Tag Archives: New Zealand

Taking the Lead – David Hill. Illustrated by Phoebe Morris.



Penguin Australia

  • Published: 3 March 2020
  • ISBN: 9780143774518
  • Imprint: Picture Puffin
  • RRP: $19.99

It’s no secret that so many of us have the utmost admiration for the remarkable Jacinda Ardern – and no doubt that we not-so-secretly wish we had a leader of her calibre ourselves. This is a ‘Mighty Girl’ book that is so timely as the New Zealand Prime Minister continues to impress the globe with her skill, compassion and true leadership.

The book provides young readers with the background to this amazing woman beginning with her childhood and tracing her career until its current pinnacle as a national leader who is both widely and deeply respected.

In 2019 the US magazine Fortune put Jacinda on its list of the world’s greatest leaders. 

Rightly so and it has not gone unnoticed in our current global pandemic that the most respected national leaders who are making the greatest inroads into dealing with Covid-19 are all female. Who said that women are not suited to politics? How far have we come since the suffragette days in this respect?

Written simply but with enough detail to satisfy the curiosity of readers and with a double spread time-line at the end, the simple but effective illustrations are a strong visual confirmation of the overall simple and modest nature of this inspirational woman.

Needless to say, I cannot recommend it highly enough to readers from around 8 years upwards and for those who undertake units of work on inspirational or significant people this will indeed be a boon.


The Thunderbolt Pony –Stacey Gregg



Harper Collins Australia

  • ISBN:9780008257019
  • ISBN 10: 0008257019
  • Imprint: HarperCollins – GB

September 2017

RRP $26.99


Stacey Gregg’s series of which this is the fifth has been a stellar hit with my ‘horsey girls’. And though I’m not particularly horsey myself (aside from paying for Miss Small’s passion) I have thoroughly enjoyed them as well as each weaves some excellent factual and historical information into the narratives.

In this newest book it is not only the devastating impact of the Christchurch earthquakes which form a dramatic part of the plot but the little-explored incidence of mental illness in children. Although society is becoming more open about such illnesses, rarely I have seen references or certainly novels which take on such concepts.

Evie is 12, her father is gravely ill with cancer and she and her mother are dealing with this trauma as best they can. For Evie, her anxiety over her father has manifested into OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) which is having significant impact on her everyday life. When her tiny town of Parnassus is evacuated due to the severity of earthquakes, Evie refuses to leave without her beloved pony. Her mother has been injured so does not know that Evie has rejected the evacuation plan and has, instead, set out cross country with Gus, her pony, plus Moxy the cat and Jack the dog. Facing many situations which require initiative and daring, Evie’s mental health is tested to its limits.

This is a thrilling adventure for girls and one which will offer them real insight into the acuity that mental pressures/ill-health can impose on children just like themselves.

Highly recommended for readers from around ten years upwards.


Teaching Guide here

Pack your bags – we’re going on a trip!



Tania McCartney and Tina Snerling

EK Publishing

RRP $19.99

Tania and Tina have once again triumphed as they continue their “A Kid’s Year Series”.  Children are celebrated and cultures, customs and festivities are explored in each book via the group of children featured.  What an absolutely marvellous way for us to spread the joy of inclusivity, promote cross-cultural understandings and foster peaceful relations with others.

Each spread shows the diversity of each country and what makes it special in terms to which every child can relate.

Their unique mastery in capturing the moments that shine in a child’s life, their families and homes is undeniable. While there is reference to history in each, primarily these focus on what is important in the modern life of each of these amazing countries and rejoices in the cultural diversity of each, especially recognising their First People.

The illustrations and the text are as joyful as each other and a visual delight for the reader.

In our school which particularly focuses on cultural understandings these are important additions to our collection. Of course, they are also ideal for supporting the ACARA Intercultural Understanding capabilities.

Each book concludes with an illustrated map and snappy facts of interest about the country and it’s make up.

Released this week – it’s time to go globe trotting!

A Kiwi Year: Twelve Months in the Life of New Zealand’s Kids



Join Charlie, Ruby, Oliver, Mason and Kaia as they show food, sports, native animals, everyday life, special places and exciting adventures like bunji jumping! Learn some Maori and find out about twirling pois – or discover where pavlova was really invented!


A Canadian Year: Twelve Months in the Life of Canada’s Kids



Liam, Ava, Oki, Chloe and Noah are our guides through the beautiful Canadian country. Special celebrations familiar to our Aussie kids such as Mother’s Day and Christmas as well as some not so well known to them like Thanksgiving are lavishly detailed. Add the excitement of the Calgary Stampede or the amazing wildlife not to mention igloos and ice fishing and this is a fascinating virtual trip for readers.


Teaching notes for this amazing series are available here.

Highly recommended for primary libraries – you really must have the whole series. Where are we travelling to next I wonder?

The Godwits – Bruce Pickworth. Illustrations by Lorraine Robertson


The Godwits – Bruce Pickworth. Illustrations by Lorraine Robertson

Bullawai Books, 2016.


ISBN 9780994611802

It’s a long way from Shoalhaven NSW to the shores of the Yellow Sea but even longer to Alaska. For the godwits their annual migration is an amazing natural undertaking that of course is not without its perils.

The godwits need a new leader for their huge journey and that bird will need all the necessary qualities. Making a choice is not easy for old Danta who must protect the flock.

For thirteen year old Wei the anticipation of his favourite birds arriving as they make their way to the far North is tremendous. His special birthday present of a set of binoculars is the perfect gift. How distressing then when he realises that land development is going to threaten his beloved birds. Wei determines to ensure the protection of the godwits by saving the wetlands.

This is a chaptered narrative in picture book format and the amazing and almost unbelievable annual godwit migration is beautifully explained by Bruce within the text.

The strong themes of courage, compassion and leadership make it a perfect choice for studies of environmental issues as well as exploring these qualities in themselves.

Find out more about godwits here or here.

Highly recommended as a valuable addition to your primary library shelves. The book is $16.99 and is available through Dymocks, Children’s Bookshop or email Bullawai Books. Bruce is available for school visits free of charge so keep that in mind!