Archive

Archive for the ‘Junior Fiction’ Category

I’ve Broken my Bum and other stories by Dawn McMillan, Illust. Ross Kinnaird. Pub. Oratia, 2021

November 19, 2021 Comments off

Just in time for Xmas so that reluctant readers can have a longer picture book to read while on holiday.

This is an addictive form of reading for those that like the poo bum wees books and there are plenty of them. All three stories in this compendium have been published before but not together like this.

I’ve broken My Bum is every boys nightmare especially when you glue it all together, stick it back on only to have a tray stick with it. But there are advantages.

Mister Spears and His hairy Ears is every man’s nightmare. Who wants hairy ears? can the be prevented? Check it and find out.

Charlie and his Amazing tales features a dog who does parachuting. I wouldn’t go near a parachute but this is a dog with imagination who just doesn’t bark and poo.

Dawn McMillan’s rhyming text enhances the humour and Ross Kinnaird gets the visual humour just right.

An ideal present for Xmas

The 13-Storey Treehouse (Full Colour Edition) by Andy Griffiths & Terry Denton. Pub. MacMillan Publishers NZ, 2021

November 18, 2021 Comments off

This is the novel that started the crazy treehouse stories, the most recent one is reviewed elsewhere on this blog. This is a copy worth getting and keeping because of the colour and hardback cover and in 50 years time it will probably be worth big dollars.

It introduces Andy and Terry ( the writer and illustrator of course) and their living quarters in a 13-storey treehouse with a theatre and library, a bowling alley, a man-eating shark tank and a giant catapult amongst other things.

Andy & Terry are under pressure from Big Nose to finish a book and this is the series of preposterous stories that make up this book.

It starts with Terry painting a cat yellow and it turning into a canary and flying away then it graduates into Barky the barking dog show. Don’t barking dogs drive you Mad? Then comes the best story in the book when Terry gets a packet of sea-monkey eggs, germinates them in a bowl of water and one of them turns into a mermaid and eats all the other eggs.

Terry falls in love with the mermaid but there is danger ahead. Read it and find out what happens. All the story threads join up at the end to make a satisfying read.

The stories are designed to attract reluctant readers and their craziness will certainly bring them to the reading table. This is an 8 out of ten book for enjoyability and I am going to keep my copy.

As always Terry Denton provides the illustrations to Andy Griffiths’ crazy text. Don’t miss it.

Mallory, Mallory Bk2. Trick or Treat by James Norcliffe. Pub. Puffin 2021

November 13, 2021 Comments off

Mallory and her loyal but scaredy cat friend Arthur. go trick or treating on halloweem and something amazing happens.

When they knock on the door of an old man’s house and say Trick or Treat, the old man, Mr Mugwort, reverses it on them and says instead of giving them a treat he will give them a trick. Mallory of course, as is her nature, poo poos Mr Mugwort’s interpretation and as a result the old man with the shake of a magic hand, throws them back to the same house but at least 100 years earlier.

The house is new but surrounded by farmland and Mugwort says if you want to return to your own time you will have to catch my black cat before sundown, otherwise you stay here.

At this point the writing gets challenging as Mallory and Arthur take more than a 100 pages to capture the cat and then only with the help of some local children. Wringing a 100 pages out of cat chasing is very classy indeed and when the children do capture the cat in the manner of a by gone age, something totally weird happens. read it and find out what it is.

Apart from the 100 pages of cat chasing the other part I liked about this novel is the comparison of lifestyles of old New Zealand and attitudes of children with todays modern children Mallory and Arthur. Mallory is a rude and unpleasant girl and Arthur is a follower and lacks confidence but is loyal. The children they meet are helpful, enthusiastic, confident and able to problem solve.

The description of the butcher shop and the butcher will amaze modern children.

If you read Book one of this series then this second one is better. Get in there and read it over Xmas you won’t regret it.

When Fishes flew. The Story of Elena’s War by Michael Morpurgo. Pub. HarperCollins, 2021

November 4, 2021 Comments off

Nandi loves her Auntie Ellie and all things Greek. She is born of Greek parents and loves the Greek myths and legends particularly about Proteus, the son of Poseidon the god of the sea. This link between Aunt Ellie Nandi and the god Proteus is to become the crux of this novel and some may view it as wishy washy but not me.

