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

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