Scoop Review of Books

Archive for April, 2014

More than a snapshot


Pacific Highways: Griffith Review 43, co-edited by Julianne Schultz & Lloyd Jones (Text Publishing, $35)
Review by John Lang

Recently I returned to London with my companion of three days, Pacific Highways. Two thoughts sparked by the book kept coming to mind. First, Finlay Macdonald’s reminder that Auckland really is the ‘City of Snails’ further validated my decision to live in a city with a subway. Second, I kept wondering: does anyone make paua fritters in London? They do. Later, with my seafood cravings subdued, I realised that the book’s 40-plus authors and the pacific arenas they’d explored had left me questioning my cynical stance on homesickness.
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Sinew and skin


Encyclopaedia Anatomica (Know thyself) by Monika von During and Marta Poggesi; published by Taschen, distributed in New Zealand by New Holland Publishers ($39.99))
Review by Nikki Slade Robinson

Muscle and bone. Sinew and skin. Skeletal and semi-skeletal figures. Sections of bodies and organs. Views inside the human body. Is it art or science? Is it sinister and macabre or enlightening and educating? Look at the tableau depicting the plague – macabre? Or the page showing details of the inner ear – enlightening? Take your pick.

Encyclopaedia Anatomica was created by Marta Poggesi and Monika van During. From 1969 to 2009 Poggesi, a biologist, was the curator of La Specola, an eccentric museum in Florence, doing research as well as managing and cataloguing the collection. Van During is Professor Emeritus of Neuroanatomy and the Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany.
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A curious collection

The Curiouseum, edited by Adrienne Jansen (Te Papa Press, $29.99)
Review by Nikki Slade Robinson

Curioseum_floatWith a tantalising title of The Curiouseum, and an equally enticing cover design, it’s hard not to be, well, curious as to what lurks within. And this ‘collected stories and poems of the odd and marvellous’ for children certainly rewarded my curiosity.

This book is the result of letting 22 New Zealand authors loose in Te Papa Tongarewa – the Museum of New Zealand – on Wellington’s waterfront. Authors span the familiar to more recent up-and-comers, such as Margaret Mahy, Joy Cowley, Barbara Else, Bill Manhire, Jo Randerson, Mandy Hager and Tusi Tamasese, to name but a few. Their brief was to explore the museum for a day, and choose an object/s as an inspiration – a starting point – and create ‘new and wonderful stories’ about those objects.
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Cheap eats

Feed a Family of Six for Under $20 by Jas McPhee (Penguin, $19.99)
Review by Nikki Slade Robinson

9780143570769Can you really do KFC at home? Have it taste great? And without spending a bomb? Absolutely. ‘Jas’s Fried Chicken (JFC) with Potato, Gravy and Coleslaw’ was one of the first recipes we tried, and it will be one we definitely use again. OK, it’s not an absolute clone of the real KFC, but it does taste remarkably similar, and with no additives and relatively less fat, it’s surely healthier. Our version was shallow-fried in a pot as we don’t own a deep fryer, but it was still most successful.

Another successful recipe was the ‘Basic Chocolate Cake’ which my 12-year-old daughter was able to whip up unaided. The only detail we weren’t sure about was the ‘2 tsp instant coffee’ – should we use 2 tsp of dried instant coffee powder or 2 tsp of instant coffee made up as a drink? We opted for the dried, and the cake worked.
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Taming a monster

Mrs. Mo’s Monster by Paul Beavis (Gecko Press, $19.99)
Review by Lindsay Pope

Mrs Mo's Monster coverAfter reading this bright book for the first time, I wished my grandchildren were with me to share it with. It awoke my inner child.

When Mrs. Mo opens her door to an unexpected guest more than a little chaos ensues. The guest, a rambunctious monster, portrayed as a hairy blue bean-like creature, is more endearing than scary, more amusing than threatening. The mature Mrs. Mo, bespectacled and in Edwardian attire, has the patience and experience to handle the unexpected. Her unflappable manner modifies the monster’s behaviour and, to some extent, domestic harmony is restored.
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