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: Gwendolyn!, by Juliette MacIver, illustrated by Terri Rose Baynton

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

cv_gwendolynHow many penguins do you think there are in the jungle? You’d probably say none, because we all know penguins live in cold climates, but you haven’t met Gwendolyn! She is the only penguin in the jungle and she’s there because she loves the heat, the gorgeous flowers and the other jungle animals.

We get to meet a jaguar, monkeys and a parrot, and she points out all the good things about the jungle. Gwendolyn is always upbeat and she makes all her jungle friends realise how lucky they are to live in such a beautiful place.

But then her friend Parrot asks a simple question – has Gwendolyn ever been to Antarctica, where all the other penguins live?

A tear rolls down Gwendolyn’s cheek and she admits she hasn’t, and that starts to make her pine for the place she really belongs, where she can be a real penguin. Nothing her friends say can cheer her up, and she sets off on a really long journey to Antarctica.
She meets other penguins there and has the time of her life, but after a while she starts to notice the cold, and the fact she’s very hungry… and decides there is no reason why a penguin can’t live in Antarctica AND the jungle!

This book made me smile, as the illustrations are simply beautiful. There is so much to look at on every page that younger children will enjoy this book even if they can’t read the words. I think it will delight children and adults alike and become a treasured favourite. It’s a great tale about friendship and how we don’t have to be the same to get along.

Reviewed by Faye Lougher

by Juliette MacIver, illustrated by Terri Rose Baynton
Published by ABC Books (HarperCollins NZ)
ISBN 9780733335174


Book Review: Dragon Island, written by Martin Baynton, illustrated by Terri Rose Baynton

cv_dragon_islandAvailable now from bookstores nationwide. 

Martin Baynton is the author/illustrator of books such as Jane and the Dragon. He has also worked with Richard Taylor of Weta Workshop producing television programmes for children such as The Wot-Wots. His daughter Terri wrote the scripts for this progamme. Terri Baynton, the Illustrator of this book, is a scriptwriter and storyliner for children’s television and has also worked for Weta Productions. She lives in Sydney, Australia.

To say I have been blown away by this book is an understatement. The illustrations are amazing and the story itself has an underlying message which even the small person in our family “got”.

This is a story about Norman the Dragon who lived on Dragon Island with other dragons. There were red dragons and blue dragons, old dragons and new dragons. There were dragons everywhere. Norman though was not like all the other dragons. For one thing he wasn’t keen on conflict, which the other dragons seemed to embrace. Norman was always patching up the other dragons after they got injured. Norman also liked making things. He made hats and mats, a rocking chair, pottery and wickerwork rugs and bamboo stilts and colourful kilts. He also liked patchwork and made a bag.
No matter what Norman did, he was unable to stop the other dragons fighting. Once a year there was a Race Day which was a big day on Dragon Island. Norman of course entered with his rather unconventional wicker basket and his patchwork bag. The prize was three wishes.

The story that further develops is a fascinating one that caused a lot of discussion between me and the little person in our family. She is in daycare a few days each week, so knows all about other kids being mean. She wanted to know why Norman made a wicker basket and why the other dragons didn’t want to do what he wanted them to do. I discussed with her how and why Norman dealt with the situation when the other dragons were mean to each other. She nodded her head in agreement.

I really think this book is amazing. It is a good way of opening up discussions with children on how they can deal with situations that they experience with others. I just love the illustrations. The little person in our family examined each illustration carefully and asked all sorts of questions regarding the different characters in this story.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Dragon Island 
by Martin Baynton, illustrated by Terri Rose Baynton
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775431916