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Fearless Fred And the Dragon by Maureen Sudlow, ill. Kat Quin Merewether, Kiwis Soar Publications (distributor PDL Customer Services)A finalist in the Storylines Joy Cowley Award, this handy picture book appeals to the casual eye with its glossy cover and top quality paper. The story is written in rhyming text and tells how a little boy called Fred sets off with tinfoil armour and a tricycle and a colander helmet to find a dragon. Luckily he has a canine friend with him - because the dragon turns out to be a rather large farm animal! The illustrations are appealing and quirky, and there are some clever tricks for young eyes to spot eg. the possums in the tree turning into dragons. Probably best for dragon fanciers of about three to five. ISBN 978 0 473 23482 9 RRP $19.99 Pb Reviewed by Lorraine Orman
Dear Vincent by Mandy Hager, Random House NZ Another excellent cover - mainly thanks to Vincent Van Gogh’s superb Starry Night painting. It introduces a theme that weaves through this richly-drawn YA story like a brilliant thread of colour - the main character’s fascination with Van Gogh and his works. Tara is having a tough time. Her older sister died a few years ago, her father had a stroke and needs constant nursing, money is tight, and Tara’s mother never has a kind word to say to her. The only decent thing in her life is her artwork - and her hope of going to art school. It’s a searing beginning, and things only get worse when Tara discovers what really happened when her sister died. She flees from the family home, but fortunately is given help and support by an elderly gentleman who’s staying at the rest-home where Tara works part-time. He has a grandson who also befriends her. But Tara is driven to go to Ireland to see her sister’s last resting place - and dangerous influences force her to risk everything. Packed with emotion, riven with sadness, brightened with hope - this story pulls you in, spins you round and spits you out the other end with tears in your eyes. Read it! ISBN 978 1 77553 327 6 RRP $19.99 Pb Reviewed by Lorraine Orman
By: Maria Gill,
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The Power of Us, words by Cameron Bennett, photographs by Adrian Malloch (Random House)
Several years ago, I interviewed Sir Ray Avery for my book 'New Zealand Hall of Fame: 50 Remarkable Kiwis'. His story was especially inspiring as he had come from being an orphan who had lived on the streets of London to a successful businessman who donated much of his time inventing medical equipment for use in third world countries. Before the book went to print he found out he was receiving a knighthood and he kindly told me so the book would be up to date.
Sir Ray Avery decided to write this book with distinguished journalist Cameron Bennett and noted photographer Adrian Malloch while doing a documentary about what defines us as kiws in this country. They chose the 55 people from the heartland of New Zealand - people who were really 'going for it'. They travelled the country interviewing and photographing the "eclectic and accomplished group" of scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, musicians, inventors, dreamers, artists, actors, writers, sportspeople, philanthropists, and change agents - "some well known and some who are well below the radar." They are all high achievers and risk takers.
Examples of some of the people who are not so well known but should be for the amazing work they are doing are: Peter Beck who sent a rocket into space from New Zealand. That probably wouldn't happen in other countries. There is also Bill Buckley who makes 80 percent of the world's electro magnets. Professor Jane Harding, Paediatrician who has been doing pioneering research. And scientist Dr Sean Simpson who has discovered a process that allows the production of low-carbon fuel.
There are also our favourites like Rhys Darby, Oscar Kightley, Witi Ihimaera, Mahe Drysdale, Jeanette Fitzsimons, Vincent Ward, Barbara Kendall, Sam Neill, Annabel Langbein, Neil Finn, Michael Hurst and Dame Susan Devoy. And many more.
Each person shares their life's lessons and give words of wisdom. You'll get advice like:
"Take all opportunities seriously, no matter how small, because things lead to other things, that lead to other things - especially when you're starting off." Rhys Darby, comedian
"Whether you are so self-driven, and genuinely enjoy what you do, you'll happily commit to the long hours because you are aware of the results you want to achieve." Beatrice Faumuina, athlete
"My advice if you're starting out is to have courage. Kia Kaha Kia Manawanui, which means have strength or courage and be a great heart." Witi Ihimaera, author
"Seize the opportunities that are in front of you. Seize change as being a good thing because only good things come from change." Dr Sean Simpson, scientist
Complementing their stories are large black and white photographs shot while they were being interviewed. And that is what makes the photographs special - they're not posed and manage to capture the essence or soul of these people.
It is a stunning book - in hardback, large sized (245mm x 300mm) with 312 pages - no expense spared.
Books that inspire children and adults are a particular favourite of mine. This deserves to be in every High School Library to inspire the next generation of leaders, inventors, scientists, artists and writers.
