Book Review: The Cat from Muzzle, by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Scott Tulloch

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_the_cat_from_muzzleDwayne is a cat who made a 5-week trip from Kaikoura back to his original home of Muzzle Station in Southern Marlborough. While this story is based on a true story, what and who he encountered can only be imagined, in this case by Sally Sutton and Scott Tulloch.

Dwayne is a tough tabby cat with sharp claws.  He loves living at Muzzle Station. The bleating sheep, the gentle cows and the clucking chooks. Moving day comes around. They leave the farm, flying to their new home. Dwayne does not cope. He howled and howled as he doesn’t want to move to Kaikoura. The new house is big and bright but all he wantsis to be back at the Station, so off he goes, one determined cat to start his journey back to Muzzle.

Off Dwayne leaves walking and walking until his paws were sore. He walked for hours and days, eating what he could along the way. A friendly hunter shared his fire, inviting Dwayne to come and live with him but this Muzzle cat had somewhere else to be.

This is a wonderful story of tenacity and courage. I read this to my 4 ½ year old granddaughter Quinn who is the proud co-owner along with her older sister Abby, to two cats. One is called Gus, who is a tabby and a big fluffy puss called Rocky (so named to give him mana among other cats!). Quinn wanted to know why Dwayne wanted to go back to Muzzle Station and not stay with his owners. She can’t imagine Gus or Rocky ever leaving her. She told me she loves them this much………………………………..!

The Illustrations by the wonderful artist Scott Tulloch are simply beautiful. This is a great book. This would make a wonderful present.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

The Cat from Muzzle
by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Scott Tulloch
Published by Puffin NZ
ISBN 9780143773085

Book Review: Granny McFlitter: A country yarn, by Heather Haylock, illustrated by Lael Chisholm

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_Granny_mcflitter_a_country_yarnThe A & P show was finally here. We find Granny McFlitter at the best Vegetable Knitter display. Woolly tomatoes, onions and leeks, courgettes and carrots, broccoli, beans, radishes, rhubarb and watercress greens, Granny had knitted them all. Trophies, sashes and ribbons awaited the winners for sheepdogs and show jumpers, scarecrows and more. There were rosettes for the fanciest and fluffiest of lambs and a tent full of prize-winning cakes and jams.

Granny sat down under a tree to drink a nice pot of tea. Then the great excitement started – THE BULL HAD ESCAPED! He smashed through the show-ring and the gate, shattered the show jumps, scattered the hens and piglets. He toppled a stand and then rushed to the tent full of sponges and cakes. Pavlovas and lamingtons flew all around, jam tarts, cupcakes, pikelets and fudges rained down on the terrified judges.

Granny McFlitter knew what to do. She got her knitting needles and some wool and knitted a cape with some wool from a lamb, dying it bright red with strawberry jam, knitting a long, braided woolly Lasso.

Granny is the hero of this fabulous story, which I read to 4 ½ year old Quinn. She looked at me in a strange way, wondering what I could do to save the day if something like that happened while around he – perhaps a marauding dog snarling behind a fence, or a naughty cat eating a bird, or a diving magpie. I think I would run for the hills taking her with me at great speed!

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Granny McFlitter: A Country Yarn
by Heather Haylock, illustrated by Lael Chisholm
Published by Puffin NZ
ISBN 9780143773238

Book Review: Things in the Sea are Touching Me!, by Linda Jane Keegan and Minky Stapleton

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

Things in the sea are touching me_HRUnder a shimmering, summer-blue sky, a family strolls to the beach. After dropping their towels, sunblock and snacks at their favourite spot the little girl and her two mums run into the bubbling waves feeling carefree… when suddenly something grazes the girl’s feet causing her to shriek and squeal and call out for her Ma! What could be lurking beneath the surface… a shark? a sea monster perhaps? or something more mysterious?

We can all relate to that feeling of fright when something unknown brushes against us in the waves! Things in the Sea are Touching Me! explores a few of the things we might commonly encounter at the beach that, when unseen, can seem a little scary but after learning what they are become quite a wonderful part of the swimming in the ocean!

With its jaunty rhythm and rhyme, repetitive sentence pattern and fun language play, this book is a joy to read aloud. Minky Stapleton’s multi-layered underwater seascapes that depict mysterious hands reaching up from the ocean bed will keep children wondering about what could be hiding under the water. My preschool class loved making guesses about what was touching the little girl and enjoyed being introduced to the filter-feeding salps, bobbing mangrove seeds and slimy kelp forests.

Things in the Sea are Touching Me! is a delightful picture book that addresses the fear of the unknown in a light-hearted and humorous way. An awesome book for young children which is also available in Te Reo Māori: Ngā mea kei rō Moana e whakapā mai ana!

Reviewed by Alana Bird

Things in the Sea are Touching Me!
by Linda Jane Keegan, illustrated by Minky Stapleton
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775435709

Book Review: Simon Said and Other Cautionary Tales, by Pamela Allen

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_simon_said_and_other_cautionary_talesMost children know the game Simon Says, but this book puts a different spin on the game.

‘Simon said,
I am taller than you.’

And he was.

He can pull harder than you, jump higher than you, run faster than you, climb higher than you, throw a ball further than you, finally finishing with ’I can eat more than you.’  It does not end well!

