Posts Tagged ‘surfing’

Nor’East Swell by Aaron Topp. Pub. OneTree House, 2022

February 12, 2022 Comments off

This excellent novel for High school and young adult readers is a combination of surfing and Maori myth and legend. It is complex and deep and elevates surfing to the status of a religion while linking it to the Maori spirit of Wairua.

Aaron Topp is a surfing guru, I first read his early novel on surfing titled Single Finn where he analyses the surfing culture but this novel goes well beyond that.

Witi is a year 13 student, a guitar player, a surfer and a loner. He has a friend in Alana who also surfs and he would like to take the relationship further. Witi lives with his mother and they both mourn the disappearance of his father 8 years earlier. But has he disappeared for good, where has he been and will he return? That is one of the novels mysteries.

Onto the scene from Australia comes a stud surfer called Jordy who on his first day a school wades into a fight with the first 15 who are giving Witi a hiding. It seems a spur of the moment thing but is their something more sinister about him? Another mystery.

The novel is divided into four parts. Part 1 we learn of Witi’s background and of that of his father who was a rock’n roll legend in NZ. Part 2 is more poetic as it tells more of the mystical side of Witi’s father’s background and disappearance and has Jordy meddling with the relationship between Witi and Alana. It also discusses Wairua and the Maori spirit world.

Part 3 has Witi and Jordy investigating Witi’s father’s legend and finding a code that suggests a secret surfing beach with magical powers. Part 4 brings it all together with major action as we learn that Witi’s father has left a door open in the waves that leads to the place where Wairua leave for the after life and that Witi has a role to play in closing this doorway between worlds.

To confuse matters a major international company has found out about a power source in the secret bay and they know of Witi’s power. Guess who is the leader of this company?

Plenty of action and a lot of surreal happenings occur but you can find that out for yourself. Very Complex and culturally respectful.

Saving Thandi by Kate S Richards.

August 16, 2020 Comments off

thandi2Saving Thandi by Kate S Richards. Pub.Green Room House 2020.

Thandi is a baby rhinoceros that accompanied Jabu, a teenage orphan who left his shanty in Soweto for Durban. They were unwittingly in the same truck together and neither forgot the experience.

Now Jabu is a famous surfer and runs a Trust for young black surfers particularly Alexia a teenage surfing sensation. Surf and rhinos come together in

the private game reserve Umfolozi which is part of the Kruger National park on the Mozambique border.

Alexia is to have a photo shoot with the baby rhinos at Umfolosi but her and her friend Billie and Jabu get involved with a battle against poachers that extends from the game parks to the Mozambique coast.

Also entering the fray is Ice, a boy who became crippled while train surfing and now has lost his job and any hope again. He is a friend of Jabu and he is to learn that there is always hope.

Excellent adventure both at sea and on the game reserve.

Very well written  with spaces between paragraphs for the reluctant reader to pause while reading. The descriptive writing is also a feature and the characters worth knowing. The sequel to Train Surfer also reviewed on this blog

Trainsurfer by Kate S Richards

September 5, 2019 Comments off

trainsurferTrainsurfer by Kate S Richards. Pub. 2018.

An inspiring novel set in Apartheid South Africa just before the release of Nelson Mandela, with surfing the focus for revealing the contrasting lives of both black and white people.

Jabu is a young boy when his mother dies while in need of medical attention because she is black. He leaves his shanty town hovel in Soweto and travels to Durban to be with his aunt who has too many children dependent on her for life.

Through surfing Jabu meets white girl Billie and her surfing white mates, Kyle and Josh. The privileged lifestyle of whites contrasts with the poverty, crime ridden lives of blacks.  But life moves in mysterious ways for both racial groups.

The ending is positive, the characters believable, and there is a beautiful story of a young Rhinoceros in the back of a truck with Jabu. The start and ending are linked beautifully.

There is lots of surfing talk and action with the excellent cover showing Jabu dropping into the green room.

Well written with the author structuring short chapters with gaps between paragraphs allowing the reader with a low concentration span to easily drop and read at will.

For reluctant readers at intermediate and junior high school level. Contact the author at


Gods and little fishes. A Boy and a Beach by Bruce Ansley

January 22, 2016 Comments off

godsGods and Little Fishes. A Boy and a Beach by Bruce Ansley. pub. Longacre, 2009.

i have read few memoirs that recreate the world in which I remember as a boy that are as good or as accurate as this one.

It creates the world of 50’s and 60’s New Brighton when it was the hub of Christchurch city on Saturday at least. It was a tough place with the rest of the city giving it a rough reputation and the locals believing it. Ansley describes  Seaview Road shop by shop and knew the owners and inhabitants as though they  were family.

He tells of his own family life, friendships, school life which were not unlike mine. The changes to Brighton’s fate is well documented with a sense that it is a waste of such a brilliant area.

Ansley not only tells his own story and a history of surfing in the region but has a fine wit and a superb command of the language. This is the sort of local history that is precious to the community it describes.


Granny Grommet and Me by Dianne Wolfer and Karen Blair

December 28, 2012 Comments off

grommetGranny Grommet and Me by Dianne Wolfer, illus. Karen Blair. Pub. Walker books, 2013.

What’s a grommet you ask? Any surfer will tell you and so will this picture book so you better read it.

Granny and her three friends go surfing and snorkle diving. They each have their own colour plus wet suit, waterproof cap, snorkle and sunscreen.

While the oldies surf, the little boy who is unsure in the water waits with his dog on the beach. Granny comes ashore and helps her grandson to get used to the water and overcome his fears.

The oldies add fun to this story which will appeal to the adults, and that trusting friendship between old and young is wonderfully celebrated.

Karen Blair’s water colour illustrations overlayed by chinagraph pencils and acrylic paint, compliment the written text and enhance the humour and warmth of the story. The great Australian coastline is beautifully portrayed.

In the back are safety tips for going out in the sun and swimming and surfing in the sea.

A great addition for any home with primary children and school libraries.