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.

Waterfall by Lauren Kate.

April 17, 2015 Comments off

waterfallWaterfall by Lauren Kate. Pub. Random House, 2014.

Enjoyed reading this fantasy for High school students and Young Adults from the author of the Fallen Series, but it has a mighty complicated plot. At the heart of the plot is the question of what if love does not conquer all but is bad for you and destructive to the whole world?

Eureka is a beauty she is in love with Brooks but her mother never told her what her tears would do to the World. When Atlas, the evil ruler of the Sleeping World which hides the lost continent of Atlantis, possesses Brooks and causes Eureka to shed tears, her tears cause devastating floods that all but destroy the world and it’s inhabitants.

Only two tears have fallen with the third being trapped and frozen and held by a former Seedbearer, Ander, and later Solon. If the tear falls Atlantis will rise again but if it doesn’t before the full moon the chance will have passed. The Seedbearers are powerful people but if they fall in love the love weakens and ages them. Ander is in love with Eureka.

The trouble is Eureka is all over the shop still carrying strong feelings for Brooks who is still possessed by Atlas and also carrying feelings for Ander who tells her she must confront Atlas before the new moon and end his evil ways forever. Will she do it?

See what I mean about complicated? I enjoyed it and so will fans of Lauren Kate. It is well written, it is sad, it is exciting and it tugs at your heart.

Help! The Wolf is Coming by Ramadier & Bourgeau.

April 13, 2015 Comments off

help wolf comingHelp! The Wolf is Coming by Ramadier & Bourgeau. Imprint Gecko Press, 2015.

There is something about wolves that makes them come and get you and this boardbook for pre school and juniors is one of them

However it does have an added ingredient in that it is interactive. As the wolf tries to come and get you, the reader can tilt the book to make him fall and shake the book to turn him upside down. great fun.

Illustrated in three basic colours, yellow for the sky, green for the ground and black for the wolf with the written text in red and yellow. This boardbook is as is simple and as exciting as it gets.

Don’t forget to shut the book at the end or the wolf will get you. my grand daughters laughed with delight and wanted me to read it again and again as long as they could tilt and shake the book.

Categories: Picture book Tags: ,

Squishy Squashy Birds by Carl van Wijk & Alicia Munday.

April 12, 2015 Comments off

squishy birdsSquishy Squashy Birds by Carl van Wijk & Alicia Munday. Pub. Potton & Burton, 2015.

How come the birds are all squishy and Squashy I asked myself? Well they are in a book titled Endangered Birds of New Zealand and the book is in Sammy’s backpack.

He takes the book to school as part of show and tell, opens the book and all these wondrous birds gets out. There is the Takahe,  Toroa, Hoiho, Kakapo, Kiwi, Tieke and Kokako and they are all featured on a page by themselves in splendid colour and detail by Carl van Wijk.

Meant as means to highlight New Zealand’s endangered birds with a small pen portrait of each bird in the back of the book.

Great for school libraries and for children in their own home. My granddaughters pawed over it and it was a way in to this important subject.

The King and the Sea by Heinz Janisch, illus. Wolf Erlbruch.

April 11, 2015 Comments off

king seaThe King and the Sea by Heinz Janisch, illus. Wolf Erlbruch. Imprint gecko Press, 2015.

A sophisticated picture book from Germany that  describes itself as 21 very short stories. It is that alright, but it has tremendous depth and crayon and water colour illustrations that raise it above the norm.

The King is the main character and he relates to many things – the sea,, a cat, his own shadow, the rain and finally the Book and other Kings.

We have all met those that think they are born to rule, Corporate management and politics are full of them. The King is one of these and in the little interactions he has, are about testing his assumptions about himself. He is in for a surprise and by the end of the book he comes away with a different point of view.

I loved the crayon drawing of the king with his golden crown, his red nose, surly mouth and resigned blue line that is his one eye. All very relevant to his character. At the end he tosses his crown on the sand and plunges into the sea with a contented look. He is a mere mortal after all. Aren’t we all?

The Ghosts of Young Nick’s Head by Sue Copsey.

April 10, 2015 Comments off

ghost nicks headThe Ghosts of Young Nick’s Head by Sue Copsey. Pub. Pear Jam Books, 2011.

If you stand by the door of a dank room, in a very old house, and your dog starts whimpering and won’t go in, chances are it is haunted by a ghost.

Joe and Eddy who are on holiday at an old house on the historical headland of Young Nick’s Head find that this statement is true. On the day they arrive with Joe’s parents, a wild storm erupts causing a power cut and they hear a strange knock on the door from an old man who gives then candles to light up the house.

The next day they are saved by the same man when they are trapped by the tide in some caves below Young Nick’s head. Who is this man?

When they find the name Tom carved into the bed in the haunted bedroom they decide to research the history of the house at the local library. With the help of the librarian Baz, they uncover the mystery of a boy named Tom who fell from a cliff during a storm in which a ship was wrecked. Was Tom’s  father involved because he was suspected of being a smuggler and ship wrecker in the 1890’s?

When the boys find the words GO HOME written in blood in the Harry Potter novel being read by Eddie  they tell their story to Baz and Joe’s parents and things turn sinister.

Will a TV programe on which Joe and Eddie appear find a solution to this historical ghost story and put Tom’s ghost to rest? How many other ghosts are there and are they connected to each other? Read it and find out.

Ghost stories and mysteries are rare these days especially those with a New Zealand historical connection. This is a good one for primary and intermediate students. I was particularly impressed with the research skills shown by the two boys Eddie and Joe and the use of old books in the library.



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