Author Archive

The Crate. A ghost Story by James Norcliffe. Pub. Quentin Wilson Publishing, 2022

November 4, 2022 Comments off

A supernatural story set in a West Coast New Zealand lake called Tunamoana which is really a character in the novel with its deep dark moods.

Siblings Danny and Amy with their cousin Jack go on holiday to their grandfather’s cottage Bide-a-wee with their father. On arrival an old truck driven by a cloth capped old geezer delivers a heavy crate addressed to bide-a-wee cottage and tells them not to open it.

Of course they do and there is nothing inside except a damp patch and a piece of lake weed. This evokes on old mystery of a girl called Lily who went missing presumed drowned decades earlier and the mystery deepens when a girl in a dripping wet white nightie is seen and wet footprints are left on the floor.

The three teenagers discuss the happenings with their father and he suggests they follow the principle of Occam’s Razor which states “look for the most obvious, the most likely explanation”, But is there one?

Things become very complicated when the teenagers meet Skip and her mother Jessie who is a mystic, and then their cousin Jack goes missing. Read it and find out what happens. You won’t be disappointed.

Beautifully written and structured by James Norcliffe and excellent cover illustration by Jenny Cooper who gets the mood of the story just right.

The Physician’s Gun by John Evan Harris. Pub. Roiall Emerald Publishing 2022.

October 30, 2022 Comments off

Set in early New Zealand and based on true events, this story of murders most foul is a very readable story with a 15 year old boy, Henry Appleton as the main character.

Henry and his mother have a small house in the Nelson area in 1866. Many people pass through this area on their way to and from the Westland gold fields. Unfortunate Henry’s father has been killed and he and his mother are in hard times and living off a garden and Henry’s job cleaning at the bank.

Henry is an imaginative boy who yearns for a gun. He reads books by Johnny Slick who writes westerns and actually turns up in Nelson and meets Henry.

Into Nelson comes a physician Z. Smith, who is hunting his wife’s killer. The murder took place in Australia and Smith suspects the killer is in NZ. At the same time a ruthless robber and killer Richard Burgess, his mate Joseph Sullivan and his other cutthroat mates come to Nelson from Australia via the Westland goldfields.

Then some cowardly murders take place on the Maungatapu Road, a main thoroughfare from the goldfields that were notorious in 1860’s New Zealand. Who did the murders and how is Henry implicated? Thrilling stuff, read it and find out.

Excellent portrayal of early life in NZ and of a murder that stunned the country. Henry is a good role model, brave and his heart in the right place. In the back are photos of all those concerned and true facts about the Maungatapu Murders. Illustrations in pen and ink sketches show the main characters and action and enhance the story.

NZ SERIES: Weather and Climate New Zealand by Sandra Carrod, graphics by Karsten Schneider. Pub.Oratia, 2022

October 25, 2022 Comments off

It is said the New Zealanders talk about the weather more than any other subject and if you read this very informative book you will understand why.

It begins by defining the difference between climate and weather then goes on to show the main influences in creating the weather that we get here. It starts with the water and carbon cycles, explains global atmospheric circulation including the effects of the earth’s rotation, the jet stream, the oceans, El Nino and La Nina.

Best section is the explanation of the greenhouse effect and how it causes climate change. Not all the heat from the sun is radiated back into space because of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere-water vapour, Carbon dioxide methane, nitrous oxide and man made gases like fluorinated gases from refrigeration. These gases keep heat in and it is a careful balance. Man has upset that by living on Earth and released carbon into the atmosphere by burning coal and oil etc. The facts about this are astonishing.

How to read the weather map, the elements of weather-snow, rain, wind fog and mist are explained and how storms form.

You don’t need any other book about weather and the graphics and photographs illustrate everything.

The best book on this subject for primary intermediate and high school that I have read

This Land: The Search for Maui Bk 1 by Mark Abnett, art work by P.R. Dedlis. Pub Scholastic 2022.

October 20, 2022 Comments off

This first book of a three part series is a compilation of three comics. The old World has been destroyed and replaced by new lands with new people all with different characteristics from the old but influenced by the same old Gods.

The plot is set in the new land dominated by the city of Axeland whose people have withstood a fever and evolved to new lifestyles and tribes. Tane returns to the new Aotearoa and is arrested. Hell’na a beautiful goddess like creature rescues Tane then forms a band of mercenaries to search for Maui who seems to hold the key to everything.

The group travels through the new land which still has some landmarks of the old world like Waitomo Caves. But this group are followed by another band trying to find Tane. Very confusing I know.

Graphic novels are an ideal way to show Maori gods and legends but somehow this novel seems to complicate matters that baffle even an experienced reader like myself. This series seems to be directed at intermediate and junior secondary readers and I wish them well at figuring this lot out.

The illustrations are of course outstanding and the banter between the various warriors is entertaining. The dialogue and text is sprinkled with Maori words and all translated but if I am confused heaven knows how the kids will get on.

Perfect Presents by Anke Kuhl. Pub. Gecko Press, 2022

October 19, 2022 Comments off

This is a perfect hardback small sized picture book for juniors and pre school children and will also satisfy adult readers. It is sure to start off discussion.

