Finding by David Hill.

April 22, 2018 Comments off

findingFinding by David Hill. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2018.

This is the New Zealand story in my opinion. I hope David Hill got as much satisfaction writing it as I got reading it.

It is the story of two family trees, one Scottish who settled in the Waimoana river valley  in the 1880s and the other Maori who were already living in the Pa by the river and without whom the Scottish family could not have survived. It is the story of early New Zealand settlement that has been largely overlooked.

The story then tells of 7 generations who lived, loved and developed the land in the valley. They intermarried and were as close to each other as it is possible to be.

One of the descendants named Alan Hohepa sums it up when describing himself “I,m Pakeha and I’m Maori and I’m Ok being both”. Recognition of the need to keep the Maori language alive was firm with Maori and Pakeha characters alike.

The story takes us from the 1880’s through landmarks in New Zealand’s history until 2018 when the current residents of the Waimoana valley are considering whether to sell up and move to the city. You will have to read the novel to find out the decision.

This is the way race relations is supposed to be and it brought joy to my soul. The ending is both apprehensive and hopeful but who doesn’t feel like that these days.

Things I loved about this book include:- I loved the way the Maori reacted when the bagpipes are played – like a screaming Taniwha. I loved the way the treasures of the silver bracelet and the greenstone bat were handed down through the generations. I loved all the characters who had a respect for each other and the land they lived on.

I loved the way the love of the land is not all one sided. I loved how the stories of the past were held dear by successive generations whose family trees are drawn in the front of the novel for you to refer to, and I loved the Waimoana river and it’s valley which is a character in it’s own right and whose map is at the start of the book.

Splendid writing by David Hill in his easy style and the art work on the cover and at the beginning of each generational chapter is superb.

For everybody really but excellent for intermediate and high school readers.

Whose Home is This? by Gillian Candler Illus. Fraser Williamson.

April 20, 2018 Comments off

whose homeWhose Home is This? by Gillian Candler Illus. Fraser Williamson. Pub. Potton & Burton, 2018.

.A first look at animal homes showing where they are located, how they protect the animal and what they are made of.

Each home is shown with a clue as to what the animal is for the young reader to guess, then over the page we have the animal and it’s home. Each animal is referred to by it’s Maori name and  the text about it has the English term and a bit about the animal.

For instance the Wheke or reef octopus has its home and lays it’s eggs in a den of stones. Birds, crabs, snails, fish and a sea horse also feature.

Candler and Williamson are a well honed team and this is once again a classy publication for juniors and primary school children.

Categories: Non Fiction Tags:

Oh, So Many Kisses by Maura Finn and Jenny Cooper

April 19, 2018 Comments off

many kissesOh, So Many Kisses by Maura Finn and Jenny Cooper. Pub. Scholastic, 2018

There is a multi cultural flavour about this picture book for juniors and pre schoolers that demands to be read aloud.

It is about kissing of course and I can see some boys cringing and going oooooh! but not all. There are a great variety of kisses, a wet kiss, a high kiss, a low kiss, a cheeky kiss and there is always room for one more.

My favourite was always the stolen kiss but in this book it is the snuffle kiss between a mother and baby piglet. Having animals in the mix, plus old and young people is inspired.

Jenny Coopers illustrations are priceless, good enough to get the boys interested.

Categories: Junior Fiction, Picture book Tags:

Kiwi One and Kiwi Two by Stephanie Thatcher.

April 19, 2018 Comments off

kiwi 1Kiwi One and Kiwi Two by Stephanie Thatcher. Pub. Scholastic, 2018.

Kiwis are nocturnal birds and Kiwi one and kiwi two have been asleep all day along with tuatara in the burrow next door.

When a beautiful night arrives they are ready for play and celebrate by waking up all the other forest animals and getting them out unceremoniously to play. At first  the pukeko, the duck, the gecko and other animals get involved but they have been up all day and are soon going to flag.

As day breaks  and kiwis one and two are ready for bed the other animals lay around like parents with a new baby who has kept them up all night.

Great illustrations that show the joy of childhood and the ordeal of parenthood with rhyming text that demands to be read aloud.

Great for pre schoolers and juniors.

Yolaska the Godwit by Marlene J. Bennetts, illus. Trish Bowles.

April 19, 2018 Comments off

godwitYolaska the Godwit by Marlene J. Bennetts, illus. Trish Bowles. Pub. Emjay Publishing St Martins Christchurch, 2018.

Yolaska Godwit is on his first 11,000 kilometre flight across the sea from Alaska to New Zealand, a flight that will take him and his flock 8-10 days and on which he will lose half his body weight.

It’s a stunning feat and when the birds arrive in my hometown of Christchurch and depart at the end of summer to return to Alaska people line the beaches and applaud. It is May in Christchurch now and most godwits are on their journey home but some of the young ones remain behind for the winter to build up strength.

Beautifully told by Marlene J. Bennetts who is a bit of a wordsmith and brings out the drama of Yolaska’s experience. Trish Bowles illustrations are lifelike and dramatic. The attack of a skua bird on Yolaska and the humans involved with the birds are superb.

A beautiful story and an essential nature study experience for primary school libraries. Contact the authors at

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Running the Country-the Updated Edition by Maria Gill

April 18, 2018 Comments off

running country2Running the Country-the Updated Edition by Maria Gill. Pub. New Holland, 2018.

The last general election in New Zealand threw up a different situation than any other since MMP was adopted as our voting system. The largest party did not get more than 50% of the vote and could not make agreement with any minor parties. The second largest party was able to form a coalition, a situation that many people failed to understand and still haven’t got over.

Maria Gill adds this new situation to this updated version of the 2013 book also reviewed earlier in this blog.

An outline of some of the issues that have arisen since the last book like homelessness and peoples rights around the World compared to our own, are featured plus a simple recap on major parties in the economy and society who are watch guards on our system are highlighted.

An easily accessible publication with box sized pieces of information, political cartoons by Malcolm Evans and a glossary of terms in the back.

A very useful source of information indeed. You would never find it this well explained on a website. For primary intermediate and junior secondary students.

ANZAC Animals by Maria Gill, illus. Marco Ivancic.

April 17, 2018 Comments off

ANZAC AnimalsANZAC Animals by Maria Gill, illus. Marco Ivancic. Pub. Scholastic, 2018.

This inspirational, carefully researched and brilliantly illustrated story of animals who had an impact during the 1st and 2nd World Wars is a timely reminder of how war affected peoples lives with ANZAC Day just over a week away.

Many animals went to war, many are known about, particularly dogs, horses, mules and donkeys with an estimated 1 million dogs and 8 million horses, donkeys and mules killed in WW1. Many of their stories are in this fine publication but many other animals were also and remarkably involved.

Kangaroos, Torty the tortoise, Monkeys and cats were often mascots or companions and then there is Lulu the chicken. Read her story it is amazing. Pigeons were often used when other communication sources were out of action or inappropriate. In fact pigeons were awarded the Victoria Cross. Don’t believe me? Read this book and find out.

Marco Ivancic’s illustrations give life and drama to the text and original photographs and maps of battle scenarios increase the knowledge of past wars.

Kids love animals and this publication is a great way to get them involved in history.