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.
In memory of Margaret Mahy, the Storylines Children’s Literature Trust held an event for New Zealand Book Month on the evening of the late Margaret Mahy’s birthday, 21 March, at the National Library in Parnell, Auckland.
Writers Kate De Goldi, Leonie Agnew and Tessa Duder presented a varied 70-minute programme of readings from Margaret Mahy’s work to an audience of about 60 adults and children. Children from Willowbank School delighted the audience with their adaptation of A Summery Saturday Morning. With the theme of Margaret Mahy’s birthday, MC for the evening, Rosemary Tisdall, read narrations between each reading, highlighting the gift Margaret gave to us all through her writing. Both poignant and entertaining the evening covered extracts from Mahy’s verse, novels and speeches.
Image by Christchurch City Libraries
The water horses (capall uisce) come out of the sea every year to the island of Thisby, the finest mounts imaginable, and every year, in November, the Scorpio races are run. But thesse horses are wild and dangerous and every year, along with excitement and victory, the races bring death to some of the riders.
19 yr old Sean Kendrick, who watched his father die in the jaws of a water horse, is now the most experienced and successful rider – quiet, enigmatic and devoted to Corr, his winning stallion - he returns to the race for his own secret purpose.
Puck Connolly, orphaned with her brothers by a water horse, struggles to keep her family together, but when her older brother leaves for the mainland she comes to a dangerous decision – she must ride her beloved pony Dove in the races and not only try to get them both out alive - she must win against terrible odds.
Maggie Steifvater has crafted a compelling story with well drawn characters, a wonderfully evocative sense of life on an isolated island and an ever present sense of danger.
review by Lisa
Image by Dmitry Shakin
I was fascinated to discover this new picture book written by Ali Foster, illustrated by Viv Walker, and launched at Pukaha Mount Bruce earlier this year. It tells the story of Private Arthur Braddick, who grew up in the Kaiparoro area south of Eketahuna, and who later lost his life on the Western Front during World War I.
In a parallel story we learn about the life journeys of the long-finned eels that inhabit the Makakahi River and other local streams, and their journey to the warm undersea trenches near the islands of Tonga where they breed and then die (the baby eels then making their way back through the ocean to the rivers of New Zealand).
The name and setting comes from the real Anzac Bridge, which was erected after World War I north of Mount Bruce and still stands today.
Reading is so much about connections –my Great-Aunt turned the first sod for this bridge, and cut the ribbon when it was opened (she sent the most sons away to the war), and as a child I lived north of Kaiparoro on a farm bordering the same river.
The book was published by Wairarapa Archive, in association with Fraser Book.
review by Jan
Image used with permission
Young readers will love the names of the cows in this beautifully illustrated picture book by Ben Redlich. Jenny Bramble Rose is one of a herd of cows grazing and making milk and cream when suddenly her nose twitches - she has sniffed a cricket up her nose! The cows are tickled pink by the chain of events that follow. Daisy Lou and Jezzabel and the rest of the herd together make up a set of rules and play a game they called cricket. This delightful picture book has been developed with fun and fair play in mind.
Hubble Bubble Granny Trouble by Tracey Corduroy
Would you like it if your Granny was kinda different? Or would you try and change her? Everywhere this Granny goes, cats and frogs and bats are sure to go. This little girl is fed up solving the problems Granny creates. She just wants an ordinary Granny…, or so she thinks. Or will the little girl decide she loves her Granny (the witch) just the way she is. Joe Berger’s hilarious digital illustrations capture the relationship between the little girl and her granny. The readers will delight seeing the mischievous frogs popping up on the pages and people ducking and diving and running from burping bats.
review by Coral
Image by SocialRobot
I enjoyed this mouth-watering read. It is true to life for all those boys who have really wanted to own a puppy. It is great for juniors who are ready to leap into short chapter-books or for a shared read-aloud.
The large print and double-spaced lines combined with words to stretch a reader’s vocabulary like gobbles, wriggles and jingles all help to provide a lot of interesting discussions about contexts in general.
Honesty, caring, responsibility and family life are strong themes. Jack is in conflict over the common problem of being torn between wanting to keep something not yet owned and searching for the correct owner.
The happy ending is a satisfying conclusion. See Stephanie Spartels expressive black and white illustrations that enhance this Hey Jack! series.
review by Fiona
Image by photos_martha
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