Coming Home to Roost by Mary-Anne Scott.

May 24, 2016 Comments off

home to roostComing Home to Roost by Mary-Anne Scott. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2016.

..”the thing about parents. They usually come to the party – it’s like it or lump it with kids…” If there is a definitive line in this novel than this is it.

Elliot is 17 and he’s cruising. After a spell away from home with a wild punk chick called Lena he is back with  an anarchist tattoo on his neck after a wild night with Lena. His parents are not happy and his father ships him off to live with an old navy mate, Arnie, in Wellington and train as an electrician.

Elliot is not well pleased but his family including brother Rick are. They regard Lena as a slut. Elliot knuckles under but on a return home for New Year’s eve party with his mates, Lena seeks him out again and has her wicked way in the back of a ute. It rained too.

a couple of months later the chickens come home to roost. Lena is pregnant and emphatic the the child is Elliot’s. Elliot tells Arnie and his mates but not his parents. Then there is an accident at work and the plot changes course.

Great story, great ending, very well structured and written, believable characters and strong themes for teenage readers. Get this it will be popular.

Into the World by Ted Dawe.

May 20, 2016 Comments off

into the worldInto the World by Ted Dawe. Pub Mangakino University Press, 2016.

This sequel to the award winning and controversial Into the River is tuff, raw, emotional, at times unbelievable but always riveting. It continues the descent into hell of innocent Maori boy Te Arepa who has morphed into the devious but likeable Public school educated Devon Santos.

Expelled from school this novel starts 10 minutes after Into the River with Devon deciding to stay in Auckland and not go back to his Whanau. Big mistake.

Devon contacts his school mate Mitch who is now the gopher or bitch to Rebel who is a skinhead and into drugs, midnight autos and the seedy street life. Devon finds work and accommodation with Martin and his wife Gail and learns what it is like to be used.

When that ends he is taken in by Mitch and the skinheads and it is all downhill. Prison is the inevitable ending but you know that Devon has been unlucky, he has been dealt a bad hand.

A new Corrections Department initiative throws Devon a lifeline and he grabs it with both hands and is taken in by a rich philanthropic rich man called Wes. Life begins to look sweet for Devon, he is intelligent, willing and adaptable. Then he meets Ella. The rest is dramatic reading.

Superbly written by Ted Dawe in  three parts with short sharp chapters. The story moves fast like the cars Devon drives and the street talk and dialogue is a feature of the novel.

The question that is asked is does Devon really have a chance in life? School alienated him from his culture and whanau and in this book he still hides his Maori upbringing. What options does he have after prison? Can any one be totally rehabilitated? Does society give Devon or any prisoner for that matter, a chance?

Ted Dawe throws up a lot of social issues. The role of father is a massive issue in this novel both for boys and girls. I like his style, but some may not. Whatever you think it is damn good writing.

Certainly senior secondary and young adult.

The Wizard of OZ Colouring in a Story Book. Frank Baum, illus. Nikki Wright

May 18, 2016 Comments off

wizard ozThe Wizard of OZ Colouring in a Story Book. Frank Baum, illus. Nikki Wright. Pub. New Holland, 2016.

This classic children’s novel is one that has been shaped by the Judy Garland film rather than by the novel itself. Everyone knows of the Yellow Brick Road, Elton John sang about it and everyone knows Toto and the wicked witches of the East and West. The red shoes are iconic and the stories of the Tinman, the lion and the Scarecrow and their wants and needs are inbred.

What was needed for this novel is what this book does. It invites the new young reader back into the book by providing whole page, double page and half page illustrations to be coloured in with crayon, pastels or paints or whatever.

It is a bigger than usual spread for a book with a picture book look about it but the written text is that of L Frank Baum and his wonderful story.

It is a technique to get children to read the classic and to use their imagination by colouring in the plain illustrations. To make the book their own.

Well done I say. I re-read the book and found some differences from the film. You will too.

This is a book for everyone because it helps personalise a brilliant story.

Middle School: Jacky Ha-Ha by James Patterson. illus. Chris Grabenstein.

May 16, 2016 Comments off

jackie hahaMiddle School: Jacky Ha-Ha by James Patterson. illus. Chris Grabenstein. Pub. Penguin,Random House, 2016.

Another little gem from the author and illustrator who have brought the Middle School series of comedy novels to reluctant boy and girl readers who like stories of kids their own age doing weird and wonderful things. All in the best possible taste of course. If you took all the jokes that are in these novels you would have a one person comedy show.

Middle schooler Jacky Ha-Ha tells this story on the eve of the Academy Awards in which she is a nominee for best actress. She writes to tell her daughters of her childhood with all the antics she played, all the mistakes she made, all the fun she had doing it and all the wonderful teachers parents and family who supported her along the way.

It starts with a vow she made one night after climbing a ferris wheel, a stunt she later repeats with different results and then moves though her part as Snoopy in the play Your a good man Charlie Brown and a speech she made in a competition in which she has to overcome a stuttering impediment.

It ends with the outcome of the Academy Awards but you will have to read the novel to find out what happens. Good family values and lots of laughs. What kept me going was wanting to know if her hunk of a father was two timing with the prettiest girl on the beach.

Have fun reading this. lots of theatre talk and as always Chris Grabenstein’s illustrations enhance the plot and the characterisation and add another dimension to the humour.

Exploding Endings Bk2. Dingbats & lollypop Arms by Tim Harris

May 10, 2016 Comments off

exploding endingsExploding Endings Bk2. Dingbats & lollypop Arms by Tim Harris. Pub. New Holland, 2016.

Australia seems to throw these great short story writers who tell poo bum wees short stories for primary and intermediate kids. Paul Jennings and Andy Griffiths have gone before, now it is Tim Harris.

This is part 2 of the Exploding Endings and there is a book 3 on the way.

Ten short stories and two running gag like stories make up this anthology and they are all out of the imagination from way beyond. It starts with 79 excuses for talking in class with the best being “its not me. I swallowed my ipod and it’s blurting out of my mouth”.

The Husky Busker provides a bit of the weird factor and the GPS Pest is about a mother who keeps track of her boy using GPS. very embarrassing.

The running gag stories are Left page versus Right page with a bit of biffo between the two and the Doctor genre in which a different type of Doctor treats the same boy for a bad cold. Lots of laughs in this.

Great for reluctant readers.


Golden Kiwis by David Riley

May 8, 2016 Comments off

golden kiwisGolden Kiwis by David Riley. Pub. Reading Warrior, 2016.

The latest in a series of books by the reading warrior himself David Riley, a man who wants kids to read particularly boys but not exclusively so.

It contains the profiles of 36 individual and team Olympic gold medalists from our first, Malcolm Champion who swam for a combined Australasian team at Stockholm in 1912 through to Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie our sailors at London 2012.

Each profile has a short bio. and sporting record plus photographs statistics and the school that they went to. In addition there is a video link for each of the gold medals. The photographs are excellent and the written text easy to read and concise.

Any records or interesting facts established are boxed in maroon within each profile.

In addition there are extra internet links on each profile at the back of the book for further research and profiles on our para-olympic Olympians and champions such as Eve Rimmer and Sophie Pascoe.

Other interesting facts to emerge include swimming not being included until 1908 Olympics and the walking race originating in Britain from the habit of footmen walking beside a coach to free roots etc when traveling over rough roads.

With the Rio Olympics around the corner this book is a fine reference tool for schools and the home. Pub Quiz fanatics will find this a ready source of information too.

Categories: Non Fiction Tags:

Kiwiana. NZ Treasures and Traditions by Dave Gunson

May 7, 2016 Comments off

kiwianaKiwiana. NZ Treasures and Traditions by Dave Gunson. Pub. New Holland, 2016.

I opened this excellent non-fiction work in my lounge while my two young granddaughters were watching TV. Immediately the 6 year old shouted out that’s Kiwiana. We are studying this in school. That was the end of TV. The next hour we discussed Kiwiana and the girls identified all the images and subjects discussed in this splendid book.

What better recommendation?

Kiwiana is anything we say, do, eat, our customs, our habits and everything that defines us as New Zealander’s. It is not just a flag as some would have us believe.

We have jandals, buzzy bee, pavlova, hei tiki, santa parade, the All Blacks, the hangi and the corner dairy.  The best part for me was the language so “if you are going to the dunny don’t wear your sunnies or your jandals bro and don’t bring a plate until it is done and dusted?

The only thing that I would have like to see included  was a section on our music from Po Kari kari ana and Poi Eh through to Slice of heaven and Drink Yourself more Bliss. I remember a London Pub that was full of Kiwis. They played Slice of Heaven and the Kiwis  kept singing it outside on the footpath an hour after the pub was closed.

If you want an easy read with plenty of educational opportunities grab a Vogels sandwich, a packet of pineapple chunks, some wine gums a pavlova and wash it all down with L&P.

Every school and household should have this.

Categories: Non Fiction Tags:

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