Where is it in town? : a wildlife hunt for Kiwi kids

Written and illustrated by Ned Barraud

ISBN 9781988550466

Potton and burton

Ned Barraud has done it again. His latest, soon-to-be published book, is full of all things natural found in and around the home and town.

He takes us into backyards, sheds, gardens, public parks, and reserves. He shows us, in wonderful artistic detail, the bugs and insects, birds and bees, leaf litter and even the fish found in a wharf.

A full colour illustration starts on one side of a page and moves across the double page spread. One half of each right side shows and names the different wildlife. This allows the illustrations to take centre stage. The last few pages provides information on each of the different creatures, birds, fish, insects and animals.

His illustrations, as always, are detailed and have a natural beauty that brings them to life.

I often think his illustrations would make wonderful jigsaw puzzles.

My particular favorites are at the wharf, and the botanical gardens.

This is a wonderful companion book to his previous book Where is it? This one doesn’t come out until November, but I can see this as a popular choice for Christmas for those children who love books about nature, and animals. An excellent choice for school libraries too, especially for looking at New Zealand’s wildlife.

The Grizzled Grist does not exist

By Juliette MacIver

Illustrated by Sarah Davis

ISBN 9781776574155

Gecko Press

Liam is a quiet, yet observant boy, who notices other things many children tend to miss. On a school trip in the countryside, while everyone else is busy running on ahead, Liam notices the children are being followed by what appears to be a gruesome Grizzled Grist. A Grizzled Grist is a large scary monster that likes to eat children. Liam tells the teacher one such monster is in the Dismal Hills with them but she tells him that they do not exist.

Have you ever heard of a Grizzled Grist? Do you know what one looks like? Liam does. He can see it lurking in the woods, moving in and out of the trees, but Ms. Whisk continues to tell him they don’t exist, despite wooden signs warning them.

When darkness falls

in rising mist

Beware

the Gruesome

Grizzled Grist.

I love the rhyme and rhythm, and playfulness of this story. It is a skill Juliette MacIver works into all her books.

Sarah Davis creates cute and believable characters with her delightful illustrations. There is always a softness to her illustrations which I find particularly appealing. I also love the diversity in her work.

Once again, author and illustrator, have collaborated well together and brought Liam and his friends back to life for another wonderful read.

Grandpa’s Storybook collection

By Joy Watson

Illustrated by Wendy Hodder

ISBN 9781775436614

Scholastic NZ

The cover of this new picture book collection is bright red. Grandpa stands in the centre with images from the different books surrounding him and his cheeky smile. It is a cover that says ‘pick me, pick me’.

Grandma and Grandpa have a wonderful relationship. They adore each other, even if Grandma sometimes gets annoyed with some of the things Grandpa does. Every time she tries to tidy things or make changes, somehow Grandpa messes things up again but Grandma is never cross, she just smiles at him.

Take the day she went through his clothes and sent his old grey cardigan off to the op-shop. Guess what Grandpa did next? Or the day Grandpa wanted to go to the beach but he had trouble with his shorts.

My favourite is Grandpa’s Cat. The cat goes missing and Grandma and Grandpa search everywhere. Poor old Grandpa begins to to think the worst has happened to the cat but just when he is about to give up, he hears a sound. A special kitty sound.

There is a reason Grandpa’s stories have been around for a very long time, and that is, they are funny, definitely relatable, and just a jolly good read. The illustrations, by Wendy Hodder, are funny with a retro look befitting the personalities of the grandparents.

This is a great collection to share with young, and not so young children. The stories are already firm favourites in many school libraries and homes, so it is so lovely to see them all together in one collection for even more children to enjoy.

