30 March 2011

Whale Pot Bay by Des Hunt


Whale Pot Bay by Des Hunt (HarperCollins) 2009

Paperback ISBN 9781869507305

Jake (13) and his dad live in rural Wairarapa and get along pretty well with no women in their lives, or so Jake thinks. Then his dad falls in love and his girlfriend and her daughter come to stay. Stephanie is excited because her favourite rock star, Milton Summer, lives in the area. Jake doesn’t want any females mucking up their lives and crashes the jeep when he angrily takes her to see where Milton lives – they have a bit of sorting out to do before they can become friends, and get involved with Milt too. There’s other trouble, with suspicious characters hanging around and high drama when a pregnant whale is stranded in the bay, and then a tsunami to face. Technology sometimes clumsily dealt with, and the 13-year-old driving the jeep seems inappropriate. Otherwise an exciting read with a good measure of ecological information.

This review first appeared in NZ Book Council's The School Library in March 2009.

Saving Sam by Susan Brocker


Saving Sam by Susan Brocker (HarperCollins)

Paperback ISBN 9781869507435

A dramatic dog fight scene opens the book and grabs your attention. Then we meet Ben. His mother is dead and now his dad’s in jail again so he and 16-year-old brother Sam are left to stay with their Aunt Ida and Uncle Joe, for a while at least. Ben makes friends with a filthy terrified dog his uncle has bought, and persuades them to let him take care of her. He names her Layla, cleans her up and gains her confidence, finding comfort and companionship together. Ben makes a friend at school who also has a dog and he joins her at dog training classes where they discover Layla’s history as a police dog. They’re going to need to be a good team and use all Layla’s skills too, as big brother Sam is on the road to destruction, led into the world of serious drugs by a teacher at school, a teacher who makes Ben’s life a misery every chance he gets. There’s drama, action, and strong emotion, making this a touching and thrilling read for 11-14 year olds, with a strong anti-drug message for good measure.

Reviews archive

As you will see, I haven't been making very good use of this blog, but that's about to change.
I've decided to archive my reviews here - looking back to 2009 when I started reviewing for the NZ Book Council's school e-news - The School Library. Many of these can be found on the Book Council's website where you'll also find all sorts of other goodies like author bios, how to book school visits and what's on in the book world.
I also review for Family Times newspaper and for Magpies magazine. Magpies is a specialist children's literature magazine from Australia, with a New Zealand section featuring our authors, illustrators, new books and other literary information.
I hope you'll find some books to enjoy in the reviews to follow.