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Posts Tagged ‘Friendship’

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.

Cricket Crazy by Vivienne Bailey. Pub. Cuba Press 2021.

March 19, 2021 Comments off

Tom is 11 years old, at Rewa Intermediate school and is crazy about cricket. His father was a good cricketer and has an old bat with the autograph of some famous NZ cricketers including Martin Crowe. Tom’s best friend Fletcher plays cricket too and so does Izzy a girl that Tom likes but keeps it to himself. She is an all rounder and there is nothing worse for a boy than to be bowled out by a girl.

Tom is still missing his dead mother when dad turns up with a red headed lass called Tanya who has taken over all his dad’s attention. Worse thing of all is they are kissing and cuddling and Tanya doesn’t like his dog Archie who is moved from his home comforts to out of doors.

A cricket competition is to be played with the final to be played at the Basin Reserve. Tom wants to get there but things are not going well for him. Then his favourite bat is nicked at a cricket game and Fletcher gets glandular fever.

Will Tom make it? How about dad and Tanya? What has Izzy got to do with it all? Read it and find out.

Lots of cricket talk and a glossary of terms in the back of the book. Good advice for a young cricketer and for any sport in fact. practice, have confidence in yourself, concentrate and play for your team.

A first novel for this author and I think she is on the right track with this novel about cricket and family and school life.

The cover looks very much like Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor batting together and they do get a mention in the novel.

Honk by Elizabeth Pulford, illus. Astrid Matijasevich. Pub. One Tree House, 2021.

February 23, 2021 Comments off

Honk is a goose who has been battered by a storm in the night and needs to recuperate. He chooses the sandpit in Henry’s backyard and Honks.

Henry, the cat and henry’s mother and little sister accept the goose and treat it with respect. henry feeds it and this is a sure way to become friends with any animal. Henry and Honk become friends with Henry showing Honk the way to the pond.

Henry’s mother knows Honk will go as soon as it is time and soon that time is up. Read it and see what happens.

A delightful story is enhanced by delightful quirky, childlike illustrations with lots of colour and expressive eyes in all the characters. Illustrations do not have to be drawn to scale to have effect.

.There is a warm fuzzy feeling about this picture book which is a story of friendship, acceptance and respect for wildlife.

Will You Be My Friend? by Sam McBratney, illus. Anita Jeram

December 8, 2020 Comments off

Another heart warming picture book from the author of the hugely popular Guess How Much I love You? and illustrated by the same Anita Jeram.

Little Nutbrown hare is becoming independent and wants to explore the world around him. Big Nutbrown hare lets him go ” but not too far”.

Little Nutbrown hare meets a white Snow hare , a female, and they play together. They dig a deep hole and build a pile high. Then Snow hare disappears and Little Nutbrown hare goes home happy with his adventures.

He tells Big Nutbrown hare and then guess what happens? Read this charming picture book and find out.

Beautifully illustrated, the facial expressions are adorable. I guess people will read things into this story. The White and the Brown? but it is a story of independence and friendship.

Great read-a-loud for juniors.