Book Review: Seeking an Aurora, by Elizabeth Pulford, illustrated by Anne Bannock

Available in selected bookshops nationwide. 

cv_seeking_an_aurora.jpgSeeking an Aurora is one of those books which at first glance, seems just a light read with pictures. And for a child it probably is, with the beautiful pictures holding the interest more than the story.

In fact, reading it to the child in my life, we found that examining and discussing the pictures was a story in itself. We talked about the way the cold air made our breath puff out like little clouds, and the way frost on the ground crunched beneath our feet as we walked on it. We wondered how the artist had produced such vivid colours from what looked like crayons or pastels and we thought we might try to make some art work ourselves.  The depictions of the Aurora woke in us a fervent desire to witness one ourselves and we discussed how we could set about achieving this desire.  We really really liked the book on lots of different levels.

The main one for me was enjoying the company of my grandchild as we talked together about the book and the thoughts it brought up. For a child, reading it with an interested adult is the ideal, but I can imagine them reading it over by themselves afterwards, thinking their own thoughts, and enjoying the memories.  A lovely wee book.

Reviewed by Lesley Vlietstra

Seeking an Aurora
by Elizabeth Pulford and Anne Bannock
published by OneTree House
ISBN 9780995106444

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: Maya & Cat, by Caroline Magrel

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_maya_and_cat.jpgCat does not want feather boas, nor pink shoelaces or a pompom on a stick and although she ate every oily silver morsel of fish, Cat is searching for something much more precious. So Maya sets out with Cat in tow to knock on doors to see if one holds what Cat is seeking.

Maya & Cat is a heart-warming story that follows a little girl and a cat as they seek out the thing that Cat is missing most and the thing that Maya discovers she is missing too; companionship. A perfect story to read together; young children will enjoy the gentle, poetic language. Caroline Magrel’s adorably quirky watercolour illustrations take us through the wet and gloomy, lamp-lit streets of a seaside town. They leave you with that sense of peace and tranquility you feel when you’re warm and cosy indoors while a storm rages outside your windows.

This unique feel-good picture book written and illustrated by Caroline Magrel would make a wonderful addition to any young child’s bookshelf. Maya & Cat makes for a pleasant and comforting read – the perfect bed time story!

Reviewed by Alana Bird

Maya & Cat
by Caroline Magrel
Published by Walker Books
ISBN 9781921977282

Book Review: Ping vs Pong, by Mauro Gatti

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_ping_v_pong.jpgEdamame beans may not be what you first think of when you want to explore themes of turn taking, resilience and empathy, but bear with me – you might find yourself as pleasantly surprised as I was.

Ping and Pong, the aforementioned edamame beans, were born on the same day, and share the dream of becoming world champion table tennis players. With hard work and perseverance, they achieve their goal, but then decided they need to go one further – which one of them is the best?

Of course, when someone has to be the winner, someone has to be the loser, and feelings get hurt. This is not the end of the story, of course …

With vibrant, engaging illustrations, my class of 5-7 year olds enjoyed the story, and were able to see the lessons in it. This isn’t a hard-hitting moralising story, quite light in fact, but it’s always a good thing when young children can see to the heart of a story.

Recommended for 4-8 year olds who are learning to take turns and mind other people’s feelings.

Reviewed by Rachel Moore

Ping vs Pong
by Mauro Gatti
Published by Flying Eye Books
ISBN  9781911171386

Book Review: Flit the Fantail and the Flying Flop, by Kat Merewether

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_flit_the_fantail_and_the-flying_flopThis is the first in a new series from Kat Merewether, the author of Kuwi the Kiwi.

Flit is a fantail chick. He is not allowed to fly as his wings are not strong enough. Ma and Pa Fantail want him to stay safe in his nest while they go off to find food to feed Flit. Flit feels safe up high in the Kowhai tree in his nest but he is soon bored so he climbs to the edge of the nest to try and get a tasty midge. He stretches but cannot quite reach it. He spreads his wings but of course the inevitable happens, he first of all floats then he falls. Flit tries to fly back up but no, he falls down to the ground.

Kiki the Kaka chick comes down to see what the fuss is about. He thinks he can help Flit get back up to his nest. He puts Flit onto a fern and then tries to flick Flit back up in the air to get back to his nest, but no, Flit flip flops down again.

Bit and Bob, the black robins come along and offer to help. This time they pick Flit up by the feet, holding on trying to fly at the same time. Of course, this doesn’t work either. Keri the Kiwi and Ruru both try their luck as well, to no avail.

This is a great story about what can be achieved when everybody uses their individual strengths. Gorgeous illustrations tie this wonderful story together.

I read this to 3 ½ year old Quinn. She was quite sure that Flit could manage to get back all on his own but loved the fact that he had so many friends who thought that they could help.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Flit the Fantail and the Flying Flop
by Kat Merewether
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775435105

Book Review: Of Course You Can! | Ka Taea Tonu e Koe! by Karen Hinge, illustrated by Nicky Sievert

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_of_course_you_can.jpgJust like any child starting a new school, Jeremy was nervous. Kowhai Street Primary school looked nice and his teacher, Whae Kath was welcoming. He waved good-bye to his mother. Jeremy sat back watching the activities the other children were engaging in. After eating some of his lunch he participated in some of the activities – making a colourful fish picture to add to the class display. His first day was over but his enthusiasm was a bit mixed which is how a lot of children feel in a new environment.

On Jeremy’s second day he was invited to join in some of the activities. He was convinced he wouldn’t be able to participate but with words of encouragement and a bit of ingenuity he was able to join in. Jeremy was making new friends and finding ways to participate in all the games and the rough and tumble of a school’s playground.

This book is very cleverly put together, encouraging children to have empathy for those who aren’t able-bodied, and helping them to find a way to join in children’s every day activities.

What is also wonderful with this book is the accompanying text in Te Reo. Many schools are teaching Te Reo, so this book is a great addition to a school’s library or class text.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Of Course You Can! | Ka Taea Tonu e Koe!
by Karen Hinge Na Ngaere Roberts i whakamaori
Illustrated by Nicky Sievert
Published by OneTree House
ISBN 9780473421854

Book Review: Sam and the Dog from the Sea, by Judy and Dick Frizzell

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_sam_and_the_dog_from_the_sea.jpgSam is an old sailor who still wears his captain’s hat with a seagull’s feather stuck into the band. He lives in an old tramcar decorated with treasures sourced from his scavenging among the flotsam and jetsam that the tides bring in.

A storm is on the horizon and Sam, lying in bed can hear the roaring of the winds and the lashing of the rain against his windows. He gets up early the next morning walking along the beach looking for possible treasures. He finds what he thinks is a dead seagull or an old towel but as he picks it up he sees it is a dog, probably dead, but then a little brown eye opens. Taking it home wrapped up in his woollen jersey he hurries home. Putting the dog in front of the fire Sam towels the poor animal dry, fluffing up his soft white fur.

This is a beautiful story of love and friendship between a dog and an old man. Gorgeous illustrations, and the accompanying storyline is delightful.

Dick Frizzell is well-known to most New Zealanders as an artist. His wife Judy had written the story with Dick using his talents to compliment what is an already wonderful story.

This book was first published more than 30 years ago in 1988. On some friends urging, Judy and Dick Frizzell released this book once again. A fantastic decision as I haven’t read it before to any of my grandchildren. This story was received enthusiastically by my 3 ½ year old granddaughter Quinn.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Sam and the Dog from the Sea
by Judy and Dick Frizzell
Published by David Ling Publishing
ISBN 9781927305416