Saturday, August 31, 2013

Another te reo Maori language song book

Me Haere! by Sharon Holt, illustrated by Deborah Hinde, published by The Writing Bug

Find out what colour vehicle each child is driving:  "Kei te haere ahau ma runga waka kakariki - I am going by green car".  What colour bus, bike, plane, train, truck or motorbike? Where are they going?

Written in te reo Maori with an English translation at the back. You'll also find guitar chords so you can play it in class, ideas to take it further with children, and simple illustrations with Maori and English translations so kids can learn new Maori words.

Sharon Holt learned te reo Maori for ten years. She passed on her knowledge to her local kindy. Then one day decided other pre-schools and Junior classes could do with a set of books that taught Maori language.  This is the fourth book in the series - look out for 'Maranga mai', 'Kei te peke ahau' and 'Anei Ke!'. All drawn with bright colours with a mix of children to represent the many cultures in New Zealand.

If I was still teaching - I'd definitely be using these books in the classroom. They also come with a CD with the story sung by musicians Graeme Stewart and Stacy Walker. I'd start the lesson off with the music, read the story to the class and then use some of the creative ideas at the back to extend the children. Ideas such as have a mini bike-a-thon, talk about favourite colours, and find Maori words for other vehicles.  A must-have resource for the Junior classroom or kindy.

View a few sample pages from the book here:

RRP $24.99

Thursday, August 22, 2013

An exciting new historical junior fiction series

New Zealand Girl Series published by Puffin (Penguin New Zealand)

Penguin has just released an exciting new series for girls. The lacy cover with pink titles led me to think the stories within would be sugary sweet – what I found instead were well written adventure stories by two skilled authors.

Rebecca and the Queen of Nations by Deborah Burnside

Set in 1874 and beginning in Ireland 10-year-old Becky takes desperate measures into her hands. She escapes the workhouse and leaves behind her orphaned brothers and sisters, stealing a horse so that she can travel to Belfast to find her brother Felix. She lands a maid’s job on board Felix’s boat the Queen of Nations, which is setting sail for New Zealand.

Young Becky must look after the family while the children’s mother is laid ill with sea sickness and late stages of pregnancy. Becky has all the skills to help the family; she had been her mam’s right-hand while she was alive. Guilt still tugs her that she could have helped her own Mam’s labour but instead she ran to get help. Can she help this mother, will she survive the taunting of the older boy Patrick and last the long journey to New Zealand?

Author Deborah Burnside tells a convincing story of what it would be like on board a ship.

“’No naked flame below!’ came the call through the hatch before it was sealed. All lamps were trimmed, and the emigrants waited out their fate in the dark. Storms had come and gone before, but this time the wind screamed around the masts and raked its nails down the canvas, and the waves thrashed at the decks, thrusting watery fingers into every crack and crevice.”

She evokes the sounds, smells and happenings on board. We join Rebecca in the excitement and fears of life as a nineteenth-century immigrant girl. So much so, you’ll wish the story continued after they land in Auckland.

Hene and the Burning Harbour by Paula Morris

Hene’s life in the pa changes the day missionary woman Mata Wiremu sails into their village, in 1845. She carries the important medicine that could help Hene’s ailing brother Taehi along with all the other sick whanau. Hene is excited to be the one to spread the good news that the healing woman has arrived but is dumbstruck when she is told later that day she must go back with her to Paihia Mission. Hene doesn’t want to go to school – she wants to run free and help her family. She has no choice.

At the mission she must wear an itchy hot dress, attend class every day where she learns to read and write. She also has to learn how to sew, which her clumsy fingers struggle to master. She’s lonely and pines for her family until Rangi joins the school. She befriends the girl and finds out life at the missionary is much better than Rangi’s life in the town of Kororareka (now called Russell). When Kororareka is attacked Hene must face her fears to rescue Rangi.

