Archive for the ‘Non Fiction’ Category

Rivers. A Visual History from River to Sea by Peter Goes

September 16, 2018 Comments off

riversRivers. A Visual History from River to Sea by Peter Goes. Pub. Gecko Press, 2018

This is another big, big book in fact it’s as mighty as the rivers of the World that it talks about. Understanding rivers helps the understanding of people and animals that live in the river and along it’s banks.

All the great rivers of the world are covered like the Ganges, the Amazon, the Mississippi, the Nile, the Congo, the Yangzte, the Danube and the Rhine plus many others from all the Continents.

All the information about the history, civilisations, flora and fauna of each river is given in little pockets of data on a map of the country or continent that the river inhabits. I say inhabit because rivers are living things and without them humankind would be poorer for it.

I love rivers and have been across or sailed down more than 20 of them so this book was a fascination for me. I was pleased to see that the mighty Waikato is featured as are the rivers of Australia and there are some that few of you will know about.

Do you know where the Fly River is? It was named after the ship of a British naval officer in 1845. I wonder too if you know the largest river in Antarctica which flows only in the summer?

Fascinating stuff from the author of Timelines which is reviewed elsewhere on this blog. Check this brilliant big book out it will not disappoint you. Essential for school libraries.

Categories: Non Fiction Tags:

Never, Ever, Ever, Give Up? A memoir by John Hellemans.

September 9, 2018 Comments off

never give upNever, Ever, Ever, Give Up? A memoir by John Hellemans. Pub. Canterbury University press, 2018.

If you ever need some inspiration to keep going, no matter what sport or activity you are involved in, read this memoir by John Hellemans.

John is a staunch Dutchman who was seduced by the New Zealand environment and became one of the fathers of the tri- sport event once called Ironman and now known as triathalon.

This is the story of how his upbringing led him to the sport of triathalon just as it had led him to the profession of a doctor. John was a fierce competitor, a no nonsense coach who you either loved or hated. He coached many fine athletes including Erin Baker who was out of the top draw, plus Andrea Hewitt and Kris Gemmell who he called wonderboy.

He learned as a coach that a spontaneous comment can sometimes have more impact than a well thought out sermon and that in competition if you are not well prepared or your head isn’t in it, you are not going to be a champion.

He writes in the same no nonsense manner that he competed with and at times it is hilarious. Chapter 4 titled Trials and Tribulations is a must for any sporting buff. He deals with the technology of the Triathalon particularly the cycling leg. You will learn about aero neck, about drafting, about blood doping and about the aerodynamics of racing.

It is a fascinating book for this “silver fox” of the triathalon who has played a significant role in elevating this prince of sports endurance to Olympic level.

There is more to this book than that but you will have to read it to find that out.

As byword to my review read the story of John’s experience at the age of 60, running the Hawaii Ironman when he hit the wall on the barren lava flows 4 kilometers from the end. What drama!

Neil Young. Waging Heavy Peace by Neil Young.

September 1, 2018 Comments off

neil youngNeil Young. Waging Heavy Peace by Neil Young. Pub. Penguin, 2012.

“I have sometimes become so infatuated by a goal that I visualise myself doing unbelievable things”. So sayeth rock ‘n roller Neil Young in this autobiography that he wrote by just sitting at the computer and putting down what came into his head.

A Canadian boy from North Ontario who was drawn to music like a bee to a honey pot. Songs just flowed like water and I am so glad they did. He talks about all the bands he played with – The Squires, Buffalo Springfield, Crazy horse, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, plus all the artists he met from his beginnings in 1963 through to 2012. There is even a Charles Manson story.

He talks about Woodstock, about Altamont that only had one murder. He can be a bit insensitive, as he was over the song Southern Man that Lynard Skynard took to task. He admits it in the book and also says John Lennon did not like the quote that is so often made with reference to Neil Young It is better to burn out than to fade away.

He also comes across as a family man looking after two sons by two different women, who had cerebral palsy – Zeke and Ben. He talks with pride about them and his daughter Amber. He doesn’t hide his drug taking and gives great insight into his songs. I loved Four Dead in Ohio and Cinnamon Girl. His wife Pegi I deduced saved his life and he speaks well of her.

He has a great love of cars and railway sets and has a passion about producing pure clean music that has been massacred by modern systems like MP3 and the Itunes recordings. He goes into some depth about all of these things.

I liked him and at least he wrote it himself. Very witty, funny and profound in parts and a great incite into the rock era he lived and dominated. I am off to play Harvest.

Categories: Non Fiction Tags: ,

The Confidence Code for Girls by Katty Kay & Claire Shipman illus Nan Lawson.

July 16, 2018 Comments off

confidenceThe Confidence Code for Girls by Katty Kay & Claire Shipman illus Nan Lawson. Pub. HarperCollins, 2018.

A book for girls between 8-12 years that works at boosting their confidence in life and helping them understanding themselves. In America it started off a national conversation about what has been called the extreme confidence gap between men and women.

I am not sure about that gap, having grown up a boy and now as a granddad looking after two girls aged 8 & 7 years who have miles more confidence than I did as a boy.

That is immaterial though as this book in three parts gives great advice to girls on firstly the Keys to Confidence, secondly how to work with confidence in your head and towards others and thirdly how to be confident and  kicking the perfectionist habit, that seems to absorb girls, into touch.

Each section has great examples to illustrate the points made, is wonderfully illustrated, it asks questions of the reader and has role models to back up the advice.

My experience is that girls will read this in droves I hope. A similar book for boys would probably sit on the shelf gathering dust. This is just not the boys way.

Are boys and girls wired differently? Do girls over think things? Why do girls think that boys are more confident than they are? I don’t know the answers to these questions but this book gives you a chance to think about them and hopefully become a confident soul.

I will certainly recommend it to the girls in schools that I talk to. But I can’t help feeling that the biggest secrets in life for girls are boys and for boys it is girls. Vive la difference.

Categories: Non Fiction Tags:

Sports are Fantastic Fun! by Ole Konnecke.

June 30, 2018 Comments off

sportsSports are Fantastic Fun! by Ole Konnecke. Pub. Gecko Press, 2018.

This picture book sized publication is a celebration of different sports. Some of the sports are prominent like football, rugby, tennis, cricket and basketball but some are on the fringes like arm wrestling, skiing, gymnastics, ballet, surfing and golf.

But they are all fantastic with Ole Konnecke giving you the basic facts and drawing out some of the quirky things about the sport. eg  Ice hockey has 4 referees to make sure the players who always fight are playing by the rules.

In downhill ski jumping birds on skis are deemed to be cheating and in basketball height is considered to be an asset so don’t let a giraffe or an elephant play.

All sports are humerously illustrated and the message is it is fun to play sports.

Get off your cell phones and playstations, read this book, and play sport. It is good for you.

For kids of all ages.

Categories: Non Fiction, Picture book Tags:

Whose Home is This? by Gillian Candler Illus. Fraser Williamson.

April 20, 2018 Comments off

whose homeWhose Home is This? by Gillian Candler Illus. Fraser Williamson. Pub. Potton & Burton, 2018.

.A first look at animal homes showing where they are located, how they protect the animal and what they are made of.

Each home is shown with a clue as to what the animal is for the young reader to guess, then over the page we have the animal and it’s home. Each animal is referred to by it’s Maori name and  the text about it has the English term and a bit about the animal.

For instance the Wheke or reef octopus has its home and lays it’s eggs in a den of stones. Birds, crabs, snails, fish and a sea horse also feature.

Candler and Williamson are a well honed team and this is once again a classy publication for juniors and primary school children.

Categories: Non Fiction Tags:

Running the Country-the Updated Edition by Maria Gill

April 18, 2018 Comments off

running country2Running the Country-the Updated Edition by Maria Gill. Pub. New Holland, 2018.

The last general election in New Zealand threw up a different situation than any other since MMP was adopted as our voting system. The largest party did not get more than 50% of the vote and could not make agreement with any minor parties. The second largest party was able to form a coalition, a situation that many people failed to understand and still haven’t got over.

Maria Gill adds this new situation to this updated version of the 2013 book also reviewed earlier in this blog.

An outline of some of the issues that have arisen since the last book like homelessness and peoples rights around the World compared to our own, are featured plus a simple recap on major parties in the economy and society who are watch guards on our system are highlighted.

An easily accessible publication with box sized pieces of information, political cartoons by Malcolm Evans and a glossary of terms in the back.

A very useful source of information indeed. You would never find it this well explained on a website. For primary intermediate and junior secondary students.