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My NZ Story. The Wahine Disaster by Shirley Corlett.

April 6, 2020 Comments off

wahineMy NZ Story. The Wahine Disaster by Shirley Corlett. Pub. Scholastic, 2020.

This novel was originally part of the My Story Series titled Abandon Ship published in 2003 but it has been redesigned and I have just read it in the week that the Wahine went down 52 years ago.

It is powerfully written in diary form by 12 year old Debbie who was aboard the ship and saved the diary by wrapping it in plastic before going into the sea and being rescued at Seatoun.

The novel is skilfully linked to another sinking in Wellington harbour of the Birmin one hundred years before, on which one of Debbies relatives was doctor. This provides a spooky side to the story when Debbie was in the water, freezing cold and barely able to hang on, she feels she was assisted by her grandfather relative.

Lots of pictures in the back plus a portrait of life in 1968 the year that Martin Luther King was shot and the Beverley Hillbillies was the most popular TV show.

Easy to read and a great lockdown story of another tragedy in another time.

 

Row, Kiwi,Row Your Boat by Lynette Evans, illus Stevie Mahardhika, sung Pio Terei.

April 5, 2020 Comments off

kiwi rowRow, Kiwi,Row Your Boat by Lynette Evans, illus Stevie Mahardhika, sung Pio Terei. Pub.Scholastic, 2020.

A board book with all the pages hard cardboard so that they can withstand chewing and rough treatment. It is for babies and pre school children for whom the love of books is yet to be established.

It has a song that can be downloaded but parents will know it as it is the old favourite Row Row Row your boat gently down the stream.

Three kiwis go rowing to find a Taniwha. They meet a kingfisher, a rather cool eel, a heron, a duck and others who they want to help them find the taniwha. He is around there somewhere so if you can find him.

Bright eyed illustrations and an excellent taniwha..

Animalphabet by Julia Donaldson, illus. Sharon King-Chai

April 2, 2020 Comments off

animalphabetAnimalphabet by Julia Donaldson, illus. Sharon King-Chai. Pub. MacMillan, 2020.

Very cleverly designed, illustrated and written picture book for juniors and pre-school children. The unity of illustrations and text has never been better. This alphabet picture book will blow your mind.

The written text is enormously clever and demands to be read aloud. It starts with an Ant, but who is prettier than an Ant? of course it is a butterfly but it hasn’t as many legs as a caterpillar and a caterpillar is not as big as an elephant.

But who is pinker than an elephant? and the question of them all who can sing better than a Mole? Read it and find out. Covers air, land and sea creatures.

Sharon King-Chai’s illustrations are superb and the cuttings and flaps in the pages and cover once opened reveal something about the story.

The best picture book so far this year.

Katipo Joe: Blitzkrieg by Brian Falkner.

March 31, 2020 Comments off

katipoKatipo Joe: Blitzkrieg by Brian Falkner. Pub. Scholastic, 2020.

This action filled war story of World war 2 is a novel to rival the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz. I make this comparison because it is totally world class writing from, in my opinion the best action writer in New Zealand.

Based on true events it is set in Berlin in 1938 as the Nazi machine was taunting the world with threats and it’s anti Jewish programe. Joe is 12 years old and his parents work as diplomats and also spy on the Nazis. Joe goes to school in Berlin and mixes with Martin Borman’s nephew Klaus. Joe is a blue eyed blond youth and speaks fluent German , a fact that makes him a target for espionage.

When his father is arrested by the gestapo, Joe and his mother escape from berlin in a thrilling piece of action.

The scene shifts to London during the Blitz with Joe living in the ruins of the city looking for his mother. he meets friends on the street and the tragedy of wartime Britain. He gets involved in a Nazi spy ring that involves his mother and when his mother is allegedly  killed in a Nazi bomb plot, Joe is seconded by MI6 special forces and trained to be a spy.

The scene then shifts to occupied Paris with Joe flown into France to infiltrate the Hitlerjugend or Hitler Youth movement to effect an assassination of a prominent Nazi general. The action is thrilling.

Splendidly written by Brian Falkner who is at the top of his game. The action is astonishing and tragic. War is like this. Don’t miss this one it is superb.

For readers between 12 years and 16 years. Adults will love it too. Photographs in the back plus a glossary giving all the aircraft, guns and Nazi terms. Easy to read and compelling.

Burn by Patrick Ness

March 24, 2020 Comments off

burnBurn by Patrick Ness. Pub. Walker Books, 2020.

RELEASED MAY 2020

This is a Young Adult novel out of the top draw. It is a novel of parallel worlds, of dragons, of the human condition, of action and ultimately a love story.

It is the year 1957 and the Cold War is heating up so to speak. The Russians are on the verge of putting a satellite into space and the Americans are worried about the spying implications of such a satellite.

This is real history but there is an additional element -DRAGONS. Yes dragons inhabit this planet living in the waste lands of Russia of Asia of Europe and the Americas. Humans and dragons rarely meet. They have lived a peaceful but uneasy existence for centuries but that is all about to change with the launch of the Russian satellite.

There is a prophecy that nuclear war will break out between men and rid the planet of humans thus allowing dragons who are immune from radiation to fly free. The satellite launch is going to be used to trigger the war.

Enter a religious cult of dragon worshipers called Believers in the person of Malcolm a ruthless 17 year old, gay killer whose job is to assassinate a teenage girl called Sarah Dewhurst as she is prophesised to stop the dragons.

The action and plot turns are staggering. Written in two parts the end of the first part seeming to be the end of the world. After a torrid conflict a claw of a dragon known as The Spur is used to transfer all the action into a parallel world where every character in the first part has a different life in the second world.

This is a brilliant transition but will the prophecy be true in this second world and is there hope for human kind and dragons?

Superbly told, totally compelling. If you miss this you will miss the best book of the year.

Moa’s Ark by Peter Millett Illus. Shaun Yeo

March 16, 2020 Comments off

moa's arkMoa’s Ark by Peter Millett Illus. Shaun Yeo. Pub. Scholastic, 2020.

I have always liked the story of Noah’s Ark even though it pushes credibility a lot and when I picked this picture book up I did so with a little scepticism. I was wrong. It is a good yarn about how animals got to “the magical lands of the longest white cloud”

As the animals are getting on the Ark two by two a couple of pesky moa join them. They are like kids always wanting to know “are we there yet“. They are in a hurry and have to wait their turn as the African animals get off first then others like the penguins. But when they do arrive with the tuatara, the kiwi and the kakapo, they are rapt.

Peter Millett is a genius with words but he does push the rhyme a bit. It all adds to the hilarity of the story. He is lucky that Moa rhymes with Noah. Check it and find out.

My Mama by Annemarie van Haeringen. Translated by Bill Nagelkerke.

March 14, 2020 Comments off

my mamaMy Mama by Annemarie van Haeringen. Translated by Bill Nagelkerke. Pub.Gecko press, 2020.

Baby elephant narrates this picture book about him and his mama, after all he has “known her for the whole of his life”.

He loves playing with his mom, going shopping with her, pushing her on the swing and enjoying being around her.

Mom in turn loves playing with his toys, carrying him about in her shopping bag and swinging him around when she gets angry, but she never lets him go.

A great mother and baby story with parenting sh kills that are to be envied.

The illustrations of mother and baby elephant are excellent and there is a running theme of the stars. Read it and see what it is.

 

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