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Posts Tagged ‘Adventure’

The Mapmakers Race by Eirlys Hunter.

May 6, 2018 Comments off

mapmakerThe Mapmakers Race by Eirlys Hunter. Pub. Gecko Press, 2018

The best thing I liked about this novel for primary and intermediate school children is that characters have to get off their bottoms and do something. They have to contribute and work for the group otherwise they will not survive. There is no sitting around on their chrome books and moaning that there is nothing to do. The children are challenged.

The novel is about a race to map a route for a railway  from Grand Prospect to the coast across a mountainous landscape. Five teams take part with four of them being adult teams of various skills and ethics.

Then there is the Santanders, Sal age 14, twins Joe and Francie aged eleven, Humphrey who is just walking and talking and their talking parrot called Carrot whose one liners add humour and reality to the story. Add older boy Beckett who provides the donkeys and cooking skills and we have a team to be reckoned with.

The Santanders father has disappeared on a previous adventure and their mother missed the train and there isn’t another for a week. The race to map the rail route is on and waiting for mother is not an option.

The children have some advantages. Firstly no-one gives them a dog show of winning and secondly they are in survival mode and have skills that no other team has. Firstly they were well taught by their parents and secondly Francie who can fly mentally. She never talks and her brain can see the landscape from above. She is the mapmaker.

The drawings at the head of each chapter keep the reader up with the pace and the plot advances in rollicking fashion. It reminds me of a cross between the family in Lemony Snicket and The Road to Ratenburg by Joy Cowley.

A first class read-a-loud for primary children and for individual reading. It’s all about survival and having fun at the same time.

Supersaurs 1: The Raptors of Paradise by Jay Jay Burridge.

November 13, 2017 Comments off

supersaursSupersaurs 1: The Raptors of Paradise by Jay Jay Burridge. Pub Allen&Unwin, 2017.

The first part of a new adventure series for pre-teens and teens set in a world in which dinosaurs still exist but in a time zone that is pre world War 2.

13 year old Bea sets off with her well bred grandmother Bunty and her square jawed manservant Theodore for the Spice islands to seek the whereabouts of Bea’s parents who disappeared on the Island of Aru 11 years previously. They also hoped to see the elusive Raptors of Paradise who live in the interior of the island.

Things are not going to go well as there is a super bad guy called Christian Hayter on the island who is killing and smuggling raptors and other dinosaurs off the island to foreign buyers. Bea and her troop are going to upset Hayter who is hated by the local people and the raptors alike.

Will he come to a sticky end? Are Bea’s parents still alive? What are the Raptors of Paradise like? and who is the savage little boy who appears at times of crisis in Bea’s life?

There is an absolutely superb scene when Bea and her troop are surrounded by shadow raptors who appear to be dancing. Square jawed Theodore gets the troop to sing knees up mother Brown and loe and behold the raptors mimic them and even learn the whole song.

One might say it is old fashioned writing with a jolly hockeysticks manner and to a certain extent it is, but how refreshing it all is.

Don’t miss this one. Less than $20.00 in book shops now.

South Sea Vagabonds by J.W. Wray.

August 24, 2017 Comments off

south sea vagabondsSouth Sea Vagabonds by J.W. Wray. Pub. HarperCollins, 2014.

This remarkable story is a New Zealand classic that was first published in 1939. Every sailor worth his weight in salt water would have read this story and I guess every Aucklander with a boat will have heard of the yacht Ngataki and the legends that went with it.

Johnny Wray lost his job in the Depression because he was a day dreamer. He dreamt of palm-clad atolls with white sand and sailing in the warm trade winds.

He decided to pursue his dream and scrounged around the beaches in the Auckland area for logs of kauri to build a yacht. How he does this in his own backyard with little money and no training in boat building, makes fascinating reading. He does it somehow with friends and an insight possessed by few people. The result was the very sturdy Ngataki a 35 ft sloop with a 12 ft beam. The launch is hilarious.

The first voyage with a dunger of an engine called Methuselah, a chronometer and compass that didn’t work, and a sextant that took some working out, is astonishing, but they found Sunday Island where the best oranges in the world grow. A race across the Tasman to Melbourne followed and Johnny Wray was hooked for life.

Told in laconic style, with a good deal of understatement and self deprecation and the number 8 fencing wire theory as a guide, Johnny Wray travels the South Sea Islands from Tonga to Tahiti. The environment is pristine, you could see the bottom of the ocean from 20 fathoms and there were fish galore. It’s all gone now of course as man has plundered the planet.

You can read about the ship board rat Herbert, hear told of a fight between a giant squid and a whale and first hand account of sailing through a hurricane. You will be spellbound.

Johnny Wray trusted the Ngataki he built and approached sailing with this philosophy -“there is something exhilarating in a clean fight with the elements – as long as you win”

I would have trusted the man with my life. I hope you can still get a copy.

