Archive

Posts Tagged ‘families’

To Trap a Thief by Des Hunt

April 16, 2019 Comments off

trap thiefTo Trap a Thief by Des Hunt. Pub Scholastic, 2019.

Another exciting adventure novel from a master children’s writer. Once again it is kids verses the adults and the kids are going to win but not before they are put through their paces and a lot of things have changed.

Set in the top half of the South Island from Nelson across to Motueka, Takaka and the Abel Tasman National Park, the backdrop of all the action is melded into the magnificence of this part of new Zealand.

Connors dad died in a plane crash and his mother has taken up with a good man called Morgan. Unfortunately Morgan’s mum and dad don’t like the relationship. To give things a trial Connor and his friend Harvey go on a camping trip in a motorised caravan with Rosen and Denzel, his possible future step grandparents. There is friction. But before all is worked out there are codes to break and a thief to catch.

Before the trip Denzel and Rosen won Lotto and others feel that it was from a ticket that they lost. Is it true? On the trip the boys are roped into a Quest via cell phone and a smooth operator called Frank has a mission of his own.

Easy to read in short chapters with plenty of excitement to lure in the most reluctant readers. Intermediate and Junior secondary.

Home Child by Dawn McMillan, illus. Trish Bowles.

April 9, 2019 Comments off

home childHome Child by Dawn McMillan, illus. Trish Bowles. Pub. Oratia Books, 2019.

This is the picture book story of Pat Brown, one of the children that Britain gave away in the 1950,s because of poverty or because they were orphans.

Many of these children had sad lives, sometimes abused and often unloved. Several hundred came to New Zealand and while Pat Brown had many sad momentsĀ  she was one of the lucky ones who had a happy life.

Dawn McMillan enhances Pat’s story of how she and her two brothers and sisters caught the boat from England, through the Panama Canal to the strange wooded hillsides of Wellington. Then a trip across Cook Strait and bus ride to Nelson. There Pat and Sheila were separated from Bill and Alma who were fostered elsewhere.

Pat tells the story to her granddaughter and there is a big surprise at the end. Read it and see what it is.

Trish Bowles captures every emotion in her illustrations. The sadness and tears of leaving home, the ship voyage out to NZ, the fun on board ship, the tragic separation of the children, the first day at school and the surprise ending.

A classy publication for everybody. Very moving.

Categories: Picture book Tags: , ,

Bullseye Bella by James T. Guthrie

March 11, 2019 Comments off

bullseyeBullseye Bella by James T. Guthrie. Pub. Scholastic, 2019.

I have never read a children’s book about darts before and this is double tops. It is three in the bed for 180 and a nine dart finish. No mention of a Shanghai but I guess a 12 year old girl cannot do everything.

Yes Bella is 12 years old and is a superb darts player. Her maths is a bit dodgy at times but she can throw a straight arrow and learns with experience to ignore the often barbed comments coming from other competitors. I mean who wants to lose to a 12 year old girl?

Well the boys have to get used to it, some graciously some not so well.

Bella comes from a split family and she has an Asperger’s syndrome brother called Max who goes by the name Blackbeard. Max is 9 years old, adores his sister and needs the care of a special school. Bella’s mom doesn’t have the money and Bella tries her luck at the local pub darts competition.

Success does not come swiftly or easily but she does get the chance to play for the National Title. See how she gets on and what will Social services do when they find out Bella has been playing in the pub without her mothers knowledge.

Well written in an easy style, with good values and plenty of drama. For primary and intermediate students.

The Dog Who Lost His Bark by Eoin Colfer, Illus. P,J. Lynch.

October 28, 2018 Comments off

lost barkThe Dog Who Lost His Bark by Eoin Colfer, Illus. P,J. Lynch. Pub. Walker Books, 2018.

Many people would be glad to have a dog that didn’t bark but not the dog in this story. This dog has been badly mistreated as a puppy and has lost his confidence in humans and in life, so much so that he cannot bark.

Then he is saved by Patrick a boy who calls the dog Oz. Patrick is a boy who has problems of his own. Patrick and his mom go to stay with his granddad while his father is touring Australia with a band. But is this the only reason he is away?

Patrick is going to find out soon enough that parents are not always honest with their children and Oz is going to learn that not all humans are bad. Will he get his bark back? There is a music connection in the story that is just wonderful.

Great read-a-loud for children 5-10 years and a good read for newly confident readers.

