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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.

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.

In The City. A look anfd Find Story by Holly James, illus. Hannah Tolson.

July 1, 2020 Comments off

in the cityIn The City. A look and Find Story by Holly James, illus. Hannah Tolson. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2020.

Cities are not all the same but they do perform the same functions everywhere they exist. This look and find picture book for juniors shows the various functions of any city and allows children time to explore and look for things that happen in the city.

Oscar and Lucy travel into the city by train from the suburbs and use a map to seek things out. They see the traffic, they visit a museum, they note the number and variety of vehicles on the streets, they climb up a sky scraper, visit a park for a picnic, cruise on the river, go shopping, take a bus tour and off home.

The things they see are highlighted  and listed at the back of the book.

Excellent illustrations in bold colours and I suspect that the city shown is London but it could be new York, Tokyo Paris. The figures in the illustrations are multi cultural.

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Rocking Horse Road by Carl Nixon

December 20, 2019 Comments off

rockinghorseRocking Horse Road by Carl Nixon. Pub. Random House, 2007.

I missed this excellent novel about teenagers growing up in Christchurch New Zealand in the 1980’s.

It attracted my attention because I live on the coastal East side of Christchurch and I intimately know the Rocking Horse Road area of South New Brighton. It is a long beach finger, between the ocean and the estuary of the Avon and Heathcote rivers.

One morning in the hot summer of 1980 the body of 16 year old Lucy Asher is found at the high tide area of South Brighton beach. She had been sexually assaulted and murdered. She is found by Pete Marshall who is a year younger than Lucy and the consequences of Lucy’s death will affect him and his mates for the rest of their lives.

The police investigation into Lucy’s murder does not result in a culprit being caught so the boys(one of them narrates the story), conduct their own investigation until well into their 40’s. It dominates their lives, but will they solve the case?

At the same time the 1981 Springbok Rugby Tour of New Zealand takes place, a tour that divided the country and resulted in some appalling behaviour from both sides of the argument. The boys are caught up in this as well.

It is a loss of innocence story both for the teenage boys and the country. Neither will be the same again. The environment of the estuary and beach is a huge part of the appeal of this novel. If you live in New Brighton you will love it.

Powerfully written by Carl Nixon. Once you start you won’t put it down. For young adult and adult readers.

 

 

Wildlife of Aotearoa by Gavin Bishop

September 27, 2019 Comments off

wildlifeWildlife of Aotearoa by Gavin Bishop. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2019.

Gavin Bishop describes this fully comprehensive, large picture book sized, encounter with New Zealand’s amazing array of wildlife, as a “leap into the unknown”. Well it is known now thanks to him, in the best non fiction work I have read this year and one of the best ever.

Superbly illustrated with a Maori component and a strong emphasis on conservation and the future.

It begins and ends with a giant squid and it’s famous eye, on the front and back inside covers. Then comes god of the sea Tangaroa and five long-finned eel larvae who begin their journey through the multiple environments of Aotearoa.

The whales, fish, dolphins and sea life of the oceans around New Zealand are first followed by the bird life and we learn that a third of these birds are endangered and that Shag droppings have killed all the trees on Whero Island in Foveaux strait.

The 15,000 kilometers of life on the shoreline is followed by wetlands, Estuaries and rivers and we learn that the Lug worm leaves decorative castes on the sand and is frequently used by fishermen as bait.

Effects of Polynesian settlement is next with the introduction of rats, pigs chickens and dogs of which only the dogs and rats survived. Life above and below the tree-line follows then European settlement which continued the clearance of native bush started by the Maori till now when only 20% remains.

Domesticated wildlife such as cattle, sheep pigs and deer are covered and their effect on native species,as is wildlife in the towns and cities and in the house.

This superb work ends with safe places for wildlife in the sea and on the land. Outstanding drawings and illustrations with a Maori context throughout.

A phenominal piece of work for everyone. essential purchase for all schools and there is a place in the home for 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.