Matariki around the world

By Rangi Matamua and Miriama Kamo

Illustrated by Isobel Joy Te Aho-White

ISBN 9781775437420

Scholastic NZ

If I had to choose just one book about Matariki, this would be my pick. It is suitable for primary school all the way through to secondary. It is both celebratory and informative.

As a school librarian, I am often asked to find information on how other countries celebrate Matariki. Information has always been very limited to just a few sentences here and there. This book answers those questions with many pages dedicated to not just Aotearoa, but so many other countries.

We can read and compare our celebrations and cultures with places like: Africa, Greece, Japan, Scandinavia, Australia and many more. The countries have different names and different stories for the star cluster. This beautiful book brings the stories together whether they are known as Matariki, Pleiades, Subaru or a number of other names. The stories are all about star clusters watching us, guiding us, and being part of the same world.

We learn about the origins with Ranginui and Papatūānuku. We learn about their children. We learn about the different stars and the lunar calendar. I love that the authors have also included consideration for climate change under the pages on Waipunarangi which means “water that pools in the sky”. A modern day message for stories that have been around as old as time.

The book is easy to read, it flows well and is informative without being too wordy, and the authors have clearly researched and thought about what they wanted to include. The glossary and index add value as well.

The illustrator, Isobel Joy Te Aho-White has created stunning illustrations with the perfect colour choices. Lots of blues, purples, greens and culturally, respectful illustrations.

With our first Matariki public holiday just around the corner, this is a much-needed, wonderful publication to share and celebrate with schools, friends and family.

Stunning!

Thanks to Scholastic, I am able to share these beautiful mythical illustrations.

Australia

Skandar and the unicorn thief

By A. F. Steadman

ISBN 9781398512429

Simon & Schuster

Skandar is 13 and a bit of a loner. He has no friends, just his sister and his dad and all he wants is to be a unicorn rider. Not your stereotypical pretty-as-a-picture unicorn, but real, scary unicorns. It is all that matters to him but first he must pass his Hatchery exam, that is if he gets the chance. Each student must hatch their own unicorn, and tame them in order to become riders but not everyone will make it.

Action unfolds quickly for Skandar, and he soon finds himself on an island and pushed into danger. There are other riders his age but the biggest problem, is who to trust. Who is telling the truth, and who might betray him? Scandar has a secret, a life-threatening one that he needs to keep hidden. Bullies are found everywhere, but here the risk to Skandar’s safety and secrets could be deadly if his secret is revealed.

The unicorns are strong-willed, definitely dangerous, bloodthirsty and potentially wild killers. The new riders are people Skandar’s age and they come with their own personal issues and fears but also kindness and loyalty. Working out who will stand together is one of the book’s theme. Family, friends, honesty, bravery, it’s all here in this action-packed debut novel. I love the action of the fierce sky battles where unicorns and riders fight to win, but where survival is not guaranteed. I love the friendships and teamwork.

As well as the ferocious unicorns, there are four elements that tie riders, unicorns and elements together, or perhaps there is more, but that would be too revealing, and no one wants spoilers in their reviews. I can tell you, there is a lot to like. The characters, with all their flaws, the fantasy and storyline, good against evil, descriptive language and general pace of the story. The story is well written and I have already seen a number of students reading this at school and it has quickly become their favourite book, which is high praise indeed.

I’ve finished the first book and now hanging out for book two.

Into the Sideways World

By Ross Welford

ISBN 9780008333843

Harpercollins

Twelve-year-old Willa lives with her parents and older sister, Alex. Things are not great. Her parents are always arguing, the environment is suffering and the possibility of a world war is constantly on the news.

At school she meets the new boy, Manny and they become good friends. They also accidentally discover an alternative world. In this world, there are no wars, the environment is perfect and there are strange creatures, like the cog. There is much to like in this alternate world. There is much we can learn, if we take the time.

Trying to convince people in the ordinary world of the things they have seen is problematic. No one believes them. Time becomes an issue when there is risk of being trapped in one world, or drowning.

The pace is good, the characters believable, and more importantly, likeable. Manny is quirky and extremely friendly, while Willa is a bit more sensible. The writing, like Ross Welford’s other books, offers good suspense, excitement and a jolly good read.

Queen of Muck

By Isaac Thackray

ISBN 9780473576028

Mary Egan Publishing

When Lucy and Lily’s grandad goes missing, they are desperate to find him, even though they have no idea where to start looking.

