Blog Archives

Teenage territories, Barbara Else

Make a Hard Fist
Tina Shaw
One Tree House, $20.00,
ISBN 9780473421878

Ocean’s Kiss
Lani Wendt Young
One Tree House, $29.00,
ISBN 9780995106741

Legacy
Whiti Hereaka
Huia, $25.00,
ISBN 9781775503347

To state the obvious, one problem with writing young adult fiction, unless the author is a teenager, is that one no longer belongs to the demographic. The first YA novel, The Outsiders, was written by S E Hinton when she was only 16, observer and participant. It feels timeless, undated, as fresh and authentic now as when first published in 1967. It still illuminates the way teenagers must find their own way to adulthood across territory that is a combination of the world around them and their own explosive emotions.

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Posted in Literature, Review, Young adults

Obituary – Barbara Murison

Dancing between order and chaos Novelist and children’s writer Barbara Else remembers Barbara Murison (b Wellington Nov 26, 1931, d Waikanae, May 7, 2017) Barbara Murison, librarian and life-long advocate of children’s reading, exemplified Margaret Mahy’s definition of the librarian

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Posted in Obituaries

Drawing pictures in the mind, Barbara Else

Coming Home to Roost Mary-Anne Scott Longacre Press, $20.00, ISBN 9781775538592  The Road to Ratenburg Joy Cowley Gecko Press, $20.00, ISBN 9781776570751 Twice now I’ve been a marker at a regional Lit Quiz where teams of top intermediate age readers

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Posted in Children, Literature, Review

Foreign countries, Kathryn Walls

The Bakehouse Joy Cowley Gecko Press, $20.00, ISBN 978177650072 The Knot Impossible: A Tale of Fontania Barbara Else Gecko Press, $25.00, ISBN 978177650041 The Girl Who Rode the Wind Stacy Gregg HarperCollins, $25.00, ISBN 9780008124304   Joy Cowley’s The Bakehouse

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Posted in Children, Fiction, Literature, 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, Review

Reading, writing and arithmetic, Barbara Else

Speed of Light
Joy Cowley
Gecko Press, $20.00,
ISBN 9781877579936

Teddy One-Eye: The Autobiography of a Teddy Bear
Gavin Bishop
Random House, $35.00,
ISBN 9781775537274

The ACB with Honora Lee
Kate De Goldi (drawings by Gregory O’Brien)
Longacre, $25.00,
ISBN 9781869799915

Three stars of New Zealand literature, three award-winning books, three very different approaches and audiences: how is any reviewer to manage this daunting assignment?

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Posted in Children, Fiction, Literature, Review

Just perk up your ears, Barbara Else

The Life and Art of Lynley Dodd
Finlay Macdonald
Penguin, $50.00,
ISBN 9780143567967

A tousle on spindly legs has conquered the world. How did it happen? Finlay Macdonald’s biography of Lynley Dodd describes her journey from childhood in the Kaingaroa Forest in the middle of the North Island to her creation of the tousle, Hairy Maclary (from Donaldson’s dairy, as if you needed to be reminded) and on to the sale of many millions of picture books.

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Posted in Biography, Non-fiction, Review

From trenches to terrorism, Barbara Else

Marked   Denis Martin Walker Books, $20.00, ISBN 9781921977541 My Brother’s War David Hill Puffin, $15.00, ISBN 9781742532653 Into the River Ted Dawe Mangakino University Press, $25.00, ISBN 9780473205089 The Nature of Ash Mandy Hager Random House, $20.00, ISBN 9781869799038

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

Becoming somebody, Angelina Sbroma

The Brain Sucker Glenn Wood Walker Books, $19.00, ISBN 9781921933633 The Queen and the Nobody Boy Barbara Else Gecko Press, $25.00, ISBN 9781877579233 How to Sell Toothpaste Leonie Thorpe HarperCollins, $25.00, ISBN 9781869509422 Glenn Wood’s The Brain Sucker is the

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

Bovver boys

What they wrote A taste of contributor comments over our first 20 years   On New Zealand Books My hope is that New Zealand Books will provide a forum for frank discussion that dares to rise above the suffocating confines

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