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Keyword: ‘Into the River’

Into the River by Ted Dawe

September 26, 2012 Comments off

Into the River by Ted Dawe, Pub. Mangakino University Press, 2012.

I think this is Ted Dawe’s best novel to date. It is a story that he needed to tell and it is enthralling from start to finish.

East Coast Maori boy Te Arepa is a talented boy. While eel fishing with his mate Wiremu he catches an enormous eel after a fierce struggle and ends up in the river with the eel. He learns from his grandfather Ra about the Rahui on the river and the significance it has to his tribe.

Te Arepa comes out the river a changed boy who feels the weight of his ancestry on him. He writes a poem that is to earn him a scholarship to a privileged boys boarding school in Auckland and this too changes his life.

At school all the meaningful things happen when the lights go out and Te Arepa is morphed into a boarding school boy the same as all the others. His Maoriness is belittled and his personality crushed. He is given the name Devon and he becomes Devon Santos after his Spanish ancestor Diego Santos.

What really changes Devon is the ease at which his cousin drives him to Auckland in the van. She is at one with the van, changes gears upward with her palm and downward with two fingers. The smoothness of it all impresses him.

Then his school friend Mitch gets a car, Devon gets promoted to a higher class and his relationship with a school friend Steph changes. It’s all on but you always have a choice.

Devon is later to become a major character in the boy racer culture book Thunder Road which was Dawe’s first major novel. This is great background to what makes Devon who he becomes.

As I said this book had to be written. It has strong boy appeal and cultural significance. One of the best books for teenagers I have read this year.

Or’in of Tane. The Chronicles of Aden Weaver Bk1 by Yvette Carol. Pub. Shining River Press, 2020.

November 28, 2020 Comments off

A new fantasy series from a NZ author who uses Maori mythology as a basis for the imagery of the story. It is good v Evil in the Lands of Fire and Ice and the land of Clouds.

Aden Weaver is the son of a great warrior Kal who has been killed by the evil Empire of the Sasori. Aden and his kin are shapeshifters being able to transform into dragonflies. The enemy the Sasori are the same except the transform into preying mantis and they are led by Chief Wako who lives up to his name.

Aden is of an age where he is ready to train to be a warrior and presses his grandparents to let him go. But he is being watched by the Sasori.

Consent is given for him to be trained as a warrior along with a girl called Te Maia who has a skill of a super powered memory. She remembers everything. Aden’

Aden’s guardian for his warrior training is Stingray and together they are going to confront the Sasori in some deadly battles.

The prize is a magical stone called The Or’in of Tane that has the power to regenerate a body and keep the bearer in perfect health forever. Both sides want the stone, I do too, so it is going to be a battle to the death.

Good fantasy that uses Maori myth and legend as an example. Easy reading and very descriptive in parts. The insect transformation is appealing and unique.

Must be an entrant for the NZ Children’s book awards later next year.

The City of Secret Rivers by Jacob Sager Weinstein.

July 20, 2017 Comments off

city secret riversThe City of Secret Rivers by Jacob Sager Weinstein. Pub. Walker Books, 2017.

When you are in the presence of magic never break your word and never, never, never tell a lie. Unfortunately the main character in this fantasy novel for middle school students, Hyacinth, forgets this, and gets into heaps of trouble in the sewers of London.

Hyacinth and her mother come from America to live in London and experienced travelers will know that Americans are obsessed with the bathroom. Plumbing in London is not it’s strongest point and the hot and cold water do not mix the same as in America.

There is a reason for this and it is all to do with magic. Hyacinth borrows a wrench and decides to put the plumbing right and in doing so attracts the attention of the Saltpetre men who kidnap her mother. Who would think that one drop of water could cause so much trouble?

Hyacinth and her neighbour Lady Rosylyn escape into the sewers to stop a great tragedy form happening. The rest you will have to read for yourself. But there are some characters that titillated me, they are the Toshers who live in the sewers and have names like Longface Lucky and Newfangled Troy.

The plot goes along at a rate of knots but readers of fantasy will be enchanted.

Into the World by Ted Dawe.

May 20, 2016 Comments off

into the worldInto the World by Ted Dawe. Pub Mangakino University Press, 2016. http://www.teddawe.com.

This sequel to the award winning and controversial Into the River is tuff, raw, emotional, at times unbelievable but always riveting. It continues the descent into hell of innocent Maori boy Te Arepa who has morphed into the devious but likeable Public school educated Devon Santos.

