Author – Rowena House
Age – 9+
It’s 1916. Angelique is 14 and is not sure how she should feel after hearing the worst news about her father fighting in WWI. Her mother is grief-stricken but Angelique only remembers her father’s anger. Her fears for her beloved brother Pascal overshadow her guilt over her father, and she vows to make sure their farm will be just as it was when Pascal left to fight. He must have somewhere safe and loving to return to.
But doing everything herself is almost impossible, and when Nature takes a swipe at them, and then the Army take even more, Angelique is at breaking point. There is even worse news to come – they will lose the farm if they don’t pay her dead father’s debts.
It’s a heart-breaking choice, but Angelique decides to sell Pascal’s Toulouse Geese. But the only way to get the best price is to take them to where the money is – the officers in the army. This means a long, cold and dangerous journey closer to the front.
Along the way they meet many people just as desperate to live as they are. She must keep her wits about her, and sum up all the courage she has.
The idea for this story came from a photograph the author saw on a TV documentary about the Spanish Flu pandemic – blamed on domestic birds like geese, chickens or ducks in 1916. It spread through the army who then spread it further when they returned home. (Angelique has no idea what is making her birds unwell along their journey.) Through thorough and meticulous research by the author, this story gives yet another face to war – that of those left behind, trying to hold onto hope for their loved ones while holding everything together at home. War took their fathers, uncles, brothers and sons, then their stock, their livelihood, farms and homes. Stunning.
(War, Family, Courage, Geese, Goose, France, WWI, Soldiers, Journey)
Author – Jess Butterworth
Age – 9+
Ruby knows there is something wrong as soon as she gets home one night. But she never imagined the changes that are about to happen in her life.
Within hours she is escaping Australia and travelling to India with her father, grandmother, family dog and a smuggled baby kangaroo.
How can they do this to her? She is angry at her father for making this choice for her, but soon learns to love the mountain they are to live on. She makes a friend, photographs the wildlife and helps refurbish a run-down hotel with her family.
But strange things are happening on the mountain, and the local townspeople claim that it is haunted by an angry goddess. Will anyone ever want to work in their hotel, let alone guests come to stay?
Ruby becomes protective of the mountain, particularly the leopards that prowl the undergrowth. When she sees men behaving suspiciously she wants to know what’s going on.
Much of this story was written based on the author’s own experiences as a child in India. Ruby is a well-drawn character still dealing with the loss of her mother in a car accident, which has triggered other fears she must overcome. Her friend Praveen gives a young, girl-boy friendship and an environmental theme builds around the endangered leopards.
(Leopards, Endangered animals, India, Grief, Friendship, Courage, Family, Poaching)
Author – Mary-anne Scott
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)
Author – Maria Gill
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!
Author – Dermot O’Leary
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)
Author – Hayley Scott
Illustrator – Pippa Curnick
Age – 6+
Stevie isn’t happy about moving from the city to the country to be closer to her dad. She is a dreamer and loves watching the clouds from her 18th storey apartment window and thinking about stuff. Will she be able to do that in the country?
Her grandmother gives her a moving gift – a teacup that opens up into a dolls house. Stevie is also given 4 rabbit figures for the house, but she knows this is a plan between her mum and grandmother to try and make her feel better about the move.
When they arrive at their new cottage, Stevie carries the teacup house and rabbits carefully inside and sets them up in her new room. But one of the rabbits is missing! While she’s frantically searching, something magical happens!
The first story in a sweet new series. Think Toy Story inside a teacup house. With colour illustrations throughout this is an ideal early chapter book.
(Magic, Moving, Adventure, Danger, Garden, Series)
Author – Julian Gough
Illustrator – Jim Field
Age – 6+
Rabbit & Bear are swimming in a lake, enjoying the summer, when a THING whizzes past their heads. It screams, hits a tree and lands in the water.
What is it, they wonder as Bear plucks it from the lake. It’s unconscious. It’s small. Its face is flat. It has bird feet. Suddenly Rabbit recognises it. It’s a creature that he’s always been told to avoid. They are 6 ft tall and will terrorise you! They eat you alive and burp up your bones!
I don’t think so, says Bear having a closer look at the small, still, fuzzy bundle.
As always, Rabbit gets himself all worked up in a tizz, while Bear looks on figuring things out properly. Slowly but surely they work out the truth as the thing awakes, and Rabbit learns that he actually may have something (embarrasing) in common with it.
Just as good as the first two stories – Funny, thoughtful, and endearing, as these two friends learn about acceptance, no matter what they’ve always believed.
(Animals, Humour, Funny, Series, Acceptance, Prejudice)