A fallen postcard in grandad’s shed holds the key to his disappearance and the first chance to finding clues. The sisters find themselves tumbling into a rather strange place where things are not quite what they seem. They are greeted by a talking fox who takes them into the nearby town, Florez. From there, all sorts of magical, funny, and mysterious things begin to happen.

There is also danger, risk and more humour with characters like Horrible Bob, Sergeant Onion and the evil Queen Deidre of Muck Palace. While being at risk of being disposed of, the girls still need to find their grandad.

Working together, good friends and some good planning, all go a long way to solving the mystery. A fun read.

Ice

By Susan Brocker

ISBN 9781775437567

Scholastic NZ

I admit that animals stories are not usually my first choice but I was very pleasantly surprised with Susan Broker’s latest title. I read it over two days and was thoroughly caught up in the mystery, the family dynamics and just the whole story.

Zac, has lived with his mother in Auckland since his parent’s divorce but is forced to stay with his father and his new wife and step brother and step sister in Wanaka, a long, long way from the big city. Zac likes nothing more than to play games on his console but his father has other ideas for him. He volunteers at a wildlife sanctuary but it isn’t long before he realises things are not as they seem. His stepmother encourages him to take on the care of a dog from the pound but the one he chooses, destined for euthanasia, looks at him with ice blue eyes and he can’t resist saving her. However, something is wrong. The dog howls each night at the moon, as if caught up in terrible sadness. Thus, the mystery of the dog he calls, Ice, begins.

It’s a good mystery, a good story and a good pace. The setting of the ice and snow and hills around Wanaka are descriptive and realistic. Zac’s relationship with his father is strained and Zac feels that whatever he does, isn’t good enough so he lies but the lies create even bigger problems.

Zac is forced into situations that beg him to step up and find the strength of the characters he fights in his games. It is the stepping up that creates the character’s growth and that always makes a good story. Indeed, it is more than just stepping up, Zac, has to fight for his and his family’s survival.

Ice, a white German Shepherd has her own personality. She is courageous and loyal.

I do think this would be a good read aloud for upper primary and intermediate school.

Minky Stapleton provides some thoughtful black and white illustrations throughout the book.

Gallant

By V. E. Schwab

ISBN 9780062835772

Green Willow Books Imprint of Harpercollins

I love books. No doubt about it. I love buying them and I love borrowing them from the library. Libraries are one of the best uses of our rates money. Anyway, I preordered this new book from the library and I am so glad I did. It is beautifully written and so many times I just stopped to savour the sentences and read again.

Olivia has been raised at Merilance, a home for girls. Olivia doesn’t mix well with the others. She is mute and she can see ghouls. The only thing she owns is an old journal of her mothers and Olivia knows every line, every page by heart. Life in the school is difficult and lonely, so when a letter arrives telling her that she has a home and family who want her in a far off place called Gallant, Olivia can’t wait to get there. However, lines in her mother’s journal warn her that whatever she does, she must never go to Gallant.

The shadows are not real.

The dreams can never hurt you.

You will be safe as long as stay away from Gallant.

When Olivia arrives, her cousin tells her the letter is fake and she must go but Olivia stays and that is when life begins to unravel. There are ghouls and shadows, darkness, fear and longing, too.

Everything casts a shadow. Even the world we live in. And as with every shadow, there is a place where it must touch. A seam, where the shadow meets its source.

The book certainly has it moments of suspense and tension.The story is paced with thought and the darkness creeps in the more you read. Bit by bit, more of Olivia’s mother’s journal is revealed, secrets opened up and danger presses in. There are locked doors, ghostly figures and evilness. I do feel this is one of those top YA crossover books that many adults will love too. The imagery is vivid and I felt like I was right there with Olivia. I felt her loneliness, and her need to belong. I felt her need to know who her parents were. I could feel her frustration at not being able to be understood, not so much because she could not talk, but because other’s refused to try to communicate. I most definitely felt her fear, and I confess, I’d be too scared to go anywhere near Gallant. Her bravery, when needed, is awesome.

I loved it. I really liked the different characters at Gallant; her cousin Matthew, and Edgar and Hannah who look after the crumbling manor. They all had their flaws, making them real and relatable. Perhaps not a book to read late at night on your own.

The book has occasional illustrations which are beautiful, haunting, black, grey and shadowy.

