Snow Ghost by Tony Mitton, illus. Diana Mayo. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2020.

December 5, 2020 Comments off

Snow Ghost in the image of a pretty young girl comes “shimmering out of the air searching for somewhere to settle…but where?’

The lights of the town do not hold much hope, nor does the dense tangled wood or the top of the hill with it’s chilly winds. Suddenly there is a farmer with two children playing in the snow. Is this the place? Check it out and see what happens.

Simple descriptive text, peacefully told and illustrations that make you as cold as the winter and as warm as the children in their play.

Harmony and belonging is what it is all about.

Ideal for the Christmas that is upon us, at least in the Northern hemisphere.

Categories: Picture book Tags: , ,

The Grinny Granny Donkey by Craig Smith, illus. by Katz Cowley. Pub. Scholastic, 2020.

December 4, 2020 Comments off

Grinny Granny is the son of Wonky, the donkey with the artificial leg that has taken the World by storm.

Granny has false teeth and they keep falling out, she also plays the banjo and loves to dunk her biscuits in he favourite brew. When she meets her grandson she is over the moon. Lovely.

Craig Smith has again written a song that you can download and his lyrics build on the things granny does, like clinky and clunky so that the song gets longer as it goes on. It is delightful like the other two books in this series.

Katz Cowley’s illustrations capture the eccentric granny beautifully and her love for her grandson and son Wonky is all over her face.

A great sing-a-long and gift for Xmas.

Christmas in Summer by Suzy Cato & Itty Bitty Beats. Illus. Carla Martell. Pub. Scholastic, 2020.

December 3, 2020 Comments off

Christmas in NZ does not fit the northern hemispheres portrayal of santa in the snow with his reindeer.

Down here “Christmas in summer it’s always a stunner, the children they laugh and they play”. This refrain is oft repeated through the story and the music can be downloaded or streamed. It is a catchy tune.

A typical beach scene – Santa enters on a surf board with presents and the reindeer sunbath in deck chairs. All sorts of family fun goes on, a picnic is held and santa gets tucked into the last of the pav.

Loads of fun for juniors and guess what two words appear at the end of the story? Check it and find out.

Bright coloured illustrations with smiling faces and xmas joy.

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A Baa-rilliant Adventure with Rumbly, Tumbly & Woolly by Jennifer Somervell, Illus.Zerika van Jaarsveld. Pub.Landing Lights Press, 2020.

December 3, 2020 Comments off

This is the story of the first Xmas told from the point of view of three sheep, Rumbly Tumbly and Woolly who are being looked after by shepherds at the time when Mary and Joseph are looking for a place to shelter their new born baby.

Angels appear in the night and tell of the birth of the Messiah that has been predicted. The shepherds follow the bright star to see what the fuss is and the sheep follow. Under Bethlehem are limestone caves and the sheep discovering that “it is only a baby”, make their way back but fall into underground cave.

Meanwhile the rest of the sheep are being attacked by wolves. Read it and see what happens.

The illustrations are superb. Created in the style of the time, shepherds with crooks and head gear. The manger scene is very touching and the wolves with their flashing teeth are menacing. Rumbly Tumbly and Woolly are a sight to behold. The Marx brothers in sheep’s clothing.

In the back is the History of the event including the truth about wolves and the Biblical predictions.

Categories: Picture book Tags: ,

Or’in of Tane. The Chronicles of Aden Weaver Bk1 by Yvette Carol. Pub. Shining River Press, 2020.

November 28, 2020 Comments off

A new fantasy series from a NZ author who uses Maori mythology as a basis for the imagery of the story. It is good v Evil in the Lands of Fire and Ice and the land of Clouds.

Aden Weaver is the son of a great warrior Kal who has been killed by the evil Empire of the Sasori. Aden and his kin are shapeshifters being able to transform into dragonflies. The enemy the Sasori are the same except the transform into preying mantis and they are led by Chief Wako who lives up to his name.

Aden is of an age where he is ready to train to be a warrior and presses his grandparents to let him go. But he is being watched by the Sasori.

Consent is given for him to be trained as a warrior along with a girl called Te Maia who has a skill of a super powered memory. She remembers everything. Aden’

Aden’s guardian for his warrior training is Stingray and together they are going to confront the Sasori in some deadly battles.

The prize is a magical stone called The Or’in of Tane that has the power to regenerate a body and keep the bearer in perfect health forever. Both sides want the stone, I do too, so it is going to be a battle to the death.

Good fantasy that uses Maori myth and legend as an example. Easy reading and very descriptive in parts. The insect transformation is appealing and unique.

Must be an entrant for the NZ Children’s book awards later next year.

There’s a Weta on my Sweater. He Weta kei runga i toku Paraka by dawn McMillan, illus Stephanie Thatcher. Pub. Oratia, 2020.

