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Truths both bald and stretched, Eirlys Hunter

The Diamond Horse 
Stacy Gregg
HarperCollins, $25.00, ISBN 9780008124397

Grandad’s Wheelies
Jack Lasenby
Penguin Random House, $17.00, ISBN 9780143507338

Rona 
Chris Szekely
Huia, $15.00, ISBN 9781775501985

The Impossible Boy
Leonie Agnew
Penguin Random House, $20.00, ISBN 9780143309062

Reading fiction allows a child to imagine what it would be like to be someone else, and to develop insight into character, motivation and relationships. These four novels are very different from each other, but they all include depictions of behaviour and relationships that will help their readers to understand something true about people.

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Hurtling along, armed with a map, Eirlys Hunter

Soup and Bread
Nōnen Títi
Nōnen Títi, $25.00,
ISBN 9780994107732

The Pirates and the Nightmaker
James Norcliffe
Longacre, $20.00,
ISBN 9781775537694

The Volume of Possible Endings: A Tale of Fontania
Barbara Else
Gecko Press, $25.00,
ISBN 9781927271377

Two of these titles are fantasies with large dollops of magic, yet I happily suspended disbelief and became immersed in their worlds. The third is supposedly set in the here and now, but instead of getting lost in it I kept noticing inconsistencies – it just wasn’t credible. Believability is crucial to fiction, and it can’t be achieved unless a novel’s characters are operating in a particular and sustained world. It doesn’t matter how unfamiliar the setting is – 12th-century Laotian temple, Antarctic scientist’s lab, a dragon’s lair – there has to be enough plausible detail to allow the reader to feel secure that the writer knows what they’re talking about. The writer may well have only visited the location in their imagination, but that’s all that should be necessary to bring the place to life. The wardrobe, those furs, that lamppost – of course we’ll believe in Narnia. The more specific a place, the more real it will seem, and the more believable the story.

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Posted in Children, Fiction, Literature and Review

Boy germs, Eirlys Hunter

The Flytrap Snaps Johanna Knox and Sabrina Malcolm (illus) Hinterland Press, $22.00, ISBN 9780473179960   Just Jack Adele Broadbent HarperCollins, $19.99, ISBN 9781869508869   Super Finn Leonie Agnew Scholastic, $19.50, ISBN 9781869439996   The Puffin Books of my childhood carried

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Posted in Children, Literature, Review and Young adults

Ephemera and treasure, Eirlys Hunter

The Wonky Donkey Craig Smith, music Craig Smith, illustrations Katz Cowley Scholastic, $24.99, ISBN 9781869439262 Old Hu-hu/Huhu Koroheke Kyle Mewburn, illustrations Rachel Driscoll Maori text Katerina Te Heikoko Mataira Scholastic, $18.99, ISBN 9781869435189 / 9781869438975 Piggity-Wiggity Jiggity Jig Goes to

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Posted in Children, Literature and Review

Ways of being in the world, Eirlys Hunter

When Mum Went Funny Jack Lasenby Longacre Press, $16.99, ISBN 1877361534 The Whizbanger That Emmental Built Reuben Schwarz Puffin, $17.95, ISBN 0143318381 Chute Thru Janice Marriott Mallinson Rendel, $17.00, ISBN 0958262632 Thor’s Tale: Endurance & Adventure in the Southern Ocean 

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Posted in Children, Fiction, Literature and Review

Primitive satisfaction, Norman Bilbrough

The Real Thing Brian Falkner Mallinson Rendel, $16.95, ISBN 0908783825 Seal Boy Ken Catran Random, $16.95, ISBN 1869416112 Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?  Sandy McKay Longacre Press, $14.95, ISBN 1877135976 Colin Goes Bush Sandy McKay Longacre Press, $14.95, ISBN

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Posted in Children, Fiction, Literature, Review and Young adults

Torch under the duvet, Eirlys Hunter

Red Dog in Bandit Country – A true story Bill Redding (as told to Fleur Beale) Longacre Press, $16.95, ISBN 187713581X Watermark Penelope Todd Longacre Press, $16.95, ISBN 1877135836 Thunder Road Ted Dawe Longacre Press, $18.95, ISBN 1877135879 Two of

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Posted in Literature, Review and Young adults

Laying ghost, Laura Kroetsch

Haunt Bronwyn Bannister Otago University Press, $24.95, ISBN 1877133841 Between Black and White Eirlys Hunter Vintage, $24.95, ISBN 1869414284 I find that when reading a first novel I often flick to the little publisher logo on the spine. I acknowledge

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Posted in Fiction, Literature and Review
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