Top read. Definitely, highly recommend this.

Words about birds of Aotearoa New Zealand

By Geoffrey Fuller

ISBN 9781775437666

Scholastic

I’m sitting here on my bed, sun coming through the window, and I have one foot hanging over the edge, and the other up on top in a moon boot. I’m watching a sparrow as it perches on the clothesline happily outside my window. It keeps turning its head and looking at me as if trying to communicate. It’s quite fitting as I write about a book on NZ birds.

The book is a collection of poems about birds, written and illustrated by Geoffrey Fuller. It features mostly Native birds from different areas, such as forests, swamps, ocean birds.

Yellow eyed penguins, and kea are my favourites. I do think there is not enough poetry being published, so this is lovely to see. The poems are short, with just a little information but mostly fun. Each bird has its own full page illustration opposite its poem.

Good introduction on birds for primary schools and keen bird watchers.

The story of Swoop

By Matt Owens

Illustrated by Emma Gustafson

ISBN 9781775437642

Scholastic NZ

Another book about birds, as I note my wee sparrow friend has flown off in search of better conversation.

This book is based on truth. Firefighter Matt had been driving down a country road when he discovered a cold, hungry, baby magpie all on its own. He scooped it up and took it home and cared for it. He even named it Swoop. The two became friends, and even Matt’s cat, Mogli accepted the magpie. Being the caring person he is, Matt soon realised that Swoop needed to be with his own family and friends, other magpies.

Set in the natural surroundings with full colour page illustrations, this is a sweet, heart-warming story about bird and human relationships. I do really like the illustrations of the magpies with their shiny black and white feathers and cheeky personalities.

Roo and Vladimir (an unlikely friendship)

Written and illustrated by Minky Stapleton

ISBN 9781775437505

Scholastic NZ

Roo is a happy dog, a very, big happy dog who loves doing lots of things. He is clumsy and trips over his own feet, and this causes him lots of trouble and makes him sad, especially when other dogs are frightened of him.

It is the meeting of another dog, Vladimir, a much smaller one, that shows friendships can be found anywhere. A big storm happens and the friends need to work together to find a safe place. What they do together shows us that heroes and friends can be found everywhere.

The brightly coloured illustrations are delightfully comical.

Please write soon

By Michael Rosen

Illustrated by Michael Foreman

ISBN 9780702315572

Scholastic UK

I was quite moved by this book. It is an extended read, with 74 pages, illustrations on every one, but aimed at older children. Perhaps nine year olds through 12, 13. It is based on a real person, a cousin of the author’s father during World War Two.

The story begins in 1939 with a boy named Solly. He lives in London and writes to his older cousin Bernie in Poland. At school Solly is asked to share a project he has been working on and he shares letters written between himself and his cousin.

The letters detail what it is like for Solly and his family to hide in bomb shelters in London, to be evacuated and to fear what might happen if the war continues. For Bernie, he shares the sadness he feels missing his family, being persecuted for who he is, and fighting in a war against the Nazi soldiers.

The cousins share a bond through their writing. They both want the war to end and to be able to meet up with each other. They want peace at a time when war is all around them.

The illustrations are black and white with the occasional, purposeful touch of red, symbolic of hope, of love and remembrance. Poppies have an important place in this book too.

I loved watching the two cousins grow closer, the more they communicated, especially their openness to discuss their feelings, and fears. Solly talks about being sent away to the countryside, like so many children were. Bernie discusses what it is like in a Russian labour camp.

A thoughtful, respectful account of the lives of two cousins during World War Two.

At the back of the book, the author discusses war in general. He discusses Covid-19 and how there are so many people who help others, risking their own lives; soldiers, nurses, doctors and more. The author asks us to consider that remembrance days mean so much more than past wars. It means to remember and reflect on all those people, who help when the need is greatest.

ANZAC Day Parade

By Glenda Kane

Illustrated by Lisa Allen

ISBN 9781776890149

This book was first published in 2010 but this new hardback edition still has much relevance today.

As we get closer to ANZAC Day commemorations, we know that because of the current Covid-19 conditions, many memorial mornings will not be happening this year. However, it is still a day to remember those people who gave their lives, over 100 years ago.

