Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Board Books

The Little Yellow Digger by Betty and Alan Gilderdale, Scholastic NZ
Yes, it’s been around for yonks and there have been over 400,000 copies sold – but this is the board book version!! It’s a nice size for little hands, and is well laid out with big black print and lots of white space. What more can I say about this classic picture book? Maybe that it was the winner of the Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Much-Loved Book in 2003? Or that the idea came from a real event, when one of the Gilderdales’ grandchildren told them about a digger getting stuck and a bigger digger had to come and dig it out...? My copy will shortly be in the hands of my 15-month-old grandson – who will love it.
ISBN 978 1 77543 034 6 RRP $17.99
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

My First All Blacks Book, Penguin NZ
When is a book not a book? When it’s a twelve-page board book in the shape of a rugby jersey! Flip up the pages to see colour photos of The Jersey, Boots, Field, Whistle, Flag, Referee, Socks, Fans, Shorts, Goalposts, Rugby Ball (Adidas), and the Silver Fern (no All Blacks, though). Okay, it’s a publicity device, but I bet lots of people will buy it. Overseas tourists will take it home for their grandchildren, while rugby-mad parents will give it to their toddlers and salve their consciences while they watch the Cup games on TV. And with some parental help, these toddlers just might make the mental connection between the pictures in their book and what they’re seeing on the screen...
ISBN 978 014350494 8 RRP $12.99
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Lorraine Orman reviews

Gumdigger: Northland, 1899-1900 by Kath Beattie, Scholastic NZ
This is the latest book from the original My Story series to be re-titled, re-jacketed, and re-issued in Scholastic’s My New Zealand Story series. In 2008 it was published as Poor Man’s Gold. The new cover shows a towering kauri tree, and looks more up-to-date and environmentally conscious than the previous one which featured a boy in an old-fashioned hat. I’m pleased to see the author’s name on the cover (amazing how many people commented that the author’s names were not on the covers in the first series). The surface of the paper is smoother and feels nicer than that used in the original edition. These are the only differences – the contents and layout are the same.
When the family store in Waipapa goes bust, 13-year-old Reuben heads north with his father and joins a gang of Dalmatian gumdiggers. It’s a tough, filthy job and Reuben is forced to grow up very quickly, especially when his younger brother dies on the gum fields. Librarians and teachers who like the My Story series may be glad to update their collection.
ISBN 978 1 77543 036 0 RRP $18.50
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

The Last Summoner by Sherryl Jordan, Scholastic NZ
Dragon stories are always popular, and it’s great to read one written for younger children by this multi-award-winning fantasy writer. Twelve-year-old Ari cannot understand why being a girl prevents her from becoming a dragon summoner. Her father, her grandfather – the whole line of males in her family – were summoners, with the responsibility being handed down from father to son. Now her father is missing, presumed dead, and her grandfather is old and blind – and there is no son to take on the task. When the king calls on the old man to summon the dragons to help him win a war, Ari is overjoyed at being asked to act as her grandfather’s eyes. When her grandfather fails, Ari proves herself by summoning the group of dragons out of the swamp. But when she sees how cruelly they are treated by the king and his soldiers, she devises a cunning plan to enable the glorious creatures to return to their homeland.
It’s an absorbing read for dragon-lovers aged about 8 to 10. There’s plenty of action and emotion, and the happy ending is very satisfying. I love Sherryl Jordan’s beautiful black pencil illustrations that adorn the beginning of each chapter. Recommended.
ISBN 978 1 77543 017 9 RRP $19.50
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Two new books by Maria Gill

New Zealand Hall of Fame: 50 Remarkable Kiwis by Maria Gill, illus. Bruce Potter, New Holland
Okay, Maria is a friend and Bruce is a colleague – but I have no qualms about writing this review. I know how much hard work went into this book’s inception and development, and the final result is a good-looking hardback volume that teachers and librarians will welcome with cries of delight. Choosing the list of eminent New Zealanders was difficult – there couldn’t be too many dead people, or too many men, or too many athletes, etc. The final list has been divided into categories: Adventurers, Leaders, Pioneers, Scientists, Inventors, Artists, and Sportspeople. Each celebrity gets a double-page spread offering around five or six paragraphs of biographical details, some direct quotes or journal entries from the person, a biographical timeline, honours and awards, interesting snippets (in boxes), a formal photograph, and a caricature by Bruce Potter. There is a lot of information – which means the book is more likely to be used for research and dipping into, rather than as a straight read. Librarians will be pleased to see it contains a Contents page, an Index, and a Bibliography.
The author has kept her young readers firmly in mind – she takes care to include information, stories, and quotes about the subjects’ childhoods. There is a very strong theme throughout that these people started life as ordinary Kiwi kids and achieved success through hard work and dedication. Bruce Potter’s superb caricatures are more realistic than humorous, and render the book very user-friendly and approachable. I can see this book being useful in all public and school libraries, but intermediate-aged pupils will probably get the most out of it. Heartily recommended.
Free teaching unit. See inside the book on http://www.mariagill.co.nz/
ISBN 978 1 86966 312 4 RRP $34.99
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

The Call of the Kokako by Maria Gill, illustrated by Heather Arnold (New Holland Publishers)

Coming to shops this week, is Maria Gill's other book 'The Call of the Kokako'. Half the book is non-fiction with information about how the kokako is being saved, why they are so important to New Zealand, who is saving them and who are their predators. The second half of the book is a true story about how one man saved ten kokako in the Matahina Forest and because of his efforts managed to save something much bigger in the process. With the teacher in mind, Maria has timelines, journal recounts, newspaper articles, text boxes, and a Maori legend at the back of the book. In the classroom, it could be used as a read aloud, a teaching resource with a Native Bird unit, and as an example of different styles of non-fiction writing. For children and bird enthusiasts it is a beautiful book to read and treasure. Award winning illustrator Heather Arnold's illustrations are breathtaking.

Hear a kokako sing Draw a kokako activity

ISBN 978-1-86966-294-3 RRP $29.99