Posts tagged animals

Little brothers

web cover low resI have two brothers, both younger than me, but only one that I think of as my ‘little brother’. He’s called Andy and he was born when I was six and going to Karori Normal School. My brother Pete is so close in age I can barely remember a time in my life without him (he was my first best friend), but I remember the day Andy was born. I drew a picture at school of what looked like a tadpole with a baby’s face – Andy in his white blanket. You couldn’t see his fuzz of red hair. I wrote underneath about ‘my baby’, and about how I liked bathing him and looking after him.

When he started walking I was Andy’s unpaid protector, dragging him from the edges of bush tracks and wharves, sure he’d die a terrible death (and convinced my mother wasn’t paying enough attention.) Later, I rolled my eyes when his little friends came over and played cars and Lego – brmmm, brmmm etc. Boys!

Andy liked collecting things, small things. He ate the cuffs of his jerseys. He was loud and sticky. His hair got redder and redder, and he got taller … and taller.

When I was writing Dappled Annie and the Tigrish, I gave Annie a little brother called Robbie. He’s six years younger than Annie – he’s 4 and Annie’s nearly 10 – and like my brother Andy, he’s loud and sticky, and likes collecting small things. He collects them in his pockets so that when he walks he rattles. His father calls them the shinies.

I hadn’t expected Robbie to be such an important character in the book. When I first wrote it, he stayed at home with his mum while Annie went on her adventure with the tigrish. But he didn’t like that. Neither did I. I kept feeling something was missing.

So I rewrote the book and found that (without being asked) Robbie charged off on the adventure too. Much to Annie’s annoyance at first – because he is loud and he is sticky and he is 4 … but, like all little brothers, she discovers he has his moments. When they’re stuck in the Giant Wood with all sorts of scary things going on, Robbie’s collection of shinies and ‘commando moves’ help save the day.

Robbie has a lot of my brother Andy in him, but he has other important little boys wrapped up in him too: especially my son Adam and godson Ned – who were/are both loud and sticky and smart and adventurous. There are glimpses too of my brother Pete and son Paul who did less of the loud, sticky, physical thing and more talking, and two little boys who came regularly to my house when I was writing: Lincoln and Carter.

Boys! Who’d be without them? As a big sister of two, and a mum of two (and a girl too, my youngest), I know I wouldn’t. Above all else these lovely boys have given me a lot to laugh about. Here’s a taste of Robbie in the book. He and Annie are visiting Mr and Mrs Hedge who are part of the hedge at the end of the garden. There’s a nest of baby fantails for Robbie to see, including Bud, the smallest …

Robbie climbed up so his blue shorts were level with Annie’s eyes. She could see his back pocket had bulgy bits where he’d put his little things, what he called his shinies: small stones and bottle tops and dice and Lego bricks and walnut shells. They weren’t all shiny, really, but their dad said Robbie was a magpie and magpies liked shiny things, so that’s how they came to be called that.

Annie could see the way Mrs. Hedge had cupped her branches around Robbie and was watching him closely. Just a glimpse of her eyes, and then they were gone.

“Bud’s the littlest one,” said Annie. “The one with the wobbly head.”

“Getting bigger,” said Mrs. Hedge, “and noisier—listen to that squeaking! They think you’ve brought worms, Robbie.”

“One, two, three, four, five,” said Robbie, counting. “There are five baby birds.”

“They’re hungry,” said Mr. Hedge. “Bud especially—he misses out. He’s small and the other babies push him aside.”

“Worms,” said Robbie, and he pushed one hand into his back pocket. Out came a broken rubber band. Robbie wiggled it in front of his nose, sniffed, then pushed it back where it had come from. He fiddled around some more. A cotton reel. String. Then a fat thing that was brown and pinkish. It wriggled.

“Here, Bud,” Robbie said, and dropped it into the nest.

All Annie could hear were the cicadas. Then:

“He did eat it!”

“Yes, he did,” said Mrs. Hedge. “Thank you, Robbie.” And the leaves parted, and there were the leafy eyes. Robbie didn’t see them—he was too busy watching the nest.

“In one gulp!” said Robbie.

“I would think so,” said Mr. Hedge. “That was a nice fat worm.”

“I’ve got my worm-hunting tee-shirt on,” said Robbie, “that’s why I found it,” and he waved towards the rose bush. “You know, Mrs. Hedge, birds are cute dinosaurs, too.”

That’s when the leaves around Robbie shivered and shivered. Then they shook and shook. And a sound like a huge wave rushed towards them. Annie tugged hard at one of Robbie’s back pockets.               “Let’s get down.”

Robbie stayed as he was.

Annie tugged again—sharper this time—and the pocket wriggled. A cute something was in there. She let go.

The wave of sound made her feel like she’d jumped into a pool of icy water—there were goosebumps all over her arms and neck. Whatever it was, it was coming closer, sweeping the wire fence and crashing across the lawn…

Wind. Sending the wire fence twanging, billowing the sheets on the line, pushing and shoving its way between Annie and Robbie and the Hedges, roaring in their faces. Mrs. Hedge’s mouth moved but didn’t make a sound as she struggled to keep a grip on the nest. Mr. Hedge gripped Mrs. Hedge.

