By Alice Pung
Black Inc. 2021
“Your mother may not know how to love you best. But she love you the most.”
A journal written to her unborn child- Karuna is a teenager, overwhelmed by her over-protective mother’s need to control her. So desperate to break free from the shackles of her mother’s power, she says yes to a boy and is silently celebrating when she discovers that she is pregnant.
Pung writes with authenticity and imagery that prevents the reader from putting down this book. I could not put it down.
When control mashes with culture and tradition, we can understand where both women’s perspectives spawn. But love cannot be an excuse and lessons are learned the hard way. Ultimately, though, this is an uplifting and fast read.
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Cast of readers: Jorjeana Marie, Dominic Hoffman, Fiona Hardingham, Bahni turpin, Dion Graham & Allan Corduner
Bolinda Audio 2019
I have dived into a maze and surfaced in a sea of honey, sticky and in awe. The Starless Sea is a wistful and magical fairy tale for lovers of stories. The narrative fantasy twists and turns as the unpredictable paths speed up and slow down without warning. The storyline is memorable yet unclear, like a puzzle that is beyond my ability to explain.
It is the story of Zachary but it is also the story of fate and time, the moon and an owl king. Like myself as the reader, Zachary finds himself lost in a labyrinth. He and his companions are captivating, each character’s voice clear and distinct. Some of the cast are embedded in reality with believable tenor, while some of the more elusive characters are stylised to perfection.
Morgenstern is precise and vivid with her language choices. The pictures painted through her poetic imagery are clear and fantastical.
I lost my way so many times in this story, though somehow I was compelled to read on. Even at the end, like Zachary within his own story, I felt confused yet satisfied.
Hound the Detective- 2020
Moose the Pilot- 2021
Penguin Random House New Zealand
Two delightful books by the award winning author/illustrator Kimberly Andrews. Hound the Detective is a fun-filled mystery. Readers are taken for a ride as Hound follows the clues to understand why things are going missing in his village. His mission arrives via letter and he must use his super sleuthing skills to solve the case. The narrative is told through rhyming reflections in the Hound’s notebook, letters and speech bubbles. Along with engaging font and detailed pictures, readers are also encouraged to search for hidden caterpillars on each page.
Moose the Pilot follows a circular narrative and once again readers will enjoy the intricate details found within the pictures and the opportunity to search for hidden butterflies throughout the book. The story is told through rhyme and appears on Moose’s clipboard. Additional text in the form of speech through the radio speaker informs us of the jobs Moose must go to next. Clues and hints encourage the reader to make predictions as they discover the details of Moose’s interactions with his customers.
Kimberly Andrews’ most recognised book, Puffin the Architect, won the Russell Clark Award for Illustration as well as the NZ Booklovers Best Children’s Book Award in 2019. It is no accident then, that the very same puffin character appears in both Moose the Pilot and Hound the Detective books.
Multiple reads are a must for both of these books. With complex pictures, clues and rhymes, readers will discover new delights on every occasion.
Both books were well received by my Year two and Year three students.
What's this about?
As a lover of books and a teacher, I read widely. Here you will find book reviews of many genres including picture story, middle grade fiction, graphic novels, women's fiction, short story anthologies, non-fiction and anything else that takes my fancy.