Tag Archives: NZ Book reviews

Old Blue: The Rarest Bird in the World by Mary Taylor is a beloved classic and is now out in a terrific new edition

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This year Scholastic are republishing a number of classic New Zealand children’s books, books we have loved that have gone out for print for example.

They had done a splendid job of Old Blue: The Rarest Bird in the World by Mary Taylor (first published in 1993 and won NZ Book Awards Best Book nonfiction).

It is big and it is beautiful with mouth-watering illustrations.

This is the story of the Chatham Island robin. Once it filled the islands with its singing and darting and chattering. It is very black — every bit of it, pretty much is black. But once humans arrived things didn’t go so well for them. This is the story of their near disaster (they got down to just 5 birds!) and the story of their survival (256 in 2012). The conservation workers found a new chick on the only island with robins and named it Blue. She had a big role to play.

I was very moved reading this story again. Moved by how hard people work to save our precious wild life, moved by the thought of those birds singing and fluttering and chattering on that remote south-sea island.

I think this book should be in every New Zealand classroom. Highly recommended.

Let me know if you have read this book and what you think of it! paulajoygreen@gmail.com

Two delicious books: Melinda’s sleeping book and Gemma’s big box


Melinda Szymanik has a picture book out with gorgeous illustrations by Greg Straight. It is published by Duck Creek Press.

I love this book! From the delicious first line (‘While you are sleeping the world turns’) to the sweet end (can’t tell you that! You must read it yourself!). I have aways loved books and poems about night, espeically with the moon and the stars.

What is different about this book is that it shows you what is going on when one side of the world is sleeping. I am not going to tell you as that will spoil the book. You should hear it in Melinda’s words!

Melinda has poetry in her blood as she weaves her story with poetry magic. I love this line ‘Birds with full moon eyes take to the air’.

If you read this book you might be inspired to write a moon poem and put it in your summer poetry box (I will tell you about that on Friday!).

Even though my girls are teenagers I want to sit down with them after dinner and read them this story before they go to bed, because I reckon we are never too old for picture books like this.

Congratulations Melinda, Greg and Duck Creek Press– this is a beautiful book.


The second book is rather special as it is written by Gemma Lovewell and illustrated by  Amber Edwards (aged 14). Joy Cowley helped them publish this. Gemma goes to Adventure School in Porirua and is now aged 7 and in Year 3. In her bio note Gemma says she loves books and horses.

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Gemma wrote the story for a competition at Porirua Library (a favourite place of hers).

The book is perfect for this time of year, because it is all about what Gemma and her brother Daniel want for Christmas. The problem is … they get a big box (definitely not what was on their list!). Gemma’s story is the adventure of what they can do with a big box. I love the idea. I love the way we can find really ordinary things (a big box is pretty cool — my girls and my cats and dogs have always loved cardboard boxes) ….. and then use our imaginations to make them into something special. Gemma has thought of brilliant things you can use a big box for.

I am going to add a Gemma-box-poem challenge to my summer challenge on Friday!

As Joy Cowley says, this book should be in every home and library. Congratulations Gemma and Amber —  your book is a treat to read. I love it!

The book is published by The Copy Press, Nelson.    www.copypress.co.nz