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Archive for the ‘Junior Fiction’ Category

Chinatown Girl by Eva Wong Ng.

February 7, 2019 Comments off

chinatown girlChinatown Girl by Eva Wong Ng. Pub. Scholastic, 2019.

This is a reissue of the My New Zealand Story title first published in 2005 but in response to the fact that there were now 171, 000 Chinese New Zealanders according to the 2013 census, reissued again.

Everybody should know what it was like to be Chinese in New Zealand and we didn’t make it easy for them. Chinese were known as the Yellow Peril and we made it as difficult as possible for them to come and settle here. The Immigration Restriction Act of 1908 put a bond of 100 pounds on any Chinese coming to this country(more than the average Kiwi earned in a year).

This story in diary form set in Greys Avenue Auckland (Chinatown) in the year 1942 when the threat from Japan was at it’s height, is told by 12 year old Sylvey Chan. It tells of the Chinese experience and will be of great interest to new immigrants to this country and to everyone else as well.

I think it is fabulous and is full of wartime history of rationing, of the blackout and the “loose lips sink ships” catch cry that dominate local thinking. Sylvie rides down Queen street on a push bike at night when the blackout is in force, visits an opium den, is visited by American Chinese soldiers after the fall of Singapore and the Battle of the Coral Sea. It also featuresĀ  her life at Beresford street School and at Chinese School.

The book is full of Chinese wisdom of Confucius such as “when you go to other peoples places never go with only air in your hands”. Many Chinese became vegetable growers because it is what they knew from home and if the business failed you still had something to eat.

Absolutely fascinating. Well written and historically accurate. If you miss this you will kick yourself. For primary, intermediate and secondary school pupils.

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

February 3, 2019 Comments off

TuckTuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2016.

First published in 1975 and a classic in Childrens’ Literature this novel is one of the most satisfying reads I have had for a while. I first read it in the 1980’s and my reread gave me great satisfaction.

It was a stifling hot day when Winnie Foster metĀ  Jesse in the woods drinking from a spring. He rapidly covers up his movements before Winnie has a drink and kidnaps her and takes her back to his house.

She meets the Tuck family and learns from them that the spring water gives them eternal life. The Tuck family will never die. Winnie likes their company and they tell her the story of the spring and of their life. They are all well over a 100 years old and still look the same as they did when they first drunk from the spring.

In a classic technique of British literature the conversation with the Tucks is overheard by a devious man in a yellow suit who connives to deprive the Tucks of their secret and of the woods which holds the spring. You will have to read the book to find out what happens and it is brilliant.

All school libraries should have this book and if you miss this novel you will kick yourself.

Splendidly written in old style descriptive prose that is so comforting you could fall asleep in it. The plot is very clever and the ending superb.

Lola Dutch. When I Grow Up by Kenneth & Sarah Jane Wright

January 25, 2019 Comments off

lola dutchLola Dutch. When I Grow Up by Kenneth & Sarah Jane Wright. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2019.

Lola Dutch is inventive, she is imaginative and best of all she is confident. She puts her mind to the task of deciding what she is going to do when she grows up.

She tests her ideas out on her animal friends – Bear, crocodile, pig and crane. They of course let her run with her ideas and help her in every way possible as she imagines being on the stage, an inventor, a botanist an Egyptologist and many other things.

Bear puts his finger on the pulse “Lola what do you want to be right now?” Lola’s answer is the key to the whole story. Check it and find out why.

Simple text, complimentary water colour illustrations and a heroine to be admired.

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold, illus. Suzanne Kaufman

January 20, 2019 Comments off

all welcomeAll Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold, illus. Suzanne Kaufman. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2019.

This is a read-a-loud picture book that celebrates cultural diversity through the eyes of children in the classroom.

While adults do not seem to embrace cultural difference in this hectic World we live in, for children it is a different story. Kids just get on with it celebrating similarities rather than differences in dress, food, habits, language and religion. Whether you wear a hijab or a baseball cap it doesn’t matter.

