06 October 2011

(New Zealand Literature) Our Current Read and Review List

As other living literature readers from downunder will atest to .... finding *wholesome* and well written New Zealand based literature can often be a stretch since authors currently publishing written works usually just do not seem to write with us harder-to-please readers in mind. Here are some of the titles on my current reading and request list. I'm not necessarily recommending these books, just sharing my potential NZ lit to review pile since some have made it past our good reading criteria.
We were able to source most of these books detailed in this post through our local library.

Picture books:The Very Important Godwit
by Jenny Pattrick (incs C/D) not available at our library, yet
Read. Review at the end of this post.

Davy's Ducks
by Dorothy Bulter I just ♥enjoy♥ Dorothy's picture books
still to read

Mr Archimedes Bath
by Pamela Allen not available at our library, yet
still to read

by Gavin Bishop (I've flicked through this quickly at a local bookstore, I'd just like another, slower, read so will be hunting this up at the library)

Chapter books:
Enemy at the Gate
by Philippa Werry
Read. Review at the end of this post.

Joe's Ruby
by Elsie Locke
still to read

No Simple Passage
by Jenny Robin Jones (n/f - listed for ages 15+)
still to read

Shadow of the Boyd
by Diana Menefy (story format, based on fact - 1809)
Read. Review, scroll down.

Bush and High Country Birds of New Zealandby Elaine Power
Our Review: Perfect for whetting the nature study appetite. This small book is an inspiration to pull out your own pencils and have a go at sketching some of the birds Elaine has detailed in this small book. I will be ☺

Enemy at the Gateby Philippa Werry (set in mid to late 1930's)
Our Review: I think my appreciation for this story line is due to the fact that this topic is one our family has experienced - a sibling contracting polio. Amazing how many things remained unchanged in hospital policies between the late 1930's in this book and the early 1950's with our family.
Werry showcases the family in the Enemy at the Gate with what may have been the average New Zealand family values and attitudes of that time. (Offers some good spots to pause for discussion if used as a read aloud ☺).
As we read along Thomas' character - the central figure in the book - develops into something finer due to the events his family must navigate through when one of his siblings contracts polio.
Werry deals with the death of his sister Flo's dearest friend, Molly, with sparse and empathic word useage.
For those that like to know about "extra" content - the author injects a moment of boy-girl attraction right at the end of the book. I was left with my own end thought: just because someone we love and care for loses the ability to use, or have, the gifts God has given to us to use, hone or enjoy - it does not give us the licence to put aside or ignore those gifts we have, purely out of kindness and sympathy for our loved one.
I'm proposing to enjoy this as a read aloud with Bobs and Daisy during Our SOTW4 run.

Shadow of the Boyd
by Diana Menefy
Our Review:
It took me a few chapters to work out that the author was jumping backwards and forwards between two different time frames; Thomas Sailing on the Boyd along with the events surrounding the massacre of those on that sailing ship, and, Thomas then sailing back to England on City of Edinburgh.  I am going to read this book aloud to Bobs (& Daisy) so we can discuss some the issues outlined in the story as we go.  Some of the content is brutal and graphic. (We will be editing out the swear words the author has penned in.)
Topics for discussion:
•Starving boys stealing oranges while no-one was looking.
•The implications of utu. In this story utu becomes revenge killings to restore balance.
•Canabalism and slavery in New Zealand.
•The choices (?) many convict woman made on board convict ships (it doesn't go into detail though Anne, an ex-convict, touches on this topic once, briefly).
•A young male feeling embarrassed by the same ex-convict woman breast feeding her baby while they are held in captivity.

The story is based on fact, events in 1809, and the end notes flesh out the details of Thomas Davidson's journey to a satisfying end.
**I found the book an interesting and thought filled read.
Yet since I tend to err on the side of caution I would be recommending to use Shadow of the Boyd as a read aloud to more mature pre-teens. For our family, I wouldn't give this book to the children as a reader.
ETA:  English Unit from Harper Collins to go with Shadow of the Boyd

The Very Important Godwit
by Jenny Pattrick (incs C/D)
Our Review:The story line in this book has real potential to become the literary base for a unit study, or as a Five in A Row type read in a home educating home. The Very Important Godwit lends itself perfectly to mapping exercises and art lessons, along with an indulging in an indepth nature/science study about godwits.
The songs are understandably written with a young audience in mind and a very young child could enjoy singing along to the CD with the predictable rhythym and rhyme detailed in each song - fun when you're little!
Jez Tuya has created some lovely art work for this story.
I think the only part that detracted from the story, for us, was a stand alone sentence about a group of godwits 'teasing' the very important godwit because she had a radio transmitter sticking out of her b*m ?
Really? Shrug. Overall, Daisy and I enjoyed this picture book and our family remains fascinated by the amount of time it takes a godwit to fly non-stop back to New Zealand from Alaska. Amazing.

Book Reviews © Chelle G

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