Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Telegram by Philippa Werry

February 10, 2019 Comments off

telegramThe Telegram by Philippa Werry. Pub. Pipi Press, 2019. .

During WW1 the last thing the people at home wanted to see was a telegram boy or girl coming to their door. If you had a son, a brother a father or a husband at war then a telegram meant missing in action, dead in battle or taken prisoner.

Beaty is a 14 year old girl who lives with her younger sister Tilly and their mother who works every hour to keep the family going. When mother loses hours at work Beaty, in spite of academic abilities, is pulled out of school and gets a job as a telegram girl.

She faces all sorts of bullying for being a girl doing a boys job but proves them all wrong and even learns some skills that the boys struggle with.

When the boy next door, Caleb, goes to war, he asks Beaty to write to him and she does. Their letters describe life back here in NZ and heavily censored impressions of life in the trenches in the last year of WW1 after Passchendaele. It also continues into the Flu Epidemic that followed the soldiers home. Excellent historical fiction.

Beaty is a treasure and good role model. Philippa Werry describes life at home with knowledge and accuracy in this very readible novel for primary, secondary and high school student.

The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan, illus. Neil Packer.

October 22, 2018 Comments off

silk roadsThe Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan, illus. Neil Packer. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2018.

The history of the World has never been as well presented as it is in this big book. History not only helps us to understand the past but helps explain why things are the way they are today. Globalisation is not a new term, it has been around for centuries and this book shows how we are all connected.

Starting with the Ancient Greeks and Chinese this concentrates on the trade routes that historian Peter Frankopan calls Silk Roads, whether they be over land or across oceans, and along which flowed not only goods to make money but ideas, innovations, religions and life styles. .

In sixteen short chapters we learn of every major cultural and innovative change from East to west and from North to South including Africa and the New World of the Americas. The history is simply presented  with anecdotes that will have you astounded. For example the Black Plague spread along these same trade routes starting in China in 1335 and arriving in England in 1348. All because of a flea that lived on the backs of rats. One third of the population died in 5 years.

The slave trade which has existed for ever is outlined as are all the historical movements and Empires and Religious movements. All in 126 pages.

Neil Packer’s illustrations are outstanding and reflect the different cultures, and the maps of the World depicting different eras will have you absorbed for hours. The book concludes with author observing that with the rise of China the Silk Roads are starting again.

This book is for everybody and will be at home equally in the school, the coffee table and the office cafeteria. Get it you will be amazed.

The Sea Dreamer by Terry Fitzgibbon.

September 26, 2018 Comments off

sea dreamerThe Sea Dreamer by Terry Fitzgibbon. Pub. New Holland, 2018.

When Sam goes to sleep he dreams and floats away on his toy tugboat Wakato accompanied by Pania of the reef. he goes on a journey of discovery and in the process learns about the sea and all the animals who live in it and around it.

There is a strong conservation element about his discoveries which include sea life getting tangled in drastic plastic pollution. He dreams of towing the plastic back to shore for recycling.

Sam learns that the sea is our main source of oxygen and that the power of the oceans waves can help create energy for when oil supplies run out.

he learns about the giant squid, about whales about the albatross and the North and South poles. he wakes with the message that we need to look after the sea and keep it healthy.

Good message and great colourful illustrations. My favourite was Sam towing the mother polar bear and her cub to safety on a flimsy ice floe.

Well worth purchasing for the home or school library.

Fire Stallion by Stacy Gregg.

September 18, 2018 Comments off

fire stallionFire Stallion by Stacy Gregg. Pub. HarperCollins, 2018.

This is the best Stacy Gregg book about girls and horses yet. It has everything – action, two horses, history in a wonderful place, a film set, romance, transmogrification and the line “she swept into the stable like she was walking onto a yacht”. You can’t beat that Carly Simon.

Set in Iceland where the horses are pure bred and been untainted for more than 1000 years. No other horses are allowed in Iceland and if an Icelandic horse leaves the county it can’t get back in again.

Brunhilda is an Icelandic legendary warrior Queen and 14 year old Hilly and her mother are on a Hollywood film set in Iceland making a film of her life. A Hollywood starlet named Jamisen has the part of Brunhilda and Hilly is her stunt double doing all the horse riding scenes. Jamisen is true brat pack and her male lead man is a Justin Bieber double named Anders Mortenson. Romance looms and there is a wedding but between whom?

