Older Books
Part 3

Cowshed Christmas

Written by Joy Cowley, illustrated by Gavin Bishop
- Shortlisted LIANZA AWARDS 2012
- CLFNZ Notable Book 2010
Its Christmas time and all the farmyard animals come mooing, barking, clucking, baaing, quacking, oinking and meowing to the cowshed door. Something wonderful has happened in the cowshed...

This is a simple Christmas story with brightly coloured pictures firmly set in New Zealand. Designed with very young readers in mind.


A wonderfully New Zealand-centric Christmas story.

– A.C. Storylines Book List Nov. 2009
Published by Scholastic NZPublished by Random House NZ Ltd 2009 | ISBN Paperback: 978-1-86979-073-8 | Full colour picture book, 32 pagesPage size: 255 x 215mmLevel: 2 – 5 years Ltd 2003 | ISBN Paperback: 1-86943-587-7


Story and Pictures by Gavin Bishop

- Finalist for Russell Clark Medal 1991

This story is based on the real life of Katarina (Catherine) McKay, 1842-1935 and has special meaning for the author. Katarina was Gavin Bishop's great-aunt and her brother Banjo was his grandfather. In the winter of 1861, Katarina, a young Maori woman, leaves her tribal home in the North Island of New Zealand and travels south to join her Scottish husband in the far south of the South Island. In 1863 Governor Grey begins his assault on the Waikato, Katarina's home, in an attempt to force the Waikato Maori to give up more of their land to European settlers. Katarina's contact with her northern family is gradually lost until her brother Banjo suddenly joins her

“The story of Bishop's great-aunt has fascinated him since he heard as a child of the journey of his Tainui tupuna from the Waikato to Fortrose in Southland... In this picture book for older children Gavin Bishop beautifully mixes Maori and Pakeha in text and picture... Maori words and concepts fit easily into the English sentence structure, conveying that blend found in the speech of many older Maori, and extending the reader's knowledge too...This book...adds another significant story to our bicultural history.” 
- Ann Packer, Wellington Evening Post, NZ, January 1991

“Katarina is a story of love, courage and hope...This is a history far more exciting than anything found in a text book.” 
- Ann Packer, Wellington Evening Post, NZ, January 1991
Published by Black Cat Books, Random Century 1990 | Reprinted as a NZ Classic by Random House NZ Ltd 2008ISBN Hardback 1-8694-1202-8 | Story with pictures for older children, Page size: 195 x 195 mm, Level: 8 - 12 years


Written and illustrated by Gavin bishop
- Shortlisted for the NZ Post Children's Book Awards 2008
- LIANZA AWARD 2008, Russell Clark Medal
- CLFNZ Notable Book 2008

Rats! is a quirky, lively fun story with stunning illustrations.

Polly Piper's house is infested with rats - they are everywhere. She calls in an exterminator (closely resembling the Pied Piper) who leads them all away.When they go, Polly finds her life is empty and boring. Miserable, they plead to come back - so of course Polly agrees - and they all live happily ever after!

This book stands out for its finely detailed and exciting illustrations - they are beautiful and will give readers plenty to discover and delight in.


It will come as no surprise that Rats! is wonderfully illustrated… very recognizably Bishop's style – full of detail and humour.

– Waikato Times
Published by Scholastic NZ Ltd 2003 | ISBN Paperback: 1-86943-587-7

Piano Rock

Written and illustrated by Gavin Bishop

- Shortlisted for NZ Post Children's Book Awards 2009
- Shortlisted for LIANZA Elsie Locke non-fiction prize 2009
- BPANZ Design Award 2009- CLFNZ Notable Book 2009

Growing up in Kingston, beside Lake Wakatipu on a diet of girdle scones, marmite sandwiches and roast mutton.Gavin Bishop's memories are classic Kiwi fare, and the subject of this beautiful and fascinating book.
Dear Gavin, I'm delighted to see that Piano Rock's shortlisted. It has some of the loveliest plain strong prose I've read in ages. I read it at Christmas when my daughter gave it to me, and have just enjoyed re-reading it. It's not often we see emotion well-earned. Best wishes for the finals.

- Hooray, Jack Lasenby

This gem of a book captures five years spent in the railway town of Kingston. Tiny details embroider this record of a simpler time – roast mutton and girdle scones, a royal visit, Guy Fawkes night and the smells associated with a new baby are all faithfully recorded.

