Archive for the ‘Picture book’ Category

EMMA. Emma Twig’s inspirational journey to Olympic gold by Jessica Lawry. Pub. Upstart Press, 2022

October 3, 2022 Comments off

If you add the old adage “never Give up” with the title of this excellent picture book biography, then you have captured the theme of this story.

Emma Twig had a dream to win Olympic gold after following her idols and role models in rowing while still a teenager in Hawkes Bay. She was selected to row for New Zealand at 3 Olympic Games and success did not come easy.

This is the story of her road to success full of pain, disappointment and hard work but she got there and joined her heroes and role models on the winners podium listening to our national anthem.

She acknowledges the contribution of her friends and support staff in this easy to read picture book with very good illustrations that reflect her hard work in training along with disappointments and final triumph.

Emma is not finished yet and took silver at the latest World championships.

A classy and heart warming story of a NZ hero.

Out of the Egg – Ka Puta Mai I Te Heki and Fofoa Mai Le Fua Moa by Tina Matthews. Trans. Na Kiwa Hammond I Whakamaori (Maori)and Tafu Nicole Maynard (Samoan). Pub OneTree House 2022.

October 1, 2022 Comments off

I have known the story of the Little Red Hen for about 70 years and the essential theme of sharing, in order to benefit all, is still there, but with a strong conservation theme as well. A sign of the times.

An additional difference is that there are now two books one in English and Maori and the same story in English and Samoan. There is only room for one image in this review.

The story revolves around the Little Red Hen, who plants a tree and seeks the help of Fat Cat, Dirty Rat and Greedy Pig, to assist her in planting and caring for the tree as it grows. They decline of course. When the tree grows and there is now a little cat, a little rat and a little pig who want to play in the tree, what will little Red Hen do? Read either book and find out for yourself.

Excellent illustrations with lino type black and white pictures with the little Red Hen and green plant standing out. Fat Cat, Dirty Rat and Greedy Pig are classic.

Paramount to the conservation and sharing themes are the two languages Maori and Samoan. These books are great for learning either language for primary and Intermediate students. The story is the key though and it hits the spot. Essential purchases for any multi cultural primary and intermediate school.

Granny McFlitter. The Knit before Christmas by Heather Haylock, illus. Lael Chisholm. Imprint Picture Puffin 10 October 2022

September 26, 2022 Comments off

Granny McFlitter is a big time knitter “does she stop? no she does not. She keeps on knitting, like it or not”.

Its the night before Christmas and things are hotting up down at the zoo where granny has knitted stockings for all the animals. Expectation is huge until calamity. A Tufted Tweetlebird has dismembered the animals stockings and built herself a nest for her four eggs.

What to do? get granny McFlitter to sort it out. Christmas is threatened. Will she do it? She is the fastest knitter around when all said and done. Check this fabulous picture book out and see what happens.

Heather Haylock’s clever rhyming text is enhanced by Lael Chisholm’s colourful expressive illustrations that feature animals from the zoo, a Tufted Tweetlebird and multiple balls of wool. I loved the knitting needles in granny’s hair bun and the giraffe with a square bend in his neck. Lots to look at.

Great as a Christmas present for pre school and junior readers.

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The Zebra’s Great Escape by Katherine Rundell, illus. Sara Ogilvie. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2022.

September 6, 2022 Comments off

This is a story that you wish was true. It deals with the Dr Doolittle philosophy of talking to the animals. What if we could? what would we learn? and what could we achieve? Well the obvious answer is understanding, and that’s what we get with this superb hard back picture book.

Mink is a feisty young girl who doesn’t believe in rules or in bedtimes but she has a good heart and is brave. While swinging in her yard she meets a baby zebra who s very distressed because he has lost his parents. Mink senses this and they touch heads upon which colours stream out that tell a story and start a communication between the two that leads to great adventure.

Zebras parents have been captured by an evil cruel man with a moustache and black boots called Mr Spit. He has imprisoned animals in his gated home from Aardvarks through to Zebras and all the letters of the alphabet. Mink and the baby zebra called Gabriel along with a dog called Rainbow, a squirrel called Rodentia who can all communicate with the same colour scheme, set out to find and free Gabriel’s parents and the other animals.

Read the rest yourself and see what happens. It is brilliant and as I said earlier you wish that it was true.

Excellent illustrations from Sara Ogilvie who portrays the characters especially Mink, Gabriel and Mr Spit, very well and enhances the text by making the colour communication believable.

One of the best of the year. Katherine Rundell’s novel The Good Thieves is also reviewed elsewhere on this blog.

The Grizzled Grist Does Not Exist by Juliette MacIver, illus. Sarah Davis. Pub. Gecko Press, 2022.

August 30, 2022 Comments off


A gem of a picture book from a NZ writer who has won the picture book award before with That’s Not a Hippopotamus, also reviewed on this blog.

Ms. Whiskersniff who prefers Ms Whisk takes her class of daredevils on an outdoor trek up the Dismal Hills. The children are excited and not worried about The grizzled grist that loner and hider Liam insists exists and that Ms Whisk insists does not exist.

