Book Review: The Girls in the Kapa Haka, by Angie Belcher, illustrated by Debbie Tipuna

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_the_girls_in_the_kapa_hakaThis is a delightful picture book in the tradition of The house that Jack built – a story which builds up rhyme by rhyme until it’s complete. There’s enough in the brief text to let the reader understand how much work goes into making a piupiu, and also that it’s probably not easy!

There’s good use of Te Reo, enough for you to learn something and the rhymes are good.

I have one or two issues with the metre and continuity in the text, but overall the story builds up well.

The illustrations really to me are the stand-out – well, that’s what you do want in a picture book, after all. But the clever use of side panels on the left of each double-page spread gives a hint as to the next component of the rhyme, and would certainly keep kids looking.

It’s good also that the girls in the Kapa Haka group are diverse, and although Koro seems far too young I think that’s my eyesight and not any other kind of issue!

All in all it’s a delightful little book which should appeal greatly to preschoolers.

Reviewed by Sue Esterman

The Girls in the Kapa Haka  
By Angie Belcher, illustrated by Debbie Tipuna
Published by Puffin
ISBN 9780143773870

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: 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: Hero of the Sea – Sir Peter Blake’s Mighty Ocean Quests, by David Hill and Phoebe Morris

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_hero_of_the_seaRemembering where you were when you heard the tragic news that Sir Peter Blake had been killed is one of those iconic Kiwi moments. It came as a truly awful shock to those of us who had grown up idolising this epic New Zealander and following his fabulous achievements on the water. It doesn’t feel like an exaggeration to call him a hero and one very worthy of a children’s book.

Hero of the Sea by David Hill and Phoebe Morris is a welcome addition to their wonderful series about extraordinary New Zealanders. Starting from his early days learning to sail in Auckland, the book follows his adventures in yachting, his love of his family, and his efforts to bring attention to important environmental issues before his life was cruelly cut short in 2001. ‘Remember,’ he wrote, ‘this is the most beautiful world, and it’s the only one we’ve got.’

Hill and Morris are a great team. The story and the illustrations are perfectly balanced. With gorgeously simple lines, Morris accurately captures that well-known rugged, friendly face – moustache and all. The picture of Sir Peter taking a phone call in the bath is utterly adorable. The book has some truly beautiful double page spreads with ocean scenes, true testament to Sir Peter’s love of the environment.

Younger readers will love the brightly coloured illustrations; I predict that Kashin in her red socks will be a favourite . And, although a picture book, there is more than enough information in this biography to appeal to older readers as a great introduction to Sir Peter’s life. The inclusion of a detailed timeline is very useful for young researchers.

This book will be an ideal Christmas gift for aspiring yachties and conservation-minded kids. It is also a lovely reminder for us adults of what a special human being Sir Peter was and how lucky we were to have him. His legacy lives on through the Sir Peter Blake Trust’ helping a new generation of kiwi kids to explore and value our marine environment.

Review by Tiffany Matsis

Hero of the Sea: Sir Peter Blake’s Mighty Ocean Quests
by David Hill and Phoebe Morris
Published by Puffin
ISBN 9780143771654

Book Review: Wake Up, Bear by Lynley Dodd

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_wake_up_bearI have to make a disclosure here – I have actually read Wake Up, Bear before. More times than I can count, in fact. First released in 1986, it was on my daughter’s bookshelf during her early years in the mid-late 1990s. Lynley Dodd was always a huge favourite of ours – we both loved the luscious language, the pace and humour, and the gorgeous illustrations. That was 20-some years ago, and while I still think Lynley Dodd is fabulous, do today’s six-year-olds still revel in her stories in what feels increasingly like a device-driven world?

The short answer is, yes. Children still love a well-written story, and I’ve yet to read a Lynley Dodd story that doesn’t qualify. My class were learning about seasons and life cycles at the time I read this story, so they were full of shared knowledge about bears hibernating and were actively predicting where the story might go. They loved joining in the refrain and were delighted and surprised by the joke at the end, which caused Bear to wake up.

Wake Up, Bear might be 32 years old but it is still as fresh and lively as the first time I read it. The illustrations are still delightful, the language is still rich and vibrant, and like all of Dodd’s books it is absolutely perfect for reading aloud. In an era when junior school teachers are in despair about the increasingly low levels of oral language of children starting school, I offer the following prescription: Some Lynley Dodd, daily. At least one book, more as demanded by the child. It would go a long way.

Reviewed by Rachel Moore

Wake Up, Bear
by Lynley Dodd
Published by Puffin
ISBN 9780143772569

Book Review: Puffin The Architect, by Kimberly Andrews

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_puffin_the_architectEveryone wants different features in a new home and Puffin is an architect who takes pride in designing the perfect home for clients. But the pufflings seem hard to please even when Puffin takes them on a journey to all the recent builds the architect has designed.

Puffin the Architect is a delightful read by Wellington author Kimberly Andrews whose first picture book Tuna and Hiriwa was a 2017 Storylines Notable book.

The exquisite illustrations in her latest publication will capture children’s attention and they will find interesting topics for discussion each time the book is read to them. Suitable for ages 3-7 years, I am sure these children will have as much fun looking for the 19 snails hidden among the pictures as I did.

The pufflings visit Platypus’s bakery, Otter’s fishing boat, Detective Hound’s home, Pig’s tool shed, Painter Goose’s studio, as well as the homes for a moose and giraffe , but none of the features in these unique homes appeal to the pufflings. ‘Can’t you make a puffin cottage?’

The resulting cottage by the sea is just what the pufflings want and we see in the final page Puffin the Architect is moving into the home with her two young pufflings and their toys.

Lots to stimulate children in this book, the rhyming text on each double page, the intricate details in the different illustrated homes, as well as finding out where puffins are living in world.

It is a good sized book for sharing with a group of children, and will certainly create wonderful discussion and stimulate ideas for a new generation of designers and architects.

Reviewed by Lesley McIntosh

Puffin The Architect
by Kimberly Andrews
Published by Puffin
ISBN 9780143772187

Book Review: Little Hector and the Big Blue Whale, by Ruth Paul

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_little_hector_and_the_big_blue_whaleHector was a small but daring dolphin. But Hector was too small to go anywhere. One day Little Hector decides he had had enough of being told he’s too small to venture past The Point so he decides to follow the bigger dolphins out into the open ocean where he quickly gets left behind. Little Hector learns about the dangers of boats first hand and why his mother warned him to never trust an orca! Lucky for Hector he meets a friend who safely escorts him back to The Point and teaches him a valuable lesson; being the littlest is just as special as being the biggest! And size definitely doesn’t matter when it comes to friendship.

Author-illustrator Ruth Paul introduces us to her latest character Little Hector in Little Hector and the Big Blue Whale. The softness of the illustrations compliments the ocean setting of the story and the characters are charming with their friendly expressions, especially, Little Hector!

This story includes enough suspense, possible dangers and problems to be solved to keep young children captivated as well as putting a spotlight on New Zealand’s Hector’s dolphin. I especially enjoyed the ‘All about the Hector’s dolphin’ facts included at the end. The health of our oceans and the creatures within it is very important and it’s something that children should be aware of from a young age.

Little Hector and the Big Blue Whale is a wonderful new book that teaches children about the rare Hector’s dolphin. Children will love reading all about Little Hector’s big adventure into the deep sea and meeting all his marine friends. I can’t wait to read about Little Hector’s next adventure!

Reviewed by Alana Bird

Little Hector and the Big Blue Whale
by Ruth Paul
Published by Puffin
ISBN 9780143771524