Expelled from school this novel starts 10 minutes after Into the River with Devon deciding to stay in Auckland and not go back to his Whanau. Big mistake.

Devon contacts his school mate Mitch who is now the gopher or bitch to Rebel who is a skinhead and into drugs, midnight autos and the seedy street life. Devon finds work and accommodation with Martin and his wife Gail and learns what it is like to be used.

When that ends he is taken in by Mitch and the skinheads and it is all downhill. Prison is the inevitable ending but you know that Devon has been unlucky, he has been dealt a bad hand.

A new Corrections Department initiative throws Devon a lifeline and he grabs it with both hands and is taken in by a rich philanthropic rich man called Wes. Life begins to look sweet for Devon, he is intelligent, willing and adaptable. Then he meets Ella. The rest is dramatic reading.

Superbly written by Ted Dawe in  three parts with short sharp chapters. The story moves fast like the cars Devon drives and the street talk and dialogue is a feature of the novel.

The question that is asked is does Devon really have a chance in life? School alienated him from his culture and whanau and in this book he still hides his Maori upbringing. What options does he have after prison? Can any one be totally rehabilitated? Does society give Devon or any prisoner for that matter, a chance?

Ted Dawe throws up a lot of social issues. The role of father is a massive issue in this novel both for boys and girls. I like his style, but some may not. Whatever you think it is damn good writing.

Certainly senior secondary and young adult.

Kiwi’s Intrepid Journey by Anna Dalzell, Illus. Jane McIntosh

April 3, 2015 Comments off

kiwis journeyKiwi’s Intrepid Journey by Anna Dalzell, Illus. Jane McIntosh. Pub. http://www.change.net.nz   2015.

Kiwi sits in his hole thinking how inadequate he is. He cant sing like Korimako or fly fast and strong like kereru or be proud like Pikake.

When Ruru calls a meeting asking the birds to help return a Kauri seedling to it’s sacred place Kiwi is the only one available to do the job.

He travels through New Zealand’s mountains, rivers and forests to restore the seedling and returns as a hero to his bird friends.

A story of self esteem and how our thoughts sometimes affect our actions and feelings about ourselves.

Beautifully illustrated by Culverden artist Jane McIntosh using water colours and pencil drawings. She captures the essence of the birds and the beauty of the NZ landscape and enhances the written script of the author.

Good read-a-loud for juniors and good reading for older more confident readers.

Take Me to the River by Will Hobbs

Take me to the River by Will Hobbs. Pub. HarperCollins, 2011.

“If you find a scorpion on your face do not grab it. Flick it. They can sting you real quick”.  Will Hobbs is a master at writing outdoor adventure novels for young readers and this is another.

The novel is set on the Texas/mexican border in an area known as  Big Bend National Park. Through it flows the mighty Rio Grande river although if you saw it when it is not in flood you would think it is just a dirty old creek.

The area is also well known for battles between drug lords trying to smuggle heroin and cocaine into USA and for people smuggling illegal immigrants into USA.

Cousins Rio and Dylan, without their parents knowledge, take a river journey in a canoe and a rubber raft along the Rio Grande and two things happen. Firstly Hurricane Dolly hits the Texas coast at Brownsville and the storm fills the catchment area of the Rio Grande turning it into a raging torrent. Secondly drug lords have carried out a hit job on some Judges who are presiding over drug trials. Things go wrong and after a gun battle a nasty brute called Carlos kidnaps a young boy, Diego and they meet Rio and Dylan on the raging Rio Grande.

High drama adventure begins with Will Hobbs telling it like it is.

Written for Intermediate and High school students you will not get better outdoor adventure than this. Another Will Hobbs novel Jason’s Gold appears on this blog. Check Will Hobbs out he is very good.

Detective Gordon: A Complicated Case by Ulf Nilsson Illus. Gitte Spee

January 8, 2016 Comments off

complicated caseDetective Gordon: A Complicated Case by Ulf Nilsson Illus. Gitte Spee. Pub. Gecko, 2015.

It’s just not possible to dislike this book about Detective Gordon who is a toad and his assistant Buffy the mouse. They are the police in a large forest and rule by the big Book of Law which says such things as “you can’t push a squirrel into the river” and more importantly you cannot tease other animals because it is hurtful.

