Posts Tagged ‘Animal stories’

Petunia Paris’s Parrot by Katie Haworth. illus. Jo Williamson

July 11, 2016 Comments off

IMG_20160711_0002Petunia Paris’s Parrot by Katie Haworth. illus. Jo Williamson. Pub. Five mile Press, 2016.

Petunia Paris is rich beyond her wildest dreams. Her well meaning parents spoil her rotten because they can. Each birthday is special and she already has a swimming pool, a city of toys, thousands of dresses and a personal chauffeur.

On her 5th birthday she can’t think what to ask for so says I want a parrot please. She has heard that parrots talk and are good conversationalists but when she gets the parrot all the way from Peru it won’t say a thing. All it does is go Squarrk.

For over a year she persists without success and finally cracks. What do you want she yells at the parrot and he says “I want to go home”. So when birthday number six comes along guess what Petunia asks for?

Excellent read-a-loud for those that like to squarrk and  a happy open ending.

The illustrations are superb.Pastel coloured water colours of pink, grey and blue and a superb red and blue parrot with human like facial expressions. The ending is a blaze of colour.

Categories: Picture book Tags: ,

The Bold Ship Phenomenal by Sarah Johnson

June 30, 2016 Comments off

PhenomenalThe Bold Ship Phenomenal by Sarah Johnson. Pub. Flat Bed Press, 2016.

After a tentative start this novel for middle school children develops an original idea into a rollicking double plot story involving pirates, smuggling of endangered species and a pig.

Malachi is 11 years old and he and his father miss his mother who has died. Malachi’s mother always encouraged him to be adventurous and inquisitive and she gave him a magnifying glass and says look for me after I have gone.

Malachi finds a ship in a bottle which has a life of it’s own which parallels the adventure that is to happen in his own life. He becomes aware of a dodgy deal that is going to take place in Waipoua Forest where protestors are trying to stop a road going through which threatens many species.

Read the rest and find out the adventure that malachi gets into and how a piglet helps and hinders his progress. All the strings to the plot are tied up nicely at the end but will Malachi find evidence of his mother in the action?

Short chapters and a large font plus a rapidly changing plot make this novel an excellent read-a-loud for primary students.

Bicycling to the Moon by Timo Parvela, illus. Virpi Talvitie.

March 16, 2016 Comments off

bicycling moonBicycling to the Moon by Timo Parvela, illus. Virpi Talvitie. Pub.Gecko Press, 2016.

One of the best books I have read this year and possibly one of the best books ever.

It is a laid back series of stories about a cat named Purdy and a dog named Barker who live together in a blue house at the top of a green hill where the forest meets the sky.

It is said that dogs have a master and that cats have staff but it is never mentioned that the two can be friends. Purdy is an artistic, sensitive sophisticated being a trifle lazy but very determined when he wants to do something. Barker is energetic and organised and works first before fun. Barker runs the house and Purdy lets him do it.

They have friends in the village with names like Henny Cluckington and Daisy Butterfield who often come into their lives. The stories of their lives together over a full year  are philosophy itself. My favourite is the singing competition in which Purdy imagines he has a magnificient voice and Barker has the reluctant and unenviable task as judge.

You will have a grin on your face from start to finish.

Virpi Talvitie’s illustrations perfectly capture the nature of Purdy and Barker and add to the adventures and experiences they have.

A good read-a-loud to juniors and for independent reading for everybody else. You will kick yourself if you miss this one.

The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart.

June 13, 2015 Comments off

honest truthThe Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart. Pub Chicken House, 2015.

This book was referred to me by a student at Cromwell College who told me I had to read it after I had talked to her class about The Book Of Hat by Harriet Rowland. So I did. She was not wrong, this is an outstanding piece of writing about a boy called Mark who has a mission to accomplish before he dies of cancer.

Mark’s  mission is to climb Mt Rainier because he told his dieing granddad that he would do it, but it rapidly becomes a mission that he himself must accomplish. He cleverly leaves his home town with his dog Beau inside a duffle bag. He takes supplies to climb the mountain but does he plan to return? Beau is a magnificent character that all children will relate to.

On their journey to Mt Rainier, in dreadful winter conditions, they encounter the best and the worst of human behaviour, and learn that there is more than one kind of truth. But nothing will stop our intrepid hero and his dog.

Structured in 13 short chapters narrated by Mark and 13 half chapters narrated by Jessie, best friend of Mark. She is carrying a massive secret and through Jessie we learn of the progress of Mark’s cancer.

A tear jerker for sure but an honest one. I read it in one sitting and I was angry, happy, sad and terribly apprehensive throughout the book. A must read for Intermediate and secondary school readers.

Travels of an Extraordinary Hamster by Astrid Desbordes. Illus. Pauline Martin

April 30, 2015 Comments off

travels hampsterTravels of an Extraordinary Hamster by Astrid Desbordes. Illus. Pauline Martin. Pub. Gecko Press, 2015.

Your going to love this fully coloured chapter book told entirely in pictures with speech bubbles. It is from France and is about a totally self obsessed Hamster and his wonderful friends. Without his friends hamster would be lost.

In the first 3 page chapter Hamster’s friends, mole, hedgehog, rabbit, squirrel, bear and snail, invite him to join them for a snack and a chat. Hamster can do without a chat but takes a snack away for himself. Don’t you just love people like that? But somehow you love him just as hamster’s friends do.

They are all invited by polar bear to visit him on his ice floe, so they leave their cosy clearing with the reluctant hamster for a holiday. Nothing changes hamster he is consistently anal.

