Posts Tagged ‘Friendship’

Lopini the legend by Feana Tu’akoi. Pub. Scholastic 2023.

June 8, 2023 Comments off

Reading should be about fun and enjoyment and this short novel for primary and Intermediate pupils fits the bill.

It is often said that success breeds success but is the reverse true that failure breeds failure? This is one of the themes of this entertaining Tongan-Palangi novel.

Lopini is a year 8 student and is a legend in his school. He has a good friend in Fi and he is successful in everything he does until he is replaced in the kapa haka group by a Maori boy who speaks Maori and by Lopini’s own admission is better qualified for the job.

Lopini doesn’t handle it very well and feels a failure which he is not used to. His friend Fi tries to bring him round but Lopini decides it is because he is not used to failure ‘I need to get better at failing and the only way to get better is to practice”.

He gets Fi to suggest things for him to do that he hasn’t got a chance to succeed at like asking a germ conscious girl to change lunches with him, to dance in public and in front of the school etc etc. Surprise surprise he becomes a success and enhances his reputation and gets involved in community projects. But is he neglecting his best friend? Read it and find out.

Very easy to read with chapter numbers in Tongan and English. There is a dour school Principle Mrs Pepper to contend with and some cool stuff that Pasifika and Maori students in particular will enjoy. I enjoyed it so it is not exclusive.

After reading it I thought gee I wish school was as cool as this when I went.

The winner of the Tom Fitzgibbon Award for 2022.

There Are No Moa e hoa by Melinda Szymanik. Illus. Isobel Te Aho-White. Pub. Scholastic, 2022.

December 2, 2022 Comments off

One of the things I wish was still around in New Zealand is the Moa. It must have been an impressive bird. But hey in literature we can bring it back and that is what this picture book does.

That dynamic duo Batkiwi answer a call from the forest that suggests something weird has returned. tuatara is convinced of it and feels afraid that it will eat him. Batkiwi are not sure about it and wonder if tuatara has been eating mushrooms but he assures them not. He knows what he has seen.

The moon is big and shining could tuatara be seeing things. Read it and find out.

Excellent illustrations of New Zealand forest life with the ghostly moa memorable.

Categories: Picture book Tags: , , ,

Little Tales of Hedgehog and Goat by Paula Green, illus. Kimberly Andrews. Pub. Puffin, 2022

July 31, 2022 Comments off

Hedgehog and Goat are unlikely friends since goats are essentially day animals and hedgehogs run the night, but they become friends because both are lonely on a typical NZ farming environment.

Goat does what goats do and has a unique dancing style. Hedgehog sleeps and snuffles around but together they can make and tell stories. So they do.

Each story is headed by an aphorism or a saying that has a general truth such as “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”, “Actions speak louder than words” “All that glitters is not Gold” and my favourite ” out of the frying pan and into the fire”. There are others of course and each is applicable to a story by Goat and Hedgehog about their relationships with other animals like Horse, kaka, cat, dog, pukeko and humans.

All the stories are linked and beautifully illustrated by Kimberly Andrews who gets the characters right and portrays a unique NZ scene.

Easy to read, short, large font and a lot of fun. A good read-a-loud for juniors and a bed time story.

Colour the Stars. Taea nga Whetu by Dawn McMillan, illus. Keinyo White. Translation Ngaere Roberts. Pub. Scholastic, 2022.

June 19, 2022 Comments off

The 10th anniversary edition of this classic picture book for everybody with Maori language translation and stunning new illustrations.

Isaac and Luke are friends but Luke is blind and has no understanding of what colours are. Isaac takes Luke on a walk so that he witnesses yellow of the sun, the green of a fern leaf, the brown of the earth, the red of blood from a stubbed toe and the blue of the sky.

Luke in turn teaches Isaac the sounds of nature because this is his world. “when you can’t see, you have to listen”. At night when it is black, Luke knows all about black, Isaac and Luke get to know what the stars look like. A sensitive and moving story.

