Book Review: Collins Field Guide to the New Zealand Seashore, by Sally Carson & Rod Morris

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_collins_field_guide_to_the_nz_seashoreNew Zealand is experiencing a long hot summer with people flocking to the beaches found along the 14,000 kilometres of coastline, to cool off. Children love to potter in rock pools to discover the creatures of the ocean but how many of us can give them a name?

The Collins Field Guide to the New Zealand Seashore is designed to be taken to the beach ‘encouraging a closer look at the community living between the tides’.

‘The seashore, or intertidal zone, is the area of the shore covered by seawater at the high tide and exposed air at low tide.’

In the guide Sally Carson and Rod Morris have dedicated a page for each plant or animal with text and excellent photographs to capture the reader’s interest, and assist with the identification of species.

I found the section on seaweeds particularly interesting as I often bring seaweed home for the garden and it will be fun giving some of the plants a name. I remember my mother being very excited if she found Carrageenan seaweed on the beach, gathering it up to take home to make the milk pudding as discussed in the book.

The guide also includes a section on coastal plants which have extended their distribution into the intertidal zone, adapting to cope with the salty environment. These play an important role in stabilising the sand and mud, helping to slow down the erosion of the coastline which is under constant barrage from the weather and the waves.

Rodd Morris is a former zoo-keeper and conservation officer, documentary –maker, author and award winning photographer who has contributed to thirty books over the course of his career.

Sally Carson is the Director for the New Zealand Marine Studies Centre at the University of Otago and an expert in identification guides for the plants and animals found on New Zealand’s seashore.

They have included some pages at the end of the guide on the changing ocean and coastal concerns with climate change, as well as a comprehensive list of books, articles and websites for those who want further information.

This is a great resource for families who enjoy wandering around the coastline, as well being a great tool for teachers when they take their class to visit the rocky shore.

Reviewed by Lesley McIntosh

Collins Field Guide to the New Zealand Seashore
by Sally Carson & Rod Morris
Published by HarperCollins NZ
9781775540106

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Book Review: The Scariest Thing in the Garden, by Craig Smith, illustrated by Scott Tulloch

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_the_scariest_thing_in_the_gardenBig scary eyes stare out of the cover of the latest book created by Craig Smith and Scott Tulloch as the pair take children on a journey around the garden to find The Scariest Thing in the Garden.

The opening pages show a very scared Brussels sprout! What scared the Brussels sprout?
The simple repetitive lyrics build up the suspense in the read aloud book as the children meet an aphid, a spider, a ladybird, a bird, a cat, a dog, and a child.
Nothing has scared the child. Or has it?

Kids will love the surprise twist in the tale at the end of the book.

The author of the number one best seller The Wonkey Donkey, Craig Smith lives in Queenstown and performs around New Zealand and Australia, and says ‘There’s something about eating food that you have grown or made yourself that is very special.’

The book includes a CD which children will love as Craig sings his way through the book accompanied by his guitar, and children screaming in the appropriate places.

Scott Tulloch is based in Wanaka and has illustrated numerous Scholastic titles creating wacky cartoons, but also enjoys illustrating realistic wildlife. ‘I was too scared to paint a real-looking spider at first. but the publishing team at Scholastic told me I had to.’

The drawings are delightful, with big eyes staring out from all the animals, and children will love hearing this book over and over.

Reviewed by Lesley McIntosh

The Scariest Thing in the Garden
by Craig Smith, illustrated by Scott Tulloch
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775435051

Book Review: 10 Greedy Goats, by Pio Terei , illustrated by Deborah Hinde

Availacv_10_greedy_goat.jpgble in bookshops nationwide.

Young children will love this sing along book by the creators of the best-selling 10 Kooky Kiwi book, as the goats set off to the fair.

Anyone who has had goats at home will be able to relate to their antics in the book as they climb trees, eat candyfloss, run away and get into mischief.

Created to be enjoyed by 3 to 7 year old children, they will love the drawings of the goats riding quad bikes, sliding down the water slide and playing on the bouncy castle, all activities kids love to do. This is also a great resource to teach children their numbers, highlighted throughout the text in different colours, as well as each page having a number included in the illustration for the reader to spot.