Story titles

Grandpa’s slippers

Grandpa’s cat

Grandpa’s shed

Grandpa’s cardigan

Grandpa’s shorts

Ihaka and the Unexpected Visitor

By Kirsty Wadsworth

Illustrated by Zak Waipara

ISBN 9781775437543

Scholastic NZ

 Īhaka arrives home from school and almost immediately hears a booming knock at the door. It just happens to be Tāwhirimātea who is the Maori god of wind and storms. He is a most unusual visitor and he needs help because his littlest cloud has gone missing. Īhaka is excited and eager to help. The two set off in search of the little cloud. Along the way they meet a number of other Maori gods, such as Tāne god of the forest, and Tangaroa, god of the sea. Can they help? Do they know where the littlest cloud has gone or will Īhaka need to look for help closer to home?

This is a good introduction to different Maori gods for pre-school and primary school children. It’s also a good story for demonstrating teamwork and not being afraid to ask for help when you need it.

Lots of natural colours used in the illustrations, befitting the different Maori gods and their natural world.

There is also a te reo Maori version which is perfect timing for Maori Language week 12th to 19th September this year.

Perlorus Jack the Dolphin Guide

By Susan Brocker

Illustrated by Raymond McGrath

ISBN 9781775437475

Scholastic NZ

For 24 years, from 1888 to 1912 a very special moon-white dolphin guided ships through wild seas in the Marlborough Sounds which is in the upper South Island of New Zealand. People named the dolphin Pelorus Jack and everyone loved him. People came from all over the world to see this beautiful, friendly dolphin. Even some Royalty came and they got a very special, wet welcome from the friendly dolphin.

I discovered an interesting thing from this book that I never knew before. The famous writer Rudyard Kipling actually met Pelorus Jack. Later there was an incident that could have ended disastrously, but thankfully Perlorus Jack was safe. The incident had a profound impact on the people who loved the dolphin and they gathered outside parliament, demanding laws to protect him.

I do love how picture books can be creative and factually informative at the same time. The author and illustrator have worked together on a previous book, Mrs Chippy the cat, another picture book based on fact.

There is a page of historical notes at the back for further reading.

Messy-o-saurus

By Rachel Weston

Illustrated by Scott Tulloch

ISBN 978-0-473-63513-8

Weston Books Ltd.

Someone is making messes. Lots of messes in all the different rooms. Toys all over the place, muddy footprints and just big messes everywhere. Someone, a little girl with delightful pigtails and a cheeky smile, is very good at pointing the finger and blaming a raft of different monsters for causing the mess. There is a Gogglebox monster, and a Smelly-Belly monster and even a fearsome Fangle-Fangle monster. However, one monster in particular, is guilty of creating the mess.

A fun story, with gorgeous bright and bold coloured illustrations.

Definitely a picture book to share with toddlers.

Goat on a trampoline

By Amy Harrop

Illustrated by Ross Hamilton

ISBN 9781776890231

David Bateman Books

Lily is a cheeky goat who is bored. Lily is so bored she has chewed her way through jandals, chased dogs and even disturbed a weta. Lily reckons she has done everything and is looking for something new to do to pass the time. After spying a trampoline, Lily just has to give it a go. It turns out it might not have been the best idea.

Lily becomes over confident and a bit too much showing off, lands her in trouble.

A good example of the old adage pride comes before a fall. A wee lesson shared in a fun picture book.

Dougal the dancing Kākāpō

By Kath Bee

Illustrated by Lisa Allen

ISBN 9781776890057

Bateman Books

Dougal the Kākāpō loves dancing. All sorts of dancing. He rumbas in the rain, hulas in the sand on a sunny day. He hip-hops and breakdances too. He even plays a few musical instruments. Definitely a very talented kakapo.

Best of all, Dougal loves to move and have fun and he loves it all.

A sweet, colourful picture book all about having fun and doing whatever makes you happy. Dancing with friends makes it even more fun.

Her Patient Fight : Poems of a journey, hardship to hope

By Catie Nettlingham

ISBN 9780473626563

Mary Egan Publishing

After finishing high school, young adult Catie Nettlingham left her family home in the North Island and headed to Christchurch to study. Catie was keen and excited to begin a new life, but sadly, mental illness crept in and took over her life. This book is testament to her struggles and commitment to heal.

