Friday, June 28, 2013

A new exciting WW1 story for 10-14 year olds

When our Jack went to war by Sandy McKay (Random House)

Tom, his mum and little sister Amy are proud but worried when their older brother and son has to go off to war. They have already lost their husband and father, leaving mum depressed and prone to staring out the window for hours on end.

They’d be lost with Mum’s friend Mrs J from around the corner – who comes in and sorts out the house and gets mum moving again.

Letters begin between 13 yr old Tom and 18 yr old Jack away at Trentham training camp. The letters are light hearted to begin with, giving the reader an insight into 1916 New Zealand childhoods through Tom’s letters, and life as a trainee soldier from Jack.

But as Jack gets closer to the fighting after a trip across the ocean to England and time spent in another camp in France, the letters portray the real horrors of war in the trenches. Lice, rats, hunger and shellshock. Media from the time is a sharp contrast to the truth of Jack’s new existence. Prepare for a harrowing but credible conclusion.

Interspersed with advertisements and newspaper clippings from the time, When our Jack went to War is a fictional but realistic story of NZ’s involvement in the WW1 in 1916. Many families would’ve followed the same journey Jack’s family did.

ISBN 9781775431329    RRP$20   P/B 192 Pages

Reviewed by Adele Broadbent

Based on the author's research into the death of her own great uncle, who died in 1917. The NZ Post Award-winning Sandy Mckay ably conveys how war affects everyone ...

Teaching notes here

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A new junior fiction series by Vince Ford

'Scrap: Tale of a Blond Puppy' Book 1
'Scrap: Oh my Dog' Book 2
'Scrap: Dog on Trial' Book 3 all by Vince Ford (Scholastic)

Scholastic have put out some interesting young Junior Fiction over the last two years. A dinosaur series by Kyle Mewburn for boys and a cute angel series by Elizabeth Pulford. Now, Scholastic have published a series that will interest rural children with the Scrap series.

Little Scrap has the 'eye' - it just comes natural to him. He doesn't know much else until Bill an old sheep dog takes him under his wing and teaches him about life. Stuff like - he's a dog not a human, electric fences hurt and where he came from. Once Scrap knows his mother most likely didn't abandon him he's desperate to find her.

In Book 2, Scrap goes to live with his new owner Johnny Mac and gets to know the new pack with Buster the new leader. Scrap can't wait to visit the farm where his mother lives but he's been told by Buster he cannot - if he doesn't get shot by the owner, Buster will fight him for disobeying orders. Scrap learns how to work as a team along with novice header dog Sam.

In Book 3, Scrap's talent is noticed and he goes to the dog trials. He has an unfortunate encounter with his father and meets his match with the young Kelpie, Jess. Will they save the day in their most challenging situation yet!

Seven to nine year old children (boys and girls) will enjoy reading this series about a growing seeing 'eye' dog learning his trade and growing up. Written from the point of view of a growing pup, with lots of subtle facts about the life of a sheep dog and life's lessons. In each book Scrap is a year older; nicely shown with an illustration of Scrap on the cover at differing ages.

Vince Ford has written for this age group before with Possums 2U, Jonty & Choc, and for older boys his Chronicles of Stone Series, The Dare Club and Boyznbikes. He writes this series with just as much skill, never over-writing or being too sentimental. Will be highly popular for rural kids and boys and girls who love dogs.

Book 1 9781775430803
Book 2 9781775430810
Book 3 9781775430827

RRP $15.00
Review by Maria Gill

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A pirate book with a difference!

The Quiet Pirate by Stephanie Thatcher, Duck Creek Press

This is the second picture book by Stephanie Thatcher - the first was a boisterous story called Great Galloping Galoot about a clumsy giraffe. I think this new book will be just as popular. Barnaby is the cabin boy for a crew of disreputable and noisy pirates. Poor Barnaby can’t even yell from the crow’s nest - so he gets rubbished by the other pirates. But one day, while they’re celebrating a treasure haul with a extremely loud party, something truly terrible happens to the rest of the crew... Guess who’s left with the gold - and the ship? It’s a very readable and funny story for both adults and children - and the latter will definitely have a frisson of delighted terror when the pirates meet their ghastly end. The bright, spacious cartoon illustrations are great fun, especially the assortment of rascally pirates. This book will be given to my grandsons, aged 5 and 4 - I know they’ll love it. (Also available in paperback)

ISBN 978 1 877378 81 2 RRP $29.99 Hb $19.99 Pb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A new dragon book for boys

Fearless Fred And the Dragon by Maureen Sudlow, ill. Kat Quin Merewether, Kiwis Soar Publications (distributor PDL Customer Services)
A finalist in the Storylines Joy Cowley Award, this handy picture book appeals to the casual eye with its glossy cover and top quality paper. The story is written in rhyming text and tells how a little boy called Fred sets off with tinfoil armour and a tricycle and a colander helmet to find a dragon. Luckily he has a canine friend with him - because the dragon turns out to be a rather large farm animal! The illustrations are appealing and quirky, and there are some clever tricks for young eyes to spot eg. the possums in the tree turning into dragons. Probably best for dragon fanciers of about three to five.

ISBN 978 0 473 23482 9 RRP $19.99 Pb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

Thursday, June 6, 2013

An exciting new book by Mandy Hager

Dear Vincent by Mandy Hager, Random House NZ

Another excellent cover - mainly thanks to Vincent Van Gogh’s superb Starry Night painting. It introduces a theme that weaves through this richly-drawn YA story like a brilliant thread of colour - the main character’s fascination with Van Gogh and his works. Tara is having a tough time. Her older sister died a few years ago, her father had a stroke and needs constant nursing, money is tight, and Tara’s mother never has a kind word to say to her. The only decent thing in her life is her artwork - and her hope of going to art school. It’s a searing beginning, and things only get worse when Tara discovers what really happened when her sister died. She flees from the family home, but fortunately is given help and support by an elderly gentleman who’s staying at the rest-home where Tara works part-time. He has a grandson who also befriends her. But Tara is driven to go to Ireland to see her sister’s last resting place - and dangerous influences force her to risk everything. Packed with emotion, riven with sadness, brightened with hope - this story pulls you in, spins you round and spits you out the other end with tears in your eyes. Read it!

ISBN 978 1 77553 327 6 RRP $19.99 Pb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman