Friday, May 29, 2015

A book that campaigns for Peace

PEACE WARRIORS by Raymond Huber (Makaro Press)

We've had a lot of ANZAC books, WW1 stories and now we have a book about people who have resisted war, and thumbed their nose at their captors.  Author Raymond Huber has collected stories from around the world that show peaceful resistance can make change. First of all, Raymond defines what is a peace warrior. He says it "is a person who fights for peace and justice without using violence." He gives examples:

  • The small-town boy who stood up to Hitler.
  • A high school student who faced a racist mob.
  • Mothers who protest weekly against a brutal military dictatorship.
  • A whole town that used non-violence to save thousands.
  • The ship that sailed towards a nuclear test.
Each story gives a background to why the peace warrior did what they did. Then we're given a creative non-fiction account of the incident where the peace warrior resisted what was going on. We find out what happened after their resistance, and can read a timeline of events. After each story, the reader can look up the recommended reading list that follows.

In between stories Raymond raises questions such as:

  • Is war ever right?
  • Can war be prevented?
  • Would I fight to save my family?
  • Are we killer apes?
  • Can you be peaceful and angry?
  • Does people power always work?
  • Should peace protesters break the law.
At the back of the book are more discussion questions, and a glossary.  The questions are thought provoking and Raymond extends the reader with thoughts of his own and others. He also gives websites and books they can follow up on if the reader wants to know more. There's a website readers can look at: and the page on 'evidence' is worth looking at. It shows how peace can be considerably more effective than war. 

This resource should be in all Intermediate and High Schools. Teachers could counter-balance talks about the wars with a unit on how we could prevent wars, and look at ways people have done that in the past. Raymond has provided some excellent questions and stories for a starting point for lessons.

Raymond Huber is a writer, editor and teacher. His animal science-fiction novels 'Sting' and 'Wings' shortlisted for the NZ Post Book Awards. His picture book 'Flight of the Honey Bee' has sold internationally, and also shortlisted for NZ book awards.

extract from peace warriors
It is 1943 …
It’s early morning, and Sophie and Hans have finished
breakfast. On the floor are piles of White Rose leaflets,
almost 2,000 Hans reckons. They sit down and load
the forbidden leaflets into a large suitcase. Hans carries
the suitcase as they walk to Munich University in the
cool winter air. The plan is to leave the leaflets in the
corridors while the students are still in the classrooms.
Sophie and Hans know the building well, so it should
be quick and easy.
Recommended reading age: 10-14 years
RRP $25,  140 pages
50 % of royalties go to Oxfam
ISBN: 9780994117229

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Another gorgeous Violet Mackerel story from Anna Branford

Violet Mackerel’s Formal Occasion by Anna Branford, illus. Sarah Davis, Walker Books Australia
This is another one to add to my collection of Violet Mackerel stories – which is being kept for a couple of years until my granddaughter is old enough to enjoy the books. They are delightful little stories that tick all the right boxes – short, easy to read, focusing on situations involving family and friends, illustrated with lively pen and ink pictures, and sporting bright, eye-catching covers. Because they’re hardback they look extra-special and would make excellent presents. This particular story looks at a topic close to the hearts of most little girls – getting dressed up and going out somewhere special. I think this is the eighth book in the series, and I heartily recommend them for newly-competent readers of about six to eight.

ISBN 978 1 925081 09 1 $24.99 Hb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman


Friday, May 22, 2015

A Crazy Fairy Tale, some Rhythm and Movement, a cute Penguin, and Messy Pasta - all from Scholastic

A Crazy Fairy Tale…

Little Red Riding Hood Not Quite by Yvonne Morrison, illus. Donovan Bixley, Scholastic NZ

If you liked the previous Children’s Choice Award-winning story from this pair – The Three Bears Sort Of – you’ll like this one. 
It’s the same format, with a long-suffering parent trying to read the fairy tale to a precocious child. The interruptions and discussions are very funny – and extremely logical, when you think about it. The old fairy tales certainly weren’t renowned for being logical…Donovan Bixley’s bright and cheeky illustrations are done in mixed media, hand drawn and digitally painted. They convey the two layers of the narration with gusto. Probably best for older children, maybe about 6 to 8, who know the original story and can enjoy the input from the child listener.

