Flying Free Stories and Where they come from by Adrienne M Frater.

May 25, 2015 Comments off

flying freeFlying Free Stories and Where they come from by Adrienne M Frater. Atawhai Press, 2015.

This book of just over 200 pages is not just a good collection of short stories it is an insight into how one writer goes about getting her ideas to write about. Before each short story Adrienne Frater addresses the reader with how the story grew from her own experience with the world.

Often she proffers very good advice to a budding writer such as ” stories are rather like a patchwork quilt – a little from here a little from there. Some of it is true and some of it not” and in each new story I live in my character’s skin for a while….and “when I read other people’s stories I become their main character too”.

The 25 short stories are very good too. I read the book in one sitting it was such compelling reading with  a strong New Zealand flavour. The characters and the circumstances they get into are as Kiwi as Richie McCaw.

There are stories about sailing, a soap box derby, Opo the friendly dolphin, a whale stranding in Golden Bay, getting pierced ears and my favourite about Lulu a confident girl who goes to a new school.

Many of these stories have been road tested  on Radio NZ and in the old School Journal. Well worth a read for 7-14 year olds.

A self published work. Adrienne can be contacted at  amgk,

The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones by Will Mabbitt, illus Ross Collins.

May 20, 2015 Comments off

mabel jonesThe Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones by Will Mabbitt, illus Ross Collins. Pub.Puffin 2015.

If you pick your nose and eat it, don’t get caught. Mabel Jones gets spotted by Idyryss Ebenezer Split the crusty captain of the pirate ship The Feroshus Maggot and is bagged by Omynus Hussh and taken to the weird world of the Seven Seas.

The other pirates are not happy about having a girl on board but when the Captain discovers she can read  he sets her a task of finding all the pieces of a broken X which he tells her is the keyhole to getting her back home. But what else is it for?

Mabel says fine and sets about tracking down some weird characters and creatures who have to be relieved of their bit of X. This is not an easy task and requires daring and ingenuity from the feisty Mabel in the strange world.

There is a map in the front and the plot is told with a variety of fonts and the excellent illustrations of Ross Collins.

Good easy reading from a new author for reluctant readers and lots of cleverness with the tale of Moby Dick and other classics.

For primary and intermediate readers.

The Uncooperative Flying Carpet by Michele Clark McConnochie

May 15, 2015 Comments off

sabrinaThe Uncooperative Flying Carpet by Michele Clark McConnochie.  2015.

This clever, witty, imaginative novel is a self published work and is Saga 1 from a series titled The Strange Sagas of Sabrina Summers.

The father of Sabrina and Rory marries Bridget Bishop, a woman he met on the Internet, on a Friday 13th June. While they like her they think she is up to something strange and so they follow her one day with Sabrina’s friend Persis. By some magical spell they are transported into the magic land of Dralfynia (an anagram of Fairyland) along with Clyde, a horse and Olive a rich girl who is Sabrina’s enemy at school(she was barfing over the fence at the time)

In Dralfynia Sabrina resembles Rapunzel, Rory Ali Baba, Persis, Red Riding Hood, Olive, Cinderella and Clyde a unicorn. Interesting you say? It’s all part of the cleverness of this tale.

Dralfynia is a magic land in turmoil as the King and Queen have stood down to live ordinary lives and their son, The Beast with 9 fingers has taken over in cahoots with goblins and Witchy Wu a nasty witch who lives in a gingerbread house. The true leader is the princess who has disappeared for 14 years. I can tell you no more you will have to read it to find out and you will not be disappointed.

Very well written in concise language and divided into 63 chapters of 2/3 pages each. You can pick it up and read for ten minutes then come back but you won’t it is too exciting for that.

Believable fantasy and behind it all is a sharp sense of humour that even adults will appreciate.

A book that demands to be read aloud to children from 8 – 13 years old.

The Map Maker Chronicles: Prisoner of the Black Hawk by A.L. Tait.

May 12, 2015 Comments off

prisoner black hawkThe Map Maker Chronicles: Prisoner of the Black Hawk by A.L. Tait. Pub. Lothian, 2015.

Part 2 of the Mapmaker Chronicles it tells of a race to map the known world by three ships whose crews and captains will do anything to be the first to accomplish this feat. The rewards for winning are crucial for all three ships.

