We want to help create motivated and engaged young readers. This blog is about children's and YA literature (especially New Zealand), literacy research, and ways to get, and keep, kids reading.
Wednesday is going to be a great day! Rob is meeting Tessa for the first time at the Kings Cross Rail Station in London. Everything is going to plan and he isn’t telling anyone where he is going this time.
On his way to the meeting place, Rob starts to imagine all sorts of creepy dangers that adults warn you about when you are have an online relationship then decide to meet each other in person. Rob is so wrapped up in his own thoughts that he has his own ‘creepy’ encounter with an older man.
This thriller is true to life especially when Rob’s frustration and anger threatens to destroy everything. The story is easy to relate to because we have all had to deal at some time with unrealistic expectations and dangerous situations.
Publishers, Barrington Stoke has also published this as a dyslexia friendly title.
review by Fiona
Image by Jim Linwood
Joseph Romanos has done well with this publication. The book includes a terrific range of male and female sports heroes, those of historical significance alongside today’s stars. It makes for interesting reading and will appeal to sport enthusiasts and those who will pick up the book and become fascinated by the stories of achievement inside. Wood- chopping, kayaking, netball, athletics, tennis and rugby jostle for attention. The language is not technical but dwells on the individual’s personalities in an informative and readable style.
An image of each sports hero accompanies their biography and these vary from action shots to portraits that manage to convey the spirit of the athlete. The book serves as a reminder to readers that Māori and Pakeha have many amazing role models to be proud of.
review by Barbara
Image by Mapperley Jas
This excellent historical novel, set in 6th century BC ancient Greece, incorporates actual characters from the time. In particular the twin princes, Leonidas and Brotus. The author has managed to include an abundance of social history about Sparta and military life when following the early life of Leonidas - the education of Spartan youth was very structured and lasted until they were 21. The royal families and the different social classes depicted in the book create a lively clash of characters and events.
This is the first book in a series and no doubt will end with Leonidas’ last stand at Thermopylae. While there’s a sprinkling of typos throughout this edition it’s a good read nevertheless and would certainly suit years 7-10, especially as a backup to any Ancient Greece study.
review by Phil
Image by Niko978
“Desperately searching for answers, Jed and Lizzie make a shocking discovery. One that uncovers a devastating chain of events that began 121 years earlier– with a secret machine of extraordinary powers and a boy trapped in time.”
The title caught my eye as I was shelving and I can tell you now, it was very hard not being able to read this at my desk! At every possible opportunity, through morning and afternoon tea breaks and lunchtimes I tried to get a couple of pages in. Even at home, but with 2 young children it proved very difficult and I would collapse every evening kicking myself that I couldn’t manage to read a single sentence. So this book took me 4 weeks to read. And I loved the whole paradox.
The very fact that I could prolong an enjoyable hard to put down book was in itself memorable. Suitable for Y6-8.
If you like stories about time travel, do try Time Switch.
review by Leigh
Image by Mr Strangestrain
All New Zealanders should watch this DVD and feel a sense of pride as it reveals how pivotal a group of New Zealand protesters were in showing the world that apartheid was not acceptable. Until that point, New Zealand had largely welcomed any sport interactions with South Africa on any level. The surprise of the South African players when this suddenly was no longer the case is clearly explained in the DVD. As well the realisation that their politics meant that other countries did not want to interact with them really hit home.
South Africa moved into an area of isolation after the Springbok tour which contributed to the end of this abhorrent system. In the DVD notable journalists, politicians and players of that time, speak honestly about the apartheid system and about the part that they played in 1981 tour.
This DVD aptly named The Try revolution is not only an eye opener but a welcome perspective on a topic that is still relevant in New Zealand society. Recommended for intermediate upward.
review by Melissa
Image by Neville10
The term biomimicry and biomimetics come from the Greek words bios, meaning life, and mimesis, meaning to imitate. Biomimicry is innovation and design inspired by nature. Velcro, camouflage, sonar, and radar are well known examples.
In this well presented book Dora Lee has used easy to understand text complimented with beautiful illustrations to examine how nature’s innovations could help create smarter structures, pollution free power, new medicines, and so much more. All without damaging our natural resources, and providing a more sustainable environment for everyone.
A thought provoking book for all ages, as well as an inspirational title for young scientists looking science fair projects with a difference.
Image by AlphachimpStudio
How do I begin to describe the detail and precision of the twelve miniature landscapes made completely of edible ingredients and colour themed?
