Archive for the ‘Intermediate’ Category

Remarkable Animal Stories

By Maria Gill

Illustrated by Emma Huia Lovegrove

ISBN 9781775436454

Scholastic NZ and Scholastic Australia

I have just spent a very pleasant afternoon reading this gorgeous new book from award winning author, Maria Gill. Her speciality is writing non fiction and often, creative non fiction. Her latest book fits neatly in the creative side of things.

The animal and bird stories in this collection, are based on truth. Many may be familiar to you as their stories have made the news. Some have even made world-wide headlines; like Inky the octopus, who was known for escaping his aquarium. There are stories that will make you smile; like Moko the dolphin, and some that are a little sad, like Paddles, the cat who was owned by the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern.

These are my favourites; Moko, Ken-Joe a cheeky kea, because I love keas, Henry, the oldest tuatara in captivity, and Lulu, a kangaroo who loves cuddles.

The stories are written over double-page spreads which is great for short reading times to share or dip in to when time permits. The likelihood, however, is that you will want to read all these stories in one go.

The illustrations by Emma Huia Lovegrove are created in watercolour and gouache and gorgeous with just the right amount of cuteness. Photos are also included. At the back of the book there is also details of the role of wildlife sanctuaries. Without places like these, many animals would not survive. We need to be aware of what we can do to help these places, as they are the ones who help our animals.

A wonderful book to share with family. Teaching notes provided by Scholastic can be found here.

If you are in Christchurch on Saturday, August 21 then you might want to pop down to the Arts Centre as Maria will be having her book launch for this delightful book. Details can be found here.

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Aotearoa lost Worlds

By Dave Guson

ISBN 9781988538662

Bateman Books

Aotearoa Lost Worlds is a non-fiction delight for readers of all ages. Children, and those in particular who love dinosaurs, will love dipping into this book. Looking back at 120 million years of New Zealand’s natural history is quite amazing.

The land, animals, and climate has changed so much over millions of years but author and illustrator, Dave Gunson, brings many of the changes to our attention in his latest book.

I have always been fascinated by the long-extinct Haast’s eagle; the worlds largest bird of prey, so it was very interesting to read. It was so big and it was believed its wing span was 3 metres wide. That is incredible.

I never knew that over 230 million years ago, New Zealand had its own crocodiles. While they are magnificent creatures, I’m very glad we don’t have them around today as I wouldn’t want to run in to one by a river or swampy rest area.

Or you can read about the largest NZ Gecko that grew to over 60 centimetres in length. That is so much bigger than the ones we have today. And of course, you can read about dinosaurs too.

Obviously there are no photos, but Dave Gunson’s illustrations are colourful, detailed and realistic. His research is well-founded and written clearly. This is full of interesting and informative facts. A great book to dip into and again and again.

Just remember

By Donna Blabler

ISBN 9781927229729

Lighthouse Media Group

After a tragic car accident, grief, loss, and guilt are now part of Em’s life. Her mother’s breakdown and inability to care for Em has meant she now lives far away with her nan. A new school, new friends, and a mermaid are all part of her new life but it is the old life and guilt that is eating away at her.

A detention kept her late at school and when her family came to collect her, there was an accident. Em’s father was one of the people killed in the accident and she blames herself. But is Em really to blame, is her guilt necessary? The author Donna Blabler weaves a story about loss and how we take on guilt, real or misconceived.

Em struggles initially at her new school. With the wrong uniform, shoes, and jumper, everything seems to be a total misfit, including Em herself. She puts up barriers but slowly, with the help of some new friends, the barriers come down. Em also has a secret. Em finds the tree that she and her dad used to sit under during holiday times and while she sits there remembering him and happier times, she discovers a mermaid. As the two build up a friendship, truths are revealed but there is also trouble lurking by, with an elderly man who demands Em keep away from the area.

It is not a long novel and there is lots happening but the story flows smoothly. For all its mysteries and sadness, and fantasy, it is a gentle and warm story dealing with real issues.

Great for 10 – 14 year olds.