Hilly is advised by a cultural adviser in Norse affairs named Gudrun who has the power to send Hilly back in time into the body of the real Brunhilda.

The action is stunning and the horse talk endless. Strong girls confront the male opinion of “a man should be in control, it’s the natural order of things”

A wonderful story, spellbinding in parts which takes fans of Stacy Gregg forward in age a little into the puberty thing. Intermediate and junior high school kids will love it and I suspect younger girl readers will prise it out of your hands given a chance. Boys should give it a crack too the action is brilliant

Yolaska the Godwit by Marlene J. Bennetts, illus. Trish Bowles.

April 19, 2018 Comments off

godwitYolaska the Godwit by Marlene J. Bennetts, illus. Trish Bowles. Pub. Emjay Publishing St Martins Christchurch, 2018.

Yolaska Godwit is on his first 11,000 kilometre flight across the sea from Alaska to New Zealand, a flight that will take him and his flock 8-10 days and on which he will lose half his body weight.

It’s a stunning feat and when the birds arrive in my hometown of Christchurch and depart at the end of summer to return to Alaska people line the beaches and applaud. It is May in Christchurch now and most godwits are on their journey home but some of the young ones remain behind for the winter to build up strength.

Beautifully told by Marlene J. Bennetts who is a bit of a wordsmith and brings out the drama of Yolaska’s experience. Trish Bowles illustrations are lifelike and dramatic. The attack of a skua bird on Yolaska and the humans involved with the birds are superb.

A beautiful story and an essential nature study experience for primary school libraries. Contact the authors at

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Danny Best, Bk3. Me first by Jen Storer, illus. Mitch Vane.

February 12, 2018 Comments off

danny bestDanny Best, Bk3. Me first by Jen Storer, illus. Mitch Vane. Pub. HarperCollins, 2018.

Danny Best is in middle school, he is very competitive and wants to have fun. Sounds like a lot of boys and this book is written with them in mind particularly if they are reluctant readers.

Take the first story in this novel as Danny decides to go for the World record for sticking your tongue out. Try saying red leather, yellow leather, with your tongue out. At the same time he has to look after his full on dog Pugsley and help his friend Fab earn money by washing his father’s car. You have to read it to believe it.

The third story shows how this type of book stimulates imagination and helps with ideas for writing. Danny’s teacher sets them a writing assignment in which no mention is to be made of bums, bottoms, burping, poos or farting. A big challenge for a boy. The story must be about a family. Read what happens.

The illustrations are excellent and contribute to the fun of the story. For middle school and confident junior readers.

Categories: Uncategorized

The 1000 year old Boy by Ross Welford.

February 4, 2018 Comments off

1000 year boyThe 1000 year old Boy by Ross Welford. Pub. HarperCollins, 2018.

This is storytelling of the highest order. It is the sort of story that keeps me reading children and young adult literature. To be able to write like this is a gift to behold.

Alfie is more than a 1000 years old and he was 11 years old when the Vikings attacked northern England. In fleeing them his father is killed.  His father had acquired magical pills called life-pearls which had the power to stop the aging process but not to stop death by accident or by killing.

Alfie and his mother mix the life-pearl oil with their own blood in the traditional way of slashing two stripes across the upper arm and rubbing the oil in. They are now Neverdeads. For more than a 1000 years they  wander Britain, never aging and keeping to themselves. It is a stressful life and not wise to be discovered.

The only way to stop the aging process is to use another life-pearl and administer it the same way, then the aging process will start again with the finality of death. There is only one life-pearl left which they hide in the event that one of them is killed. They don’t want to leave the other alone.

A tragic fire leaves Alfie alone and taken into care by the authorities, but before he is taken away he sees a bearded man who has the same two scars that he has.  The man yells at Alfie in old Norse “keep your mouth shut”. The tension builds.

Alfie wants to find the remaining Life-pearl so he can age and live a normal life and you guessed it, so does the bearded man, but to find it Alfie is going to need a boat.

Superbly written in 105 short chapters with hooks at the end of each chapter to keep you keen. Alfie is a marvelous character who doesn’t want to live for ever. Who does?

Good readers at primary level, intermediate school readers, and junior high school readers will devour this highly imaginative and thought provoking novel. What not to do if you turn Invisible by Ross Welford is also reviewed on this blog.