The Ice Sea Pirates by Frida Nilsson.

June 22, 2017 Comments off

ice piratesThe Ice Sea Pirates by Frida Nilsson. Imprint Gecko Press, 2017.

Pirate Whitehead is the coldest, most evil man on the Ice Sea. He wears his hair in a bun and treats children like animals by capturing them and making them work in his diamond mine on a secret island somewhere in the Ice Sea.

What is worse is that he has stolen Miki, the sister of the heroine of this story, Siri who sets out to rescue Miki, unarmed but with a determination that could beat the All Blacks.

On her journey across the Ice Sea which freezes over in winter and crushes ships caught in the ice, Siri meets some amazing people and creatures that all assist her in her mission to free Miki. Some of the creatures are bogle birds, sea parrots which are very tasty when cooked with snowberries, and a baby merman.

The smell of fish is ever present in the written text and the coldness seeps through so make sure you read it in front of the fire.

Siri is a brilliant character, good and sincere to the core and brave and resilient beyond belief. Love does that to people and Siri loves her sister Miki. But will Siri find Miki alive and well, and defeat Whitehead? Read it and find out.

This is a translation of a highly acclaimed Swedish writer which lacks nothing in power and the illustrations by David Barrow enhance the mood and illustrate the plot.

This novel really is a saga and cries out to be read aloud to children of ages 8-12 years but older kids will love it too. If you miss this you will kick yourself.

A Different Dog by Paul Jennings.

April 8, 2017 Comments off

different dogA Different Dog by Paul Jennings. Pub. Allen & Unwin, 2017.

Fans of Paul Jennings will not be disappointed in this long short story. Just over 80 pages of writing that will keep you on edge and keep you guessing to the end.

The boy who narrates the story is known only as the boy. He never speaks but once owned a dog called Deefer whose fate is crucial to the story. The boy lives with his mother and they are very poor but both want to break that poverty thing.

Although the boy never talks you know what he is thinking. He has no friends and is harangued at school  but an adventure in which a vehicle leaves the road and kills the owner leaving another dog, is to change the boy’s life. Read it and see how.

The illustrations by Geoff Kelly in black and white pen are a critical part of this story

Superbly constructed by a master storyteller for reluctant readers of intermediate and secondary school age.

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold by Iain Reading.

April 6, 2017 Comments off

kitty hawkKitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold by Iain Reading. Pub.  2012.

Kitty Hawk is a redheaded 19 year old girl who is intelligent, brave, cares about the planet and everything on it and still blushes when she meets a boy whom she likes. She is also a pilot and like Amelia Earhart wants to fly around the World.

This is the first book in an adventure, travel mystery series for teens and Young Adults in which Kitty in her flying boat visit and have adventures all over the World. This novel is set on the West coast of Canada and USA and follows the route of the Yukon Gold rushes of the 1890’s.

Some legendary gold has been stolen or has it? Kitty while flying and filming the whales off the Alaskan coast stumbles across four brothers who allegedly have a hoard of stolen gold. Kitty is captured by the brothers and walks the legendary Chilkoot Pass taken by the goldrush miners. But all is not as it seems as the brothers discover Kitty has a plane and force her to help them shift the gold.

Iain Reading tells the story in some detail. We learn of the Yukon Goldrushes, of Jack London and his writings, of the whales off the Alaskan coast and of Inuit culture. Plus there is adventure and mystery.

Although the font size was small I read this novel very quickly because it was so darn interesting. Read it and see, and look for the others in the series at the web page given above. http://www.kittyhawkworld.com

Rangers Apprentice. The Early Years. The Battle of Hackham Heath by John Flanagan.

October 24, 2016 Comments off

rangersRangers Apprentice. The Early Years. The Battle of Hackham Heath by John Flanagan. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2016.

John Flanagan has a winning formula with this second part about the early years of those superb, morally correct and fearless Rangers from the kingdom of Araluen. Halt and Crowley are great warriors, superb bowmen in the mould of Legolas from Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit and they are loyal, trustworthy and sort out any trouble.This is the start of the legend of Halt.

This novel begins with two of the best Rangers crawling down narrow tunnels to undermine the walls of Gorlan Castle the former stronghold of Morgarath the Black Lord who tried to usurp the throne of Araluen held by Duncan and his beautiful and now pregnant wife Isobella.

Morgarath has fled to the misty world of the Mountains of rain and night and has enlisted the help of giant bear like creatures called the Wargals. They are fierce brutal fighters but have a fear of horses. See their picture on the cover.

The action is superb, the creation of the landscape of Araluen and neighbouring Kingdoms is vivid and the novel culminates in the battle of Hackham Heath. An easy and compulsive read for middle school and junior high school readers.