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Posts Tagged ‘Conservation’

Kakapo Keeper by Gay Buckingham. Pub. OneTree House, 2021

September 17, 2021 Comments off

Most birds pong pretty bad. Penguins reek of rotting fish and poo but kakapo have a lovely fusty-warm smell. Not to mention an inviting face and eyes that suggest a sense of cheek and humour.

This is one of the many quotations mentioned in this superb novel based on fact about bird conservation in Fiordland particularly in Dusky Sound where Capt Cook once harboured on his voyage to New Zealand.

The story is of Conservationist Richard Henry who camped in Dusky Sound between 1894-1900, with several assistants, moving kiwi, Kakapo, Roa and other birds from the mainland to the islands in Dusky Sound particularly Resolution Island. He wanted to protect the birds from weasels stoats and ferrets which had decimated the bird population and the kakapo almost to extinction.

This story is told in diary form by Andrew a teenage boy who is a composite of the four assistants that helped Richard Henry. He heads each chapter with Date, Bird tally and injuries. The last is amusing but given the hostility of the Fiordland environment – the rain, the sandflies, the earthquakes the landscape, it was no short miracle that they survived. Sandfly bites headed the injury list and Andrew was covered in bites with the “oozy wetness of Dusky Sound making everything they did miserable”.

Throughout the easy to read large text are diagrams of all the birds, plus maps and drawings of buildings and boats they built and used. Adding to the beauty of the story are their dog companions Lassie and Foxy.

Beautifully told with a sobering episode towards the end of the story that you can find out for yourself. In the back is the true story plus photographs of important events and structures used and built plus bird and animal life particularly of the ferrets, stoats and weasels who slither in for the kill.

One of the best animal conservation stories about people who really cared for the birds that I have ever read. Highly recommended. The cover is delightful.

Takahe Maths by Julie Ellis, Illus. Isobel Te Aho-White. Pub. OneTree House, 2021

September 13, 2021 Comments off

The fall and rise of the Takahe in New Zealand a conservation story and a unique way to teach simple mathematics especially addition and subtraction.

The takahe is a flightless, plump bird with a magnificent red beak, red spindly legs and blue green plumage. When the Maori came there were approx. 10,000 Takahe in NZ. They were easy to catch and made a nice meal so numbers fell by 1,500.

The arrival of Europeans knocked off a further 1,700 so the Takahe hid in remote tussock covered mountainous valleys. Stoats and weasels ate their eggs and numbers reduced further. From 1800-1900 only 4 were spotted and the opinion was that they were extinct.

In 1948 Geoffrey Orbell found Takahe in the Murchison Mountains above lake Te Anau. Since then they have been the target of conservation and this classy picture book tells that story. Read it and see.

Clever text by Julie Ellis has the reader doing simple maths to plot the progress of the Takahe while perceptive illustrations create a pleasing picture book.

Essential picture book for the classroom and the home for juniors and pre school children. Don’t miss this one

North & South; A Tale of Two Hemispheres by Sandra Morris. Pub. Walker Books 2021.

February 27, 2021 Comments off

This beautifully illustrated and researched non fiction picture book sized publication contrasts the lives and needs of animals in both hemispheres at corresponding times of the year.

It starts in January when it is winter in the Northern hemisphere and summer in the South and shows the ways that animals adapt to the changing seasons and the threats that global warming, habitat destruction and other human activity are having on their lives.

Animals deal with changing seasons in various ways and the examples chosen show this but what is important is that animals need to be able to predict the seasonal changes and adjust their lives and those of their offspring accordingly.

Animals used in this publication include the salt water crocodile, the pink flamingo, the brown kiwi, the green tree python, the Japanese macaque, the African elephant, the honeypot ant, the Portuguese man-of -war and a host of others.

Each animal is accurately drawn with a profile that shows how it lives and adapts to its environment. It is classified according to its survivability in our changing world and the threats to it’s survival.

Easy to read and at the start and finish of this book is a map of the World showing all countries and the location of the animals.

A superb resource for any school library and for the family home. You will not get better information than this on the Internet. The author has written it to show children the impact of their behaviour on animal life and how this will shape the future of our natural world.

Red Edge by Des Hunt

September 8, 2020 Comments off

Red Edge by Des Hunt. Pub. Scholastic 2020.

This eco adventure novel for middle school readers is one of Des Hunt’s better novels. It is easy to read, contains lots of tech talk with drones and K4 cameras and it concentrates on the smuggling and exploitation of New Zealand’s endangered species particurlaly the weta and the gecko.

