Azizi and the Little Blue Bird by Laila Koubaa & Mattias De Leeuw.

November 30, 2015 Comments off

azizi blue birdAzizi and the Little Blue Bird by Laila Koubaa & Mattias De Leeuw. Pub. Book Island. 2015.

A mystical fairytale from the land of the crescent moon with a culture much different from our own, yet the problems found by the people of this culture are universal. Such books are valuable as they bring us together because of the sameness that all peoples of the world have which are often ignored or brushed over by the Media and by politicians.

It begins with young boy, Azizi, relaxing in an orange tree in a country that still exists today. There are palm trees and camels and the blue bird is a special bird. Azizi’s father is forcibly hanging portraits of the two tyrants Tih and Reni on his living room wall while the tyrants gorge themselves silly off the fat of the land at the expense of their people. not only that they have captured all the bluebirds in the land and imprisoned them in the palace thus depriving the people of a thing of beauty.

Then a blue dird escapes, flies through the window of Azizi’s house and together they bring freedom to their land. Impressive stuff.

Pen and ink illustrations are combined with pastel colours to create and Arabic world and show the bloated leaders in contrast to the ordinary people. A hopeful ending.

A sophisticated picture book that demands discussion. Written on several levels from junior story to deeper cultural, economic and political issues.

Categories: Picture book Tags:

The Umbrella by Ingrid & Dieter Schubert

November 29, 2015 Comments off

umbrellaThe Umbrella by Ingrid & Dieter Schubert. Pub. Book Island, 2015.

There is always something special about a wordless picture book because the story is always the readers interpretation or imagination. They are great to use in teaching English as a second language because the reader can use all the words they know and learn a few more.

This story is simply a small dog who finds a red umbrella, gets caught in a big wind and travels around the world through all environments and finds himself back home wiser but glad to be there. The ending is a surprise as the mantle is handed over to another unknowing suspect.

Each double paged spread is a delight. African animals in which crocodiles are a stand out, a seascape with an impressive whale, turtles wondering what a dog is doing with a red umbrella, seals clapping at the wonder of it all, polar bear cub and mother startled at what they see and a weary yet happy dog as he arrives home to pass on the buck.

Ezceptional picture book. If you don’t get this you are mad or broke.

Samoan Heroes by David Riley illus. Michel Mulipola

November 27, 2015 Comments off

samoan heroesSamoan Heroes by David Riley illus. Michel Mulipola. Pub. 2015

Every culture needs it’s heroes and role models to be known and in a multi cultural society like New Zealand each culture needs to have equal value so that all can become one culture. This book of Samoan heroes and role models both male and female is combined with Samoan history and myth and legend to render a very accessible and readable publication. So often subjects such as this are too academic or too long winded to be of use of the students who want to use them. Not this book which I regard as an essential purchase for school libraries and even for the home.

Some of the people you will meet are sports heroes Tana Umaga, Davis Tua, Troy Polamalu, Luisa Avaiki and the kava king Ruben Wiki.

Legens include Tagaloalagi and the first Samoans, Ti’iti’i and the discovery of fire and Losi and how the taro came to Samoa.

Of real interest to me  was the story of Leader of the Mau Tupua Tamasese Lealofi III who was a peaceful demonstrator before the better known Ghandi and Martin Luther King. It also reveals the disgraceful behaviour of the NZ Govt during the peaceful Mau protests in Apia in 1929.

You will not be disappointed in this book I wish I had had it to use when I worked for the national Library.



Categories: Non Fiction Tags: ,

Jammin’ with Steven Adams; off Loading Sonny Bill Williams; & Steppin’ with Benji Marshall by David Riley

November 24, 2015 Comments off

Jammin’ with Steven Adams; off Loading with Sonny Bill Williams; & Steppin’ with Benji Marshall by David Riley

These three tittles are for reluctant boy readers who are into sport and need to read for their own good. Steven Adams, Sonny Bill Williams and Benji Marshall are three admirable role models for boys and their stories from boyhood to superstars are mapped out in these books in short information bites with photographs, facts, aspirations, hopes and achievements of all three. All three are of Polynesian origin and the value of their cultural roots is stressed by all of them. They are easy to read, interesting and inspiring and would be a valuable asset and resource in any school library particularly at High school.

steven adamsJammin’ With Steven Adams.

Raised in Rotorua from a Tongan mother and 7 foot English father he had a hard childhood and was fortunate to be taken by his half brother Warren to wellington to be educated at Scots College and set his goal of becoming an NBL basketballer.

His Tongan culture was valuable to him and he quickly realised that education and reading were more important than basketball. At 2.13 metres tall and a hand size bigger than Shaquille O’Neill, Steven’s progress from schoolboy player to Saints, Pittsburgh University and NBL draft top 12 and so to Oklahoma City Thunder is a thrilling story.


sonny billOff Loading with Sonny Bill Williams.

