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Posts Tagged ‘friends’

Kid Normal by Greg James & Chris Smith, illus. Erica Salcedo.

August 8, 2017 Comments off

kid normalKid Normal by Greg James & Chris Smith, illus. Erica Salcedo. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2017.

This novel for middle school, intermediate and junior secondary school readers is one of the most bizarre stories I have ever read. That’s not putting it down, its a compliment because reluctant readers are the big challenge these days and this story will suck them in.

There are two strands to the plot, one for each author, and they are skillfully brought together as the book proceeds. The first is about Murph, a boy who has moved schools so many times he is fed up to the back teeth. He is mistakenly accepted by a school that deals with children who have a weird talent or capability some of super hero status but not all. They discover Murph is just normal but he adjusts to his new life. Will he become a hero?

The second strand is about Clive Meeke a scientist working on DNA who is pressured by his boss. Who isn’t these days? While conducting an experiment with a wasp in the room things go pear shaped and Meeke becomes power crazy Nektar, half man half wasp.

If you want to know any more you will have to read it yourself but if you just want a snippet to get the feel of the book there is a short story in the middle of the book that mimics James Bond, about a super hero The Blue Phantom,  that is just brilliant.

Written by two BBC Radio 1 jocks who have the gift of the gab the story is never drab. Some of the idiom and metaphor are superb with Erica Salcedo providing illustrations that enhance the plot and give you an idea of what the characters look like.

It is a good laugh and reading should be fun.

I Just Ate My Friend by Heidi McKinnon

July 24, 2017 Comments off

ate my friendI Just Ate My Friend by Heidi McKinnon. Pub. Allen & Unwin, 2017.

I have been sitting on this potentially award winning picture book for a few weeks now and I just have to get it out. Why you say? Because it is multi level, thought provoking, funny, with illustrations that are so simple I could have done them, yet it has that je ne sais quoi.

On a child’s level it has a strong message of, “be careful who you chose as a friend.” It also looks at ways in which we make judgments on who our friends should be.

At an adult level, while everything above is relevant, it deals with old adage of “what goes round comes round”.

A monster regrets that he has eaten his best and only friend, he ponders the meaning of this and goes looking for a new friend. In the end another monster chooses him. He is happy for a while, but………

Lots of black with bright colours on whole pages and white font in short but perceptive sentences. The ending is a killer.

Juniors will love it but older children and adults will be bewitched too.

See You When I see You by Rose Lagercrantz, Illus. Eva Eriksson.

May 23, 2017 Comments off

see you whenSee You When I see You by Rose Lagercrantz, Illus. Eva Eriksson. Pub. Gecko Press, 2017.

This is the fifth book in this series about Dani and her best friend Ella. They now live apart as Ella has gone to another town but have half a locket each which they hang around their necks to cement their friendship.

Dani has been sad as her mother was killed in a car crash and her father has been in hospital but is now back with a new girlfriend Sadie.

In this two part story Dani goes to the zoo with her class, gets separated but meets Ella also at the zoo with her class. The two celebrate being together.

The second part has Sadie coming to dinner. Dani had last seen Sadie when they rode Iceland ponies with her friend Ella. Things did not go well and Dani is upset that her father appears to have forgotten her mother.

Beautifully written  with simple words and short sentences for the newly confident reader of 5-7 years. The power of these stories is that they introduce grown up circumstances with child experiences.

Superbly illustrated by Eva Eriksson, my favourite is a drawing of a boy at the zoo walking around like a gorilla. A lovely book.

Waiting for Goliath by Antje Damn

April 5, 2017 Comments off

goliathWaiting for Goliath by Antje Damn. Pub. Gecko Press, 2017.

The surprise factor in a children’s picture book is a big plus as far as I am concerned and this book from German author Antje Dam has it.

When one considers Goliath, certain giant like images come to mind. Wait till you see him.

Bear is loyal, trusting and patient. He knows Goliath is coming and is prepared to wait a year for him to come. So bear sits on his bench, hibernates then wakes to greet Goliath. As he does so the seasons pass.