See an interview with Sir Ray Avery about the book: http://tvnz.co.nz/breakfast-news/paper-plus-sir-ray-avery-video-5208250
ISBN: 9781775530008 RRP $49.99
Cattra’s Legacy by Anna Mackenzie, Longacre (Random House NZ) Young adult author Anna Mackenzie follows up her post-apocalyptic series, The Sea-wreck Stranger Trilogy, with an absorbing story set in a vividly-imagined medieval fantasy world. Risha is bereft when her father dies and the local villagers banish her from her home. She sets off with a group of travelling traders in the hope of locating a relative - but all she has is a name. However she soon realises that some of the traders know more about her background than she does. Risha survives through a series of dangerous adventures, at the same time gradually discovering the secret of her birth. The book ends with Risha contemplating the sacrifices, hard work, and luck needed to claim her noble inheritance. It’s the kind of book you don’t want to come to an end. Teenage readers will be swept along in the parade of hair-raising adventures, timely escapes, grim battles, and hidden secrets. Risha is an appealing and spirited heroine, and we follow her with interest as she develops her mental and physical skills, becomes close to a faithful supporter, and discovers in herself an eerie ability to communicate over distances. All these themes will be expanded in the sequel - I can’t wait! ISBN 978-1-77553-318-4 RRP $19.99 Pb Reviewed by Lorraine Orman
10 Kooky Kiwi, pictures by Deborah Hinde, sung by Pio Terei, Maori lyrics by Kotuku and Te Okahurangi Tibble; Scholastic NZ Picture books containing a song and a CD are all the rage these days. They’re not true picture books in the literary sense (the English words for this song were written by Scholastic NZ) but they’re great fun and bound to be a boon for pre-school and new entrant teachers. This one is based on the Ten Green Bottles tune, with a focus on some brightly-coloured and accident-prone kiwi. “Three kooky kiwi playing hide and seek ... And if one kooky kiwi forgets to hide his beak, there’ll be two kooky kiwi playing hide and seek.” The cartoon illustrations are appropriately zany, as befitting rainbow-hued kiwi with weird hairdos. The bouncy song is ably rendered by Pio Terei and accompanying guitar, and having it also sung in Maori is a bonus. ISBN 978-1-77543-145-9 $19.50 Pb Reviewed by Lorraine Orman
Where the Flag Floats by D.C. Grant, Pear Jam Books Most Aucklanders know a little about the wreck of the screw-driven corvette HMS Orpheus on the Manukau Bar on February 7th 1863 (the 150th anniversary was this year). Many of us have visited the memorial and the little museum at Huia. But it takes a vivid and absorbing story such as this to really make us understand what happened. It was New Zealand’s worst maritime disaster, with 189 crew members killed out of a total of 259. Dawn Grant has woven a highly readable account of the disaster from the point of view of a young stowaway, Sam Galloway. It begins with Sam becoming a penniless orphan when his mother dies in Sydney. His only hope is a valuable watch engraved with an inscription that he can’t read because he is illiterate. This watch apparently proves that he’s related to a wealthy family - he knows he has to travel to Auckland to find them. But villains interfere and Sam ends up hiding on the Orpheus, still in pursuit of his precious watch. When the shipwreck happens, Sam is near the officers who are debating the best way to go over the bar - and he hears their fateful decisions. The author’s descriptions of the gradual disintegration of the ship and the deaths of the sailors make gripping reading. I won’t say what happens to Sam, but the story does end happily. Highly recommended for young readers of about 9 to 14 who like historical stories - and it would also be useful as part of a classroom study of disasters.
DC Grant writes about sports, guns and battles, but not always in the same book. Grant's first book In Too Deep
is about surfing. The first book in the Catch Jason Shaw series, High Speed
, is about murder. Other works include historical fiction and featured pieces on www.rorkesdriftvc.com
ISBN 978-0-473-23618-2 RRP $19.99 (pbk) $4.99 (e-book) PbReviewed by Lorraine Orman
Touchstone by Lorraine Orman
Skye lives with her mother in Auckland and has no contact with other relatives until she's invited to visit her grandfather before he passes away. Josh lives with his mother, her partner and grandfather in a remote West Coast mining town. When Skye and Josh meet it is an instant attraction that turns out more fatal than they realise. While together they are drawn into an explosive situation that requires both of them to step outside their comfort zone. What is the family secret that is keeping two sisters apart, and will Skye and Josh’s friendship survive its repercussions.
My critique group heard Lorraine read out an early version of this story over a year ago. We couldn't wait for Lorraine to finish it so we could find out what happens to the two main characters (and find out the big secret).