Valuable not only as a story to describe difference between sighted and unsighted but also to appreciate the Maori language

Skandar and the Unicorn Thief by A. F. Steadman. Pub. Simon & Schuster, 2022.

April 19, 2022 Comments off

The first of a new series that has taken the publishing world of children’s books by storm and has already had the film rights acquired by Sony Pictures. It is being seen as the next big thing in children’s literature and compared to Harry Potter, His dark materials and Percy Jackson. Need I write anymore?

This first book establishes the scenario and the characters and if a phrase can describe the theme of the novel it is this “Two souls destined for each other can never truly be parted

This is a story about unicorns but not the dreamy docile fantasy creatures you read about elsewhere. These unicorns have a horn that is razor sharp and they are creatures that are fundamentally bloodthirsty with a preference for violence and destruction. They have a shriek that is somewhere between a horses whinny, an eagles cry and a human scream and each is destined to be bonded to a human just as the human is destined to be bonded to the unicorn.

Each unicorn has an element-earth, air, fire or water, that they thrive in and their destined partners have that element too and the beginning of this novel has the human and the unicorn matched so that the human and unicorn are bonded from the birth of the unicorn from an egg.

Skandar Smith is bonded to Scoundrel’s Luck but they are different from the rest because both are from a secret and banned “spirit element”. Both have a destiny that neither knows about.

The novel opens with a race of unicorns and riders called the Chaos Cup a sort of Melbourne Cup or Grand National. It is gatecrashed by an evil being called the Weaver and the winner stolen. We learn that the Weaver is stealing other Unicorns, bonding them illegally with humans and has formed a powerful army to threaten the balance on the island of Unicorns which is out at sea by a pebble beach, surrounded by the Mirror Cliffs. If you want to know more you will have to read it yourself and you will not be disappointed.

Well written, excellent characters that you can relate to, Skandar is a good role model. An incredible world is created and of course those nasty unicorns. There are casualties along the way, an inevitable battle with the Weaver and big surprises. You will keep reading long after you want to put it down and watch out for the Silver Unicorn.

Roo and Vladimir (an unlikely friendship) by Minky Stapleton. Pub. Scholastic.

March 25, 2022 Comments off

Roo is a big dog. Hairy and clumsy, with big teeth but loveable just the same.

All the other dogs in the neighbourhood are scared of him and he is lonely.

Then along comes Vladimir a little Pekinese who is smitten with Roo. They play and sleep and become best friends.

All the other dogs are bemused and think Vladimir is very brave but they keep their distance.

Then a serious storm comes and all the dogs are trapped on the wrong side of the river. Roo comes into his own and the dogs fears are gone for ever. read it and see what happens.

Excellent illustrations of all the dogs. Roo and his various moods and Vladimir with his confidence are superb.

Categories: Picture book Tags: , ,

The Tale of the Tiny Man by Barbro Lindgren Illus. Eva Erikson, Translated by Julia Marshall. Pub Gecko Press 2022.

March 7, 2022 Comments off

This is a simply told story from Sweden about a tiny man who is very lonely because he has no friends. Although he is polite and courteous around people, raising his hat in greeting towards them, people don’t seem to like him.

He lacks self esteem and blames it on his ugly hat. He cries in bed at night but believes he is a kind man, and he is. He pins a note to a tree that says FRIEND WANTED and waits on his doorstep for an answer as 10 days go by and the first signs of winter appear.

Then a dog with a curved tail and wet nose comes to him and happiness abounds. He feeds the dog and they become friends, you can tell cos the dog leaks on his gate to mark out his territory. They have fun together and those that used to mistreat the old man change because of the dog.

The winter ends with spring and a young girl with a polka dot dress and a ribbon in her hair appears and the dog loves her. Is friendship exclusive? Will the dog take off with the girl?

Read it and see you will not regret it.

Easy to read text particularly good for juniors and primary students when read aloud.