The illustrations are superb brilliantly capturing the predicament of the dog and the emotional problems of Patrick and his mom. The granddad is excellent. You will love it.

When Dad Came Home by Vanessa Hately-Owen, illus. Rosie Colligan.

October 25, 2018 Comments off

dad came homeWhen Dad Came Home by Vanessa Hately-Owen, illus. Rosie Colligan. Pub. Oratia Books, 2018.

RELEASED 8 NOVEMBER

When the guns fell silent in World war 1 for many the war didn’t end. The noise, the trauma and the inhumanity of war stayed with them in their heads.

Rita and Thomas wait eagerly for their dad to come home. They are apprehensive as they see other dads come home with wounds and scars. They wonder what their dad will be like. Will he laugh and joke and carry them for piggy back rides?

They soon find out. Their dad is shell shocked. Noise upsets him. Rather than tiptoe round him they sing their favourite song when working with him or in his presence. It works and dad is soon recovering.

A heart warming story brilliantly illustrated by Rosie Colligan. She captures the faces of hope, of despair, of pain, of sadness and eventually of joy.

A beautiful story for everyone.

Slice of Heaven by Des O’Leary.

September 12, 2018 Comments off

slice heavenSlice of Heaven by Des O’Leary. Pub. Makaro Press, 2018.

This is a terrific novel about kids going to High School in South Auckland and the lives they live in this multi cultural community.

Many people will refer to South Auckland as “the Hood” and in many ways that is exactly what it is. The rap culture and the Gangsta model have to a certain extent captured the psyche of the kids in South Auckland and it is more than just pretence. It is their lives.

Sione & TJ, Deepak & Raj, Nigel &Junior, Jordan, Hieu, Oko, and Redemption are all on detention at school when they are press-ganged into joining the school softball team for a game against a visiting school. They all have crap attitudes, have no interest in school or softball but hey it is better than detention. The real team never showed up because they couldn’t pay the $20.00 for travel and use of the gear.

From this beginning they become a team but heaps happens in their home lives as well. Sione has hard working parents who came to New Zealand so their kids could have a better future not running wild with the gangs. Sione does some dumb things and takes a beating from his father. Other characters have bad family problems and live in poverty stricken over crowded homes.What hope do they have?

Superbly written and told by Des O’Leary who was a teacher in Aorere CollegeĀ  South Auckland and certainly knows what is what with kids culture. His characters are Samoan, Tongan, Maori, Indian Fijian, Vietnamese and others and the strongest feature is the dialogue between the characters. They talk to each other in an aggressive manner with embarrassment and the put down major weapons but there is an underlying sense of humour about how they talk that will captivate readers. One thing you don’t do is call a Vietnamese, Chinese. Read it and find out why.

The social and economic depravity of the area is also a theme “the old man shuffled past the kids looking for cigarette butts on the ground”. The gangsta stuff with the coloured bandanas and the attachment to “our turf’ is a factor and most characters are pretending to be people they aren’t.

The point is will the softball connection change their lives?

Excellent novel for teenagers about an area with attitude that has some mystique in New Zealand culture. Great cover, says it all.

Boy Under Water by Adam Baron, illus. Benji Davies.

July 30, 2018 Comments off

boy under waterBoy Under Water by Adam Baron, illus. Benji Davies.. Pub. HarperCollins, 2018.

This novel for intermediate and junior high school readers is about growing up and it addresses a massive question – “Do grown-ups tell you the real stuff or do they try to shove it aside like an old tent stuffed behind a sofa”?

Every family has secrets, secrets that affect other family members and friendsĀ  behaviour, and kids do not understand. Why don’t they know? and what will happen when they eventually find out?

Cymbeline Igloo is nine years old and he lives with his mother. He has artistic ability and his mother gives art lessons. Family history comes to a shattering crisis when Cymbelline has to go to the swimming pool with his class. His mother panics and Cymbelline wonders why his mother has never taken him to the pool or any body of water where he could learn to swim.

Cymbelline attends after a challenge from a class member and while waiting to commence a swimming lesson he is pushed into the deep end and sinks to the bottom. His mother erupts. The next morning when Cymbelline wakes up his mother is gone.

I am not going to tell you anymore you will have to read the novel and believe me I did not guess the ending, nor will you but it is brilliant.

Superbly told and explained by Adam Baron with an underlining dark and witty humour. He is talking to the kids and opening big secrets. Deftly illustrated by Benji Davies.

You will find out about the name when you read the book.