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Leilong’s Too Long by Julia Liu, Illus. Bei Lynn. Translated by Helen Wang. Pub. Gecko Press, 2022.

June 23, 2022 Comments off

Leilong is a huge green brontosaurus with a gentle smile and a caring manner.

He takes Max, Maggie and Mo to school along with their friends and they love it. Leilong causes quite a few problems with traffic and he is so big a swipe from his tail can demolish a house. He weighs as much as 5 elephants and several bridges have already been damage.

Leilong likes the children but he is not all that happy with the job. The school worries about the damage too. He has to go but what will Leilong do now? Read it and find out.

Unusual illustrations of city life are a highlight of this picture book done in water colours and dark outlined pencil. Lots of smiles on the faces of the children.

Original story from Taiwan that readers will enjoy especially juniors. A classy package

Nanny Mihi’s Medicine. Nga Rongoa a Nanny Mihi by Melanie Drewery, Illus. Suzanne Simpson. Pub. Oratia Books, 2022.

June 21, 2022 Comments off

This is an English/Maori bilingual text about Maori medicine which will give it appeal not only to children but to older people interested in herbs and plants that have curative properties.

Nanny Mihi is visited by her two grandchildren for the holidays and they turn up sick. Nanny Mihi takes them out into the bush to gather leaves and roots that will help them get well.

Easy text in English on the left page and in Maori on the right. Illustrations are superb with Nanny Mihi glowing like a beacon.

In the back of the picture book there is a section on the plants used and how the medicine works. I think I will try Kawakawa tea it sounds just what I need.

Colour the Stars. Taea nga Whetu by Dawn McMillan, illus. Keinyo White. Translation Ngaere Roberts. Pub. Scholastic, 2022.

June 19, 2022 Comments off

The 10th anniversary edition of this classic picture book for everybody with Maori language translation and stunning new illustrations.

Isaac and Luke are friends but Luke is blind and has no understanding of what colours are. Isaac takes Luke on a walk so that he witnesses yellow of the sun, the green of a fern leaf, the brown of the earth, the red of blood from a stubbed toe and the blue of the sky.

Luke in turn teaches Isaac the sounds of nature because this is his world. “when you can’t see, you have to listen”. At night when it is black, Luke knows all about black, Isaac and Luke get to know what the stars look like. A sensitive and moving story.

Valuable not only as a story to describe difference between sighted and unsighted but also to appreciate the Maori language

No Home For Weta by Stephanie Thatcher. Pub. Scholastic, 2022

June 19, 2022 Comments off

Weta is sick of his crowded home in an old log even though it has a nice washing line, mushrooms all around, a warm fire and a swing. It is too noisy, so he sets off to find a new home.

The mail box proves a problem when the mail is delivered, Fang the dog’s kennel is comfortable but not to share with a dog and the toilet roll in the outside loo is also unsatisfactory in fact it is frightening.

Then weta finds a brand new home with a wonderful view. It is perfect. Guess what happens? You will have to read it to find out.

Superb illustrations that give a friendly look to our unique insect species.. Information about the weta in the back.

Good read aloud with rhyming text for juniors.

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Inside Bubble Earth. Recycling by Des Hunt. Pub. OneTree House, 2022.

June 16, 2022 Comments off

This is one of the best books I have read on the problem of rubbish disposal and waste created on planet Earth and where humans must go to ensure that we survive. It looks at the past to compare how rubbish was disposed of and to the future urging that sustainability and biodegradable products are the salvation to the wastage problem.

The reason why it is so good is because it is written as a story by an author who is a skilled writer of fiction and his technique explains the issues in a very readable and understandable way for children. There are six short chapters with bite size pieces of information and diagrams and examples from New Zealand incidents to show what is happening here.

It begins by comparing a Stone Age archeological site and notes that all the rubbish has gone as it has rotted away because it is organic materials. He looks at the changing nature of human rubbish through the Bronze Age and Iron Age to today which he calls the Age of Plastics.

He looks at the NZ example of the Fox River site that was eroded away by floods and the nature of the plastic rubbish which was still in tact. He then looks at the chemistry of plastic to show why it is indestructible and a problem for humankind.

I learnt a lot from this 64 page picture book and in the back is a Glossary of Terms used, an accessible Index and further reading including the web site Recyclekiwi.co.nz.

This is an essential purchase for any school and for the home. The information found here is better and more understandable than a web site. Great photographs too.

Showtym Viking by Kelly Wilson and Amanda Wilson. Pub. Penguin Random House. Imprint Puffin, 2022.

June 13, 2022 Comments off

If you are a horse person, into show jumping and love competition then this is the novel for you. Written by two of the famous Wilson sisters with input from the rest of the family this novel doesn’t seem like your regular novel it reads like a true story. I am sure it is based on real events.

Amanda is 16 years going on 17 and she rides ponies in show jumping events. Her older sisters are riders in big events and are an important part of her interest in horses. Amanda is homeschooled and mixes her school work with training and riding horses. She is good at it but at times lacks confidence particularly when things don’t go her way. She has to learn to get back on the horse after a fall.

