The Restless Girls by Jessie Burton, illus. Angela Barrett.

October 16, 2018 Comments off

restless girlsThe Restless Girls by Jessie Burton, illus. Angela Barrett. Pub. Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2018.

From the people that brought you Harry Potter comes this superb hardback novel that is old yet new at the same time.

It is old because it is about a king with 12 daughters who believes girls are not as important as boys and shouldn’t have license to explore their talents and imagination. It is new because the girls will not be subjected to the king’s decisions and use imagination to change things.

After their bright and breezy mother, Queen Laurelia is killed in a car accident while driving around the beautiful kingdom of Kalia, the King, Alberto, goes into grieving and takes away all the rights and privileges from his 12 daughters. The Palace becomes like a morgue and the girls are unhappy.

Led by eldest and very intelligent and creative daughter Princess Frida, the Princesses use imagination to visit a wondrous land where they party and dance till dawn. Unfortunately the dancing wears their shoes out and poses a mystery that the king needs to solve.

When the girls refuse to tell him how their shoes became worn he banishes Frida from the kingdom and offers one of his daughters and the crown of Kalia to any man who can solve the problem. Find out what happens, it is brilliant.

The illustrations are superb and leave room for your own imagination. Easy to read for primary and intermediate students. Adults will love it too.

DRY by Neal Shusterman & Jarrod Shusterman.

October 14, 2018 Comments off

dryDRY by Neal Shusterman & Jarrod Shusterman. Pub. Walker Books, 2018.

One of the most readible, action packed and futuristic novels I have read for some time. It is about survival when the water runs dry and human beings have a melt down causing the total disintegration of society.

William Golding in Lord of the Flies wrote about the thin veneer of civilisation that covers mankind and how quickly it erodes under pressure. When the Governor of Arizona cuts the flow of the Colorado river into Southern California and stops the water supply to everybody, all hell breaks loose.

Teenager Alyssa and her younger brother Garrett are as under prepared as everybody. When their parents go missing while looking for water they team up reluctantly with the boy next door, Kelton whose father has prepared for this moment all of his life. Kelton has too and he is one tough customer.

As rioting and looting pervade in every community, it becomes dog eat dog with people doing anything for water. The kids meet up with a street wise hell cat Jacqui and a mercenary capitalist, Henry, who sees opportunity for money in the whole scenario and would sell his grandmother if there was a profit in it. The snappy dialogue between the characters excels when Henry is on board.

The group travel through the wasteland of bone dry, lawless, California as authorities grapple with the catastrophe that is around them. For the group tomorrow has to wait a while and yesterday is irrelevant. Survival is the only game in town.

I couldn’t put it down. Brilliantly written and conceived. Totally believable. Miss this and you will kick yourself. For teenagers and young adults.

Why is That lake so blue? A Childen’s guide to New Zealand’s Natural World by Simon Pollard.

October 12, 2018 Comments off

lake so blueWhy is That lake so blue? A Childen’s guide to New Zealand’s Natural World by Simon Pollard. Pub. Te Papa Press, 2018.

Before I start to review this excellent non-fiction work about how New Zealand was formed, and how this affected the type of flora and fauna that live here, and how this in turn has been affected by the arrival of man I have to make a major point.

The expert information, the maps and diagrams, the photographs, the bite sized information on plants and wild life and the overall coverage could not be found on any one or even a dozen websites on the Net. You have it all in one package.

It starts with Gondwana land and shows how New Zealand as actually part of the undersea Continent of Zealandia as discovered by sir James Hector in 1895. Not a lot of people know that.

From there the plant and animal population developed in a unique way until the arrival of humans who changed everything. There is a conservation message, a global warming message amongst the brilliant photographs and illustrations.

Great for the home and the school library. a superb publication by a great scientific mind.

Good Rosie! by Kate DiCamillo, Pictures by Harry Bliss.

October 11, 2018 Comments off

Good rosieGood Rosie! by Kate DiCamillo, Pictures by Harry Bliss. Pub. Walker Books, 2018.

This sophisticated picture book, come comic book made me laugh.

It is the story of Rosie, a good but lonely dog and her good and probably lonely master, George. Each day begins with George having two poached eggs and Rosie having a shiny bowl of dog food. Rosie sees her image in the bottom of the bowl and says hello. The other dog never answers.