My New Zealand Story : Stop the tour

By Bill Nagelkerke

ISBN 9781775437178

Scholastic NZ

Forty years ago the face of New Zealand Rugby Tours changed forever. The Springbok Tour of 1981 was held in different cities in New Zealand. The tour included the team from South Africa, and its presence in New Zealand created so much conflict, that it is still talked about today. In South Africa there was a racist apartheid system, where people were treated differently because of the colour of their skin. Black people were segregated from white and not allowed to attend the same places or events, or have the same rights as white people.

When it was known that the South African team; the Springboks, were coming to New Zealand people immediately took sides. Many people thought that sports and politics should not mix and that the tour should go ahead. Many others thought that the apartheid system was so wrong, that the tour should be banned. The nation was divided.

Bill Nagelkerke has given us an insight to this terrible time in our sporting history, through his character Martin Daly.

Martin sits on the fence, not knowing what to think, or who is right. Through a series of incidents, Martin finally takes a side and his life changes. The tour is splitting friends and families. Riots are happening, people are getting hurt and tensions are incredibly high. It is not just adults who are marching against the tour, but students too became involved. Martin’s initial ambivalence is believable but then we see him grow and take responsibility for his choices. Growth in a character is always an indication of a good writer, and a good story, which is exactly what we have in this book.

First published in 2007, this retitled and redesigned version is perfect for a new generation of readers. In time to mark the 40th anniversary, this book is a great reminder that sometimes, you have to learn that sitting on the fence and not taking part, is not good enough. Sometimes, you have to take sides.

My New Zealand Story :Journey to Tangiwai

By David Hill

ISBN 9781775436386

Scholastic NZ

David Hill brings us the diary of Peter Cotterill, a teen Scout who is working hard to attend a major competition for first aid. He studies hard, works a paper round and spends time with his Uncle, recently back from a war that left him sad and angry.
It is 1953 and a year for all New Zealanders to remember. It is the year Edmund Hillary climbed Mount Everest, the same year that the Queen had her coronation, but it is also the same year as one of New Zealand’s worst disasters.

Peter is determined to win the local Scout first-aid competition. Winning the locals will mean he could get to the Nationals and that is what he has his heart set on. There is much happening in the background of all his tests and learning. His Uncle Hugh is not well and getting worse all the time. Peter and his uncle are close so this causes lots of concern. While everyone is looking forward to the Queen’s coronation, Uncle Hugh is very much against anything to do with the royals.

It is on his way to the finals, that Peter finds himself in one of New Zealand’s deadliest disasters. How he survives, you’ll have to read yourself.

I love how David Hill has dropped lots of historical moments in this book. One was the six o’clock closing of the public bars.

Redesigned with a fresh new eye-catching cover, having first been published in 2010, this book will appeal to a new generation of readers, too.

Both books have photos and historic notes to support their time in New Zealand’s history.

Partners in slime

By Belinda O’Keefe

ISBN 9781775436799

Scholastic NZ

Partners in slime by Belinda O’Keefe is the current winner of the Tom Fitzgibbon award, and deservedly so.

O’Keefe has created believable characters in a setting so familiar, that best friends, Jake and Cooper, could be living right next door to you.

It is 38 days until the official opening of a very special roller coaster at the Adrenaline World, supposedly the best ride in the Southern Hemisphere. Jake wants nothing more than to be there on the very first day but the ride and entry is very expensive. The only way he can afford tickets for himself, and Cooper, is to earn the money. They work on a number of ideas until they finally decide to make and sell slime. However, Jake’s sister, Paige sells slime too and is doing a great trade. As the competition heats up between brother and sister, Jake and Cooper have to come up with a better plan.

When the boys decide to add special ingredients, they end up with a magnetic neon gloop and that is when the action begins. One special ingredient creates a whole heap of disasters. It is also where much of the humour comes into the story.

There is lots going on in this novel. Brother and sister relationships, best friends, school stories, creative thinking, planning and working towards something special, mischief and a bit of mayhem, and of course lots of fun.

This is a book that children can relate to. There is much to giggle through in the novel. Aimed at eight to ten year old readers this is also a good read aloud for parents and teachers to share.

