called flowers. He cannot find flowers anywhere in the city, but stumbles instead on a packet of seeds’. Wide age range.
*Lithgow, John; ill. Boris Kulikov Carnival of the animals 2004
‘A mischievous boy slips away from his teacher during a field trip to a natural history museum and, after the museum closes, sees all of the people he knows transformed into animals. Text based on Camille Saint-Saens’ musical composition ‘Carnival of the animals’ and narrated by the author as part of the New York City Ballet’s production of this work for children, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon. The music is performed by Chamber Music Los Angeles under the direction of Bill Elliott. Text and music are contained on an audio compact disc.’
Ludy, Mark The flower man : a wordless picture book 2005
‘When the Flower Man steps into a colourless community, he transforms the small community with the influence of his strong values. Colour gradually appears on each page as he passes through.’ Suitable for all ages—has lots of scope for discussion.
*Lynch, David (text by Edith Hope Fine and Judith Pinkerton Josephson; ill. Hernan Sosa). Armando and the blue tarp school 2007‘Armando and his father are rag-pickers in Tijuana, Mexico, but when Señor David brings his "school", a blue tarp set down near the garbage dump, to their neighborhood, Armando’s father decides that he must attend classes and learn. Story based on the work of David Lynch a teacher working with children in Tijuana, Mexico.’ Suitable primary upwards.
McCourt, Frank; ill. Raul Colon Angela and the Baby Jesus 2007‘Story based on the childhood memories of Angela McCourt. Six-year-old Angela worries about the Baby Jesus on the altar of St. Joseph’s Church near School House Lane where she lives. On the damp, cold December nights the baby is sure to need her help so she brings him home’. By the author of Angela’s ashes. Suitable for all ages, particularly as a read-aloud—a reader with an Irish accent would add real value!
*McKimmie, Chris Maisie Moo and invisible Lucy 2007‘Invisible Lucy keeps Maisie Moo company as she waits for her father to come home in time for Christmas’. Wide age range*Macleod, Mark; ill. Kirrily Schell Tomorrow 2008‘Poetic bedtime story describing a child’s day in the context of searching for tomorrow, which is really today’. Sophisticated in context
*McTighe, Carolyn; ill. Karen Brownlee The sakura tree 2007‘Three Japanese sisters are sent away by their father who wishes them a more prosperous life. They arrive on the shores of British Columbia where their husbands await. Each joins the husband to whom she has been promised and each has her own way of remembering the family, culture and country she has left behind. Illustrated with watercolour paintings portraying Japanese fabrics and patterns’. Junior primary upwards.
Maddern, Eric; ill Paul Hess Death in a nut 2005‘When Jack meets Old Man Death and realises that Death is after his sick mother, he is so furious that he punches Death with his fists. With each punch, Death gets smaller, until Jack can squeeze him into a nut shell. Jack throws the nut shell into the sea and goes home. But then the trouble begins: eggs won’t break, the butcher can’t slaughter his livestock and Jack discovers that without Death, there can be no life.’ A picture book version of a Scottish traditional tale
Manos, Helen; ill. Max Maxfield Lucky baby yak 2007On a windy plateau on the top of the world, Baby Yak was born, silky black as night. But this summer will never be the same for the children, Pema and Tenzin, and their yak. For this is the year the soldiers come to the peaceful Tibetan plateau and their courage is tested to the limit. Their old nomadic culture, immersed in the peaceful Buddhist way of life, is changed forever.’ Wide age range
*Mayer, Bill; concept by Chris Demarest All aboard! : a travelling alphabet 2008‘A series of posters based on the themes of travel and transport present each letter of the alphabet. Design inspired by the classic travel posters of the 1920’s’. Art deco puzzle pictures; suitable for a wide age range
Megarrity, David; ill. Jonathon Oxlade The empty city 2007‘Collage style illustrations present a boring shopping trip that turns into an extraordinary adventure when you find yourself alone in an empty city.’ An adventure of the imagination suitable for all ages
*Morris, Jill; ill. Lynne Muir Argonauta octopus navigator 2006‘Uses a story format to describe the physical characteristics, habitat and behaviour of argonauts living off the coast of Australia. Includes factual information about the species.’ Senior primary/Intermediate upwards
*Nolen, Jerdine; ill. E.B.Lewis Pitching in for Eubie (sophisticated in content) 2008‘Lily looks for a way to pitch in and help her family make enough money to send her older sister, Eubie, to college’. All ages
O’Malley, Kevin; ill. Patrick O’Brian Captain Raptor and the moon mystery 2005‘When something lands on one of the moons of the planet Jurassica, Captain Raptor and his spaceship crew go to investigate.’
