Tiny Owl on the Ramshackle Farm by Lotte Wotherspoon. Pub. Clay Press, 2016.
Being scared of the dark is not an uncommon thing and tiny owl’s imagination goes into overdrive when he hears ordinary farm sounds in the dead of night. he imagines a snaggle-toothed monster and a farty-pants guts-gobbler stalking the farm below. A cat scratching and mewing in her bed towel evokes images of a hoary-haired lice-licker.
Tiny owl needs to overcome his fears, after all owls hunt at night. Papa owl is on to it and with mother owl the three hungry owls fly high in the sky and swoop down on their prey.
Little owl having faced his fears is scared no more. Good message.
The text is rhyming but it is not forced and there is a repeated verse that children will memorise especially when being read aloud which the book demands.
The illustrations are in pen and ink and water colours. The owls are superb and there are some great images of the night monsters from little owls imagination, my favourite is the farty-pants guts-gobbler on his skateboard with his fancy shoes and scarf.
Juniors will love this.
Eeling is a compulsory part of being a New Zealander. At least it was when I was growing up and it didn’t matter whether you grew up in the country or the city. We all did it. Even the cities had creeks and rivers but pollution has dealt to most of them and hence it is now mostly gone.
The well honed team of Jennifer Somervell and sister illustrator Margery Fern have captured this rights of passage event at night on the upper Manawatu River.
Once the idea is hatched on a warm summers eve the family use the No 8 mentality to conjure up the eel spears and lighting and under a crescent moon head for the river on the back of the farm truck.
Written in rhyming verse with typical Kiwi language, eels are caught, smoked, cooked and eaten “till our pukus were full”.
The water colour illustrations are just right. This book like the other two by the same sisters, demands to be read allowed with some relish especially the part where the girl has an eel wriggle up her leg.
A bonus is the life cycle of the endangered longfin eel and the more common shortfin eel at the back of this picture book.
Will appeal to all age groups especially juniors and the baby boomers.
This picture book plus the one below have been circulating particularly in country areas for a while now, but I have just heard about them, and it is about time city folk got to know them.
Blowing the old cowshed up is not an easy task. It requires skill and some preparation. Gelignite held down by bags of water then BOOM! Who didn’t know though? And where did it all go after the big bang.
It’s the sort of story that goes into country folk lore and Jennifer Somervell has told it well with rhyming verse that demands to be read aloud. City folk don’t traipse up a hillside or cluster round the cowshed. Perhaps we should it looks fun.
It is a read-a-loud story for juniors and senior primary for that matter.
Sister Margery Fern has illustrated the text with unique Water colour illustrations. Down on the farm style which captures life on the farm in New Zealand. I liked the cows and the dogs and the women chatting about it later. They compliment the text well.
In the back is a glossary and pictures of the real farm and milking merry-go-round.
The New Old Truck by Jennifer Somervell. Illus. Margery Fern. Tales from the Farm Publications, 2014.
The old 1921 Republic truck has had it’s day as a working truck but the children are fond of it and don’t want it to go. The truck didn’t want to go either but the truth has to be faced. Down they go to see new trucks but farm folk don’t like anything flashy so they stick with the blue truck.
Then salvation. Son John comes home and decides to restore the truck back to its old glory. Everyone’s happy even the old truck.
Once again uniquely illustrated in water colour paintings and I loved the girls lounging on the hay bales in the back of the old truck and of course the almost human old truck with those doleful eyes.
Both books would be a choice asset to any school library.
The third book about Scrap the blonde sheep dog as he learns about life on the farm and about life in general. Blondes have more fun don’t they? Scrap certainly does and the reader will too.
In this book he learns why humans drink coffee and tea all the time – it makes them pee and then they can mark their territory.
He learns that cows are wired to a different frequency and tactics used to persuade a sheep do not work with cows.
Just because someone calls your father a pig does not mean that you are half pig half dog and should be going woof oink.
But most importantly he takes his father on at sheep dog trialling. Good father/son stuff here.
Told in the same delightful, tongue in cheek and easy style of the other two books reviewed elsewhere in this blog.
Country kids will nod knowingly and city kids will love to know how a farm works.
Reluctant readers at primary and intermediate level. This series is fabulous.