– Ann Packer, The Press Nov 1st 2008

Gavin has again been handsomely served by his publisher. Hard cover, quality paper and a classy design all combine to showcase the elegiac text and abundant illustrations, both in black and white and colour.
- Tessa Duder, Australian Women's Weekly Nov. 2008

"PIANO ROCK is a little package of pleasure – for its intended audience but also for baby-boomers, especially those who grew up in rural New Zealand.
– Anna Rogers, NZ Books, Winter 2009
Published by Random House NZ Ltd 2008 | ISBN Hard cover: 978-1-86979-010-3Non fiction book, 120 pages | Page size:145 x 195 mm | Level: 8 – adult

Snake and Lizard

Written by Joy Cowley, illustrated by Gavin Bishop
- Children’s Book of the Year - NZ Post Children’s Book Awards 2008
- CLFNZ Notable Book 2008 - White Raven Book 2008
- Pumphouse Theatre production 2009
Witty and heart-warming stories about the ups and downs of a friendship between Snake and Lizard who live in the Arizona Desert.


The charming illustrations are suffused with warm desert colours, and the evocative landscapes enhance the brief adventures. One endearing picture shows the red, black, and white striped snake and tan-coloured lizard lying facing one another, their features expressively genial, as they "talked and talked as though they'd known each other for years." Lovely bookmaking includes small pictures interspersed with the large, bold font, some to the side of a decorative letter that begins the text of a chapter.

– US School Library Journal Starred Review, December 2008

Cowley’s award-winning book, with its beautiful illustrations by Gavin Bishop, has the feel of a classic tale that will be read by children for generations.

– Nicky Pellegrino, NZ Herald on Sunday, 25 May 2008
Published by Gecko Press, Wellington, New Zealand | ISBN Hardback 978-0-9582720-7-0 | ISBN Paperback 978-0-9582787-3-7

There was an Old Woman

Traditional rhyme illustrated by Gavin Bishop
A board book for babies and the very young of the traditional English rhyme illustrated with bright, lively and funny pictures.The vertical format of the book reflects the influence of “The Flight of the Old Woman who was Tossed Up in a Basket”, etched by Aliquis, London, published by D. Bogue, 1844. A process that combines monoprint and over-painting with acrylic paint was used to produce Gavin Bishop’s illustrations.
Published by Gecko Press 2008 | ISBN Board book:978-1-877467-16-5 Full colour picture book, 24 pages | Page size: 195 x 195 mm | Level: 0 – 5 years

The Lion and the Jackel

Written by Beverley Dietz, Illustrated by Gavin Bishop
All the animals were afraid of Lion because he was big and strong and brave. Lion was not afraid of anything!

Jackal on the other hand was not very big and he was not very brave. But he was clever and he liked to play tricks.In this retelling of a traditional African folk tale Jackal proves that brains can be mightier than brawn.

Published by Silver Burdett and Ginn 1992 | ISBN Paperback: 0-663-54556-0 16 pages 
Pages size: 305 x 230 mm | Level: 5 – 8 years

Little Red Rocking Hood

Text and Illustrations by Gavin Bishop
Written by Jeffrey Leask,  Illustrated by Gavin Bishop
This is a lively, modern retelling of Little Red Riding Hood - designed to be performed by 8 to 12 year olds as a rock opera.
“Once upon a time in the neighbourhood,
Lived a red-haired girl who was oh-so-good.
She could rock'n'roll like nobody could
So everyone called her Red Rocking Hood.”
“All of a sudden, from a dark, dark alley
Who should step out but Wolf O'Malley-
A real big bopper, but real bad news,
Wearing dark sunglasses and blue suede shoes.”


“Red Riding hood, a well known children's story, has been adapted to the modern world and given a rock and roll twist as the story rocks its way across the excellent double page illustrations.” 

- Bay of Plenty times, NZ, April 1992
Published by Scholastic NZ Ltd 1992 | ISBN Paperback: 1-86943-050-6 
Full-colour picture book, 32 pages | Page size: 235 x 305 mm | Level: 8-12 years
Designed as part of the music programme for schools, sold also as a big book with pre-recorded tape of music.


Written and Illustrated by Gavin Bishop

- New Zealand Children’s Picture Book of the Year 1994

Hinepau, a Maori woman with the sunset red hair and the greenstone coloured eyes is a weaver, but all of her weaving is inside out or back to front. Is she a witch? The rest of her tribe thinks so, so she is sent away to live on her own in a hut surrounded by a hundred flax bushes. There she sits all day weaving the patterns of nature into her weaving. Meanwhile, back in her village a great meeting house is built but no care is taken to say the proper prayers and give thanks to the gods of the forest for providing the huge trees that are needed to construct the new building.