ISBN 978 1 77543 263 0 $15.99 Pb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

Rustle Up a Rhythm by Rosalind Malam, illus. Sarah Nelisiwe Anderson, Scholastic New Zealand

Packed with action and noise, this will be great fun to read aloud to either a group or an individual child. Written from the point of view of a small boy, the rhyming text zips us through the day with his family, using such verses as: “Bibble, bibble, bubble, hums my egg from the pot, and the bread in the toaster goes click – click – pop!” Onomatopoeia is featured all the way through the story, right up to bedtime. The illustrations are friendly, expansive and colourful, happily integrating the “noise” words into the flow of daily events. Pre-schoolers in particular will love identifying and saying the words, at the same time associating sounds with events or objects familiar to them. I imagine this book will be very useful for reading and language sessions in pre-school centres and early entrant classes.

ISBN 978 1 77543 148 0 $19.00 Pb

Little Hoiho by Stephanie Thatcher, Scholastic NZ

Stephanie’s first picture book The Great Galloping Galoot was published by Scholastic NZ in 2012. It’s a jolly, bouncing story – fans will find this second book is quite different in tone but just as satisfying. On her first foray out of the nest, a little penguin finds that not all birds are the same. Kotuku struts on beautiful long legs, Toroa flies on big wings, Tui can sing. Little Hoihoi can’t do any of these things. Of course, as soon as she falls into the water she finds there is something she can do much better than the other birds… The pencil illustrations are a delight with their gentle watercolours, uncluttered scenes and good use of white space. Little Hoihoi’s expressive face takes centre-stage and delicately conveys her emotions. The book includes a small amount of information about yellow-eyed penguins, but its true value will be as a group read-aloud to children of around 3 to 7.

ISBN 978 1 77543 249 4 RRP $19 Pb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

Piggy Pasta and More Food With Attitude by Rebecca Woolfall and Suzi Tait-Bradly with feature photography by Vicki Leopold, Scholastic New Zealand
The picture on the cover is of some extremely pink (ie. beetroot-coloured) pasta which certainly draws the eye to the book… Once you get past the pasta pig face, you’ll find an alphabetically arranged collection of interesting recipes ranging from Dirt Pudding and Incy Wincy Chocolate Spiders to Rowdy Rice Salad and Witchy Poo Fingers. Each recipe is coded to indicate what types of meal it can be - there’s certainly a wide range of dishes covered. The authors are the founders of the Auckland-based LittleCooks cooking classes for kids (, so they know what’s likely to appeal to young appetites.

I studied the recipes and reached a few conclusions. Firstly, kids will love eating most of them and will especially love making them with a (very) patient parent to assist. Secondly, the recipes will probably be more successful with older children than with littlies – some procedures are quite fiddly and time-consuming. Scholastic recommends the book for ages 8+. Thirdly, what you see in the busy, bright illustrations is not necessarily what you get. Toys, props and fancy backgrounds have been used in the photos to create a fabulous picture – so if you want to replicate the presentation of some of the dishes, you’ll have to do a shopping trip to the toy shop first…

ISBN 978 1 77543 216 6 $19.00 Pb

Reviewed by Lorraine Orman

Thursday, May 14, 2015

An exciting sequel to 'The Bridge'

I've finally finished my ANZAC manuscript so I can give more attention to this blog. Lorraine Orman has been ploughing through the books but I haven't had a minute spare to put them up. I will rectify that from today onwards.
Havoc by Jane Higgins, Text Publishing

This is the sequel to The Bridge, which was published in 2011 after winning the 2010 Text Prize. Sequels can be difficult – how much should the author rely on readers’ abilities to recall a book read up to four years ago? My ageing brain (yes, I know I’m not the target audience) did have trouble remembering the characters in the first book. I could have done with more past events and character reminders woven into the beginning of this story. But teens who have good recall or have read The Bridge recently will be keen to re-engage with Nik (the narrator) and his close friend Lanya as they contemplate their new lives in Southside. The action starts almost straight away as a ceasefire fails and Cityside missiles start demolishing the settlements of Southside.

However, before all this, in the Prologue we meet a new character, Nomu, who’s suffering a terrible imprisonment in a Cityside fortress. Nomu returns later in the story, enabling Nik and Lanya and the Southside brigade to understand the biological weapons programme being planned by their enemies. At the same time Nik battles to discover secrets about his parents and his own background.

It’s an exciting read - there’s plenty of action and suspense to continue the momentum of The Bridge. However I recommend that readers make sure they read The Bridge before Havoc – it won’t make much sense otherwise. Also available as an e-bookG
Go to Jane Higgen's website for teaching notes.
ISBN: 9781922148339
RRP $19.00