Lorraine has written a thrilling story using two protagonists’ voices to tell the story. She skilfully blends historical and present day time settings to reveal the family secrets. Lorraine explores several issues in the story: troubled mother-daughter relationship, teenagers with low self-esteem, the damage that lies cause, and conservation of wilderness versus mining and development. What matters most to a teenager reading it, though, is that it is a hard-to-put-down book once you begin reading and both boys and girls will enjoy it. (I read it in two sittings - finishing it at 1am.) Highly recommended for 10-14 year olds, senior Primary, Intermediate and Year 9 and 10s. This e-book is available for $4.99 (US) from online retailers such as Smashwords (at http://smashwords.com/books/view/304013) and Amazon (at http://www.amazon.com/Touchstone-ebook/dp/B00CE04M62/) There is a free secondary-level Teachers’ Resource Kit at Lorraine’s website http://www.story-go-round.net.nz/pdf/touchstone_teachersresourcekit.pdf Author’s Bio: Lorraine Orman has previously published four print books for junior readers and two for teenage readers, as well as numerous short stories. Cross Tides (winner of the NZ Post Best First Book Award in 2005) and Hideout are the natural predecessors to Touchstone. In all three books Lorraine blends a historical story with a present-day one. The idea for the setting of Touchstone came from Lorraine’s in-laws, some of whom were Buller coalmining families.
Breakfast by Joy Cowley, illustrated by Amy Lam (Clean Slate Press)
"Hurry, hurry, hurry!"
said the jug to the cup.
"It's time for breakfast.
The children are up."
Breakfast with young children (been there, done that) can be a shambolic time and Joy Cowley has captured that in this cute rhyming picture book. However, the story is told from the angle of the breakfast table settings: cup saucer, milk jug, cutlery etc. They must hurry to set up in time for the messy children's invasion. And the children live up to their name - creating havoc with the cereals, pancakes, egg and ham, toast and jam (gosh, I wish we had breakfasts like that). There's the oldest daughter absentmindedly eating while texting, and the three boys throwing food and having a fight. You can imagine the mess that gets left behind. I'm not going to tell you the twist at the end - pure Joy Cowley storytelling skill.
A story for early childhood and Junior Primary school classes to read during a Health study on manners at the table. Children will delight in seeing all the naughty things the children do and unintentionally pick up another person's perspective when a breakfast table is left in such a mess.
I remember using 'reverse psychology' on my son to try to get him to do things at time - this is exactly what Joy Cowley is doing with this book; giving kids the opportunity to see from the outside-in table manners-gone-riot. It will get kids thinking and perhaps changing a few of their own bad habits. If Joy had written a story where children behaved at the table she would not get the message across so effectively.
The illustrator has captured the look of fear, anticipation and surprise on the setting's and boredom and mischief on the children's faces. The breakfast table with its colourful settings is the sole focus of the story. White/cream space around it enables the text to have its space and tell the story. From a teacher's point of view this is perfect for younger children because they can show and read it aloud to their whole class. Amy Lam is a talented young illustrator and designer. She has designed hundreds of books for children, many of which she has also illustrated.
Dame Joy Cowley has been writing for children for more than 50 years. She is one of New Zealand’s most prolific and successful authors, having written more than 600 books.
The book is available as hardback with colourful end papers, which librarians will be pleased about (because it will last heavy-duty school wear) and softcover. A must for all school and kindy libraries, and homes.
RRP: Softcover $19.99, ISBN: 978-1-927185-97-1, Hardcover $24.99, ISBN: 978-1-927185-58-2
Melinda Szymanik’s compelling story A Winter’s Day in 1939,published in print form in March 2013, will be available as an ebook from ANZAC Day, 25 April 2013.
The ebook’s release date follows hot on the heels of the book’s Wellington launch at The Children’s Bookshop on Saturday 13 April. The ebook will be available initially for Amazon Kindle http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CHKOQYCand can be purchased for $9.99.
This debut ebook marks the beginning stages of a move to release more new Scholastic New Zealand novels in electronic form.
About the book
A Winter’s Day in 1939 is a harrowing, compelling story of courage and hope, based on the author’s own father’s journey across Europe during World War Two.
Taken from their home in Poland, forced to leave their country, put to work in Russian labour camps, frozen and starved, 12-year-old Adam and his family doubt that they will ever make it out alive.
Even if they were to get away, they might freeze to death, or starve, or the bears might get them.
For the Polish refugees, the whole of the USSR becomes a prison from which there is seemingly no escape.
