Book Review: Kiwi One and Kiwi Two, by Stephanie Thatcher

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_kiwi_one_and_kiwi_twoThis is a joyful book about two young kiwi waking up at night ready for a playful adventure. When Kiwi One and Kiwi Two emerge from their burrow into the night sky but their feathered friends are all asleep. So our kiwi begin the fun by rousing their friends from their beds. There’s time for running races, kite-flying and a game of hide and seek. But not all animals are designed for night-time antics. What happens when the nocturnal kiwi outlast their friends who are starting to tire?

The upbeat and energetic mood carries throughout the story until dawn rises in the sky.  Kiwi One and Kiwi Two happily head back to their burrow sleep, along with their tuatara friend who has joined them all night long (our eagle-eyed readers loved finding him on each page!).

Stephanie Thatcher has included all the elements for a great picture book for young kiwi children. The rhyming poem dances along just waiting to be read and the illustrations speak the story by themselves. The two cheeky kiwi celebrate the joys of childhood and little ones will want to join in the fun.

There is no big moral or adventure in this story, but it doesn’t need one.  It is a deliciously simple bedtime story, perfect for reading at the end of a long day as a little one snuggles down to sleep!

Reviewed by Sara Croft

Kiwi One and Kiwi Two
by Stephanie Thatcher
published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775434962

 

Book Review: The Lonely Little Tree, by Moya Kirby

Where once grew a forest near the sea,
One tree was left – one tiny tree.
Her forest friends had been cut away,
and she was left, alone to stay.

cv_the_lonely_little_treeThis is a uniquely New Zealand Christmas story about a tree that was all by itself wondering how it was going to survive and what it’s future held. The lonely little tree thought perhaps he could become a Christmas tree. Birds gathered around with the fantail deciding that all the birds around would help make the poor little tree their Christmas tree.

Pukeko wasn’t so sure. He wondered where they were going to get a star to crown the tree or Christmas lights or tinsel to decorate. Ruru thought that two huge, round eyes in his head at night would gleam like stars. Clematis blossoms will glow in the trees leaves at night.

So, between all of them the Lonely Little Tree was duly decorated. This is a beautiful story that will resonate with children of all ages. We all know of a tree standing on its own somewhere whether it be in our garden or on the coast by the sea or on its own on a farm. Decorating our trees in a uniquely Kiwi style could well set a style all of its own. The only obstacle is our imagination.

I read this story to 4-year-old Quinn. As I was reading this book she was eyeing up a tree standing all on its own in her garden – a rather dead one I must confess! I can see a project coming.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

A New Zealand Christmas Story: The Lonely Little Tree
by Moya Kirby, Illustrated by Terri Rose Baynton
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775435297

Book Review: We’ve Got a Boat, by Jay Laga’aia and Donovan Bixley

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_we've_got_a_boatThanks to New Zealand’s recent history of America’s Cup challenges, most Kiwi’s are well-versed in our collective yachting endeavours. The cup has captured the heart of the nation and been at times extremely exciting. When it came to light the late Sir Peter Blake wore his lucky red socks in the final push for our first win, we all donned them to wish him well the next time.

We’ve got a boat that flies across the water,
We’ve got a boat that flies across the sea.
You know this boat, it’s sailed from Aotearoa
It stays afloat because it’s carried by Kiwis.

This is a great book with the America’s cup campaign starting in the next couple of years, and with New Zealand defending the cup. The illustrations by Donovan Bixley are bright and clear, and include native birds and farm animals filling in for the crew. The crews from other countries are depicted as a variety of other hilariously depicted animals.

At the back of this book are photos and facts about crew and the boats used in previous campaigns. Also accompanying this book is a CD, sung by Jay Laga’aia, who also authored this book.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

We’ve got a Boat
by Jay Laga’aia and Donovan Bixley
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775435303

Book Review: The Top Secret Undercover Notes of Buttons McGinty – Book 1, by Rhys Darby

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_the_top_secret_undercover_notes_of_buttons_mcgintyI finally managed to steal this from my 9-year-old.  You see, she sleeps with one eye open, so there was no chance she’d share a book like this until she’s finished it.  Now, she doesn’t do this with just any old book.  It has to be quirky, challenging and, in her terms, ‘un-put-a-down-able’.  It helps if the subject matter leads to a bit of a session on Google afterwards. ‘What’s Morse Code, Dad? Never mind, Mr Google told me!’ Kid’s eh?

My daughter has never heard of Rhys Darby, or Flight of the Conchords, but she knows a good book when it arrives in the post.

Written in the same book-style as the Treehouse books, with a handwritten font and plenty of ‘random’ sketches, Mr Darby brings us a slice of his awkward, Kiwi humour and out-of-this-world absurdity, served between two slices of mystery-comedy.

It’s aimed at kids aged 8-15 yrs. Darby assumes the clothes of 12-year-old Buttons McGinty, and pens his top secret scribbles in his nutty notebooks, as he and his mates dive into a universe unlike any they’ve known. Our hero has been shipped off to Ranktwerp Island Education Fortress for Gifted Lame Unruly Minors (R.I.E.F.G.L.U.M), which is apparently a boarding school located on a remote island, somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. Sounds like that island in Famous Five books, doesn’t it? Well, maybe. Add to that his parents have disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Plus, there’s bogus baddies and a weird kind of yeti on the prowl.