Cassi lives on the edge of the Red Zone, near the Avon river in Christchurch. She runs through the Red Zone every day and forms a friendly relationship with an ex journalist and whitebaiter, Jim. Jim knows everything that goes on in the area and Cassi wants to know about an abandoned earthquake damaged house.

A mysterious woman called Raven Black is up to mischief in the house and a man called Lou Watling with his yellow Ferrari is acting furtively.

At school Cassi meets a fat boy named Quinn who is bullied and has few friends but he has a great knowledge of technology and plays a key role in trying to find out what is going on. At school Cassi befriends three girls Kaylin, Emma and Harmony all of whom are to play parts in the mystery.

The climax comes in earthquake ravage Kaikoura where a trap is set by Cassi and Co to catch the culprits who are trapping weta for export. A thrilling climax with drones heavily involved.

Excellent reading and adventure with good values, plus the descriptive passages of the Red Zone and Kaikoura are superb.

Here in the Real World by Sara Pennypacker.

February 15, 2020 Comments off

real worldHere in the Real World by Sara Pennypacker. Pub. HarperCollins, 2020.

This easy to read novel with short chapters for primary and Intermediate students, is a delight from beginning to end. It is set in Florida and Sara Pennypacker’s style reminds me of Kate Di Camillo.

Over protection is one of many disadvantages of being an only child. Ware is eleven and a half years old and is a disappointment to his hard working parents. He knows they are disappointed and he would like to change completely.

I think he is a fabulous person. He is a dreamer, a thinker and above all an artist. He struggles to meet and mix with people and prefers to be with his own fantasies. He is the type of boy who when he closes the door to his room, every cell in his body breaths a sigh of relief.

He is put in a childminding school during the summer holidays after his grandmother who he calls Big-deal, and he hates it. Over the fence from the play centre is an old churchyard and he goes in there to play. It reminds him of a medieval castle and his great love is the code of a knight which concentrates on fairness.

Ware meets Jolene in the yard and she is a die hard realist but the two get on with lots of disagreement and banter. Jolene plants a garden in the old churchyard and Ware builds a moat around the old church tower.

Then an older girl Ashley tells Jolene and Ware that the bank is going to sell the church site and destroy the work they are doing.

Read it and find out what happens. Brilliant ending. One of the best of the year.

Lost Wonders. Vanished Creatures of Aotearoa by Sarah Ell, illus. Phoebe Morris.

February 11, 2020 Comments off

lost wondersLost Wonders. Vanished Creatures of Aotearoa by Sarah Ell, illus. Phoebe Morris. Pub. Allen&Unwin, 2020.

This very readable non fiction work about lost animal species in New Zealand is one of the most fascinating works i have ever read. Not only does Sarah Ell describe the geological history of New Zealand and the species that lived here she gives the Maori legends and stories that surrounds great beasts like the moa and the Haast eagle and smaller creatures live the huia and piopio.

80 million years ago when the continent of Zealandia, on which New Zealand sits, broke away from Gongwana, it carried a cargo of plants and animal life that thereafter would develop in isolation. While Haast and other geologists found evidence of the moa and the Haast Eagle in the early 19th century it wasn’t until  in the 1970’s in Hawks Bay that Jean Wiffen found evidence of dinosaurs. After the dinosaurs died off 65 million years ago NZ became Land of the Birds and was until European settlement in the 1800’s.

Amazingly while 24% of species have disappeared from NZ since Human settlement on the Chatham Islands the extinction rate is over 50%. Read this story too.

Part 2 of this book features species that have been lost and then found such as the Takahe found in Dusky Sound in 1848.

Phoebe Morris’s illustrations are superb. This wonderful; non fiction work should be in every school library. For primary Intermediate and High school.

 

Wildlife of Aotearoa by Gavin Bishop

September 27, 2019 Comments off

wildlifeWildlife of Aotearoa by Gavin Bishop. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2019.

Gavin Bishop describes this fully comprehensive, large picture book sized, encounter with New Zealand’s amazing array of wildlife, as a “leap into the unknown”. Well it is known now thanks to him, in the best non fiction work I have read this year and one of the best ever.

Superbly illustrated with a Maori component and a strong emphasis on conservation and the future.

It begins and ends with a giant squid and it’s famous eye, on the front and back inside covers. Then comes god of the sea Tangaroa and five long-finned eel larvae who begin their journey through the multiple environments of Aotearoa.

The whales, fish, dolphins and sea life of the oceans around New Zealand are first followed by the bird life and we learn that a third of these birds are endangered and that Shag droppings have killed all the trees on Whero Island in Foveaux strait.

The 15,000 kilometers of life on the shoreline is followed by wetlands, Estuaries and rivers and we learn that the Lug worm leaves decorative castes on the sand and is frequently used by fishermen as bait.