Recommended age: 10+ years
About the author
Melinda Szymanik is the author of the picture books Clever Moo and The Were-Nana, which won the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards Children’s Choice Award in 2009. Melinda has written two other novels, Jack the Viking (Scholastic, 2008) and The Half Life of Ryan Davis (Pear Jam, 2011). She has also had three picture books published with Duck Creek Press, and published a teen chapter e-book earlier this year. Melinda has a Masters in Zoology, has nearly finished her Diploma in Children's Literature, and writes full-time in Auckland.
I had to do a bit of investigation on Stephen’s website to find that this YA novel is available as a paperback at http://www.createspace.com/3861672 for $US10.99 and at Wheelers for $NZ29.99. It’s also available on Amazon as a paperback and an e-book for Kindle ($US3.99). Visit Stephen’s website for all the links. It’s an edgy, racy story about a teenager called Christopher who’s just about to get released from a juvenile detention centre after a year - his sentence for dangerous driving on Deadwater Lane and hitting an elderly man who died of a heart attack a short time later. Christo is having mysterious flashbacks to the accident scene - there’s obviously some kind of cover-up involved. Once released, Christo is required to act as home help for another elderly man. When this person dies (of old age) he leaves Christo a restored Triumph sports-car and a large sum of money. This enables Christo to enlist the help of a mate to investigate the drug-dealing activities of the petrolheads of Deadwater Lane. At the same time he gradually discovers what really happened when his accident occurred. Teenage boys will enjoy the blend of on-the-edge themes - street racing, hot girls, drug dealing, and gangsters. There’s plenty of action and danger to spice it up - you can just about smell the petrol and burning rubber... ISBN 9781475260250 RRP - see above Reviewed by Lorraine Orman
Dinosaurs Love Cheese by Jackie French, illus. Nina Rycroft, Angus &Robertson (Harper Collins Australia) I’m reviewing the hardback version, which is very handsome indeed (I appreciated the cheesy yellow endpapers!). It’s a simple, repetitive story for preschoolers, who will be instantly drawn in by the big, velvety-green dinosaur on the cover. “I like milk and sandwiches...” says the first expansive double-spread showing the dinosaur coming down on a sling and raiding the fridge, followed by “... but dinosaurs love cheese.” The next two pages show various aspects of the dinosaur hanging from the ceiling and relishing his stolen goods. Young listeners will very soon pick up the refrain. The next double spread shows the kitchen populated by a troop of monkeys hunting for bananas ... “but dinosaurs love cheese.” And so on. The colourful, cheeky illustrations show the extremely fertile imaginings of the young narrator as he goes through a normal day accompanied by zebras, tigers, bears, etc. I loved the different wide perspectives used in the illustrations - these would make the book a joy to read aloud and display to a class at preschool centres. I know exactly which grandson this is going to - he’s four and his name is Rory - the same name as in Jackie French’s dedication. How’s that for serendipity?
Jackie French is one of Australia’s most renowned and best-loved and respected children’s authors. She lives in the Araluen Valley, near Braidwood in NSW. Nina Rycroft is the enormously talented illustrator of such titles as NO MORE KISSES, BALLROOM BANANZA and BOOM BAH.
ISBN 9780732292645 (hb), 9780732292652 (pb) RRP A$24.99 (also available as an e-book) Reviewed by Lorraine Orman
The Song of the Ship Rat by Ben Brown and Helen Taylor, Scholastic NZ This talented pair have produced a picture book that stands out from the rest. As the title implies it’s in the form of a sea shanty - narrated by a rat. The rhyme and rhythm of the text are beguiling, and the book cries out to be read aloud - preferably with a dramatic voice and plenty of gestures. How’s this for a rollicking rhyme: “For I am a sea-worn ship rat, friends, I’ve sailed the ocean blue. I’ve sailed the world from end to end, and top to bottom too. And I have seen sweet isles of green and mountains struck with gold... I’ve been where summer sighs with heat and winter shrieks with cold.” It’s great stuff, and the illustrations are a perfect match - quirky, imaginative, challenging. They reward careful study, but they also sweep us grandly through the pages as the rat reminisces about his seafaring life, decides that shore life is not for him, and sets off again. This is a picture book for older children; I’d say about 6 to 10. The format of the sea shanty does mean that the language is very poetic - and probably not likely to be understood by preschoolers. Recommended for primary and intermediate schools - the book would make a great classroom study topic. ISBN 978 1 77543 048 3 RRP $19.50 PB
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman
Dinosaur Rescue: Salto-Scaredypus by Kyle Mewburn, illustrated by Donovan Bixley (Scholastic)
The devious Nn-Grrdy tribe are coming to barter - their sharp flints for mammoth hides. Arg hurries to hide all his favourite stuff - he doesn't want them stolen. When pushing his sabre-toothed coat down a burrow Arg falls down into a cave filled with bat pooh. While trying to find a way out he discovers a herd of hungry Saltopuses. Can Arg escape with all his hide or does his adventures end here?