Catie allows us into her world, warts and all. We are privy to her moods, her depression and her fears for the future. Written as a collection of thoughtful, honest and raw poems, we are along for the journey as she takes us through her dark days and out the other side. We can see hope as Catie comes to terms with her diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

Catie reminds us

Recovery is days, months, years.

Being calm and accepting is the trick.

Gratitude helps.

(From Recovery Page 48)

It is a short collection but the poems are important. Mental illness is often a taboo subject, especially with teenagers, so Catie’s honesty is refreshing. Writing gives Catie wellness and stability and it is her hope that this book will help other teens and young adults dealing with their own mental health issues and illnesses.

Thank you Catie for sharing your story.

Bad Panda : The cake escape

By Swapna Haddow

Illustrated by Sheena Dempsey

ISBN 9780571352456

Faber

We first met these cute pandas, Lin and her best friend, Fu, in Bad Panda. Well, they are back and just as funny, if not funnier. Humour seems to be author Swapna Haddow’s forte, for I found myself smiling or giggling to myself, many times. I think the humour lends itself to being read aloud for the best effect.

Fu goes missing. At first Lin thinks he’s off somewhere doing his own thing but she begins to worry when she can’t find him. As she searches, asking all the other animals in the zoo if they’ve seen him, she comes to realise that a horrid, little human child may have stolen Fu to add to his collection. With the help from Small Racoon, Lin follows the clues in this humorous, mystery-adventure novel for early chapter book readers. I love the in-jokes from the narrator directing their opinions directly to the reader.

The characters are quirky, with delightful, likeable personalities. There is a sort of innocence about them as well as determination and quiet bravery. Best of all, is their loyalty and friendship to each other. Teamwork, really makes a difference.

Sheena Dempsey brings Swapna’s characters to life, with her gorgeously cute illustrations and there are lots of them. Some sections are part graphic novel which adds to the humour, but also breaks up the text a little for newly independent readers who might otherwise find a full text chapter book a bit daunting.

Swapna and Sheena are the perfect combination of author and illustrator who totally understand each other. This combination, along with their publishers, has created another jolly good read. I look forward to (hopefully) a third book in this delightful series about Lin and Fu and all their friends.

Masher

By Fifi Colston

ISBN 9780143775683

Puffin Imprint

Freddie Foxworthy loves crafting. Making things takes his mind off other life issues he has to deal with. However, his latest craft is a papier-mâché puppet that seems to have a mind of its own. In fact, the puppet and Freddy have conversations which could just be down to the fact that the puppet is partly made up from the remains of a dead bull terrier. Yes! Some of the neighbour’s dead dog’s ashes are mixed up with the flour and water mix. Not intentionally, of course, but it certainly makes the puppet head a lot stronger. A little bit gross, but a little bit funny when you read how it happens. You can just imagine Freddie’s surprise when the puppet starts talking. Freddie names the puppet Masher and the two become quite connected in a very comical way.

A story as quirky as this just has to be good, and it is. I was intrigued by such a strange concept and I know lots of young readers who will find this very funny.

Short chapters, the addition of quirky drawings, good font size and a good, imaginative story make this an easy-to-read chapter book.

At the back of the book are instructions for making your own Papier-mâché puppet.

A Portrait of Leonardo

By Donovan Bixley

ISBN 9781990003479

Upstart Press

If one was to sum up this book about Leonardo da Vinci I would say that it is impressive.

I’m inclined to think that Leonardo would love how many school and public libraries now incorporate Makerspace activities in their library sessions. All those STEM and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) activities happening in libraries would surely make his heart burst.

Donovan Bixley with his latest book in the biographical series shows us that he clearly knows his stuff. His deep research is evident with the details provided in this dip-in and dip-out illustrated book.

It is easy to read, informative but with lots of humour, particularly with Bixley’s trademark quirky illustrations. I love his bright, bold colours and his ability to show personalities, particularly through the eyes. You can just imagine how the people are feeling.

