A Story of the Undead,the Unexpected and the Not Unfunny by Andrew Hansen illus. Jessica Roberts

April 16, 2018 Comments off

undeadA Story of the Undead,the Unexpected and the Not Unfunny by Andrew Hansen illus. Jessica Roberts. Pub. Walker Books, 2018.

I love silly stories especially when they tamper with history and are clever about it. This one tells alternative facts about Ancient Egypt that will make junior and intermediate students laugh and adults to smile knowingly.

Bab is a clever boy, so clever that his teachers expel him from school because he is brighter than they are. His parents are delighted because they are professors of Egyptology and they can now go in search of a famous chin beard that has been worn by the Pharaohs and is now missing.

The beard has a dark magical power and when one Pharaoh dies it searches for the cleverest person around, attaches itself to his or her chin and that person becomes Pharaoh.

You’ve guessed it. When Bab’s parents are out searching for the beard, the beard finds Bab and attaches to his chin. An Ibis and a walking fish take Bab to the ancient city of Mumphis where Jackals are banned an becomes Pharaoh.

But a super bad Jackal named Cainus has a mission to steal the beard and resurrect his former master the Unpharaoh. But first he must get past Bab.

Very funny in a clever way with excellent pen and ink illustrations from Jessica Roberts.

Nobody Real by Steve Camden.

April 11, 2018 Comments off

nobody real.jpgNobody Real by Steve Camden. Pub. HarperCollins, 2018.

It took me three days to read this astonishing novel. I sat down poured a whiskey and said Wow. A mixture of realism and fantasy that is strangely satisfying.

To paraphrase a theme from the book “the real us lives in dark corners”. If you don’t want to go there don’t start this book.

Marcie or Mars is about to turn 18 and has just finished her final exams. Everybody says your whole life is in front of you, but first she must settle with the past.

When she was a toddler her artistic mum left and she grew up with her artistic father who is an agonised writer. He has had a novel published that critics called brilliant. Marcie copes with life by creating an invisible friend who is like a boy polar bear she calls Thor. He has been with her for 10 years and it is time to go. She has to be weened off Thor and it is up to Thor to do it.

What Marcie doesn’t know is that Thor has his own unreal world which parallels the real world of Marcie and when his work with Marcie is done he will face the Fade. What is the Fade? You will have to read the novel to find out.

Marcie needs to be herself, she has to make her own mistakes and she has to settle with the breakup of her parents. Her  road to reconcile with the past and her current friends and family is going to be bumpy.

Fascinating style of writing. Written in different fonts for the real and the unreal often poetic, always interesting, often confusing but totally compelling. One of the best young adult novels I have read for a long time.

Watch Me! by Jenni Francis.

April 7, 2018 Comments off

watch meWatch Me! by Jenni Francis. Pub. jennifrancis.com  2018

The most recent short novel for intermediate and junior secondary girls from the Keri series about Keri and her friend Mereana who are now 13 years old.

The girls go to visit cousin Claire on a farm that runs horse trekking holidays as well as stocking sheep and cattle. Someone is stealing horses sheep and cattle from Claire’s farm and from surrounding farms and the girls are going to become involved.

It is not the only drama in the book as Claire has found lumps under her arm and has bad sweats in bed at night but this is not going to hold her back.

As usual this short novel is tightly written with realistic dialogue between the girls and other characters. It has great family values and is written at a pace that keeps you in the book.

Who would have thought that Morse Code would be still useful in these days of cell phones. Read it and find out why. Lots of horse talk.

Fantastically Great Women who made History by Kate Pankhurst

April 3, 2018 Comments off

great womenFantastically Great Women who made History by Kate Pankhurst. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2018.

A picture book sized non fiction work that tells brief portraits of 14 famous women throughout history who have made a difference. Some you will have heard of but it is the others that make this book stand out.

Chinese woman Qui Jin fought for the rights of women in China in 1875. She opposed the cruel tradition of foot binding. Noor Inayat Khan was a wireless operator in France during WW2 and Hatshepsut was a woman Pharaoh in Ancient Egypt who wore a false chin beard to pass herself off as a man.

There are other more well known heroes in this publication like Valentina Tereshkova the first woman in space who discovered that her space craft was wrongly programmed to go into space instead of back to Earth. Elizabeth Blackwell was declined entrance to 29 medical schools before becoming the first female graduate doctor.

Inspiring stuff, easy to read and very accessible to primary and intermediate readers.

 

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Don’t Look Behind Door 32 by B.C.R. Fegan, illus. Lenny Wen

March 31, 2018 Comments off

room 32Don’t Look Behind Door 32 by B.C.R. Fegan, illus. Lenny Wen. Pub. TaleBlade.com  2018.

A very impressive rhyming text picture book that teaches counting and uses computer generated illustrations to bring drama to the story.

The Hotel Hoo is hosted by Nicholas Noo and a young boy and girl with beautiful big eyes are Mr Noo’s first guests. He shows them every room and they open every door to reveal a host of monsters, trolls, fairies, goblins etc all going about their business but not really scaring anybody.

After every door is opened Mr Noo warns not to look behind door 32. The children take it in their stride and they do look behind door 32. You will have to read the book yourself to see what they find.

Rhyming text should never be forced and thankfully it is not in this book. All the rhymes are real words and they are very clever.

The illustrations are superb with my favourites the dancing Zombies of door No 5.

Put this on your purchase list your children will love you for it and you will not be disappointed either.

Restoration Day by Deborah Makarios.

March 28, 2018 Comments off

restoration dayRestoration Day by Deborah Makarios. Pub. deborah.makarios.nz , 2018

Princess Lily of Arcelia is about to turn eighteen and due to inherit the throne of Arcelia so she can perform the rites of Restoration Day which renews the life of the land.

The trouble is her kingdom has been ruled by her wicked uncle Phelan who has abolished the monarchy and rules as Magister. After a civil war in which Lily’s parents were killed, Lily has been living in a castle that is protected by magic and kept hidden from the outside world by a great hedge.

Lily has been brought up by her aunt Hortensia who believes young ladies ought not to be enthusiastic and should never argue. Lily thus has an innocent jolly hockey sticks sort of manner and believes she is going to become queen as of right. She is about to change because she has to.

She escapes from her aunt, through the hedge and is soon picked up by her uncles Wolves and imprisoned with a dwarf named Malin. In a McGyver like episode Lily and Malin escape and search for the 3 Requisites needed to enact Restoration Day, renew the polluted land, and hopefully restore Lily to the throne of Arcelia. Sounds a little close to home.

Riveting stuff told with rich language and plenty of action and good values.The banter  between Lily and the dwarf Malin is a highlight of the novel. A big surprise at the end.

Ideal for fantasy readers of intermediate and high school age. Contact the author direct to purchase copies.

Valdemar’s Peas by Maria Jonsson

March 26, 2018 Comments off

ValdemarValdemar’s Peas by Maria Jonsson. Pub. Gecko Press, 2018.

I eats me peas with honey, I’ve done it all me life. It makes the peas taste funny, but it keeps them on the knife.

This is one view of peas but it certainly is not Valdemar’s. He hates them, and when there is icecream around there is no contest. He is a lucky fella though because his sister Lynn loves them and she is not worried that they give you pointed ears, especially when wolves ears are already pointed.

No peas, no icecream says papa. Valdemar’s solution will be cheered by every kid in the country but I doubt many parents will feel the same.

See what you think.

The illustrations are both simple and complex at the same time. Black and white ink drawings with a splash of colour. The facial expressions are a treat and you have no doubt what Valdemar thinks about peas without reading the written text.

Picture books should be fun and this is certainly that. But what is it about peas?