Thursday, July 30, 2009

Two new books for 9-12 year olds

Bute View by Janice Marriott, Mallinson Rendel
This is the sequel to Chute Thru, and I have to admit I haven’t read the first book. But it didn’t matter – I was still able to enjoy the fast action and quirky humour of this story. Young Arlo is an accomplished inventor who lives in a future world where people dwell on rafts in polluted seas. In fact, Arlo lives on Raft 1,000,001, which he describes as a ‘no-hoper’. He’s full of anticipation as he leaves the raft to travel to SPACE in the southern hemisphere to demonstrate his inventions to a bunch of important scientists. But he soon discovers that SPACE is controlled by unscrupulous businessmen – and they want to put him in a state of hibernation and ship him to another planet!
The characters are zany, the setting is wildly inventive, and the action is non-stop as Arlo tries to extricate himself from the clutches of the bad guys. Should be enjoyed by both boys and girls aged about 9 to 12.
ISBN 978 1 877423 25 3
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

Fire On High by David Hill, Mallinson Rendel
David Hill continues his string of gripping adventure stories with this tale about an airplane hijack. Teenager Jonno Austin has been to South America to watch an eclipse of the sun, and on the way home his plane is hijacked by rebels from the country he’s just been visiting. A passenger, one of Jonno’s party, is injected with snake venom and will die in a matter of hours if the concerns of the rebel soldiers are not dealt with by international authorities.
This is real read-in-one-gulp stuff. The tension is cranked tighter and tighter as Jonno and his fellow astronomers try to reason with the rebels and the airplane pilots try to get help via the radio. Just when it looks as though things will work out, another crisis emerges – the plane starts flying through debris from a disintegrating spacecraft. Red-hot lumps of metal are shooting past like deadly missiles. If one of them hits the plane... It’s a great read for teenage boys.
ISBN 978 1 877423 32 1
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Five new picture books

Grandma McGarvey and the Puddle street Gang by Jenny Hessell and Trevor Pye (Illustrator) Scholastic ISBN 978-1-86943-894-4

A lovely addition to the Grandma McGarvey stories is this latest picture book by Jenny Hessell for readers 6-9 years.

Grandma McGarvey volunteers at an old folks home, and there she finds a living history of her past. Even the sweetest of old ladies was once a young person. This rhyming story will enchant young readers, especially as the illustrations are clear and colourful.

Jenny Hessell has written nine other Grandma McGarvey stories and many other stories including Dump Bear.

The Sparrow and the Feather by Ben Brown and Helen Taylor (Illustrator)
Penguin ISBN 978-014350376-7

One day, a sparrow finds a beautiful feather. He wonders to whom the feather could belong and sets out to discover the owner. Along the way, he meets other birds, but they haven’t lost the feather. He also meets a rascally weasel who thinks he might like to own the feather.

Sparrow finds the owner eventually. But by now he has already decided that having beautiful plumage may not always be a good thing.

Written in the form of a fable, and wonderfully illustrated by Helen Taylor, this book is sure to delight adults and children. Perfect for reading aloud to 4 to 8 year olds.

Ben Brown has written a great many children’s stories, most of the recent publications in collaboration with his wife Helen Taylor as illustrator. In 2006 their book A booming in the Night won the picture book award in the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards.

Hey Presto by Rachel Hayward and Rachael Haupt (Illustrator)
Scholastic ISBN 978-1-86943-911-8

Daniel’s Grandmother is a retired magician. She doesn’t do magic anymore. “Over the hill” she says.

But, somehow, magical things still seem to happen around her and in her house. When Daniel loses his homework in the disappearing cupboard, Gran writes him a note for his teacher. Unfortunately, she writes it in invisible ink. Daniel’s teacher is not amused.

Daniel is made to look silly, talking about magic. Then, at the end of the term concert, Mr. Grimshaw says the wrong thing, and Gran pulls out a few tricks to change Mr. Grimshaw’s mind.
A delightful story for six to nine year olds. Colourful illustrations, interesting style although not my cup of tea but children may well like the style.

Other stories by Rachel Hayward include McGregor, and Jason’s Extraordinary Hair.

My Brown Bear Barney by Dorothy Butler and Elizabeth Fuller (Illustrator)
Penguin ISBN 978-0-350374-3

Barney the brown bear goes everywhere with the little girl in the story. He goes to the beach, shopping, gardening, and to bed, along with other items needed for each activity. And soon, she will be going to school. But Mum says bears don’t go to school. Or do they?

A beautiful story for three to six year olds. Plenty to discuss in each picture about what to take for each outing. Clear, colourful and concise illustrations make this book a wonderfully presented book.

Dorothy Butler is an expert on children’s books and she has had a huge influence on books and book selling in New Zealand, as well as writing many of her own stories.