A monstrous looking creature in a singlet with a watch on his left hand sits in a chair by the door waiting. The door bell rings and it is a thin yellow and black lizard with a travel trolley, who wishes him the best for today.

The creature is celebrating his birthday and after devouring three presents with relish then reaches out for the lizard. What is going to happen? read it for yourself. Very dramatic with a great ending.

The illustrations in crayon are very effective and the whole package will have the child asking for more. Another superb publication from gecko who really know what they are doing. Perfect!

Sparrow FART by Samantha Laugesen, illus. Scott Tulloch. Pub. Lighthouse, November 2022.

October 18, 2022 Comments off

Do sparrows fart at the crack of dawn, if you will excuse the pun? If they do I have never heard one. What does a sparrow fart sound like? Well Tom’s grandma assures him that they do.

Tom is too energised to go to bed so he asks owl if he has heard a sparrow fart and what noise does he make when he wakes up? Pigeon doesn’t know nor does rooster, chicken or turkey. Sparrow isn’t having a bar of it either. Go back to sleep they yell.

Guess what happens next? but is it at the crack of dawn?

Lots of fun in this picture book. The illustrations are a treat especially the images of the birds.

A great gift for Xmas and read aloud for pre schoolers and juniors.

Categories: Picture book Tags: ,

The Little Yellow Digger Finds Treasure by Peter Gilderdale, illus by Fifi Colston. Pub.Scholastic, 2022

October 18, 2022 Comments off

Yes the Little yellow Digger is back this time with a friendly dog called Charlie who has a keen nose.

While digging out a truck stuck on a beach which has whales frolicking out to sea, Charlie the dog smells something interesting. Little yellow Digger does the job he was designed for and digs a trunk up?

What is inside? How will the locals react? Read it and find out.

Carefully constructed rhyming text by Peter Gilderdale who is continuing in his mothers footsteps and superb detailed illustrations by Fifi Colston make this picture book a winner.

A good read aloud for juniors and pre school children and for juniors new to reading to ponder over. Fifi’s illustrations of the NZ coastline and community enhance the story. A good gift for Xmas.

Categories: Picture book Tags: ,

Have You Seen Tomorrow? by Kyle Mewburn, Illus. Laura Bee. Pub. Puffin 25 October 2022

October 16, 2022 Comments off

When I read this lovely picture book I thought of the old WW2 song “Its a lovely day Tomorrow” and I still have it buzzing around my head.

Rabbit didn’t enjoy yesterday and he feels that tomorrow is going to be great. But he can’t find it and seeks the help from his friends. Duck has seen it not far away, Bear can smell it, Tortoise can hear it, but Rabbit is still alone with his doubts.

Then along comes Wolf. What do you think can happen? read it and find out.

Lovely illustrations that make you wonder why Rabbit is so glum.

Great read aloud for pre schoolers and juniors. A likeable Rabbit and scurrilous Wolf will get children interested. helps children understand the concepts of yesterday, today and tomorrow with a theme of enjoying today while it is there.

Categories: Picture book Tags: , ,

Bedtime Blast-off! by Mark Sommerset, illus. Pradyut Chatterjee. Pub. Dreamboat Books, October 2022

October 14, 2022 Comments off

Quirky Turkey is not the brightest tool in the shed. So when Bessie the cow slips him a hot coconut cup full of milk, chocolate and marshmallows, he thinks he will convince Little Baa Baa to drink it.

Baa Baa is a sleepy sheep but not sleepy enough to fall for this old trick. He leads Turkey on that the drink looks tasty and then says no thanks. I wonder why?

Turkey naturally is all exasperated and decides to drink it himself having forgotten the real contents. I wonder who will eventually drink the concoction? And what is Baa Baa’s aromatherapy for? Read this delightful story and find out.

The third part of a trilogy that began with Baa Baa Smart Sheep and I Love Lemonade this book begs to be read aloud to juniors. Adults will love it too.

Excellent illustrations that capture the stupidity of Quirky turkey and the sly sleepy cleverness of Baa Baa. Of course the question of morality of the whole event is raised? Should people do this to each other?

The Ghost House by Bill Nagelkerke, illus. Theo Macdonald. Pub. Cuba Press, October 2022.

October 12, 2022 Comments off

If you ask a group of children on a school camp what type of story they like best, a large proportion of them will say ghost stories. This is a ghost story about an old kauri villa, “as empty as the inside of a base drum’, still standing in the Red Zone created by the Canterbury Earthquakes.

David is recovering from a serious illness and is being baby sat by his older teenage sister who doesn’t mind the sitting, it’s the baby part she worries about. David just wants to get back to playing cricket so to ease the boredom he goes walking in the Red Zone which is now devoid of houses and full of trees and shrubs that have flourished since the earthquake.

On his first journey into the Red Zone he comes across a house that seems to be saying Help Me. When he enters he meets an old lady called Agnes and they talk. Who is she and what is she doing there? You will have to read the novel to find out, and you will not be disappointed.

A whimsical and easy story told in short chapters and characterised by rich descriptions and a cool relationship between the old and the young. It also describes the Red Zone and what it was and what it hopefully will become. Bee keepers already work the area and public gardens are growing. The encounter between Agnes and David unravels the history of the area.

A well told tale for junior and intermediate readers.