This series is a must for any study of nineteenth century New Zealand in Years 5-8. Teachers could pair the books up with non-fiction books, as part of the Reading and Social Studies curriculum. Students will enjoy the suspenseful stories at school or reading for pleasure.  Boys will be put off by the frills on the cover but girls will delight in the strong female characters and stories that end with hope.

I like that the books also have extensive glossaries, a map of the region, historical notes about the time the stories are set, and the authors stories about how they became a New Zealand girl.

I hope that Penguin will also provide Teaching Notes on their website for this series in the future.

RRP $12.99 
More books in this series to come. Watch out for 'Charlotte and the Golden Promise' by Sandy McKay - coming soon.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Two reviews for David Hill's latest book 'Sinking'

Sinking by David Hill, Scholastic NZ

An attention-grabbing cover welcomes readers to this contemporary tale, written with the author’s usual skill and attention to detail. It’s narrated by teenager Conrad, and begins with Conrad on his usual early-morning walk to swimming practice. Suddenly a frantic figure rushes out of the bushes, scaring him half to death. Turns out that the weird guy is the grandfather of a new girl in Conrad’s class called Bex - she’s having problems because her grandfather is suffering severe anxiety attacks. Bex is into horses, while Conrad is into competitive swimming - and these two sports provide interesting backgrounds as Conrad tries to figure out how to help Bex and her ailing grandfather. There’s a nail-biting and deadly climax scene - but I’m not going to give the show away...The book holds you from the first page, ratcheting up the tension as the main plot and sub-plots unfold. The characters are likeable and genuine - and all are handled sympathetically by the author, even the bully. Heartily recommended for boys of about eleven to fourteen (girls will enjoy it too).

ISBN 978 1 77543 132 9 RRP $18.50 Pb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

Sinking by David Hill (Scholastic)

Early one morning as a young teen named Conrad is crossing the park on the way to swim training, an old man runs out of the bushes. He is shouting about someone called Ted. Conrad is shaken by this but doesn’t tell anyone at the pools. Not even his best mate Jaz who is also training for the Nationals.

Back at school there is a new girl in Conrad’s class. She’s skinny, short and feisty and not scared of anyone – even guys much bigger than her. Conrad soon learns this girl (Bex) is in town to look after her grandfather – the same man who was ranting in the park. Bex is waiting for her mother to come to town to help but she is caught up with the shearing back on their farm.

As Conrad gets to know Bex, she introduces him to her grandfather, George Abbott. Conrad gets on well with him and wants to know why he was out so early and behaving strangely. He begins asking questions and his dad tells him of a local tragedy years before, where a young guy drowned in the strong current of the river. He’d argued with a friend over a girl and had been drinking. The friend was asleep on the bank at the time and not responsible, but had carried the guilt with him his entire life. That man was George Abbott.

As Conrad’s friendship with Bex builds, her trust in him grows. She tells Conrad that George’s wanderings have got worse since his wife died and when he goes missing one day, Conrad is the first person she calls for help. George has left a note. Where can he be? Will they find him before something terrible happens?

Conrad and Bex race to the river on the back of her horse towards an action packed finale, to face another near tragedy.

Sinking is a fabulous story full of believable characters and David Hill’s wonderful wit. Conrad made me laugh out loud and I felt for George and his battle with early Alzheimer’s.

Reviewed by Adele Broadbent


Friday, August 9, 2013

Go to a Storylines Family Festival today!

Today (Saturday 10th August), is the beginning of the first Storyline Festival this year – in Dunedin. Children’s authors Kyle Mewburn, Adele Broadbent, Mandy Hager, Rachel Stedman, Simon Pollard, and illustrator Robyn Belton, and storyteller Tanya Batt along with International guests: Isobelle Carmody and Rachel Spratt will strut their stuff at Dunedin Central Library from 11 – 4pm.

On Sunday (11th August), authors from above will fly to Christchurch and along with Rachel King, Jenny Cooper, Ben Brown, Jane Buxton, and Simon Pollard will promote their books at South Christchurch Library from 10 – 3pm.