Secrets by Dawn McMillan and Illustrated by Julia Crouth, Dominique Ford, and Lyn Kriegler.
Penguin ISBN 978-0-14-350381-1

This book is a keeper. A beautifully bound hardback picture book with three of Dawn McMillan’s stories, all with the theme of a secret.

The first story, Sea Secrets, is about Hannah and her grandmother. They find a way to keep their love for each other alive even though they are thousands of miles apart.

The second, Moontime is the secret a young boy keeps until he has a little boy of his own.

The third is Keeping Cloudy a Secret. This time, more than one person holds a secret and the ending is a lovely surprise.

Dawn McMillan has written many wonderful picture books and educational readers. One of her most well known is Why Dogs Sniff Bottoms.

Reviewed by Jenni Francis

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Two new books from Kyle Mewburn

Scruffy Old Cat by Kyle Mewburn, illustrated by Heath McKenzie, published by Little Hare, ISBN 978 1 921272 75 2 RRP $12.99 Target age 6-9 years

Lily likes to stay tidy - in fact she likes everything to be perfect around her until Pop Hooper's mobile pet shop drives into town, then everything turns to shambles. Pop Hooper offers her a kitten for 24 hours but it is so far removed from the dream kitten she has always wished for. Let's face it - this smelly, scruffy cat will never live up to Lily's expectations - or will it?

A delightfully funny tale by Kyle Mewburn, award winning author of Kiss, Kiss, Yuck, Yuck; Duck Stuck and Hopplepop. Kyle says that everyone tends to think their cat is the perfect pet (he does) yet when he goes to friends' houses they think their cat is the cutest cat out. Of course, when Kyle was young his most perfect pet was a dragon. He never got one but he did nurse an egg into a chick. The chick grew up into a pesky rooster called Oscar that thought Kyle was its mother until it met a tragic end (but that's another story). Kyle attributes the idea for the series to his 17 your old moggy called Momo (who has also since died but from old age).
Funny Little Dog by Kyle Mewburn, illustrated by Heath McKenzie, published by Little Hare
ISBN 978 1 921272 76 9 RRP $12.99 Target age 6-9 years
Flyn spends most of his time avoiding Toby Downer's gang. Flyn would be the first to admit he is a chicken and imagines owning a ferocious dog called Chomper that will help him out of his troubles. Unfortunately, Pop Hooper doesn't have one of those dogs instead he gives Flyn a funny scaredy little dog called Pumpkin. Flyn fears he will be the laughing stock of the school but is surprised how events turn out.

Another book in the series about Pop Hooper's Perfect Pets. Six to nine year olds are going to love these early chapter books told with humour and sprinkled with illustrations throughout. Kyle has just finished writing the next two books in the series: look out for one about a pony and another about a turtle due out March 2010.

Kyle Mewburn says he has a picture book called 'Old Huhu' due out September and he has also written an environmental series and Auzzie Yarns for the Australian market. He's well suited for the job because he originally came from Brisbane. Now he lives in Millers Flat, Central Otago, which is way out in the countryside near Dunedin.

Kyle says he often gets his ideas when he is working in the garden (which could be on the top of his house because it has grass growing out of it). He says he likes lots of quiet then he can write from 7.00am to 3.00pm every day.
"I spend a lot of that time rewriting and rehashing what I wrote the day before."
He enjoys visiting schools and says his book 'Kiss Kiss Yuck Yuck' gets a round of applause from children - even before he starts talking about it.
Reviewed by Maria Gill

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Two new non-fiction books from Gecko Publishing

Ecology and the Environment by Francois Michel, illustrated by Marc Boutavant

ISBN 978 1 877467 29 5 RRP $19.95 Recommended reading age 6-12 years

What is ecology - and how can you help the planet?

Do you know now many litres of water are wasted if a tap drips for one day? Which gases make up the earth's atmosphere? Is nuclear power good or bad?

Ecology looks at the relationship between living things and the environment. This book shows why we should take care of our environment - and how understanding ecology can help us save the earth.

Translated by Jean Anderson, edited by Raymond Huber (of Sting fame) and written by Francois Michel a geologist, author and mountain guide. The 80 page book is a science lesson in ecology with colourful illustratons throughout. It contains information about concepts such as radioactivity, genetic engineering, the greenhouse effect, pollution and ends with what we can do to help the environment. At the back is also a quiz and word puzzle, plus an eco dictionary and glossary.

Rubbish and Recycling by Gerard Bertolini & Claire Delanlande, illustrated by Nicolas Hubesch, ISBN 978 1 877467 30 1 RRP $19.99 Recommended age 7-12 years

Another book in the series with Jen Craddock translating (journalist), Raymond Huber editing and French authors Gerard Bertolini (specialist in garbology) and Claire Delalande. Set out like the above book with colourful illustrations, and step-by-step instructions to tell you everything about rubbish you didn't know you wanted to know!

Great books for school projects and for children who care about the planet.