Author Archive

Pages & Co. Tilly and the Lost Fairy Tales by Anna James.

November 14, 2019 Comments off

pagesPages & Co. Tilly and the Lost Fairy Tales by Anna James. Pub. HarperCollins, 2019.

A brilliantly conceived novel for primary and intermediate readers about fairy tales.

Tilly and Oskar are friends who belong to the British UnderLibrary which caters for those who have the power of bookwandering. It is a skill that allows children and adults to enter books and relate to the characters in them. I would love that.

Bookwandering is controlled by librarians and like all librarians I have associated with professionally they are ridden with ego and patch protection foibles. There is a power struggle going on in the underlibrary world, a new head, Melville Underwood, has been elected in dubious circumstances and he has put curbs on bookwandering.

A rebel bookwanderer named Enoch Chalk has created havoc in the fairy tale world with some fairy tales missing and others irrevocably altered. Chalk is hiding somewhere in fairy tale world and is a hunted man.

Tilly and Oskar go to Paris to visit Oskar’s mum and she has access to bookwandering through an uncontrolled book shop. Oskar and Tilly go wandering in fairy tale world and encounter strange goings on. Is it Enoch Chalk or are other factors at play?

Tilly and Oskar find that all the fairy tale characters know each other. They wander first with Little Red Riding hood who knows Jack, of Beanstalk fame, and he knows of Rapunzel and the Three Bears. Rapunzel doesn’t have long hair nor is she trapped in a tower by a witch. She in fact has a sharp bob with an angular fringe, is 17 years old and doesn’t want anything to do with a prince. She wants her own life. Goldilocks is a blonde of course who knows what she wants, preys on the three bears and gazes at her immaculately painted finger nails.

I could tell you more but find out for yourself. Superb intelligent fun. Older readers will have fun with it too. The questions are, will Tilly and Oskar meet Enoch Chalk?  what is Melville up to? and who are the Archivists?



Nanny Mihi and the Rainbow by Melanie Drewery Illus. Tracy Duncan

November 13, 2019 Comments off

nanny mihiNanny Mihi and the Rainbow by Melanie Drewery Illus. Tracy Duncan. Pub. Oratia, 2019.

A reprint of this best selling picture book with all-new illustrations and printing.

Nanny Mihi has a whare (house) on the coast and every year her moko ma (grand children) visit her on their holidays. Nanny Mihi has them gathering different coloured shells, berries, flowers and other natural items and aligning them on the beach.

Each colour which reflects the colours of the rainbow is in Maori and English with a different colour collected on a different day of the weak. The days of the weak are also in Maori and English.

When a storm erodes their beach display Nanny Mihi tells the children that the Atua (gods) will repay in another way and after the storm sure enough a rainbow appears across the bay.

Lovely story and impressive illustrations that reflect the natural world and of course those expressive brown eyes of Nanny Mihi and the children.

The Little Yellow Digger ABC by Peter & Alan Gilderdale.

November 12, 2019 Comments off

abc diggerThe Little Yellow Digger ABC by Peter & Alan Gilderdale. Pub. Scholastic, 2019.

The mantle of Betty Gilderdale’s classic Little yellow Digger has been picked up by the next generation in an entertaining and educational ABC picture book with lift-the-flaps.

Little yellow Digger who looks quite grown up now is involved in lots of digging projects including digging a water hole for some hippos, saving a stranded whale on the beach, digging up some dinosaur bones among other things. He is a very helpful digger.

Rhyming text helps tell the story and reveal the letters of the alphabet in amazingly alphabetical order getting in such words as Unicorn and Xylophone. Each letter is in both capital and lower case letters and hidden under a flap for children to lift up.

The illustrations are colourful with lots of animals and digging work going on. Ideal for juniors as a read-a-loud and individual reading.


Dreamweavers Bk1. Awa and the Dreamrealm by Isa Pearl Ritchie.

November 10, 2019 Comments off

awaDreamweavers Bk1. Awa and the Dreamrealm by Isa Pearl Ritchie. Pub.Te Ra Aroha Press, 2019.

After reading this fantasy with a realism twist for primary and intermediate school readers, I played the Gary Wright song Dreamweaver. Do this yourself and see why.

Awa is of oriental descent, she is sensitive, her parents have just split up, she has moved to a small Wellington flat with her mother and she has started at another school.

At night she has dreams that seem real and one evening she sees a light that turns out to be a Dreamcharmer named Veila. Veila teaches Awa to enter the Dreamrealm where unbeknown to her she has an important role to play as a Dreamweaver.

At school Awa is bullied by Felicity but meets a friend Ella who is also bullied by Felicity. The divorce of the parents, the bullying and the racism, provide the realism twist to the dream world fantasy that Awa enters but somehow there is a connection.

This first part of a trilogy has Awa learn to understand the power the powers she has and the enemies she faces in the Dreamrealm in the personna of The Politician and Judgement. I feel the best is yet to come.

Easy to read, short chapters and much to appeal to pre-teens. The fantasy is drawn from the Greek legend Narcissus and from Maori mythology especially the nature of dreams.

The Lonely Christmas Tree by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros

November 9, 2019 Comments off

lonely christmasThe Lonely Christmas Tree by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros. Pub. Bloomsbery, 2019.

Christmas can be a lonely time for people who long to be part of what is known as Christmas spirit, being with people, sharing food and drink and exchanging gifts.

This is about a lonely pine tree that was once part of a big forest now cut down. The lonely tree watches all the celebrations from his lonely snow covered slope and yearns to belong.

Then on the eve of Christmas his life changes but you will have to read the story to find out why. Check out the mystery of what happened to the little bird.

Beautifully told in poetic verse that mimics “T’was the night before Christmas“.

Lovely story for juniors. The illustrations are superb as little tree sits on his lonely slope and the joy of Christmas comes alive with that jolly rotund red costumed gentleman and his reindeer.

Categories: Picture book Tags: ,

Pea + Nut by Matt Stanton.

November 5, 2019 Comments off

pea nutPea + Nut by Matt Stanton. Pub. ABC Books, 2019.

How can you pit a panda called Pea, who likes her own space against a pink flamingo called Nut, who can twist his neck around, in a cake baking competition?

Well Matt Stanton is no stranger to the absurd.

Nut is sure he would win “they’d put mine on display. and yours in the bin!”. Pea has a calm cunning disposition and she dupes Nut into going large and tall and of course he comes a gutsa.

Superb illustrations, Nut and Pea are ingenious creations and the rhyming text that will make you laugh with it’s cleverness.

Great read-a-loud for juniors and will put a smile on the face of elders.

Dear Princess Meghan by Sophie Siers & Katie Wilson.

November 3, 2019 Comments off

meghanDear Princess Meghan by Sophie Siers & Katie Wilson. Pub. Millwood press, 2019.

You could see this picture book as satire or you could see it as the hopes and dreams of a little girl who is in no hurry to meet her prince but has ideas about what it will take based on Princess Meghan’s wedding.

Emma is a young girl who is impressed that a girl just like herself “becomes a famous actress, falls in love with a Prince and becomes a true, real life princess”.

She is determined to follow Meghan’s path a gets the role of Anne Boleyn in the school play. She starts acting the way she thinks a princess should act in front of her family and class mates. It doesn’t go down well.

She writes to Princess Meghan in a series of letters asking her concerns “how did you learn to give orders?” Do you really have to let your maid brush your teeth?”.

Emma has a lot to learn but finally realises “luckily I’m not in any hurry to find my Prince!”

Love the letter writing and the illustrations are suitably royal and multi cultural.

Categories: Picture book Tags: , ,