Sunday, 25 September 2016

Winner of the David Fickling Books (UK) Master of the Inkpot Competition 2015

NZ Writer  Leonie Agnew  The Impossible Boy  Puffin 2016   $19.99pb 203pp  ISBN 978 0 1433 0906 2  Themes: Children in wartime/ Imaginary friends/ Survival/ War zones

Ben is only six years old, has already survived a train crash, and now is living in an orphanage in the middle of a war zone and has, of necessity had to create an imaginary friend who he calls Vincent just to see him through. It is Vincent who tells the story… Clear precise writing helps the reader enter in to a narrative that is as unusual as it is addictive – a story you really cannot help thinking about. Although it is basically upsetting, traces of the well-known ‘Agnew humour’ do break through and at times I almost expected Conrad from Conrad Cooper’s Last Stand to come through the orphanage door.

The book was officially launched yesterday afternoon at St. Heliers Community Library Auckland  - I wish I could have been there!

Year 6/ Age 10 up    

Leonie reads from her new book at the launch yesterday afternoon. Image acknowledgements to Clare Scott

Red in tooth and claw in ancient New Zealand

NZ Writer & Illustrator
Gillian Candler illustrated by Ned Barraud
From moa to dinosaurs – explore and discover ancient New Zealand
Explore and discover series No 5
Potton & Burton 2016   $19.99pb 36pp
ISBN 978 0 9475 0309 3                                                  
Themes: Ancient times/ Extinct creatures – New Zealand/ Series
A very cleverly constructed and researched production that takes us back in time to visit New Zealand (Gondwana/ Zealandia) of 80 million years ago and earlier. Realistic images show what it might have been like (and to feel grateful we were not there to witness it all!). The text is full but simple enough to be understood by younger readers and all statements are supported by HOW DO WE KNOW? boxes.
This is Number Five in the series and Gillian is currently working on Numbers Six and Seven. Titles? At this stage that is definitely still under wraps but if they are anything like the earlier five they will be indeed be worth waiting for.
Year 2 up/ Age 6 up (- even younger children will enjoy this (and those no longer children) )
A signing session at the Children's  Bookshop Kilbirnie for an earlier title in the series

Saturday, 24 September 2016

The vanishing Huia bird

NZ Writer & Illustrator
Julian Stokoe. illustrated by Stacy Eyles
12 Huia Birds
Oratia Books 2016   $24.99hb 32pp
ISBN  978 0 9475 0612 4                                                 
Themes: Extinct birds/ Huia/Stories in rhyme/
This could so well be a lament for the passing and hunting of such a beautiful creature but instead it turns into a positive celebration of times past. It begins in the ancient forests of New Zealand and really seems to end with the sight of the first canoe paddling up the creek. Rats, dogs, powerful chiefs, scientists and ladies of fashion with big hats all have a hand in the final demise and we are left with memories in the form of paintings, displays and songs. Good illustrations appear on a forest coloured background of green and brown, blues (not too much – this is the forest floor) and oranges. The text is a bit clunky and obvious in places and not easy to read aloud. But, it is a great book to share with a group and, so long as it is not too big, to encourage finding the birds as their numbers get smaller.  An app is also available.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Silhouette and Paper Cutting

USA Writer & Illustrator
Clay Rice
Ants ‘N’ Uncles
Gecko Press 2016  $24.99hb 32pp
ISBN 978 1 9429 3468 4                                                 
Themes: Paper cutting/ Silhouettes/Stories in rhyme/ World Tours
Stepping on an ant’s nest precipitates us and the storyteller into a world tour of quite crazy proportions.  Silhouette paper cutter and storyteller Clay Rice is a master at his crafts and while this may not be a book at buzzes at you to pick it up immediately I was delighted at the reaction to the story when I read it aloud and at the quite impressive ‘paper cutting’ that followed.

Preschool up (and for much older students who will get lots of ideas from this)

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Prescription drugs for teenagers

UK Writer  William Sutcliffe  Concentr8 Bloomsbury 2016 $18.99pb 237pp ISBN 978 1 4088 6624 5 Themes: Futuristic London/ Gangs/ Hostages/ Prescription drugs

This is London in the not too distant future and all the ‘troubled’ kids are on a new drug – Concentr8. This is the story of what happens when five of these young people no longer have access to the drug- they didn’t mean to get into this sort of trouble but now the whole world is watching them. A fairly quick read of a tense and totally frightening look at what could happen in London – or anywhere.

Year 10 up/ Age 14 up - mature readers

Monday, 12 September 2016

An idyllic famiy holiday

NZ Writer and Illustrator
Sally Sutton, illustrated by Cat Chapman
When We Go Camping
Walker Books 2016 $28.00hb 28pp
ISBN 978 1 92197778 7
Themes: Camping holidays/ Family togetherness/ Stories in rhyme
There are 28 pages here describing the sort of camping holiday it would be wonderful to think children still experience - making new friends/ cooking on the BBQ/ swimming in the sea/ boiling the billy/ peeing in the long-drop/ singing round the campfire – and not a tablet or mobile in sight.  Text that cries out to be read aloud and generous illustrations in water-colour and ink spread over every double page,
Preschool up/ Age 3 up

The Chinese Cultural Revolution

Australian Writer
Wai Chim
Freedom Swimmer
Allen & Unwin 2016 $18.99pb 347pp
ISBN 978 1 76011 1341 4
Themsdes: Chinese Cultural Revolution/ First person narrative/ Friendship/ Swimming
Ming has always led a hard life as an orphan and as a labourer working in the fields. When a group of city boys come to his village as part of a Communist Party re-education programme Ming makes friends with one of them – a boy called Li and together, over evening swims and discussions they start to talk of something neither have ever known – freedom.  This is not a very easy book to read but for those who stick at it it will be an experience.  
Year 10 up/ Age 14 up