Tuesday, May 28, 2013

New Zealanders Who Dare to Dream

The Power of Us, words by Cameron Bennett, photographs by Adrian Malloch (Random House)

Several years ago, I interviewed Sir Ray Avery for my book 'New Zealand Hall of Fame: 50 Remarkable Kiwis'.  His story was especially inspiring as he had come from being an orphan who had lived on the streets of London to a successful businessman who donated much of his time inventing medical equipment for use in third world countries. Before the book went to print he found out he was receiving a knighthood and he kindly told me so the book would be up to date.

Sir Ray Avery decided to write this book with distinguished journalist Cameron Bennett and noted photographer Adrian Malloch while doing a documentary about what defines us as kiws in this country. They chose the 55 people from the heartland of New Zealand - people who were really 'going for it'. They travelled the country interviewing and photographing the "eclectic and accomplished group" of scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, musicians, inventors, dreamers, artists, actors, writers, sportspeople, philanthropists, and change agents - "some well known and some who are well below the radar." They are all high achievers and risk takers.

Examples of some of the people who are not so well known but should be for the amazing work they are doing are: Peter Beck who sent a rocket into space from New Zealand. That probably wouldn't happen in other countries. There is also Bill Buckley who makes 80 percent of the world's electro magnets. Professor Jane Harding, Paediatrician who has been doing pioneering research. And scientist Dr Sean Simpson who has discovered a process that allows the production of low-carbon fuel.

There are also our favourites like Rhys Darby, Oscar Kightley, Witi Ihimaera, Mahe Drysdale, Jeanette Fitzsimons, Vincent Ward, Barbara Kendall, Sam Neill, Annabel Langbein, Neil Finn, Michael Hurst and Dame Susan Devoy. And many more.

Each person shares their life's lessons and give words of wisdom. You'll get advice like:

"Take all opportunities seriously, no matter how small, because things lead to other things, that lead to other things - especially when you're starting off." Rhys Darby, comedian

"Whether you are so self-driven, and genuinely enjoy what you do, you'll happily commit to the long hours because you are aware of the results you want to achieve." Beatrice Faumuina, athlete

"My advice if you're starting out is to have courage. Kia Kaha Kia Manawanui, which means have strength or courage and be a great heart." Witi Ihimaera, author

"Seize the opportunities that are in front of you. Seize change as being a good thing because only good things come from change."  Dr Sean Simpson, scientist

Complementing their stories are large black and white photographs shot while they were being interviewed. And that is what makes the photographs special - they're not posed and manage to capture the essence or soul of these people.

It is a stunning book - in hardback, large sized (245mm x 300mm) with 312 pages - no expense spared.

Books that inspire children and adults are a particular favourite of mine. This deserves to be in every High School Library to inspire the next generation of leaders, inventors, scientists, artists and writers.

See an interview with Sir Ray Avery about the book: http://tvnz.co.nz/breakfast-news/paper-plus-sir-ray-avery-video-5208250

ISBN: 9781775530008  RRP $49.99

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Another exciting title from Anna Mackenzie

Cattra’s Legacy by Anna Mackenzie, Longacre (Random House NZ)

Young adult author Anna Mackenzie follows up her post-apocalyptic series, The Sea-wreck Stranger Trilogy, with an absorbing story set in a vividly-imagined medieval fantasy world. Risha is bereft when her father dies and the local villagers banish her from her home. She sets off with a group of travelling traders in the hope of locating a relative - but all she has is a name. However she soon realises that some of the traders know more about her background than she does. Risha survives through a series of dangerous adventures, at the same time gradually discovering the secret of her birth. The book ends with Risha contemplating the sacrifices, hard work, and luck needed to claim her noble inheritance.

It’s the kind of book you don’t want to come to an end. Teenage readers will be swept along in the parade of hair-raising adventures, timely escapes, grim battles, and hidden secrets. Risha is an appealing and spirited heroine, and we follow her with interest as she develops her mental and physical skills, becomes close to a faithful supporter, and discovers in herself an eerie ability to communicate over distances. All these themes will be expanded in the sequel - I can’t wait!