Ellie lives on the island of Ithaca legendary kingdom of Odysseus and the home of Homer who wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey. She visits Nandi in Australia every other year but suddenly the visits stop as Auntie Ellie gets older. For five years Ellie does not see Nandi and at age 17 Nandi packs her bags and goes to Ithaca but Ellie isn’t there. Where is she? and will she see her again?

While on Ithaca Nandi stays with a friend of Ellie and learns that Ellie is highly regarded and has a legendary reputation among the islanders.

Before she went to Greece Nandi saw a flying fish in the sea off Melbourne and it seemed to be telling her to go to Greece. While on Ithaca she sees the flying fish again and it tells her that it is Proteus in fish form. This is not an uncommon tactic by the Greek gods when they meddled in the human world which they often did. Sometimes the gods shine upon you sometimes they don’t. Proteus and Nandi are kindred spirits.

The flying fish in a series of visits tells Nandi a story of Ellie’s war escapades and her love relationship with a partisan Alexis in the fight against Nazi occupation. It will melt your heart.

Easy to read and beautifully illustrated as Nandi tells Ellie’s story in diary form while living on Ithaca. Michael Morpurgo never fails in his story telling.

Excellent reading for junior and intermediate readers with a very modern day human problem.

The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo, Illus. Sophie Blackall. Pub. Walker Books, 2021

November 1, 2021 Comments off

This is story telling at it’s very best and if it were a fine wine it would be described as nectar of the Gods.

It is the story of a prophecy written in the Chronicles of Sorrowing that states “there will come a girl child who will unseat a king and bring about great change”. The prophecy has been ignored by the current king who rules his kingdom unwisely but he is aware of the prophecy and conducts a search of his kingdom to find the said girl.

When Beatryce is found by Brother Edik in the company of a goat called Answelica, he realises that this girl is the subject of the prophecy but she doesn’t know it. Her memory has gone but she does know her name is Beatryce

Brother Edik takes Beatryce, against the advice of the Abbot, into the monastary for protection and finds out she can read and write against the expressed wishes of the king. He cuts Beatryce’s hair off, dresses her as a monk, and urges her not to tell anyone of her literary skills and pretend to be mute.

A 12 year old boy Jack Cory, whose parents have been killed by a robber in the Dark Forest, comes into the story and befriends Beatryce when the Abbot slings her out of the monastary because he is scared of what the king will do.

A showdown with the king is inevitable but there is much adventure to go through first. You will have to read it to find out what happens.

Beautifully written in simple text and short chapters comprising six books within the story. All are beautifully illustrated by Sophie Blackall who capture all the characters perfectly especially the goat.

There is a strong message of knowing who we are and being true to yourself. Easily the best children’s novel for primary and Intermediate children, this year. Answelica the goat is a sensation.

Wishyouwas. The Tiny Guardian of lost Letters by Alexandra Page. Pub Bloomsbury, 2021

October 11, 2021 Comments off

Wishyouwas is a small furry animal with a rat like tail who is often mistaken for a rat but delivers an essential service in an underground world.

He has many friends underground in a structured world that is threatened only by humans and rats. Some of his friends are named after post office and mail terms like Withlove, Stampduty, Dearmadam, Posthaste etc etc. There job is to find and trace letters that have damaged addresses that no-one can read.

Set in London in the year 1952 when a massive peasouper fog that lasted weeks has disabled london. It is a time when communication between people was mainly through letter writing and mail. Under the streets of london there is a world of mail trains and letter sorting.

Into this world comes a young girl called Penny Black who is staying with her uncle Frank who runs the Post Office. he mother is an airline pilot and is away a lot of the time. Will she return?

Penny finds Wishyouwas trapped in a mouse trap by his tail and through him enters the underground world. Great stuff.

There is also a creepy villain Stanley Scrawl who is a rat catcher. Is he responsible for the sudden population explosion of rats in the underworld. Check out this excellent story, written in large font, with lovable characters

The Raven Heir by Stephanie Burgis. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2021

September 29, 2021 Comments off

The kingdom of Raven is split into rival factions with each faction trying to take the throne of Raven. Civil war has reigned, the countryside has been ravaged, armies wander the land and people are living in fear and misery.

But there is hope as it is known that the heirs to the throne are hiding out and that finding the true heir will mend the split crown and return the kingdom to peace. Who is the true heir that is the question?