Another pooh-ridden, disgusting but hilariously funny Neanderthal story for 6-8 year boys (though girls will love the stinky humour too).
Kyle and Donovan are a perfect team - their humour in words and pictures seep from every page. Extra facts are included throughout the story including helpful hints on how to hunt Mammoth, bartering for beginners, amazing facts on bats on mats ...
This is number eight in the Dinosaur Rescue Series that has been hugely popular in New Zealand, Australia and Asia. Check out the website for extra facts and activities: www. dinosaur-rescue.com
Dinosaur Rescue: Megasaurus Mash-up 1: Books 1-4 in one volume
written by Kyle Mewburn and illustrated by Donovan Bixley (Scholastic)
If your son/brother/grandson/neighbour/friend has not read the Dinosaur Rescue Series then surprise them with this four-books-in-one treat. Follow Arg on his adventures with his not-so-smart Neanderthal family and his talking T-rex dinosaur friend Skeet.
In the first story 'T-Wreck-Asaurus' we meet Arg and his family. Will Arg survive after stumbling into quicksand and can Arg save the T-Rex from the hunters,
In 'Stego-Snottysaurus' Arg meets a dinosaur with a very snotty problem. Can Arg help the Stego-Snottysaurus and save their race?
In Velocitchy-Raptor Arg is captured by a Quetzalcoatlus and given to a baby raptor. How can Arg escape and deal with the invisible fire ant problem at the same time?
In Diplo-Dizzydocus Arg gets into trouble with a herd of dizzy diplodocus and charging Grogllgrox. Find out he solves the problem with stink bugs!
Highly recommended for 6-8 year old boys (and girls who the slap-stick humour too). Smarter than Captain Underpants and funnier than the Wimpy Kid!
Bad Dog Flash by Ruth Paul, Scholastic NZ
Experienced author and illustrator Ruth Paul has produced an appealing picture book about a puppy - and you don’t even have to be a dog person to appreciate the minimalism of the text and the skill of the illustrations. There are only a few words on each page, usually with a bit of rhyme involved. “Still cat, dull cat; fast cat, fun cat; run, cat!” This staccato style is continued throughout the book - until Flash stops getting into trouble and finds somebody who loves him. The illustrations are a delight, with mellow colours, lots of white space, and interesting perspectives. Flash himself is particularly cute, with his fluffy fur, floppy ears, button eyes, and expressive face. A comment on the production of the book - it looks good, with an eye-catching cover and quality paper, but the size is unusual. It’s 30 cm wide and 24 cm tall, so it will not be an easy book to shelve (speaking with my librarian’s hat on). I think this book would be best for reading one to one or to a group of children aged about 2 to 4. Adult readers could have fun emphasising and indicating the words in the text.
See Ruth's gorgeous illustrations here. ISBN 978 1 77543 096 4 RRP $19.50 PbRuth Paul
is a Wellington-raised writer and illustrator. She completed a Bachelor of Arts at Victoria University of Wellington, and a Diploma of Visual Communication Design at Wellington Polytechnic (now Massey University Wellington). Throughout the years, she has worked in a variety of jobs including waitressing, acting, administration and sign-writing. She has had ten picture books published - many of which have won awards and been given rave reviews nationally and overseas.
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman
Anzac Day: The New Zealand Story by Philippa Werry (New Holland)
Have you ever wondered when Anzac Day started and what it is all about? And why they chose the red poppy as a symbol of remembrance. Perhaps you know a bit about the second world war but the first war is a little fuzzy ... Then this treasure of a book has been written just for you.
Children's author Philippa Werry covers the Gallipoli campaign, New Zealand at war from 1914-1918, how we remember our dead and returned soldiers, and how Anzac Day is remembered then and now. Philippa has also included what happened to New Zealanders at the western front, to the Maori battalions in the Great War, and to the Pacific Island volunteers in France and Palestine. Along with recounts from returned soldiers and nurses, fact boxes about well-known battles, and little stories about incidents from the wars; are 122 photographs, paintings, excerpts from letters, quotes, poems and other images - which culminates in a pictorial historical account that celebrates the spirit of the ANZACs.
Families of returned and deceased soldiers, teachers and children will thoroughly enjoy this fascinating book, which tells the story of Anzac Day in New Zealand and around the world. An excellent resource for the Upper Primary and Intermediate classroom. See Philippa's trailer and teaching notes here.