The second story in this wonderfully funny book is ‘Simon Did’. This story also does not end well for Simon.

The third and fourth stories; Watch me, and Watch me Now have slightly better endings.

This is a fun book with wonderful illustrations and sitting down with 4- year–old granddaughter Quinn made this a great experience for both of us.  We were laughing our socks off at Simon’s antics and what we really shouldn’t do in life.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Simon Said and Other Cautionary Tales
by Pamela Allen
Published by OneTree House
ISBN 9780995106499

Book Review: The Marae Visit, by Rebecca Beyer & Linley Wellington, illustrated by Nikki Slade Robinson

Available in bookshops nationwide from 12 April. 

cv_the_marae_visitThe Marae Visit is a brilliant, cheerful introduction to what children can expect on their first visit to a marae. It feels like this book should have always been on our bookshelf – and I can’t believe it has taken this long for it to appear!

The story follows a primary class through their day at the marae. We meet the class at the front gate as they gather together to be formally welcomed. The authors spend time gently walking the reader through the  pōwhiri. Attention is drawn to tikanga and the reader gets a clear picture of what to expect and what to do. The pōwhiri ends and the class disperses to sing, dance with poi and make kites.

Children will easily find themselves in the multicultural illustrations. Nikki Slade Robinson captures the children’s bravado and hesitancy as they go through the unfamiliar process of the pōwhiri. We see their confidence and smiles grow throughout the story. The warmth and wairua you will find on a marae is beautifully depicted throughout the story.

The text is written in both English and te reo Māori; and well designed to read in either or both languages easily. The authors have kept key Māori words in the English text too, such as tangata whenua, hongi, wharenui and kaumātua. These words deserve to be known by English speakers and are contextualised for meaning.

Finally, the children gather for the poroporoaki, saying goodbye and promising to return. My class would like to return to the marae with them and join in the fun too. The authors have created an honest, uplifting portrayal of a class visit to their local marae that will be welcome in classrooms around Aotearoa.

Reviewed by Sara Croft

The Marae Visit
by Rebecca Beyer & Linley Wellington, Illustrated by Nikki Slade Robinson
Published by Duck Creek Press
ISBN 9781927305539

Book Review: Hedgehog Howdedo, by Lynley Dodd

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_hedgehog_howdedoThis classic by Lynley Dodd is set in the depths of winter as a young girl goes searching for all the hedgehogs hibernating in her garden. We count along with her, ‘two are on a ledge, I even saw three white ones in a hole behind the hedge’Finally the little girl sets down on her back door step and imagines what will happen when spring arrives and the hedgehogs wake up.

This gem of a book has everything we have come to expect from a Lynley Dodd book. It will bring adults back to their childhoods and introduce young readers to the delights of Lynley Dodd’s brilliant story-telling.

The text is sparse and perfectly targeted for the young reader. It contains her playful alliteration and parcels everything up in lilting melody. There is also her whimsical imagination – have you ever heard of a pizza plant before or dreamed about the noise of windywhistle grass?

This book would be wonderful to read on a cold winters night when the pictures mirror the cold view out the window. It carries the promise of warm spring days very soon as colour slowly emerges when the young girl dreams of the hedgehogs waking up.

Lynley Dodd is a national treasure for her contributions to young children’s literature – and rightly so. This book is the perfect bedtime story with her poetic text a joy to read aloud. The illustrations and gentle pace will lull young readers into a peaceful slumber with a smile on their face.

Reviewed by Sara Croft

Hedgehog howdedo
written & illustrated by Lynley Dodd
Published by Puffin
ISBN 9780143773023

 

Book Review: Everyone Walks Away, by Eva Lindström

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_everyone_walks_awayThis is an eloquent picture book for children of all ages that deftly touches upon subjects of loneliness and exclusion.  We meet Frank who is standing alone while three friends are having fun. Frank goes home, cries into the pot and begins to cook. We don’t know what Frank is cooking and it is delicious to see the story emerge.

What is unique is the way the author has not made the hard topics soft and cuddly. Friendships are hard work and children know this. This book honours these emotions and children’s experiences by being honest about the sadness Frank feels. The ending wonderfully suggests the beginning possibilities of belonging, but doesn’t guarantee instant friendships.

The language is emotive; it provokes wonderful imagery and opens up conversations about how we experience emotions. Frank goes home and cries into a pot” is a sad statement to make about a sad event. I wonder how older children might also imagine the sadness our characters are feeling? The words are just enough to tell the story and gives space to talk about the issues the characters face.

Eva Lindströmis a comic artist and the illustrations wonderfully mirror the sparse text. At the beginning, there is only one scooter, one seat, even the leaves seem to be drooping. There is loneliness in the pictures. But, as the friends join Frank, we can find three bowls, three chairs and three pieces of toast. Every detail is thought about, including colour. Frank is seemingly downcast compared to the sunshine and brightness used to portray the three friends. Hope appears in the pictures as the characters begin a new, tentative friendship.

It is a quiet story that will touch the reader.  Everyone walks away is a real portrayal of friendships and belonging that deserves to be read aloud.

Reviewed by Sara Croft

Everyone walks away
by Eva Lindström
Published by Gecko Press
ISBN 9781776571864