Monday, June 30, 2014

Two new Duck Creek Picture Books


Daniel’s Matariki Feast by Rebecca Beyer and Linley Wellington, ill. Christine Ross, Duck Creek Press

This simple story skilfully blends our Matariki traditions with a child’s nervousness at starting kindergarten or school. On Daniel’s first day the teacher takes him outside to help pick the pumpkins in the garden. Daniel is interested when the teacher says they are going to have a Matariki feast, and the other children share the ways their own families celebrate the arrival of the seven stars in the sky. By the time the classroom feast is finished, Daniel is a happy member of the group planting new winter vegetables. Christine Ross’s illustrations are done in a friendly, easy-going style using different sizes and different perspectives - but always from the point of view of the children. I can see this book being very useful in pre-school centres and primary classes to support studies of Matariki and associated subjects such as family traditions, feasts, and growing vegetables. It would also be a good buy for families wanting to celebrate Matariki with their children.

ISBN 978 1 877378 90 4 $29.99 (Hb), $19.99 (Pb)

 

 

 

... And An Illustrated Storybook

Lillibut’s Te Araroa Adventure by Maris O’Rourke and Claudia Pond Eyley, Duck Creek Press

The previous book by this pair of luminaries was called Lillibutt’s Big Adventure (2012) and it looked at a pig’s 40-day journey on El Camino Santiago - a traditional pilgrimage route. They obviously decided that a New Zealand version was called for, so they walked the first 600 km of Te Araroa/The Long Trail, from Cape Reinga to Auckland, and then produced another story starring the long-distance pig. The format is similar, with Lillibutt meeting locals doing traditional activities who try to deter her from her walk with enticing invitations. But Lillibutt is determined to get to her destination.

I’ve categorised this as an illustrated storybook because there is a lot of text on each double spread (text on the left, full-page oblong illustration on the right). Preschoolers may not sit still for a full reading of the text (with only one picture to look at), and there’s no real tension in the story to keep them glued to their seats. The illustrative style is the same as the previous book, with solid colours rendered in watercolour and coloured pencil, and the use of heavy black lines which make the pictures quite distinctive. This book is suitable for older primary students who are involved in classroom studies of Te Araroa and related topics. The maps and glossary at the back are useful.

ISBN 978 1 877378 92 8 $29.99 Hb $19.99 Pb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman   

Daniel’s Matariki Feast by Rebecca Beyer and Linley Wellington, ill. Christine Ross, Duck Creek Press

This simple story skilfully blends our Matariki traditions with a child’s nervousness at starting kindergarten or school. On Daniel’s first day the teacher takes him outside to help pick the pumpkins in the garden. Daniel is interested when the teacher says they are going to have a Matariki feast, and the other children share the ways their own families celebrate the arrival of the seven stars in the sky. By the time the classroom feast is finished, Daniel is a happy member of the group planting new winter vegetables. Christine Ross’s illustrations are done in a friendly, easy-going style using different sizes and different perspectives - but always from the point of view of the children. I can see this book being very useful in pre-school centres and primary classes to support studies of Matariki and associated subjects such as family traditions, feasts, and growing vegetables. It would also be a good buy for families wanting to celebrate Matariki with their children.

ISBN 978 1 877378 90 4 $29.99 (Hb), $19.99 (Pb)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Read Aloud Short Story collection with museum objects focus


The Curioseum: Collected Stories of the Odd and Marvellous edited by Adrienne Jansen, ill. Sarah Laing, Te Papa Press

This is an appealing little book. The blurb on the back cover says: Extraordinary writers, weird and wonderful museum objects, and fantastic tales for kids... Apparently the writers were invited into the Te Papa Museum to look around and be inspired by the wonderful things they saw in drawers and boxes and displays. The resulting book contains 22 short stories and poems. The selection of writers is interesting - it spans scriptwriters, film-makers, actors, graphic novelists, poets, journalists - and authors (including such luminaries as Joy Cowley, Mandy Hager, Elizabeth Knox, Kyle Mewburn, and Barbara Else).

The stories are stunning in their originality and variety. There’s one written from the point of view of a rat on board the waka that first sailed to New Zealand. Another is about a boy who turns into a beetle. Another describes Grandpa’s memories of Gallipoli (including the rifle with a mirror). Some are funny (the children in the samurai armour) and some are sad (the Jewish family fleeing their home). All are intensely readable. Sarah Laing’s fine-lined pen and ink drawings add a humorous tone to the book, and definitely make it more approachable.

I can see this anthology being useful to primary teachers for reading aloud and inspiring discussions in the classroom. It deserves to be in every library.
 
See links about the book, authors, and where to buy it.

ISBN 978 1 877385 92 6 $29.99 Pb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

 

 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

A picture book about three lads during the war


Best Mates by Philippa Werry and Bob Kerr, New Holland

It’s in picture book format but it’s definitely aimed at school children  - the publishers say 5 to 12, which I think is about right. It’s not suitable for pre-schoolers. As for fiction or non-fiction, it is fiction strongly based on fact. As a librarian, I would see it being of most use to teachers and students in the non-fiction collection.

Philippa is well-known for her excellent historical novels - this is her first picture book story. It’s a simple but moving account of three friends signing up and going off to have a big adventure - and ending up at Gallipoli. One of them doesn’t make it home. Much later, two elderly gentlemen travel to Turkey to lay poppies on Harry’s grave.

Illustrator Bob Kerr is well-known for his picture book work, especially his award-winning After the War published by Mallinson Rendel in 2000. (I kept my review copy, because in those days there were hardly any children’s books with war as a theme). Bob has visited Gallipoli, so his rendition of the jagged and desolate landscape is a true one. His calm and uncluttered style works well with the understated tone of the story. The events must speak for themselves. At the back of the book there’s a double spread with factual information about the Anzacs at Gallipoli, as well as a map and photos. Strongly recommended for school and public libraries.
Philippa Werry recently travelled to Gallipoli to participate in centenary celebrations - read her blog here.
For Teaching Notes go here.
For more war books go here.
ISBN 978 1 86966 411 4 $19.99 Pb
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman