White Ravens: New Zealand
New Zealand (English) - 1993 - 64
Out Walked Me!
Dunedin: John McIndoe, 1991. 77 p.
coming of age
Mel insults the Minister of Education during his visit to her school because he embarrassed her best friend Wai, a redheaded Maori girl. To her surprise, Wai is not at all thankful, but angry. The very same day, Mel decides to leave school and hitchhikes to Christchurch where her father lives. During the following days she learns more about herself and finds a new friend. She finally returns home upon learning that Wai has died in a car accident. This award-winning novel deals with a crucial time in the life of a young girl in a very believable narrative style. (12+)
New Zealand (English) - 1993 - 65
Mataira, Kāterina (text)
Kemp, Terewal (text)
Ngata, Hone lhi-O-Te-Rangi (illus.)
Wellington and Raglan: Mallinson Rendel and ahuru Enterprises, 1992.  p.
fable/Maori - moon/fable
The moon is crying because she cannot see her face in the sea. Each passer-by, Cloud, Rain, Thunder and Lightning, in turn suggest that something is wrong with her. Rainbow, however, advises her to ask the spirit of the sea to still the wind and calm the waves. At last she can see her dazzling reflection and is happy. This simple fable is faced off against illustrations in striking, bright-hued pastel rainbow tones which give faces and personalities to the natural characters of the story. (3-7)
New Zealand (English) - 1994 - 74
Butler, Dorothy (text)
Klepatski, Gabriela (illus.)
Auckland: Random House New Zealand, 1992.  p.
ISBN 1-86941 170 6
Sibling - Lost - Family
As a second child, Isabella has a strong mind of her own and seems to know how to get her way. at the expense of her parents and brother, who are always losing her on excursions to the zoo, the farm ... The momentary solution turns out to be a compromise of sorts. The family's misadventures are portrayed in enchanting pen-and-ink colored illustrations, four frames on one page. The simple storyline ring familiar to many families and young listeners, especially those with tempestuous younger siblings.
New Zealand (English) - 1994 - 75
Dodd, Lynley (text/illus.)
The Minister's Cat ABC
Wellington: Mallinson Rendel, 1992.  p.
ABC/English - Cat
This witty picture book interweaves an affectionate look at many kinds of cats with a vocabulary of ways to describe their activities. A seemingly simple subject is thus made unendingly more enjoyable and readable by the diversity of aspects to be observed page after page. It is hard to resist the desire to start right over at the beginning. Lynley Dodd's inimicable and hallmark style of drawing and coloring have found another congenial subject matter which children and adults can enjoy together. (3-7)
New Zealand (English) - 1994 - 76
A Sonnet for the City
Dunedin: McIndoe Publishers, 1992. 175 p.
Student protest - Curfew - Kidnapping - Social responsibility
In this sequel to "Leaving the Snow Country" (1991), Penny Rider finds herself away from her home in the hills for the first time, having chosen to pursue studies at university. although she must thus give up the companionship of her new friend, a young doctor who is as much attracted to nature as she is. As befits her age, she is open to new experiences and making new friends, but is not fully able to deal with all the complications that arise thereby - conspiritory resistance to burocratic repression or the emotional attraction to a mysterious loner. Her thoughts on life, the various interests of her new friends and her probing attempts to keep a balance in her own life and struggle to sort out her own values are quite realistically portrayed. (15+)
New Zealand (English) - 1995 - 52
Barnett, Rosalyn (selector)
Bowics, Trish (illus.)
Sun days & moon nights
Wellington: Mallinson Rendel, 1994. 63 p.
New Zealand/Short Stories/Anthology - Folktales/New Zealand - Everyday Life/New Zealand
This anthology of ten stories for young readers and read-aloud storytelling ranges from light-hearted adventure tales to episodes of family life to special moments in a child's life to folk and fairy tales. Underlying each story are elements of human nature such as greed or ambition or the human condition which require learning to appreciate differences. The water-color illustrations enhance the volume with humor and imagination. Some of the stories have Maori characters and vocabulary, while others could be set almost anywhere on earth, making this a volume attractive to school and library collections around the world. (6+) ☆ ☼
New Zealand (English) - 1996 - 39
Dunedin: Longacre, 1995. 115 p.
School - Outsider - Sport - Conformity
Byrony moves to Auckland and enters a new school. She is well-to-do, white, and clever in a school where many pupils are none of these. Tormented at first by her classmates, her efforts to win acceptance through conformity with their values results in a brush with the law. This is a thoughtful novel about two girls, united by their love for softball, who try to bridge class divisions through growing understanding and friendship. Boock is a prizewinning writer for young adults, and also for theater and television. She shows great insight into the problems of growing up in modern times, where individuals must struggle to chose the path that is right for themselves. (14+) ☆
New Zealand (English) - 1997 - 40
Crump, Barry (text)
Ball, Murray (illus.)
Mrs. Windyflax and the Pungapeople
Auckland: Hodder Moa Beckett, 1995.  p.
Fantasy - Pranks
This light-hearted, nonsensical story in rhyme relates the tale of a »funny little lady« who is plagued by a horde of invisible little green creatures, the »pungapeople«, who are constantly stealing her mailbox and playing other pranks. She turns to the local police officer, whose valiant but hapless attempts to enforce the law are recorded here in full-page illustrations which contain as much wit and slapstick as the text. The raw coastal cliffs are rendered in bold exhuberent color, giving the book an authentic New Zealand atmosphere. (4+)
New Zealand (English) - 1997 - 41
Wellington: Mallinson Rendel, 1996. 119 p.
School - Hamlet - Bully - Family problems - Suicide - Parent/Child
At the school in the new area where Cara and her parents have moved in hopes of forgetting the mysterious suicide of brother and son, the English class is studying Hamlet. While dealing intensively with the dilemmas faced both by Hamlet and by her brother, Cara herself has to deal with the bullying of a girl in her class, the easy-going attitude of her new college-dropout boyfriend, and her parent's inability to deal with their family tragedy. In this fast-moving plot the author carefully weaves these story elements into a satisfying whole, in which Cara learns about herself and how to cope with the effects of other people's behavior. (14+)
New Zealand (English) - 1997 - 42
The battle of Pook Island
Dunedin: Longacre Press, 1996. 200 p.
New Zealand/1930s - School - Rivalry - Adventure
This is the third adventure novel about the Seddon Street Gang, four boys and girls growing up during the 1930s in New Zealand. Returning to school after a summer full of adventure and personal growth, each of the children gets involved again in family life. At school they unite against their archrivals, the Milk Street Gang. Lasenby, a former teacher and today one of New Zealand's most popular writers, relies on colorful, direct dialogs to reveal the relationships between the characters and to make the situations come alive. The second book of this series, »The Waterfall«, was the winner of the 1996 Aim Junior Fiction Award. (10+)
Special Mention - New Zealand (English) - 1998 - 38
Dare truth or promise
Dunedin: Longacre Press, 1997. 180 p.
First love - Lesbian - Homosexuality - Mother/Daughter - Homophobia - Identity
Louie is a fast-talking, witty girl who likes acting and plans to be a lawyer. Willa is quieter, has a dog as a constant companion, likes fencing and hopes to become a chef. In two marvellous early scenes of the skilfully told narrative, which alternates, in the third person, between Louie and Willa, each personality is brilliantly captured. The ups and downs of their gradually acknowledged feelings - which give way to passionate romance - and the varying reactions of others are authentically portrayed. Not only does Boock depict each scene with much insight and vivid detail, she also brings in a large supporting cast of well-drawn characters - friends, family, schoolmates and working colleagues - to create a very realistic background. As in many relationships that break norms, there is a long painful separation as Louie copes with the negative reactions of her family and re-examines her feelings. Unlike earlier books about homosexuality in which anxiety and conflict prevail, here the joy of finding a kindred spirit is portrayed, making it evident that love and romance can take the same course regardless of the sex of the partners. (14+)
Special Mention - New Zealand (English) - 1998 - 39
Buxton, Jane (text)
Newman, Penelope (illus.)
Wellington: Mallinson Rendel, 1997. 144 p.
Runaways - Donkey - Adventure - Parentage - Secret
When three children between fourteen and six years of age learn that their mother has left suddenly for Australia to help a sick aunt, they decide to set off to visit the father they have not seen in six years. Travelling in a cart pulled by their pet donkey they learn to deal with each other and fend for themselves on the 100 kilometer journey. Covertly followed and indirectly helped by a family friend, they arrive safely in the end and learn from their father the true circumstances of their parents' marriage and separation. Illustrated with attractive black-and-white sketches, this vividly told adventure story is a real page-turner. (+9)
Special Mention - New Zealand (English) - 1998 - 40
Wellington: Mallinson Rendel, 1997. 112 p.
