12 Huia Birds by Julian Stokoe. Illus. Stacy Eyles. Pub. Oratia Books, 2016.
The last confirmed sighting of a Huia was in 1907 although there were credible but unconfirmed sightings as late as the 1960’s.
It was a beautiful bird prized for it’s feathers by the Maori but it was a ground dweller where it hunted for huhu grubs in fallen logs and other grubs in the soil. The female had a beautiful curved beak and the male a straighter beak, it’s feathers were black, trimmed with white and it had a yellow plumage below the beak.
Before the Maori it sang to hail the dawn but the coming of the dog and the rat began the road to extinction. European settlers and introduced possums, stoats ferrets and weasels finished the fabulous huia off.
This picture book tells that story beginning with 12 huia, counting down to the last bird in rhyming verse as it vanishes off into the sky but there is hope as the bird lives in paintings songs and stories, but this should never happen again to another species.
Well told by Julian Stokoe and superbly illustrated by Stacy Eyles acrylic like paintings of the birds and their diminishing environment. There are some stunning pages none more so than the 9 Huia birds singing songs of love as the supreme Maori chief seeks the huia’s feathers for his treasure box.
Great appeal for primary and intermediate school students with a powerful conservation message for everybody.
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.
The essence of this novel is that it is the union of two souls – Will a teenage boy who has been scarred by a beating and humiliated on Youtube, and a baby orca named Min who has lost his mother to whalers and been separated from his pod.
They come together as Will sings his beloved opera music while at sea in a yacht and his music is heard by the grieving baby orca who responds with his own clicks and whistles. The orca comes alongside the yacht, Will reaches out and their touch has a moving effect on both.
Their relationship is to last a lifetime but the immediate consequences are aggravation and acrimony leading to assaults, family breakups and thankfully beautiful music. The two are so harmonious nothing but long term good can come of it. But it don’t come easy.
Will and Min must find themselves. Will must gain confidence and get over the humiliation of social media exposure. He needs friends. Min needs to find his family but he thirsts for human company like a bird seeks the sky and hope is hard to hold on to when one is little and alone.
The action in the present involves a struggle with a violent and domineering salmon farm owner Bruce who wishes to kill the orca. The local marae, department of fisheries and police get involved in the action.
Through Min we also learn of the culture of the whales. How the humans who they call The Hungry Ones slaughtered the whales in a time they call the Days of Blood. Min sings their song jus as Will sings his “I am captain of the Pinafore and a right good captain too”
The music of Gilbert and Sullivan, Madam Butterfly and a host of opera composers compliments the song of the whales.
Mandy Hager cares about the Planet and all its inhabitants, we all should but she realises the human condition is getting in the way but there is hope. This is a novel of hope and promise. One of the most valuable novels I have read for sometime
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.
Emma Dilemma, the Nanny, and the Secret Ferret by Patricia Hermes. Pub.Marshall Cavendish, 2010.
Children who have read and loved the Judy Moody series by Megan MacDonald will love these novels of a young girl who is full of adventure and whose stories all have a family setting. The adults are always understanding and good role models and in Emma’s situation the nanny, Annie provides further adult support.
This novel is really about trust. Can children trust adults? Well Patricia Hermes says they can but that responsibility is at the heart of it. Nothing wrong with that.
So where do the ferrets get in on the act? Interesting animal the ferret, very distructive to the bird life of New Zealand but in this novel loyal and needy animal friends. Emma has two ferrets, Marshmallow and Marmaduke, and cannot take them on the family holiday to Maine. She farms out one to her best friend and smuggles the second to the holiday home. Havoc eventuates but sympathetic and astute Nanny helps save the day.
Other adventures happen on holiday when a neighbour wishes to cut down some trees, but it is all wholesome stuff.
Recommended for children in years 3-5 at school.