* Captain Raptor and the space pirates 2007‘Captain Raptor and the crew of the Megatooth are called back into action to save the planet Jurassica from rogue space pirates.’ Graphic novel format
Palmer, Stanley To the harbour (NZ) 2007
‘A story of a family summer at a beach on the Manukau Harbour in the late 1940s, based on the artist’s childhood, illustrated with reproductions of 12 monoprints. Note: "Published ... on the occasion of the exhibition To The Harbour, 16 August - 7 October 2007”
*Pearce, Philippa; ill. Wayne Anderson The squirrel wife : an original fairy tale (sophisticated in content) 2008
*Savvides, Irini; ill. Owen Swan Hide and seek 2008
‘A young boy comes to terms with his grandfather’s death.’
*Silvey, Craig The world according to Warren 2007
‘Seen through the eyes of Warren, the guide dog with an inflated ego. Warren has always known that he was destined for great things, he was born with a good heart and was going to help people. Warren reflects his views of the world as a working dog with big responsibilities’. Wide age range
**Simeon, Jean-Pierre; ill. Oliver Tallec This is a poem that heals fish
New York : Enchanted Lion Books, 2007.
‘After his mother, hurrying to her tuba lesson, tells him that a poem will cure his pet fish’s boredom, a little boy tries to find out what a poem is by asking friends, neighbors, and other members of his family’. Quite sophisticated concepts.
Thompson, Colin (editor) Dust 2007
‘….inspired by the humanitarian disaster that occurred in Niger, Africa, in 2005, where a lethal combination of drought and locust infestation triggered severe food shortages and saw the death of many’. Note: "Save the Children." A collaboration between Colin Thompson and thirteen internationally acclaimed artists. Royalties from the sale of this book are being donated to Save the Children Australia.’ Deals with death by starvation—teacher input suggested. Intermediate/senior level.
*Thompson, Colin The Flood family files 2007
‘Meet the Floods family and, if you make it through the front gate without being eaten, explore their extremely spooky home at 13 Acacia Avenue.’ Black comedy. Described by the author as being ‘for children aged 9+’. Vampire scenes. Intermediate upwards. cf Ock von Fiend.
*Thompson, Colin The big little book of happy sadness 2008
‘One Friday on his way home from school, George visits the animal shelter. There, in the very last cage, is Jeremy, a sad dog who looks as lost and lonely as George feels. When Jeremy comes home to live with George and his granny, their whole lives change, and they learn that when it comes to love, it’s quality not quantity that counts’. Suitable for all ages
Van Allsburg, Chris Probuditi! 2007
‘On his birthday, Calvin and his friend Rodney see a magician perform, then copy him by hypnotizing Calvin’s little sister, but the joke is on them when they are unable to snap her out of it.’
Vander Zee, Ruth and Sneider, Marian; ill. Bill Farnsworth Eli remembers 2007
‘After many years of watching the solemn lighting of seven candles at Rosh Hashanah, Eli finally learns how those candles represent his family’s connection to the Holocaust in Lithuania.’ Teacher input important if used at primary level.
Williams, Karen Lynn and Mohammed, Khadra Four feet, two sandals 2007
‘Two young Afghani girls living in a refugee camp in Pakistan share a precious pair of sandals while they go about their routines and wait for their names to appear on a list for a new home. Includes author’s note about refugees. Suggested level: primary, intermediate.’
**Winter, Jonah; ill. Barry Blitt The 39 apartments of Ludwig van Beethoven 2006
‘Ludwig van Beethoven and his five legless pianos keep having to move from one apartment to another when his neighbours complain about the noise. Story based around factual accounts of the life of Beethoven. Includes author’s note’ Reasonably sophisticated in content, but suitable for good readers of all ages
*Yorinks, Arthur; ill. Jos. A. Smith The witch’s child 2007
‘A haunting tale where a witch, desiring a child of her own, fashi