Splendidly illustrated by Pauline Martin who captures the character of all the animals with simple colourful drawings with expressive eyes.

This book is for everyone but essentially an early reader for primary school children. You will not be surprised to learn that Astrid Desbordes studied philosophy.

The Day No One was Angry by Toon Tellegen & Marc Boutavant

September 9, 2014 Comments off

AngerThe Day No One was Angry by Toon Tellegen & Marc Boutavant. Pub. Gecko Press, 2014.

The sort of storytelling one has come used to when reviewing Gecko Press publications and I mean this in the most positive way. Twelve short stories from animals each dissecting and giving meaning to the emotion of anger.

The unusual hyrax is first cab off the rank expressing his anger at the sun for not being around when he is wanting it. He misses the sunset and the sun rise. The sun never listens.

Elephant is angry with himself for trying to climb a tree that he always falls out of. Beetle and earthworm are both angry but believe each is angrier than the other while aardvark tells squirrel that he is only angry when he stands on his feet, so he stands on his head where he is much happier.

Squirrel is a contented little fellow and this irks shrew who does everything including smashing up squirrel’s home to make him angry, but squirrel just thinks of the good times.

Some great behavioural and attitudinal messages in the stories. Primary school children will love the stories.

There are only 81 pages of this book and Marc Boutavant has an illustration on everyone of them. They are outstanding giving Toon Tellegen’s written text additional meaning. Toad is brilliant and rhino and hippo take some beating.

The last story is the title of the book and it is superb. When no one is angry, life can be a little dull, as long as you don’t lose sight of the humour of it all.

This book will not disappoint you.

Mission Survival: Rage of the Rhino by Bear Grylls.

April 28, 2014 Comments off

rage rhinoMission Survival: Rage of the Rhino by Bear Grylls. Pub. Random House, 2014.

This is the first Bear Grylls novel I have read and I am mighty impressed. I have seen his TV show and have heard from many boys and girls about his books. They are targeted at reluctant readers from 9 years to 15 years. They have short chapters, are easy to read, there are hooks at the end of each chapter to keep you reading and they are exciting adventure.

Beck Granger is the main man or boy. He is a survivor and can exist anywhere. He is brave, he is thoughtful, he is intelligent, he is a strong conservationalist, and he has a strong sense of social and economic fairness. He finds poverty appalling and an unnecessary.

In this novel he is out to save the black and white rhino in Kruger National Park in South Africa. The difficulty is he is lured to South Africa by an organisation called LORUS who are opposed to all that Green Force are doing to save wildlife all over the world.

While out looking for rhino he and  South African girl Samora are captured by poachers and driven across the border into Mozambique. He and Samora escape and face danger from fires, wild dogs and LORUS who will do anything to get rid of them.

Great novels to have in any school library.

Phantom of Terawhiti by Des Hunt

March 19, 2013 Comments off

terawhitiPhantom of Terawhiti by Des Hunt. Pub. HarperCollins, 2013.

An adventure in the wild west coast of Wellington with an animal conservation message.

A Russian billionaire’s yacht has been wrecked in a storm and a rare white serval has come ashore.Pre teen Zac is hiding out with his father on the Terawhiti estate to escape business associates who are after his hide. He discovers the wreck and notes a large catlike footprint in the sand.

He discovers an electronic ball that plays balalaika music with teeth marks all over it. What can this mean?

Jess, the farm estate managers daughter befriends Zac and they discover the white serval which responds to the musical ball in a friendly way.

Rumours get around that a wild cat is loose in the Terawhiti and hunters come. There are also two Russian thugs out for the kill and the adventure heightens when it is discovered that the serval named Tasha is having kittens.

More of the same from Des Hunt but he does describe the Rough country well and it is a compelling adventure story for primary and intermediate students.

A medal for Leroy by Michael Morpurgo

October 8, 2012 Comments off

A Medal for Leroy by Michael Morpurgo. Pub.HarperCollins, 2012.

“If you tell a lie often enough, and for long enough, particularly if you live it, in the endyou forget it’s a story altogether”. In a nutshell this is what this book is all about and it is a scenario that Michael Morpurgo tells so well.

Michael is a dark skinned boy born to a French mother and British pilot who is killed in the Battle of Britain. He has two old aunts living near Folkstone who he visits with his mother several times a year. They have a dog called Jasper who he adores but nobody ever talks about his father or any of his father’s relations.

The death of his aunt Snowdrop precipitates a major flood of information that will change Michaels life forever. A story of bravery of racism and love during wartime. The ending will melt your heart.

Brilliantly told in the easy manner that Michael Morpurgo is famous for. Who said children don’t like history?

Will appeal to primary and intermediate students but junior high should take a look too. This is outstanding writing and a superb story.

Farm Boy : sequel to War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

December 20, 2011 Comments off

Farm Boy by Michael Morpurgo. Illus. Michael Foreman. Pub. HarperCollins Childrens Books, 2011.

Nobody tells an animal story like Michael Morpurgo and while this is not a new story(first published in 1997), it is as relevent today as it ever was, and it is the sequel to War Horse , a film currently showing around the world.

Joey was the horse that went to World War 1 and now he is a plough horse working for the boy who went to war to find him.

The story tells of a boy who teaches his grandfather to read and his grandfather in turn writes him a story about Joey and his mate Zoey as they compete with a tractor in a ploughing competition.

It is a hare and Tortoise story with the lesson “never take anything for Granted”.

Absolutely outstanding and brilliant for describing a byegone era and relationships between old and young especially grandfather and grandson.

For primary and intermediate age children but have a go yourself, it will melt your heart.