Book Review: Little Hector and the Big Blue Whale, by Ruth Paul

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_little_hector_and_the_big_blue_whaleHector was a small but daring dolphin. But Hector was too small to go anywhere. One day Little Hector decides he had had enough of being told he’s too small to venture past The Point so he decides to follow the bigger dolphins out into the open ocean where he quickly gets left behind. Little Hector learns about the dangers of boats first hand and why his mother warned him to never trust an orca! Lucky for Hector he meets a friend who safely escorts him back to The Point and teaches him a valuable lesson; being the littlest is just as special as being the biggest! And size definitely doesn’t matter when it comes to friendship.

Author-illustrator Ruth Paul introduces us to her latest character Little Hector in Little Hector and the Big Blue Whale. The softness of the illustrations compliments the ocean setting of the story and the characters are charming with their friendly expressions, especially, Little Hector!

This story includes enough suspense, possible dangers and problems to be solved to keep young children captivated as well as putting a spotlight on New Zealand’s Hector’s dolphin. I especially enjoyed the ‘All about the Hector’s dolphin’ facts included at the end. The health of our oceans and the creatures within it is very important and it’s something that children should be aware of from a young age.

Little Hector and the Big Blue Whale is a wonderful new book that teaches children about the rare Hector’s dolphin. Children will love reading all about Little Hector’s big adventure into the deep sea and meeting all his marine friends. I can’t wait to read about Little Hector’s next adventure!

Reviewed by Alana Bird

Little Hector and the Big Blue Whale
by Ruth Paul
Published by Puffin
ISBN 9780143771524

Book review: Te Whare, nā Ngaere Roberts, rāua ko Christine Dale

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_te_whare.jpgTe Whare is a book aimed at children learning to speak te reo Māori.  It is written in te reo Māori with pictures providing the other part of the meaning.

Te Whare follows a baby crawling through a house introducing the words for common everyday things associated with having a small child in the house. From pushchairs, bottles to keys to cots and everyday household furnishings. Even the household pets, the dog and the cat are involved in this simple but rather wonderful book.

There are very few trade books written solely in te reo Māori that haven’t been translated from English. This book is a welcome addition to an already slim selection written for New Zealand children by New Zealand authors.

I am not a te reo speaker but found I could easily understand what this book was trying to convey.  If I had any difficulty I resorted to an on-line Māori to English translation.  The joys of modern technology.

The illustrations are in black and white, with different coloured backgrounds portraying the various rooms in the house to show a normal New Zealand household. They are simply done, but help the reader get to grips with te reo Māori.  I think that this would be a welcome addition to any Kōhanga reo, primary school or young child’s library.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Te Whare
Nā Ngaere Roberts
Rāua ko Christine Dale
Published by OneTree House
ISBN 9780473397074

 

Book Review: Sports are Fantastic Fun, by Ole Könnecke

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_sports_are_fantastic_funMy sports-loving seven-year-old, who incidentally grew up with both of the other big books by Ole Könnecke that Gecko Press has translated, was over the moon when presented with this book.

Sports are Fantastic Fun begins with a short rejoinder reminding us exactly why sports exist, then launches into the fantastic fun of football.

The style of the text is quite to-the-point, generally beginning with a statement about how fun it all is, then exploring the broad rules of each sport and how one could win. For football, for example: ‘When a team scores a goal, everybody is happy. (Actually, only the team that scores is happy. The other team is annoyed.)’

The sports represented vary widely, though I would point out there are considerably more ‘male’ looking figures playing the sports than female figures (they are all animals). Possibly as a balance, whenever there is a pronoun used, it is usually describing a female. Everything from rhythmic gymnastics and athletics, to skiing and mountain climbing, horse riding of all types, dirt bike riding, golf and racquet sports, as well as fishing, boxing and rugby are shown.

One of the most interesting pages to me was that about ice hockey, mainly for this description: ‘Sad but true: sometimes ice hockey players fight. That’s one reason an ice hockey game has up to four officials to make sure the players follow the rules.’ On reading further, I realise these fights are sanctioned and indeed, part of the game. I guess it’s not too far removed from rugby at times!

The illustrations, as always for Ole Könnecke, are an absolute delight and the highlight of the book. The athletics page is hilarious, with the elephant doing a shot put, the penguin doing the long-jump, the cow doing a balletic high jump, and the octopus throwing the javelin. Then there is the giraffe on the pole vault. The illustration of her getting distracted by a butterfly halfway up then falling flat on her back makes you wince and laugh at the same time. ‘This time, the giraffe approaches faster than before. This should work. Too late she notices that in the excitement she has forgotten her pole. That wasn’t good either.’

The illustrations are also innovative in where they have sports being performed – in the case of swimming, he shows frogs doing the breaststroke, the freestyle and butterfly in a goldfish bowl, complete with goldfish.

I’d recommend this book for sports lovers of all ages. It is a great primer for ideas of what sports might be played, and would work for kids aged 3 and up. As always, the pictures can be read without the words, by a younger child reading alone. Sports are indeed, fantastic fun, when written and illustrated by Ole Könnecke and published by Gecko Press.