Friendship - Maori culture - Prejudice - Step-father - Betrayal
Glyn's best mate is a Maori, much to the dismay of his future stepfather, an omnipresent representative of the local police. During summer holidays Glyn and Api make two valuable archeological finds, over which Api's grandmother is quite excited. When she is then brutally beaten and robbed, the police first arrest an innocent Maori before discovering that the rich white young man who had slyly befriended Glyn and Api is the real culprit. The local flavor of New Zealand's people and social fabric adds to the reading pleasure of this richly textured adventure story, with its colorful characters and romantic subplots. (10+) ☆
Special Mention - New Zealand (English) - 1998 - 41
Because we were the travellers
Dunedin: Longacre, 1997. 155 p.
Survival - Old/Young - Mutual aid - Growing up
In an unnamed country a clan of people wander as nomads in a circular cycle through a rough, scorching landscape that can scarcely support them, governed by the rules of survival of the fittest. When the lame Ish's father is murdered by a rival and his protective older sister taken as booty, he has to survive outside the group, learning what he needs to for himself and an wise old woman he joins up with. This skilfully developed futuristic fantasy gives a realistic view of human society in primitive conditions and the maturation of a boy whose future course will be eagerly followed in the announced sequel. (12+)
New Zealand (English) - 1999 - 35
I am not Esther
Dunedin: Longacre, 1998. 159 p.
Religious sect - Single mother - Mother/Daughter - Abandonment
When the dark sad secret of her childhood, the reason for her banishment from her family and their fundamentalist religious sect, threatens to be- come known, a widowed mother sends her daughter Kirby back into that very family and disappears. The psychological strains which follow for both mother and daughter are gradually revealed through Kirby's first-person narrative of her new life. The author creates a convincing tale about family relationships and how people deal with pain, authority and conflicting emotions, giving insight into various alternatives. (14+)
New Zealand (English) - 1999 - 36
Clarke, Mere (text)
Smith, Manu (illus.)
Whirikoki and his seal
Wellington: Huia, 1997.  p.
New Zealand/Legend - Seal - Man/Animal - Friendship - Death - Oil
When surveyors recently drilled for oil on the Manga-tai-Kapua hills, they found only shallow pools. In the legend told in this picture book it is explained that the oil seeped into the hills after a seal, who had accidentally fallen asleep too long under the sun with his human friend, injured himself on the rocks and died. The few Maori words used in the text to give the story an authentic atmosphere are explained within the story. The double- spread illustrations use varying perspectives and strong, luminous colors to capture the beautiful New Zealand landscape. (4+)
(Te Kura Pounamu Award, 1998)
Special Mention - New Zealand (English) - 1999 - 37
Dunedin: Longacre, 1998. 160 p.
Post-apocalypse - Good/Evil - Love - Death - Grief - Friendship - Survival - Nomad
With the inner strength gained through his years of survival in a post-apocalyptic barren land and the wise teachings of his old companion (Because we were the travellers, 1997), Ish is able to overcome his grief at the murder of his dearest friends and intended wife. He befriends a slave castrated by the cruel leaders of the Salt People and they continue their odyssey in search of a peaceful, settled life while being relentlessly pursued by the enemy tribe and endangered by new enemies. This vivid, engrossing adventure story, told in the first-person, depicts a bleak, danger-filled life where survival is only possible through sheer will-power and belief in the future. (12+)
Special Mention - New Zealand (English) - 1999 - 38
Leaving One-Foot Island
Wellington: Mallinson Rendel, 1998. 73 p.
Family/Separation - Outsider - City life/Rural life - Cook Islands - Island - Diary
Tuaine has grown up in a sheltered, tight-knit family with her grandparents on Aitutaki (One-Foot Island), one of the Cook Islands. Because of her high marks at school, a New Zealander teacher recommends that she go to Auckland to complete her schooling. After two months with her widowed aunt's family, Tuaine begins to record in an excercise book - inspired by Anne Frank's diary - her experiences of being caught between two worlds as she tries to adjust to a new school life and to the stressed family life in a impoverished family in a big, cold city. The story has a naturalness of language and an authenthic ring that gives immediacy to the feeling of being a guest and a stranger in a foreign place. (12+) ☆ ☼
New Zealand (English) - 2000 - 38
Dunedin: Longacre Press, 1999. 182 p.
