Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead.

July 30, 2015 Comments off

goodbye strangerGoodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead. Pub. Text Publishing, 2015.

Enjoyed reading this novel for Intermediate and High School students but have to concede that it is more likely to appeal to girls rather than boys. Having said that there is much to gain by boys in reading this novel because it is an insight into how female friendships work and how they regard boys.

The heart of the novel revolves around the friendship between Bridge, Tab and Em who have known each other for years but they are now in 7th grade and their lives are changing both in a physical sense and the way they view each other, their parents and of course the great mystery in their lives boys.

Bridge has recovered from a serious accident and has started a friendship with Sherm who is a great male character. Tab is drawn to the feminist way of thinking and Em has developing curves that the older boys are beginning to notice.

The drama surrounds a series of selfies sent by Em to a knockout boy Patrick who has requested a photo of her. She sends him a photo of her foot. Pics continue to change hands until Em sends one of herself in a bra. OMG! Read the rest and find out what happens as things get out of control very quickly.

Told in five parts with each girl and Sherm featured. But there is a mystery character  who writes in a series of chapters headed Valentines Day. Who is it? There are also some minor characters who have great appeal.

Well written with philosophies and metaphors that will turn your head and your mind. Very satisfying read.

Bush Block by Kerry Butler

July 27, 2015 Comments off

bush blockBush Block by Kerry Butler. http://www.wheelers.co.nz

Not the usual type of novel I review on this blog because it is not only about a boy called Joe who grows up after being bullied most of his life and succeeds, but it is a philosophy of life and living a sustainable life on a block of land.

Joe is the youngest boy in his family headed by a violent and drunken father. he is his mother’s favourite and has to wear the tag of mummy’s boy. he learns to fight back and becomes a star rugby player at school. Academic life is not for him he is a boy who works with his hands. he moves onto a farm with his uncle, meets a girl, gets into hunting settles down and as he gets older learns to diversify his life on the land.

A good yarn in a Barry Crump sort of way, some hooray stories especially an involvement with a  gang over growing marijuana on his property. Lots of hunting talk.

Written in a no nonsense third person narrative and aimed at high school students and young adults.

Kerry Butler can be contacted at kb@farmside.co.nz

 

First to the Top by David Hill, Illus. Phoebe Morris.

July 24, 2015 Comments off

first topFirst to the Top by David Hill, Illus. Phoebe Morris. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2015.

At 11.30am on Friday 29 May 1953 Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay stood on the top of Mt Everest, the World’s highest mountain for the first time as part of a British expedition. They stayed there for 15 minutes before making their way down and both climbers left something up there. To find out what they left you will have to read this book.

This is an easy to read picture book sized story for young readers aged pre school to middle school and it is very good.

David Hill is an acclaimed New Zealand author and he tells the story from when Ed was a shy boy with high hopes from Tuakau through to the ascent of Everest and his adventures after the climb. He creates tension in the climb with text in large black font when the only sounds Hillary and Norgay heard were the Hiss of Oxygen, the Moan of the Wind and their Panting breath.

Phoebe Morris debuts as an illustrator and she compliments the text beautifully. From the Kiwi landscape and Ed’s tramping kit and bicycle to the peaks of the Himalayas. There is drama as Norgay saves Ed from a fall in a crevase and when they climb Everst there is menace and danger in the ice and snow around.

Morris captures the Britishness of the climbing expedition with the moustachioed upper lip and binoculars reflecting Ed and Norgay in the lenses, to the Sherlock Holmes pipe of another companion. There is also the serenity in the faces of the Sherpas.

This book is an essential purchase for School libraries and in the home. A good adventure story with drama.

 

 

The Girl Who Rode the Wind by Stacy Gregg.

July 23, 2015 Comments off

girl windThe Girl Who Rode the Wind by Stacy Gregg. Pub. HarperCollins, 2015. I wanted to read this new Stacy Gregg novel over 2/3 days but I couldn’t wait and read it in one day. It is another story of romance, of history of drama and of course it is about girls and horses. Formulaic the novels may seem but they all have their own individual flavour that says read me.

Lola is 12 years old and she lives near New York’s Aqueduct racetrack. All her family are involved in horse racing and she herself is a gutsy rider who loves horses. Lola goes back to Italy with her Nonna who fled Italy after World War 2 and has never been back. Nonna came from the beautiful city of Siena where every 16th August they run the Palio around the dirt cover cobblestones of the main piazza of Siena. It is the roughest horse race in the world competed for by the 17 Contrada or districts of Siena with names like Wolf, Porcupine and Giraffe. Winning is more important than life and death.

