Arc of the Scythe bk3: The Toll by Neal Shusterman.

December 9, 2019 Comments off

The TollArc of the Scythe bk3: The Toll by Neal Shusterman. Pub. Walker Books, 2019.

The third and final book in this trilogy and the big question is “what will become of the world of Scythes, Tonists and Thunderhead after the sinking of the Scythe Headquarters Endura”?

In a nutshell it is knackered. Chaos reigns. Everything is changing.

Firstly Scythedom is divided and Robert Goddard is now self declared Highblade of the Scythes and is determined to unite Scythes and increase their power over both the Thunderhead and the Tonists. Gleaning or killing is increased to alarming proportions and the fairness and equity of the gleaning is now targeted racism. Highblade Goddard blames Rowan or Scythe Lucifer for the destruction of Endura although Rowan and Citra or Scythe Anastasia died together in the sinking of Endura. In this World in which mortality has been conquered does anybody really die permanently?

Secondly Thunderhead, that AI entity that can process 2 billion actions per second, has withdrawn from the World. Everybody is declared “unsavory” and no longer has direct contact with Thunderhead. Day to day operations are still handled by Thunderhead but personal access has ended. The question is does Thunderhead have a plan for humanity or is it going to be left to destroy itself?

Thirdly the Tonists that wacko group of religious followers of the Tone have a living leader, The Toll who is a character you know from the previous two books and he is the only person that Thunderhead will talk directly to. Some Tonists have turned radical or Sibilant and Anarchy reigns as the Tonists search for their identity in this new World.

Fourthly, Scythe Faraday and his assistant in the last book detected a blind spot for Thunderhead in the South Pacific and they go searching, crash land on an island to make some interesting discoveries.

The action is non stop as each of the player groups reacts to the actions of the other. Has Thunderhead given up on humanity? Will the Scythes under Goddard glean humans out of existence? Do the Tonists have the answers? What of Anastasia, Lucifer and Faraday? Is the South Pacific the answer to their problems?

Stunning writing from Shusterman with an ending that will have you gasping. The best series since Hunger Games and will appeal to a similar audience. An interesting angle is added to this series with the character of Jericho and the personalisation of Thunderhead in human form. Can a machine ever understand humans?

Wonderful stuff, I am still buzzing over it.


The Moon Show by Carmen Gloria.

December 8, 2019 Comments off

moon showThe Moon Show by Carmen Gloria. Pub. UNCOMMON GRAMMAR, 2019.

This delightful picture book is narrated by our Moon. He has relationships with the more than 170 moons in our Solar system and he tells us something unique about a few Moons from the 8 in our system.

Our own moon isn’t made of cheese as some suspect and I doubt that a cow ever jumped over it. But humans have walked on it and it has been the subject of many a good song like Blue Moon and Dark Moon.

Mercury and Venus have no moons, we have one and mars has Phobos and Deimos which are moving in different directions. Jupiter has 79 moons  and we look at Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. Saturn has 80 moons and we look at Enceladus which sounds like the delicious Mexican dish enchiladas but is in fact almost frozen solid.

Check out the moons of Neptune and Uranus and learn that the non planet Pluto has 5 small moons. Some moons have not been named yet but one of the latest on Neptune was named Hippocamp.

A good tale with some home spun philosophy amongst the information about the moons.

Check out Thank You Mercury and Dear Pluto also reviewed on this blog.

Great for a beginners start of a study about the solar system and as a read aloud story for juniors and primary students.

Where’s Kiwi Celebrating? Illus.Myles Lawford

December 5, 2019 Comments off

where's kiwiWhere’s Kiwi Celebrating?Illus.Myles Lawford. Pub.Scholastic, 2019.

Getting children into looking at and reading books can be tough going but this publication similar to the Where’s Wally series, has got some of the answers.

Take some public holidays like Chinese New Year, Matariki, Christmas and Easter and throw in some cultural celebrations like the Festival of Light, a Pasifika party and Earth Day, then hide Kiwi and his mates-Sporty Sheep(my favourite), Gumboot Guy, Tricky Tuatara and others, in the illustrations and you have hours of enjoyment inside a book.

The illustrations cover double pages and I have to say the characters are very hard to find. The boxed written text does give a clue but it is still difficult. nonetheless it is a bright and lively publication and would make a very good Christmas present for younger readers and future readers.