Family conflict - Romantic love - Outsider - Intolerance - Vandalism - Murder
Sixteen-year old Michael has gone to several different schools and already learned to take risks in order to gain recognition from his peers. As he narrates the events of one school year we become acquainted with a wide cast of characters - parents, teachers, and pentacostal Christians - in his new town and school. The one who causes him to change his perspective on life is Lester, a motocycle-riding tramp who camps out in town. Gradually Michael tracks down details surrounding Lester's past and the town's hidden guilt. The unwinding of the mystery, set alongside Michael's attempts at romance and moral justice, makes a compelling story about coming of age. This is a promising debut novel by a young New Zealand teacher and writer. (14+)
New Zealand (English) - 2000 - 39
Cowley, Joy (text)
Bishop, Gavin (illus.)
The video shop sparrow
Wellington: Mallinson Rendel, 1999.  p.
Bird - Prisoner - Rescue - Nature - Indifference - Political power
Upon returning a video cassette to a shop that is closed for holidays, two boys sight a sparrow that has been accidentally locked inside. When their first efforts to have family, neighbors or friends open up the shop meet with indifference and fatalism regarding a single common bird, they take the problem to the small town's mayor who is holding a press conference. She immediately finds a solution and puts them all in the headlines. The very attractive, landscape-sized pen-and-wash illustrations are filled with details that enhance the text with irony and subtle clues. This apparently simple, realistic plot will appeal to children and also spark reflection about ecology and human values. (8+)
Special Mention - New Zealand (English) - 2000 - 40
Holcroft, Anthony (text)
Preiss, Leah Palmer (illus.)
A visit to the orchards of heaven
Christchurch: Hazard Press, 1998. 76 p.
Fairy tale - Desire - Character - Justice - Contentment
This is a delightful collection of nine literary fairy tales narrated as only an experienced storyteller can do. There is magic and suspense in each plot, mostly set in realistic but different places around the world. In some tales the main character is a magician or witch; in others the hero - a child, a young husband, or old man - encounters a creature - a bird, a leprechan, or enchanted dancer - who uses supernatural powers for good or evil purposes. A common thread in these tales is the lesson of contentment. The heroes often experience the consequences of following temptation and impetuous desire and, in most tales, finally recognize the satisfaction to be had at home and in human companionship. Each tale is distinct enough in setting, cast of characters and unpredictability of plot to remain memorable. Illustrated only with singular, characteristic vignettes, these tales need only their words to create lively pictures in the mind of the reader or listener. (8+)
Special Mention - New Zealand (English) - 2000 - 41
Mataira, Kāterina (text)
Huége de Serville, Sylvia (illus.)
Raglan: Ahura Enterprises, 1999. 31 p.
Father - Daughter - Separation - Dance - Imagination
Kereana and her mother experience terrible unhappiness when their father and husband leave them behind in New Zealand to work overseas. When Kereana takes up practicing Maori dances, the waiata-a-ringa, the pain in her heart begins to subside. Soon she enters school and learns the welcoming songs and dances of the kapa haka group, but still feels sad that her father never sees her. Her grandmother suggests that she could imagine her father in the audience and this helps Kereana become a very good performer. This read-aloud story about adjusting to separation is universally appealing, while the colorful pencil illustrations opposite each page of text provide an appealing view into a modern Maori childhood. (5+) ☆
New Zealand (English) - 2001 - 35
Beames, Margaret (text)
Hitchcock, Sue (illus.)
Oliver in the garden
Auckland : Scholastic, 2000.  p.
Cat - Night - Light - Darkness
If you think that the new media will bring about the »death of the book«, have a look at this picture book and judge for yourself. One follows Oliver the cat through the nightly garden as he chases mice, climbs trees, and has a surprising encounter with a possum. The greatest fascination emanates from an intricate play with light, shadows and darkness: the pale moon light, the strong yellow light from the window or the warm, red glow of the fireplace to which Oliver returns in the end. Even the clearly written text seems to glow with its white letters standing out against the pitch black, glossy paper. The simple narrative and the computer generated illustrations explore a new aesthetics somewhere between the computer screen and the pages of a book. (4+)
New Zealand (English) - 2001 - 36
Scarface and the angel
Dunedin : Longacre Press, 2000. 93 p.
