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
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

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