Children and young adult books January 2013

by Ann Packer / 10 January, 2013
Ann Packer’s monthly roundup of books for children and young adults.
That do at the beach!Janene Cooper’s Dog, illustrated once more with Evie Kemp’s collage, loves the summer. THAT DOG AT THE BEACH (Duck Creek Press, $29.99) models good doggy behaviour – in other people’s pooches; that Dog, however, is deemed to be a nuisance by grown-ups. But to his owner he’s helpful and kind, licking the sand off feet and dealing with icecream drips.

GRANNY GROMMET AND ME (Walker, $29.99) is Dianne Wolfer’s tribute to water-loving grans everywhere. A child’s fear of undersea creatures is gently dispelled by the grommets (inexperienced surfers) as they introduce her to snorkelling. Illustrator Karen Blair sets her motley collection of seniors against a luminescent Western Australian seascape.

Granny’s also in charge in adult crime writer Val McDermid’s MY GRANNY IS A PIRATE (Orchard Books, $19.99), her first book for children. Rollicking rhyme reveals our gran’s secret life – including feeding her dog Jolly Roger pirate grog – while Arthur Robins’s crinkled cartoons bring to mind illustrator Tony Ross at his best.

Those Snake Island KidsExpat New Zealander Jon Tucker introduces a crew of resourceful young sailors based on his own family’s Arthur Ransome-inspired life afloat in THOSE SNAKE ISLAND KIDS (40 Degrees South, $30). This first in a transtasman quartet involving young Anzac sailors is set on an island off Tasmania – Pelorus Sound will feature later – and reflects sound wilderness practices, plus the sensitivity to environmental issues you’d expect from a writer who last year sailed with two of his five sons to the windiest place on earth: Cape Denison in East Antarctica.

Veteran writer and sailor Tessa Duder’s biography for kids, THE STORY OF SIR PETER BLAKE (Libro International, $21.99), is a highly readable account of the life of the “yachtsman adventurer” – as he’s described on his tombstone – from his childhood on the Waitemata Harbour. Twice winner of the America’s Cup, Blake clocked up as many sea miles as any mariner in history before being tragically gunned down on the Amazon in December 2001. His work goes on – most recently in a secondary students’ expedition to the Kermadec Islands in 2012.

A superb companion to every Kiwi seaside excursion is Ned Barraud and Gillian Candler’s AT THE BEACH (Craig Potton, $19.95). A subtle watery palette not only locates common and uncommon creatures in their environments under and above the water around our coast, but also slips in curious and quirky details that will have kids carefully checking the detachable water-resistant card to identify creatures of the sandy beach, rock pool and mudflat. Excellent.

Ann Packer is a writer and journalist.
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