While injured in his early days with the Bulldogs Sonny Bill asked what he was to do and given the job of scrubbing all the bird poo from Bulldogs stadium seats. It made him humble one of his greatest traits. His Samoan heritage is sacred to him and his respect for fellow players is to be admired

A man of impressive stature and strength he was the youngest  forward for the Kiwis ever at 18years. A drink driving charge while at the Bulldogs changed him forever “my body feels better without alcohol”. A player who continually learns his skills as a player  are second to none. The tattoo on his leg took 8 hours and the one on his arms 18 hours, and they hurt.

benji marshallSteppin’ With Benji Marshall.

Not a big man like the above two men and more prone to injury. But he was tough, had a sidestep that left p[layers groping, a magnificent pass and the speed of a Gazelle. he won a World Cup with the kiwis and a Four nations Cup both times beating Australia against the odds. A genius at League.

In 2005 he wore the same undies in every game with stunning success, he played touch for Australia Secondary schools and puts his speed and fleet footedness down to dancing. At school he loved Maths and he too treasures his Maori heritage.


You will not get three better short books on such great New Zealand sportsman than these three.


Dinosaur Mac’s Discovery by Erin Feasey, illus. Gabriella Klepatski

November 22, 2015 Comments off

dinosaur MacDinosaur Mac’s Discovery by Erin Feasey, illus. Gabriella Klepatski. Pub. Mary Egan Publishing, 2015.

His name is Mac – Dinosaur Mac. he does everything all children do including reading I am pleased to say, but he is different. Mac has DMD or Duchenne muscular dystropphy.

Mac’s muscles get tired easily and his balance is tested but it doesn’t stop him. He loves dinosaurs and wears a dinosaur tail everywhere he goes. This is his story as he slowly graduates to a wheelchair but nothing stops his enthusiasm nor does it stop the positive caring attitude of his family and friends.

Lots of positives about this picture book which are amplified by Gabriella Klepatski’s  simple and poignant illustrations. There is a smile on every face and enjoyment oozes through the pages even when Mac is having his blood tests.

A great read-a-loud for junior and senior primary students.

This is a special picture book so if you want a copy visit Dinosaur Mac’s Discovery on Facebook or contact the publisher. You will not regret it

No More Heroes by Michelle Kan

November 17, 2015 Comments off

no more heroesNo More Heroes by Michelle Kan. Fish and Swallow Publications, 2015.

As I was reading this self published novel I kept thinking that it was the sort of topic that is often the theme of graphic novels or comics. It is told mainly at night, in the lawless city in which the heroes and villains compete with each other freerunning and using martial arts. Almost a Ninja culture in the western city.

It is about kids with Abilities. Each ability emerges in the teenage years and is hard to master. At night it gives the teenagers high energy and an urge to fight crime or something. Good values.

This is about three new teenagers with Abilities, Clare, Linus and Mallory but Mallory fears she is losing hers. They discover that there already exists a crime fighting group called the Vigilantes with names like Fistcuffs, Resonace and Shockwave.

The trouble is a bunch of guys in hoods with a black dog are picking off the Vigilantes. Could this be related to the arrival in town of a Pop musician. You will have to read the novel to find out.

The descriptive language and street action are strong points of this novel and it will appeal to those who like superhero type stories especially high school students and young adults.

There is one glaring grammatical fault in which the author does not seem to comprehend when to use the pronouns their, they and them which are plurals instead of him, his and her which are for individuals. It seems a small point but it will drive English teachers to despair.

Crossing the Line by Luis Suarez with Peter Jenson & Sid Lowe

November 6, 2015 Comments off

suarezCrossing the Line by Luis Suarez with Peter Jenson & Sid Lowe. Pub. Headline, 2014.

Football is one of my passions. I follow everything about the game. When handed this book on Luis Suarez, I thought do I really want to know about a guy who bit 3 players during games, deliberately handballed to stop Ghana getting into the semi finals of the World Cup and was accused of being a racist after calling Patrick Evra a Negro in a game against Manchester United.

The guy who gave me the book was a Liverpool supporter and I though aye aye, but my interest was kindled. I thought the book was fantastic it gave me insights into the character of Luis Suarez and about the way football is played all over the World. He played at the top in Uruguay, Holland, England and Spain and now plays alongside Messi at Barcelona.

The overwhelming opinion that comes over about Suarez is that he is a family man and lays the reasons for his success to his wife Sofi whom he met when she was 13yrs and he 15 years. She is always there for him and is his best and harshest critic. She keeps his feet on the ground, he is not flash, doesn’t squander his money and is not a womaniser.

Secondly Suarez is a nonstop competitor who plays with passion and instinct. Everything he does on the paddock he does instinctively whether is is scoring a goal, handling the ball or biting a player. He feels responsibility, tries to lead from the front and these pressures cause him to do unforgiveable things. Suarez does not try to exonerate himself, he knows he has done unforgiveable things. He leaves nothing out.

If you want to read about passion in football read the chapter when 25 years after Hillsborough Liverpool were chasing the Premier league Title and drew 3-3 with Crystal Palace after leading 3-0. You can feel the emotion. It is all about pressure. It is what made Suarez do what he did.

Great reading for anyone who wants to compete at the top. The chapter on how to handle the money especially when you are young and the pressures on players when everybody wants to know you, is exceptional. I don’t believe everything he has to say about his actions but I sort of liked the guy by the end of the book.


Categories: Non Fiction, Young Adult Tags:

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