Identity - Encounter - Friendship - Self-acceptance
There are two sides to Damon. You can see it in his face: a big scar runs down one side. Only when he meets Esther, an old gypsie woman, does he realise how deep it cuts. Esther possesses the gift of listening and Damon, without knowing why, starts telling her his life. The reader has to piece together the fragmental narrative, continually reassessing it, just like Damon learns to take a new look at his self, the wounds of his past healing in the act of narration. – Good Face, Bad Face – this is a well paced, edgy novel with strong language, resonating with biblical and Shakespearean allusions. Good Face, Bad Face – in the end, Damon learns to turn the other cheek and the scar has disappeared. (14+)
New Zealand (English) - 2001 - 37
Wolfe, Richard (text)
Wolfe, Pamela (illus.)
Glenfield, Auckland : Random House New Zealand, 2000.  p.
Dressing up - Hotel - Mystery - Imagination
Following the award-winning success of »Mouse Opera«, the Mouseholes are back to stage their next adventure: On holidays with their brand new Chevrolet, they arrive at a Grand Hotel. In their room they discover that their suitcase is missing. How will they dress for dinner now? Manager O'Rodent and Chief Inspector McWhisker search the hotel – in vain. But thanks to the Mouseholes' creative use of imagination, the evening is saved. The bright and humorous illustrations express a love for drama and dressing-up and share in the storytelling: a wordless doublespread illustration holds the clue to the mystery. Told in narrative verse, this story is full of little jokes and puns that will amuse the reader. (6+)
New Zealand (English) - 2002 - 32
Dunedin, New Zealand : Longacre Press, 2001. 173 p.
Outsider – School trip – Friendship – Earthquake – Survival – Murder – Revenge
When Marko wakes up in a psychiatric ward, he cannot remember what happened to him during the last few days. One thing he is sure of, though, is that the doctor is going to kill him if he does not strike first. Marko's descriptions of his present confinement, as well as of the coast-to-coast adventure- schooltrip and the earthquake leading to his situation, are told in alternating chapters with different typography and tense. Step by step, he relates a story of murder and disaster which seems too appaling to be true. Left to judge for themselves whether they can trust the first-person narration, the readers are inevitably drawn into the gripping thriller, the outcome of which is still uncertain at the end. (14+)
New Zealand (English) - 2002 - 33
Tipene, Tim (text)
Campbell, Henry (illus.)
Taming the taniwha
Wellington : Huia, 2001.  p.
School – Bullying – Friendship – Maori
If it wasn't for James, the class bully, Tama would love going to school. His mother, aunt, and uncle come up with various suggestions how to »tame« this monster. Yet, neither telling the teacher nor trying to fight the bully seems a good idea. So when his grandfather suggests being friendly and inviting James to Tama's home, he considers this a crazy idea. To his great surprise, however, the frightening green monster slowly turns into an amiable boy – literally and visually. In Campbell's bright acrylic pictures many harmless objects assume the shape or colour of the terrifying taniwha and thus clearly mirror Tama's fear. Accordingly, as soon as Tama and James have become friends, the frightening shapes disappear. (5+) ☆
New Zealand (English) - 2003 - 33
Right where it hurts
Wellington, New Zealand : Mallinson Rendel, 2002. 132 p.
Teenager – School – Pressure – Selfmutilation – Friendship
When Slade meets Mallory on the first day at his new school, he immediately dislikes her for impersonating everything he hates about snobby rich people. Yet, not long after, he gets to know the shy and insecure girl hiding behind a mask of conceitedness and superiority and realises that she desperately needs help. Slowly crumbling under the immense pressure her successful parents put on her, Mallory punishes herself for her »failures« by cutting or burning her arms until, one day, it is almost too late. In his disturbing young adult novel, written in a cool and cheeky authentic teenage voice, wellknown writer David Hill points out the dangers of parental pressure and also attacks the »ideal world« of upper-class families. (14+)
New Zealand (English) - 2003 - 34
Spider : a novel
Dunedin, New Zealand : Longacre Press, 2002. 245 p.
Mother – Son – Teenager – Coming of Age – Friendship – Piano Competition
Matthew »Spider« Trent is seventeen, long, lean, and lanky, and has just been voted Number Ten on a teen magazine’s list. Now it is time for a new challenge – such as the big piano competition. But has he got what it takes? And does he really want to spend his future as a great pianist? These are questions that neither his two best buddies nor his secretly adored Moana can answer for him. In a stream-of-consciousness-like authentic first person narrative, the teenage hero pours out his heart. The insight which William Taylor gives his readers into the world of music, the description of the strong mother-son relationship, and his unusually open approach to the sex industry, makes this a thoughtprovoking yet funny coming of age novel. (14+)
New Zealand (English) - 2004 - 36
Jones, V. M.
Juggling with mandarins
Auckland : HarperCollins, 2003. 255 p.
Father – Son – Expectations – Disappointment – Ambition – Climbing
In her second children’s novel, the award-winning author carefully portrays a young boy’s struggle against the overpowering influence of his ambitious father. The first-person narrator Pip (named after a Charles Dickens character by his mother) knows he is different from his older brother Nick, an ace footballer. As much as Pip would like to win his father’s respect, he abhors his competitive attitude towards sport. This summer, the quiet boy sets himself a new goal: He learns how to juggle. With great determination, he manages to juggle not only a few mandarins but also, metaphorically, his emotions, relationships, and life’s ups and downs. In the end, he also finds the strength to confront and make peace with his father. (11+)
New Zealand (Maori) - 2004 - 243
Gabel, Ngāreta (text)
Teo, Ali (illus.)
Jensen, Astrid (illus.)
Tekiteora, kei hea ō hū ?
(Tekiteora, where are your shoes?)
Wellington : Huia, 2003.  p.
(English ed.: Oh Hogwash, Sweet Pea!)
Girl – Shoes – Losing – Excuse – Imagination
Every morning, when the mother asks her little daughter where she has left her shoes, the girl cooks up some crazy excuse. Enthusiastically, she launches into wild tall tales involving an army of ants, a fashion- conscious giraffe and some talking birds who all make use of the girl’s footwear in the most unusual ways – while her amused parents dig out the lost items from remote places in- and outside the house. The short entertaining story is perfectly complemented by bold, computer-generated mixed-media collages in loud colours. The dynamic pictures show both the funny scenes of everyday family life and the girl’s imaginative ramblings in a style that mirrors that of successful British illustrator Lauren Child. (Te Kura Pounamu Award; 2003) (3+)
New Zealand (English) - 2005 - 31
Bishop, Gavin (text/illus.)
Taming the sun : four Māori myths
Glenfield, Auckland : Random House New Zealand, 2004. 48 p.
Maori – Legend
In his latest book, award-winning New Zealand artist Gavin Bishop, who himself is of Maori descent, offers a retelling of four Maori myths. Accompanied by powerful, fiery watercolour pictures, which slightly differ in style for each of the stories, the short tales relate how Maui tricks the sun into travelling across the sky more slowly, how Maui’s foolish older brothers do not thank Tangaroa for their catch and thus accidentally create Aotearoa, how Kahu manages to kill the terrible taniwha, and how lazy Rona is eternally punished for offending the moon. The concise text and the impressive illustrations create a splendid first introduction to the Maori culture for very young children. (3+) ☆
New Zealand (English) - 2005 - 32
Bunn, Alan (ed.)
Norcliffe, James (ed.)
Re-Draft 3 : a collection of teenage writing
Christchurch, New Zealand : Clerestory Press [et al.], 2003. 96 p.
Short story – Teenage writing – Anthology
In this small booklet, the editors have assembled an impressive, colourful collection of short stories and poems written by New Zealand teenagers. The 47 works included are the winners of an annual writing competition that is offered by the School for Young Writers in Christchurch. With surprising acuteness and complexity, the young writers present their particular vision of the world in texts full of vigour, humour, irony, sadness, or pain. Whether they dwell on more mundane matters such as school routine, part-time jobs, and reality television or offer captivating lyrical and philosophical observations about life in general, these texts take readers on a thought-provoking literary journey. (14+)
Special Mention - New Zealand (English) - 2005 - 33
Wellington, New Zealand : Mallinson Rendel, 2004. 160 p.
Teenager – Car accident – Coma – Guilt – Rehabilitation – Friendship – Responsibility – Forgiveness
One rainy evening, Ryan is driving home, his attention diverted by his friend Vince’s fooling around next to him. Suddenly, a teenage girl stumbles out onto the street – and the car hits her badly. Driven by his feeling of guilt and the fervent wish to atone for his mistake, Ryan takes on an active role in Tara’s rehabilitation program. Yet, the path from waking up from a coma to (almost?) full recovery is anything but smooth for everyone involved. In this touching and at times even shocking novel, told alternatively from Ryan’s and Tara’s points of view, the award-winning author makes readers share the two protagonists’ thoughts as they both try to come to terms with the dreadful events. Even though it may be said that everything wraps up a bit too neatly in the end, David Hill perfectly manages to show how deeply one second of inattention can affect the lives of two ordinary teenagers, their friends, and their families. (14+)
New Zealand (English) - 2006 - 35
Drewery, Melanie (text)
Malcolm, Sabrina (illus.)
