Being a Princess is Very Hard Work by Sarah Kilbride, illus. Ada Grey. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2018.
What do parents say to a girl, or a boy for that matter, who wants to be a princess? Well in this glorious picture book the parents take two stances.
Firstly they point out what princesses have to do. They have to look interested all day when they are bored out of their trees. They have to look good all the time and run in long dresses. They cannot stick their tongues out or make a face and must finish their dinners even with greens. Then there is dealing with knights and dragons and no farting or burping. Sounds horrendous.
But that is not enough really so secondly they say how much they love the little girl for what she is already. But you will have to read that part for yourself.
Fabulous illustrations that fully compliment the rhyming text and with a great sense of humour. We all need some silliness in our lives.
The Day the War Came by Nicola Davies, illus. Rebecca Cobb. Pub. Walker Books, 2018.
This is one of the most powerful and moving picture books I have ever read and you will be moved too.
It is narrated by a little girl who wears the same clothes from beginning to end. It starts with family happiness around the breakfast table, moves to school where the little girl is learning about volcanoes, drawing birds and singing about tadpoles turning into frogs.
Then the war comes in a devastating series of images that has the little girls home and town bombed to the stone age. Her journey to a safe haven follows but the war comes with her in her mind and in the attitudes of the people she encounters.
She is eventually refused entry to a school because there isn’t a chair for her, but as is usually the case children come to the rescue. Read it and find out how.
Rebecca Cobb’s illustrations are stunning especially the coming of the war, helicopters in the sky, the bomb crater of the little girls home. Then on the journey away lonely shoes on the beach.
The written text will make you cry. The repeated school scene is powerful.
Ash Arising by Mandy Hager. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2018.
This sequel to The Nature of Ash reviewed earlier on this blog, is a powerful novel promoting peaceful means to solve political problems that have gone feral.
New Zealand is not a happy place led by a corrupt regime who rely on political and financial backing from the one-percenters who control the wealth of the Nation.
PM Bill Chandler and Police Commissioner Hargreaves have created a state where evil bastards who don’t give a damn about morals and rules are given free reign. The ruling political parties have manufactured political complacency by making politics so toxic that no-one wants to commit especially the young.
Ash, his Down Syndrome brother Mikey, ex cop Jeannie and her son Travis, plus lawyer Lucinda and a few others take the government the army and the police on, in this political thriller. It is not going to be pleasant and there is collateral damage. I hate that phrase. The positive is that the young are at the vanguard of the protest.
Added to New Zealand’s internal political problems is a rivalry between the two World Alliances The UPR and the WA who are playing silly buggers with NZers. It is all rather messy and it is great to read that one individual with support can influence and change the way the World thinks. The philosophy of Martin Luther king, Gandhi and other peaceful protestors is at the heart of Ash and his friends protest.
A thrilling read for High school and Young adult readers. Mandy Hager writes this convincing story with aplomb. Once you start you won’t put it down.
The Visitor by Anjte Damm. Pub. Gecko Press, 2018.
What a brilliantly conceived and perceptive picture book about fear and loneliness this is.
Illustrated using photographs with cardboard cutout figures inserted, it tells the story of a lonely old lady who never goes outside because she is scared. The photographs are gloomy and she is gloomy.
Then a paper plane comes through her window which exacerbates her fears until a small boy knocks on her door and makes himself at home. he is bright and breezy and wears his cap on backwards
She tells him her name is Elise and he is Emil. He asks her to read to him from her library from which she has read every book. He brings colour into her life. He tells her that her house is cool.
The last double paged illustration in the book is majorly different from the identical illustration at the start. Read it and see how, you will not be disappointed.
The written text is simple, well place in the illustrations and wise beyond belief.
This is the first of a new series mainly for girls who are getting more confident with reading.
It is about two sisters who play a flute and a violin and see six miniature horses that originally where given by their grandmother but come alive when adults are out of the room. Each horse has it’s own personality and this story is about Firestorm who lives up to his name.
The girls are doing a concert with their class for their parents and friends and organised by their teacher Miss Rose, who doesn’t have a boyfriend. Things start to go wrong when Firestorm pushes the fire alarm but will it get Miss Rose a boyfriend.
A good mix of fantasy and everyday hassles and problems. Written with gusto and plenty of humour and well illustrated by Kirsten Richards who captures all the moments and gives character to the Miniwings.
DUCK by Meg McKinlay and Nathaniel Eckstrom. Pub. Walker Books, 2018.
On a lazy Kansas summer afternoon Duck comes running over the hill yelling DUCK.