Philippa Werry is an accomplished children's writer of junior fiction, plays, poems and articles. Several of her books have shortlisted for awards notably the Queensland children's choice Bilby Awards in 2004, New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards in 2009, and she won a Storylines Notable Book Award in 2008.
Go to Philippa Werry's website for more information and activities: www.philippawerry.co.nz
If you're in Auckland come to her book launch:
Task Force by Brian Falkner, Walker Books Australia This is the second book in the Recon Team Angelseries. If you haven’t read the first book , Assault, a bit of background is needed. It’s 2030 and Earth has been invaded by an alien race. The Bzadians have taken over large parts of the world, and the remaining humans are fighting desperately to survive. Team Angel consists of human teenagers who have been trained up and physically altered to make them look and act like Bzadians. In the first book the team destroyed the Bzadian base inside Uluru. In this second book they are a crucial part of Operation Magnum, an invasion of Queensland aimed at destroying an important fuel-processing plant. There are two new members in the team - and the dynamics are difficult. Lieutenant Ryan Chisnall has his work cut out for him as he tries to keep his team members working together whilst coping with a series of dangerous and often unforeseen military engagements. It’s non-stop action all the way - the pace is breathless. The team members work their way to a gut-wrenching climax scene where Chisnall has to decide which is more important - the lives of the Operation Magnum soldiers, or the future of the human race. It’s nail-biting stuff - teenage boys won’t be able to put the book down. Brian Falkner is the award-winning, best-selling author of several novels for children and young adults, including, The Flea Thing, The Real Thing, and The Super Freak. His action adventure sci-fi novels, The Tomorrow Code and Brainjack were both short-listed for the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children & Young Adults and the Esther Glen Award at the LIANZA Awards, with Brainjack winning the New Zealand Post Book Awards, Children's Choice Award (Young Adult Fiction category). Brainjack also won the 2010 Sir Julius Vogel Award, Best Young Adult Novel. The Project has also been short-listed on the 2011 Storylines Notable Books List.ISBN 978 1 921720-55-0 $21.99 (NZ); $19.95 (Aust.) Pb Reviewed by Lorraine Orman
Phantom of Terawhiti by Des Hunt, HarperCollins NZ Another title in Des’s long line of exciting adventure stories with strong New Zealand settings and themes. This one is set on Wellington’s wild south-west coast, in the Makara area. Zac and his father are living on the remote Terawhiti Station, trying to stay incognito (Zac’s father was involved in a business scandal). But a large boat belonging to a Russian billionaire is shipwrecked on the rocks nearby – and a strange creature seems to have come ashore. Zac and a local girl called Jess track the animal down and find that it’s a tame albino serval, ie. a large wildcat. Unfortunately a couple of Russian thugs are also looking for the rare animal, as well as some over-enthusiastic hunters. Zac and Jess work frantically to save the cat, but their task is made even more difficult when she’s located near Zealandia, a wildlife conservation park. It’s an absorbing read for intermediate ages, especially boys. Note to publishers – readers DO study the cover and pick up mistakes. The spooky feline eyes on the front should belong to a white cat, not a black one. Des Hunt is the author of thirteen novels, including the acclaimed CRY OF THE TANIWHA. After forty years working in education he is now a full-time writer, using novels to share his fascination with science, technology and the world around us. For more information visit deshunt.com.
ISBN 978 1 86950 954 5 $19.99 Pb Reviewed by Lorraine Orman
Cyclone Bola, Gisborne, 1988 by Kath Beattie, Scholastic NZ The latest title in Scholastic’s My New Zealand Story series, this diary-style story looks at the devastation wrought by Cyclone Bola in the Gisborne city and rural areas. The cyclone is well within my memory but I have to confess I had little recall of how bad it was (yes, I am an Aucklander!). A page of statistics in the book gives some idea of the destruction: 4000 people evacuated, 56,000 hectares of farmland damaged, 300 houses damaged or relocated, 17 bridges totally or partially destroyed, and millions of dollars’ worth of animal stock killed. The story is told by Amy Dyer, who’s about twelve when she gets sent to live on a family farm near Gisborne while her parents are doing a yacht trip. There’s some mildly interesting material as the farm setting is described and Amy details how she’s getting on at a different school (she has to do research and write essays for her previous teacher in Auckland). The only hassle seems to be that there’s a cyclone brewing in the area near Vanuatu where her parents are, and Amy is worried about them. Of course a few days later the cyclone hits New Zealand – and Amy and her great-uncle and aunt are marooned in the farmhouse while the rain thunders on the roof and the wind howls and the flood rises. The descriptions of the experience are vivid, and obviously based on first-hand information. Another useful title in this excellent series – I’m sure teachers will be glad to include it in their studies of disasters. ISBN 978 1 77543 100 8, RRP $18.50 Pb Reviewed by Lorraine Orman
By: Maria Gill,
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Do you want to do something fun with your littlies and have breakfast at the same time? Scholastic New Zealand, Nestles and Meadowfresh are preparing breakfast at the following libraries during New Zealand Book Month (that's March) on these dates:
Blenheim: 10.00am, Sunday 3 March, Brayshaw Park Wellington: 10.30am, Saturday 9 March, Wellington Central Library Christchurch: 8.30am, Saturday 16 March, Shirley Library Takapuna: 10.30am, Saturday 23 March, Takapuna Library Taupo: 10.00am, Saturday 23 March, Taupo Library
Children will have the brand new book 'The Three Bears (sort of)' written by Yvonne Morrison and illustrated by Donovan Bixley read aloud to them while they eat their Cheerios and sip on their milo. It's a really funny take on the fairy tale: a parent telling a child the story, with interjections from the child throughout (‘but bears don’t eat porridge!’ ‘bears can’t speak English!’ etc). There will be prizes and colouring-in to do! I hope you can get along to one of the sessions!