Julia and the Shark

By Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Illustrated by Tom de Freston

I love this book.

This is the story of Julia, and her parents, who travel to a remote island lighthouse where dad can digitise the lighthouse and mum can search the surrounding sea for the elusive Greenland Shark. Noodles, Julia’s pet cat comes along for the adventure.

This book is heartfelt. Julia’s relationship with her mother is strained which creates much of the tension in the book. There are other causes of pain in this book too; bullying, mental health issues, and much of it is created through lack of communication and misunderstandings. There is an environmental aspect too.

The characters are believable and easy to connect with. When Julia’s best intentions to help her mother, go badly, she puts her own life, and Noodles, at risk. Danger is very real. However, one of the overall messages from Julia and the Shark, is that of hope.

The illustrations are beautiful. Black, whites and grey shades which have a moody, haunting quality. Watch out for the addition of yellow towards the end pictures. Symbolic and beautiful.

Look out for this book for nine years and up, when it comes out in September.

North and South

Written and illustrated by Sandra Morris

ISBN 9781925381801

Walker books

North and South is a book of contrasts. Month by month the Northern hemisphere is compared to the Southern hemisphere through the different seasons. When it is cold and wintery in the north, the south experiences sunshine and warmth. In gorgeous watercolour illustrations we witness how animals adapt to the different seasons, how they search for food or build new homes for shelter.

I find it so amazing that animals know when the seasons are changing and when to begin their migrations. Did you know that the Bar-tailed Godwit fly 12,000 thousand kilometres to their breeding grounds on the Alaskan tundra. They average 60 kilometres an hour. Monarch butterflies also travel thousands of kilometres in their search for warmer weather. This book is full of facts just like these, and I love that they include our very own brown kiwi.

The endpapers illustrate a map of the world with different animals depicted next to the relevant countries. It allows a quick overall glance of the world. This is a beautiful non-fiction book with plenty of international appeal across all ages.

Below each page of animal facts there is a conservation status. This lets us know which animals are threatened and how seriously endangered some animals are. It also means that if we do not look after our animals, if we do not do something to stop climate change, then many of these animals, will very likely become extinct.

North and South would make an excellent choice in classrooms and school libraries. There is a very good glossary, a contents page, and an index with additional links to helpful websites for further study. There is also a list of ways you can help wildlife and fight climate change.

Becoming Muhammad Ali

By James Patterson and Kwame Alexander

Illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile

ISBN 9780316498166

Houghton Mifflin

I’m writing this review on a warm autumn afternoon in Christchurch, New Zealand and enjoying memories of the time I met Muhammad Ali and our short but amazing conversation. It was many years ago and I was living in London, doing my big OE; working in hotels for cheap accommodation and experiencing life on the other side of the world.

I was cleaning hotel rooms and working in the Forum Hotel, one of the biggest hotels in London at the time. Ali was no longer boxing but he was still doing the rounds working for charities and trying to make the world a better place. I was lucky enough to clean his room and when I was in the hall he came out and told me he had had an accident. Before I could say much, he stuck his hand out and showed me his finger, cut off and sitting in the palm of his hand. I looked up at him (I’m barely 5 foot) and back at his hand and I screamed. Not the best response, I admit and it wasn’t really that loud but he gently placed his hand on my shoulder and told me it was a fake finger, which you really could tell straight away. We both laughed after that. I think, his fame, his height and the suggestion that he had cut off one of his famous boxing fingers was just a bit much for this young girl from down under. It was and always will be one of my most treasured experiences. Despite his size and fame, there was a gentleness to him that I found quite humbling. So to read this book has been a total delight.

Getting to know the young Cassius Clay before he became famous, before he changed his name is kind of magical. It’s like watching a movie and knowing the ending, but having no idea how it started because you had missed the beginning. Patterson and Alexander have created a beginning that is easy to read. It is a mix of poetry and prose. Kwame does verse novels with impact and perfection and the poems here are beautifully written. Patterson’s writing shows the love and respect of a best friend and we feel it. Ali tells his side of growing up, knowing he wanted to be a champion boxer and just how he set out to achieve that. One of his best friends Lucius, aka Lucky, tells his version of events. His obvious sense of pride in his friend as he watched it all play out is evident as he shares his insights to the young Cassis Clay.