The trip up the Dismal Hills is eventful with Liam hiding and seeing things the other children do not see. Then catastrophe as Ms Whisk and the children except Liam are captured by a large net put there by the grizzled grist. What is going to happen and what will Liam do? You will have to read it yourself to find out.

Superb illustrations with the characterisation of Ms Whisk and the Grizzled Grist brilliant. The language and text is rhyming and very witty making this picture book one of the best of the year.

Check the picture of the grizzled Grist at the end of the book and also the class photo at the start. Wonderful story.

Ihaka and the Unexpected Visitor by Kirsty Wadsworth, Illus. Zak Waipara. Pub. Scholastic, 2022

August 24, 2022 Comments off

This picture book is really a vehicle to introduce young readers to some Maori gods particularly Tawhirimatea, the god of wind and storms, although Tane, Tangaroa and Ruaumpoko also feature.

Ihaka is a modern kid with a scooter , sharp clothes and a pendant around his neck. He lives with a fit looking mum with a pony tail, green gardening gloves and greenstone tiki around her neck.

Tawhirimatea comes calling looking for a lost cloud that is needed in a storm. Where is it. Tane Ruaumoko and Tangaroa are consulted before mum wises up to where the cloud is hiding.

Winner of the 2021 Joy Cowley award the illustrations by Zak Waipara give an edgy tone to the text which introduces many Maori phrases and helps children with learning Maori language.

A classy package for primary aged children

A Brain is Just a Brain by Joanna Milne Predo, Illus. Vera Hegedus-Gaspar. Pub. Joanna Milne Predo,, printed

August 15, 2022 Comments off

This delightful picture book is not just for kids it is for the whole family.

Its about the brain and what it does for us. It is who and what we are but it often tells us things that are not true. It can tell us we are fat or ugly or dull and boring or sad and it can tell us we are happy and confident. It is never the same.

So how do we cope? Some of the advice given is to do something we like so that brain has something positive to do. “If your brain tells you something that is icky, tell it to shoosh and quit being picky

Easy text with plenty of message and a good read-a-loud for junior children.

Water colour and ink illustrations by Vera Hegedus-Gaspar enhance the text and reflect the moods in the story perfectly. “A brain is just a Brain” and “thoughts are just thoughts“.

Great for self esteem and working out problems like depression and low self worth.

Pelorus Jack, the Dolphin Guide by Susan Brocker, illus. Raymond McGrath. Pub. Scholastic, 2022.

August 2, 2022 Comments off

Based on a true story of a large white Risso’s dolphin called Pelorus Jack who captivate New Zealand in the early 1900’s by meeting ships at the head of Pelorus Sound and guiding them through French Pass a rough passage of sea at the top of the Marlborough Sounds.

Susan Brocker gives Pelorus Jack a character which sensitises the story that is a true New Zealand legend. She imagines Pelorus Jack is searching for another dolphin of his kind which is logical and she gives him a preference for steel hulled ships rather than wooden ships because he could rub his body up against them. Probably true, it’s what I would do if I were a dolphin.

An uproar went through NZ when a passenger of a ship tried to shoot Pelorus Jack with a rifle and precautions were taken to prevent that happening again.

A bronze statue of Jack stands at Collinet Point overlooking French Pass.

Raymond McGrath’s illustrations give life and credibility to this beautiful story that will enchant children of all ages. great purchase for a primary School Library.

Pigeon Holed by Nikki Slade Robinson. Pub. Duck creek Press, Imprint David Ling Publishing Ltd, 2022.

August 1, 2022 Comments off

There is nothing worse than being pigeonholed into a category and Little Pigeon knows it.

When Big Pigeon tells little Pigeon he belongs in a little hole, Little pigeon rebels. “I am going to be big” he says and I am not plain or grumpy or noisy or fussy. “why do we have to be in holes anyway”

Big Pigeon is flumoxed and other pigeons are impressed with little Pigeon’s stand. Read it and see what happens.

Excellent portraits of Big Pigeon and Little Pigeon. A classic old v young conflict and questioning of why things are done. That is the right of the young.

Daring Duck by heather Hunt. Pub. Duck Creek Press, Imprint ling Publishing Ltd, 2022.

August 1, 2022 Comments off

Dee is a young paradise duck with beautiful coloured plumage who lives with a colony of ducks in a protected wetland pond.

She watches the other ducks fight and squabble over territory and yearns for adventure away from everything and to find her own space. The older ducks warn her of duck shooters but Dee is courageous and leaves anyway.

She encounters the hard world very early with an encounter with an angry pukeko who kicks and scratches. She then imposes on a bittern who gives her a tip on how to avoid duck shooters “You are safe in the water but not in the sky, they can only shoot ducks who are flying up in the sky”.

Then she encounters a decoy duck and the danger begins. Check and see how Dee gets on.

Easy rhyming text and unique illustrations make for a very good picture book. The author clearly knows her ducks