Thursday, June 29, 2023

Epic New Zealand Adventurers

 2023 'Epic New Zealand Adventurers'

Ten true stories of daring and danger from New Zealand

adventurers. Race to the South Pole with Sir Edmund Hillary,

find the end of the Nile with Cam McLeay and Garth MacIntyre,

 circumnavigate the world in a yacht with sixteen-year-old Laura Dekker.

Trek solo with Helen Thayer and her husky to the Magnetic North Pole,

ride bikes down the spine of the Amercas with Mark Watson and Hana Black,

and many more exciting adventures - some known, some forgotten,

and some just discovered. 

My latest book 'Epic New Zealand Adventurers' is due out in all good book stores from the 13th July. You can pre-order it from Upstart, Aotearoa Books, and from me also.

The first review has come in. Bob says in his blog: All are told in a two page spread with fantastic illustrations by Marco Ivancic and thrilling writing from Maria Gill who has been a traveler herself.

Have a look at the book trailer:

Teachers, please download the free teacher resource:

2023 Ernest Rutherford book

My junior fiction historical novel turned into a creative nonfiction picture book instead. Alistair Hughes has illustrated stunning pictures for the book. Upstart Press released it in February 2023. I've been interviewed on radio, in newspapers, and on blogs. Here's some of the reviews this book has received: 

Maria Gill has done it again, taking young readers back in time to meet another world renown person born in New Zealand. Her effortless style draws the reader in and emphasizes that even a great like Nobel winning prize winner Ernest Rutherford, was once just an ordinary boy. What Book Next

Ernest is certainly one of New Zealand’s most famous people and I learnt a lot from reading this book myself. I think it would make an excellent resource for schools to show how, with perseverance and patience you can achieve great things in life. The inclusion of other famous scientists, a timeline and a Glossary make this a perfect book for a primary school library. Read NZ

'Ernest Rutherford: Just An Ordinary Boy' is a story about our country's most famous scientist, his humble beginnings and the importance of not giving up on your dreams. Gill has once again crafted an essential resource that is both entertaining and educational. NZ BookLovers

Maria Gill is one of our national treasures when it comes to nonfiction children’s books. Ernest Rutherford: Just an ordinary boy is no exception. His unfolding life is inspiring. Importantly, it is good to spend time with the curious child as much as it is the curious adult, and to read examples of Ernest’s key experiments and discoveries. Maria places him alongside other notable scientists (Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Isaac Newton), and offers a valuable timeline and glossary. This book is essential reading. Paula Green, The Poetry Box

Once again, Aotearoa New Zealand’s foremost writer of creative non-fiction books for children and young people hits the mark with her story about the life and times of Ernest Rutherford. It may be subtitled Just an ordinary boy but, of course, Rutherford’s scientific discoveries were anything but.   Dionne Christian, Kete Books

Alastair Hughes illustrations paint a picture of a bygone era in which young Ernest grew up and show the wonder he had for science. Excellent cover. Maria Gill on the money as usual. Bobs Books Blog

A Q & A with Stuff NZ.

If you teach, here is the Teacher Resource you can use with the book.

And here is the book trailer:

In praise of librarians and school libraries

At the moment, many schools throughout New Zealand are packing away library books and shoving them into classrooms or store rooms. Instead the library is being used as classrooms as school rolls grow. At the same time, New Zealand children's literacy rates are dropping considerably. There has to be a correlation.

When I was a teacher, I'd often find lonely children sitting by themselves while I was on playground duty. They were either too shy, awkward, or new to the school to make friends. Or they were on the 'out' of a group of friends. I'd steer them to the library so they could enjoy the world of books. Libraries in schools are a haven for those socially shy children.

They're also life-saving for children who are going through a traumatic time. I remember when my parents broke up, and feeling devastated. Because our parents didn't take us often to public libraries to borrow books and we didn't have a lot of books in the house, school libraries were gold. I buried myself into books and took myself off into worlds afar. It helped me deal with over-whelming feelings. 

Libraries in schools serve children (and teachers) in so many ways. They help children find books for their projects. Lessons in a school library teach children how to research and use the computers to find information. The books teach children skills, to problem solve, feel empathy, increase their vocabulary, and learn how other cultures do things. They expand children's imagination and increase their creativity. And the books inside the library are pitched exactly for their age group. 

Authors, illustrators and publishers also miss out whenever a library shuts down. They produce books for that target age group. Reduced sales means in the long term fewer books will be published in New Zealand.

Over recent years, one third of school libraries have disappeared, and many schools now don't have a dedicated librarian. If a school through no choice or because they don't realise the value of libraries use that building for another classroom, they are sending a message to children that reading doesn't matter. They've also lost the expertise of a librarian who will help children find the next book in a series, or a similar type of book they've just enjoyed, and help those who are reluctant readers.

So, bring back those libraries and their librarians! Value that space and those experts in your school. 

Governments, give funding to schools so that they can expand into new buildings and not take away their libraries. Teachers, utilise your time in your school library to teach research skills, read aloud a favourite book, and familarise your students with the wonders inside (I know that most of you do that). Parents, encourage your children to talk about the books they've taken home from their library. Take turns reading passages when they're tucked into bed. Children/students, make use of that wonderful space in your school, find the treasures inside, and take your superpower (your imagination) on sublime adventures. 

If your library has already disappeared... petition for it to come back! It's the first step to help improving our children's literacy.

best wishes

Maria Gill