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Burn by Patrick Ness

March 24, 2020 Comments off

burnBurn by Patrick Ness. Pub. Walker Books, 2020.

RELEASED MAY 2020

This is a Young Adult novel out of the top draw. It is a novel of parallel worlds, of dragons, of the human condition, of action and ultimately a love story.

It is the year 1957 and the Cold War is heating up so to speak. The Russians are on the verge of putting a satellite into space and the Americans are worried about the spying implications of such a satellite.

This is real history but there is an additional element -DRAGONS. Yes dragons inhabit this planet living in the waste lands of Russia of Asia of Europe and the Americas. Humans and dragons rarely meet. They have lived a peaceful but uneasy existence for centuries but that is all about to change with the launch of the Russian satellite.

There is a prophecy that nuclear war will break out between men and rid the planet of humans thus allowing dragons who are immune from radiation to fly free. The satellite launch is going to be used to trigger the war.

Enter a religious cult of dragon worshipers called Believers in the person of Malcolm a ruthless 17 year old, gay killer whose job is to assassinate a teenage girl called Sarah Dewhurst as she is prophesised to stop the dragons.

The action and plot turns are staggering. Written in two parts the end of the first part seeming to be the end of the world. After a torrid conflict a claw of a dragon known as The Spur is used to transfer all the action into a parallel world where every character in the first part has a different life in the second world.

This is a brilliant transition but will the prophecy be true in this second world and is there hope for human kind and dragons?

Superbly told, totally compelling. If you miss this you will miss the best book of the year.

Maui’s Taonga Tales. A Treasury of stories from Aotearoa and the Pacific.

November 26, 2019 Comments off

mauis taongaMaui’s Taonga Tales. A Treasury of stories from Aotearoa and the Pacific. Pub. Te Papa Press, 2019.

December release

For me the most appealing aspect of Maori Culture has been the myths, legends and story telling along with the distinctive and unique art work. Maori highly regard their Toanga or treasures and this work combines Taonga relics with myth, legend and factual story telling.

The stories are narrated by that braggart and trickster, Maui and we get his famous legend of catching the North island with a special hook carved from a jaw bone plus Tane and the Kete of Knowledge amongst others.

There are modern stories of Willie Apiata’s bravery in battle and the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior plus the beautiful tale of Hinemoa and Tutanekai. Stories of bravery and heroism of Maori women and men in battle and in protection of their tribe and children also feature.

All are illustrated by eight contempory Maori Artists who combine the past styles with the new techniques of todays art. For me the most haunting artwork and story is that of Captain Cook’s confrontation and misunderstandings with first contact with Maori. The bodies on the beach make stunning artwork.

This work is for everybody. A powerful piece of publication. Don’t miss it.

TOHORA The southern Right Whale by Ned Barraud

October 20, 2019 Comments off

TohoraTOHORA The southern Right Whale by Ned Barraud. Pub. Potton & Burton.

Ned Barraud is one of the best illustrators in NZ especially of wildlife and in this excellent publication he gives the reader a real sense of affection for the whale that got it’s name because it was the right whale to hunt.

From the 1840’s the southern right whale was hunted to near extinction with nearly 40, 000 of them being slaughtered, cooked for their whale oil and their baleen used for the corsets of European women.

This picture book sized work is a hopeful look at the survival of the right whale prompted no doubt by the visitation and frolicking of a right whale in Wellington Harbour a couple of years back. An area that it once thrived.

Illustrations of the Right whale are superb.

Excellent information in simple yet powerful text. Better than anything you can get on the Net. For primary and intermediate levels.

 

 

Ravi’s Roar by Tom Percival

August 22, 2019 Comments off

ravis roarRavi’s Roar by Tom Percival. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2019.

Ravi is not happy being the youngest and smallest in his family even his dog biscuit is bigger than him.  He is always last in a race for anything, he is not allowed on the big slide and he can never find anyone during hide and seek.

When he is last to the ice cream cart and there is none left, Ravi sees red and turns into a tiger that scares everyone off. this loses him all his friends and he has to make a big decision. Read it and find out what it is.

Easy to read script and illustrations that enhance the plot and highlight personality differences. Tom Percival is good at this sort of thing and two others of his picture books are on this blog. Check them out.

Coo Coo Kereru by Terry Fitzgibbon

August 18, 2019 Comments off

coo cooCoo Coo Kereru by Terry Fitzgibbon. Pub. New Holland, 2019.

A big reason why I like living in New Zealand is the birds and not just the feathered variety.

The kereru or blue green wood pigeon is one I have seen less and less of. I used to see many at Totaranui in the Abel Tasman National park where we used to camp every year and the last time I saw one was in the Christchurch botanical gardens.

You don’t just spot one, the first evidence of one in your presence is the noise it makes when it flies. They are a plump bird and are often clumsy in flight probably due to fermenting berries in their stomach.

like many NZ birds the kereru is in danger. Loss of habitat, animals such as the possum and man himself have reduced the life expectancy of the kereru from 20-25 years to 5-6 years. This is a tragedy.

This beautifully illustrated picture book tells the story of the life of a kereru which also features in the Maori legend of Maui. it helped him pull up the North Island.

This book has rhyming verse in the front and information in the back and it tells you what to do if you find an injured bird. The onus is on us all to save these beautiful gifts.

The information is compiled by Terry Fitzgibbon who works for the Department of Conservation.

Simple, easy to understand and excellent for study at primary and intermediate level.

Ringlet and the day the oceans stopped by Felicity Williams.

August 17, 2019 Comments off

RingletRinglet and the day the oceans stopped by Felicity Williams.Pub. AHOY, Imprint Cuba Press, 2019.

One of the most unusual fantasy novels for primary and intermediate students that I have ever read. It is set under the sea and brings a whole new range of terminology and characters with it.

The novel begins with a legend -“when the world began there was water everywhere”, but things have changed and the oceans are in danger. Land has risen, animals have evolved and the seas have formed different currents which go everywhere.

Into the story comes a mermaid named Ringlet and her merdog Iskee. The story stands or falls on how the reader gets on with Ringlet (most readers will). She is a jolly hockey sticks, innocent sort of lass that most fathers would like for a daughter. She is good natured, caring and above all brave.

When Ringlet breaks the baton of a high placed mermaid she is sent away to get another and rapidly finds she is on a quest that can save the oceans. I can tell you no more, read it and find out.

Written with some enthusiasm that at first is hard to get your head around but persistence is worth it. The world of Merfolk is here.

Space on Earth by Dr. Sheila Kanani.

August 9, 2019 Comments off

space on earthSpace on Earth by Dr. Sheila Kanani. Pub. Alma books Ltd, 2019.

A riveting non fiction book with large font and easy to read chapters concerning the spinoff technology from the Space programme that has enhanced life on earth.

I will tell you briefly about three things that we take for granted now and owe greatly to the Space programme.

Firstly taking selfies is a national pastime. The minute camera in a cell phone was developed from the need to have precise, quality photographs from outer space.

Secondly artificial limbs were developed from the need to have robotic arms that could do precision jobs while floating in space as on the international Space station. Did you know that they built an artificial leg for an elephant whose leg was blown off by a land mine?

Thirdly swim suit designs and fabric. Did you know that a suit made from a fabric used in space suits enabled swimmers to go so fast that they banned them?

Read all about the way other space technology has affected the way we live and survive on this planet. Imagine the world without satellite technology in communication and the GPS system.

fascinating reading for those readers not into fiction of intermediate and junior high age.school