Pele. The Autobiography.

September 23, 2017 Comments off

pele.jpgPele. The Autobiography. Pub. Pocket books, 2007.

No other footballer has commanded the respect and adulation that Pele has yet he is the most humble of characters and enjoyed an almost injury free career. He played at four World Cups, scored 1283 goals and played for Santos, Brazil and New York Cosmos.

He worked for player rights in Brazil, married twice and sired seven children. He was World Ambassador for the United Nations, took the “beautiful game” (a phrase he coined) to America and the man who had Mohammed Ali say when they met “two legends together”.

How did he do all that from the slums of Bauru in Central west Brazil? Well read it and find out, it is riveting.

He was a deeply religious man but erroneously attributed his skills to god at a time when everything a young man wanted to do was considered a sin. It was practice, dedication and a strong body that made him a good footballer. He was only 5ft 9 inches tall but astonishingly good in the air. He mastered the art of keeping the ball under control close to his body and was very fast.

About his footballing ability he said this “people assume that because I scored so many goals that I was an out and out striker. But  I never was. I was an attacking mid fielder, a deep lying centre forward”. He also has some advice about the media -“before a game never read the newspaper or listen to the radio and TV”

An entertaining read that is his own story. When he met and played against George Best as the king of football, Best said to him “what kind of king are you? you don’t smoke or drink”. Well Pele is still alive. I saw him play once and he scored for Santos against Fulham at Craven Cottage but they lost 2-1. The great Bobby Moore also played.

The Thunderbolt Pony by Stacy Gregg.

September 21, 2017 Comments off

thunderbolt ponyThe Thunderbolt Pony by Stacy Gregg. Pub. HarperCollins, 2017.

If you are a fan of Stacy Gregg’s horse and girl stories then I don’t need to tell you how good this latest novel is. If not read and learn.

Evie has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, OCD as a result of severe trauma caused by the Canterbury and Kaikoura Earthquakes. She takes responsibility on board and feels responsible for the aftershocks unless she goes through a number of routines. Of course this is nonsense but the sense of anxiety for Evie is real.

When Evie’s house is destroyed by the Kaikoura earthquake and her mother is airlifted out with a broken leg and pelvis, Evie travels through the earthquake ravaged land between Parnassus and Kaikoura to meet the naval ship HMS Canterbury.

Her companions on this journey are her Arab pony Gus, her border collie Jock and her Cornish red cat Moxy. They are a tight group with the animals just as traumatised by the earthquakes and aftershocks as Evie is.

The journey is riveting, dramatic and accurately described by Stacy Gregg. I lived through the Canterbury earthquakes and aftershocks and remember the roar they gave and the shaking which will stay with me forever.

It is said that 4 out of every 5 children who experienced the quakes still have anxiety disorders and Stacy Gregg analyses this traumatic effect on children through Evie’s OCD. Evie has to understand that it is not her fault and with the help of a therapist and her animals she comes to terms with it.

References to the heroes of the Greek legends make for an interesting link up.

Stacy Gregg’s other titles are reviewed elsewhere on this blog.

Annual 2. A New Zealand Miscellany edited by Kate De Goldi & Susan Paris.

September 18, 2017 Comments off

annual 2Annual 2. A New Zealand Miscellany edited by Kate De Goldi & Susan Paris. Imprint Annual Ink. Distributed, Potton & Burton, 2017.

Reading this book made me very happy. I smiled all the way through it and in parts laughed out loud. What’s more it is totally New Zealand and although aimed at the 9-13 year olds, it really is for everybody.

It is loosely based on the annual type compilations that appeared through the 50’s and 60’s but it is better than that, there is a bit of depth about the subject matter and the means of delivery.

It has stories, essays, interviews, poems, comics, a song by Bic Runga, a recipe, a game and art works. Wait there is more, it is full of ideas for any young writer to get inspiration from and it is totally brilliant.

To give you an example one article looks at a community notice board that you will find in a supermarket or library. Folk offering services or requesting help. It then creates communication between the different players whether by design or accident, via email or texting by cell phone. The results are hilarious.

The article that really tickled me was titled Never say Goodbye: The Art of taxidermy. Tongue is firmly placed in the cheek.