Lola meets a boy who works for a stable that trains the Palio horses and also meets Nico a wild powerful horse who she rides every day. But there is much history to get through before the Palio.

Nonna was known as Scavezzecolla when she was  a young girl because she was a fierce rider who had competed in the Palio. She has a story of murder and romance in Facist Italy to tell Lola that she told to no-one and needs to get out. Secrets are to be revealed.

Stunningly written by Stacy Gregg who continues to write horse stories that are thrilling but I have always been a succour for romance. Teenage and pre teen readers have much to enjoy in this novel.

Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee.

July 21, 2015 Comments off

watchmanGo Set A Watchman by Harper Lee. Pub. William Heinemann: London 2015.

I just had to read this novel and put in my 2 bobs worth because To kill A Mockingbird was one of my favourite childhood novels and because early publicity about this novel suggested Atticus Finch was a racist. Bullshit!!!

Atticus Finch is now 72 years old and suffers from arthritis. He still lives in Maycomb Junction with his sister Alexandra who is a real star of this novel. He practices law as he always will, sits on the town council and still upholds justice. He can still hold an argument, stand up for his principles and has  a sharp sense of humour. When Scout or Jean Louise is found to have swum in the river with her intended Henry and it is suspected that it was in the nude, Atticus retorts “I hope she wasn’t swimming on her back”.

Jean Louise now 26 years, returns on holiday after living 2 years in New York where life is open and things that would horrify citizens of Maycomb, go unnoticed. Jean Louise has put Atticus up on a pedestal because of her childhood and the only place for him to go is down.

The world is changing for race relationships in America with the Civil Rights Movement taking off faster in some areas than it is in the South. Jean Louise attends a Council meeting chaired by Atticus and her intended Henry and a rank redneck speaker charges against desegregation and talks nigger this and nigger that. Jean Louise is physically sick.

Confrontation between Jean Louise and Atticus is inevitable and as Atticus would say absolutely necessary. He has brought Scout up to be her own person and that she surely is. Their confrontation is stunning, an inter-generation barney that is unforgettable and one that lifts this novel from more than a sequel to Mockingbird and into a stand alone classic on it’s own.

Bob Dylan a decade later wrote”get out of the new world if you can’t then you’re damned cos the times they are a’changing”. Not everyone moves at the same pace with Maycomb and old age being well behind New York and youth. but it is the words of Atticus that define this novel for me “Hypocrites have just as much right to live in this world as anybody”. Go ahead cast the first stone.

Don’t miss this book.

The Big book of Animals of the World by Ole Konnecke.

July 15, 2015 Comments off

animals worldThe Big book of Animals of the World by Ole Konnecke. Pub. Gecko Press, 2015.

A big board book that can take the knocks and anything a child can inflict on it except fire. it is by the same author that gave us You Can Do it Bert reviewed earlier on this blog.

The book concentrates on the animal life, both known and not so well known, on each of the continents and in the oceans of the world with only a solitary penguin on the Antarctic shore.

A doublre page spread shows some of the physical characteristics of each continent and environment with some of the animals drawn and named with the eyes being a feature. There are animals that we hardly know like the pelican eel, Baird’s tapir and the secretary bird.

There are other little events going on too, generally by little mice who act as humans. These little gems will attract inquisitive children and further stories can emerge. The only written text is the names of the animals.

At the end there is a map of the world to show where everything fits.

Altogether a superb book that should find a place both in the home and in a school library.

Hello World by Paul Beavis.

July 14, 2015 Comments off

hello worldHello World by Paul Beavis. Pub. Gecko Press, 2015.

Mrs Mo’s monster has been tamed but his spirit is still lively. He now resides in a tidy attic with a semblance of order while Mr and Mrs Mo are painting the house red.

Monster is still blue with three broken teeth in his mouth and his thin hairy arms still direct play. But he is bored and wants to go on an adventure. Mrs Mo suggests tomorrow so monster loads up his bag and off he goes dropping stuff all along the way like Hansel and Gretel.

Soon he is lost as he tries to find a big hill to climb. Mrs Mo has adopted a motherly concern for monster and in her modest school marmish skirt, blouse and sensible shoes she follows monster picking up his belongings as she goes.

Together they climb the hill, look out on their world and say hello.

Simple yet detailed illustrations and the right amount of written text. My granddaughters loved it and so will you.

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