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The King’s Nightingale by Sherryl Jordan. Pub. Scholastic 2021.

January 31, 2021 Comments off

This is one of the best adventure novels about slavery that you will read this year. Based in Europe and North Africa although those two regions are not mentioned in the novel. Instead it is the Penhallow Isles where the main character Elowen was born and raised, and Rabakesh where she is enslaved to king Shaistakhan.

Elowen is a 16 year old girl brought up in a christian religion called Followers of the Shepherd. It’s faults and credibility are revealed to her early in the novel over a illegitimate baby is denied death rights because of her illegitimacy. As this is happening pirates from the south sack Elown’s village and carry off those they can catch to be sold as slaves. Many do not make the journey alive after brutal treatment from the pirates.

Elowen survives along with her brother Fisher but they are sold separately. Elowen is bought for the king because of her beautiful singing voice and is treated very well indeed, in fact in luxury but she has a fatal flaw which is going to ruin this for her.

She is warned not to question the decisions of men or to speak ill of the king who belong to the Izarin religion much like Islam. Elowen is outspoken and makes it clear she wants to escape to find her brother fisher.

Her abilities as a singer earns her the name Shalimar or Kings nightingale and she evokes jealousy amongst the king’s harem. This results in Elowen being resold into desperately different conditions that she had with the King. She regrets this and when she learns of a war machine that is to attack The King she takes very dangerous actions. Read the rest and find out it is brilliant.

Beautifully told and described by Sherryl Jordan who is surely at the top of her game. It follows a similar book titled The Freedom Merchants also reviewed earlier on this blog. However the descriptions of the desert landscape of Rabakesh and the palace lifestyle of King Shaistakhan are delicious, as are the comparisons of the two religions and cultures.

Elowen is a good role model, loyal, brave, compassionate and generous but her outspokenness gets her into trouble. She learns the language and religion of her captives in order to quietly achieve her goals.

A novel in four parts. If you miss this one you will kick yourself.

Taking the Lead. how Jacinda Ardern Wowed the World. by David Hill, illus. Phoebe Morris.

February 26, 2020 Comments off

jacindaTaking the Lead. how Jacinda Ardern Wowed the World. by David Hill, illus. Phoebe Morris. Pub.penguin Random house 2020.

Released 3 March 2020

This picture book sized profile of the best known and most admired New Zealander in the World , Jacinda Ardern , is written for the age group 5-12 years.

It begins with her early life in Murupara where her father was a policeman and she was a strawberry blonde. It bothered her that some of her classmates sometimes had no shoes and no lunch.

Meeting Marilyn Waring and helpingĀ  the Labour Party in the 1999 election drew Jacinda into politics. The rest they say is history.

In 2019 US magazineĀ Fortune put Jacinda on it’s list of the World’s greatest leaders for her role after the massacre of Muslims in Christchurch on 15 March 2019 when she declared “We are One”

There are more facts about Jacinda including family life, in this book plus a Timeline of women in politics since NZ Women gained the vote in 1893. She regards herself as a Mother not a superwoman.

Not a political book at all just an inspiring life. Phoebe Morris’s illustrations fit the bill. An essential purchase for primary and intermediate school libraries.