Unfortunately there is a culprit teasing other animals and all is not well in the forest. Toad and mouse must investigate.

Perfect stories for the reader who is starting to read alone. Lots of fun, good values and at the bottom of it all some good common sense that everyone can learn from. For example ” everybody knows inside them what is right and wrong” how true. and for the adults who believe in freedom we have the advice given to Buffy the mouse by Detective Gordon when she becomes his assistant – Police must always tell the truth. Whatever happens!

Once again superbly illustrated  by Gitte Spee. The lonely sight of a hedgehog crying on a rock after being teased is very memorable.

You can’t beat a book like this. The first book in the series is reviewed elsewhere in this blog.

Muki and Pickles by Ross Murray. Pub. Beatnik Publishing 2021

October 2, 2021 Comments off

Muki and Pickles are delightful little bunnies who dress well and have fun together.

Pickles loves cake but can’t chose between zesty lemon cake and black forest gateau. Who can?

Muki likes books and he carries around with him an Insect Guide and later on a Book of Knots.

Together they build a raft to get across a river to acquire the last peach on the tree but they are a bit late.

Things work out ok though as Mrs Raccoon is pleased with them cleaning up the sticks in her yard to build the raft and guess what she gives them? This also brings another cake into the picture.

Interesting style of illustrations with pastel colours of gardens and flowers that seem to smile at you as you read. The characters of Muki and Pickles are delightful.

Great read-a-loud for juniors and pre school children but the sense of humour will give a chuckle to older readers.

The Outlaws Scarlett & Browne by Jonathan Stroud. Pub. Walker Books, 2021

August 30, 2021 Comments off

Reading this book through the lockdown has been inspirational. It has made my days interesting and I have savoured every word. In fact I got too involved and fretted for the characters. I didn’t want to finish but all good things come to an end but fortunately this is not going to be the last. There are other adventures to come and I can’t wait.

It is a dystopian fiction novel written in the future about a Britain that has divided back into seven Kingdoms of Mercia, Wessex where this story is set plus 5 others. There has been a Cataclysm, a Great Dieing and Frontier Wars that have caused humans and animals to evolve in a variety of ways very quickly and reduced Britain to a mentality like that of medieval times. Small gated towns exist with faith Houses who control people. The woods are filled with huge bears and wolves and other animals who will eat people as good as look at them. The sea level has risen drastically and the rivers are full of creatures like man eating otters and sharks. The air is infested with birds who will attack and eat humans. There is no safe place.

To make matters worse some humans have evolved into cannabalistic creatures called the Tainted. They are excluded from civilisation and hunt humans who stray, eating them where they stand.

In the first few chapters we meet Scarlett a girl between 16 and 18 years old who can look after herself big time. She has a big knife, a gun and quick wits, she takes no crap, robs banks and in the first chapter disposes easily of four men who are trying to rob her.

While escaping after robbing a bank she finds an overturned bus and meets a boy of similar age to her called Albert Browne who has mental abilities that are astonishing. He can read minds but his behaviour is dominate by what he calls The Fear. He has escaped a mental hospital controlled by a devilish woman called Dr Calloway who has a crocodilian nose for weakness. She wants Albert back and the novel then becomes a chase with Albert and Scarlett joining forces to outrun their enemies.

It is totally thrilling with Jonathan Stroud’s descriptive prose enthralling the reader with its wit and story telling skill. Once you start this you will not put it down. You daren’t. Written in four parts with each part ending in a blaze of action.

Eoin Colfer describes this novel as “a classic in the making” and Rick Riorden describes Stroud as a genius. They are both right.

The best action adventure I have read for years. If you miss this you will kick yourself

That’s What Dragons Do by Raymond McGrath. Pub. Scholastic, 2021.

August 10, 2021 Comments off

Dragons like to roar, to fly and to breathe fire but what happens when a dragon meets a firefighter and what happens when a firefighter meets a cupcake fairy and then a cupcake fairy meets a big digger dumper driver?

Yes this is a what if story and is the sort of story to tell when putting a child to bed. In the story it is a little girl that is going to bed and she appears in every action that takes place. It all ends ok with father in full control putting out the light to go to sleep after all the adventure.

The illustrations are the star of this piece of work which also takes you into outer space.

Great read aloud and plenty for a preschooler and early primary students to get their teeth into.