ISBN 978-1-77553-318-4 RRP $19.99 Pb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman


Friday, May 17, 2013

New Storybook with CD

10 Kooky Kiwi, pictures by Deborah Hinde, sung by Pio Terei, Maori lyrics by Kotuku and Te Okahurangi Tibble; Scholastic NZ

Picture books containing a song and a CD are all the rage these days. They’re not true picture books in the literary sense (the English words for this song were written by Scholastic NZ) but they’re great fun and bound to be a boon for pre-school and new entrant teachers. This one is based on the Ten Green Bottles tune, with a focus on some brightly-coloured and accident-prone kiwi. “Three kooky kiwi playing hide and seek ... And if one kooky kiwi forgets to hide his beak, there’ll be two kooky kiwi playing hide and seek.” The cartoon illustrations are appropriately zany, as befitting rainbow-hued kiwi with weird hairdos. The bouncy song is ably rendered by Pio Terei and accompanying guitar, and having it also sung in Maori is a bonus.

ISBN 978-1-77543-145-9 $19.50 Pb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Junior Fiction title about one of New Zealand's worst maritime disasters

Where the Flag Floats by D.C. Grant, Pear Jam Books

Most Aucklanders know a little about the wreck of the screw-driven corvette HMS Orpheus on the Manukau Bar on February 7th 1863 (the 150th anniversary was this year). Many of us have visited the memorial and the little museum at Huia. But it takes a vivid and absorbing story such as this to really make us understand what happened. It was New Zealand’s worst maritime disaster, with 189 crew members killed out of a total of 259. Dawn Grant has woven a highly readable account of the disaster from the point of view of a young stowaway, Sam Galloway. It begins with Sam becoming a penniless orphan when his mother dies in Sydney. His only hope is a valuable watch engraved with an inscription that he can’t read because he is illiterate. This watch apparently proves that he’s related to a wealthy family - he knows he has to travel to Auckland to find them. But villains interfere and Sam ends up hiding on the Orpheus, still in pursuit of his precious watch. When the shipwreck happens, Sam is near the officers who are debating the best way to go over the bar - and he hears their fateful decisions. The author’s descriptions of the gradual disintegration of the ship and the deaths of the sailors make gripping reading. I won’t say what happens to Sam, but the story does end happily. Highly recommended for young readers of about 9 to 14 who like historical stories - and it would also be useful as part of a classroom study of disasters.

DC Grant writes about sports, guns and battles, but not always in the same book. Grant's first book In Too Deep is about surfing. The first book in the Catch Jason Shaw series, High Speed, is about murder. Other works include historical fiction and featured pieces on www.rorkesdriftvc.com.
ISBN 978-0-473-23618-2 RRP $19.99 (pbk) $4.99 (e-book) Pb
Buy from here
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman



Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Exciting new e-book from Lorraine Orman

Touchstone by Lorraine Orman
Skye lives with her mother in Auckland and has no contact with other relatives until she's invited to visit her grandfather before he passes away. Josh lives with his mother, her partner and grandfather in a remote West Coast mining town. When Skye and Josh meet it is an instant attraction that turns out more fatal than they realise. While together they are drawn into an explosive situation that requires both of them to step outside their comfort zone. What is the  family secret that is keeping two sisters apart, and will Skye and Josh’s friendship survive its repercussions.

My critique group heard Lorraine read out an early version of this story over a year ago. We couldn't wait for Lorraine to finish it so we could find out what happens to the two main characters (and find out the big secret).
Lorraine has written a thrilling story using two protagonists’ voices to tell the story. She skilfully blends historical and present day time settings to reveal the family secrets. Lorraine explores several issues in the story: troubled mother-daughter relationship, teenagers with low self-esteem, the damage that lies cause, and conservation of wilderness versus mining and development. What matters most to a teenager reading it, though, is that it is a hard-to-put-down book once you begin reading and both boys and girls will enjoy it. (I read it in two sittings - finishing it at 1am.) Highly recommended for 10-14 year olds, senior Primary, Intermediate and Year 9 and 10s.

