Sunday, January 23, 2011

A favourite reprinted and a legend

Napoleon and the Chicken Farmer by Lloyd Jones illustrated by Graeme Gash ISBN: 978-0-908-783755 RRP$19.99 Hardback

When Napoleon Bonaparte, the great Emperor of France, returned to Corsicafor his summer holidays, the whole town turned out to welcome their hero home.

As the procession wound its way past his farmyard, Manoli thought, 'Wouldn't it be nice, just for once, to be somebody else other than a chicken farmer?'

Manoli has a chance to be somebody else at the annual Napoleon Bonaparte look-a-like concert. Of course, once he's had a taste of majestic bearing Manoli is reluctant to give it up. The chickens get drunk and disorderly on peaches, no one can eat cake and the townspeople are unhappy. Can Manoli save the day?

An amusing sophisticated picture book that parents, 6-12 year old readers and students will enjoy. The underlying theme of being happy with who you are and play to your strengths is set in Neopolitan's time. The artwork is bright, expansive and modern with a touch of Picasso influence. The book was first published in 2003 by Mallinson Rendel and won the Honour Award at the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults in 2004. In the same year, it also scooped the award for Best Use of Illustration at the Spectrum Print Book Design Awards, and the Russell Clark Award for distinguished contribution to illustration at the LIANZA Children's Book Awards.

Lloyd Jones' bestselling novel Mister Pip won several prizes and awards including the 2007 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize Best Book Award and the 2007 Montana Medal for fiction. It was also shortlisted for the 2007 Man Booker Prize. He has written numerous novels, and has worked as a journalist and consultant.

Illustrator Graeme Gash helped design (with Kevin Wildman) as well as illustrated Napoleon and the Chicken Farmer. Graeme is a graduate of graphic design from AUT, has worked in an agency and now works freelance painting, doing puppet theatre and playing music (singer songwriter of the band Waves).

The Taniwha of Wellington Harbour by Moira Wairama, illustrated by Bruce Potter
ISBN 978-0-14350449-8 RRP $19.99 English and Maori versions

In ancient times in Aotearoa, there was a beautiful lake in which there dwelt two monstrous taniwha.
Their names were Whataitai and Ngake.

Whataitai was an easygoing taniwha.
He liked to cruse slowly around the lake,
stopping often to eat the fat, juicy eels at Te Awa - Kairangi river mouth.
After his meal he would stretch himself out to sleep in the sun on Pito-one beach.

Ngake, however, spent most of his time speeding around the lake as fast as he could swim.
His favourite game was leaping over Matiu Island and doing spectacular belly flops.

One day Ngake's restless nature sees him gauge a way to the sea. Whataitai is too fearful at first to join him until he realises the lake has changed since his friend left. He follows the throughfare but doesn't find it an easy journey.

A legend that creatively tells the making of Wellington Harbour. Author Moira Wairama uses colourful language to give us insights into the two taniwhas' characters. Illustrator Bruce Potter's water colour paintings capture the light in the water, the colours of a coastal landscape and the intricate scaling of sea creatures beautifully. The design of text adds to the movement and texture of the story.

Moira Wairama tells the legend for the first time in written form. She says the story was originally told to her thirty years ago by Tipene O'Regan and she has been storytelling it for many years. Moira’s first book Alphabet Art was a collection of poems for children written in collaboration with artist Austin Whincup. Her second book, The Puppet Box, received the Joy Cowley Award in 2006 and was published, with a Maori version, Te Pouaka Karetao, in June 2007. Moira also writes for both the English and Maori School Journals.

Bruce Potter has illustrated over 100 children's books. His illustrations for Papa's Donuts gained him a second place in The World's Best Illustration at the 2007 Gourmand World Cookbook awards. He holds a two-man deadlift world record and has a Bronze medal in the World Masters Bench Press Championships. He has also sung baritone in many musical productions.

Reviewed by Maria Gill

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