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Nikau’s Escape by Kate S. Richards. Pub. Green Room House 2020.

September 17, 2020 Comments off

This is the third book in a series about Jabu a black African from South Africa who lived pre Nelson Mandela when Sth Africa was under Apartheid.

In this novel for teens Jabu comes to New Zealand to snow board in the volcanic area of the central North Island. There he meets Pania and her brother Nikau and becomes quite fond of Pania.

Pania and Nikau had an abusive father who has been in prison for 10 years but is now released. Nikau has fantasised about his father and imagines having a cool but meaningful relationship with him. Nikau is being drawn into the world of drugs and crime and his sister Pania is determined to save him from it. Nikau has other ideas but when his father turns up Nikau rapidly learns that his criminal and drug life is not for him

Things come to a head at a skiing and snowboard trip to Ruapehu when the volcano erupts sending out a lahar and it is a question of survival.

An easy to read book with good values and plenty of action.

Categories: Uncategorized

My Little Book of Bugs. Pub. Te Papa Press 2020.

September 14, 2020 Comments off

My Little Book of Bugs. Pub. Te Papa Press 2020.

This bilingual board book in English and Maori is for pre schoolers.

It talks about all the bugs children will see in their environment from bee to weta in alphabetical order.

Butterflies have wings covered with thousands of tiny scales and cockroaches can live for a long time without food and water. Wetas wave these spiky legs to frighten enemies.

The Maori text follows the English and gives readers an appreciation that there are two major languages in New Zealand plus sign language of course.

being a board book it is very hardy and can be chewed and thrown without damage. A valuable

Categories: Uncategorized

Kylo Kitty moves to the City by Chantal Venter. illus. Katerina Kalinichenko.

September 14, 2020 Comments off

Kylo Kitty moves to the City by Chantal Venter. illus. Katerina Kalinichenko. Pub. KyloKitty Books, 2020.

Kylo kitty has moved to the city and is looking for friends. He gets up early and goes looking.

He meets Anthony Ant and kiwi Karl but they are not unfriendly but don’t need a friend. A white tail appears and disappears then white paws are seen. What or who can it be?

He meets the owner of these things and his name is Spooky. read it and find out who it is.

Well Illustrated with Kylo well characterised with dark coat and big green eyes. The text is rhyming and great for reading aloud to pre schoolers and juniors.

It comes with a sheet of stickers too.

Rona Moon. Ko Rona Mahina by Tim Tipene, illus Theresa Reihana.

September 2, 2020 Comments off

Rona-Moon-Cover-LRRona Moon. Ko Rona Mahina by Tim Tipene, illus Theresa Reihana. Pub. Oratia, 2020.

Maori myths and legends are as good as any culture on the planet but like many old stories they can do with a revamp to make them more relevant to today’s world and today’s children. That is exactly what this new version delivers. Written in English and Maori.

Rona acts like a spoilt brat. She is defiant, angry, unreasonable and all her whanau suffer from her actions. She pout she stamps,  she hits her brother, rolls her eyes and says whatever to any request to behave.

Then one dark night when the moon is high she is swept up to the moon and meets Whaea Rona, the woman on the moon. Whaea Rona urges Rona to use her anger to create change not to attack others. Love and kindness is the way. Great message.

The star of this picture book for juniors and primary student are the illustrations. The moon and Earth look great, Rona is the perfect brat with her pouting lip, her nana, father and brother are beautifully drawn. Check out the brother’s facials when Rona smiles.

An excellent publication with a place in every household with children and in the school library. Legends don’t come better told than this. Great cover.

Saving Thandi by Kate S Richards.

August 16, 2020 Comments off

thandi2Saving Thandi by Kate S Richards. Pub.Green Room House 2020.

Thandi is a baby rhinoceros that accompanied Jabu, a teenage orphan who left his shanty in Soweto for Durban. They were unwittingly in the same truck together and neither forgot the experience.

Now Jabu is a famous surfer and runs a Trust for young black surfers particularly Alexia a teenage surfing sensation. Surf and rhinos come together in

the private game reserve Umfolozi which is part of the Kruger National park on the Mozambique border.

Alexia is to have a photo shoot with the baby rhinos at Umfolosi but her and her friend Billie and Jabu get involved with a battle against poachers that extends from the game parks to the Mozambique coast.

Also entering the fray is Ice, a boy who became crippled while train surfing and now has lost his job and any hope again. He is a friend of Jabu and he is to learn that there is always hope.

Excellent adventure both at sea and on the game reserve.

Very well written  with spaces between paragraphs for the reluctant reader to pause while reading. The descriptive writing is also a feature and the characters worth knowing. The sequel to Train Surfer also reviewed on this blog

The Silver Arrow by Lev Grossman.

July 14, 2020 Comments off

silver arrowThe Silver Arrow by Lev Grossman. Pub. Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2020.

September release.

This is superb storytelling for primary and intermediate readers. It is fantasy/adventure with a message for the modern world about endangered animals who are just trying to survive in a World that has lost it’s balance.

Eleven year old Kate and her nine year old brother Tom have never met their uncle Herbert. Their mother never mentions him but she did say that he was very rich and totally irresponsible. It is Kate’s birthday in a few days so she writes to her uncle Herbert and suggests he buy her a birthday present. Very brazen I thought.

On her birthday a flat decked truck pulls up with 102.36 ton steam train on it and it is put on some railway lines in Tom and Kate’s backyard. Uncle Herbert says it is for their enjoyment. Kate’s parents are not amused and use words that should never appear in a children’s book(they don’t in this book).