November 27, 2020 Comments off

What do you do if “there’s a weta on your sweater… and he doesn’t want to leave’ or ‘a centipede in the bus… causing quite a fuss”. What if they are joined by a spider, a stick insect, a huhu and a frog?

And they all come to your class room and the teacher stands on a chair? You will have to read this bilingual picture book in English and Maori to find out.

Perhaps granddad has some answers?

Great fun with rhyming text and illustrations especially of the insects that stand out. A classy publication

What We’ll Build. Plans for our future Together by Oliver Jeffers. Pub. HarperCollins, 2020.

November 27, 2020 Comments off

This will be the most thought provoking picture book you will read this year from an author /illustrator who is at the top of his game.

The opening pages have two pairs of hands, small daughters hands and large fathers hands. “What shall we build you and I?.

A house is a good start then” I’ll build your future and you’ll build mine”

Of course lots can happen and things can go wrong and then there is the imaginative stuff. But I will let you find that out.

The illustrations are stunning. Ship sailing through troubled waters and the ending is touching.

One of the best of the year.

Swimming Lessons. Poems by Lili Reinhart, illus. by Curt Montgomery. Pub. HarperCollins, 2020.

November 22, 2020 Comments off

I awoke in the night and couldn’t sleep so I picked this excellent anthology to read until sleep took me. It never did. The poems entranced me so much that I had to finish and they will do the same to you.

The poems are short and long, some a few lines others three or four pages. Many are a series of couplets, sometimes three lines then a single line. None of them rhyme in the traditional way poetry does. The poetry comes from the beautiful flow of language.

The themes are love from the beginnings of young love with it’s newness and it’s doubts. The reader will know all the feelings described and the heartbreak when things go wrong.

The poems have no titles, they are separated by a blank red page and they make compulsive reading. Everyone wants love to last forever and in one poem these words describe that:- Forever has an expiry date. There is no always. No forever. Just now.

How true.

Other prophetic subjects are covered such as reincarnation. Maybe you believe in reincarnation but even if that happens, you come back as an entirely different being in an entirely different life.

The poems are superbly illustrated in red and black ink outlines that say so much and enhance the written poetry.

For high school and young adult readers plus adults. The most moving book of poems I have ever read.

Code Name Bananas by David Walliams, illus. by Tony Ross. Pub. HarperCollins, 2020.

November 19, 2020 Comments off

Another great novel of madness, mayhem, laughter and fun from the man the Telegraph have said “Dahl finally has a worthy successor“. No wonder children love it. Just in time for Xmas. Parents should take a look too.

Eric is an 11 year old boy with sticking out ears and glasses who stays with his grandma. He is an orphan and it is about to get worse. His main love is visiting the zoo in Regents Park London where he has developed a friendship with Gertrude the gorilla.

He is also friends with zookeeper Uncle Sid who has tin legs because his real ones were blown off in WW1. Sid has sticking out ears too but is as kind as a person can get especially to animals.

Every night the German bombers fly over London blowing smithereens out of the city during the Blitz in WW2. The animals are terrified but Corporal Batter with his rifle and Sir Frederick Frown with his pompous upper class manners are both ready to eliminate any animal that escapes or proves a problem. Gertrude is seen as a problem and set down to be put down by the nasty Miss Gnarl and her long needle.

Eric and Sid plot to release Gertrude and what an adventure it proves to be. Read it and find out what happens. but first read the ten possible plots of how to effect the escape.

Hilariously funny with lots of true history about WW2.

White Moko. stories from my life by Tim Tipene. Pub. OneTree House, 2020.

November 15, 2020 Comments off

This memoir of childhood in an abusive family is one that all New Zealanders should take heed of particularly those whose lives have been damaged by their upbringing.

Tim Tipene has a Maori name but he is white skinned, hair haired with blue eyes. His father was rightly jailed and his mother married a Maori man who had wonderful whanau but he himself was a brute.

Tim was brutalised all through his childhood. Both parents took great delight out of being sadistic towards him. His mother told him he had ruined her life and that she wished he had never been born.

All this reflected on his performance at school where he was labelled a bad boy and not worth the effort. He had a couple of good teachers but when he was kicked out of college he couldn’t recite the alphabet. Didn’t know his times table and couldn’t tell the time on an analogue clock.

The stories he tells of his early life are harrowing but he never lost hope and loved both his parents and was fortunate that he had his Maori whanau to get him through. He was a white Maori and proud of it.

As he grew to adulthood he got involve in martial arts which led him to Japan and a karate master. He attended an anger management class for men who were abused as children and found he was not alone.

His school and early adult life and recovery is covered up to his formation of Kora Toa Warrior school and his work with underprivileged and abused children.

He is a wonderful successful man and it is essential that his story be utilised as a source of hope for those who have suffered similar treatment. His message is you are not alone and can be helped.

The most powerful book I have read for some time.