Saturday, October 2, 2010

Two new non-fiction books

The Naughty Kids Book of Nature by Des Hunt and Scott Tulloch (Harper Collins)
ISBN: 9781869508029 RRP$29.99

I would have loved to have been in the editor's office when Des Hunt and Scott Tulloch pitched this idea. I imagine it went like this:

"We want to write a nature book for kids," said Des.
"Not a nature book for nice kids, though," said Scott.
"No, one for naughty kids," said Des.
"Ahh, I'm not getting your drift," said Ed.
"Exactly, we want to take kids down another track, altogether," said Des.
"What track?" said Ed.
"We'll take kids on a road journey and examine squashed animals on the road," said Scott.
"Yeah, road kill," said Des.
"Eww," said Ed.
"The gorier the better," said Scott.
"And answer all the questions a naughty kid would ask," said Des.
"Like what?" said Ed.
"Why did the toad cross the road?"
"Isn't that a joke?" asked Ed.
"Yep, we'll tell jokes and explore the scientific reasons why animals do cross the road," said Des.
"And look at the bludgers in nature," said Scott.
"The lovers, the stuffed ones, the living dead ..." said Des.
"And pretty it up with lots of illustrations," said Scott.
"Well, it's highly original ..." said Ed.

Kids - naughty and nice - will love this book. It has lots of humour, gory pictures, and it de-mystifies information children have been told and wondered whether it was true or not and haven't liked to ask. Like, is it true that Daddy Long Legs' venom is very poisonous but they can't bite humans because their fangs are too short? Or how did tuatara end up in New Zealand and nowhere else? And talks about stuff you won't find in other nature books such as, 'Spiders, pee and poo' and 'What has more sense, a pukeko or a rabbit?' As it says on the back blurb: 'Nice kids learn about the life-cycle of the monarch butterfly and tadpoles turning into frogs. Naughty kids want to know about squashed hedgehogs and dead pukeko. Nice kids like to look at books with pretty pictures of puppy dogs and kittens. Naughty kids would rather see blood and guts and maggots. And rats. Lots of rats. Don't forget the rats.' Extensive index and glossary included.

Des Hunt and Scott Tulloch say at heart they're still a pair of naughty kids. They want to show you how exciting, smelly, amazing, revolting and wonderful the world of Nature can be. Des Hunt, a school teacher for forty years, has written 8+ books for children. All his books weave ecological messages into adventure stories for boys (and girls like them too). Many of his books have been shortlisted and won awards in the New Zealand Post Children's Book and LIANZA Awards.

Scott Tulloch has a Bachelor of Science degree from Victoria University, and writes and illustrates children's books. His books: Willy's Dad, Willy's Mum, Piggy Pogget and books he has illustrated: Echo and Hush, and The Naughtiest Puppy; have all been popular with children and adults. Willy's Dad was shortlisted for the BPANZ and LIANZA awards.

Tui: The NZ Kids' Garden by Diana Noonan and Keith Olsen (Penguin)
ISBN: 978 0 14 320498 5 RRP$ 30.00

This kids guide to growing fruit and vegetable in New Zealand covers the basics such as: how plants work, how to start a garden, how to protect plants; grow plants from food you find in the kitchen such as avocado stones, old onions, sprouting beans and lentils; the different ways you can grow plants; dealing with plant diseases; and information about worms, compost, companion planting; and tips on designing your own garden. The second half of the book gives you the low-down on different plants, how to grow them, what you can cook with them and interesting facts about that particular vegetable or fruit. For example, did you know that long before cowboys were cooking their favourite meal of baked beans American Indians were sweetening theirs with maple sugar. Today haricot beans have a little sugar and a lot of tomato sauce to make baked beans. The book is brightened with lots of beautiful photographs and covered in a plastic jacket so you can take it outside when you're in the midst of your gardening. Index included.

A great resource for Enviro schools and Primary schools growing their own fruit and vegetables, as well as any budding gardeners in the home.

Diana Noonan has published over 100 titles for children, from young adult novels to picture books for learner readers. Noonan has won several national awards and has had four titles shortlisted for New Zealand children's literature prizes. Keith Olsen is an illustrator and writer with an interest in the outdoors. He has also worked as a teacher, outdoor instructor and potter. He has illustrated many books for his wife Diana Noonan and the pair co-wrote The Know, Sow & Grow Kids’ Book of Plants, which won the non-fiction category of the 1998 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards. In 2004 his Pick Up a Pack: A Guide to Tramping and Camping The New Zealand Way was a finalist in the non-fiction section of the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards.

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