Effects of Polynesian settlement is next with the introduction of rats, pigs chickens and dogs of which only the dogs and rats survived. Life above and below the tree-line follows then European settlement which continued the clearance of native bush started by the Maori till now when only 20% remains.

Domesticated wildlife such as cattle, sheep pigs and deer are covered and their effect on native species,as is wildlife in the towns and cities and in the house.

This superb work ends with safe places for wildlife in the sea and on the land. Outstanding drawings and illustrations with a Maori context throughout.

A phenominal piece of work for everyone. essential purchase for all schools and there is a place in the home for it too.

Roderick and the Wizard of Endor by F.M. McQueen.

May 16, 2019 Comments off

wizard endorRoderick and the Wizard of Endor by F.M. McQueen. Pub. Tross Publishing, 2019.

Jolly little tale or quest this, with good values, lively characters and a plot that includes action, magic and drama.

It does have a green, conservation, climate change agenda too but that enhances it’s appeal. Concisely written with a lot of old world philosophy and structured in short sharp chapters that will keep the reader involved.

Roderick is a large marmot like creature and his friend Pepin is a squirrel like creature. They meet an invisible human named Percy who has become invisible because he took some leprechauns gold from the crock at the end of the rainbow. Don’t do this.

The result is Percy is invisible and Roderick and Pepin touch the gold and become invisible too. The upside is that they can now see the fairy world that is invisible to the human world. How can they become visible again? The answer is the Wizard of Endor.

The three  now go on a quest to find the Wizard who lives in a castle high up in the Mountains of Endor. This journey provides action and drama and we visit places like the Poisoned Forest, Findels gap, the Land of Blue Ice and meet elves  and a huge snake called Hestrum.

A map and a picture at the start show the route and the characters. Good fantasy, but will they find the Wizard and lose their invisibilty?  A sequel is set up.

A good read-a-loud for juniors and fantasy for primary and intermediate readers.

The Rift by Rachael Craw

November 1, 2018 Comments off

riftThe Rift by Rachael Craw, Pub. Walker books, 2018

This action/adventure/fantasy/scifi/ romance/conservation novel, because it is all of these genres, is from an author who is at the top of her game. It is for high school /young adult readers and is one of the most original novels I have read this year.

Black Water Island is a ferry ride off the coast and is controlled by Rangers whose power is hereditary and they protect the Old herd of deer that populate the island. The deer possess a special quality/panacea called Actaeone Bane which is desired by the medical world particularly by a nasty conglomerate called Nutris Pharmaceuticals. Every four years they have a cull and the company sends fortune hunters to organise the cull. It is lead by a sinister dangerous man named Jackson Spear who you will hate from the beginning.

The Island also has a special quality called Electromagnetic Interference which means nothing mechanical or digital will work on the island. Life is hard for the locals but they love it. The island also has a Rift in which dwell Rift Hounds who are powerful creatures who live off the herd. If one of these hounds should attack you and you survive you acquire a quality called Rift Sight although it is not the only way to have Rift Sight. To be a ranger you must possess Rift sight but the current leader Sargent doesn’t have it.

Cal and Meg were attacked by the Rift Hounds when they were 8 years old, now they are going on 18 both possess Rift Sight. Cal who is an outsider has stayed on the island while Meg left the island with her mother Cora and both have returned on the eve of the cull.

There is unfinished business between Cal and Meg and their feelings for each other are a powerful storyline in this novel. You can find out the rest for yourself.

Rachael Craws language is the star of this novel. Her imagery, description and metaphor are powerful weapons that drive the plot and keep the reader in the book. The action is exhilerating, the romance spine tingling and the plot totally believable. If you miss this you will kick yourself.

The Sea Dreamer by Terry Fitzgibbon.

September 26, 2018 Comments off

sea dreamerThe Sea Dreamer by Terry Fitzgibbon. Pub. New Holland, 2018.

When Sam goes to sleep he dreams and floats away on his toy tugboat Wakato accompanied by Pania of the reef. he goes on a journey of discovery and in the process learns about the sea and all the animals who live in it and around it.

There is a strong conservation element about his discoveries which include sea life getting tangled in drastic plastic pollution. He dreams of towing the plastic back to shore for recycling.

Sam learns that the sea is our main source of oxygen and that the power of the oceans waves can help create energy for when oil supplies run out.

he learns about the giant squid, about whales about the albatross and the North and South poles. he wakes with the message that we need to look after the sea and keep it healthy.

Good message and great colourful illustrations. My favourite was Sam towing the mother polar bear and her cub to safety on a flimsy ice floe.

Well worth purchasing for the home or school library.