Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Wings by Raymond Huber, Walker Books Australia
I haven’t read the first book in this series, called Sting (a finalist in the NZ Post Children’s Book Awards Junior Category for 2010) but that didn’t matter. I had no trouble picking up the characters and the story. Ziggy the honey bee, together with several others of his family, are taken by their human keeper to Tokyo to solve the problem of local bees going missing. They meet Mitsu, a local bee, who tells them about the mystery. After some adventurous investigations the bees discover that a scientist has invented a pesticide fatal to bees. Ziggy and Mitsu end up hunting for the mystical ice orchid which contains life-saving pollen – but first they must solve the riddles of a guardian snake. Most of the story is successfully told from the point of view of Ziggy, but the focus is necessarily limited. So additional background information is provided through extracts from the diary of Dr Sophie Domisse, the keeper of Ziggy’s hive. It’s a straight-forward easy-to-read adventure story for readers of about eight to ten, with a smart, eye-catching cover. Interesting information about bees and their importance in our environment is included at the end. Raymond Huber’s website at www.raymondhuber.co.nz offers background information and activities.
ISBN 978 1 921720 20 8 RRP $17.99
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

T-wreck-asaurus by Kyle Mewburn, illus. Donovan Bixley, Scholastic NZ
Stego-snottysaurus by Kyle Mewburn, illus. Donovan Bixley, Scholastic NZ
These are books 1 and 2 in a new series called Dinosaur Rescue. The combination of all things revolting and dinosaurs is bound to be a winner – with boys aged about 8 to 11. Girls won’t be interested. Each book is 96 pages so they look quite solid, but there’s not much text on the pages and a lot of space is taken up with black pen pictures, boxes, maps, diagrams, etc. Arg is a Neanderthal boy – but he happens to be a genius. Well, a genius compared to the rest of his tribe. He even wears clothes! In the first book Arg discovers a secret valley where he meets a genius-level T-rex who can actually speak. Arg calls him Skeet. In the second book Arg and Skeet try to prevent a flu outbreak among the dinosaurs. All adventures include copious amounts of poo, snot, farts, slime, and stink – so be warned. Donovan Bixley’s action-packed cartoon illustrations are a perfect match for the text – gross is the best word to describe the whole package...
ISBN 978 1 77543 019 3 RRP $12
ISBN 978 1 77543 020 9 RRP $12
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

Lily Gets Her Wings by Elizabeth Pulford, illus. Aki Fukuoka, Scholastic NZ
Lily Has a Secret by Elizabeth Pulford, illus. Aki Fukuoka, Scholastic NZ
Books 1 and 2 in a new series for girls called The Littlest Angel, these can only be described as sweet. However I was impressed by the excellent book design. Lily features on the covers as a cute little redhead, flying against a sparkly pastel sky, with her name in silver and her halo rather askew. The inside pages are tinted with pastel colour, as are the numerous cartoon illustrations, while the edges of the pages have a sparkly foil coating. Writing about angels involves creating a supporting theology, and I was interested to see that there is no religious aspect whatsoever included in these stories. Lily and her cohorts are more like traditional fairies than traditional angels – and they have all the foibles and faults of young humans. In the first book Lily is trying to get into an Angel Academy, and is competing for one vacant place with another angel. But things keep on going wrong for Lily – she gets in one scrape after another. In the second book Lily breaks an Academy rule by smuggling an injured kitten on to the premises – her attempts to keep it hidden are complicated by some terrible damage she causes to a precious harp... Lily is always in trouble, but everything works out in the end. Girls of around 7 to 10 who love reading traditional books about fairies will be attracted by the pretty covers and should thoroughly enjoy the series.
ISBN 978 1 77543 022 3 RRP $12
ISBN 978 1 77543 023 0 RRP $12
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

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