Wellington : Huia, 2004.  p.
Māori Herbs – Medicine – Grandfather – Grandson – Teaching
This attractive picture book tells the story of a young boy’s first visit to his grandfather, who seems to know a remedy for any of the child’s ailments, whether it is blisters, cuts, or a blocked nose. The short story, which consists mainly of the conversation between the old man and his grandson, is interspersed with Māori terms and expressions, and completed with small tables of factual information about New Zealand plants and their healing power. Thus, the book is not only a touching tale, but may also serve as a first playful introduction to rongoā, traditional Māori medicine. The text is complemented by striking illustrations with prominent purple outlines and several layers of paint overlaying each other. (6+)
(The New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children & Young Adults; Shortlist 2005)
New Zealand (English) - 2006 - 36
Dunedin : Longacre Press, 2005. 186 p.
Government Experiment – Control – Rebellion – Freedom
In her most recent science-fiction novel, popular author Penelope Todd is dealing with a fairly sinister topic. In order to fight some deadly epidemics, the New Zealand government has just started a nation-wide experiment called »Endorsement «, in which every citizen over the age of 13 gets implanted a tiny metal device to »achieve the perfect balance of chemicals in the human body.« Although it is advertised as a highly beneficial health initiative, some people quickly realise that it will provide officials with the perfect means to monitor and control people, to take away their individuality and freedom. This gripping teenage novel follows teenagers Derik, Marti, and Disco as they join other »abstainers« in their rebellion against a quasi-dictatorial scheme. (13+)
New Zealand (English) - 2007 - 36
Aslund, Tatiana (text)
Hatam, Samer (illus.)
Moho the ugly pukeko
Auckland : Reed Children’s Books, 2006.  p.
Bird – Otherness – Outsider – Search for identity – Happiness
In this picture book, illustrated with soft watercolours, Hans Christian Andersen’s popular fairy tale »The ugly duckling« is moved to a New Zealand setting. Living among the reeds on the edge of a swamp, a noisy pukeko family is utterly appalled when the last of their eggs finally cracks open and a short-legged, clumsy chick hatches. Moho (i.e. stupid), as they name him, is constantly teased and tortured by his elegant siblings. One day, the sad outsider sneaks off in search for his own place in life – which he finally finds with the takahe colony high up in the mountains. A glossary of Maori terms and a short note on the characteristics of the two species of native New Zealand birds round off this ever-topical tale about fitting in. (4+) ☼
New Zealand (English) - 2007 - 37
Rainforth, Hannah (text)
Teo, Ali (illus.)
Wellington : Huia Publ., 2006.  p.
Favourite colour – Clothes – Family – Stubbornness
One morning, little Barnaby wakes up with an epiphany. He will wear nothing but red from now on! The boy digs up a weird array of family clothing and no matter how much the rest of his family moans and grumbles, he will not be parted from his new uniform, which naturally gets grubbier and smellier by the day. Yet when the terrible stink can no longer be tolerated, purple-haired nanny comes to the rescue. She sews up a wondrous creation complete with dinosaur hood and pockets galore that not even Barnaby can resist – although it is bright yellow. This amusing, rhymed tale of a stubborn little boy is translated into bold, chaotic, computer-generated collages with a cartoon-like touch that perfectly capture the crazy mood of the tale. (4+)
New Zealand (English) - 2007 - 38
Land of milk and honey
Auckland : HarperCollinsPubl., 2005. 160 p.
New Zealand/1947 – Postwar era – British teenager – War orphan – Farm work – Abuse – Escape
This gripping teenage novel relates the story of 14-year-old Jack who comes to New Zealand as a so-called »British war-orphan« in 1947. However, his new »home« is a far cry from the »land of milk and honey« that his father had promised him. The skinny boy gets sent to a dairy farm where he slaves away night and day for a meagre meal and no wages. On top of that, he finds himself abused, bullied, and even tortured by the violent and mean son of the equally cruel farm owners. One night, beaten half to death, he finally escapes this hell and is taken in by a generous old doctor. This captivating and relentless narrative makes the protagonist’s shocking fate and the difficult times it is set in come alive for modern readers. (14+) ☆