On the night of the grand opening of the meeting house the volcano, at whose feet the village nestles, erupts and the next morning the whole tribe wakes up to find the countryside, for as far as a bird can fly, has disappeared under a thick blanket of ash. Is it their punishment to die slowly of hunger and thirst?Hinepau, the outcast, saves her people in an unexpected way and in doing so she commits the ultimate sacrifice.

The heroine in this story, inspired by Gavin Bishop's Maori ancestry, carries his mother's name, an old family name which goes back hundreds of years. And like some of his family, she is Ngati Pukeko (Ngati Awa) from near Whakatane, on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand.

“Gavin Bishop's work as both an author and illustrator of children's books has been acknowledged worldwide...” “This is his second book based on his Maori ancestry. Hinepau carries Bishop's mother's name, an old family name which goes back hundreds of years. And like some of his family, she is Ngati Pukeko (Ngati Awa) from near Whakatane.” “Fantastic pictures.. are just one of the book's assets.” “Hinepau tells the tale of a struggle for acceptance that we can all relate to in some way. A great Kiwi epic that will become well read and loved as time goes by.” 

- Leigh O'Connor, North Taranaki Weekender, NZ, January 1994

“I recommend that you read this book! Most of the story is sad, but it has a truly unpredictable ending.” 

- Shea McDonald, Marfield School, The Daily news, Taranaki, NZ, April 1994

“Gavin Bishop recently turned to his ancestors with the fine story of his great-aunt Katarina. His most recent book bears his mother's name. Bishop's striking illustrations have a warmth of character and a strong sense of place.”

- Frances Plumpton, NZ, March 1994

“Hinepau is about a young lady who got sent away from her tribe because she could not weave. She also got sent away because she had sunset hair and pounamu eyes and they said she looked like a witch. After a couple of years some men came to cut down some Totara. They didn't say a karakia. When the whare was built the volcano erupted. That's all I'll tell you.” “It was good because it taught me that you have to ask for things.” “It is a good book because it has a message in it. The message is it doesn't matter what you look like. We are all people.” 

- Anthony Solaese, Stephen McCombs, Emilia Christoforou from Clyde Quay School, City Voice, NZ, December 1993

Published by Scholastic NZ Ltd 1993 | ISBN Hardback: 1-86943-227-4 ISBN Paperback: 1-86943-624-5Maori edition translated by Katarina Mataira | ISBN Paperback: 1-86943-724-1
Page size: 205 – 285 mm | Full-colour picture book of 32 pages | Level: 8 – 10 years

The Wedding of Mistress Fox

Written by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.
Retold by Philip H. Bailey, Illustrated by Gavin Bishop
- Kinderjury Prize, Holland, 1996
When old Mr Fox died, good Mistress Fox, his wife, put on her best black dress and went into dignified mourning. She would receive no one - not even Mr Wolf, nor Mr Dog, nor any of the other suitors lined up outside her door.

None possessed the features required: red trousers, a sharp nose, a tail tipped in white. Who could possibly fit that description?‘The Wedding of Mistress Fox’, one of the Grimm brothers’ less familiar tales, is full of the same magic and drollery as their better-known works.

Philip Bailey’s sprightly retelling, complemented by Gavin Bishop’s whimsical pictures and sumptuous, makes a valuable addition to any folktale collection.


A fine rendition of an obscure tale. The story itself is a slight one..this retelling skilfully enlarges this simple story. Here it is fittingly set in the Victorian period. Mistress Fox lives in an elegant mansion, filled to the brim with ornate furniture, knick knacks, and ponderous portraits of old Mr Fox in various triumphant poses. (One whimsically depicts him in the classic great hunter stance, standing atop a pile of dead geese.) The action is facilitated by the maid, a sly orange cat who gossips with the villagers, ushers suitors in and out and who lives happily well-fed ever after.

Bishop's wonderfully detailed pen and ink illustrations (reminiscent of Ardizzone's lively art) perfectly complement the text, and expand upon the action. Libraries with strong folklore collections will especially appreciate this excellent retelling.

- American School Library Journal, November 1994

Modifying one of the Grimm Brothers' classics, first-time author Bailey preserves its 19th century mood and mores. Likewise, Bishop's shadowy, cross-hatched ink and watercolor illustrations return to an earlier era, depicting a mansion decorated to excess and populated by animals in Dickensian garb... Bailey preserves the original story's combination of couplets, unrhymed prose and onomatopoeia. The old-fashioned formalities are well-matched by the art work, notable for its architectural details.

