Blog Archives

A child’s-eye view, Anna Mackenzie

The Mapmakers’ Race Eirlys Hunter, Gecko Press, $25.00

Time Twins Arne Norlin and Sally Astridge, Submarine, $25.00

Finding David Hill, Puffin, $20.00

The bonds of family and place, seen from an appropriately youthful viewpoint, are the key players in three recent offerings for younger readers.

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Posted in Children, Literature, Review

Cliquety-clique? David Hill

Twice Upon a Time
James Norcliffe
Puffin NZ, $17.00,
ISBN 9780143770671

Into the White
Joanna Grochowicz
Allen and Unwin, $19.00,
ISBN 9781760293659

Taupo Blows!
Doug Wilson
Bateman, $19.00,
ISBN 9781869539672

Those accusations from a few months back – the ones which told us New Zealand literature is a cliquey little club, rampant with mutual back-scratching and buttock-wiping, with the Book Council and New Zealand Books among its most self-serving cliquettes: am I the only one who found them a tad same-old, same-old?

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Posted in Children, Fiction, Literature, Review

Scaring them silly, Linda Burgess

Gladys Goes to War Glyn Harper (Jenny Cooper illus) Puffin, $20.00, ISBN 9780143507208 Speed King David Hill (Phoebe Morris illus) Puffin, $25.00, ISBN 9780143507222 My Grandpa is a Dinosaur Richard Fairgray and Terry Jones Puffin, $20.00, ISBN 9780143507192 Did You

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Posted in Children, Literature, Review

Forward to the 1950s, Trevor Agnew

The Adventures of Hutu and Kawa Avis Acres (text and illus) Puffin, $25.00, ISBN 9780143507055 First to the Top: Sir Edmund Hillary’s Everest Adventure David Hill (Phoebe Morris illus) Puffin, $25.00, ISBN 9780143506874 Changing Times: The Story of a New

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Posted in Children, Literature, Review

What’s a New Zealand novel? Sue Esterman

Enemy Camp 
David Hill
Puffin, $20.00, ISBN 9780143309123

Bernard Beckett
Text, $26.00, ISBN 9781922182753

Open Your Eyes, Jackson Ryder
Rudy Castaneda Lopez
Escalator, $30.00, ISBN 9780473295691

It has been interesting to read three such different but compelling books. All three writers are New Zealanders, but only one book is identifiable as a New Zealand novel. I mention this only because there was a session at the recent Writers Week in Wellington during the Arts Festival where I was expecting a robust discussion about what constitutes a New Zealand writer but unfortunately that didn’t happen. So the question is still there, but I don’t think I can address that in this review except through an occasional comment.

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Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review, Young adults

Get the picture? David Hill

The Heading Dog Who Split in Half: Legends and Tall Tales from New Zealand Michael Brown and Mat Tait Potton and Burton, $40.00, ISBN 9781927213575 One of my reservations about graphic novels has been that they limit readers’ imaginative options.

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Posted in Graphic novel, Literature, Review

Chimes of conviction, David Hill

How Does it Hurt?
Stephanie de Montalk
Victoria University Press, $40.00,
ISBN 9780864739698

What Lies Beneath: A Memoir
Elspeth Sandys
Otago University Press, $35.00,
ISBN 9781877578892

Give Us This Day: A Memoir of Family and Exile
Helena Wiśniewska Brow
Victoria University Press, $40.00,
ISBN 9780864739681

Somebody once wrote ponderously that some of the best fiction s/he’d read came in the form of memoirs. Actually, I think it was me. And I’m reminded of the anecdote about Jonathan Raban and Paul Theroux, after they met up while travelling around the United Kingdom gathering material. When Raban’s travel journal Coasting subsequently appeared, Theroux commented that every page gleamed with authenticity, except for Raban’s account of the afternoon they’d spent together. Theroux didn’t recognise that at all.

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Posted in Memoir, Non-fiction, Review

At the whim of larger, terrifying forces, Angelina Sbroma

The Deadly Sky
David Hill
Puffin, $20.00, ISBN 9780143308157

The Red Suitcase
Jill Harris
Mākaro Press, $25.00, ISBN 9780994106902

Rachael Craw
Walker, $22.00, ISBN 9781922179623

David Hill’s The Deadly Sky is set in 1974, when the nuclear proliferation of the Cold War was at the forefront of political debate, and France was, quite literally, dropping bombs in the South Pacific. Modern global terror has a different focus (the Big Red Button seems old-fashioned from today’s perspective), but the ethical quandaries at the heart of the arms race – whether militarisation works to promote security or to endanger it; whether national and global security is worth its economic, ecological and individual cost – remain pertinent.

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Posted in Fiction, Literature, Review, Young adults

Hormones and hedges David Hill

Into the River Ted Dawe Longacre, $20.00, ISBN 9781775536048 Dappled Annie and the Tigrish Mary McCallum (Annie Hayward illus) Gecko Press, $20.00, ISBN 9781877579912 Anyone present when Into the River won the Senior Fiction and Book of the Year categories

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Posted in Children, Literature, Review, Young adults

War means stories, David Hill

Ambiguity and Innocence: The New Zealand Division and the Occupation of Trieste, May 1945  Tony Simpson Silver Owl Press, $35.00, ISBN 9780986451980 The Battles of Monte Cassino: The Campaign and its Consequences Glyn Harper and John Tonkin-Covell Allen and Unwin,

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Posted in History, Non-fiction, Review, War
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