Friday, September 18, 2015

Investigating nature book

Exploring nature's pattern magic by Dee & Mike Pigneguy (Mary Egan Publishing)

Whether you're a teacher, parent or child you'll find this latest book by Dee and Mike Pigneguy intriguing.  You'll have noticed the patterns in nature but probably not seen it categorised. 'Exploring nature's pattern magic' organises the patterns into the following categories:
  • packing
  • spirals
  • branching
  • cracking
  • buckling
  • sunburst
  • fractals
  • light
  • waves
  • nets
  • symmetry
  • meandering
  • spheres
  • ovals
  • coordinated flocking
  • tessellations
  • crystals
  • fibonacci
  • polygons
  • camouflage
Maths, science and art teachers could use the book to demonstrate the patterns in nature before getting their students to try their hand at drawing their own patterns. At the back of the book are 40 activity ideas/examples to complement your lesson. Parents and grandparents can show children the patterns they found on their travels replicated in the book and compare it with other examples on that page. 

The photographs have been cut-out and arranged on the double page spread in a colourful and busy way. Short paragraphs explain the pattern, and a little cartoon character gives more examples. There are also fact boxes, and a 'try it yourself' box. At the back of the book children can look at key words and find where they can find them in the index. Rudd Kleinpaste, TV personality, ecologist and entomologist, introduces the book and encourages children to look for patterns in nature.

Highly recommended for kindergarten, primary schools (and even Intermediates). A great resource for science, maths and art lessons. Curious children will enjoy looking at the pictures and reading the chunks of information too.

RRP:  $24.99
Available in all good bookshops or buy direct:

A swashbuckling adventure story

The Bold Ship Phenomenal by Sarah Johnson (Flat Bed Press)

Malachi's life has been boring ever since his mother died. His father just wants to stay home and do chores. Until Malachi discovers a ship in a bottle on the beach and realises it is mirroring his life. When Malachi prepares for an adventure, the sailors in the pirate ship load supplies for their journey. He sees a stoway being discovered on the ship at the same time he is hiding in a truck going up north. When Malachi battles real life pirates so do the sailors. Will he survive the battle and save the endangered species? Or will his adventure and the ship's journey both end badly?

An enjoyable adventure story for 8-12 year old boys (and girls will enjoy it too) about a boy who discovers he has his mother's adventurous spirit and wishes to keep her memory alive even if it means going against his father's wishes. It is also about standing up to bullies, and has an environmental message.

Sarah Johnson won the Joy Cowley award with her book 'Wooden Arms' in 2012. Her junior fiction book 'Ella and Ob' was shortlisted for the Tom Fitzgibbon and published by Scholastic in 2008. 'The Bold Ship Phenomenal' was shortlisted for the inaugural 2013 Kobo/NZ Authors E-publishing Prize. Sarah writes full-time from her Raglan property.

ISBN 978-0-473-31314-2
Available in all good shops or buy direct from
For more information go to:

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Maori Singalong Books

I'm visiting Duffy schools this coming week and want to greet the kids in Maori - just as well I had Sharon Holt's 'Korero Mai' book to review. I could write my speech (in correct order) and listen to the CD to make sure I'm pronouncing it correctly.

Korero Mai by Sharon Holt, illustrated by Deborah Hinde (the writing bug)

Kids, parents and teachers can learn how to introduce themselves in Maori while reading this book. It shows you how to say your name, mountain, river, iwi, parents' names, and where you come from. A bonus is you can learn the song that says it all - sung on a CD or pick up your own guitar and play the chords at the back of the book. 

This is a heaven-sent resource for the kindy and classroom. I recommend schools buy one for each classroom and or get class-sets. (I don't say that lightly because I know schools have tight budgets.) Many teachers want to teach/speak more Maori in the classroom but don't feel confident pronouncing te reo Maori correctly - this will help them do it in a fun way.

On each double page spread you'll find three examples of how children can answer the question - what is your name, mountain, river, iwi, parents' names ... There's another visual summary at the back of the book. You'll also discover Maori and English translations of the words. Plus suggestions on how to use the book and follow up ideas, as well as the CD and guitar chords at the back of the book.

Highly recommended. See price and where to buy below.

Mahi Tahi by Sharon Holt, illustrated by Deborah Hinde (the writing bug)

This is the nineth book in the Te Reo Singalong book series (above book is the 10th). Mahi Tahi playfully encourages children to dress up in animal costumes and sing the song. Kids could come up with actions to go with their animal and perform it at Assembly (just like the kids do in the story)!

The story encourages children to:

Work together, children                             Mahi tahi, tamariki ma.
Go carefully, elephants.                            Kia ata haere, arewhana ma.
Hands up, monkeys.                                  Kia tu o koutou ringa, makimaki ma.
Play nicely, tigers.                                    Kia tika te takaro, taika ma.
Don't be lazy bats ...                                 Kaua e mangere, pekapeka ma ...

Like all books in the series it has suggestions on how to use the book and follow up ideas. At the back of the book is a CD song to play and guitar chords for you to read if you play the guitar. Another useful resource for the school or home!

Books are $24.99 each (includes book, CD and English translation). 

Look, listen and buy online here. Or buy at Wheelers.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Spooky Junior Fiction

The Ghosts of Tarawera by Sue Copsey (Tree House Books)

Joe and his best mate Eddie, as well as Joe's younger sister Beckie with her American friend Anastasia and his parents are enjoying a holiday alongside Lake Rotomahana in Rotorua. What's not to enjoy? They kayak, swim, bath in hot pools, check out mud pools and visit all the tourist spots. Only Joe has a prickly feeling all is not well in Rotorua. Who was the Maori warrior glaring at him when he first arrived? Who is sending him a countdown on his cellphone? And why is there dead fishing floating in the sea? Joe turns to scientist friend Rocky for answers but Joe can only tell him the facts not the spooky things that keep happening to him. Will Rocky believe him? Will Mount Tarawera erupt again? Read this exciting ghostly adventure from professional editor Sue Copsey to find out.

Sue Copsey blends facts with fantasy to write a story about what would happen if there was another eruption in the Rotorua area. She also includes the mystery surrounding the Pink and White Terraces, which disappeared when Tarawera last erupted. It's a story about believing there are several layers to people and not stereotyping others, about listening to your instincts, and looking out for family and friends, especially when in danger. The book will appeal to 8-12 year old boys and girls. Teachers could read it aloud while the class is doing a science unit on volcanoes.

This is Sue Copsey's third book. Her first 'Our Children Aotearoa' was published by Pearson Education in 2010. Sue published 'The Ghost of Young Nick's Head' in 2014, available as a Book Track book with sound effects and ebook. Sue Copsey has edited countless other authors' books, as well as editing for New Holland, Huia Publishing, and other New Zealand and international publishing houses.

RRP pb $15 (buy signed copies from her website)

Listen to a Book track e-book version with sound effects $9.04.

Go to to find out more information on volcanoes, the Pink and White Terraces and the 1886 eruption of Mt Tarawera.