Sticking with Pigs

Author – Mary-anne Scott39299858

Age – 10+

Wolf (Wolfgang – named after Amadeus by his musician mum) hasn’t been very focused lately. His marks at school have declined and he’s dropped out of his sports and activities. Wolf’s worried about his brother Davey. Davey has been diagnosed with the rare Addison’s disease, requiring injections, hospital visits and rest.

When Wolf gets the chance to go hunting with an experienced uncle, his parents are dubious, but with Davey’s help he soon earns the right (and fitness) to go.

Excited, Wolf can’t wait to get out there among the action of a pig-hunt. He’s not disappointed, but by the end of his adventure he’s been scared, exhausted, embarrassed, angry, thrilled, and just plain terrified. It wasn’t what he expected and just about everything that can go wrong – does.

I loved the character of Wolf. He was very believable as he tried to shake the ‘townie’ label, impress a girl and his uncle, all with the thought of Davey stuck at home and unable to experience what he was doing. This story had no ‘boring bits’ as Wolf came across one challenge after another. Great kiwi lingo and reluctant reader heaven.

(Hunting, Siblings, Brothers, Courage, Pig, Boar, Tramping, Family)

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My Brigadista Year

Author – Katherine PatersonMy Brigadista Year
Age – 9+

Lora lives in Havana, Cuba, and she has just shocked her parents into tears and anger. It is 1961 and Lori wants to join Fidel Castro’s army of teachers to go and live in the rural areas to teach literacy. She will become a Brigadista.

Lora is excited to be joining 1000’s of others in the quest to make Cuba a illiteracy free nation. She is to live with a rural family and after working alongside them in their fields each day, she is to teach them at night. At first she has to overcome the men’s feeling of losing their status in their homes, but when they realise their children and wives will be able to read and write and they not, they soon join in the lessons at night.

All is going well until they learn of armed rebels in the jungles around them. Brigadistas are their target. Should she go home?

This was a simple story about the 250,000 volunteers who left their homes of comfort to help their fellow citizens to read and write. 100,000 were between the ages of 10 and 19. The rear of the book has a timeline of Cuban history which taught me much about this nation.

Anzac Animals

Author – Maria Gill39668161
Illustrator – Marco Ivancic
Age – 7+

Hundreds of thousands of animals were part of WWI and WWII. Horses, dogs, cats, monkeys, a tortoise, donkeys and pigeons all helped with the war effort, either with carrying goods and the injured, sending messages, finding the injured, boosting morale or even saving thousands of lives.

Anzac Animals is a celebration of all those animals with 20 of them showcased and displayed under sections WWI and WWII. Helpful extras to aid understanding of the information include easy-to-read fact boxes on each page, timelines for both wars with the animals as their focus, maps of Europe showing the conflict directions and separate sections on veterinary care and animal welfare, awards, and a glossary to pull everything together.

Creative Non-Fiction. Stunning full colour illustrations and captivating text, not only animal lovers will enjoy this one!

Abel Tasman – Mapping the Southern Lands

Author – Maria Gill

Illustrator – Marco Ivancic

Age – 8+

Ever since hearing tales of adventure as a boy, Abel always wanted to be a sailor. He soon learns how tough it is aboard a ship for weeks and months on end, but ends up with his own berth and crew. He is one of two skipper’s sent to map the ‘southern lands’.

His travels take him to the bottom of Australia and then onto New Zealand. But he encounters suspicious Maori warriors who paddle out to meet them. With a lack of understanding between them, conflict erupts and Abel decides to try and find another place to land. Unsuccessful, he heads back to Australia via Tonga who are used to trading with the white man.

Abel goes on to map sections of the Australian coastline while searching for treasure. His maps were used by many sailors after him who ventured to ‘The Southern Lands’.

An important piece of our history is told alongside beautifully illustrated full colour pages. There is an informative and interesting section in the back with bios of the important sailors aboard and schematics of the ship Heemskerck which brought them here. A library must-have.

(History, New Zealand, Journey, Holland, Dutch, Van Dieman’s Land, Australia, Kiwi Non-fiction)

Zita the Space Girl

Author / Illustrator – Ben Hatke

Age – 7+

Zita and her best friend Joseph are playing in a paddock when something falls out of the sky. Is it a meteorite? Inside they find a strange gadget with a bright red button. Joseph urges Zita NOT to push it, but that’s not Zita’s style. Suddenly to her horror, a tentacled creature appears and snatches Joseph! They vanish.

Although still in shock, Zita knows what she has to do. Press the button again….

This is where her Spacegirl adventures begin. Robots, strange creatures large and small, fear and new friendships follow. She has to find Joseph and bring him home. But time is ticking. There is an asteroid streaking towards the strange planet she finds herself on and everyone and everything will do anything to escape it.

The 1st in this Graphic Novel series, this was an action-packed, robot riddled and monster mashed adventure. Zita not only has to find Joseph, she has to avoid multiple attacks on her and her new, albeit odd, friends. A fun read.

(Series, Graphic Novel, Sci-fi, Robots, Friendship, Action, Adventure)

Toto the Ninja Cat and the Great Snake Escape

Author – Dermot O’Leary36139079

Illustrator – Nick East

Age – 6+

Toto and her brother Silver have just moved from Italy to London. When they hear something in their bins outside one night, they go to investigate.

Little did they know they would make a friend called Catface. Catface is keen to show them the wonders of London and before they know it they are caught up in an adventure to save the small creatures of the city from an escaped King Cobra!

Toto’s eyesight isn’t that good, but she has razor sharp reflexes and was trained by a Ninja Master in Italy when she was small. Her skills come in very handy along the way.

A fun adventure above and below the streets of London, to find a giant snake escapee from London Zoo. Toto and Silver are based on the illustrator’s own cats. His Toto couldn’t see very well either, but had the reflexes of a fully-sighted cat.

(Animals, Cat, Snake, Rat, London, Sewers, Humour, Funny, Adventure)

The 1000 year old boy

Author – Ross Welford35958734

Age – 9+

Would you want to live forever? Alfie is 11 years old and has been 11 for 1000 years. He lives with his mum who is also a ‘Neverdead’ and they keep to themselves in a small house in the woods.

When there is an accident, Alfie is left alone, frightened and desperate to find what he needs to finally grow up and grow old normally. He makes two friends who help hide him from the police and social services while he figures out what to do.

But there is someone else who wants what Alfie needs – someone who has been searching for Alfie for hundreds of years. Someone who will do anything to get what he wants.

An intriguing story about friendship, family, and history, all rolled up with a mystery and a heart-stopping conclusion. Be careful what you wish for! Great read!

(History, Friends, Mystery, Action)