Book Review: Bruce Wants to go Faster, by Dreydon Sobanja and Murray Dewhurst

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_bruce_wants_to_go_fasterBruce Wants to go Faster is the latest in the Inspirational Kiwis series of children’s books – the others are Ed Climbs a Big Hill and Jean Dreams of Flying. Based on some of our most iconic kiwis, the books have underlying themes about dreams, goals, hard work, and more.

This book outlines the life of Bruce McLaren, a kiwi motor-racing star who put New Zealand on the world map, going on to become the youngest driver (aged 22) to win a Formula 1 Grand Prix.

Bruce’s father was a keen motorcyclist and car racer, and Bruce initially dreamed of being a motorcycle racer. After developing a limp when he was 11, he was diagnosed with Perthes Syndrome and spent two years confined to bed with his legs in plaster. To overcome the boredom he organised gurney (wheeled stretcher) races around the wards at night when the nurses were off duty, and carved racing cars out of pieces of wood.

At 15, Bruce got his driver’s licence and began racing at the Auckland Car Club’s competition days. The book follows Bruce taking part in his first International GP race in Auckland in 1956 alongside superstars like Stirling Moss and Jack Brabham. A year later he and his father bought Jack’s Cooper T41 Climax racing car and that is when Bruce’s luck changed. He won his first hill climb in the car, and three races at the Levin circuit. Eventually he ended up in England where he began competing against the best. He raced in Europe, and won his first GP race in the United States when he was 22.

In the years to come, frustrated by cars he felt often let him down, Bruce decided to design his own cars. In 1964 he won the NZIGP and was working on developing the first McLaren sports cars, the M1. The following year he had a contract to develop the GT40 racing car for Ford, and in 1966, he and fellow kiwi, Chris Amon, won the Le Mans 24-hour race in that car.

The last chapter of the book delves into the themes that we can all learn from Bruce McLaren, including belief, continual improvement, dreaming, hard work, passion, patience and persistence. The pictorial timeline at the back shows the progression from Bruce’s tricycle in 1941 to the McLaren M6GT in 1968.

While the book is aimed at older readers, there’s nothing to stop a parent reading this book to their younger car-mad sons and daughters to inspire them. However, I do think it’s a book that may need to be read alongside some research into Bruce McLaren and together with someone who has a bit of a passion for the subject. A bit of judicious editing before publication wouldn’t have gone amiss.

Reviewed by Faye Lougher

Bruce Wants to go Faster
by Dreydon Sobanja and Murray Dewhurst
Published by Inspired Kids Ltd
ISBN 9780473360627


Book Review: Girl Stuff for girls 8-12, by Kaz Cooke

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_girl_stuff_for_girls_aged_8-12Kaz Cooke is a very accessible and humourous Australian author and cartoonist who specialises in writing books on health and well being for women (and girls). I can still remember her hilarious descriptions of pregnancy in Up the Duff, which were fantastically described in both words and pictures. Her Kidwrangling guide to raising children was a natural purchase for me once I had children, and I now find myself in the position of having a child in the right age bracket for her latest book, Girl Stuff 8-12.

The first chapter leaps right on in with changes in your body during puberty. All descriptions are factual, simply explained and occasionally humourous. Kaz is very careful to ensure that the book outlines the wide variety in body types and experiences of puberty. My daughter found this chapter very interesting (actually, I did too). I particularly liked her suggestions on responding to comments from people about body changes. There are some excellently pragmatic comments around periods, and I sincerely wish that I had read this book when I was younger!

Later chapters deal a lot with social issues – such as friendships and bullying as well as ‘not-so-happy families.’ There is a great chapter on confidence, and positive self talk. I found her list for parents and girls regarding online safety useful and I will be adopting some of the tips for use. The back of the book has a very useful ‘more info’ section with really good websites and phone numbers (including New Zealand numbers). There is a theme throughout the book of getting good advice and information – such as avoiding advertising messages or asking adults how to manage privacy settings.

My daughter and I read the first chapter on body changes together. I knew that the book was hitting the mark when my daughter took off with the book and finished reading it very quickly by herself! She particularly liked the ‘real life’ comments made by girls throughout the book. When I spoke to her about it afterwards it was clear that she had understood the content, so I think that the book is well written in that respect.

The book does not really get into relationships or sex – there is a follow up book that covers those topics in greater depth. However, if you are after a factual book about puberty for younger girls then this is a great guide. I will definitely be getting the following book in the series.

Reviewed by Emma Rutherford

Girl Stuff for girls 8-12
by Kaz Cooke
Published by Viking Australia
ISBN 9780143573999


Book Review: Maori Art For Kids, by Julie Noanoa and Norm Heke

Available now in bookstores nationwide.cv_maori_art_for_kids

This is a fantastic book for children, parents and educators and I heartily recommend it.

This book is so thoughtfully created. There are fifteen art activities included (suitable for preschoolers and older, independent crafters). Each activity introduces the reader to an art form or image, an artist who has produced work in the relevant art form and then a simplified activity for children to follow. There are step by step photos and instructions, with good suggestions for personalising the projects. My children liked looking at the pictures and could understand well the steps involved in the projects. I really enjoyed the commentary from the artists.

My four-year-old really enjoyed the pou pou screen-printing project and has tried to make hei tiki using playdough. My eight-year-old also enjoyed the screen printing project and this lead to a dizzying array of further independent art using the same materials. We plan to make the kete and poi projects over summer.

Templates and a glossary of Te Reo and crafting terms are included at the back of the book.

Finally, I feel that the layout of the book deserves special mention. The book is modern, fun, with bright, well-taken photographs. It is a pleasure to look at as much as use.

My copy is being donated to my local kindergarten. If you need a gift for preschool or primary teachers I can’t recommend a better resource to add to their libraries.

Review by Emma Wong-Ming

Maori Art For Kids
by Julie Noanoa and Norm Heke
Published by Craig Potton Publishing
ISBN 9781927213131