Hi everyone, this extra post was inspired by many things. The new books I read to fill this post, the sound of the trees outside, and the various little birds that fly in the skies above. I hope to give you a little bit of inspiration and insight into the amazing natural world we live in with the titles included here and a little bit of my own experience with animals. So, settle yourself down, and let’s get started…
I think to begin with I must start from my childhood. I grew up in an African city during the 1980’s and we kept a few pets during those years. It was during those years that my parents took us to the national game parks in Zambia during school holidays where we encountered wild animals in their natural habitats. We saw giraffes, zebras, elephants, rhinos and even lions!! According to my parents, we even went on night safaris!! (Sadly we ended up losing a few of those photos!!) So I was aware of the plight of wild animals and their future from a young age and I would read everything I could find about animals. I can’t say truthfully that I would be jumping for joy to meet one up close, but I do care for their future. The young heroes in the books highlighted in this post are more courageous and clever than I would ever be. I hope you enjoy reading of the many unique animals and habitats featured in these reads!!
Let’s begin with the creatures that make New Zealand special!!
Finding Des Hunt’s books over the past ten years while working in the Auckland Libraries has been an exhilarating experience. I managed to meet most of the unique animals that call New Zealand home. The few titles reviewed below give a snapshot of these, but there are so many more stories about other creatures. I hope you enjoy these few here!
In Where cuckoos call we meet a young boy, Ben Mansfield, who lives in a sheltered bay on the picturesque Coromandel. When his parents decide to sell the farm that’s been in his family for generations, Ben’s life turns upside down. He has to grow up fast as change threatens everything he loves.
My review: Set in the picturesque Coromandel, this tale of adventure and conservation will surely tug at the heartstrings and even urge you to visit. Such is the power of Des Hunt’s descriptions in this read!! Expertly written, Des Hunt takes us on a journey deep into the native bush of New Zealand, introduces us to the many birds that call it home and tells of the immeasurable strength in our young heroes!!
The last tuatara tells a tale of a pair of twins from King Country. Their lives are simple in the farm they call home with an exception in the karst formation nearby called Jelly Mountain. The day a light plane crashes into Jelly Mountain changes everything for the twins. They become entangled in a mystery that is not without danger and could potentially change the whole world.
My review: A fascinating tale of tuataras and twins!! It had most things I find interesting: twins, adventure, mystery, and saving the endangered wildlife!! The story is told in young Jason’s voice and tells of the ordeals he and his twin sister, Jessie, have to endure as they race to protect the tuataras they find on Jelly Mountain. Another exceptionally written story by Des Hunt that keeps your heart pounding with every chapter!!
From reading Skink Gully I was taken to a part of New Zealand I’ve only been to through books: Central Otago. We meet three youngsters – Tamsin, the farmer’s daughter, and city kids Dylan and Nimish – as they make an important discovery in Skink Gully. A find they must now protect.
My review: Another incredible eco-adventure!! This read takes us to the Central Otago farming country during the heights of summer and tells of a fast-paced adventure to save the wildlife that call it home. An interesting and eye-opening read!! Although this book is set in a fictionalized setting, there are actual places in New Zealand where visitors can go to observe the endangered birds and reptiles as they would have lives all those years ago.
My rating for all: 5 ⭐
This next title tells of a majestic creature that has now earned a protected status in New Zealand.
Title: Kaimanawa Princess
Author: Dianne Haworth
Publication details: HarperCollins Publishers (NZ) Ltd, 2008
What this book is about: When Becky chose her pony at the stockyards she had no idea how hard it was going to be. At stake would be the survival of New Zealand’s famous wild horses – the Kaimanawas – who have lived far more than a century on the Central Plateau of the North Island. As Becky forged a bond of love and trust with the little pony she named Kaimanawa Princess, powerful interests began to unite in an effort to eliminate the wild herds.
My review: Inspired by an actual event that took place in August 1996 with 13-year-old Rochelle Purcell and her pony Kaimanawa Princess, Dianne Haworth has created a gorgeous novel here. I had heard of the protected status of the Kaimanawa horses but only in this read did I find out that they were destined to be destroyed. I’m so glad the government was stopped thanks to the actions of all those who protested. This lovely story, told in ten chapters, not only details the fight to protect the horses, but describes the daily life of young Becky and her Princess as they win award after award at Pony Club events. I really enjoyed this tale of friendship!!
My rating: 4½⭐
Let’s venture across the ocean and meet up with another young eco-heroine in this next read!!
Title: When the mountains roared
Author: Jess Butterworth
Publication details: Orion Children’s Books; UK, 2018
What this book is about: Ruby’s dad uproots her from Australia to set up a hotel in the mountains of India. They are now living in the middle of the wilderness surrounded by scorpions, bears and leopards, but Ruby is sure that India will never truly feel like home. Ever since her mum died, Ruby had been afraid of many things. But when the last remaining leopards of the mountain are threatened, everything changes. Ruby vows to do all she can to protect them – if she can only overcome her fears.
My review: An awesome read!! From the beginning of this tale, the mystery of her mother’s absence and young Ruby’s fears unravelled slowly, but the pace of the impending story didn’t. It flowed from chapter to chapter in an excellent combination of description, dialogue, and action. I love how Jess Butterworth has given this story a good ending after detailing some fairly dark themes of animal poaching in India in this read.
My rating: 5 ⭐
“The world isn’t yours to take without thinking about others…You can’t just hurt living things to get what you want. I know that. And I’m twelve.”Ruby Veer from When the mountains roared
This last title surprised me and I was glad I decided to read it. Hope you feel the same way…
Title: The last panther
Author: Todd Mitchell
Publication details: Delacorte Press; NY, 2017
What this book is about: Eleven-year-old Kiri lives a happy life in her jungle home. She wants nothing more than to be accepted by the people of the nearby coastal village where her mother grew up. But when Kiri has an encounter with a type of panther everyone thought was extinct, her life is quickly turned on end. Caught between her conservationist father, who wants to see the animal saved in a zoo, and the village poachers, who want to sell it to feed their families, Kiri must embark on a journey that will take her deep into the wilderness and herself.
My review: What a poignant read this was!! Moving and timeless in its description, this magical futuristic tale took me deep into a forest where all kinds of creatures lived. Todd Mitchell took me behind young Kiri’s footsteps into an amazing world with his expert description and storytelling. I liked how he ended the story as it gave me hope and inspiration that our planet will survive everything it’s enduring presently!!
My rating: 5 ⭐
“Nothing worth doing is ever easy, right?….We can’t hide behind walls, waiting for things to get better. We have to change things now. We have to tend the tree.”Kiribati from The Last Panther
I hope this selection of titles sparks hope and inspiration within you as it did me. If you have read any other authors similar to these with fascinating tales of animals or landscapes, please let me know!! Stay safe everyone and enjoy your reading!!