It is a great book for just picking up and flicking through the pages. No need to read in order although that is perfectly okay to read from cover to cover for the bigger picture.

Bixley follows da Vinci’s life and highlights different aspects or moments in time. He discusses da Vinci’s inventions and shows us just how ahead of his time he was. Things like parachutes, flying machines, even robots.

The last supper is one of da Vinci’s most famous paintings and through reading this book I discovered that the painting is lucky to still exist. At one time it was vandalised, and another time it survived being bombed.

I never realised how many quotes we use today came from da Vinci.

“The eyes are the window to the soul”. I never knew that was from him.

This one, however, is my favourite and such a great one for writers and illustrators.

Look into the stains of walls, or ashes of a fire, or clouds, or mud or like places, in which, if you consider them well you may find really marvellous ideas.

The addition of a map (I love maps in books), a front French flap with images of his famous paintings, and a timeline at the back, all make this a top book. Great for intermediate, and high schools and at 130 pages it is just right; not too long, and not too short. I’m certainly happy to add this to my home collection. A lovely coffee table book to pick and read.

The monkey and the Moonbeam

By Jonathan Smith

ISBN 9780473622596

Little Love

Sometimes, we find that life is not always greener on the other side. Sometimes, we just need to look around and see that what we have is actually okay. For little monkey NicNic, this is his story of how he yearns for a better, softer bed. He travels the world with his friend, Crooner the crane and together they search all over for a softer bed. Their adventure takes them to places like the Himalayas, France and Australia. Is there a lesson in here? Yes, but that’s okay.

Sweet, and a good reminder that home is often the best place.

No home for a Wētā

By Stephanie Thatcher

ISBN 9781775437529

Scholastic NZ

In similar storyline, Weta goes in search of a new home, not because she wants a softer bed but because she wants her own space, and peace and quiet. I love Stephanie Thatcher’s illustrations. They are sweet, comical with heaps of personality. Check out the very funny pages where Weta is more than a little frustrated. A fun, rhyming picture book for young children. Great for preschool and early primary school for introducing NZ wildlife.

The last page provides useful details of different types of weta.

Korora and the Sushi Shop

By Linda Jane Keegan

Illustrated by Jenny Cooper

ISBN 9781775437185

Scholastic NZ

Inspired by true events, this story is about some penguins korora who actually sneaked into a sushi shop.

A little blue penguin comes out of the sea, up on the shore, crossing dangerous roads and hides underneath a sushi shop. That is quite a big adventure for such a small creature. The penguin is rescued by the police and returned to the sea but comes back again the next day with a little blue penguin friend. Sushi shops might sound like a dream come true for penguins, but it’s definitely not the best place for little penguins to hide under.

A rhyming story with delightful colourful illustrations. Illustrator, Jenny Cooper is great at creating her animal characters and giving them life and personality with warmth and the best colour choices. When the wee penguins are safe and smiling in their new home, you can’t help but smile back.

Kara the Kākāpō

By Danni Rae

Illustrated by Evan Heasman

ISBN 9780473621759

Little Love

Kara the kakapo wants to fly but we all know Kakapo are flightless birds. However, Kara is one determined and creative kakapo. In this rhyming picture book, Kara comes up with a plan to try and make her dreams come true. Full page illustrations with lots of other New Zealand wildlife among the pages. A page of kakapo facts is a helpful addition.

Colour the stars taea ngā whetū 10th Anniversary Edition

By Dawn McMillan

Illustrated by Keinyo White

Retold in Maori by Ngaere Roberts

ISBN 9781775436805

Scholastic NZ

How do you describe a colour to someone who can’t see?

Luke and Isaac are good friends. Luke just happens to be blind and in his world of darkness he doesn’t believe he needs colour, but Isaac does. Isaac uses all his senses to describe colour to his friend. The idea of describing colour as a taste is wonderful. The tender kindness of Isaac in helping his friend is such an important theme in this book.

This is a good book for any school or preschool collection. For a 10th anniversary, this picture book is now available with a bilingual Te Reo Maori version.

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.