This picture book, with its soft autumnal colours, shows a young boy asking an elderly veteran on his way to an ANZAC Day Parade, questions about the war. For the elderly veteran, the war has always been part of his life. He remembers those soldiers who did not come back from the battle with him. He remembers the young man he once was and you can see how war has impacted on his whole life. You can see the pain in the old man’s eyes through the moving illustrations. The young boy, slowly begins to understand that the war was not glory, but pain and sorrow. He lays a poppy at the foot of the memorial as the old soldier walks away.

Definitely a book to add to library collections and for teachers to read aloud to young children to open discussion on ANZAC’s, war, and why we must remember the past and the people who gave so much, all those years ago.

Prepare yourself for something unlike anything: A smash-up of art and text for teens that viscerally captures what it is to be Black. In America. Right Now.

Ain’t burned all the bright

By Jason Reynolds

Artwork by Jason Griffin

ISBN 9781534439467

Simonandschuster Teen

What an amazing book! At over 350 pages long, there are only a handful of run-on sentences making it a quick read. However, the words are profound. Their message even more so. I preordered this from my local library and was pretty much first in line. I have read this a number of times already and I keep finding something new. Some new symbolic meaning I didn’t quite connect the first time. I am going to have to purchase my own copy just so I can keep rereading.

Broken into three parts, written as if in a notebook, and illustrated profusely throughout, this book is stunning, both visually and textually.

The first part uses subtle and not so subtle references and images to African Americans and the number of cases where police arrests have resulted in physical restraints where people were unable to breathe. It references the struggles of being, young and black in a world where the freedom to belong, to breath, seems to be different to non-blacks. Police riots, red flames imagery symbolically showing flames of fury. It is powerful and haunting.

The second part is about the struggle with Covid-19 and the ability to breathe with the illness, with and without masks. A father is separated from his family through a bedroom wall; he is coughing and spluttering, trying to breathe. One son, continues to play games on his screen, a sister chats with friends via her phone screen. The mother barely turns her head from the tv screen and all the news; Covid-19, American riots, murders and beatings of black folk. The opening page of the book is a screen door. Screens keeping things in, keeping things out and everyone just trying to breath in between.

The third part to me, is hopeful. It’s about everyone breathing the same air, the same hopes and dreams and most importantly having family to care for, to love and be loved back. If everyone takes the time to share and care, there is room enough for everyone to breathe easy.

The book is poetical, in a found poetry kind of way. Like Jason Reynold’s book Long way down, words matter, repetitions are deliberate. He thinks about every word choice and the result is first class.

Jason Griffin’s art work is equally profound. Images are provocative and haunting. You just know he has thought about every word before he has created his images. A real and rare partnership of author and illustrator.

Love, love, love this amazing book. High school libraries need to add this to their collections.

The invisible

Written and illustrated by Tom Percival

ISBN 9781471191305

Simon and Schuster UK

I had already read good reviews of this book, so when I saw it sitting on the bookshop shelves, I had to pick it up. Even without the reviews, the cover stood out so much that I would have picked it up anyway. The soft cool tones, the child and her dog, standing in the centre of the cover just wanting to be seen. So yes, this beautifully illustrated picture book went straight into my basket.

Isabel loves her family but they are poor. They miss out on things other people take for granted. The house is so cold, the ice forms on the inside of the house. Isabel feels invisible in this world where others pretend not to see her. The time comes when the family can no longer afford to live where they are and they are forced into a different kind of life, cold and gloomy.

Isabel however, wants more. She notices other invisible people and that is the turning point in this story.

Simple, clear text without being too harsh, shows readers a world that may or may not be like theirs. It is a world that sadly, too many people have to share. The illustrations are lovely especially with the choice of colours reflecting Isabel’s moods and surroundings.

A good purchase for families and definitely school libraries. I really like this and it fits a need. Lovely!

Here is the author and illustrator Tom Percival reading his book.

Wobble, waddle, toddle

By Anne Hunter

Illustrated by Dave Gunson

ISBN 9781776890088

Bateman Books

This is a gorgeously illustrated collection of poems about the wildlife along the shores, and beneath the seas, from Australia, New Zealand and all the way to Antarctica.

The rhyming poems are about whales, penguins, dolphins, the Royal albatross and many more.

The illustrations are cute and show lots of personality. The last few pages provide further facts and details for extra reading.

I do love the colours. Lots of blues just like the animals natural environment.

A good choice for preschools and primary schools as children discover animals and learn about poetry.