Reviewed by Sarah Forster

Sports are Fantastic Fun!
by Ole Könnecke
Published by Gecko Press
ISBN 9781776572014

 

 

Book Review: Dear Donald Trump, by Sophie Siers and Anne Villeneuve

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_dear_donald_trumpThe premise of this delightful picture book (for older readers!) is that Sam is over sharing a bedroom with his brother and would like to block out the irritating behaviour (playing on a phone!) which keeps him awake at night. Having heard that Donald Trump has an idea which might suit, he suggests to his parents that he build a wall in his bedroom. Unsurprisingly, they are not convinced. So he writes to Donald Trump to sound him out.

The particular genius in this story is that each time Sam writes a letter, there’s a corresponding illustration of DT determinedly avoiding receiving said letters. You can tell who it is, because of the yellow hair, but you never see his face – he’s always with his back to you, or with the face obscured. Brilliant politicial commentary right there, for the observant reader!!

Sam does try hard to get his point across to his parents, who counter his arguments with more reasonable suggestions which don’t involve structural alterations of their sons’ bedroom. As the story goes on, he gradually concedes that there may be more than one way to solve his problem, and by the end of course it all works out extremely well, but you’ll have to read it to find out how.

Sophie Siers has done a great job with this book. The language is reasonably sophisticated and very believable. The throwaway comments from Sam’s mum are spot-on, and it’s easy to see how Sam got so irritated with his brother.

The illustrations are very clever, and also very un-Kiwi. Anne Villeneuve is a Canadian illustrator/author, and her work is much more Quentin Blake than Gavin Bishop; the style works very well for this story.

All in all, highly recommended.

Reviewed by Sue Esterman

Dear Donald Trump
by Sophie Siers and Anne Villeneuve
Published by Millwood Press
ISBN 9780473432812

Book Review:  Woolly Wally, by Dawn McMillan, illustrated by Ross Kinnaird

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_woolly_wallyIf you are familiar with Doctor Grundy’s Undies, I need a new Bum and other stories, and Mister Spears and his Hairy Ears, you will adore this offering from Dawn McMillan and Ross Kinnaird. What a great book. Woolly Wally was first published in 2006 and is now back in this latest edition.

Woolly Wally was a ram who stood master of his flock, full of importance, ready to show off his beautiful wool, thick and crinkled, extra fine, grey and wrinkled.  He was sure that his perfectly formed, uniquely shaped, individualised, spiral, ribbed and oversized horns were absolutely perfect and that he as incredibly handsome.  He was also sure that all the sheep were in love with him and that when spring came all the ewes would be mums and the fields full of his perfect offspring, so what a shock Woolly Wally got when he heard the word “shear”.

A wonderful story with a great moral. Pride comes before a fall, and in Wally’s case he falls far.

As with all books that Dawn McMillan and Ross Kinnaird have collaborated on, small readers will not be disappointed.  My 3 ½ year old granddaughter Quinn had it packed in her bag ready to go home before I could turn around.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Woolly Wally
by Dawn McMillan, illustrated by Ross Kinnaird
Published by Oratia Media
ISBN 9780947506421

Book Review: Oh, so many kisses!, by Maura Finn & Jenny Cooper

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_oh_so_many_kissesThere are so many books showing families and love but this one has already become my favourite! The poetic text and accompanying sketches perfectly illustrate all the love children experience without becoming ‘too cute’. It is a charming read that relaxes and fills the reader with aroha from the beginning to end.

The language is kept simple for young readers and is cleverly written into prose making it beautiful to read out loud. The words are woven through sketches that clearly illustrate the words. It means the book is fantastic for children to correspond new words to pictures and concepts which supports language development. There are so many possible departure points for conversation provoked by the animated water colour sketches.

The best feature, however, is the diversity in the illustrations. It shows everyone from all corners of Aotearoa going about their everyday lives. Even better is the amount of dads and grandparents caring for and loving young ones.

Together the author and illustrator have woven a real example of love. The raspberry jam kisses, the kisses for a scraped knee, the kisses to say goodbye at drop off and the kisses with a best friend. This is the perfect bedtime book for little ones (and the big ones who read to them too!).

Reviewed by Sara Croft

Oh, so many kisses!
by Maura Finn & Jenny Cooper
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775434924

Book Review: Muddle & Mo’s Rainy Day, by Nikki Slade Robinson

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_muddle_and_mos_rainy_dayIt’s a beautiful rainy day and all Muddle wants to do is jump, stomp, splash, sing and slide in the puddles. But Mo is less than excited about the big ploppy drops. Goats don’t like rain. Muddle can be very persuasive though and urges Mo to give it a try because rain is so much fun!

The third adventure from the loveable yet unconventional friendship of Muddle & Mo. Muddle is still his enthusiastic and happy-go-lucky self and Mo his patient and rain-phobic friend finds himself being convinced to step out of his comfort zone once again. A sweet little tale about how friendship can make you brave enough to try new things. Nikki Slade Robinson’s adorable, expressive and uncluttered illustrations are appealing to a young audience and paired with the repetitive dialogue from the two friends this picture book gives you the perfect opportunity to use your voice acting skills!

I loved reading this story to my preschool class and they enjoyed identifying all the different emotions Mo goes through as Muddle tries to encourage him to play in the rain. It’s easy to sympathise with both Muddle and Mo! Rainy Day is a delightful little book that explores how friendship can encourage an otherwise gloomy situation like a rainy day into something fun and positive.

Reviewed by Alana Bird

Muddle & Mo’s Rainy Day
by Nikki Slade Robinson
Published by Duck Creek Press
ISBN 9781927305393