“Robbie,” yelled Annie over the torrent of air, “get down!”

from Dappled Annie and the Tigrish (Gecko Press 2014)

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Phantom of Terawhiti by Des Hunt

It’s the school holidays and Zac thinks he might go crazy with boredom. He’s living in exile with his disgraced father on the remote Terawhiti Station on Wellington’s wild southwest coast. Then Zac and his dad witness a boat sink during a storm. Investigating further, Zac finds a set of unusual animal prints on the beach. Whose boat is it? And what creature could have made the prints? Soon armed men are prowling the coast, and threatening Zac, his friends and his family. He must do all he can to protect the Phantom of Terawhiti from those intent on hunting it down.

Phantom of Terawhiti is an action-packed adventure story, packed with mystery,  armed and angry Russians, brainless hunters, wild weather, a car chase, and a race against time.  Des Hunt is a gifted storyteller who never fails to write a story that grips readers and makes you keep turning the pages to find out what happens next.  In Phantom of Terawhiti there are plenty of heart-stopping moments, especially when Zac and Jess clash with the Russians.  The mystery of the ‘Phantom of Terawhiti’ draws you in and, even when the creature is revealed, you wonder how it will survive in the wild with the hunters trying to track it down.

Like the main characters in his other books, Zac and Jess are just normal Kiwi kids, who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time (or maybe the right place at the right time).  Zac gets dragged by his dad to come and live on the remote Terawhiti Station, and it’s while he’s here that he discovers the wreck of the yacht and the paw prints in the sand.  When they discover the Phantom of Terawhiti, Zac and Jess know that they must do everything they can to protect it.

Phantom of Terawhiti is one of Des Hunt’s best books so far and I can’t wait to see where in the country he will take us to next.

4 out of 5 stars

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Scrap – Oh My Dog

Scrap 2In the second of the Scrap series, Scrap starts life with a new team on the hills of Rocky Ridge Station. He’s still got a lot to learn, but at least he knows where his mum is. But to see her he has to get past Buster, the massive team leader, and the man that tried to drown him as a pup.

It’s interesting that every good story has a shape. It builds to a point towards the end of the story, everything depends on that moment and in a good story you never know quite how it is going to turn out.  In this story that high point is pretty scary and you wonder if Scrap will even survive. Can you think of one moment in any story you’ve read where you’ve been so drawn in that you just have to keep turning the pages to find how it all ends?

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Scrap – Tale of a Blond Puppy

Scrap cover 2Hey team – I thought it was time to tell you about Scrap. It’s a series about a blond sheepdog in New Zealand and the first book is about to come out. Poor Scrap is dumped as a tiny puppy before he can see or hear anything. Fortunately he’s rescued and taken to a farm where Bill, a retired heading dog starts to look after him. Scrap doesn’t know anything about being a dog and it’s up to Bill to act as his Mum and teach him about the life of a working dog. While Scrap is full of enthusiasm and has the ‘Eye’ which gives him special power over sheep, he still has a lot to learn. He’s also desperate to find his Mum. It’s a small district and Bill thinks that sooner or later he’s going to come across her. It’s a book that has some serious messages, but it’s also one of the funniest books I’ve written. I thoroughly enjoyed creating it, I hope you’ll enjoy reading it too.

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Scrap – Tale of a Blond Puppy.

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Hi everyone,

I’ve got a new series coming out very soon, about a blond heading dog. It was partly inspired by this dog, Lana, who is a working sheepdog and won the National Heading Dog Champs in 2007. She’s blond, which is quite an unusual colour for a heading dog and some farmers don’t like them as they think the sheep don’t react the same to a blond dog. I wanted to write a book about a working sheepdog for a long time and her story gave me the inspiration I needed.

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Amazon Adventure by Willard Price

This book is about two boys called Hal and Roger and their dad who set out in the Amazon to look look for rare and exciting but also dangerous animals to put in the zoo they run.

From time to time they get into trouble and soon they hear that the zoo and their house burned down because of a fire. Their father has to leave so he can help with the house that means Hal and Roger are left alone to tackle some of the biggest and most dangerous species in the world…

Roger is 14 and very funny and cheeky at times but Hal, well Hal is quite different. He is serious, thoughtful, kind but sometimes he does have quite a sense of humour.

I would give these series 10/10 they are so good. I think children ages 7 or over would enjoy these books so if you’re 7 or over and you like adventure books then you’d better get reading!

By Sarah Powley

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Wild Animals

This book is from the Horrible Geography series by Anita Ganeri.  It is about the wild behaviour of snakes, sharks, bears, big cats and crocodiles.  I like the facts and the stories of the people that got a very big shock.  Did you know a man got bitten on his leg and it swelled up four times its size! I’d say its for ages 8 to 11.  I rate it ten out of ten.

By Bailey.

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