Line Up, Please by Tomoko Ohmura.

August 27, 2014 Comments off

line up pleaseLine Up, Please by Tomoko Ohmura.Pub. Gecko Press, 2014. 

From award winning author and illustrator Tomoko Ohmura comes this gem about life in a queue. Fifty animals are lining up for the thrill of a life time but you have to read the whole book to find out what it is.

Life in a queue can be a drag and it can be an enjoyable experience. The weasel wants to know what they are lining up for, the skunk accidently does what he is famous for, fox and raccoon are competing at jumping, sheep is scared of the wolf in front of her, hyena plays peek-a-boo with a baby kangaroo, zebra shakes between a lion and a tiger, crocodile yawns, rhinoceros wants to charge and then they are off.

Lined up on the back of a blue whale the animals experience a thrill on a four page spread. At the end the giraffe asks “can we do it again?”

My granddaughters loved it and so will you.

Howzat by Mike LeFroy Illus. by Liz Anelli.

August 27, 2014 Comments off

howzatHowzat by Mike LeFroy Illus. by Liz Anelli. Pub. Walker books, 2014.

Cricket is a game like no other and whats more it is a World Wide game as this picture book celebrates.

Starting in England the bouncing cricket ball takes the reader around the World to every continent where the game is played. The written text reflects all the cricket terminology like snick, silly mid on, googly, slashing, howzat and its a six.

Each two page spread by Liz Anelli shows the game being played by boys, girls and adults and reflects the culture and characteristics of the country concerned. Backyard, beach and street cricket are featured plus the organised games. With the flag of each country prominently displayed.

Not just for the cricket enthusiast but definitely a celebration of the great game.

Categories: Junior Fiction, Picture book Tags:

Caro was here by Elizabeth Farrelly

August 22, 2014 Comments off

caro was hereCaro was Here by Elizabeth Farrelly. Pub. Walker Books, 2014.

On the day Caro turns 12 she loses an election to be Winter Captain to an American girl named Ellen Aurelia Dufresne who insists on being called by all three names. This gets up Caro’s nose as does Ellen’s penchant for calling her father papa.

It is also the last day of school so caro decides to bunk with her younger brother Ned and do something adventurous. As they jump over the school wall they are joined unwittingly by my favourite character the nerdy thick glasses Nigel Numbnuts, and one of Caro’s friends Tattie and amazingly the pretentious American girl Ellen Aurelia Dufresne.

They ponder adventure and catch a ferry to an island in the middle of Sydney harbour that was once a penal colony with a rock at which a famous prisoner was once chained to. They spend the afternoon checking the island out and find that the last ferry has gone and they are trapped on the island for the night.

it is going to be a long one. Some hard looking men have a sleek boat hidden in an old shed on the island and the kids find a lot of money on the boat. What are the men up to? Secondly something orange is spotted in the bush. What is it?

Relationships are going to change. Good healthy adventure with an emphasis on survival under pressure. A strong quality is the dialogue between the characters.

Aimed at middle and intermediate school readers. A good read-a-loud for the classroom.

Singing home the Whale by Mandy Hager

August 20, 2014 Comments off

singing the whaleSinging home the Whale by Mandy Hager. Pub. Random House, 2014.

The essence of this novel is that it is the union of two souls – Will a teenage boy who has been scarred by a beating and humiliated on Youtube, and a baby orca named Min who has lost his mother to whalers and been separated from his pod.

They come together as Will sings his beloved opera music while at sea in a yacht and his music is heard by the grieving baby orca who responds with his own clicks and whistles. The orca comes alongside the yacht, Will reaches out and their touch has a moving effect on both.

Their relationship is to last a lifetime but the immediate consequences are aggravation and acrimony leading to assaults, family breakups and thankfully beautiful music. The two are so harmonious nothing but long term good can come of it. But it don’t come easy.

Will and Min must find themselves. Will must gain confidence and get over the humiliation of social media exposure. He needs friends. Min needs to find his family but he thirsts for human company like a bird seeks the sky and hope is hard to hold on to when one is little and alone.

The action in the present involves a struggle with a violent and domineering salmon farm owner Bruce who wishes to kill the orca. The local marae, department of fisheries and police get involved in the action.

Through Min we also learn of the culture of the whales. How the humans who they call The Hungry Ones slaughtered the whales in a time they call the Days of Blood. Min sings their song jus as Will sings his “I am captain of the Pinafore and a right good captain too”

The music of Gilbert and Sullivan, Madam Butterfly and a host of opera composers compliments the song of the whales.

