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Ming’s Iceberg by Kiri Lightfoot & Kimberly Andrews. Pub. Scholastic, 2021

October 19, 2021 Comments off

“Inside this egg is a brave explorer” are the opening lines of this enchanting story of a penguin who wants know what happens where the Sky touches the sea. Don’t we all but not all of us have the nerve to try and find out.

Ming hatches from her egg and looks out to sea and wonders what is out there. her parents know she will be adventurous from the start.

While walking on the ice with her father Ming is thrown into the sea, climbs aboard and iceberg and drifts north. beneath her the iceberg slowly melts. She is in trouble, how is she going to return to her family? Read it and find out.

A hint of environmental climate change in this story of the great white south and the animal life that lives there.

The illustrations are superb with the blue whale being fantastic. Albert Ross is my favourite, I wonder what he is? Check it and see.

Good read aloud for juniors and a nice bit of fantasy.

Ka Pai Kiwi Favourites 5 sing-along Stories. Pub Scholastic, 2021.

October 18, 2021 Comments off

A fun book with stories based on popular songs for children written in English first and then in Maori. To be used with reference to a free soundtrack at http://www.scholastic.co.nz/kapai.

All song stories feature NZ animals and birds and Maori Taniwha etc. The lyrics mimic popular songs and are sung by well known artists like Pio Terei, Jay Laga’aia and all are translated by Ngaere Roberts.

The illustrations are also by a number of illustrators like Deborah Hinde and Steve Mahardhika.

The overall feeling is one of fun and enjoyment with illustrations emphasising the fun.

Great for use in the pre school, primary school and the home. Songs are a great way to teach language and tunes like Row row Row your boat and the Hokey Tokey are well known.

A pleasing read and in hard cover so it will withstand wear and tear.

Wishyouwas. The Tiny Guardian of lost Letters by Alexandra Page. Pub Bloomsbury, 2021

October 11, 2021 Comments off

Wishyouwas is a small furry animal with a rat like tail who is often mistaken for a rat but delivers an essential service in an underground world.

He has many friends underground in a structured world that is threatened only by humans and rats. Some of his friends are named after post office and mail terms like Withlove, Stampduty, Dearmadam, Posthaste etc etc. There job is to find and trace letters that have damaged addresses that no-one can read.

Set in London in the year 1952 when a massive peasouper fog that lasted weeks has disabled london. It is a time when communication between people was mainly through letter writing and mail. Under the streets of london there is a world of mail trains and letter sorting.

Into this world comes a young girl called Penny Black who is staying with her uncle Frank who runs the Post Office. he mother is an airline pilot and is away a lot of the time. Will she return?

Penny finds Wishyouwas trapped in a mouse trap by his tail and through him enters the underground world. Great stuff.

There is also a creepy villain Stanley Scrawl who is a rat catcher. Is he responsible for the sudden population explosion of rats in the underworld. Check out this excellent story, written in large font, with lovable characters

The Tomo by Mary-Anne Scott. Pub. OneTree House, 2021

October 5, 2021 Comments off

Set on a farm on the East Coast of the North Island near Wairoa this novel about a dog called Blue with one brown eye and one blue eye will capture your heart and have you gasping for breath in the last actions of this story.

Skip, Phil and Oliver are brothers from oldest to youngest but it is Phil that captures the big moments in this story. When their parents go to Auckland for treatment to their father for cancer the boys are farmed out literally with Phil going to work for Chopper Harris a grim farmer who is not used to having his methods questioned.

Phil is given all the crap jobs to do but he is looking after his fathers heading dog Blue, and that makes life bearable for him. Chopper refuses to let them get involved with mustering because he communicates with his dogs differently to what Blue is used to.

While out tracking down a wild ram a serious accident happens that is to test the resolve of all characters in the novel and it involves a limestone sink hole called a Tomo pronounced tor-mor.

Written in large font and short chapters this novel will have you captivated from beginning to end. Phil and his brothers are great role models as is Maori girl Emara who really knows her own mind.

One of the best of the year. Mary-Anne Scott understands kids.

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 Raven Heir by Stephanie Burgis. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2021

September 29, 2021 Comments off

The kingdom of Raven is split into rival factions with each faction trying to take the throne of Raven. Civil war has reigned, the countryside has been ravaged, armies wander the land and people are living in fear and misery.

But there is hope as it is known that the heirs to the throne are hiding out and that finding the true heir will mend the split crown and return the kingdom to peace. Who is the true heir that is the question?

Triplets Giles, Cordelia and Rosalind have lived in the shelter of their mothers magic in a house in the enchanted forest. They all have magical powers which have been undeveloped as their mothers magic was all powering. When an army discovers their hiding place and takes the triplets mother hostage along with their elder brother the triplets in their ignorance are left to fend for themselves.

Cordelia, with her ability to change into any creature she wants leads the way and together they find out secrets and history that their mother should have told them. One of them is the true heir but which one?

It becomes a mission to find the broken crown on Mount Corve but danger lurks everywhere. Check it and see.

