Flit the Fantail and the Mystery Eggs by Kat Merewether.

June 10, 2019 Comments off

flitFlit the Fantail and the Mystery Eggs by Kat Merewether. Pub. Scholastic, 2019.

Another delightful and awfully cute picture book for juniors with an air of mystery about it.

Flit is practicing his landings and not doing very well but it has a bonus about it. he finds some rubbery white eggs  on the ground and wonders what bird they belong to. He asks a host of NZ native birds like the Kiwi and the kaka but they are not theirs.

They belong to a creature that has been around for 200 million years. See if you can guess what it is.

Superb illustrations and an introduction to the many NZ creatures that lay eggs. Once again the eyes have it, hence the cute comment.

Kat Merewether’s other books are also reviewed on this blog. Check them out.

The Day the Plants Fought Back by Belinda O’Keefe, illus. Richard Holt

June 9, 2019 Comments off

plants foughtThe Day the Plants Fought Back by Belinda O’Keefe, illus. Richard Holt. Pub. Scholastic, 2019.

Patrick and Wayne are “two boisterous boys who made lots of noise”. Unfortunately they were also destructive especially with plants. Then the plants fight back and scare the living daylights out of the boys.

As a result their behaviour changes. See what happens.

Love the rhyming text which makes this picture book a good read-a-loud for juniors and the message is perfect. Sometimes people need a good hard scare to make them see sense. Fear is a good way to curb behaviour – a male teacher once told me fear was the key to an orderly classroom. Mind you that was 20 years ago.

Richard holt’s illustrations are perfect. the excitable boys, the fearsome plants with eyes and ears and the wistful mother. A good little package this.

Cinders and Sparks Bk1. Magic at Midnight by Lindsay Kelk, illus. Pippa Curnick

June 6, 2019 Comments off

cindersCinders and Sparks Bk1. Magic at Midnight by Lindsay Kelk, illus. Pippa Curnick. Pub. HarperCollins, 2019.

This is a junior reader that takes the micky out of the Cinderella fairytale and it is a good laugh. It basically modernises the old tale and introduces a number of other fairy tale characters like little Bo Peep. You the one that lost her sheep. Now she takes them everywhere with her  and at the Princes Ball in which the prince is expected to chose a wife. Bo peeps sheep are under the table. You don’t want to lose them twice.

Cinders fairy godmother had trouble finding Cinders because she wasn’t on any social media site. I think that tells you what this story is like.

Easy to read, a good laugh and opens up the world of magic and fairy tales. There will be 3 books in this series.

Cinnamon by Neil Gaiman, illus. Divya Srinivasan.

June 3, 2019 Comments off

cinnamonCinnamon by Neil Gaiman, illus. Divya Srinivasan. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2019.

Neil Gaiman is no stranger to the weird and wonderful and in this picture book he has the perfect ally in illustrator Divya Srinivasan.

In a hot country ringed by mountains and jungle live a Rajah and his Rani who have a daughter who will not or cannot talk. Her name is Cinnamon. She is a lovely girl with pearls for eyes which means she cannot see either.

A reward is offered for anyone who can get Cinnamon to talk but all fail. Then a powerful tiger comes and wants to teach the girl cub to talk. It pits the strong and powerful against the weak and helpless but somehow it works. What is the attraction? He gives her the three card trick of Pain, Fear and then Love. It works but what will happen then?

Read it and find out.

Superb illustrations  especially the tiger and Cinnamon. A sophisticated picture book.

Flights of Fancy. Stories, pictures and inspiration from Ten Children’s Laureates.

May 31, 2019 Comments off

flights fancyFlights of Fancy. Stories, pictures and inspiration from Ten Children’s Laureates.

Some fine advice from 10 of the best children’s writers that the World has ever had. Each author talks about their own approach to writing and shows examples of what they have done. The advice is so good children can use it themselves to start writing or to improve their performance.

Quentin Blake shows how to use pictures to tell a story or to illustrate someone else’s story.

Anne Fine tells of how to get books back that you have loaned to someone else.

Michael Morpurgo and Jacqueline Wilson tell their approaches to writing and each tell a simple story.

Michael Rosen shows how to use words to write poetry and make them do things that are funny, sad, angry crazy or whatever.

Anthony Browne tells you how to play the Shape Game with examples from other authors.

Julia Donaldson rewrites the story of the Hare and the Tortoise.

Malorie Blackman talks writing the same action from the point of view of more than one character.

Chris Riddell gives a 5 point plan using sketches to tell stories

Lauren Child gives her characters a different font to illustrate their voice.

Altogether a brilliant collection of ideas and inspiration for young and older writers. All said that libraries and librarians were fantastic things.



Louisiana’s way Home by Kate Di Camillo

May 29, 2019 Comments off

louisianaLouisiana’s way Home by Kate Di Camillo. Pub. Walker Books, 2019.

Oh to be able to write as well as this!

Twelve year old Louisiana believes that her parents were part of a circus acrobatic team named Elefante who were killed in an accident and that the family is cursed because of an incident in Elf Ear Missouri. She believes that her Granny taught her everything she knows and has looked after her for the whole of her life.

All these beliefs are going to come under question in this superb novel of growing up and the amazing resilience of Louisiana. She is truly a character to be admired.

At 3.00am one morning Granny gets Louisiana out of bed to pack her suitcase and announces that the day of reckoning had arrived. The pair drive north out of Florida across that imaginary Georgia State line. They run out of gas and Granny becomes bedridden with tooth ache.

Louisiana has to drive the car off the motorway to a small town and seek dental treatment for her Granny. This will lead to all secrets being told and for Louisiana to show her incredible character when faced with a crisis that would floor most people.

Beautifully told with great wisdom, common sense and perception. You are with Louisiana all the way and once you start the novel the most difficult part will be putting it down.

Total class writing for intermediate and secondary school students. For me the best junior fiction title of the year.

Fabio the World’s Greatest Flamingo Detective and Mystery on the Ostrich Express by Laura James, illus. Emily Fox

May 26, 2019 Comments off

fabioFabio the World’s Greatest Flamingo Detective and Mystery on the Ostrich Express by Laura James, illus. Emily Fox. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2019.

While traveling on the Ostrich Express from Laloozee to the Coral Coast, Fabio the World’s greatest Flamingo detective and his sidekick Gilbert the Giraffe discover a ruthlessly planned crime.

Zazie the Fox is wearing the famous Laloozee Ruby around her neck and when it is stolen I thought aye aye, this is a fit up. Am I right?

Well known thief Janice the Claw is on the scene with her band of Hyenas but all is not as it seems. Fabio with his Hercule Poirot like perceptions is nobody’s fool.

Nice tongue in cheek stuff from Laura James but it is Emily Fox’s superb illustrations that enhance the mystery and the fun of this  novel for newly confident readers. Older readers will love the fun.

The first novel The Mystery of the Missing Hippo is also reviewed on this blog