Posts tagged ‘New Zealand’

EMERALDS AND EAGLES

The Secrets’s of Sinbad’s Cave (Book 1 in the Natnat Adventures)

Written by Brydie Walker Bain

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The first book in this adventure series combines myths, legends, fantasy, magic and treasure hunting into an exciting read not only for tweens and teens but for adult readers as well. Set in New Zealand, the book also offers a glimpse into a part of the world unknown to many.

As the story opens, readers meet Drake and Cortez, who are professional thieves seeking to find a long lost treasure hidden in the caves. In the second chapter, we meet Mike and his children, Nat, Jack, Kathleen who are struggling to save the farm and their beloved horses, which they are about to lose due to financial troubles. When Kathleen falls through a hole in the roof of the attic, she finds a hidden room complete with a treasure box of clues, and the adventure begins. The children have only two weeks left of summer vacation to solve the mystery and save the farm before they have to return to their mother living in the city.

Assisted by their friends, Elijah and Barnaby they set off on their quest. Their clues lead them to seek help from the Maori, Abraham Te Kaitiaki and his niece, Riki. When thieves break into the children’s home seeking the box, all realize the danger. But the children and their Maori guides are relentless. A giant eagle, pixies (Patupaiarehe), and a tiny magic bird encourage the children not to give up. Where did this legend come from and how is it connected to this family? Will they be able to unravel the clues ahead of the professional thieves and save the family farm?

The author does a great job of moving the plot along and introduces enough complications to keep the story interesting. I read the book in one sitting, but the book could easily be used in a classroom as a read aloud or link to many subject different areas of curriculum. Bain entices the reader by giving a preview of the next adventure, which sounds just as exciting as the first. Highly recommended for treasure hunters age nine and older.

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Once Upon An Island

Written by D M Potter

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After opening the attractive cover, the reader will discover the words HOW to PLAY. Yes, this book is a game of sorts; it is an interactive story. The reader’s decisions allow her to shape the story. At each chapter break, the reader obtains an opportunity to redirect the story. So, in effect, the reader is almost writing the outcome of the story.

General plot involves you being invited to New Zealand to spend holidays with your cousins, Stella and Max. These cousins are planning to journey to an island named Arapawa. You don’t have to go there. Instead you can make the choice to stay with your mother’s friend, Maddy. That is only your first choice.

I spent some time alternating between choices so I could get a good feel for the divergent story lines. Depending on whether you want to make a “safe” choice or be adventurous, your journey might involve time travel, animal adventures, exploring social issues, becoming a hero or getting involved in a kidnapping. I like the fact that the author chooses both a strong male and female protagonist allowing the book to appeal to boys and girls. The text is written clearly and simply. It could be considered an early chapter book. Siblings might enjoy reading the book together and taking turns making alternate choices. There are so many variations that children will want to go back to it over and over again to see what happens as different combinations are selected.

I feel the author missed an opportunity by not including some illustrations to accompany the alternate chapters. The cover is attractive and appealing. While the book is certainly fun and interesting, having a few pictures could have piqued the interest level even more. I would still recommend the book highly to parents, teachers and librarians as one that will encourage creativity, decision making and critical thinking skills for children in middle grades and older. Adults will certainly enjoy reading it aloud as well.

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