Just loved it. You will too. Look at the part story of an old NZ classic, Barry Faville’s The Keeper – just superb.

 

Up The River. New Zealand’s Rivers, Lakes & Wetlands by Gillian Candler & Ned Barraud.

September 14, 2017 Comments off

up the riverUp The River. New Zealand’s Rivers, Lakes & Wetlands by Gillian Candler & Ned Barraud. Pub. Potton & Burton, 2017.

The latest in the Explore & Discover series from these two writers this time about our waterways and wetlands and incidentally an election issue in New Zealand concerning the purity of our water systems and our pure green image.

The concern in this non fiction work is to show the plant, insect, fish and other animal life in a down water ride from mountain to sea. It shows the balance in the natural world, the water cycle and the threats to plants and animals in the system from farm waste and other pollutants.

It is still essentially a nature study and Ned Barraud’s digital and other illustrations highlight the amazing natural world of the water systems.

Another essential purchase for school libraries, no web page can cover the ground as well as this publication. Others in this series are reviewed on this blog.

Watch Out for the Weka by Ned Barraud.

September 14, 2017 Comments off

watch wekaWatch Out for the Weka by Ned Barraud. Pub. Potton & Burton, 2017.

A delightful picture book about one of New Zealand’s other native birds that have personality and brighten up our lives. The weka which is very much like a brown bush chicken.

My family and I used to camp at Totaranui in the Able Tasman National Park in the 80’s and 90’s. At first we saw many of them then less and less until hardly ever. It was a shame. they were a cheeky bird that would go into your tent an forage.

The weka in this book has a scurrilous look and likes shiny things. The hut ranger gets embarrassed in his altogether when chasing a weka that has nicked his watch. But the weka hasn’t finished yet. read it and see what happens.

Superb digital illustrations of the Able Tasman particularly Awaroa Inlet and the beach bought by ordinary New Zealanders. The weka is classic.

The Wonderling by Mira Bartok.

September 11, 2017 Comments off

WonderlingThe Wonderling by Mira Bartok. Pub. Walker books, 2017.

Every now and then  there is published a book that raises the bar in Children and Young adult literature. This is such a book.

There is nothing new in  characters going through total misery in their quest to find out who they are or in the fact that the strong will dominate the weak. What is unique about this novel is in the superb way in which the story is told and in the richness of the language used.

The character who we learn later as the Wonderling was not always called this. He was abandoned at a young age with the number 13 on a metal disc around his neck which becomes his first name. He is a fox like creature with one ear and only 3 feet tall who is put in The Home for abandoned creatures run by a Dahlesque character Miss Clementine Carbunkle who feels hard done by.

The Home is a Dickensian type establishment where ill treatment of inmates is a daily occurrence. Number 13 barely survives until he saves a kiwi type bird creature named Trinket who masterminds his escape into the wild world to find out his identity.

His task is fraught with danger as he makes his way to Lumentown where danger lurks in every corner. He is driven by a love of music and knows that in music there is the answer to where he comes from. He is determined even when he is forced to hide in the underground city of Gloomintown from which there is no escape. See how he gets on.

Superbly written in three parts with maps and excellent sketches of all the characters. You will feel every emotion as you read this novel, you cannot help but become involved.

For fantasy/adventure readers from primary through to secondary. You will love it.

Emily, the Dreadfuls, and the Dead Skin Gang by Bill Nagelkerke.

September 6, 2017 Comments off

emily dreadfulEmily, the Dreadfuls, and the Dead Skin Gang by Bill Nagelkerke. Pub. 2017.

This is a crafty story and ‘Dreadful” in the nicest possible way. It is for primary school readers and it is concerned with burglars, gangs, dead skin and friendship.

Emily is learning to write with her uncle Raymond who is staying until his new house is finished. The crafty bit comes as Emily learns that writers can draw their ideas and inspiration from people and events that are around them.

When burglars make an impact around Emily’s neighbourhood by dumping dust down the chimney and stealing during the chaos, Emily gets an idea for a story. When school friendships get strained over the formation of two gangs, Emily writes a story concurrent with the plot, but you will have to read the book to find out what happens.

The two stories merge with each other and there is lots of dead skin and Dreadful happenings.

Available from online suppliers after 17 September 2017