Ngaere Roberts enjoys the challenge of translating the texts in fun books like 10 Greedy Goats and says ‘When such texts are sung to catchy tunes they become a useful resource for young learners of te reo Māori to listen to and enjoy’.

The inclusion of the CD is a real bonus and has been a great hit with my 3-year-old grandson. Pio Terei just seems to capture the attention of the little ones who soon latch on to the lyrics and tune.

The bright cover is stunning, with 10 goats of varying colours enticing the reader to delve into the book to enjoy all the fun of the fair.

Reviewed by Lesley McIntosh

10 Greedy Goats
sung by Pio Terei, illustrated by Deborah Hinde, with Māori lyrics by Ngaere Roberts
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775434078

 

 

Book Review: The New Zealand Art Activity Book, by Helen Lloyd

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_the_new_zealand_art_activity_bookIf you are trying to get your child off the screen and involved in something more creative, the New Zealand Art Activity book is packed with activities to encourage children to see, think and draw like artists.

Filled with over one hundred activities this new edition of the Art Activity Book will suit children of all ages and abilities, as it contains simple colouring, as well as more advanced painting or construction of items.

Written and developed by Helen Llyod Gallery Educator at the City Gallery, Wellington, in consultation with Sarah Farrar, Senior Curator at Te Papa. Helen compiled an earlier edition in 2013 aimed at 5 – 8-year-olds which was the winner in the Children’s Book category of the Multi-media and Publication Design Awards 2014.

The 2017 edition includes reproductions of 51 historical and contemporary works from Te Papa’s art collection, and new works commissioned from current New Zealand artists as well as art based activities.

Two pages at the beginning of the book set out very clearly the type of pens, paints and other materials which would be needed to complete the tasks, and the following two pages give some background to the fifteen modern artists who have supplied artworks.
At the rear of the book there is further explanation of art terms and the glossary includes English translation of Maori, Fijian, Hindu, Mandarin, Niuean, Samoan, Tongan and Cook Island words included in the text.

There is lots to interest children of all ages in the 160 pages and I found myself engrossed in a number of the pages, itching to start some of the projects, but I will wait until I have some grandchildren around to share in the creativity.

Reviewed by Lesley McIntosh

The New Zealand Art Activity Book
by Helen Lloyd
Published by Te Papa Press
ISBN 9780994136237

Book Review: Tōtara: A Natural and Cultural History by Philip Simpson

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_totaraThe ‘mighty tōtara’ has been central to life in New Zealand for thousands of years. It was used by Māori for carving and building, and when the white settlers arrived in New Zealand they found it a perfect wood for cutting into fence posts as they divided up their farms.

Botanist Philip Simpson shares his knowledge of these trees in his book Tōtara: A Natural and Cultural History, which is well illustrated with many excellent photographic examples of trees still to be found around the countryside.

New Zealand has four recognised species of tōtara: lowland, Hall’s, needle-leaved, snow and one distinctive variety (South Westland). The biggest trees being the lowland tōtara and the smallest ones the snow tōtara being found among the alpine rocks.

Growing up in the Takaka Valley, Simpson recalls second growth tōtara was a major feature of the valley, as settlers had cleared the earlier forest, and in this boyhood playground his love of the trees began.

In the Foreword Maui John Mitchell says, “Philip has written a history of Aotearoa/ New Zealand from the tōtara perspective. He has seen it as part of the primeval natural world, he has clearly portrayed why the tōtara is the leading rakau rangatira-‘chiefly conifer’-to Maori, and he has shown how critical the tōtara was to successful European settlement.”

Throughout New Zealand, tōtara trees have been honoured by inclusion as place names, for example just south of my hometown of Oamaru there is a small rural school called Tōtara. Its name came about because of a lone tōtara tree growing on a limestone outcrop.

This excellent publication is a book for all to enjoy, the well written text is supported with a variety of photographs in colour and black and white. The cover has a stunning photograph of Pouakani, the largest tōtara tree in New Zealand at 3.88 metres, found at the northern end of the Hauhungaroa Range in the King Country. It can be picked up time and time again to be reread and devoured. I particularly enjoyed the chapter “Where tōtara lives and who lives with it” which discusses climate and environmental factors which influence distribution, and the author also discusses the importance of the tōtara to wildlife including spiders, butterflies, lizards, microsnails and birds.

