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Archive for the ‘Junior Fiction’ Category

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.

Hattie + Olaf by Frida Nilsson, illus. Stina Wirsen. Pub. Gecko Press, 2021.

August 6, 2021 Comments off

Bizarre story telling of the highest order about a pre teen girl named Hattie who is bonkers about horses. She and her best friend Linda plus other classmates play horses at school all day. Hattie desperately wants a horse but her family cannot afford one.

One day her father brings a horse float home and Hattie thinks her birthday has come but when the float is opened out comes a donkey with floppy ears and she hates it immediately. A donkey is no substitute for a horse and the donkey who is called Olaf knows it straight away. Olaf stands out in the field all day and brays. He is not happy with humans and was mistreated by his previous owner. Hattie and Olaf have not got off to a good start but can it improve? read it and find out.

Hattie goes to school deflated but makes up a story about Olaf that is completely untrue but it makes her very popular with her classmates. however to be a liar you have to have a good memory and circumstances have to go your way. They don’t and Hattie becomes an object of contempt and her life becomes a misery. How can this change because change it must.

Great story telling from this Scandinavian writer who illustrates the lifestyle of people in the far north and their relationships. Illustrated in equally bizarre style by Stina Wirsten who shows the character of Olaf very well and Hattie in all her moods.

Told in short chapters which are easy to read and draw you in. Another gem from Gecko Press.

The Memory Thief by Leonie Agnew. Pub Puffin, 2021

July 18, 2021 Comments off

Seth is a troll who lives in the gardens with an older troll Celeste. In the day he turns into a stone statue and at night he reverts to a human persona and feeds off the memories of those who pass by. His own memory is not so hot and he is confused by the mixing of others memories with his own. he wants to leave the park but is locked in by iron gates and we all know trolls are allergic to iron.

Next door lives a girl called Stella who has a younger brother. Stella spots Seth in his dirty condition and thinks he needs help but all he really wants is her memories. As Seth gets to know Stella he wants to get to know her as a person and avoids stealing her memories.

Stella however is onto him, she has researched google and knows Seth is a troll and that trolls eat humans. Seth is upset with this and has no intention of eating Stella or stealing her memories but Stella wants him to steal her memories.. Stella has a disturbing past that she would rather forget.

What will Celeste do? Can Seth break out of the park? What role will the little brother play?

Check this excellent fantasy and see what happens. Very imaginative and well written in a flowing style. Once you start reading you will not want to stop.

Elastic Island Adventures Bk5. Kingdom of Blong. Pub. Duckling, 2021. Lighthouse PR.

June 20, 2021 Comments off

An easy to read adventure series for primary and intermediate aged children. This is the latest and it is about the kingdom of blong whose king has gone missing.

Yes it is a cat and if you have a cat you will know that cats have staff, they are owned by no-one.

The four children from the first four books Kiri, Jed and twins Emma and Ethan are all in this adventure but it is Emma’s cat Blong that takes the headlines. Blong is the missing king of Blong an island on which inhabit cats and bilbies. If you don’t know what a bilby is look it up, but they are delightful little animal like a small kangaroo and cats love to hunt them.

The four children take the elastic Island route to Blong and Emma’s cat is lauded as the missing king. His sister Bella has held the fort while he has been gone but Blong himself is not keen in assuming the role of king.

When they arrive on the island Emma’s cat Blong and his sister Bella and an imposter usurps the throne and tears up the treaty that kept peace between cats and bilbies. Cats are now allowed to hunt bilbies and a slaughter is threatened.

What will the children do? Is there a way out? Check it and see and look at the others in the series too.

This series is a lot of fun, easy to read and brings up problems that we humans have in our own society. Reluctant readers will have no problem with these stories..

Partners in Slime by Belinda O’Keefe. Pub. Scholastic 2021.

May 25, 2021 Comments off

Thirteen year old Jake and his mate Cooper want to ride on a new roller coaster called the Steel Beast which is to open in 38 days time. Unfortunately they have no money and the beast is going to cost over $100.00 each to ride on.

Jake gets an idea to make money from his younger sister Paige who is a real handful for Jake to handle and she seems to have the ear of her parents. The idea is to make slime and sell it to the kids at school who Jake believes are gagging for it.

With the help of a web page and input from Coopers scientific uncle Ivor the boys make a very desirable product and it sells like hotcakes. The sister Paige and her girlie friends come up with a better product that smells of food product and the boys have been usurped.

What are they to do next? The answer is off this planet and the results hilarious. Will the boys get near the Steel Beast? Read it and see what happens.

The best part of this story is the business venture. How do you start a business from scratch? Once you have a product how do you market it? What do you do about competition?

A great read-a- loud for junior and intermediate readers with high boy appeal.

Space Detectives by Mark Powers, illus. Dapo Adeola. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2021.

April 8, 2021 Comments off

This is a short easy to read chapter book for newly confidant readers and reluctant boy readers. It is introductory Sc/Fi with a load of laughs and lots of weird creatures.

Ten year old Ethan and Mark are good friends and they run an ice cream parlour on the manmade planet of Starville. It is a glass bubble in space with all the elements of Planet Earth except that it is populated by both humans and creatures from other planets.

Both boys are detectives and want to start an agency up on Starville but there is a lack of work. The boys witness a crime in which a Tufted Grotsnobbler from Venus steals the handbag off the daughter of the Supreme Governor of Starville. They attempt to get the handbag back and are invited to a party at the Governors house for their efforts.

Then things get worse as Starvillians learn that their planet is heading for a collision with the moon. Can Ethan and Mark find out who is behind this dastardly scheme? Read it and find out.