The Libertas is at the centre of the story with a captain named Zain who is an ex slave and is disrespected by the other two captains. On board each ship is a mapmaker and they are all known to each other and have professional rivalries and jealousies. On the Libertas the mapmaker is Quinn Freeman who is outstanding and he has another skill that you will have to read the book to find out what it is.

Also on the Libertas is Ash, a girl who is passing herself off as a boy. She is smart and fearless and holds Quinn as her best friend. Will she be found out?

As the race proceeds skulduggery and treachery are aplenty and of course there are pirates who have so much gold they have painted their teeth with it.

This novel is a ripping good yarn for primary and intermediate students who love action and adventure set at a time when everybody thinks the Earth is flat and that a dragon is waiting to devour you if you go over the edge.

Great reading. I can’t wait till book 3 titled Breath of the Dragon which is due in October this year.

Kiwis at War: 1915 Wounds of War by Diana Menefy.

May 9, 2015 Comments off

1915 wounds of warKiwis at War: 1915 Wounds of War by Diana Menefy.  Pub. Scholastic, 2015.

This excellent novel is part 2 of a series on World War 1 and it is essentially the nurses story of the first full year of the war from Gallipoli to the first anniversary in 1916. Diana Menefy brilliantly portrays the war with descriptions that will have you gasping in horror. Nobody should have to go through this.

Nurses brought a degree of humanity to the horrors of war but they were as unprepared for war as were the soldiers and indeed the army and the politicians who decided the war was necessary.

It is essentially the story of cousins Harriet and Mel who served in Egypt and on the hospital ship Maheno as the thousands of wounded soldiers were taken out of ANZAC Cove and repaired with the most basic of techniques. That so many survived was short of a miracle. It was a time without anti-biotics and the nurses and doctors were overwhelmed by the carnage that war produced.

Towards the end of the novel Ellie a nurse friend of Harriet makes the statement “I reckon that if the papers told the truth about the war no-one would come and they would have to call the whole thing off”.

Also evident in the novel is the growing New Zealand nationalism. Kiwis wanted to be with Kiwis and they had an intense dislike of the British- “the idiots in charge can’t admit that they’ve been defeated by the Turks” and “a man’s life is worth nothing to them”.

A little known fact that I picked up is that soldiers often wore their shorts inside out as lice infested the seams.

This is a winner as was the first book in the series. The nurses and the soldiers need to be remember for their incredible bravery not for the stupidity of the politicians and top brass who ran the war.

When I am Happiest by Rose Lagercrantz Illus Eva Eriksson

May 6, 2015 Comments off

when I am happiestWhen I am Happiest by Rose Lagercrantz Illus Eva Eriksson. Pub. Gecko Press, 2015.

The third in this series about Dani who confronts the real world with a positive attitude. Following on from My Happy Life and My heart is Laughing, Dani is a role model for little girls.

This time when she is wondering when she was this happy her dad is hurt seriously in a car accident. She goes to live with her grandparents and is given great support by her classmates.

Told in simple language for early and newly confident readers, with short chapters and outstanding illustrations from Eva Eriksson. She captures the moment very well with simple yet perceptive pencil drawings.

It is a story of sorrow and joy but the bully girls Vicky and Mickey get in on the c=act and Dani’s best friend Ella is still a big part of Dani’s life.

I can’t speak highly enough of these lovely stories.

Categories: Junior Fiction Tags: , ,

Travels of an Extraordinary Hamster by Astrid Desbordes. Illus. Pauline Martin

April 30, 2015 Comments off

travels hampsterTravels of an Extraordinary Hamster by Astrid Desbordes. Illus. Pauline Martin. Pub. Gecko Press, 2015.

Your going to love this fully coloured chapter book told entirely in pictures with speech bubbles. It is from France and is about a totally self obsessed Hamster and his wonderful friends. Without his friends hamster would be lost.

In the first 3 page chapter Hamster’s friends, mole, hedgehog, rabbit, squirrel, bear and snail, invite him to join them for a snack and a chat. Hamster can do without a chat but takes a snack away for himself. Don’t you just love people like that? But somehow you love him just as hamster’s friends do.

They are all invited by polar bear to visit him on his ice floe, so they leave their cosy clearing with the reluctant hamster for a holiday. Nothing changes hamster he is consistently anal.

Splendidly illustrated by Pauline Martin who captures the character of all the animals with simple colourful drawings with expressive eyes.

This book is for everyone but essentially an early reader for primary school children. You will not be surprised to learn that Astrid Desbordes studied philosophy.


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