Short chapters big font and writing that invites you in and keeps you guessing plus in Cordelia a character that you fully relate to. very good fantasy for primary and intermediate readers

The Other Sister by Philippa Werry. Pub. Pipi Press, 2021

September 23, 2021 Comments off

This is a sequel to The Telegram a novel also reviewed on this blog. That novel was about Beaty a strong willed girl who became a telegram girl in WW1 a role normally taken by boys. This novel concentrates on Tilly her younger sister who is now 13 years old and has won a scholarship to a prestigious girls school.

It is 1919/1920 in small town New Zealand. The soldiers have returned home many in a damaged condition mentally, others with lost limbs and scarred faces and bodies. Beaty’s friend Caleb is greatly damaged “its as if someone else came back in his place”. It is a time for healing and renewal and Tilly is a big part of it all.

Socially NZ has changed too with women having taken a major role in running society while the men were away now asked to go back to the kitchen and have babies. There are an anti German and anti Chinese sentiments around but loyalty to the British Empire is still solid. The prince of Wales tours the country in this book with Tilly being privileged to meet him.

Tilly the main character is a breath of fresh air. She goes to work in a rehabilitation home for returned soldiers and works in the house of a rich family who lost their only son in the action. Tilly wins a scholarship to Girls High where the wealthy girls go and experiences their snobbery and social aloofness. Fortunately she has two good friends in Molly and Ingrid who have their own crosses to bear. The girls are told at school not place too much importance on getting married as there were not enough men to go round, Gasps all round. Emphasis is on pursuing their careers and fulfilling lives.

An excellent study of life post WW1 in New Zealand with strong female characters and you can be assured of the accuracy of the historical context as the author is the best in the business when comes to history.

Short chapters make it easy to read, each chapter begins with an obituary to a fallen soldier in the war. At the back is the historical context and photographs of the era. You will love Tilly. Superb ending.

Kakapo Keeper by Gay Buckingham. Pub. OneTree House, 2021

September 17, 2021 Comments off

Most birds pong pretty bad. Penguins reek of rotting fish and poo but kakapo have a lovely fusty-warm smell. Not to mention an inviting face and eyes that suggest a sense of cheek and humour.

This is one of the many quotations mentioned in this superb novel based on fact about bird conservation in Fiordland particularly in Dusky Sound where Capt Cook once harboured on his voyage to New Zealand.

The story is of Conservationist Richard Henry who camped in Dusky Sound between 1894-1900, with several assistants, moving kiwi, Kakapo, Roa and other birds from the mainland to the islands in Dusky Sound particularly Resolution Island. He wanted to protect the birds from weasels stoats and ferrets which had decimated the bird population and the kakapo almost to extinction.

This story is told in diary form by Andrew a teenage boy who is a composite of the four assistants that helped Richard Henry. He heads each chapter with Date, Bird tally and injuries. The last is amusing but given the hostility of the Fiordland environment – the rain, the sandflies, the earthquakes the landscape, it was no short miracle that they survived. Sandfly bites headed the injury list and Andrew was covered in bites with the “oozy wetness of Dusky Sound making everything they did miserable”.

Throughout the easy to read large text are diagrams of all the birds, plus maps and drawings of buildings and boats they built and used. Adding to the beauty of the story are their dog companions Lassie and Foxy.

Beautifully told with a sobering episode towards the end of the story that you can find out for yourself. In the back is the true story plus photographs of important events and structures used and built plus bird and animal life particularly of the ferrets, stoats and weasels who slither in for the kill.

One of the best animal conservation stories about people who really cared for the birds that I have ever read. Highly recommended. The cover is delightful.

Blimmin’ Koro! Katahi ra e Koro e! by Jill Bevan-Brown, illus. Trish Bowles. Translated Mahaki Bevan-Brown. Pub. Oratia, 2021

September 15, 2021 Comments off

A lovely bilingual picture book for primary students written in both English and Maori.

Koro (granddad) is getting old and getting dementia. he plays gleefully with his grandchildren and they notice that he is getting their names wrong. Blimmin’ Koro says nana.

He lets his grandchildren swing on the clothes line blimmin’ Koro says Nana.

Nan takes Koro to the doctor and he forgets things. He gets lost, hides things and ends up in a wheelchair. The children still love his company and Koro and nan have photographs of their life together to share with the grandchildren.

message is old people are precious and special and the good thing is the children in this book know that.

Don’t miss this one it is heartfelt.

Excellent illustrations capture that look in the faces of the character and granddads dementia is wonderfully portrayed as is the kids bewilderment and joy.

Early One Morning by Lawrence Schimel & Elina Braslina. Pub. Oratia, 2021.

September 14, 2021 Comments off

A little red head boy gets up before his two mums and his sister and makes breakfast while they are still sleeping.

The cat is awake too so both make their own breakfast.

A read aloud for juniors and pre school and hard board so that they can beat it around a bit.

Similar content to Bedtime Not Playtime with gay mothers . The strength is the normalcy of the relationships.

Colourful characters and easy text.