Johnny Danger D.I.Y. Spy by Peter Millett.

March 3, 2015 Comments off

johnny dangerJohnny Danger D.I.Y. Spy by Peter Millett. Pub. Puffin Books, 2015.

This new series for reluctant readers, boys in particular is one of the craziest novels I have ever read ranking with Paul Jennings and Andy Griffith and commanding the same reader group.

Jonathon Dangerfield dreams of being a master spy like James Bond only with heaps of on-line gadgets. He sets up a webpage as Johnny Danger and exaggerates his credentials and accomplishments. But as they say luck favours the brave and Johnny is brave if nothing else and very lucky.

When super villain, Dr Disaster invents a virus that turns key words into anagrams and causes severe disruption to the Queens speech and Justin Bieber’s birthday, MI6 are onto the case. They need someone savvy to hunt down Dr Disaster who is a nut case with ambitions to rule the World. Johnny Danger is the man or should I say boy.

Johnny is commandeered by MI6 and partnered with the brooding Penelope Pounds. Dr Disaster is holed up on the Island of Ikki Ikki Bunga and Johnny and Penelope have to stop him.

Often hilarious action and description that will have even adults smiling. This novel will gladden the heart of the most dour reader. Primary and Intermediate.

The Whale Savers by Linda Roberts. Illus. Bruce Potter.

March 2, 2015 Comments off

whale saversThe Whale Savers by Linda Roberts. Illus. Bruce Potter. Pub. New Holland, 2015.

Every year more than 300 whales strand themselves on New Zealand beaches. Is it by accident or design? This junior science book looks a one such stranding of a Wera from the point of view of a young boy Tama.

Tam and his grandmother are walking by the beach when they spot the young wera panting on the beach in some distress. Grandma reacts with efficiency getting the locals out with sheets and buckets. Someone rings the Department of Conservation and Sally Olsen turns up with her expertise.

It is hours till high tide when the young whale can be refloated but first keep him alive and comfortable. People who do this are fantastic.

Great illustrations by Bruce Potter, they always are. Life like characters transposed onto a beach and sea location. The young whale is superb through his eyes you can see how he is dealing with the situation. Then the joy of going back to sea.

At the back of the book  some facts and figures and suggestions of why whales get stranded.

Perfect book for study for primary and intermediate students.

Steve Surname: Battle for Sneem by H.L. Reader

March 2, 2015 Comments off

SneemSteve Surname: Battle for Sneem by H.L. Reader. Pub.

Often these days children come to reading either through a film or an on-line game. This book is one of a series based on the game Minecraft and for reluctant boy readers in primary and intermediate school they are extremely valuable.

The font size is very large, the illustrations are straight from Minecraft and the stories are good  and culturally safe.

In this title good guy Steve surname encounters a bitter rivalry between the city dwellers of Glenwilly and the villagers of Sneem. Steve has to get to the bottom of their hatred for each other before it leads to outright war.

The dialogue is bizaare at times and the action is cool perhaps they will all live lovely-ly ever after.

Who is Gweek BigMan? and will Steve have his milk and cake at the end?

Categories: Uncategorized

The Fish Story by Stu Potter. Illus. by Miri Britain.

February 28, 2015 Comments off

fish storyThe Fish Story by Stu Potter. Illus. by Miri Britain. Pub. Stu Potter.

A cautionary tale and almost Maori legend. The first thing I thought after I read it was this should be in the standard 32 page picture book format. The power would be so much greater.

In the beginning all fish were equal but two of them,  to become a  marlin and a shark, are bit above themselves. They want to fight for domination and do so. The ending is yours to find out but lets say there is a third reluctant contender. The story is well told and some key words are emphasised in Maori.

With little doubt the outstanding feature of the book are the illustrations of Miri Britain. The colours of blue black white and the orange of the Creator are stunning. A particular highlight is the metamorphosis of the ordinary fish over two folds of the page, into  first a marlin, and then a shark. And a surprise at the end.

