Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Ghost Tree by Anthony Holcroft. Published by Penguin Group ISBN: 9780143304739 RRP $30.00
This collection of stories has an old fashioned feel, from the style and language, to the themes, which range from Maori mythology, French angels, Ghosts, Hobgoblins to an invented kingdom with a horrible queen.
Holcroft writes well enough, though at times his descriptions and long sentences get the better of the story. With some tales between twenty and thirty pages, of mostly plain text, they could seem rather long to a child new to chapter books. The Ghost Tree, and The Stone which are both set in New Zealand work best. They donʼt
feel like a reproduction of the European tradition. I liked The Ghost Tree especially. It is fresh; it tells of friendship and adventure; is full of bicycle rides, camping out and being spooked of course (by the mysterious behaviour of the cabbage tree). At nine pages it
makes it a more accessible story to most readers.
I see this collection as a book for a family, where the stories can be dipped into by different
members; to read to a younger one, or to be read alone. 8+
Reviewed by Vivienne Lingard

Jonty and Choc by Vince Ford, Scholastic NZ
ISBN 978 1 86843 938 5 RRP $18.99
Jonty and Choc are best mates. But when they start at intermediate school, things change. Jonty gets involved with the school drama production, while Choc is more interested in hip hop and ki-o-rahi (a game developed from several traditional Maori ball sports). Their friendship could have survived these differences, but there’s something more pulling them apart – something weird. Jonty found a ball made of some strange substance lying on the beach, and gives it to Choc. Choc starts having spooky dreams – dreams which influence him during the day. What is the mysterious ball made of – and how are Jonty and Choc ever going to be friends again? In his usual relaxed, easy-to-read style Vince Ford takes a look at friendship and trust – and growing up. Especially recommended for boys of about 9 to 11.
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

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