When sister Vicki recommends she buy a 6 year old pony who she sees as special Amanda does so and finds that Vicki is right. As Amanda rides the new pony who she calls Strider, with the name Showtym Viking for events, she learns that Strider is indeed a special horse.

With her other horses Max Frodo and Baggins, Amanda competes in many real events with the aspiration that Strider can compete in Pony of the Year a title that no 6 year old horse has ever won. Can she do it? Read it yourself and find out. Is Amanda up to it?

I have read many girl and horse books particularly from Stacy Gregg and other titles from Kelly Wilson too, but this novel taught me more about what training and riding a horse in show jumping events means. Showing the horse the jump before an event, working out how many strides it takes between fences according to the stride and pace of the horse, bridleless riding and lots more.

Well written with short chapters and big build up to the main event. Good story.

Of Course You can! Se e Te Mafaia by karen Hinge, illus Nicky Sievert, Translated Tafu Nicole Maynard. Pub. OneTree House, 2018

June 8, 2022 Comments off

This is one of three picture books in Pasifika languages, Samoan, Tongan and Niuean written and illustrated by the same authors but different translators. They are aimed at primary school children but are highly useful for anyone learning these languages.

This picture book is about Jeremy a disable boy who is going to school for the first time. On day one as he wheels his wheel chair into the class room he is diffident and not sure he can cope but by the end of the week everything is awesome. See how he gets there.

An inspiring story written on one page in English then the Samoan translation on the opposite page. The message is Of Course you can do it, but the value is having these Pasifika languages alive in a picture book.

Matariki . Around the World. By Rangi Matamua & Miriama Kamo, illus. Isobel Joy Te Aho-White Pub. Scholastic, 2022.

June 6, 2022 Comments off

With Matariki now a public holiday in New Zealand, recognition of this important day is now celebrated in this important picture book for school libraries and in the home.

It is a cluster of stores about a cluster of stars that vary in number from 6-9 even up to 12, depending on where in the Worlds they are viewed from.

The Maori called them Matariki. It was an important guide to the cycle of life and celebrated at a different time every year depending like Easter on the Lunar calendar.

It was also noted by the Aborigines, The Cook Islands, Tahiti and Hawaii. The Japanese called it Subaru, the Chinese knew it as Mao, the Indians included it in Hinduism and included in their myth and legend as well as the cycle of life particularly crop growing. Africans knew it as IsiLimela and it was known to the North American Indians, the Aztecs and the Incas.

The Greeks called it Pleiades named after seven sisters and it is known as this by most of the World.

All the myth and legend surrounding this cluster of stars is told in this beautifully illustrated picture book which is a must purchase for school libraries and individual homes. This will figure in book awards later in the year for sure.

Loki. A Bad God’s Guide to being Good by Louie Stowell. Pub. Walker Books, 2022

June 4, 2022 Comments off

Satire and irony are clever tools in comedy and this easy to read short novel about Loki the Norse god of mischief is a great example of these two techniques in action.

Loki is sent by Odin to Earth from Asgard, down the Rainbow Bridge because of his bad behaviour. He is accompanied by his nemesis Thor and two make believe parents Hyrrokkin, a giant woman and Heimdall an ogre like man. The reason is to learn how to behave, show empathy, remorse and kindness. If he fails he will be sent to hell with snakes.

Loki must keep a diary of what happens and the diary can monitor his behaviour and dock points off his starting point of minus 3000 for bad behaviour on Earth. he hasn’t got a chance because he can’t change the habits of a life time or can he? Read it and find out.

Thor is a perfect speciman, popular with the girls while Loki is a puny nerd looking boy who can’t compete, except by behaving badly which he is very good at. When the points differential reaches a million to the power of infinity he is in bad shape but can he come back?

Human behaviour is savaged. Stowell takes the water out of schools, family life, shopping, eating takeaways etc. Very funny and will attract reluctant readers particularly boys.

Skulduggery Pleasant. Until the End by Derek Landy. Pub. HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2022.

May 30, 2022 Comments off

The 15th book in this very impressive series and I am astonished that it hasn’t been picked up by the film industry. I have read them all and they are complicated with a myriad of characters, worlds, time zones and scenarios and I just take it a chapter at a time.

For those who don’t know Skulduggery is a skeleton man who wears a flash suit and hat, sun glasses and is a silver tongued flatterer of the highest degree. He has powers that he uses to protect the innocent and fight the nasties in his role as Arbiter for a World dominated by The faceless Ones. They are sort of Gods and are worshiped by a large portion of the World’s population but not all. Supreme mages direct this sort of religion but there are many outbursts of opposition that result in vicious murders which Skuduggery Pleasant investigates along with his former enemy Valkyrie Valkyries was responsible for bringing back the Faceless Ones and she is titled the Mother and Child of them.

The World is a very dangerous place and doomsday is always round the corner but always seems to be averted at the last moment after all seems hopeless. So it is with this novel so it would be pointless of me to outline a plot, it is so complex, you will have to read it yourself.

I dig the names of some of the characters such as Crepuscular Vies, Obsidian, the Darkly Brothers, Darquesse and others.

Told in 133 short chapters with over 600 pages, each chapter deals with a different set of characters with plot and character development that leads to the customary crisis at the end.

There will be other novels I am sure so just enjoy the action and characters. I did.