Nature’s alphabet : A New Zealand Nature Trail

By Andrew Crowe

Illustrated by Dave Gunson

ISBN 9781776890163

Bateman Books

A run through the alphabet in this book gives us bite-sized information about a variety of New Zealand’s wildlife. I found J for the Jumping Spider very interesting. I never knew they had so many eyes; eight to be exact. That is kind of scary even though they are harmless.

Author Andrew Crowe, knows his animals, creatures, insects and trees and provides the reader with interesting facts to whet the appetite.

Dave Gunson brings his artistic talents with warmth and detail.

There is an alphabetical list at the back which is a checklist for creatures to find within the pages of the book. This is a fun interactive book.

Row, row, row your waka (New Maori and English edition. CD and sheet music included)

Written and illustrated by Rebecca Larsen

ISBN 9781776890316

Bateman Books

Meet some of New Zealand’s favourite birds and animals as a group of friends sail across the sea. Kiwi, Pukeko and Hoiho journey over the ocean heading for a holiday in Australia. This is an updated edition with bilingual Te Reo Maori and English text.

The book comes with a CD which makes it fun and a good companion for car rides for children to sing along too. The illustrations are bright and bold with a child-like quality making it a good choice for younger children. The repetitive text and familiar tune will make this fun and no doubt a favourite for younger children.

Wolf’s Lair : Katipo Joe Book 3

By Brian Falkner

ISBN 9781775437482

Scholastic NZ

Joseph St George begins his story as a school boy in Berlin before the beginning of World War Two. His ordinary world is turned upside down when his British father is arrested as a spy. Joe and his mother escape Berlin but when they become separated Joe is sent to New Zealand. His return sometime later, sees him caught up in a world at war and his search for his parents sees him infiltrate the Hitler Youth movement. His loyalty is all a lie, of course, as it becomes clear that in order to find his parents he must become a spy. This puts him in constant risk of being found out and life becomes more and more dangerous. Survival becomes everything.

Joe’s orders are to get closer to Hitler and this works well. He begins moving in the same circle as Hitler. Indeed, Hitler sees him as his protégé. Joe then makes connections to the best and worst of the people surrounding and protecting Hitler. Joe’s order is huge, absolutely dangerous and will be life-threatening if caught. There is always the question about who to trust. Who are the good guys, and who are the bad? As he draws closer to Hitler he becomes aware that someone is watching him but he has no idea who. He also finds himself attracted to Sofie, a fellow Hitler Youth member, but their friendship could ruin everything. As his feelings for her grow, it puts them both in danger.

Joe does things that go against his natural kindness and caring. He struggles at times with guilt, and the realisation that some of the things he does, no matter how abhorrent, are actually necessary. War brings out the best and worst of people.

The suspense is palpable. I could almost hear the bombs in the background and feel the fear. This is a solid, gritty read and at times, quite confronting. While Joe’s story may be fiction, many of the events and people are real. This makes the series more realistic, more believable. Joe grows as a character, but he also retains a vulnerability, especially around people he cares about, which makes him more likeable. His flaws and strengths are real.

I loved the first two books and have been hanging out for the third for ages. I was hooked from the moment I sat down to read. I couldn’t put the book down. I sat on my bed reading instead of getting ready for work. I was in danger myself, for being late as I just wanted to know what was going to happen next in Joe’s world.

Like the previous books in this series, there is action, suspense, danger, history, a bit of a romance and a few surprises too. I’ve said it in previous reviews of this series, but this really has everything. Great writing, great story, from a great writer.

There are a number of photos in the back of the book of the real people in this narrative, which provides interesting details.

Totally recommend this YA series. I would love to see these books as a movie or TV series. An audio version would also be great.

Nature’s Wildlife Weapons

By James Ryan

ISBN 9781988538778

Bateman Books

This book has lots of appeal. It is a wonderful collection of facts and snippets of information about animals with numerous photos to support the facts. Bold headings and subheadings and a glossary make this a great addition to any school library.

What makes this book extra special, is that the author is only 12 years old. His interest in science and natural history began early and already, his knowledge and passion are admirable.

The book discusses how animals need to be able to defend themselves in the wild. Many animals use their teeth, horns, antlers and claws to survive and the author provides many examples of how they do this. There are also facts about which animal has the biggest claws. You might be surprised by the answer.

Do you know that the longest fangs on record of a sabre-toothed tiger is over 28 centimetres? That is some fang!

A good book to dip and dive into anytime.

