Book Review: The Volume of Possible Endings, by Barbara Else

Available now in bookstores nationwide.cv_the_volume_of_possible_endings

The third book in Barbara Else’s award-winning children’s book series, Tales of Fontania, The Volume of Possible Endings will continue to enthral and intrigue New Zealand bookworms both young and old.

It tells the unusual tale of twelve-year-old Dorrity, the only child in her village, and Metalboy, the runaway experiment created by a king. Dorrity and Metalboy embark on an adventure that will take them from Owl Town to the Fontania palace; on the way they discover an enchanted book that claims to know the five possible endings to Dorrity’s life story. As she struggles to discover what her future holds, the secrets of her past begin to reveal themselves.

As everything Dorrity thought she could rely on forever vanishes, she begins to realise that the five endings of her story are one by one coming true – even when she doesn’t want them to. But can Dorrity change the future that is written for her in The Volume of Possible Endings? And do the endings really mean what they seem to?

While the evil Count Bale tries to cause great amounts of trouble for Dorrity and Metalboy, the two friends must trust each other as they work together to learn the truth about their pasts and avoid the Count. Without each other’s friendship, there is little chance that they will get out of this mess in one piece…

The Volume of Possible Endings introduces many new quirky and quaint characters into the Tales of Fontania universe. With rich prose, magic, adventure and a metal boy with a heart of red jasper, Barbara Else’s storytelling skills have reached a new level of total and utter brilliance. The fantasy world of Fontania is one that children will be visiting for many years to come.

Reviewed by Tierney Reardon

The Volume of Possible Endings
by Barbara Else
Published by Gecko Press
ISBN 9781927271377

Book Review: The Farmer in the Dell, by Topp Twins, illustrations by Jenny Cooper

Available in bookstores nationwide.cv_the_farmer_in_the_dell

To say I was delighted to review this children’s book would be an understatement. I am a long-time fan of the Topp Twins, first hearing them sing as teenagers in Cathedral Square in Christchurch. We loved hearing these incredibly infectious and funny girls.

Jules and Lynda Topp have been entertaining the country with their original songs – country music; yodelling and spoon-playing – for a lot of years now with their television shows and their own brand of humour. They have won many awards and accolades.

Lynda and Jools see their growing list of children’s book titles as a fun way to encourage kids to enjoy books. This is their fourth collaboration with Jenny Cooper. Previous titles include There’s a Hole in my Bucket, Do your Ears hang Low? and She’ll be coming ’round the mountain.

The rather gorgeous illustration of a hound dog holding a guitar and singing “Take your partner by the hand” makes you want to get up and start square dancing. “The farmer, in the dell, the farmer in the dell, heigh-ho, the merry-o, the farmer in the dell.” Having the CD to accompany the book is brilliant, with Jools and Lynda’s humour coming through. The small child in our family began singing along and doing her own version of what she thought square dancing should look like. To say that my husband and I were falling about the floor laughing would be rather an understatement. “Grandma, stop clapping” was my small person’s plea!

The illustrations by Jenny Cooper are incredible – words fail me to describe just how wonderful they really are. To include a cat, dog and even a cow at one stage in the square dancing is nothing short of genius. Thank you Lynda, Jools and Jenny for one very entertaining book.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

The Farmer in the Dell (+ CD)
Sung by The Topp Twins, illustrations by Jenny Cooper
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775431954

Book Review: I am Doodle Cat, by Kat Patrick and Lauren Marriott

Available in bookstores nationwide.cv_i_am_doodle_cat

This is a delightful book, from a brand new author and illustrator. The publication is quite beautiful, and the square shape of the book makes it a delight to hold.

Doodle Cat is a pretty positive feline. He loves a lot of things, including maths and fractals. He is a popular guy, and loves difference and his friends.

The book is illustrated, as suggested by the title, as a series of doodles, each of which immediately and creatively convey the words on the page. Doodle cat is adorable, and importantly for myself as a non-artistic mother of a 4-year-old who loves to draw, easy to copy. Mine and my son’s favourite page is definitely ‘I love farts’. If you have never seen a fart sign an autograph, and have secretly wondered what this looks like, this is the book for you!

The oddest thing about this book is the explanations of eight of the ‘loves’ on the rear endpaper. This addresses the significant loves, giving reasons why the loves are important to Doodle Cat. This is a wonderful expansion of the story, but putting this list on a rear endpaper is an odd publishing decision, and makes it look like they ran out of pages. I tried to read these to my son but he wasn’t having a bar of it, as he decided the book was finished. Future editions may have this corrected, with a little luck.

The message of the book is very positive. Identifying what you love is an important step in childhood, and this book inspires this discussion.

I recommend this for people with small children, aged 1-5.

Reviewed by Sarah Forster

I Am Doodle Cat
by Kat Patrick & Lauren Marriott
Published by Beatnik Press
ISBN 9780992264826

Book Review: So Many Wonderfuls, by Tina Matthews

cv_so_many_wonderfulsAvailable now in bookstores nationwide.

The author of this book, Tina Matthews, was born in New Zealand and now lives with her family in Sydney.

So Many Wonderfuls is a lovely book with beautiful illustrations throughout. This story is told in rhyming verse and takes you through a town with so many wonderful experiences. This town could be anywhere. The story is delightfully told with each illustration holding a little person’s interest throughout. The opening lines set the tone of the story.

“Wonderful town
It’s a good place to stay
So don’t hurry by
Hold your horses – slow down!”

The little person I read this to, had lots of whys, which added to my enjoyment of reading it to her. The illustrations are superb and if you look carefully you will notice something interesting in each one. The same characters are depicted in each picture.

This book would make a great gift and I know one little girl that is going to enjoy having this book in her growing collection.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

So Many Wonderfuls
Written and illustrated by Tina Matthews
Published by Walker Books
ISBN 9781922077516