- American Publishers' Weekly, November 1994
Publication information unavailable

Maui and the Sun

Retold and illustrated by Gavin Bishop
Gavin Bishop has drawn on the Maori legends of his ancestors to craft an exciting trickster tale that is rich in the exotic flavour of Polynesia.
Yes indeed, Maui was a trickster all right. He played tricks on his older brothers all the time. They were not always pleased with his tricky ways, but they could not help but admire him, for Maui did some pretty amazing things. One of the most amazing things he ever did was try to capture the sun.

It all began because Maui and his brothers had to cook and eat their fish in the dark. They were angry with the sun, who was in such a hurry to get back to bed that he raced across the sky each day, leaving only a few hours of sunlight for fishing. So Maui devised a daring plan. Armed with stout ropes and Maui's enchanted weapon - made from the jawbone of his grandmother - he and his brothers set out to teach the sun a lesson.

After many weeks they arrived at the edge of the pit where the sun slept. There they laid their trap. But the sun was very powerful, hot and fierce and Maui and his brothers were only men. How could they conquer the sun?

- Short listed for NZ Post Picture Book of the Year 1997

Maui and the Goddess of Fire

Retold and illustrated by Gavin Bishop
- CLFNZ Notable Book 2018
- CLFNZ Notable Book 2018
- Elsie Locke Award for Best Non Fiction Book of the Year NZ Post Book Awards 2018
- Margaret Mahy Award for the Best Children's Book of the Year NZ Post Book Awards 2018
Maui's tales of mischief and adventure have been told for thousands of years throughout the islands of Polynesia.
A genius and a delinquent, a trickster and a hero, Maui was responsible for inventing many useful crafts for his people. He made the first barbed hook and the first eel trap; he invented the strongest kinds of rope, which he used to slow down the sun. He fished up the North island from the sea; he made the first dog; and he was an expert at children's games such as dart throwing and kite flying.

This version of MAUI AND THE GODDESS OF FIRE, like the the companion book MAUI AND THE SUN, is based on the one told by Wi Maihi te Rangi Kaheke of Rotorua, New Zealand, to Governor George Grey in the 1840's. It is similar to the versions told by the Maori people of the Ngati Awa and Waikato tribes from the North Island of New Zealand, from which come some of the author's ancestors.
Published by Scholastic NZ Ltd, 1997 ISBN Paperback: 1-86943-381-5 
KO MAUI RAUA KO TE ATUA O TE AHI | ISBN: 1 86943 519 2 | Maori edition translated by Katerina Mataira. 
Korean edition published by Daekyo Co Ltd. | ISBN: 89-540-0881 X Full-colour picture book, 32 pages. Page size: 265 x 215 mm | Level: 8 - 10 years

Little Rabbit and the Sea

Written and illustrated by Gavin Bishop
Little Rabbit has never seen the sea. But all day long he thinks about it, and every night in his dreams he sails in his little boat with the wind in his ears.
"What is the sea like?” he asks his grandmother, his father and his uncle. They all give him different answers, which only makes Little Rabbit long to see for himself. But the sea is far away.Then one day a kindly sea gull shows Little Rabbit the sea. And it turns out to be everything he's ever imagined - and much, much more.Gavin Bishop's sweet, simple story celebrates youthful yearnings and dreams come true.


“In Bishop's tender story, a young bunny yearns to visit the ocean, and dreams every night that ‘he sailed in his little boat with the wind in his ears.” The author's choice to deny his wide-eyed hero the expected closure results in a more powerful work, a poignant and affirming tribute to the powers of imagination.

“Dressed in a sailor suit, Little Rabbit tries to find out what the sea is like. His grandmother says it is ‘wild and quiet, a bit of both.’ His father says it is ‘blue and wide, never ending” and a painter uncle describes it as ‘dark and salty, like cider vinegar.’

“When a seagull drops a sea shell at Little Rabbit's feet, he puts the shell to his ear and opens up his mind’s eye: in the final pages, he has vividly imagined himself to be the complete sailor, bounding over the waves.
“The spare text (usually no more than three lines to a page, often set on an expanse of white space) exudes the quiet rhythms and heightened resonance of poetry, and the austerity of the narrative voice makes a fitting counterpoint to the sumptuous, full-bleed water color and ink illustrations. Rendered in aquatic blues and greens with splashes of burnt orange, the pictures radiate a lustrous quality reminiscent of ceramic glaze. There is such grace in Bishop's ink strokes that every page seems animated with a gentle breeze.” 

- American Publishers' Weekly, October 1997

“The imagery is wonderfully fitting...the combination of design and short text makes this title especially accessible to beginning readers. While it will also be popular with preschoolers, it will make a nice introduction to the study of imagery and adjectives for slightly older students.” 