By: Maria Gill,
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The Three Bears (sort of) by Yvonne Morrison, illustrated by Donovan Bixley (Scholastic)
Once upon a time,
There were three bears,
And they lived …
The narrator isn’t expecting questions and the reader is pretty clued up. He or she is not going to be fobbed off with any old answers … no siree … they want specifics … and they know a thing or two about bears. For example, ‘How did the three bears come to live in a cottage? They live in caves.’ The narrator is kept on his or her toes while the reader questions every detail of the ‘Three Bears and Goldilock’ fairytale.Children and adults will love the humour (in the words and the illustrations). They might chuckle if they recognise themselves as a parent who doesn’t always know the answers, and the child who, well … likes to ask lots of questions. Will be very popular with the 4-8 year old crowd and parents are going to enjoy reading it to them.Yvonne Morrison is a zookeeper, former school teacher, and writer of popular children’s books such as ‘A Kiwi Night Before Christmas’, ‘A Kiwi Jingle Bells’ and ‘Down in the Forest’. Donovan Bixley is a talented illustrator living in Taupo. He illustrated ‘Phoebe and the Night Creatures’, ‘Wacko Kakapo’, ‘A Right Royal Christmas’ and the very popular ‘Dinosaur Rescue’ series. ISBN: 978-1-77543-068-1 RRP $19.50
A Winter's Day in 1939 by Melinda Szymanik (Scholastic)
This has to be the best book I've read this year. It has adventure, emotional moments and tense moments. It is the sort of book you buy extra copies so you can give them to other people to read because you want them to be acquainted with such an excellent book. What's it about?
Twelve-year-old Adam lives with his family in Poland attending school and helping on the farm until the Russians invade their country. His family are transported to work in a labour camp in Russia. They are forced to work to buy meagre food supplies and survive in over-crowded unclean conditions. Not everyone makes it out alive. When the Germans declare war on the Russians they are freed - but where to? They are sent from one side of the country to another by train, ship and by foot. Will the family make it out together or does illness claim one or more of their lives ...
It is a coming of age story - Adam at first naive and angry about small things learns to overcome his issues with his father and take over the responsibility of looking after his mother and little sister while his father and older brother are away fighting. You'll cry, you'll stay up late to read-on, and you'll be grateful to read about a bit of Polish history you may not have known about.
Melinda Szymanik writes picture books, short stories, and junior fiction for several publishing houses. She won the New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards for her book 'The Were Nana' in 2009. Other books include: Jack the Viking (Scholastic), The House that Went to Sea (Duck Creek), The Half Life of Ryan Davis (Pear Jam), Sally Bangle: Unexpected Detective (Tale-Spin).