I love the illustrations throughout the book; graphic novel type that suit the tone of the book. I think one of the strengths of this book is that you can feel the love Ali has for his family, particularly his younger brother Rudy, and his friends. His determination and confidence is inspiring. This is not just a book about boxing, or a biographical account of his life; it’s about friendships, belief, faith and courage at a time when black people still had to sit at the back of the bus. I felt many emotions reading this book. Anger; for racism he had to endure in a time when segregation was everywhere. Hope; for his dreams to come through, and relief that he made it. Happiness; that I had the fortune to have been pranked by this amazing man.

I am so glad this book has been published and is out there for everyone to read, enjoy and get to know the young, Muhammad Ali. I don’t want to return the book to the library but I will (reluctantly) as I want others to enjoy it too.

The last bear

By Hannah Gold

Illustrated by Levi Pinfold

ISBN 9780008411282


Oh my goodness, what a wonderful story. Beautifully written and with a gentle tone that adds to the warmth of the narrative.

April is eleven years old. Her mother died when she was small and her memories are limited, but she does remember her mother’s love. Her scientist father is caught up in his grief and ignores April so she feels she is loosing him too. In an effort to change things her father wants to spend time together, just the two of them, so he accepts a six-moth job on Bear Island, a remote outpost in the Arctic, though there are no actual polar bears on the island anymore. There is only the cold, icy landscape and each other. But the job takes more and more of his time and April is even more alone than when they lived in the city. April spends her time exploring the icy cold vastness of Bear Island and it is not long before she discovers there is in fact one last polar bear on the island, but he is hurt and afraid.

April is brave and caring. It is her determination and courage that enables her to interact with the bear and beyond all possibilities, form a relationship with this wild animal. Their relationship is amazing. They learn to understand each other and their different needs. I adore April. I want to hug her, hold her tight. I want to climb on the bear’s back and ride with them through the Arctic seasons. I believe in both April and the bear.

There is a message here about the damage we are doing to this planet and it is an important message but when you read about April and the bear, you can’t help but want to make a difference and help. We do need to worry about the melting ice caps, polluted seas and the plastic waste and this story will make you stop and think but it is also full of hope, all because of the bravery of one young girl.

The story is also about grief and how all-consuming it can be. Sometimes, we can get caught up in grief and forget there are other people around us that still need to be loved. April and her father are struggling through this difficult journey, but again, there is hope.

There are many beautiful illustrations that add to the impact of the story. Their haunting quality shows the beauty of the relationship between the bear and April.

I was moved to tears but I won’t tell you when; I’m sure you’ll work that out for yourself. The last bear, is an absolutely beautiful, heart-warming story that will stay with me. I loved it. Totally loved it. Perfect for 9 years and up. This may be the author’s debut novel, but I am sure there will be many more and I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

I believe this would be a wonderful read-aloud for classes year 5 and up but also I think it would make an ideal novel for a student book club in schools. Trying to stop a group of readers in a book club from reading on ahead and finishing the book would be bit of a problem though as it is a book you don’t want to put down.

My name is Henry Fanshaw : The true story of New Zealand’s bomber squadron

By Gillian Torckler

Illustrated by Adele Jackson

ISBN 9781988538631

Bateman Books

Henry Fanshaw is a teddy bear but one with an extraordinary tale to tell. Henry was the mascot for the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s No 75 Squadron flying in the dangerous times of World War Two.

Henry tells us of the people he met, the dangers they faced, and tragedies they saw. He tells it through his eyes. He was there after all, throughout those harrowing times. I enjoyed learning about the planes and the men flying them. I especially liked reading about one particular very brave soldier; Sergeant James Ward but I won’t tell you what he did as you can read that yourself, but I will say, he was incredibly brave and well deserved the Victoria Cross medal he received.

I love that I live just 5 minutes away from the museum where Henry Fanshaw now spends his time looking at visitors who stand and wonder why he is so important. This book will tell you just how important Henry was and still is today. A reminder of the brave soldiers who fought to keep us all safe, all those years ago.