Tractor

By Sally Sutton

Illustrated by Brian Lovelock

ISBN 9781760653385

Walker Books Australia

The Roadwork series is a perfect combination of language, story and illustration. The books include, Roadworks, Demolition, Construction, Dig, dump, roll, and Wheels. Tractor is the latest and is sure to be another hit with young children, parents and grandparents alike.

I think what makes this a great book to read aloud is the language. Lots of rhyme, rhythm, onomatopoeia and repetition. The story focuses on the agricultural side of farming and the big tractors required to plough the field.

Down on the farm, let’s squirt the dirt.

Whoosh it! Swoosh it!

Splish! Splash! Spray!

Down on the farm, let’s squirt the dirt.

Each page has descriptions of things happening on the farm and then readers get to guess what type of tractor is doing the work, making this a fun and interactive picture book.

The illustrations are full page, bright, bold colours of farming life. The last page is more informative, with details about the parts of a tractor, which will delight the young children who love to know everything.

Great for homes, preschools and primary school libraries. A fun book to read over and over again.

Christmas LEGO. Yay!

There are so many books out in the world about Christmas, and while many are good to read, many don’t necessarily last the distance. They might be funny for awhile and they will no doubt become favourites to new readers, but what some lack, I think, is the beauty and messages of empathy and love. The magic and stories of hope and determination. These ones here, talk to my heart.

These are my favourites, each for a different reason.

Coming home by Micheal Morpurgo, for example, is the beauty of language.

The Little Match Girl because it was one of the first stories that made me feel so sad and concerned for the little girl.

The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell, now in very poor condition, because of its wonder, and again for the story. As a young child, I couldn’t understand how a little boy could be in Heaven.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, because it was the book I was given at Sunday School. My very first prize for something I had achieved.

Wherever you may be, I hope that there is somewhere for you to curl up, or sit back, and read a book or two over the festive season. Here is New Zealand, it is summer with longer days, so I will definitely find time to pick a book or two from my TBR pile.

What colour is the sky?

Written and illustrated Laura Shallcrass

ISBN 9780995142336

Beatnik Publishing

When you look at the sky, what colour do you see? Is it blue, grey, turquoise? What if you think it is blue, but your friend thinks it’s grey? Is one of you wrong and the other right or perhaps, you’re both wrong, or both right. Perception is different to us all. This gentle picture book by award winning author and illustrator, Laura Shallcrass, addresses this issue.

Pihoihoi puzzles over this question and together, with Hare, who just happens to think the sky is blue, begin to ask friends what they think.

Hedgehog thinks the sky is brown but mouse thinks it’s green. The journey continues, and as they meet other animals, they finally come to an understanding that we all think differently, and that is absolutely fine. Everyone has an opinion and everyone should be listened to, and respected, without judgement.

I loved the artwork in the author’s first book Hare and Ruru and I love it in this, her latest book. Natural colours for the natural landscape and gentle text, make this another delightful book to share together with someone special.

The Rhyming Pirate

Written and illustrated by Glenn Jones

ISBN 9780473574277

Mary Egan Publishing

What happens when a pirate, infamously known for his ability to rhyme everything, gets stuck when he finds a word he cannot rhyme?

This is a fun picture book mostly for preschoolers, although early primary school teachers might find it useful for learning about rhyme. The pirate, with his eye-patch and wooden leg, enjoys the chit-chat of talking in rhyme. He does it all the time and has quite the reputation but one word stumps him. Children will enjoy trying to work out what the word might be. Like all pirates, there is treasure but it is for readers to find within the pages of the book. There is a page with mini pictures of the things to find.

Fun and interactive.

A place I truly belong : A Loveable Larry Story

By Anita Hinton

Illustrated by Michelle Euinton & Shaila Awadh

ISBN 9780473576011

Mary Egan Publishing

Larry is different to the other animals in the zoo where he lives. He is soft and cuddly, while the others are tall and real. Being different makes Larry feel lonely with an overwhelming sense of not belonging. One night something magical happens under the Matariki night sky and Larry is able to escape the zoo.

He wanders many places, asking different animals he meets, if he belongs with them. Sadly, Larry doesn’t belong with any of them. There is a happy ending, and Larry does find a place to belong and to call home.

A sweet story, with sweet illustrations. It was written by the author, for her daughter, when times were tough and they both needed reassurance that there is a place somewhere, for everyone to call home.