Triplets Giles, Cordelia and Rosalind have lived in the shelter of their mothers magic in a house in the enchanted forest. They all have magical powers which have been undeveloped as their mothers magic was all powering. When an army discovers their hiding place and takes the triplets mother hostage along with their elder brother the triplets in their ignorance are left to fend for themselves.

Cordelia, with her ability to change into any creature she wants leads the way and together they find out secrets and history that their mother should have told them. One of them is the true heir but which one?

It becomes a mission to find the broken crown on Mount Corve but danger lurks everywhere. Check it and see.

Short chapters big font and writing that invites you in and keeps you guessing plus in Cordelia a character that you fully relate to. very good fantasy for primary and intermediate readers

Kakapo Keeper by Gay Buckingham. Pub. OneTree House, 2021

September 17, 2021 Comments off

Most birds pong pretty bad. Penguins reek of rotting fish and poo but kakapo have a lovely fusty-warm smell. Not to mention an inviting face and eyes that suggest a sense of cheek and humour.

This is one of the many quotations mentioned in this superb novel based on fact about bird conservation in Fiordland particularly in Dusky Sound where Capt Cook once harboured on his voyage to New Zealand.

The story is of Conservationist Richard Henry who camped in Dusky Sound between 1894-1900, with several assistants, moving kiwi, Kakapo, Roa and other birds from the mainland to the islands in Dusky Sound particularly Resolution Island. He wanted to protect the birds from weasels stoats and ferrets which had decimated the bird population and the kakapo almost to extinction.

This story is told in diary form by Andrew a teenage boy who is a composite of the four assistants that helped Richard Henry. He heads each chapter with Date, Bird tally and injuries. The last is amusing but given the hostility of the Fiordland environment – the rain, the sandflies, the earthquakes the landscape, it was no short miracle that they survived. Sandfly bites headed the injury list and Andrew was covered in bites with the “oozy wetness of Dusky Sound making everything they did miserable”.

Throughout the easy to read large text are diagrams of all the birds, plus maps and drawings of buildings and boats they built and used. Adding to the beauty of the story are their dog companions Lassie and Foxy.

Beautifully told with a sobering episode towards the end of the story that you can find out for yourself. In the back is the true story plus photographs of important events and structures used and built plus bird and animal life particularly of the ferrets, stoats and weasels who slither in for the kill.

One of the best animal conservation stories about people who really cared for the birds that I have ever read. Highly recommended. The cover is delightful.

Blimmin’ Koro! Katahi ra e Koro e! by Jill Bevan-Brown, illus. Trish Bowles. Translated Mahaki Bevan-Brown. Pub. Oratia, 2021

September 15, 2021 Comments off

A lovely bilingual picture book for primary students written in both English and Maori.

Koro (granddad) is getting old and getting dementia. he plays gleefully with his grandchildren and they notice that he is getting their names wrong. Blimmin’ Koro says nana.

He lets his grandchildren swing on the clothes line blimmin’ Koro says Nana.

Nan takes Koro to the doctor and he forgets things. He gets lost, hides things and ends up in a wheelchair. The children still love his company and Koro and nan have photographs of their life together to share with the grandchildren.

message is old people are precious and special and the good thing is the children in this book know that.

Don’t miss this one it is heartfelt.

Excellent illustrations capture that look in the faces of the character and granddads dementia is wonderfully portrayed as is the kids bewilderment and joy.

The Travelling Bookshop Bk1: Mim and the Baffling Bully by Katrina Nannestad. Illus. Cheryl Orsine. Pub. ABC Books imprint HarperCollins, 2021.

August 10, 2021 Comments off

Mim her brother Nat, parrot Coco, horse Flossy and father live in a travelling bookshop. When it crosses over the border into Holland every book automatically translates into the Dutch language and when the caravan towed by Flossy stops in a suitable it too changes into something else, something akin to the Tardis in Doctor Who. Outside it looks small but inside it is something different. Read it and find out how and what.

While camping Mim meets a new friend, Willemina who is sad because she is being bullied but Gerda a girl who seems to have everything. This is the main plot in this first book of a planned series by Australian author Katrina Nannestad.

If you believe that reading is magic and I do, then this a book for you and for all newly confident readers particularly girls but not exclusively so. The illustrations by Cheryl Orsini are complimentary to the written text.

Easy to read with good family values and characters boith human and animal that are appealing.