This is informative and an enjoyable read. The illustrations have a retro feel to them with muted colours and images reflecting the 1940’s. I love the end papers with the fields at the front with the shadow of the plane flying overhead, and the clouds at the back. Also at the back are facts about the different planes and some of the important people at the time.

Certainly a book to recommend to students wanting to know about World War Two and one of New Zealand’s most famous squadrons.

Snapper : the real story

By Annemarie Florian

Illustrations by Alistair Hughes

ISBN 9781760793340

New Holland Publishing

Snapper: the real story is about the life cycle of snapper. It is told through clear but simple text and brightly coloured illustrations. It is an informative look at how and where snapper live and the dangers that surround them.

The language is lyrical with lots of alliteration which makes it fun to read as well as being a useful resource when studying the ocean.

Sauntering through sponge garden sculptures.

At the back of the book there is more detail about the problems of over-fishing, plastic and pollutions and includes many useful links to other resources for ocean studies.

This is where I stand

By Philippa Werry

Illustrated by Kieran Rynhart


Scholastic NZ

The subject matter of This is where I stand is the statue of a World War One soldier who stands tall and proud as he looks out over the town. He tells of all he has seen over the many years since he was put on the plinth. He shares his memories of the war, gunfire and poppies in fields. He shares tales of families walking through the park where he stands. All that he remembers is shared, the good and the bad.

There is so much to love about this book. The language is poetical and just beautiful.

I am in the wind and the rain and the sun.

I am in the birdsong and green leaves and the moonlight.

The illustrations are stunning. The soft tones have a haunting quality. Together, the language and art work make this a beautiful book. Perfect not just for ANZAC Day but any day. This should be in every school library. To make the most of this sophisticated picture book do check out the teacher notes here.

New Zealand disasters: Our response, resilience and recovery

By Maria Gill

Illustrated by Marco Ivancic

ISBN 9781775436218

Scholastic NZ

Yet again, author Maria Gill and illustrator Marco Ivancic have proven themselves a winning combination with their latest collaboration. New Zealand disasters is a book that should be in every school library. It is timely, informative, well-researched and a great book to dip into again and again. It is one that is not just for study and hot topic projects, but is a book that will be interesting to everyone living in New Zealand.

I recall far too many of these disasters but also far too many that I have actually experienced to some degree or another, in my home town of Christchurch. I remember waking up to the eerie quiet and icy cold, snow-laden streets in the big snow of 1992. I recall vividly the Canterbury and Christchurch earthquakes and the ongoing aftershocks. The Port Hills fire was very close to home and the mosque shootings is still very raw in my memory. And of course, the Covid-19 pandemic is still very much active around the world. This book provides enough information on these and numerous other disasters that readers will come to know of some of our worst moments in history. It provides an understanding of the disasters and like any information, it helps us cope and know that after any disaster, things will get better. Knowledge is power and this book provides us with hope and strategies for any future disaster.

Most of us will remember where we were when different disasters happened, so often the mention of a particular disaster will bring back memories and associations. For example, when the DC-10 plane crashed into Mt Erebus in Antartica I was living in Milford Sound and we found out about this awful crash listening on an old ham radio. Disasters bring people together and hold memories, good and bad.

New Zealand Disasters is well set out. It has a very cool colour-coded contents page, glossary, and index. Bright and bold headings and sub-headings make it easy to scan for information. It covers all sorts of disasters, like earthquakes, tsunamis, cyclones, mining accidents, plane crashes, volcanoes, fires and many more. There are photos and survival tips as well as a list to help you put together your own emergency kit.

The illustrator provides realistic impressions of the moment of many of the disasters. You can see the fear in the faces of people escaping disasters. Having lived through a number of these, I can assure you that the fear is real. Hopefully readers of this book will have some of their own fear alleviated, after learning some of the survival strategies.

Another top book from an award winning combo. Surely another award will follow.

Check out this very cool trailer.