This e-book is available for $4.99 (US) from online retailers such as Smashwords (at http://smashwords.com/books/view/304013) and Amazon (at http://www.amazon.com/Touchstone-ebook/dp/B00CE04M62/) There is a free secondary-level Teachers’ Resource Kit at Lorraine’s website http://www.story-go-round.net.nz/pdf/touchstone_teachersresourcekit.pdf

Author’s Bio: Lorraine Orman has previously published four print books for junior readers and two for teenage readers, as well as numerous short stories. Cross Tides (winner of the NZ Post Best First Book Award in 2005) and Hideout are the natural predecessors to Touchstone. In all three books Lorraine blends a historical story with a present-day one. The idea for the setting of Touchstone came from Lorraine’s in-laws, some of whom were Buller coalmining families.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A new picture book from Joy Cowley

Breakfast by Joy Cowley, illustrated by Amy Lam (Clean Slate Press)

"Hurry, hurry, hurry!"
said the jug to the cup.
"It's time for breakfast.
The children are up."

Breakfast with young children (been there, done that) can be a shambolic time and Joy Cowley has captured that in this cute rhyming picture book.  However, the story is told from the angle of the breakfast table settings: cup saucer, milk jug, cutlery etc. They must hurry to set up in time for the messy children's invasion. And the children live up to their name - creating havoc with the cereals, pancakes, egg and ham, toast and jam (gosh, I wish we had breakfasts like that). There's the oldest daughter absentmindedly eating while texting, and the three boys throwing food and having a fight. You can imagine the mess that gets left behind. I'm not going to tell you the twist at the end - pure Joy Cowley storytelling skill.

A story for early childhood and Junior Primary school classes to read during a Health study on manners at the table.  Children will delight in seeing all the naughty things the children do and unintentionally pick up another person's perspective when a breakfast table is left in such a mess.

I remember using 'reverse psychology' on my son to try to get him to do things at time - this is exactly what Joy Cowley is doing with this book; giving kids the opportunity to see from the outside-in table manners-gone-riot. It will get kids thinking and perhaps changing a few of their own bad habits. If Joy had written a story where children behaved at the table she would not get the message across so effectively.

The illustrator has captured the look of fear, anticipation and surprise on the setting's and boredom and mischief on the children's faces. The breakfast table with its colourful settings is the sole focus of the story. White/cream space around it enables the text to have its space and tell the story. From a teacher's point of view this is perfect for younger children because they can show and read it aloud to their whole class. Amy Lam is a talented young illustrator and designer. She has designed hundreds of books for children, many of which she has also illustrated.

Dame Joy Cowley has been writing for children for more than 50 years. She is one of New Zealand’s most prolific and successful authors, having written more than 600 books.

The book is available as hardback with colourful end papers, which librarians will be pleased about (because it will last heavy-duty school wear) and softcover. A must for all school and kindy libraries, and homes.

RRP: Softcover $19.99,  ISBN: 978-1-927185-97-1, Hardcover $24.99, ISBN: 978-1-927185-58-2

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Scholastic NZ's first e-book for teens

Melinda Szymanik’s compelling story A Winter’s Day in 1939, published in print form in March 2013, will be available as an ebook from ANZAC Day, 25 April 2013.

The ebook’s release date follows hot on the heels of the book’s Wellington launch at The Children’s Bookshop on Saturday 13 April. The ebook will be available initially for Amazon Kindle http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CHKOQYC and can be purchased for $9.99.

This debut ebook marks the beginning stages of a move to release more new Scholastic New Zealand novels in electronic form.

About the book
A Winter’s Day in 1939 is a harrowing, compelling story of courage and hope, based on the author’s own father’s journey across Europe during World War Two.

Taken from their home in Poland, forced to leave their country, put to work in Russian labour camps, frozen and starved, 12-year-old Adam and his family doubt that they will ever make it out alive.

Even if they were to get away, they might freeze to death, or starve, or the bears might get them.

For the Polish refugees, the whole of the USSR becomes a prison from which there is seemingly no escape.

Recommended age: 10+ years

About the author
Melinda Szymanik is the author of the picture books Clever Moo and The Were-Nana, which won the
New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards Children’s Choice Award in 2009. Melinda has written two other novels, Jack the Viking (Scholastic, 2008) and The Half Life of Ryan Davis (Pear Jam, 2011). She has also had three picture books published with Duck Creek Press, and published a teen chapter e-book earlier this year. Melinda has a Masters in Zoology, has nearly finished her Diploma in Children's Literature, and writes full-time in Auckland.