Giants, Trolls, Witches, Beasts. Ten Tales from the Deep Dark Woods by Craig Phillips. Pub. Allen & Unwin, 2017.
The telling of stories of myths and legends was the reason the storyteller had the best seat by the fire. Here are ten myths legends and fairy tales from nine different cultures that talk about all the mythical creatures mentioned in the title.
Most of the stories you will know already although there was one I hadn’t heard of and it is a beauty. From Sweden is The Boy Who Was Never Afraid. He goes looking for his cow that was stolen by a an old Troll. Who hasn’t? he can’t afford to be afraid and after confronting bravely some formidable opponents he gets his cow back and becomes a hero at the same time. Brilliant.
You get Irish giant Finn McCool, Russian with Baba Yaga and Momotaro the peach boy plus others. You can’t beat that.
What makes these tales more accessible than they were before is the fact they are written in wide screen comic book illustrations that bring life to the tales. Visual readers will really get into these and so they should.
Less than 30 bucks will get you this impressive book that will appeal to reluctant readers and good readers alike. High boy appeal.
Moa by James Davidson. Pub. Earths End, 2017.
A comic book story in 5 parts concerning two Moa Rangers Possum von Tempsky and Kiwi Pukupuku. Both ride Moas and are sort of watchdogs cum cultural police cum super heroes who wander round NZ’s bush and seashore sorting out the bad dudes including tough looking pigs, stags and lizards. All the local population are kiwis.
Their adventures fringe onto Maori legends including Hatupatu and the Birdwoman and of course Maui. There is a story of the largest Kauri tree that bushmen want to cut down. Everytime they try it is restored again as it is protected by a Mauri stone.
The last story which is not finished is a serial story concerning the theft of Maui’s magic jaw bone by Otto who wants to use it to fish for his own land and conquer the World. You will need to get the next part to find out how it ends.
Comic book illustrations with speech bubbles from the characters. Lots of action and tongue in cheek humour without offending the cultural aspects.
Another example of the changing way Maori legends and culture are proceeding to appeal to modern kids. I like the movement.
Snails, Spells & Snazzlepops by Robyn Cooper. Pub. Makaro Press, 2016.
A first novel for primary and intermediate children told with much enthusiasm and gusto.
It combines the silliness that Paul Jennings and Andy Griffiths brought to junior fiction and combines it with some fantasy and real life issues like adjusting to your mothers boyfriend and bullying.
Ten year old charlie wants to be rich and decides becoming a famous chef is the way to go. He inveigles his mate Matt and his sister Millie to assist him in capturing, preparing and cooking snails for his mother and her teacher boyfriend Mr Swinkburn Doug. Never got used to that name.
In the process of finding a recipe for snails online Charlie finds a site Sails, Spells and Snazzlepops. He sees spells to make you shorter and taller and a cure for bullying amongst others. Will this help to cure the bully Ivan?
None of this will make Charlie rich but perhaps the Snazzlepop section will change his luck.Read it and find out.
Easy to read with short chapters and plenty to keep the reader in the book.
Johnny Danger Bk 3. Spyborg by Peter Millett. Pub. Puffin Books, 2016.
Yes book three is out at last and it is full of the same intelligent silliness that made the other two books so popular. Perennial villain Dr Disastrous is joined by new villain Yuri Boom-Boom-ovic who has invented a cyborg that can be replicated to look and act like anybody.
The two villains retreat to Happy World island formerly known as Ikki Ikki Bunga, Dr Disastrous’s hideaway, and plot to get Johnny Danger and conquer the World at the same time. Mwahahaha.
Not only that Johnny Dangers older brother Evil Ian has gone to the darkside and Penelope Pounds and Johnny’s father are acting very strangely, could they be one of Boo Boom’s new cyborgs or Yuri-nators as he calls them?
Read this action packed spoof on James Bond and have fun. Lots of action and toilet humour, there is even a lego car. Adults will love it too as Peter Millett spoofs film classics Dirty Harry, the Terminator and others.
The best compliment I can give this novel is to tell you I read it in one sitting. It made me smile on a miserable day. It will do that to you too.
For middle school and older students who have furtive imaginations. All the Johnny Danger books are at this link
Mechanica. A beginner’s field guide by Lance Balchin. Pub.The Five Mile Press, 2016.
Wow! What an impressive picture book this is. After reading it twice my thoughts were “I want more, I don’t know enough” and I expect there is more because the title says it is a beginner’s guide and reference is made to The Mechanica Chronicles. I hope so!!
In a nutshell humans have destroyed the environment of the Earth so that all wild life of the planet have become extinct. To make up for it they create robotic Mechapets with Chen Sue a major player with his revolutionary Series 3 Wing Brace design.
This design effectively sets the mechapets free and they evolve into Mechanica who threaten humans and caused them to retreat into highly defended bolt holes. One of these is the South Sea island of Saraswati on which resides Liberty Crisp, a student of the genius Reginald P. Prescott.
When Saraswati is sacked by the Mechanica, Liberty sets sail on the HMS Beagle and does a Darwinesque trip around the World to see how the Mechanica have evolved.
The undoubted highlight of this book are the illustrations of the Mechanica. The detailed diagrams are complete with data such as Power Source, Speed, Origin, Size and specifics about their adaptations to their environment. There is the King dragonfly, the Powered Spider, the Articulated Snake and my favourite the Fast Parrot.
Absolutely Superb and with appeal for every age group. Not only that, Lance Balchin leaves the reader with a glimmer of hope.
Grandad’s Wheelies by Jack Lasenby, illus. Bob Kerr. Pub. Puffin, 2016.
Any children who have grandparents as imaginative and daring as Jack’s grandparents would be very lucky indeed. Jack’s grandparents can spin off a yarn and shaggy dog story at the expense of each other like dropping a hat.
This novel for primary and intermediate aged children is a collection of 30 over the top stories from New Zealand’s master of the tall story Jack Lasenby. Some of the stories have a legendary feel about them others cast light on a bygone age and others are just straight shaggy dog. All however are very funny and ingenious.
What’s more they give life to old people and their relationships with their grandchildren, one of the closest and dearest family relationships. Jack Lasenby is not going to let the wisdom and humorous experiences of granddad and granny be forgotten and grandson Jack is the winner. So is everyone who reads this book.
I liked all the stories but my favourite was Chapter 10 How we call things by Different Names. If you have ever yelled at the News or cringed at Aunt Daisy you will understand why.
As ever Bob Kerr supplies telling illustrations that enhance the fun of this book.
Super Rabbit by Stephanie Blake. Pub. Gecko Press, 2016.
Simon the little rabbit of Poo Bum fame is growing up and testing life, as he should. He decides he is Super Rabbit but the cat is not so sure.
Simon tells his mother he is now Super Rabbit, steps outside in his super rabbit outfit and pop gun with cat in tow. Things are not going to go well as he enters a dark hole in a tree. A splinter in the finger and an operation by his mum tests little rabbit’s bravery.
Undeterred Super Rabbit is ready for villains again. Fantasy and imagination are great for children and this ticks all the boxes.
The format and the illustrations are the same as all the other books about little rabbit. Black font of varying sizes to emphasise points, on the left page, with bold colour illustrations on the right.
Get them all, children love to follow a series. It is comforting and reassuring. Other reviews of Simon’s exploits are on this blog.