The top secret intergalactic notes of Buttons McGinty Book 3

By Rhys Darby

ISBN 9781775436621

Scholastic NZ

Buttons McGinty is back in yet another funny adventure. Set out in journal form with lots of drawings, this middle grade book is ideal for fans of Jeff Kinney and Dav Pilkey. It can be read as a stand alone book, but there is a good brief recap of the first two books just in case you haven’t read them. Then before you know it, we are launching quickly and madly into Buttons’ final adventure.

Buttons is in search of his missing mother. He and his Dorm 4 gang travel the universe looking for her and come face to face with danger, including Batships, and Space Cops chasing them through the universe. The action is fast-paced, lots of tongue-in-cheek humour and a quirky protagonist who rushes through everything at break-neck speed. A good ending to the trilogy of Buttons McGinity and his band of friends. I love the robot and his kind heart.

You can also have fun creating messages for your own adventures by using the Morse Code and Hieroglyphs Keys at the back of the book.

The Ghosts on the Hill

By Bill Nagelkerke

ISBN 9780995123366

Cuba Press

The year is 1884. The place is Lyttelton, a small and bustling harbour town. Elsie was one of the last to see the lost boys alive, and now she is haunted by what happened to them. When the opportunity comes for Elsie to follow in their footsteps over the Bridle Path and put their ghosts to rest, she doesn’t hesitate.

Set in the past, this story offers much in terms of the history of the settlement of Lyttelton, and Christchurch, New Zealand. As someone who grew up in Christchurch, the setting is familiar and I couldn’t help but smile at some of the places I recognised. Elsie is the main character and she is sweet and caring. However, she has a strong sense of guilt that eats away at her. While on the hills one day she met two boys and they chatted for a short time. Elsie even gave them some of her food as they had come unprepared for their hike over the Bridle path. The weather closed in but she did not stop the boys from continuing their walk and sadly they were never seen alive again. You can feel her pain and guilt and the fear of the hills she has now built up within herself. Based on truth, this story is both sweet and sad. This is not just a good ghost story but a look at the way of life back in the 1850’s. This would be a great read in class for primary school students doing studies on our early settlement. I particularly liked the Maori fairies thread, with the patupaiarehe who are wicked and dangerous.

The forever horse

By Stacy Gregg

ISBN 9780008332358

HarperCollins Children’s Books

Maisie has always loved horses. She is also a talented artist. When the opportunity arises for her to study in Paris, her two worlds collide. There, in the heart of the city, Maisie finds the childhood diary of famous horse artist, Rose Bonifait, and meets the beautiful black stallion, Claude.

As the two girls’ stories emerge, tragedies unfold – both past and present – and Maisie realises that she can’t begin to imagine life without her forever horse…

Once again Stacy Gregg seamlessly weaves two stories together to bring us an excellent read. Maisie and Rose have much in common even though they have never met. They both love drawing and they both love horses. Their stories are set in the same place in Paris, but well over 150 years apart. Rose has more confidence than Maisie and is strong-willed preferring to wear trousers rather than dresses as was expected for girls and young women of the time.

There is something very likeable about both girls and their stories are heartfelt. After an accident Rose has to deal with a huge change in her life. It is her eventual acceptance and courage to deal with her new life that makes her a good strong character. Maisie also faces changes and it is lovely to see her gain confidence and finally believe in herself.

I can’t draw, not even a straight line. I also can’t ride a horse but that didn’t stop me from enjoying this book and feeling lots of emotions as the two stories were revealed.

Answering to the caul

By Ted Dawe

ISBN 9780473528188

Mangakino University Press

There are some things you can never share with another human being. Answering to the caul is one of these.’ 

It is said that being born in a caul means that you can never die by drowning. Andrei Reti puts this prophecy to the test, time and time again.  But there is a price to be paid for each caul intervention.  This is a novel about the dark side of being special.  About the war between fact and coincidence. About the things we can never share.

This is definitely a crossover book which will appeal to young adults and adults alike. It is deep, sad, stinks of reality and the harshness of poverty and neglect but it is a very good read. Andrei, despite his dysfunctional upbringing is incredibly well-read. I love the many references to some of the literary classics, and I think many people who have enjoyed reading the classics themselves, would love Andrei.

