Book reviews: April 2024

Book reviews: April 2024

Book reviews: April 2024The Call
Gavin Strawhan
Allen & Unwin

Author Gavin Strawhan knows how to kick off a debut novel with flair. The Call won the Allen & Unwin 2023 Fiction Prize (from more than 80 manuscripts in a highly competitive category). No stranger to writing as a TV creator/writer and showrunner for many NZ and international shows, Strawhan has crafted a cleverly plotted crime novel, set in a remote coastal New Zealand town. Centred around DS Honey Chalmers and a 501 deportee gang, it’s a taut read, gripping and suspenseful with a killer ending. Say hello to your new favourite crime writer.

Book reviews: April 2024Tales from the Lucky Generation
Bob Calkin
Quentin Wilson Publishing

The rise, fall, and redemption of a Kiwi working-class ‘hero’ and the stories that shaped his life: Bob Calkin was born in 1935 and grew up as New Zealand was entering a period of unprecedented stability and boom times. His journey teeters from his humble working-class roots to time in prison and the world of law and business. With a foreword by Dr Greg Newbold, this is a record of our times and how a road to redemption is within all of us.

Book reviews: April 2024Nailed Boots and Crinoline Gowns
Robert Peden
Fraser Books

Offering deep insights into the lives of women on the rural frontier in 19th Century New Zealand, Nailed Boots and Crinoline Gowns uses diaries and memoirs to explore the lives of rural women in colonial New Zealand. Histories of Pākehā settlement in New Zealand often ignore the role of women, or devalue their contribution, but here author and historian Robert Peden argues that not only were women present from the very beginnings of settlement, but they were also industrious partners in farming and other enterprises.

Book reviews: April 2024Girl Of The Mountains
Trish McCormack
Glacier Press

Set in the Southern Alps of New Zealand and inspired by real-life history, this multi-layered novel follows two stories across different eras: the 2019 story of a veteran Wellington journalist who disappeared leaving behind some puzzling old mountaineering photos, and the life of mountain guide Stella, based at the Hermitage Mt Cook in 1946. Skilfully shifting between the decades, the mystery is slowly and carefully revealed, and author Trish McCormack’s own upbringing in Franz Josef adds another layer to the tale, beautifully capturing the landscape and setting.

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Book reviews: April 2024Hemingway’s Goblet
Dermot Ross
Mary Egan Publishing

This debut by Kiwi lawyer Dermot Ross will challenge your perceptions of Ernest Hemingway, and modern relationships, in the #MeToo era. This fictional tale follows the unexpected turn Nick Harrieson’s life takes when he is accused of sexually harassing one of his students. While awaiting his hearing, he investigates some family history regarding his grandfather, includes his prisoner of war death, and links to Ernest Hemingway (which show the famous literary icon in a new and unflattering light). Hemingway’s Goblet showcases Ross’ knowledge of the law, military history, and the life and works of the great Ernest Hemingway.

Book reviews: April 2024A Hug So Tight
Holly Melville-Bell

A fun and engaging children’s picture book that teaches children about sign language as part of a heart-warming story. Follow the adventures of Leni the Loris and keep an eye out for animals communicating in sign language. Includes a resource guide to help you learn also! Author and illustrator Holly Melville-Ball wrote A Hug So Tight to help make understanding and learning sign language fun. For ages 2-5.

Book reviews: April 2024Footprint
Phil Cummings, illustrated by Sally Soweol Han
Allen & Unwin

Visually appealing and delightful to read aloud, this lyrical picture book empowers youngsters to think about the natural environment in a mindful and positive way. Explore forests and mountains, cities and fields, and animals in their natural habitats as you ponder the footprint humans have left on Earth. A lovely teaching resource also. For ages 5–10.

Book reviews: April 2024Bubbles, the Zooting, Tooting Manatee
Minky Stapleton
Scholastic NZ

8 great autumn must-dos

If you love to hear youngsters giggle, this is the mischievous book to share. Talented author-illustrator has not only crafted a heart-warming tale about celebrating your difference and finding your own place in the world but hilariously includes fun and farty facts about manatees. Taking the ‘expulsion of gas’ to a whole new level, Bubbles is a gassy little manatee who loves swimming fast. For ages 2–5.

Book reviews: April 2024The Most Amazing Thing
Ian Hayward Robinson, illustrated by Matt Shanks
Allen & Unwin

An uplifting picture book about wonder, hope and exploring the meaning of life in ways we can all understand. Philosopher and primary school teacher Ian Hayward Robinson teams up with the bestselling illustrator of Rosie the Rhinoceros, Matt Shanks, to show young readers that while the world is full of wonders, the search for meaning is an individual quest. For ages 4–7.

Book reviews: April 2024How to Be a Cat
Juliette MacIver & Carla Martell
Scholastic NZ

There’s something about cats that has universal appeal, particularly this cat story by Juliette MacIver. With flawless rhyme and rhythm, it’s a perfect read-aloud book, brought to life with appealing illustrations by Carla Martell. The New Zealand duo have created a worthy follow-up to the award-winning Duck Goes Meow. For ages 1–5.

Book reviews: April 2024Pipi Dance
Angie Belcher, illustrated by Lily Uivel

A wonderfully interactive story inspired by kai gathering on beaches on either side of Okurei Point, near Bay of Plenty township, Maketū. Wiggle and shuffle along with Mumma and Bubs as they do a happy pipi dance to gather kai from their moana for their picnic dinner with the whānau. Also available in te reo Māori. For ages 3–7.

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