The front cover shows 12 different cultures and the back page has welcome in 24 languages. In between the play in the classroom it is stressed All are welcome. You have a place here. We can learn from each other.

The simple illustrations highlight the differences in culture and the similarities in needs and in relationships.

All schools and families need to have this picture book. Children are the future and adults just have to get it together to make a better World.

The Dog Who Saved The World by Ross Welford.

January 17, 2019 Comments off

dog saved worldThe Dog Who Saved The World by Ross Welford. Pub. HarperCollins, 2019.

Ross Welford is one of the best childrens’ authors around, so if you haven’t read any of his books, two others are reviewed on this blog, this is a good one to start on.

Georgie is early teens and has a friend called Ramzy. Georgie works at a dog rest home in an old church they call St Woofs, looking after unwanted dogs. She tries to adopt a mongrel she calls Mr Mash but her stepmom has allergies and that is the end of that.

When Mr Mash jumps all over an old woman named Dr Pretorius, to prevent any further action Georgie and Ramzy agree to help her in an experiment using a virtual reality device.

On the day called The Big Experiment Day Georgie puts on the VR helmet and goes into a world where she is attacked by a huge scorpion. The experiment is cut short as this shouldn’t happen and when Dr Pretorius reviews images of what happened, it appears that Georgie was sent into the future, AND the winning numbers of Lotto can be seen in the shop window.

Then catastrophe, a disease has broken out in the dog shelter that is akin to Ebola and it is feared all dogs are going to die. Worse still the disease is transferable to humans. The World is threatened with major disaster.

How can a dog save the World? and does Dr Pretorius’s Virtual Reality device hold the key? Thrilling stuff, read it and find out.

Primary, intermediate and junior secondary students with a scientific bent or animal lovers, will love this. The story of the policeman and the dog poo is hilarious.

It is a very clever story with plenty of laughs and drama. Written in short sharp chapters it will keep the reader going long after they planned to stop. A great start to this years reading.

Andrew Down Under. The Story of an Immigrantdog by Anne Manchester, illus. Fifi Colston.

December 19, 2018 Comments off

Andrew down underAndrew Down Under. The Story of an Immigrantdog by Anne Manchester, illus. Fifi Colston. Pub. Makaro press, 2018.

This is a prequel to Toughen Up Andrew previewed elsewhere on this blog. It is the story of a journey from Palm Springs USA to windy wellington for pampered Pekinese dog Andrew and his master Poppa.

It is not an easy journey and includes many tests for rabies and parasites, a long plane ride and ten days quarantine in New Zealand. Tough going for a little dog who is used to going everywhere with Poppa even into restaurants.

The story is told from Andrew’s point of view and children from 6-12 years will love it. Helps you appreciate how difficult it is for new immigrants to our country.

Fifi Colson once again draws the illustrations in pen and ink and there are photographs of some of the characters in the book. Easy font, short chapters and only 118 pages, make this very readable. Kids and animal stories are like a hand in a glove.

Ellie, Engineer by Jackson Pearce.

December 11, 2018 Comments off

ellie engineerEllie, Engineer by Jackson Pearce. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2018.

Ellie and her friends are in middle school but Ellie is in a class of her own. She regards herself as an engineer, she wears a tool belt, designs projects and is always dismantling things or putting things together.

Ellie has a best friend called Kit and school girlfriends, who she calls The Presidents because their first names are all Presidents of USA, I wonder where Jackson Pearce got the idea? She also has boy friends who won’t let her play football with them because she is a girl.

All these friends including the boys are going to assist Ellie to build a doghouse for her friend Kit, in secret mind, for Kit’s birthday. But are they acting on wrong information? Read it and find out.

Ellie is a fine character who understands that “people who are organised are way more efficient than people who aren’t”. But she may be neglecting her people skills.

Do you know what Ding Dong Ditching is? Well the boys do it and they are going to get caught. A good section on tools in the back of the book.

Easy to read in short chapters with big font and a load of laughs. The sequel Ellie Engineer. The next Level is also out now. Great holiday reading for young middle school girls in particular. Get into it.