The Whale and the Snapper by Jo Van Dam, illus. Richard Hoit, Scholastic NZ
Here’s another title in Scholastic’s popular Kiwi Corkers series – New Zealand versions of traditional tales. This one is inspired by the story called The Lion and the Mouse. A big whale is about to eat a school of baby snapper, when one of the little fish persuades him not to do so – by promising to help him one day. The whale thinks this is most unlikely, but does spare the snapper. Sure enough, the young snapper comes upon the whale caught in a fishing net, about to die. She uses her sharp teeth to nibble through the net and finally the giant is free. The rhyming text flows well and would be excellent to read aloud. The bright, friendly illustrations are done as double-spreads with imposing close-up views of the main characters. They would be great to display to a group. Double ticks to this book as a fun read-aloud for preschoolers and early primary classes.
ISBN 978 1 77543 494 8 RRP $14.99 Pb
This carries on the popular story about the cows stranded on a hillock during the upheaval of the Kaikoura Earthquake, published as Moo and Moo and the Little Calf Too. The focus in this rhyming tale moves to the farming of cows and the birth of calves. Moo and Moo sometimes look at the landslip that made them famous, but they are both more concerned with the cycle of birth and mothering. It’s not long till they slip away to different quiet spots in the paddock to deliver their calves. And what will the new calves be called? You guessed it! There isn’t the same tension in this story as in the first one, but children who remember the first book will be keen to re-visit the famous cows. The rhyming text flows competently, and the double-spread illustrations are suitably sunny, rural and green. Another good one to read and display to early primary-aged classes, especially in country areas.
ISBN 978 1 76063 161 1 RRP $19.99 Pb
Little Truff and the Whale by Anne Russell, illus. Lara Frizzell, Ann Russell Books (Distributor: South Pacific Books)
This is the fourth picture book in the Little Truff series. The books have an animal welfare focus, and are all narrated by Little Truff who is a Blenheim Cavalier spaniel (inspired by a real dog). This story looks at the difficult situation that arises when a whale is caught in a fishing net – should people try to rescue it? The answer to that is “no”. It’s far too dangerous, and a specialized rescue team needs to be called. So Little Truff’s family phone for help and wait till DOC arrive, then they watch as the difficult task is performed successfully and the whale is free. Little Truff is a fictional narrator who communicates in rhyme, but towards the end of the book the style becomes openly didactic with an adult voice, and the dog’s point of view fades out.
The expansive double-spread illustrations offer attractive seascapes, and the use of close perspectives on the large whale creates dramatic and interesting effects. There are several pages of useful non-fiction information at the end relating to whale rescues. The book is supported by relevant wildlife organisations, and the message is an excellent one to convey to primary-aged children. It would be a successful read-aloud to a primary class to support studies of marine conservation.
ISBN 978 0 473 36775 6 RRP $21.00 Pb
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman