Dogs hold key in special read

Margie Hanning reviews books for the young.

If you enjoy stories about dogs then Missing Toby by Jill Harris (Longacre, pbk, $18) will be a special read.

Gus and Max are the two local dogs that keep the neighbourhood dogs in check.

In their daily travels they meet Harriet, a lonely girl who is missing her brother, Toby.

When a hurt stray dog is dumped in the neighbourhood, Harriet sets about convincing her parents that she really wants to keep it.

A mysterious benefactor, who has been leaving presents in the letterbox since the day Toby left, is finally revealed after an elderly neighbour has a fall.

As the story progresses, friendships develop and a neighbourhood is drawn together, making for a delightful read.

Jill Harris is a former English teacher and librarian, who lives in Wellington. Her first book Sil, won an honour award in the New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards.


The Tooth by Des Hunt (HarperCollins, pbk, $17) is an action adventure set in New Zealand.

Tim has been brought up by his father and great-grandmother since he was 4. He has vague memories of the day his mother died and of a large tooth embedded in a rock.

His best friend is convinced that it is a dragon's tooth and encourages Tim to try to remember more.

The attempt by the boys to locate the tooth and extract the fossil becomes complicated when the Waitea Dam, nearing completion, begins to fill and Tim's mission to retrieve his stolen horse brings him up against an entire gang of horse thieves.

Des Hunt lives on the Coromandel Peninsula and this is his sixth novel to be published.


The Greek Who Stole Christmas by Anthony Horowitz (Walker Books, pbk, $12) is another in the Diamond Brothers series.

Once again, Tim Diamond proves why he is considered the world's worst detective and needs his quick-thinking younger brother, Nick, at his side to solve cases.

With no new cases for months and Tim sacked from his job at a department store, the brothers are in a financial mess.

However, a knock at the door changes their situation when the manager of world-famous pop princess Minerva hires Tim's services as her bodyguard and to find out who is sending her death threats.

The result is a humorous read that reinforces why Anthony Horowitz is a popular children's writer.


Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III once again tells an enjoyable tale, translated from the Old Norse by Cressida Cowell, in How to Twist a Dragon's Tale (Hodder, pbk, $20).

With a layout which incorporates illustrations along with text variations, How to Twist a Dragon's Tale is an interesting and humorous read which follows Hiccup in his quest to return the stolen Fire-Egg to its home in the volcano.

Although part of a series, it can be read as a stand-alone book, and footnotes are included with references to other books in the series.

This is an ideal chapter book for young readers to read independently, or for reading aloud.


Paul Kieve cleverly combines fact and fiction to create an entertaining read in Hocus Pocus: A Tale of Magnificent Magicians and Their Amazing Feats, (Bloomsbury, pbk, $30).

Having been enthralled by magic since the age of 10, a young magician boasts about the success of his first performance in a London hotel, by stating that the masters could have learned a thing or two from him.

One by one, the grand masters of magic come to life from his collection of posters and perform their acts, revealing some of their best-kept secrets.

There are a range of simple tricks with step-by-step instructions for the reader to try, as well as an envelope full of more magical curiosities.

The introduction for this book has been written by Daniel Radcliffe, who has worked with Paul Kieve on the sets of the Harry Potter movies.


Molly Moon, Micky Minus and the Mind Machine (Macmillan, pbk, $18) by Georgia Byng is the fourth book in the series about Molly, an 11-year-old girl with hypnotic powers who can time-travel.

As she time-travels into the future to find and bring home her lost twin brother, she discovers a kingdom ruled by Princess Fang, who controls the people through hypnosis and her brain-scrambling machine.

Devoid of her powers, Molly discovers a new talent and, with her faithful dog Petula, sets off to restore order to the kingdom.

- Margie Hanning is a Dunedin teacher.

 

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