Reviewed By Lesley McIntosh

Tōtara: A Natural and Cultural History
by Philip Simpson
Published by Auckland University Press
ISBN 9781869408190

Book Review: Island Nurses, by Leonie Howie & Adele Robertson

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

cv_island_nursesLeonie Howie and Adele Robertson live and work on remote Great Barrier Island – so called because it faces the full brunt of the wild Pacific weather and acts as a barrier for the mainland about 100 kilometres away. With a population of about 1000, no reticulated electricity, no ATM machine, no street lights and one pub, it is a wildly beautiful place. It has a long history of farming, whaling and fishing, and the people who live here are a resilient lot, proud of their community.

Howie is married to the doctor on the island, and their younger children sometimes attended consultations, including births, although they were generally asleep in the car.
Midwifery and nursing on a remote island bring a wide range of dramas and emergencies, and Howie and Robertson share the islanders’ stories-sometimes tragic, sometimes happy, sometimes funny-from over 30 years of challenging yet uplifting work.

In the early days, Dr Howie worked from an old building on the southern end of the island and in the public health nurses’ cottage in the north, travelling by motorbike and then in a second-hand Holden sedan. ‘On Wednesday they drove in Ivan’s iconic and durable light blue Holden HQ up north to the nurse’s cottage in Port FitzRoy for the northern clinic. At this time, in the mid-eighties it took just under an hour to reach Adele’s clinic.’

Clinics were also held in a caravan on the couple’s front lawn, and in their lounge, before Dr Howie encouraged the locals to form a community trust which built the islands medical centre.

A map at the beginning of the book is a great asset and I found myself referring to it as I was reading the book. The collection of photographs also complements the text and I loved the cover design, the fresh faced nurse’s smiles inviting the reader to open the book and read their story.

This memoir is the first book the pair has written and it highlights just how a small community supports itself and the people living there. It will be of interest to anyone interested in health services and who enjoys a life away from city living.

Reviewed by Lesley McIntosh

Island Nurses: Stories of Birth, Life and Death on Remote Great Barrier Island
by Leonie Howie & Adele Robertson
Published by Allen & Unwin
ISBN 9781877505843

Book Review: The Cloud Leopard’s Daughter, by Deborah Challinor

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

cv_the_cloud_leopards_daughterSet in 1863, the story begins on the Otago Goldfields where the daughter of a Chinese Tong master is kidnapped and whisked off to China and a forced marriage.

We meet up with Kitty and Rian Farrell sailing into Dunedin harbour in their schooner Katipo 111 to meet with their friend Wong Fu who is based at Lawrence, very unwell, and concerned for the wellbeing of his daughter Bao.

The couple agree to sail to China to find the girl and the reader is taken on a fascinating journey which includes pirates, another kidnapping and the opium trade into China.
When their daughter Amber is taken from a hotel in Cebu, Phillipines, Kitty is devastated as this is the fourth time in her life that Amber has been kidnapped. She wonders if she “were being made to pay for plucking Amber from the streets of Auckland when she had been tiny”.

This is the fourth book in the The Smuggler’s Wife Series which are all based on the high seas in the Pacific. This title is easily a stand alone book as I had not read any of the previous books and was soon absorbed into the adventures of the very real, colourful characters brought to life by the descriptive writing.

The author has done a great deal of research into the opium trade into China which has given an interesting depth to the story of an era which has almost been forgotten. In the author notes at the rear of the book Challinor says, “The British reluctantly paid for their pekoe, teacups and bolts of silk in bullion, but, concerned at the amount of silver in particular leaving England, soon realised there was a ready market for opium in china”.

The peaceful but rugged coastline on the front cover of The Cloud Leopard’s Daughter enticed me into this book, I learned a lot about the opium trade, and I believe anyone who likes a family saga with some adventure in it will enjoy it as much as I did.

Deborah Challinor lives in New Zealand with her husband. While at University she did a PhD in military history and when her thesis was described by one of her university supervisors as readable she sent it to a publisher, and came away with a book deal. She has now published fourteen novels in fifteen years. She has also written one young adult novel and two non fiction books.

Reviewed by Lesley McIntosh

The Cloud Leopard’s Daughter
by Deborah Challinor
Published by HarperCollins
ISBN 9781460751572