Book reviews: April 2019

By: Claire Smith

This month we’ve put together a children’s book special with some of the latest reads for littlies and older kids alike. Don’t forget to enter our competition to win them all!

Elastic Island Adventures: Rainbow Cove

Karen McMillan

Elastic-Island.jpgDuckling Publishing

RRP $19.99

Karen McMillan’s latest Elastic Island Adventures book is due to hit the shelves on 2 April, just in time for the school holidays.

This fantastic series for readers aged eight to 12 is set in the South Pacific on Elastic Island – a magical place that sends the young children who find it off on incredible adventures. At Rainbow Cove, the children discover creatures called frivals who are responsible for maintaining the colours of the island.

But the frivals have gone on strike and now the island is slowly fading to grey, putting the chameleons in grave danger. A lovely book that is sure to keep kids turning the pages.

Granny McFlitter: A Country Yarn

Heather Haylock, Lael Chisholm

Penguin NZ


Granny-McFlitter.jpg"She’d been knitting and purling and stitching for weeks, making woolly tomatoes and onions and leeks." Granny McFlitter, our favourite champion knitter, is back. And this time it’s to save the A&P Show.

Granny McFlitter’s knitting needles have been in a blur, whipping up an entry for the local A&P Show’s ‘Best Vegetable Knitter’ competition. But all of a sudden, the A&P Show turns to chaos when a bull breaks out of his pen.

Before you could say "Mighty mad macho moo", he’s trampling pavlovas and sponge cakes. Bursting with beautiful, bright, colourful illustrations, littlies will love this gorgeous, easy-to-read book.

Little Kiwi the Cool Mama

Bob Darroch




Is raising baby birds easy? Little Kiwi will find out in this humorous addition to the bestselling series by Bob Darroch. Little Kiwi doesn’t like doing chores. Why should kids do all the work, while parents take it easy?

But when a big storm blows through the forest, Little Kiwi finds himself in charge of some lost eggs. He is about to discover that a parent’s work is much harder than he thought.

Roald Dahl’s Matilda’s How to be a Genius

Roald Dahl




Prepare yourself to bamboozle and bewitch with Matilda and her brain-bending book of tricks and mysteries in the making! Matilda Wormwood is a genius – her brain fizzes and bubbles with brilliance.

She outwits her gruesome parents, and even her terrifying head teacher, the monstrous Miss Trunchbull. You too can baffle, bewilder and bamboozle your friends and family!

Astound them with feats of calculation, scientific miracles, incredible creativity and fiendishly clever tricks, all with simple, step-by-step instructions. Inspired by Roald Dahl’s terrific tale Matilda, this is the perfect book for budding brainboxes everywhere!

Showtym Adventures: Koolio the Problem Pony

Kelly Wilson


Penguin NZ


Great news for horse and pony fans – the fifth book in the Showtym series is here! With Cameo sold to upgrade their family horse truck, 11-year-old Kelly has to find a new pony for just a fraction of the cost.

Her search ends when she meets Koolio. She is convinced the gorgeous grey is a champion in the making. But Koolio also comes with some big problems. Within weeks Kelly is ready to give up on him.

That is, until her big sister Vicki comes up with a plan that could change everything. Will Koolio get past his bad behaviour to become the winner Kelly and her sisters believe he can be?

The Indigo Bird

Helen Taylor

Penguin NZ


The-Indigo-Bird.jpgFantail is looking for Takahe, but where can he be? Is he playing with Weka in the snow, or maybe dancing with Kakapo in the glow of the moon? In spite of his brilliant blue feathers, Takahe is very good at hiding – in fact, he’s so good that you might think he isn’t there at all!

But look carefully at the illustrations… From award-winning author and illustrator Helen Taylor comes this exquisite look-and-find story inspired by the incredible true history of New Zealand’s flightless and indigo-feathered takahe.

Once thought to be extinct, it was rediscovered in 1948 in the Murchison Mountains of Fiordland – the takahe showing just how good at hiding it is!

There’s a Tui in our Teapot

Dawn McMillan, Nikki Slade Robinson


Oratia Media


"There’s a tui in our teapot. He’s looking out at me. A tui in the teapot? Yes… he wants a cup of tea!" A tui and his friends – including takahe, kea, korimako (bellbird), pukeko and hoiho (yellow-eyed penguin) – invade the family kitchen, getting up to all kinds of high jinks and making a tremendous mess!

What will Nan say when she sees what the hilarious gang of mischievous birds have done to her kitchen? Two of New Zealand’s best children’s book creators join together in this classic bit of fun that concludes with a handy fact list on the native birds featured.

When Dad Came Home

Vanessa Hatley-Owen, Rosie Colligan

Oratia Media



The war was over and Dad was coming home at last! But the days and weeks go by, and when he does return Dad is not the happy man that young Rita once knew and Thomas thinks he remembers.

Struggling to understand his sadness and fears, the kids accompany him as he readjusts to home life, all the while singing his favourite song. One day, while they help him fix the deck, Dad starts to join in the song… A heart-warming book that beautifully captures children’s view of family love and the realities of shell shock for the men who returned after the First World War ended.

Win a prize pack of children’s books!


To be in to win a prize pack that includes a copy of each of book reviewed on NZMCD issue #179, simply enter here before 5 April 2019.


Keep up to date with news by signing up to's free newsletter or by liking us on Facebook