Unique diorama like illustrations with rich coloured backgrounds show the seasons passing. The written dialogue as other animals tell bear that Goliath isn’t coming is short and sharp. Bear will not be deterred.

Good read-a-loud for juniors and pleasurable for newly confident readers. Adults will have a smile or two as well. A quality publication.

The Blue Cat by Ursula Dubosarsky.

March 18, 2017 Comments off

blue catThe Blue Cat by Ursula Dubosarsky. Pub. Allen&Unwin, 2017

This novel for Intermediate and junior secondary readers is set in Sydney after the fall of Singapore in 1942 to the Japanese when great grey warships sat in the harbour like a herd of tired elephants.

It is an absorbing and lyrically novel with a sense of dread about it and ends in a surrealistic way. It recreates Australian life before World War 2 that prompted the then Prime Minister of Australia to observe “Australia is a British land of one race and one tongue”

Columba and her best friend Hilda are about 11 years old and they live on the North Shore of Sydney. Their neighbours are two elderly sisters Miss Hazel and the harp playing Miss Marguerite who say things like “people are ignorant they don’t know any better”.

Daylight saving has been introduced and it is lights out after dark to stop the enemy seeing in the dark. Darwin is bombed in the middle of the story.

Ellery a young boy from You-rope comes to town with a watch on his wrist, a bearded father and without a word of English.

At the same time an archangel blue cat wonders into the lives of Columba and her neighbours. This cat sees all and is important in providing the serendipitous ending to this story.

Easy to read with primary sources of literature, advertisements and Government directives of WW2 Australia spread throughout the novel that will intrigue the reader and provide an insight into life at that time.

I have never read a children’s novel like this before.

 

 

Kuwi’s Very Shiny Bum by Kat Merewether.

November 11, 2016 Comments off

shiny-bumKuwi’s Very Shiny Bum by Kat Merewether. Pub. Illustrated Publishing, 2016.

This is a Xmas picture book. A Kiwiana Xmas as Kuwi wants to give gifts to all her forest and seashore friends like seal, kakapo, hoihoi and ruru. Plus she wants her growing chick Huwi to have a good Xmas.

Kumi is inspired by a red ball that falls from the sky and looks exactly like a red nose day nose. She gets it tangled around her body and lodged on her bum.

Put the word bum in a picture book and you have kids attention immediately. Good positive story.

The illustrations are excellent and are filled with kiwiana detail. Kuwi and Huwi’s burrow is the opening scene in strong acrylic like colours. There is a buzzy bee hanging from the ceiling  and a couple of new books on the shelf – James and the Giant Kumara and The very Hungry Huhu. Look for other surprises in the illustrations.

Relates well to Kat Merewether’s other books reviewed on this blog.

Yak and Gnu by Juliette MacIver, Illus. Cat Chapman.

March 18, 2015 Comments off

Yak & GnuYak and Gnu by Juliette MacIver, Illus. Cat Chapman. Pub. Walker Books, 2015.

This rhyming picture book is a beauty that demands to be read aloud. It also has more than one gnu and allowed me the luxury of saying “what a gnuva gnu’ in memory of a Flanders and Swan song of yester year.

Yak with his captain’s hat and gnu with her green pearls are the best of friends and feel they are unique. Yak naturally has a kayak and gnu a canoe. What gnu hasn’t?

They are sure they are unique but a trip down the river to the sea puts paid to their common belief. They discover a goat in a boat, a calf on a raft, a snail setting snail and among others a rat and her clan on a catamaran. My favourites are the giraffes in their hovercrafts and an ocean cruise full of yaks and gnus.

” does it matter smiled gnu. Who cares my friend when I have you” Wonderful finish.

The rhyming text is never forced and Cat Chapman’s water colour illustrations are perfect. Check out the giraffes in their hovercrafts wearing sunglasses. Just superb.

This is a picture book team that is going places. Don’t miss this one.