On Saturday 17th August, join writers and illustrators in Wellington: Philippa Werry, Ken Benn, David Elliot, Philip Webb, Ant Sang, Fifi Colston, Maria Gill, Ruth Paul,
Moira Wairama, and Mona Williams at the Michael Fowler Centre from 10 – 3pm.

That night (Saturday 17th August) in Auckland authors, illustrators, librarians, teachers and anyone who loves children’s books will celebrate Storylines 20th anniversary at the National Library from 6pm to 8pm. Buy your tickets here.

The next day (Sunday 18th August), join writers and illustrators in Auckland: David Hill, Sally Sutton, Mark Sommerset, Chris Gurney, Nina Rycroft, Sandra Morris, Elena de Roo, Melinda Szymanik, Leonie Agnew, Fraser Williamson, Susan Brocker, Leonie Thorpe, Apirana Taylor, and the matriarchs of children’s literature: Joy Cowley and Dame Lynley Dodd at the Aotea Centre from 10 – 3pm.

There are also Storyline Family Festival Days in Kaitaia at the Kaitaia Library and Te Ahu Centre from 11 – 4pm; and at the South Auckland Vodafone Events Centre from 11-3pm on Saturday 17th August for the first time!

What can you expect at a Storylines Family Festival Day? You’ll meet authors and illustrators (of course) – you’ll hear them speak, see them draw, do activities with them, get your battered or newly bought book signed and chat to them. You can also make crafts, get your face painted, watch shows, enter competitions and win prizes, and pick-up freebies. It is incredible fun – come with your kids, parents, or by yourself! It is all FREE!

Also, on Saturday 24th August at the Ponsonby Art Station see the 'Pictures Without Words' illustration exhibition from 10-4pm. It's FREE too!

I hope to see you there!!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Another exciting teenage thriller from Karen Healey

When We Wake by Karen Healey (Allen & Unwin)

It’s 2027. Tegan Oglietti is at an environmental protest with her friends when a stray bullet meant for the attending prime minister, hits her instead. She wakes up 100 years later in a world of ever rising oceans, a fierce sun, where red meat is almost non-existent, and the sexual discriminations of the past long gone. When she was 16 years old, she had signed her body over to medical science in case of death. The experts considered her a good case to be clinically frozen; an experiment to help revive soldiers lost in action. At least that’s what they tell her.

Tegan is surrounded by media every chance they get and extremist groups want their say too. Australia now has a no migrant policy and some see her as a migrant from another time. A religious group see her as an affront to god and want her to commit suicide. And to Tegan’s disgust the general public call her 'The Living Dead Girl'.

As she learns about her surroundings and is allowed to go to school (with a bodyguard at her side), she makes new friends, which helps her deal with her longing for her old life. She is still grieving about losing her mum and best friend Alex, and most of all her boyfriend of only one day – Dalmar.

She is still closely monitored by the army and then is told she will be giving a TV interview. She is frightened but angry when told her answers will be carefully scripted and she is not to step out of them.

When Tegan throws the interview she has been trained for, she is held at gunpoint by the very people who revived her – livid with her outbursts at the interviewer. She escapes with the help of her foster mother (Dr Carmen) and finds her way to a friend’s house (whom she met at school). Tegan has been suspicious all along as to why she was used in the experiment and not someone more important, and with her friend’s help they try to discover why. What they find is more shocking than Tegan’s awakening.

This story is told by Tegan through a news casting service while she is in hiding. She knows she will be caught eventually, but at least everyone will know the truth.

When We Wake is set in Australia and is a very possible future. Global warming, rising oceans, climate change and other political issues are part of Tegan’s world in 2027 and still 100 years later. This might be set in the future, but Tegan is a believable character, dealing with many issues teens face in our time - friendships, school, relationships and making choices about her own future. A riveting read.

RRP$22.00 P/B 293 Pages

ISBN 9781742378084

Reviewed by Adele Broadbent