Archive for May, 2019

 

Pan’s Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun

By Guillermo del Toro and Cornelia Funke

ISBN 9780062414465

Bloomsbury 

 

Wow! Just so excited about this soon to be released novel by two awesome authors.

Pan’s Labyrinth has undergone a transformation which has apparently taken ten years to complete but from what I can see and have heard, the wait has been worth it.

The novel is said to be suitably dark and spellbinding, sinister and magical. There will be “trickster fauns, murderous soldiers, child-eating monsters, courageous rebels, and a long-lost princess hoping to be reunited with her family”. Everything you want in a great novel. There are also a number of beautiful but haunting illustrations to add to the overall quality package. 

I simply cannot wait. I loved the movie although every time I watched it there is one scene where I had to turn away and close my eyes until it is over. Every time!

This is going to be epic. 

The book trailer is very cool.  Counting down the weeks until July when it will be published. 

 

You shouldn’t come in here. You could get lost. It has happened before. I’ll tell you the story one day, if you want to hear it. 

In fairy tales, there are men and there are wolves, there are beasts and dead parents, there are girls and forests. 

Ofelia knows all this, like any young woman with a head full of stories. And she sees right away what the Capitán is, in his immaculate uniform, boots and gloves, smiling: a wolf.

But nothing can prepare her for the fevered reality of the Capitán’s eerie house, in the midst of a dense forest which conceals many things: half-remembered stories of lost babies; renegade resistance fighters hiding from the army; a labyrinth; beasts and fairies.

There is no one to keep Ofelia safe as the labyrinth beckons her into her own story, where the monstrous and the human are inextricable, where myths pulse with living blood …

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Polly does NOT want a cracker

By Stephanie Thatcher

ISBN 9781988516592

Upstart Press

 


Oh dear. Poor old Polly is a parrot living in a zoo but she is so sick of everyone asking her if she wants a cracker that instead of being nice and friendly, she is grumpy and shouty. Polly definitely does NOT want a cracker and lets everyone know it. In fact Polly can’t stand crackers. Polly continually squawks a rather loud NO whenever people ask her about crackers. Polly is so loud and grumpy that she gets sent to a pet store. Unfortunately, even in the pet store she is not safe from people asking “Polly want a cracker?”. One day a special customer comes in to the shop and what she does makes all the difference to Polly.

This is definitely a picture book to share and read out loud. Parents, grandparents, teachers and librarians, in fact anyone will earn bonus points for adding their own squawky voices when Polly says, “No! No! NO!”

Gorgeous illustrations. I love the expression in Polly’s eyes. You can certainly tell the difference between when she is happy and when she is grumpy. One to read again and again. 

A story for Matariki : The Promise of Puanga

By Kirsty Wadsworth

Illustrated by Munro Te Whata

ISBN 9781775435815

Scholastic NZ

There is a bright new star in the winter sky — Puanga, cousin to the Matariki sisters. Each year, she appears to the people of Aotearoa, a special sign (for those unable to see Matariki) that winter and the Māori new year are coming.

Hana and her best friend Puanga play together all the time. In spring they make daisy chains, in summer they play in the river and visit the beach to collect shells. In Autumn they ride their bikes together until they are suddenly faced with winter. The suddenness of the cold, harsh days and nights of winter causes problems with crops in the fields and many other things that make life difficult in the winter months. If only there was some way of knowing that winter was coming so that everyone could be prepared.

Puanga tells Hana a secret that might help and makes a promise but it will also change everything. Their friendship and love for each other, along with Tāwhirimātea the god of wind and storms, help make an amazing gift for all.

The bold illustrations bring a modern day feel to this Māori mythology-based story.

It’s great having some Māori vocabulary woven into the story too as we move between the changing seasons.

With Matariki just around the corner, this is an ideal book to add to school library collections and teacher resosurces.

Bambi the Blind Alpaca

(Inspired by a true story)

By Jan Lummis

Illustrated by Jenny Cooper

ISBN 9781775435877

Scholastic NZ

Bambi the blind alpaca is based on the very real tale of Bambi and his brother Charisma. In real life Bambi and Charisma were brothers and best friends, doing everything together. One day they became separated leaving Bambi struggling to cope on his own. Jan Lummis takes this event and creates a safe and happy alternate ending.

Children love stories based on truth and knowing that somewhere out in the real world are characters, animals and people they can relate to or make connections with, leaves them happy and satisfied.

When Charisma leaves, Bambi is lost and lonely. He is afraid to do things on his own because Charisma has been his best friend, his guide and his eyes. There is a happy ending and the wonderful realisation that people come and go in our lives.  There will be sadness when some friends leave, but always there will room for new friends. 

Jenny Cooper, as always, produces beautiful pictures. The alpacas are gorgeous and definitely have that cuteness appeal. The warmth of the illustrations adds a softness that tugs at the heart.

A sweet picture book for younger readers. There is photo of the real Bambi at the back as well as a double spread of information about alpacas which adds to the overall value of this lovely story.

 

 

 

A place of Stone and darkness

by Chris Mousdale

ISBN9780143773122

Penguin Random House

 

 

Chris Mousdale’s book A place of Stone and Darkness had me hooked right from the start.

It is a stylishly produced hardback novel which crosses a mix of genres. There is fantasy, adventure and mystery all in a wonderfully imagined, dystopian underground world. Chris Mousdale  also illustrates the book and includes maps of the Striggs world, a glossary of their language, and character portraits, as well as a number of gorgeous earthy illustrations.

Deep, deep down underground is the world of the flightless Striggs.  They have lived there for thousands of years after being forced from the surface by savage humans. The Striggs have adapted to life underground but their world is threatened with pollution to its water and members of the flock are becoming ill and dying. While exploring in one of the tunnels Ellee Meddo, finds a human, a Toppa, as they are known, who has fallen through an old unused well. Toppas are known to be dangerous and feared at all costs but this Toppa is young and hurt and Ellee can’t just leave him. With the help of her brother Sidfred, Ellee hides the boy but eventually he is is discovered by other Striggs and that creates friction and more action. One Strigg in particular, Kass, wants to just kill the boy. The action is fast paced, even nail-bitingly at times, so that it was very hard to put the book down. I just wanted to keep reading.

In order for the community to work and survive, the Striggs believe in the mantra; “Be one, be all, be everything”. When the group decide that they must return the boy, to the surface, this mantra becomes more important, especially when faced with danger from other humans. The world of the humans is violent and one of social decay. If the Striggs are discovered by humans it could mean the end of their world. I can tell you, their worlds do collide and the suspense built so quickly I was almost holding my breath wondering what was going to happen next. 

I loved this novel for so many reasons. The fast-paced action, its total believability, its warmth, the friendships, the loyalties and even the subtle messages. Yes, there are messages about our environment, trust, human kindness and taking risks. This is a wonderful read and one that I predict will go far. Great for older readers and with its buff coloured pages is ideal for children with dyslexia.  Loved it!

This would make a good class read aloud and teacher notes can be found here to explore this novel further.