Blog Archives

Not settled yet, Claudia Jardine

Christchurch Ruptures Katie Pickles BWB Texts, $15.00, ISBN 9780908321292 Leaving the Red Zone: Poems from the Canterbury Earthquakes James Norcliffe and Joanna Preston (eds) Clerestory Press, $40.00, ISBN 9780992251758 When the time came to decide what I would do after

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Posted in Non-fiction, Review and Sociology

History lessons, James Norcliffe

Monkey Boy   
Donovan Bixley
Scholastic, $16.50,
ISBN 9781775431862

Trouble in Time    
Adele Broadbent
Scholastic, $19.00,
ISBN 9781775432265

Monkey Boy opens with a prologue designed, no doubt, to catch its intended audience of younger, and not so young, boys. It’s 1804 and our hero, Jimmy Grimholt, needed “to do more than pee. He was full to busting, so that he was afraid he would muck himself if he didn’t go soon”.

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Posted in Children, Fiction, Literature and Review

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

eSensual readings, Murray Bramwell

Essential New Zealand Poems: Facing the Empty Page
Siobhan Harvey, James Norcliffe and Harry Ricketts (eds)
Godwit, $45.00, ISBN 9781775534594

So what makes poems essential? In their introduction to this most appealing collection, the three editors mull over the problem of their own title. Actually it is not their title, but a reprise of an earlier Godwit collection also called Essential New Zealand Poems.

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Posted in Literature, Poetry and Review

Touch of darkness, Sarah Jane Barnett

Shadow Play
James Norcliffe
Proverse Hong Kong
ISBN 9789881993588

Great South Road and South Side
Tony Beyer
Puriri Press
ISBN 9780908943395

Leonard Lambert
Steele Roberts
ISBN 9781927242285

Curriculum Vitae
Harold Jones
ISBN 9781493137527 (e-book also available)

James Norcliffe is an award-winning writer, editor, and teacher who has published six collections of poetry. Published five years after his last collection, Shadow Play was a finalist for the annual international Proverse Prize in 2011. The collection is one of curiosity in action. In a generous preface, Bernadette Hall sums up the appeal of Norcliffe’s poetry: his “quick, clever, jinky words” and “gift for being seriously funny”. While Norcliffe excels at whimsy, the poems are also wry and accomplished, especially the exceptional “Lost in Nineveh”, “Ichthyosaurus” and “Towards the Mountain” (a poem for Pat Hammond).

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Posted in Literature, Poetry and Review

Myth making, Angelina Sbroma

The Enchanted Flute James Norcliffe Longacre, $20.00, ISBN 9781869799267   Heart of Danger Fleur Beale Random House, $20.00, ISBN 9781869795436   In The Enchanted Flute, James Norcliffe (author of the celebrated Loblolly Boy series) makes classical myth the source and

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Posted in Literature, Review and Young adults

The light and the dark, Geoffrey Miles

The Loblolly Boy and the Sorcerer James Norcliffe Longacre, $19.99, ISBN 9781877460692   Sacrifice Joanna Orwin HarperCollins, $26.99, ISBN 9781869509125   It’s rare for a modern children’s writer to create a really original fantasy creature, but James Norcliffe achieved it

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Posted in Children, Literature, Review and Young adults

Flights of fancy, Diane Hebley

Sting Raymond Huber Walker Books, $16.99, ISBN 9781921150890 The Strange and Diverting Story of The Loblolly Boy: A Fantasy Novel Involving Enchantment, Mystery, one Garden Gnome and a Wombat’s Bottom James Norcliffe Longacre Press, $19.99, ISBN 9781877460258 Return for the

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Posted in Children, Literature and Review

No easy heroics, James Norcliffe

Shadow of the Mountain  Anna Mackenzie Longacre Press, $18.99, ISBN 9781877460005 Smashed  Mandy Hager Random House, $18.99, ISBN 9781869419424 Gool  Maurice Gee Puffin, $19.95, ISBN 9780143304005   Each of these kidult novels tells a compelling story in a tightly written

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Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review and Young adults
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