Pig, horse, cow and sheep misunderstand. They think that Duck thinks that they too are ducks. They all fob Duck off with answers that make it quite clear to Duck that they are nothing like a duck.
It is Kansas when all said and done and Dorothy Gale would have known what Duck meant. See if you can pick what is going to happen?
Duck understands that he yelled the wrong word.
The illustrations are great. Horse looks suitable long faced, cow looks bemused, sheep is suitably arrogant and pig is reconciled for what may happen while enjoying his mucky environment. Duck is full of concern, the caring little soul.
A good laugh and read-aloud for juniors. Adults will see the bigger picture although some may not.
Goat’s Coat by Tom Percival Illus. Christine Pym. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2018.
Goat is a good guy with a caring attitude towards his fellow man or animals in this case. He is also well chuffed with his new coat which has a collar “the colour of freshly cut grass”. Just the thing to keep him warm and to proudly show off to his friends.
Goat however is bigger than his pride. When a family of frogs, a kitten and a chick get in a spot of bother Goat uses his coat to sort it out, at his own expense. As the coat shrinks, the weather worsens and goat is in trouble himself.
Ah but his friends remember. I wonder what they will do? Read it and find out.
This is the world the way it should be.
Great bright colourful illustrations and rhyming text. A great read-aloud and discussion starter for juniors.
Along Came a Different by Tom McLaughlin. Pub.Bloomsbury, 2018.
This outstanding picture book discusses racism, prejudice and difference in the most simplest of ways – using colours and shapes.
The Reds are first on the scene with their red hats, songs and apples. Then came the yellows with their bananas and they didn’t like the Reds because their hats were too pointy and music too loud. They divided the territory up, then the Blues turned up with their bow ties and twangy guitars.
Nobody liked each other and things got sillier and sillier. So they drew up rules. Being friends was banned.
Something has got to give and then something really different shows up. See what they do.
Superb illustrations using colours of course with large written text some of it in dark black for emphasis.
Excellent read aloud and superb message. Why can’t we all be friends?
Nee Naw and the Cowtastrophe by Paul Beavis, Illus. by Deano Yipadee. Pub. Scholastic, 2018.
If you say Nee Naw a few times it sounds like a fire engine going to a fire but this neglected little engine is not going to a fire he is going to help get a cow out of a tree.
Out of a tree you say? That’s right. If I ever got caught up a tree my mother would have said ” you got yourself up there so get yourself down”. Well that is exactly what happens but Nee Naw and his companions give it a go any way.
Great fire engine, lively illustrations and a whole lot of fun. Get it and see what happens.
This author/illustrator combo have done it before and they know how to have a good laugh. This picture book is a good laugh. But wait there’s more. A CD of a song about the whole story is inside to sing along with. Good fun for juniors.
Children of the Furnace by Brin Murray. Pub. Copy Press Books Nelson, 2018.
This is dystopian fiction at it’s very best. I wasn’t ready for it because much of the book leaves you in despair for Wil the 15 year old main character who is brutally treated for most of the book but rises above it all to leave the reader with hope at the end.
Set in a country called Sekkerland that looks remarkably like Greenland without the icecap. The lands to the south are called the Furnace Lands so there has been a great heat that has caused the land to change and this is called the Great Atrocity. This Atrocity is blamed on people known as Heaters.
Wil Shirwud is a Heater, he has a tattoo between his eyes, never knew his father, lost his mother early and was brought up wise in the ways of nature by a good man called Ty. He cannot read or write but his upbringing has made him strong and resilient and believe me he has to be because he encounters some of the cruelest inhuman characters I have ever read about.
A group called The Strong have taken over Sekkerland in a Revalayshun and one of their leaders Revout Sachs kills Ty and takes Wil to a camp of about 1000 boys, called Ferule a redukayshun centre where fear and cruelty rule. Sachs seems to know that there is something deep and threatening to The Strong about Wil and they are determined to break him.
Wil knows nothing about his destiny or his past except that when his father Ty is killed he calls to Wil to look for the Midwife, but first Wil must withstand severe punishment and learn what he has to do. His skills and notions of fairness ring true with the other boys in the camp and lead to a satisfying climax. The last 100 pages are totally heart stopping.
Written in phonically spelled words because of Wil’s illiteracy, the chapters are short and totally rivetting. Once you start you will not want to stop reading.
Oh and one other thing Wil has never seen a girl, most of the boys in the camp are in the same boat. Wil narrates most of the novel but there is another voice a 15 year old girl called Leah who is sent from the south lands to work as a nurse. She becomes part of the new way of thinking.
A momentous read that you will never forget. Check out the authors web page at http://www.brinmurray.com Part 2 Crosstrees will be available soon.
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