Maudlin Towers: Attack of the Meteor Monsters by Chris Priestley.

December 2, 2019 Comments off

attack meteorMaudlin Towers: Attack of the Meteor Monsters by Chris Priestley. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2019.

Maudlin Towers School is for not particularly bright sons of the not especially wealthy. Two of these are friends Mildew and Sponge, a couple of nerdy boys who get into some wonderful adventures involving time travel.

When a meteor crashes into Pugs Peak above Maudlin Towers, followed by a herd of girls joining the boys at school chaos is about to reign supreme. To Sponge and Mildew girls are a fathomless mystery so they consult the librarian Miss Foxing about books on girls. She shows the boys and they are bewildered, nobody had ever looked at these books.

The boys trek up Pugs Peak and are confronted by Zigg and Tarduz and the Spiders from Marzz (don’t make me explain). They are aliens who threaten the World with vaporising unless the boys turn over the escaped criminals. Who are the escaped criminals? Why has old teacher who is supposed to be dead Mr Particle suddenly shown up in his time machine.

Lots of fun and lunacy in this third book about maudlin Towers. Will greatly appeal to reluctant boy readers and me of course

Into The Forest by Christiane Dorion, illus. Jane McGuinness.

November 28, 2019 Comments off

forestInto The Forest by Christiane Dorion, illus. Jane McGuinness. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2019.

Apart from the sea, the next biggest provider of ecological habitat are the forests of the World. There are many of them and this book broadly divides them into Deciduous, Coniferous and Tropical.

Of course we can add man made forests now as humankind realise the folly of exploiting the forests for their own use.

Every tree in the forest is a world teeming with life from the top of the tree to the ground cover below. Forests are rich with food and every animal group not in the sea can be found in the forests.

Each broad forest group is portrayed through the seasons, as a home for animals and for what they provide for the planet. A section at the end shows how to plant a tree and warns that trees are faced with more threats than ever before. This book was helped by

The illustrations are amazing. Animals, trees, habitats and seasons are drawn with accuracy and feeling. Treat forests well is the message, life depends on them. As always a non fiction work these days stands or falls on it’s ability to compete with information on the Internet. This book leaves the Internet for dead.

Maui’s Taonga Tales. A Treasury of stories from Aotearoa and the Pacific.

November 26, 2019 Comments off

mauis taongaMaui’s Taonga Tales. A Treasury of stories from Aotearoa and the Pacific. Pub. Te Papa Press, 2019.

December release

For me the most appealing aspect of Maori Culture has been the myths, legends and story telling along with the distinctive and unique art work. Maori highly regard their Toanga or treasures and this work combines Taonga relics with myth, legend and factual story telling.

The stories are narrated by that braggart and trickster, Maui and we get his famous legend of catching the North island with a special hook carved from a jaw bone plus Tane and the Kete of Knowledge amongst others.

There are modern stories of Willie Apiata’s bravery in battle and the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior plus the beautiful tale of Hinemoa and Tutanekai. Stories of bravery and heroism of Maori women and men in battle and in protection of their tribe and children also feature.

All are illustrated by eight contempory Maori Artists who combine the past styles with the new techniques of todays art. For me the most haunting artwork and story is that of Captain Cook’s confrontation and misunderstandings with first contact with Maori. The bodies on the beach make stunning artwork.

This work is for everybody. A powerful piece of publication. Don’t miss it.

Blong the Cat’s Costume Caper by Karen McMillan.

November 25, 2019 Comments off

blongBlong the Cat’s Costume Caper by Karen McMillan. Pub. Duckling Publishing, 2019.

December 2 Release

Never take a male shopping for clothes unless the clothes are for him or he is paying.

That is the mistake that Blong the cat and Emma make when Blong receives a wedding invitation. They take twin brother Ethan and he is down on everything without any thought. He just doesn’t want to be there.

A black bow tie, which i thought looked great, is boring. A floral shirt is too busy, i love that phrase. A pirate outfit is too dark, a banana is too yellow and a disco outfit is too old. After ten rejections Blong goes back to one of his previous choices. Guess which one it is?

The story is great and it doubles as a counting book. Count the shoes at the bottom of each  outfit.

I thought it was funny and a good read-a-loud for juniors. The illustrations are fitting especially the eyes.

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