Andrei does indeed believe that he was born in a caul and there is proof on a number of occasions where he has escaped drowning. However, each time the consequences have been fatal for some other people in his life. Andrei’s story runs over many years as he retells us his life. We see his father in prison, the death of his mother and when he is sent away to stay with relatives, his life changes. Poverty, anger, and revenge are all part of his life now and he has to live with choices he makes, as well as the choices made by his cousins. At times I wanted to hug him and others I wanted to shake him and tell him not to get involved in things. Even when he tries to do the right thing by traveling to Thailand to help out whanau, he still ends up in trouble and even danger.

Perhaps there really was something that mapped out his life. Whether you believe the caul or not, you can’t help but believe in Andrei and like him, flaws and all.

A good solid read.


By Sally Stone

ISBN 9781775436010

Scholastic NZ

Author Sally Stone’s book Pandemic: The Spanish Flu, 1918 was first published by Scholastic in 2012 but it has been reprinted 2020 with an eye-catching new cover and a preface discussing the current COVID-19 pandemic, which has drastically impacted the world. Reading the diary of Freda Rose, the parallels between the 1918 pandemic and the one we are facing now are quite eerie.

In 1918 the First World War was nearing the end. Soldiers were coming home and with them, they were bringing the Spanish Flu. While the War took 16 million lives, the Spanish Flu took almost 50 million lives. The pandemic was devastating world-wide.

Eleven-year-old Freda Rose misses her soldier brother and waits for him to return from the war. She deals with everyday life; friends, family and even a lost chicken, but nothing can prepare her for the pandemic which hits the country and her small Canterbury town. Everything changes. Trying to contain the influenza pandemic was difficult. Just like the current pandemic, shops closed, people got sick, needed help and many died. Chemists wore gauze across their faces, hotels were turned into hospitals and people were scared.

We find out how they coped through the pages of Freda Rose’s diary. She writes in her dairy to Lucy Locket telling her of her joys, her fears, her sadness at the impact of the plague, as it was called. Some days were better than others.

There are moments of humour to help break up the tension and to show that no matter what happens, life goes on. Freda Rose, her friends and family are likeable and believable characters. This is a very good read in the wonderful My New Zealand Story series looking at historical accounts of our past through the diaries of young New Zealanders.

This book is a very useful resource to compare the two pandemics and see if modern medicine and technology has helped or hindered the current situation. For example, international flights all over the world have stopped as countries have closed their borders. In 1918 people travelled for weeks on ships and news and information took a lot longer to reach people. There are historic photos to support the factual aspects of this novel for middle-grade readers.

Sally Stone provides a very good insight to living through a pandemic. What stands out is the knowledge that though the 1918 pandemic seemed to last forever, it did pass. Things got better. Hope prevailed and that is important for readers today, to know that the current pandemic will one day end and the world will recover.

24 Hours on the Kiwi Seashosre

Gillian and Darryl Torckler

ISBN 9781988538389

Bateman Books

For many years, Gillian and Darryl Torckler have collaborated on numerous books for children. Their focus is non-fiction books. Their latest venture is two books looking at life in the New Zealand bush and seashore.

Each book is filled with fun facts about what happens over a 24 hour period. We visit the nightlife and day time activities of our wildlife. In 24 Hours on the Kiwi Seashore we look at tides, birds, anemones, dolphins, seals and so much more. The photos are stunning in both books. Each book has an excellent glossary and index page.

The information is perfect for readers aged 8 through 13. Each subject has a heading and there are lots of bite-sized boxes with interesting facts. One thing I found very interesting was that the tui bird has two voice boxes. Or if you look at 24 Hours on the Kiwi Seashore, gannets can reach speeds of 145 kms an hour when diving. That is incredibly fast.

Photos cover the entire pages creating a visual feast of New Zealand’s wildlife. Each animal, bird or creature is labelled with both its English and Te Reo Māori name. These books offer a wonderful introduction to our native bush and seashore and are ideal for all school library collections.

24 Hours in the Kiwi Bush

ISBN 9781988538372