A good read-a-loud for both primary and intermediate students and a comparison with legends of other cultures.

Trouble in Time by Adele Broadbent

February 27, 2015 Comments off

trouble timeTrouble in Time by Adele Broadbent. Pub. Scholastic, 2014.

When I read a timeslip novel the mechanism by which the characters travel in time is always an interesting point for me and needs to be convincing. Fortunately in this novel it is. It involves a combination of touch and memory but you will have to read the novel to find out how.

When Ben’s Poppa comes to stay he has to sleep in the caravan and it bugs him. Then at school he finds himself being replaced as best friend to Zac by a trouble making bully named Connor.

Ben tries to stay out of trouble but Connor ropes him in. In a chance happening with his Poppa Ben finds himself in the year 1935, a time when his grandfather was still at school and the city of Marshton was just a little settlement called Marshville.

After a series of strange happenings in 1935 Ben returns to the present and finds that Connor seems to know more than he should. Could he have the key to time travel too? And what will happen if events in the past are changed and these changes could affect the future. The grandfather proxy could apply here. Read it and find out for yourself.

Well told by Adele Broadbent who also compares life and language of the past with that of today. Dialogue between the characters is a strong feature of the novel.

Good read-a-loud for years 5/6 to 7/8

Where is Pim? by Lena and Olof Landstrom.

February 25, 2015 Comments off

where pimWhere is Pim? by Lena and Olof Landstrom. Pub. Gecko Press, 2015.

Written text in a picture book does not get any more minimalistic than in this second book from Swedish husband and wife team Lena and Olof Landstrom but the illustrations have much to tell even though they are as simple as the text.

Pom’s day is boring and he hurls Pim his 4 legged, pinky, round cuddly toy with two eyes, into the air. A dog with a red collar hurtles through the air to take him away but where.

Pom and identical dog with blue collar go looking for Pim. There is a paper bag, a wet sock and a drink can to investigate. Pom is tearful but hope is at large as red collar dog turns up with Pim, brighteyed and bushy tailed.

Water colour illustrations  are perfect. Love Pom’s knitted neck to knee cardigan with four buttons. My granddaughters thought the red collared dog was mean to take Pim away.


Categories: Junior Fiction, Picture book Tags: ,

My NZ Story Harbour Bridge by Philippa Werry.

February 24, 2015 Comments off

harbour bridgeMy NZ Story Harbour Bridge by Philippa Werry. Pub. Scholastic, 2014.

More than just a story of the making of the bridge, it is a social history of the years 1958/1959 that will make Aucklanders’ in particular look back and weep with desire for the old days.

It was the days of the space race when the Russians held the upper hand with the first Sputnik and then the first dog, Laika, in space. It was a time of star gazing to see the satellites crossing the cosmos and the wonder that man could be so clever. We don’t think like that now.

Johnny Develin topped the hit parade with Lawdey Miss Clawdy an Elvis song and girls tore the shirt off his back in public appearances. Where are you now Johnny? I haven’t got your record but I have Elvis’s.

A section could be purchased for 600 pounds and a new house built for 2000 pounds and the ordinary NZ working man could buy a house. Fat chance these days.

In between time The Auckland Harbour Bridge was constructed with British steel and built by overseas workers from the British Isles and elsewhere along with our own workers. Danger money was paid as were bonuses for meeting targets and no mention of minimum wages. Try getting that these days.

Simon and his best mate are in a pretty young teachers class in form 1 or year 7 as we call it now on the North Shore where everyone went to work on the ferries. She encourages them to keep a diary and Simon does so for the whole year from february 1958 till 30th August 1959.

He documents the progress of the bridge construction and the life of his family particularly his sensitive sister Linda who hates the cruelty to animals in the space race. i never thought of that at the time.

In the back are photographs of the bridge in various phases and the diary shows highlights of the construction. A timeline is given and this makes a very appealing novel for primary and intermediate students. Even better for older students like me who can look back at the good old days.

Well researched and told by Philippa Werry.


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