The children are sent to their bedrooms but in the night the train starts up, the children get on board and the train hurtles off into the night. At the first station a whole lot of animals get on board , they have been waiting ages for the train to come among them is a porcupine, a fishing cat and other endangered animals.

That’s all I am going to tell you you will have to read it to find out but it is thrilling. This is easy to read and would be a great read-a loud. The ending will have you on tenterhooks. The good thing is that Kate and Tom make mistakes, face responsibility and never give up sometimes in dire circumstances.

Rush to Riches. Kauri and Gold by Gordon Ell.

June 29, 2020 Comments off

rush richesRush to Riches. Kauri and Gold by Gordon Ell. Pub. Oratia, 2020.

Adapted from two books published in 1995 and 1996 this excellent non fiction work looks at the NZ gold rushes and the Kauri timber and gum industry in a way that can be easily accessed by primary and intermediate readers and researchers.

Where these industries took place, how the timber gum and gold were accessed, the effects on the landscape and the peopling of New Zealand and the economic outcomes for new Zealand are all covered. Excellent photographs of the people who exploited these resources and the lives they led plus the effects and attitudes of the Maori population.

Did you know that one kauri tree had enough timber to build 6 houses and that the biggest gold nugget found here was called The Honourable Roddy. The NZ Govt gave it to King George V as a coronation gift and he had it melted down for a golden tea service.

These and other very interesting facts are covered in this short publication. Invaluable for school libraries and a source of reference of NZ history.

The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate

June 23, 2020 Comments off

one bobThe One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate. Pub. HarperCollins, 2020.

Children love animal stories and so do I. This excellent novel for primary and middle school readers is a sequel to the award winning The One and Only Ivan.

Ivan is a silver backed gorilla who was taken from the jungle as a baby, brought up by humans and never understood that in his own community he would be in charge. He is a gentle giant and when confined to a small zoo off a major highway he is befriended by Bob a small dog who has been abandoned by humans.

Bob has a human care giver, Julia, who taught Ivan art, and still visits him and his elephant friend Ruby at the zoo. Bob has doubts about himself but a massive hurricane and tornado wreck the zoo putting all the animals and humans in jeopardy. Bo finds strengths that he never knew he had.

Superbly narrated by Bob who has doubts over whether dog is man’s best friend or that man is dogs best friend. See what you think yourself.

The illustrations by Patricia Castelao are superb and add a necessary dimension to the characters and the story. Don’t miss this beauty.

Blowing the Bloody Doors Off and Other lessons in Life by Michael Caine.

May 10, 2020 Comments off

blowingBlowing the Bloody Doors Off and Other lessons in Life by Michael Caine. Pub. Hodder & Stoughton 2018.

The best autobiography of a celebrity that I have read.

Born in Elephant & Castle in South London he became one of the most celebrated actors of our time and he is still working in his 80’s.

This book is really a handbook on how to be an actor. Being an actor is a combination of professionalism and courtesy. Preparation is the key, learn your lines until they are natural and you can relax. When you go on set be ready to go. Always be on time and if you think it is tough at the top you have never been at the bottom or have forgotten what it is like. Rehearsal is the work, the performance is the relaxation.

His favourite director was Lewis Gilbert who directed him in Alfie and Educating Rita but he learnt from every director he worked with good and bad. I am not going to tell you too much more except to give a few quotes from the book that will whet your appetite.

On an enforced retirement to Maimi in the 90’s he said  “however happy I kidded myself I was, I was never going to be happier than when I was making a film”

On opening Langan’s Brasserie he said “if ever I saw a waiter looking at their watch in front of customers they would be fired immediately”

On drugs -A friend gave some marijuana and I laughed for 5 hours. I knew that it affected memory and I had lines to learn I never touched it again”

On Richard Burton  -Richard was always very pleasant to me when he was sober but that was almost never”

Shelly Winters who starred in Alfie with him said this -I always like to screw the leading man on the first day. It gets it out of the way”

Michael Caine never runs anybody down he wanted people he worked with to want to work with him again. He talks well of his beautiful wife Shakira and said she only was attracted to him because of the way he treated his mother.

Not many people know that.

Unlocking the Universe. everything you need to travel through space and time. By Stephen & Lucy Hawking.

May 1, 2020 Comments off

unlockingUnlocking the Universe. everything you need to travel through space and time. By Stephen & Lucy Hawking. Pub. PenguinRandom House, 2020. Imprint Puffin.

This is the most mind blowing non fiction work I have ever read. It took me over 2 months to finish as it contains information and concepts that my brain could only handle in small doses. I needed to know everything in this book before I shed this mortal coil but I needed to understand it first. I am not sure I have but this is what I learned.

Einsteins theory of relativity predicts that our expanding Universe must have had  a beginning about 13.8 billion years ago known as the Big Bang. Since then scientists have conjectured that there are multi universes.

I always thought that everything is made of atoms but not so. Apparantly only 5% of the Universe is made from atoms and that includes all the 94 naturally occuring elements and the 24 man made elements. The rest of the Universe consists of 27% Dark matter that is not made from atoms as proven by the Large Hadron Collider and a staggering 68% of dark energy which is still a mystery.

How our own Milky Way Galaxy and the Solar System was formed plus a profile of all the Planets and other bodies makes fascinating reading and good advice “don’t fly to close to a Black Hole”.

How global warming has occurred and what the future of the planet may look like are excellent additions at the end of the book.

This book is easy to read with small amounts of beautifully illustrated  concepts by highly qualified scientists. High school students of a scientific bent could read it as could young adults.

I read it because i needed to know. You will love it too. give it a crack.