The Sam & Lucy Fables by Alan Bagnall Illus. Sarah Wilkins. Pub. Makaro Press, 2016.
There is a whimsical nature about this booklet of quirky stories with a message for juniors and primary school students, and with high appeal for older readers. I defy you to read this collection without a smile on your face.
Lucy and Sam are pigs who tell stories and help people out. There are 14 stories of 2-3 pages long cleverly and perceptively illustrated by Sarah Wilkins. We learn how whales got to the sea, how bus drivers learn not to stop because it was a bus stop, how fish learned to read (in schools of course) and how not to despair because your computer has crashed.
Sometimes the simplest stories are the best even when they are quirky and as Gavin Bishop commented “charming”.
Here Comes Mr Postmouse by Marianne Dubuc. Pub. Book Island, 2016.
This is a picture book that you need to look at many times due mainly to the detail and quality of the illustrations.
Mr Postmouse needs to deliver postage to a wide variety of characters from Mr Bear who is awaiting a letter from his aunt, to Mrs Octopus who lives in a sunken ship with a treasure pot within. Penguin’s place is pretty cold and Mrs Turtle has a mobile home.
The home of each character is shown in cross-section and there is a lot going on in each home.
Of course it has to be someone’s birthday but who will get the birthday card?
Simple text and witty illustrations from the same author that gave us The Lion and the Bird, one of my favourite picture books also reviewed on this blog.
Good for juniors and primary students and a great book to share with your children.This book will be history soon as postmen seem to be an endangered species as people contact each other electronically.
Fox & Goldfish by Nils Pieters. Pub.Book Island, 2016.
Friendship is beyond words and the friendship between Fox and Goldfish is out there.
Fox sees that goldfish is not long for this world and considers goldfish has much to see before shaking off this mortal coil. Fox takes him on a journey carrying goldfish’s bowl in his arms, on his head, on a bike and dragged along on a little cart.
Goldfish is ecstatic. Perhaps he knows he is going to die? or does he?
Together fox and goldfish visit the forest, the sea and across the desert EasyRider style on a cut down motorcycle. Mt Fuji and the jungle follow then it is Singing in the Rain. Up a mountain, skiing down, up to the moon and then as the sun sets Fox says “Ok my friend Now you can go”.
The epitaph is very moving. Read it and see.
Brilliant idea, even better illustrations. One of the best picture books this year.
A Little Book of Short Stories for Boys by Jenni Francis. Pub. 2016.
If you are the first to climb a tree is that tree yours? What if a girl climbs further and knocks the top off, is that tree now hers? This one of the eight short stories with boys in mind in this short publication.
All the stories are about boys being boys with Jenni Francis presenting a mother’s point of view sometimes and telling the reader where the idea for the story came from. So it is not only a book to read it tells you how you can write stories too.
Lucy the barking dog set off bells in my head and there are stories about fishing for eels, combating a brother who menaces you all the time and a couple of stories about boys living in wartime England during WW2.
Aimed at primary and intermediate age children not necessary all boys. Can be purchase from http://www.jennifrancis.com
Rangers Apprentice. The Early Years. The Battle of Hackham Heath by John Flanagan. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2016.
John Flanagan has a winning formula with this second part about the early years of those superb, morally correct and fearless Rangers from the kingdom of Araluen. Halt and Crowley are great warriors, superb bowmen in the mould of Legolas from Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit and they are loyal, trustworthy and sort out any trouble.This is the start of the legend of Halt.
This novel begins with two of the best Rangers crawling down narrow tunnels to undermine the walls of Gorlan Castle the former stronghold of Morgarath the Black Lord who tried to usurp the throne of Araluen held by Duncan and his beautiful and now pregnant wife Isobella.
Morgarath has fled to the misty world of the Mountains of rain and night and has enlisted the help of giant bear like creatures called the Wargals. They are fierce brutal fighters but have a fear of horses. See their picture on the cover.
The action is superb, the creation of the landscape of Araluen and neighbouring Kingdoms is vivid and the novel culminates in the battle of Hackham Heath. An easy and compulsive read for middle school and junior high school readers.
Snails, Spells & Snazzlepops by Robyn Cooper. Pub. Makaro Press, 2016.
A first novel for primary and intermediate children told with much enthusiasm and gusto.
It combines the silliness that Paul Jennings and Andy Griffiths brought to junior fiction and combines it with some fantasy and real life issues like adjusting to your mothers boyfriend and bullying.
Ten year old charlie wants to be rich and decides becoming a famous chef is the way to go. He inveigles his mate Matt and his sister Millie to assist him in capturing, preparing and cooking snails for his mother and her teacher boyfriend Mr Swinkburn Doug. Never got used to that name.
In the process of finding a recipe for snails online Charlie finds a site Sails, Spells and Snazzlepops. He sees spells to make you shorter and taller and a cure for bullying amongst others. Will this help to cure the bully Ivan?
None of this will make Charlie rich but perhaps the Snazzlepop section will change his luck.Read it and find out.
Easy to read with short chapters and plenty to keep the reader in the book.
Mustang Ride by Kelly Wilson. Pub. Random House, 2016.
Horse lovers of all ages will get a lot of enjoyment from this true story of the Wilson sisters and how they competed by invitation in the Extreme Mustang Makeover in the USA.
The sisters Amanda, Vicki and Kelly had great success in taming Kaimanawa horses as shown on a TV series in new Zealand in 2015. A picture book of their success with a horse called Ranger is outlined below.
It must take great fortitude to still care for a horse after it has chucked you on the ground a few times but the sisters were above all that. They cared for the horses and showed patience and caring tactics to turn wild horses into horses that accepted humans and would allow them to feed, touch and ride them.
This story has the girls working with wild American Mustangs and traveling around the physically beautiful mid west cowboy states of Utah, Oregon, Idaho Wyoming, Nevada, Colorado and Arizona. They even ride to the Grand canyon.
In America they met some great folk who helped the sisters in their quest and of course it all ends with a show jumping event. Amazingly they rode the horses through a MacDonalds drive through order lane to order some burgers and fries.
Lots of great horse talk and human kindness in this book with the country they rode through a character in it’s own right. Splendidly illustrated with photographs of the sisters working with the horses.