The illustrations are a treat. The little man and the dog and girl are superbly drawn but do not drift into sentimentality. Brings about great opportunities to discuss self esteem and friendship.

Muki and Pickles by Ross Murray. Pub. Beatnik Publishing 2021

October 2, 2021 Comments off

Muki and Pickles are delightful little bunnies who dress well and have fun together.

Pickles loves cake but can’t chose between zesty lemon cake and black forest gateau. Who can?

Muki likes books and he carries around with him an Insect Guide and later on a Book of Knots.

Together they build a raft to get across a river to acquire the last peach on the tree but they are a bit late.

Things work out ok though as Mrs Raccoon is pleased with them cleaning up the sticks in her yard to build the raft and guess what she gives them? This also brings another cake into the picture.

Interesting style of illustrations with pastel colours of gardens and flowers that seem to smile at you as you read. The characters of Muki and Pickles are delightful.

Great read-a-loud for juniors and pre school children but the sense of humour will give a chuckle to older readers.

The Shark Caller by Zillah Bethell. Pub. Usborne, 2021

September 3, 2021 Comments off

This is one of the most memorable novels I have ever read. I will not forget this in a hurry and nor will you.

It is set in New Ireland, a part of Papua New Guinea that is under going great change as the old culture is infiltrated by the modern World. A small coastal village is headed by the all powerful, Bigman, who wants to set the old ways in the past and embrace the new ways of modern culture. He has a jukebox in his hut.

Siringen is a Shark Caller a respected post that worship the shark which in the past was seen as a mirror of the fortunes of the village. Siringen looks after Blue Wing a young girl whose parents were killed by a shark called Xok. Blue Wing wishes to inherit the title of shark caller but Siringen will not teach her as she is a girl.

Into the village come an American History Professor and his daughter Maple who have lost a wife and mother and are struggling to deal with her death at the expense of their relationship. Maple and Blue Wing become friends and all the things that bother them are going to come to the surface in a most delightful and spiritual way. There will be tears.

The most delightful part of the writing is the inclusion of pidgin in the narrative which is done by Blue Wing. Words like liklik for little, nogut for bad and my favourite, longlong for crazy. As well there are a couple of wise sayings that apply to the story and to life itself. “A smile can mean many different things. Happiness might not be one of them” and very importantly “You cannot look for ghosts because they have not accepted death. If they wish to be seen they will come to you”

It is a wonderful story and the surreal ending will have you thinking but like me you will say that is very reassuring.

Don’t miss it. It is deep yet accessible for young readers. The chapters are short and the font large. One of the novels of the year.

The Life and Times of Eddie Mcgrath by Brigid Feehan. Pub, Onetree House, 2021

June 11, 2021 Comments off

Eddie short for Edwina is an imaginative junior high school student with a caring and bizarre family including two older sisters and an aunty who is a Druid. She has stunned everybody by winning a competition in which she becomes an MP for the day in his or her constituency office, then has to prepare a speech and meet the Prime Minister, all on camera.

She has a couple of good friends Meri and a boy named Liam and it is all innocent and idealistic. Such is young life. Their lives are hectic and things change very quickly but they are caring and well meaning. The story is narrated by Eddie and she agonises over her life with her friends as young girls do.

Hanging over her head is of course the meeting with the PM and her speech but many other things are happening. Her father has an accident and a boy from Christchurch who also won the competition wants to come to Wellington to meet her.

The best story however involves Liam and his arthritic dog Russ. Liam is not happy with some chickens that are being mistreated by a neighbour so he removes them in a chilly bin and ensconces them on the top floor of an abandoned and earthquake risky former convent. Then he changes his mind and decides to put them back but is caught. This introduces another character and another situation.

Brigid Feehan links all the stories together in a witty spirited novel for intermediate and junior secondary readers. Eddie is a committed reader herself and this novel is probably best suited for girls although not necessarily so. I enjoyed it and it shows that life doesn’t always go smooth but if you adapt to the changes you might get a better than asked for result.