Then George has  a good idea and they go to the dog park. This changes life for both Rosie and George but you will have to read it to find out how. All I will say is that Rosie meets big dog Maurice and his bunny, plus Fifi with the bejeweled collar. George meets their owners.

Kate DiCamillo’s tight script is complimented by Harry Bliss’s superb illustrations. Each illustration is a work of art  with detail that enhances the text. You will read this more than once I can assure you and it will make you laugh.

Take your time reading this. savour every page. For everyone.

Only Love can Break Your Heart by Katherine Webber

October 9, 2018 Comments off

only loveOnly Love can Break Your Heart by Katherine Webber. Pub. Walker books, 2018.

I have always liked romance and relationship novels and I liked this one, but it drove me to distraction yet I couldn’t put it down. As Gene Pitney once sang “Only love can break a heart, only love can mend it again”. So it is with this novel.

Among other things it is a novel about control in a relationship and getting over the death of a loved one.

Reiko is a beautiful 17 year old girl with a Japanese father and an American European mother. Everybody notices Reiko wherever she goes but she has  a monkey on her back that she never talks about and needs to get it out.

When Reiko was 12 years old her 14 year old sister Mika died in an accident. Reiko feels guilt and has never grieved properly. Mika appears to Reiko in her room and they talk.  Reiko tells nobody, she should. Everybody skirts around the subject.

Then Seth appears on the scene and a relationship develops that drove me crazy. Reiko is practically perfect and Seth is a lone wolf. They get on well but Reiko keeps him secret and exerts a control over the relationship that upsets Seth. Both of them are using the other for their own purposes and sooner or later the dirt is going to hit the fan.

When it does, major change takes place for the benefit of both.

The strong parts of this novel are the friendships between Reiko and her brother Koji, her parents and her girlfriend Dre. Reiko is lucky to have them but Mika needs to be talked about.

Reiko drove me nuts with her self analysis and her secrecy and control over Seth, but I always felt Seth was out of his league with this beauty. It really enhanced the belief that women are from Venus and men from Mars. This has to change and it does.

I loved it and so will you. High school and young adult.

 

Kuwi’s Rowdy Crowd by Kat Merewether

October 7, 2018 Comments off

rowdy crowdKuwi’s Rowdy Crowd by Kat Merewether. Pub. Illustrated Publishing, 2018.

This classic picture book will be launched throughout New Zealand next week in Rotorua and around New Zealand for the next month. Make a point of checking it out.

Kuwi the kiwi just wants a quiet morning in her burrow sipping a cup of kawakawa tea but her chick Huwi has other ideas. Huwi wants to play with his friends and make as much fun and noise as possible.

He wants to play King Kong with his tower of blocks, revel in the bath with a flock of farting whio, kung fu with the kokako and tap dance with the tomtits and other things.

Until Kuwi has a melt down, the friends are out, the noise is stopped, and mother and chick have quality silent time together.

The text is fun but the real humour is in the illustrations. There is the Stay Weird tee shirt on the line, the Huwi Potter cupboard under the stairs, the Kicaso painting on the wall, the cans of Bug Beans, the K bars as karate blocks, amongst others. There is a nice little play with rap too, Straight out of Aotearoa.

Lots of Te Reo Maori words with translations in the back.

A fine package for everyone.

Uncle Allan’s Stinky Leg by Jennifer Somervell, illus. Margery Fern.

October 5, 2018 Comments off

stinky legUncle Allan’s Stinky Leg by Jennifer Somervell, illus. Margery Fern. Pub. Talesfromthe farm Publications, 2018.

The fifth picture book from this talented sisterly duo and once again it is about life on the farm with an added dimension.

Uncle Allan is one of those irrepressible farm boys who loves his work. He is slowed down a little by a broken leg (at rugby of course) and is bored, so he heads back to the farm to help with the cows. Not a good idea. He wallows in the mud, the water and the cow poo, rips around on his farm bike, all of which makes his cast crumbly and stinky.

He has to have the cast replaced, but will that stop him? Read it and find out.

The added dimension is about the broken leg. There is an Xray of a broken leg, the different type of fractures, how the body heals a broken leg and more.

As ever the illustrations are simple and enhance the text. Two pages of flies on the Fly leaf set the stage. The country lifestyle is shown and the character of uncle Allen the laid back farm boy is a star.

Great for juniors and any other readers especially “townies” who need to know about country life.