Apart from the obvious ‘dad’ jokes and random acts of hilarity, my daughter loved problem solving the Morse Codes that Buttons (who was partially ‘modelled’ on Darby’s audio producer) tries to crack in order to figure out the clues necessary to solve the crimes. And that was the best bit, frankly. The immersion and engagement. The main reason why I couldn’t sneak the book away – until the notes in the margins had all been rubbed out. Apparently, this is only volume one. So that means more to come. Someone in my household has already added the next volume to Santa’s list.

Reviewed by Tim Gruar

The Top Secret Undercover Notes of Buttons McGinty – Book 1
by Rhys Darby
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775434979

Book Review: Where’s Kiwi NOW? Illustrated by Myles Lawford

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_wheres_kiwi_now.jpgWith more than 800 things to spot this will keep the younger ones in your family occupied for an hour or two.

Kiwi is in his flying egg time-travel machine. Can you spot him?  Where is he?  Stegosaurus, Tyrannosaurus and Who-saurus? An you spot some of his mates; Sporty Sheep, Gumboot Guy, Wacky Wizard, Tricky Tuatara or Mystery Moa? They are all there. Are they visiting the Ice Age Rage or are they in the time of the taniwha and mystery moa or are they in the battle of the beasts – a riot in Rome where swords clash and chariots race? They have to be there somewhere.  What about the medieval upheaval in the dawn of dungeons and, dragons. Exploring across the high seas with cannons on pirate ships, plundering jewels and gold and so much more??

A book designed to keep the reader on their toes, seeing which character they can find out of Kiwi and his mates.

The attention to detail in the illustrations is staggering and having a Kiwi version of Where’s Wally is an added bonus for fans.  Suitable for all ages big and small, this is a great book to engage with the younger members of your family.

My granddaughters Quinn (4 years old) and Abby (7 years old) were both leaning in to me to see who could spot one of the characters the fastest. Great entertainment.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Where’s Kiwi NOW? 
Illustrated by Myles Lawford
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775435266

Book Review: The Short but Brilliant Career of Lucas Weed, by Chrissie Walker

cv_the_short_but_brilliant_career_of_lucas_weed.pngAvailable in bookshops nationwide. 

The Short but Brilliant Career of Lucas Weed is the latest (2017) winner of the Tom Fitzgibbon award, awarded to a manuscript from a previously-unpublished author. And I can see the appeal. It is a lot of fun, with Lucas Weed being a fairly ordinary school boy, someone easy for the audience to relate to. The new kid in school, he is neither popular nor unpopular, which is – he thinks – the way he likes it. But is it?

One day, he stumbles upon some other boys in the midst of plotting a prank. His curiosity leads him to be noticed, and he is inadvertently drawn into the scheme. It involves a frog, a backpack, and a teacher, and thus begins Lucas Weed’s short, but brilliant, career as a prankster.

Weed’s pranks are never cruel (except perhaps to the poor frog), mostly harmless, and never bullying. The main target is generally himself, and Lucas is not afraid to make a spectacle. Thus I feel this was more a “class clown” situation than a pranking one. His plotting to make himself look the fool leads to the next stage: becoming a YouTube sensation. A fairly low-key, and short-lived one, but I suspect for a 10-year old, even a few hundred hits is something to be proud of.

After a while, the continued deception (after all, the teachers are not fools) and stress of devising more creative pranks begins to be exhausting, and thus Lucas plans one final prank – which culminates far more spectacularly than he and his new ‘friends’ could ever conceive.

Intended for a 7-10 age group, this extremely readable and very relatable book comes stocked with a healthy dash of humour, including the expected quota of fart jokes. Fans of Tom Gates, Wimpy Kid, and other school-based middle grade fiction should readily devour it.

Reviewed by Angela Oliver

The Short but Brilliant Career of Lucas Weed
by Chrissie Walker
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775435082

Book Review: Oh, so many kisses!, by Maura Finn & Jenny Cooper

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_oh_so_many_kissesThere are so many books showing families and love but this one has already become my favourite! The poetic text and accompanying sketches perfectly illustrate all the love children experience without becoming ‘too cute’. It is a charming read that relaxes and fills the reader with aroha from the beginning to end.

The language is kept simple for young readers and is cleverly written into prose making it beautiful to read out loud. The words are woven through sketches that clearly illustrate the words. It means the book is fantastic for children to correspond new words to pictures and concepts which supports language development. There are so many possible departure points for conversation provoked by the animated water colour sketches.

The best feature, however, is the diversity in the illustrations. It shows everyone from all corners of Aotearoa going about their everyday lives. Even better is the amount of dads and grandparents caring for and loving young ones.

Together the author and illustrator have woven a real example of love. The raspberry jam kisses, the kisses for a scraped knee, the kisses to say goodbye at drop off and the kisses with a best friend. This is the perfect bedtime book for little ones (and the big ones who read to them too!).

Reviewed by Sara Croft

Oh, so many kisses!
by Maura Finn & Jenny Cooper
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775434924