Last week I posted about the New Zealand fiction (and non-fiction) I'd read in 2021. In this post I'll look at the great Kiwi reading options my 8 year old and I explored together this year.
This book has a lot that appeals; it's got a relatable central character with realistically drawn family relationships, a rugged seaside setting, and magical creatures of myth. T. K. Roxborough throws a lot at Charlie, from visiting Americans to a natural disaster (with mythological causes) and he comes through, as all good kid heroes should. This is a well-paced read that includes a lot that's distinctly Kiwi (Māori atua, native birds and forest).
Joyful and celebratory, this a book for summer trips to the pool or swimming hole. In it a boy tries his best to do an epic bomb but none of the advice that he follows seems to help until he unleashes his own special style. A great book about determination, being yourself, and celebrating difference. It's got good rhythm too in the reading of it and excellent illustrations.
A must for any nature-loving kid with amazing illustrations by Gavin Bishop. To find out more read: Exploring Wildlife of Aotearoa this school holidays
Earlier in the year kiddo and I read all the finalist picture books in The New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults and then he ranked them. Tied for first place were Hound the Detective and The Hug Blanket.
Hound the Detective is a sort of treasure hunt of a tale in which Hound roams all over town trying to solve a mystery. The illustrations wonderful and full of delightful details.
The Hug Blanket is a story of a child losing their grandmother. This is a sad topic but it's dealt with in a touching and ultimately uplifting way as the child continues to feel their grandmother's love in the form of a warm, cosy blanket knitted she made for her.
The second book that follows the adventures of Whetū Toa; daughter, animal keeper, lover of mum's lasagne. In this instalment The Mighty Mikaere's golden ram, Ramses, has gone missing and Whetū is going to do her best to get him back. There's magic, starbeams that operate on a timetable, and many a talking animal in this delightful romp that has a cool illustration for each chapter, and chapters that short so that when you say "okay, one more chapter" you haven't committed to that much more time. Small gripes from us include the cover image which my kiddo thought was "a bit scary looking" and a character named "Superstar Starlight Chrysanthemum" which is okay to read... as long as it's not out loud (it's a real tongue twister).
This is great one to end the year on. Last year Santa's Christmas was the worst, with everything going wrong but a group of plucky kids aren't taken the news of Christmas's cancellation lying down! With a lot of hard work and ingenuity they may just have what Santa needs to get his mojo back... and get a pretty epic Christmas surprise of their own. This picture book has a cute story, and great illustrations with a lot to look at, and features diverse characters. And the ending is super fun! Also, another great title that has a te reo version, which is always welcome.
Looking forward to:
- A bit of non-fiction in the form of Egg and Spoon, a Kiwi cookbook for kids.
- A bit more non-fiction, summer holiday fun in the form of The kitchen science cookbook
- We're really into graphic novels at the moment and there aren't a lot of Kiwi ones, but Kay O'Neill's The Tea Dragon Tapestry is on the list.