– American School Library Journal, 1998

Published by Random House NZ Ltd 2011 | ISBN Paperback: 978-1-86979-451-4
 | ISBN Hardback: 978 1 86979 449 1Full colour picture book, 32 pages | Page size: 245 x 260mm | Level: 2-5 years

Published by North South Books, New York 1997 | Full colour picture book, 32 pages | Page size: 23 x 21.5 cmLevel: 3-6 yrs | ISBN Hardback: 1-55858-809-4  ISBN Library binding: 1-55858-810-8 | ISBN Paperback: 0-7358-1312-4 Japanese edition published by Kodansha 1998 | ISBN: 4-06-261982-2  Spanish edition published by North South 1999  | ISBN: 0-7358-1313-2

The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

Six Aesop's fables illustrated by Gavin Bishop
About 600 BC, Aesop, a Greek slave made a collection of stories, or fables which have remained popular until today. "The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing" is one of six stories that appear in this collection and like all of Aesop's fables it has a moral which offers the reader helpful advice which is summed up at the end in a proverb.

Other fables in this book include: "The Frogs Who Wanted a King", "The Bundle of Sticks", "Hungry But Free", "Coyote and the Goat" and "The Fox and the Stork".
ISBN Paperback: 0 -7901-1967- 6 | 
Published by Shortland Publications Inc. 1999 | Full-colour graded reader, 24 pages. 
Page size:190 x 265 mm | 
ISBN: 0-7901-1966-8
 | Large paperback edition | 
Page size: 380 x 530 mm | 
Level: 6 - 8 years.

The Video Shop Sparrow

Written by Joy Cowley and illustrated by Gavin Bishop

- White Ravens book 2000
- Finalist, NZ Children’s Picture Book of the Year 2000
- Notable Book of the Year by the NZ Children's Book Foundation

“On New Year's Day, George and Harry went to town to return the video they had hired. The video shop was closed. On the door was a notice, WILL REOPEN JANUARY 13 and under the notice was a flap like the mouth of a letterbox.

Harry, who had his nose pressed hard against the glass window, said, ‘Hey George! Look! A sparrow! It's flying around the shop.’ ”
And so their quest to release the sparrow begins.
Published by Mallinson Rendel NZ. 1999 | ISBN Hardback: 0-908783-36-1 | Full-colour picture book, 32 pages. Page size: 195 x 255 mm Level: 6 - 8 years

Stay Awake Bear!

Text and Illustrations by Gavin Bishop
Sleeping is such a waste of time!" grumbles Old Bear.
"It takes up the whole winter."
So when the days grow short and snowflakes start to fall, Old Bear stifles the urge to snooze and turns up the radio instead. He makes spicy jam tarts. He watches videos. “I am not going to go to sleep,” he says.

And neither, it turns out, is his next-door neighbour, Brown Bear. They stay up all winter, and when the summer comes the two friends set off on their most restful holiday ever. Zzzzzzzz.....


Nap-haters will agree with this book's stubborn hero, who argues, “Sleeping is such a waste of time! It takes up the whole winter.” ...

In this book Bishop conveys a cozy mood with autumnal watercolor hues. Overlaid with dense ink crosshatching. A wood-burning stove warmth pervades his images of Old Bear's tree-trunk abode, which is decorated with rustic antiques and cushy armchairs. The narrative outwardly goes against the grain of sleepy-time picture books, for the happy characters see no error in their un-bearlike ways. On the other hand, the book lulls readers into relaxation with its closing image of the rebels on the beach, sacked out in deck chairs. Bishop and the bears find the best of both worlds.

- American Publishers' Weekly, March 2000

Bishop's lively story puts a new spin on hibernation...Children will readily agree with the idea that sleeping is a waste of time when there are so many other things to do and the joke of sleeping through the vacation will not be lost on them. Bishop's cartoon-style watercolors with pen and ink convey the jovial characters, from their delight in winter camaraderie to their unconscious horseback trek across the plains. Librarians will welcome this silly spin on a popular topic, and youngsters will take to it like bears to honey.

- Kathleen M. Kelly, American School Library Journal, March, 2000

As winter approaches, Old Bear decides that it is a waste of time to sleep through the season and makes his own plans to stay awake..With lively watercolored pen and ink illustrations, Old Bear and his friend present a winsome pair, whether awake or asleep. Keeping his young audience in mind, Gavin Bishop paints his scenes with enough detail and humor to keep readers entertained but not so much that they are distracted from the story's unusual premise.

- Bonnie Fowler, American Children's Bookshelf, March 2000
ISBN: 0-531-30249-0 Hardback picture book, 32 pages, Orchard Books, New York, 2000 | size: 210 x 260 mm Level: 4 - 8 years
More Information
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.