Sunday, October 25, 2009


Ben & Mark: Boys of the High Country by Christine Fernyhough and John Bougen, Random House NZ
This paperback book has a great deal of eye impact: the photographs are stunning. In fact it’s a top quality production all round, with its wrap-around cover and glossy paper. Ben and Mark Smith live on Mount White Station in Canterbury. The station covers 40,000 hectares, and it takes 45 minutes to drive from the front gate to the farm house. The boys attend primary school at Springfield, living there during the week and returning to the station in the weekends. The book looks at many aspects of their lives, while simultaneously giving a fascinating glimpse into life on a high country station – dog handling, mustering, horse riding, animal husbandry, recreation, schooling and local events. The prose is straightforward and easy to read, and there are fantastic photos on every page. I predict this will be a very popular Christmas present this year for boys aged about eight to ten.
ISBN 978 1 86979 068 4 RRP $37 Teacher Notes available

Young Adult
The Crossing by Mandy Hager, Random House NZ
Book One of the Blood of the Lamb series, this is a riveting fantasy set in a future world devastated by climate catastrophes and plague. Maryam lives on a remote Pacific island that survived the worldwide devastation. Her people are held in thrall to the members of a religious cult called the Apostles of the Lamb who live on an ocean liner stranded on the reef. When Maryam reaches menstruation she is sent to join the community in the ship. Rather than the paradise she expected, she discovers that the Apostles and their families are cruel sadistic despots who use the islanders for their own ends. Maryam herself is destined to save the life of an Apostle’s ailing son by having all her blood transferred to his veins. But Maryam is determined to fight back, and after several adventures she sets sail in a (forbidden) boat with three unlikely companions, heading for what she hopes will be a safer place to live. That’s where the story stops, and I simply can’t wait to read the next book in the series!
ISBN 978 1 86979 150 6 RRP $20 Teaching Notes available
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

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