Sunday, May 23, 2010

Finnigan & the Pirates by Sherryl Jordan, Scholastic NZ
Congratulations to Scholastic for their excellent book design. Both the story and the illustrations are the work of the author, and Scholastic obviously decided to match quality with quality. The eye-catching cover, the attractive layout, and the glossy paper with excellent colour printing mean that this book is hard to resist. Some of us may have forgotten that Sherryl began her career in children’s books by illustrating, but her delightfully detailed cartoon pictures in this book prove she’s a talented artist.
Finnigan is the nephew of Wildebloode the Wicked – the fiercest pirate who ever roamed the seas (BTW, she’s female!). Finnigan is meant to follow in her footsteps – but all he wants to do is dance. After many adventures, the pirate crew are captured by cannibals and in imminent danger of being eaten. But the cannibals like to dance – and Finnigan sees his chance... Readers of about 8 to 11 will relish the adventure and humour of the story – and thoroughly enjoy the engaging illustrations.
ISBN 978 1 86943 927 9 RRP $18.99
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

Stranger Madness by Melanie Drewery, illus. Jenny Cooper, Scholastic NZ
This is a sequel to the NZ Post Children’s Book Awards shortlisted title The Mad Tadpole Adventure. Maddie and her friends are back with another roller-coaster adventure. This time, Maddie’s imagination goes into overdrive after her class have a talk about Stranger Danger. Maddie is horrified when her mother hires a babysitter who is a stranger – and a not very nice one, either. There’s a rumpus as Maddie tries to foil the babysitter – but then something really extreme happens involving the cat flap! Jenny Cooper’s appealing black ink cartoon pictures appear on almost every page, and should help less confident readers. Best for youngsters of about 7 to 9, but older reluctant readers may enjoy it.
ISBN 978 1 86943 949 1 RRP $12.99
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

Into the Wilderness by Mandy Hager, Random House NZ
This is the second book in the Blood of the Lamb trilogy for young adults, following on from this year’s NZ Post YA Award winner, The Crossing. Believe me, this one is just as absorbing and thrilling as the first title. The heroine, Maryam, escapes from the cruel and murderous cult on the island of Onewere in a small sailing boat, along with her friend Ruth. They are accompanied by Joseph and his cousin Lazarus, two boys from the cult families. Joseph is kind and good-hearted, while Lazarus is proud and pig-headed. They reach another island, but it’s deserted. Health problems force them onwards; they experience a death and a storm and a shipwreck; then they are picked up by a vessel belonging to the Confederated Territories (formerly Australia).
But their troubles are not over. They are confined in a Christmas Island-type refugee camp, and Maryam undergoes several more ordeals in order to keep her companions safe and healthy. What next? Well, there’s a hint that Maryam is determined to return to Onewere and confront the Blood of the Lamb members ... I can’t wait to read the last book in the series!
Teacher Notes
ISBN 978 1 86979 329 6 RRP $19.99
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

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