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The Ice Sea Pirates by Frida Nilsson.

June 22, 2017 Comments off

ice piratesThe Ice Sea Pirates by Frida Nilsson. Imprint Gecko Press, 2017.

Pirate Whitehead is the coldest, most evil man on the Ice Sea. He wears his hair in a bun and treats children like animals by capturing them and making them work in his diamond mine on a secret island somewhere in the Ice Sea.

What is worse is that he has stolen Miki, the sister of the heroine of this story, Siri who sets out to rescue Miki, unarmed but with a determination that could beat the All Blacks.

On her journey across the Ice Sea which freezes over in winter and crushes ships caught in the ice, Siri meets some amazing people and creatures that all assist her in her mission to free Miki. Some of the creatures are bogle birds, sea parrots which are very tasty when cooked with snowberries, and a baby merman.

The smell of fish is ever present in the written text and the coldness seeps through so make sure you read it in front of the fire.

Siri is a brilliant character, good and sincere to the core and brave and resilient beyond belief. Love does that to people and Siri loves her sister Miki. But will Siri find Miki alive and well, and defeat Whitehead? Read it and find out.

This is a translation of a highly acclaimed Swedish writer which lacks nothing in power and the illustrations by David Barrow enhance the mood and illustrate the plot.

This novel really is a saga and cries out to be read aloud to children of ages 8-12 years but older kids will love it too. If you miss this you will kick yourself.

Jorie and the Magic Stones by A.H. Richardson.

June 19, 2017 Comments off

JorieJorie and the Magic Stones by A.H. Richardson. Imprint. Serano Press Washburn Tennessee, 2015.

This is a fantasy story for children between 8-12 years. It has dragons, a magic book, a cat that can talk and a girl hero with hair of fire and bright green eyes.

Her name is Jorie and she is not aware of her heritage until she goes to stay with her aunt Letty in a big house with a tarn or deep glacial lake within view of the house. On her first night in the house she finds an old book which tells a history that she is going to become involved with.

Like all good fantasy stories there is a fantasy land called Cabrynthius that was once ruled by Maalog Doonan through the power of three magic stones. The stones are now missing  but it has been prophesised that a Child with Hair of Fire will return to find the stones and restore the balance of power in Cabrynthius.

In the interim period a baddy called Fodomalk from the neighbouring land of Shyloxia who can turn into a dragon is seeking the stones to enhance his own power.

It is down to Jorie and her friend Rufus to find the stones and defeat the baddies.

Written in short chapters in a lofty writing style, this novel is for the gifted reader.

I read it to my granddaughters and they related well to Jorie. Great cover.

 

Funny Kid for President by Matt Stanton.

June 14, 2017 Comments off

funny kid presidentFunny Kid for President by Matt Stanton. Pub. ABC Books imprint HarperCollins, 2017.

If you want to make an impact with primary and intermediate school students in order to get them reading then hitting on the poo, bum, weeze formula is the way to do it. Make the school the setting and introduce a range of characters from bullies to total weirdos and you’ve got it made.

Matt Stanton is the latest to take up the challenge of getting boys in particular to read and he does it so well I think I will read them all myself.

Max is a bit of a clown, he doesn’t think too deeply about things but he is not a dummy. He is Mr average and that covers a lot of kids. He decides to run for class President because it is a first and he sees it as a way to get back at his mean teacher Mr Armstrong who has accused him of pooping on the floor. Max wishes to clear his name as the phantom pooper and to combat his nemesis Abbey Purcell at the same time.

He is assisted in this mission by his best friend, but only on a temporary basis, Hugo, and has an ally that he would rather not have in the form of a duck who keeps chasing him around and biting him on the bottom.

Elections are in the air so compare this election to the alleged serious elections that are to come, you might find that there is not much difference.

Easy to read with a variety of large fonts and splendidly perceptive black and white illustrations. This series is destined for legendary status.

Nga Atua: Maori Gods by Robyn Kahukiwa

June 13, 2017 Comments off

maori GodsNga Atua: Maori Gods by Robyn Kahukiwa. Pub. Oratia Books, 2017.

I have been reading Robyn Kahukiwa’s books for more than 30 years and they have always impressed me.

This picture book is a simple introduction to some of the deities that are special, unique and awesome and are some of the supernatural beings of Aotearoa, the Land of the Long White cloud.