In A world of food by Carl Warner each panorama represents a scene: a desert made of pasta, cheese, lemons, yellow peppers, and couscous; a gorgeous pink candy house complete with lollipop trees and marshmallow paths. Then my favourite a chocolate train travelling on chocolate tracks amid scenery that’s made of chocolate cake sprinkled with cocoa powder. Rhyming verse compliments all the scenes. The foods used are explained at the end.
This book challenges you to identify the food, could be used to create stories about colour as well as food, and is utterly absorbing. Photographs of Warner’s amazing work can be seen on the Telegraph website.
review by Karen
Image by AmberDeel food
This revised and updated edition is not just a tell-all about the ills of modern slavery. It is a handbook on how you and I can make a positive stand to become abolitionists.
David Batstone systematically goes through all of the regions of the world (sadly, most countries) where some form of slavery operates in the form of sex trafficking, human trafficking, child soldiers, working in factories without pay and being held against one’s will.
This book has a plethora of information that we can call upon to do our bit to be abolish slavery. It is a clever mix of real life anecdotes, contemporary examples of what others are doing and facts and figures from governments to support his argument. Batstone offers several options of how we can contribute to the ‘Not for sale’ campaign which makes the reader feel that however small their efforts are, they count. I hope mine will.
Recommended for intermediate upward.
review by Melissa
Image by TheIRD
Dom has just finished school and is engaged in a painting job at his father’s advertising agency before he starts university. One morning he walks into his father’s office to ask for the keys to his car. Here he gets drawn into a conversation on the benefits of advertising and next thing he knows he’s being thrown a challenge to come up with a pitch to sell toothpaste. Dom’s philosophy it that it is easy enough to write an advertisement and that any ‘monkey’ could do it.
What follows is Dom’s process of due diligence on the campaign. The question raised is why does Dom really want to beat his dad at his own game? The story deals with the serious and humorous side of advertising, a father son relationship and Dom’s learning curve of where he wants to be in terms of a career.
Leonie Thorpe has done a brilliant job of keeping the story light, youthful and purposeful. Also noteworthy is the exposure to the world of advertising which is insightful for anyone wanting to pursue this line of a career.
review by Janice
Image by owly9
David Riley is a teacher and Head of Dance-Drama at Tangaroa College in South Auckland, and has a background in journalism. He was aware of a lack of appropriate resources and decided to write this book when Niuean students told him they did not know of role models from their culture. He wrote it “to encourage and inspire students”.
He writes about people like Che Fu, Pero Cameron, Stephanie Tauevihi and NRL player Dene Halatau. As most of them had mixed ancestry- Pacific, Māori and Pakeha- this is a book with a broad appeal. Other profiles are from mythology and history.
Themes in the book include achievement, leadership, believing in yourself, overcoming obstacles- always a popular subject- and issues to do with culture. David has a deft writing style that will appeal to students from mid-Primary to Secondary levels.
You can see some sample chapters on his website.
review by Rob
Image used with permission
Twinship… what a fascinating concept. Jerry Spinelli explores the reality behind the concept through the eyes of 12 year old twins Jake and Lily as they grow through the physical and emotional changes of puberty and struggle to establish their own identities.
This book would have equal appeal to boys and girls as there is equal page space given to the voices of both Jake and Lily. I can imagine it being read aloud on a boy/girl shared basis. They speak in alternating short chapters. There is enough action, intrigue and emotional involvement to sustain the interest of a class of students (8 – 12 years).
On their sixth birthday, Jake and Lily both awaken to find themselves holding hands at the train station, surrounded by the smell of pickles. This happens every birthday thereafter and this marks both their significant railway birth and the development of a special sixth-sense that the siblings refer to as goombla. This is their term for a twin communication that either of them can explain. They know when the other is hurt, where they are hiding and how the other is feeling. Having goombla means that they are never truly alone because they always have each other.
Lily defines herself as a twin first and foremost and struggles to see herself as an individual girl in her own right. Therefore she is particularly devastated when her parents make her sleep in a separate room when she turns 12, and when Jake prefers to spend his time bike riding with a group of boys. Not only this, but the boys “gang” is lead by Bump Stubbins, Lily’s nemesis. He invents the pastime of following goobers and supergoobers and Jake is more than happy to tag along.
Many sub stories keep the intrigue, underpinning the main plot of Jake and Lily’s relationship. Each character is well drawn and totally believable. Highly recommended.
review by Glenda
Image by bambibabe48
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