Ed Climbs A Big Hillby Dreydon Sobanja, illustrated by Jennifer Smith (Published by Inspired Kids)Ed was an ordinary boy who liked to climb hills. He started with a hill in his backyard, and then a bigger one in his grandmother’s yard. He climbed it one step at a time. He thought he had climbed the biggest hill of all but he had yet to climb a mountain. Find out how Ed climbed the biggest mountain in New Zealand, then bigger mountains around the world, until he climbed the biggest mountain in the world – one step at a time.The book intends to inspire children to achieve their goals one small step at a time; starting small and building their way up. At the back of the book are tips for children to achieve their goals, and a list of Sir Edmund Hillary’s achievements.This is the first in a series to help inspire children to achieve their goals and dreams. The website www.inspiredkids.co.nz contains teachers’ resources, and more inspirational tips to make your dreams come true.Dreydon Sobanja wrote this story and the next in the series Jean Dreams of Flying after he hit rock-bottom two years ago. He was 20 kg overweight, unfit and depressed. He turned his life around after competing in a triathlon. He has since competed in 15 triathlons, ten ocean swims and was named ‘Contact inspirational kiwi’ at the Whangamata triathlon in 2011. Illustrator Jennifer Smith has also illustrated Granny Gorilla by Sher Foley. She recently finished a degree at University of Auckland and was recommended as a young illustrator with potential. Jennifer illustrated ‘Ed climbs a big Hill’ with black pen outlines and soft pastel water colour wash. She has captured Sir Ed’s character and features and drawn from different angles to create an attractive book.A percentage of the sale of this book will be donated to the Himalayan Trust.ISBN: 9780473227838 RRP $20 Jean Dreams of Flyingby Dreydon Sobanja, illustrated by Terry FitzgibbonJean liked to daydream she was a bird flying high in the sky. Her brother laughed at her fancy. And so did her classmates when she told them. When she asked her grandfather if she was silly to dream she could fly one day, he asked her if she believed her dream could come true. She did – she just didn’t know how. Jean never let go of her dream … Find out how she makes it come true. Terry Fitzgibbon has illustrated 15 books and creates artwork in a variety of traditional and digital mediums. Terry illustrated ‘Jean Dreams of Flying’ digitally. The young Jean looks a bit like Snow White but the older Jean resembles well-known photographs of Jean. Text boxes are highlighted in white fuzzy boxes.The premise of this story is to hold fast to your dreams and one day – if you believe in it enough – you will make it happen. The story is simply told so that children as young as 5-7 can understand the underlying message. Several make-believe characters have been added to both stories (brother, grandparents) – and Dreydon has acknowledged this with this statement: “Although this story is based on a real life character, the events may have been dramatised, and fictional characters added, to convey an inspirational message.” Teachers, download teaching resources on www.inspiredkids.co.nz site.ISBN: 9780473227845 RRP $20
The Silly Goat Gruffby Scott Tulloch (Scholastic)
Over the bridge where the hills were rough,
Where there wasn’t much food (not nearly enough),
Where things were bad, and times were tough … Lived three Billy Goat Gruffs; Willy, Billy and Silly Goat Gruff. At this stage you probably think you know what is going to happen… The billy goats get eaten by the troll. Or do they? The writer cleverly and humorously leads you in that direction but he has a surprise for the reader. A fun story that subtly teaches children how to stand-up to bullies – even if you are small or have Silly for a name … Author/Illustrator Scott Tulloch gives a refreshing spin on an old tale, told in rhyme. Scott has also illustrated ‘Wooden Arms’, ‘On the Road to Tuapeka’ and ‘Tom and the Dragon’. He also wrote and illustrated the Willy books: Willy’s Dad, Willy’s Mum, Willy’s Grandpa’ plus many other gorgeous picture books. Parents will love reading it and 3-7 year old children will chuckle in all the right places. ISBN: 978-1-77543-105-3 RRP$ 19.50
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A Necklace of Souls by R.L. Steadman, HarperCollins NZ This story was the 2012 winner of the Tessa Duder Award for an unpublished young adult novel, sponsored by Storylines and HarperCollins. As a member of the judging panel who chose this story as the winner, I’m hoping a few wannabe YA fantasy writers will read this review. There were lots of fantasies entered for the award in 2012, but this one stood out from the rest. Why? I’ll start with the basics – the spelling, punctuation and grammar were good. Secondly, the author understood the principles of skilled writing – such as keeping adverbs and adjectives to a minimum, and not over-writing. Lastly, the judges were impressed with the freshness and originality of the story’s fantasy world - it wasn’t just the same old quest/dragon/battle scenario. There is so much fantasy round these days that writers must come up with something startling and new if they want to make publishers sit up and take notice. Now to focus on the story itself. The alternating points of view from the princess and the young warrior are intriguing, and add a freshness to the plot. The magical kingdom protected by a necklace that slowly kills its wearer is a fascinating idea - as is the princess’s dream-travelling and her gradual discovery of her horrifying heritage. I also liked the princess’s tutor – an African woman who walked from our real world into the fantasy one because it was her destiny as a magic wielder. After some excellent editing and re-writing, the end result is a colourful and absorbing fantasy that I heartily recommend to both teenage and adult fantasy fans. And here’s a plea to HarperCollins NZ – please, please publish the sequel. I’m dying to read about the end of Dana and Will’s adventures. ISBN 978 1 77554 006 9 $24.99 PB Reviewed by Lorraine Orman