Tane is described first as the most powerful Atua who looks after the birds the trees and the people, he also gave light to the land by pushing Ranginui the sky away from Papatuanuke, the Earth.

Maui is in there of course and so is Ruaumoko who I am well acquainted with here in Christchurch because when Ruaumoko burps an earthquake is on the way. The stunner for me was Mahuika the Atua of fire. Each finger of her hand has a name and she hurls fire at her enemies.

The illustrations are superb and affirm the relevance of the Maori Gods today just as the Greek and Roman Gods are relevant and all the other cultural gods of Earth’s many peoples.

Finding Gobi. The True story of one Little Dog’s Big Journey by Dion Leonard

June 12, 2017 Comments off

finding gobiFinding Gobi. The True story of one Little Dog’s Big Journey by Dion Leonard. Pub HarperCollins, 2017.

Animal stories are close to children’s hearts, they evoke joy, apprehension and tears and this heart warming story is no exception.

Dion is a seasoned ultramarathon runner and during a 155 mile race across the Gobi desert he is accompanied by a little dog whom he names Gobi. After the race finishes he has become so attached to Gobi that he wants to take her/him (I am not sure what sex Gobi is) home with him.

Complications and drama begin. The costs of such an exercise are huge and the quarantine restrictions in China and in Scotland where Dion lives are prohibitive.

Dion tells his story and people start sending in funds to help bring Dion to Scotland and then Gobi goes missing. What has happened to the little dog? Has someone dognapped her/him for money? Is he/she still alive?

Dion has to go back to China to find her/him. Read the rest to see what happens.

I loved the story with Gobi also given a voice, but the story of the endurance race through the Gobi gripped me as well.

Easy to read with high appeal to reluctant readers from Primary school upwards even to adult and young adult. The story is amazing.

The World’s Worst Children 2 by David Walliams, Illus. Tony Ross.

June 11, 2017 Comments off

worst children 2The World’s Worst Children 2 by David Walliams, Illus. Tony Ross. Pub. HarperCollins, 2017.

You don’t need to advertise a new David Walliam’s book, the children all know before you do, so if you have never read one get hold of this and get part of the magical lunacy that catagorises his books.

In this book we meet ten improbable children with ten very real foibles that are exaggerated into a laugh out loud series of cautionary tales aimed at the reluctant reader.

Stacey wants to be a superstar but can’t sing and won’t be told. Frankie is fussy with his food and won’t eat vegetables, Harry never does his homework, Clarissa is cruel to cats and Colin wants to win everything that he does. Recognise some of these? Of course you do. Read it and find out what the other five are.

As ever Tony Ross interprets the written text with superb and equally bizarre illustrations that this time are in colour.

Simply written and very appealing, get hold of this quick before somebody reads it before you. There is no age limit on this novel and there will be a 3rd part.

Like Nobody’s Watching by L.J. Ritchie.

June 8, 2017 Comments off

nobody watchingLike Nobody’s Watching by L.J. Ritchie. Pub. Escalator Press, 2016.

This first novel is a finalist in Young Adult section of this years New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. It is also up for best first novel and the subject is surveillance culture.

When Oscar’s high school fits 36 cameras in the school grounds to curb vandalism it changes the culture of the school but not in the way it was intended.

Oscar and his friends are not high profile year 10’s but they have a sense of justice. When Oscar’s friend Bronwyn alerts him to boys bullying her brother Will, Oscar finds a way to hack into the school system and view the surveillance video, then uses the video secretly and without trace to shame the bullies and blackmail them into to ceasing the bullying.

At first it works a treat, then they use the same system to stop year 11’s bullying the year 9’s. This time however it is complicated so they use  a social media site to shame the bullies again to great success.

The Internet never forgets and while Oscar and his friends don’t feel they are doing anything wrong because all is anonymous and bullying is unlawful, will they slip up and get caught?

But viewing the surveillance videos could be used in a more sinister way such as stalking. The students rebel and set up a petition to remove the cameras. Read it and find out what happens.

The novel is narrated by an eye of god technique and is told in short sharp sentences which took me a while to get used to. Nonetheless it impressed me with it’s perceptive look at teen culture in this hi tech wired up world we live in.