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Archive for the ‘Junior Fiction’ Category

To Trap a Thief by Des Hunt

April 16, 2019 Comments off

trap thiefTo Trap a Thief by Des Hunt. Pub Scholastic, 2019.

Another exciting adventure novel from a master children’s writer. Once again it is kids verses the adults and the kids are going to win but not before they are put through their paces and a lot of things have changed.

Set in the top half of the South Island from Nelson across to Motueka, Takaka and the Abel Tasman National Park, the backdrop of all the action is melded into the magnificence of this part of new Zealand.

Connors dad died in a plane crash and his mother has taken up with a good man called Morgan. Unfortunately Morgan’s mum and dad don’t like the relationship. To give things a trial Connor and his friend Harvey go on a camping trip in a motorised caravan with Rosen and Denzel, his possible future step grandparents. There is friction. But before all is worked out there are codes to break and a thief to catch.

Before the trip Denzel and Rosen won Lotto and others feel that it was from a ticket that they lost. Is it true? On the trip the boys are roped into a Quest via cell phone and a smooth operator called Frank has a mission of his own.

Easy to read in short chapters with plenty of excitement to lure in the most reluctant readers. Intermediate and Junior secondary.

Bloom by Nicola Skinner.

April 1, 2019 Comments off

bloomBloom by Nicola Skinner. Pub. HarperCollins, 2019.

This is the most bizarre children’s book for primary and intermediate children that I have read for a long time.

It is set in an old town called Little Sterilis that has now been concreted over throughout the centuries by a ruthless family called the Valentinis. It once was a settlement aroundĀ  a lovely cottage called Little Cherrybliss now resided by the hero and narrator of this novel Sorrel Coriander Fallowfield. Yes it is a garden herbal name and that is the point of the story.

Sorrel is the perfect student, doesn’t cause trouble and goes to Grittysnit School run by a crazy headmaster with a control freak mentality Mr Grittysnit. The two are going to clash.

The novel rolics along at a rate of knots as Sorrel is one of those gushy, enthusiastic girls who has a good heart and amplifies everything.

When Sorrel’s cottage suddenly erupts and discards a packet of Surprising Seeds, the whole world of Little Sterilis changes and so does Sorrel. Bizarrely Sorrel her friend Neena and her mother scatter the seeds on their heads and they begin to grow. This starts a sequence of events that are over the top but have a conservation and environmental messageĀ  underneath.

History comes back to haunt the present.Read it and see what happens

Dave Pigeon (Royal Coo) by Swapna Haddon, illus. Sheena Dempsey.

March 26, 2019 Comments off

royal cooDave Pigeon (Royal Coo) by Swapna Haddon, illus. Sheena Dempsey. Pub. Faber&Faber, 2019.

This title and its three prequels are a great laugh and easy to read for reluctant primary and intermediate school readers. They are fun, are not stupid and have a fair degree social satire.

Dave pigeon is a bit of a lad, has some dumb ideas, gets into a lot of trouble but is kept in line by his best friend Skipper who pens these books.

This time there is a new Royal baby and the Peoples Palace is full of celebratory goodies which pigeons love. Dave and Skipper are off to the Palace to get their share when they discover that the Royal pigeon is a dead ringer for Dave.

Royal pigeon wants a day or so to fly among the commoners and Dave can have a new role in the Palace, so they swap. But there are enemies around and the penalty for being caught could land Dave and Skipper in jail.

See how they get on and see how the Royal pigeon gets on amongst the commoners.

Excellent illustrations once again from Sheena Dempsey. She manages to make even Dave look like Royalty.

Bullseye Bella by James T. Guthrie

March 11, 2019 Comments off

bullseyeBullseye Bella by James T. Guthrie. Pub. Scholastic, 2019.

I have never read a children’s book about darts before and this is double tops. It is three in the bed for 180 and a nine dart finish. No mention of a Shanghai but I guess a 12 year old girl cannot do everything.

Yes Bella is 12 years old and is a superb darts player. Her maths is a bit dodgy at times but she can throw a straight arrow and learns with experience to ignore the often barbed comments coming from other competitors. I mean who wants to lose to a 12 year old girl?

Well the boys have to get used to it, some graciously some not so well.

Bella comes from a split family and she has an Asperger’s syndrome brother called Max who goes by the name Blackbeard. Max is 9 years old, adores his sister and needs the care of a special school. Bella’s mom doesn’t have the money and Bella tries her luck at the local pub darts competition.

Success does not come swiftly or easily but she does get the chance to play for the National Title. See how she gets on and what will Social services do when they find out Bella has been playing in the pub without her mothers knowledge.

Well written in an easy style, with good values and plenty of drama. For primary and intermediate students.

Things in the Sea are Touching Me! by Linda Jane Keegan, illus. Minky Stapleton

March 9, 2019 Comments off

touching meThings in the Sea are Touching Me! by Linda Jane Keegan, illus. Minky Stapleton. Pub. Scholastic, 2019.

Ever go into the sea and things touch you in both shallow water or deeper water? It could be a crab it could be seaweed or something else.

Linda Jane Keegan’s rhyming text is witty and unforced as she describes a young girls experiences in the sea. Mum is there too of course and sun safety is adhered to.

Minky Stapleton’s illustrations are colourful and enhance the drama, with the eyes of the characters particularly expressive.

A good package this to talk about fears and experiences at the beach. Good read-a-loud for juniors.

Fing by David Walliams

March 1, 2019 Comments off

fingFing by David Walliams. Pub. HarperCollins, 2019.

This is the latest novel of madness, mayhem and laughter from the pen of David Walliams. It is about bad child behaviour and parents who try too hard to be nice to their child.

Mr and Mrs Meek are librarians and they have the most horrible daughter Myrtle. They give her everything she wants and now she wants the impossible – a Fing. What the hell is a Fing I hear you say? Exactly, but being librarians the Meeks’ discover a Fing in a volume titled Monsterpedia, which has a place in the back for another, as yet to be found, monster.

Mr Meek goes looking in the Fing’s known habitat of the “deepest, darkest, jungliest Jungle. Will he find it? read the book and find out. He does find the Honkopotamus and the two headed Croco-croco but what does a Fing look like?

I think Mr Walliams is also having a crack at the modern trend by kids to use fing and fink instead of thing and think, a habit that I find distasteful. Sure English is allowed to change but lets not be lazy and cheap about it.

Primary and intermediate students are going to love it. Easy to read, gross and funny and a warning to children to behave.

Thomas Comes to New Zealand.

February 27, 2019 Comments off

thomas TankThomas Comes to New Zealand. Pub. Hardie Grant Egmont, Imprint HarperCollins, 2019

Using a TV character to promote reading to pre-schoolers is a good idea. This board book with sturdy pages can withstand tough conditions and brings the delights of NZ to the new reader.

Thomas comes with the Fat Controller on the barge Dilly to NZ. he visits 90 mile beach, Tane Mahuta, Auckland, crosses over to the South island and visits Queenstown and a rugby game in Christchurch between the All Blacks and Wallabies.

The photographic like illustrations are superb.

What a start to reading!