Mandy Hager cares about the Planet and all its inhabitants, we all should but she realises the human condition is getting in the way but there is hope. This is a novel of hope and promise. One of the most valuable novels I have read for sometime

You can do it Bert ! by Ole Konnecke

August 18, 2014 Comments off

you can do it bertYou can do it Bert ! by Ole Konnecke.  Gecko Press, 2014.

This is my kind on picture book. Simple, minimal written text, bold illustrations, food for thought and a brilliant sense of humour.

We have all got ourselves into a position where you have to put your money where your mouth is. So it is with Bert. Bert is a young bird going to take a death defying leap from the branch of a tree into the great unknown.

He is determined to do it but gets the jitters. His friends are encouraging but Bert is playing it cool. Something to eat to emphasise his coolness. A banana will do and the skin can go where he is going.

A determined run along the branch, arm across the eyes and bonanza.

Read it and find out what happens. When you do follow the progress of the banana skin.

Outstanding. Good themes of taking risks, friends, fun and a sense of humour.

Ole Konnecke grew up in Sweden and writes in Hamburg Germany. he has won prizes for his works. I’m glad he does, he deserves it

NZ Sports Hall of Fame. 25 Kiwi Champions by Maria Gill. Illus Marco Ivancic.

August 5, 2014 Comments off

sports fameNZ Sports Hall of Fame. 25 Kiwi Champions by Maria Gill. Illus Marco Ivancic. Pub. New Holland Publishers, 2014.

If I asked you who was the only rugby player to score 3 tries as a substitute in a World Cup match who would you say? Well it was the fabulous Sonny William Williams. I did get his name right and I know Sonny Bill sounds better. And did you know that Trish Hina has played three World Cups in both Rugby and Rugby league.

These are some of the amazing facts in this colourful and well presented publication on New Zealand sporting legends both current and past. Each player has a life like cartoon illustration of them competing in their sport, a daily training regime, their history and achievements in their sport and  a philosophical statement of what drives them.

Take these three quotes:- Valerie Adams “With a little bit of hard work and a little support anything is possible“. Richie McCaw “To lead or inspire you have to back up the talk” and Sophie Pascoe “if you miss a session you can’t make up for it – that’s the life of an athlete”.

Inspiring stuff. The book also features athletes from many lesser known sports like aerobics champion Angela McMillan, freestyle skier Jossi Wells and kitesurfer Cindy Mosey. Plus some older legends like John Walker, Richard Hadlee and Ivan Mauger.

An easily accessible book for first information that can lead to further study. Essential for every school library or for the coffee table at home. Read it you will not regret owning this book. It is for everybody.

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen.

August 4, 2014 Comments off

queen tearlingThe Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. Pub. Random House, 2014.

This novel took me four days to read and I wished it had taken me longer. When it ended I wanted more and fortunately I am going to get it because it is part 1 of a trilogy that i am sure will set the literary world on fire.

It reads like an historical/ adventure /fantasy but I can assure you it has a lot more depth than that.

The setting is The Tearling a new land that has resulted from a cataclysm in the past and has been settled by a utopian group from America in an event known as The Crossing. The Tearling is bounded by Cadare to the south and  the Mordor like Mortmesne to the east. Some past technology has survived but not all, gunpowder for instance is a fringe technology.

The Tearling is ruled by a decadent and corrupt Regent following the murder of the inept Queen Elyssa. Before the queen’s death her daughter was smuggled out to be raised by a couple known as Barty and Carlin. They bring up the very plain girl named Kelsea  in an enlightened yet tough environment.

In the mean time The Tearling has been overrun by the cruel and decadent Red Queen from Mortmesne who has left the Regent in charge. The Regent who is Kelsea’s uncle has hunted widely for her without success and now 19 years later it is time for her return.

On a day known to Barty and Carlin the Queen’s Guard led by hard man Carroll and equally hard man Mace arrive to take Kelsea back to the Capital City New London to claim her throne.

The action starts and it will mesmerise you the reader the way it did me.

Kelsea is a brilliant character. She is straightforward, decisive, tough, human and aware of her destiny and what she must do. As she and her Guard travel though The Tearling she sees the enormity of the task ahead of her but first she must assert herself as Queen and prove her worth to the Guard and to the people.

One of the central themes of this novel is leadership. What does it take to get people to follow you and attract loyalty. Other themes are the gap between rich and poor, corruption, the place of the church and religion and the deviance of human behaviour.

Kelsea and her main man Mace plus a host of astonishingly real characters drive you through this outstanding novel which at times will shock and horrify the reader. But you are on Kelsea’s side all the way.

Senior secondary and young adult. I can’t wait to read the next one.


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