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Posts Tagged ‘Immigrants’

Home Child by Dawn McMillan, illus. Trish Bowles.

April 9, 2019 Comments off

home childHome Child by Dawn McMillan, illus. Trish Bowles. Pub. Oratia Books, 2019.

This is the picture book story of Pat Brown, one of the children that Britain gave away in the 1950,s because of poverty or because they were orphans.

Many of these children had sad lives, sometimes abused and often unloved. Several hundred came to New Zealand and while Pat Brown had many sad moments  she was one of the lucky ones who had a happy life.

Dawn McMillan enhances Pat’s story of how she and her two brothers and sisters caught the boat from England, through the Panama Canal to the strange wooded hillsides of Wellington. Then a trip across Cook Strait and bus ride to Nelson. There Pat and Sheila were separated from Bill and Alma who were fostered elsewhere.

Pat tells the story to her granddaughter and there is a big surprise at the end. Read it and see what it is.

Trish Bowles captures every emotion in her illustrations. The sadness and tears of leaving home, the ship voyage out to NZ, the fun on board ship, the tragic separation of the children, the first day at school and the surprise ending.

A classy publication for everybody. Very moving.

Categories: Picture book Tags: , ,

The Magic Desk by Aaron Moffat

April 8, 2019 Comments off

magic deskThe Magic Desk by Aaron Moffat. Pub Olympia Publishers 2018.\

This is the third book from this author, all are reviewed on this blog, and his main obsession is bullying in schools. He has others too and many are found in this recent novel.

Timothy is a WASP (white anglo saxon protestant), he is 12 years old and has just arrived in NZ with his born to rule mother. He looks like a studious boy but at heart is shiftless and lazy, and he is going to have to change.

Timothy is rescued from a beating by bullies by Aroha a Maori girl who fancies him and is the daughter of a reformed Gang leader. Their relationship is at the core of this novel.

Timothy’s mother buys a mahogany “escritoire”, (desk in more common language,) which has a portal into another world. Through traveling via the desk to different historical scenarios including pre European Maori, French revolution and others, Timothy learns that bullying is a human trait that is impossible to extinguish. Humans will take it to the grave.

Lots of race and immigrant talk, some of it will appall you, but mostly it is tongue in cheek and open to further discussion. The novel is well written, lofty writing in parts and the characters do change. Timothy learns that reading and writing are powerful and a petition over enviromental concerns changes everything. His mum will never change.

I laughed all the way through. For intermediate and high school students. Check it out.

Andrew Down Under. The Story of an Immigrantdog by Anne Manchester, illus. Fifi Colston.

December 19, 2018 Comments off

Andrew down underAndrew Down Under. The Story of an Immigrantdog by Anne Manchester, illus. Fifi Colston. Pub. Makaro press, 2018.

This is a prequel to Toughen Up Andrew previewed elsewhere on this blog. It is the story of a journey from Palm Springs USA to windy wellington for pampered Pekinese dog Andrew and his master Poppa.

It is not an easy journey and includes many tests for rabies and parasites, a long plane ride and ten days quarantine in New Zealand. Tough going for a little dog who is used to going everywhere with Poppa even into restaurants.

The story is told from Andrew’s point of view and children from 6-12 years will love it. Helps you appreciate how difficult it is for new immigrants to our country.

Fifi Colson once again draws the illustrations in pen and ink and there are photographs of some of the characters in the book. Easy font, short chapters and only 118 pages, make this very readable. Kids and animal stories are like a hand in a glove.

Front Desk by Kelly Yang

July 21, 2018 Comments off

front deskFront Desk by Kelly Yang. Pub. Walker Books, 2018.

Migrating from one country to another to better your standard of living is as common as life itself. For 10 year old Mia Tang and her mother and father it becomes a hardship that tests their resilience to the core.

They came to America, California to be exact, with $250 and the hope of freedom. What they got was exploitation, racism and bigotry but still they got through. This book takes the American dream to pieces.

They answer a promising advert to be managers of a motel in Anaheim for the king of exploiters, Mr Yao. He promises them the earth, but knows they have no choice and treats them like slaves. As you read you hate Mr Yao to the core.

My Yao has a son of Mia’s age and they go to the same school. A respectful but often confrontational relationship builds up between the two Chinese children.

Mia has the job of looking after the front desk of the motel while her parents slave away at maintaining and running the 30 room business often encountering the rough side of American culture. It is sad, soul destroying and uplifting. It often makes you angry but Mia and her parents stick to it.

“Why is everything in America about money? questions Mia and “None of us knew it was going to be like this” rues her father.

Mia’s optimism is never daunted and she makes friends with a Mexican girl Lupe and with the regular tenants of the motel. I thought if Mia can get through this then so can I and I did not regret it. Nor will you.

This is one of the most readable novels I have read this year and it is for everybody from Intermediate age through to young adult

Vaclav and Lena by Haley Tanner

October 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Vaclav and Lena by Haley Tanner. Pub. William Heinemann, imprint Random House, 2011.

This is an outstanding novel for secondary school students and young adults. I doubt whether adult writers could write as well as this.  It is the story of the life and destiny of three people and at the heart of it is a despicable hurt.

Vaclav and Lena are immigrants to America from Russia in the 1990’s and they settle in the Brighton area of New York. Lena lives a neglected life with her aunt, while Vaclav lives a protected life with his magnificent mother, Rasia, and his aloof vodka drinking father Oleg.

Vaclav meets Lena when they are  4 & 5 years old and by the time they are 9 & 10 Vaclav has enveigled Lena into his dreams of becoming a magician. They are as close as two friends can get. Then one night Rasia sees something that she keeps to herself and Lena is taken in for her own protection and the two do not see each other until they are 17 years old.

Although apart Vaclav and Lena are with each other all the time in their thoughts. When they meet again  the explosive truth is revealed and they are opened up like a couple of eggs hitting the floor.

Just brilliant. Once you start this book you will get so involved you won’t want to put it down. The writing as told in a Russian accent will nail you to the floor. The lives of Lena and Vaclav are laid bare before your eyes in a style that will make you weep with desire.

Simply one of the best novels I have ever read.

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool. Pub.Random House Children’s Books, 2010.

A good story can reach out and wrap around a person like a warm blanket. This excellent novel did that to me, I didn’t want to finish it, I wanted to read it every day. Quality writing, so good in fact that this novel won the Newbery Medal in 2010.

Set in the Kansas town of Manifest a word that means the passenger list of a ship and something that is self evident. Both meanings are relevant to this novel. Everyone has a story and a right to know their own story. This is the story of a 12 year old girl  Abilene, who narrates the novel.

Told in two time zones, the Depression year 1936 and the years American entered World War 1, 1917-18. It  is also the story of how the past impacts on the future and indeed the present.

Abilene is sent by her father to live in Manifest, a town he had good and bad experiences in. Abilene stays with the preacher Shady, who is aptly named. On arrival she finds a box hidden in the floorboards of her room that contain a number of objects that are keys to unlocking the past. One of these objects is a fishing lure called a Wiggle King which is so attractive that even a blind fish would go for it.

Like a blind fish I went for the story of Jinx and Ned as told to Abilene by a mysterious woman called Miss Sadie as she unravels the history of Manifest during the war years and the influenza epidemic of 1918. Through her revelations, the newspaper columns of  Hattie May Harper that are brilliant, and the letters from the Front by Ned Gillen,  Manifest’s and Abilene’s stories are told.

One word outstanding!

Intermediate and junior secondary students will love this but there is something in this novel for everyone. If you like classy writing then this is the best novel I have read this year.