Scoop Review of Books

Archive for July, 2014

Thirsty Work

Munkle Arvur and the Big Dry by Nikki Slade Robinson (Scholastic NZ, $20)
Reviewed by Linda Dawley

Munkle_ArvurThe cover of this book, as much as the title, tells us about the subject matter. A fish, standing on its tail collecting drops of water beside a sign, ‘water is precious!’ alerts us to trouble within. Nikki Slade Robinson, with her innate sense of colour and magical drawings has created a vehicle to deliver a message of conservation. The perils of waste and dirty water are illustrated in a humorous way with comical characters but the underlying message is clear—’no life can survive; without water we die!’

Munkle Arvur comes to the rescue when ‘the Bod’ came creeping in the night to steal the town’s water supply. There is no bathwater, no frogs croak, and vege gardens sprout ‘limpulous leeks’.  Munkle Arvur mounts his bike, tracks down the culprit and restores the water supply. Fish can swim, plants thrive and the dam was turned into a holiday spot so the water and space were not wasted. Everyone can enjoy the water and natural resources.

The disaster caused by the loss of the town’s water is tempered by the actions of Munkle Arvur as he tracks down the greedy selfish bod and literally pulls the plug on him—so his butt is stuck in the hole in the ground.

This delightful romp through Tikaroo town demonstrates the importance of water that is ‘gooder than good’ and loved by all.

I loved the colour, flow and characters in this book. The humour will appeal to children and adults. A lasting message of conservation is delivered in an easy, fun manner.


Kids’ Meals & Snacks by Emma Donnelly (New Holland, $24.99)
Reviewed by Sophie Robinson, 12

Kids_Meals_Donnelly_CoverWhen I opened the parcel I couldn’t wait to look inside the appealing cover. This book looks quite grown-up, so kids might like it even more than a normal ‘kids’ cookbook that looks more childish. I like the colour theme (pale purple). It is a hardcover with a cloth spine and thick pages. It’s a good size and has an embossed title.

This clearly set out book will get used for sure! Each recipe is on a double page spread, with the recipe on one page and on the facing page there is a full colour, full page photo. The title is at the top, then there is the quantity that the recipe makes. A clear list of ingredients and amounts is underneath. Another helpful thing with the ingredients is that they are listed in the order that you need to use them. It would be good to have the preparation time and cooking time at the start as well though. The steps are clear and easy to read, and are not too long. The only instruction that I didn’t understand was where it said to infuse sugar with a vanilla bean but doesn’t say how to actually do that.

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Release: Economics for People

Bridget Williams Books is continuing its series of BWB Texts – described as “short books on big subjects by great New Zealand wellbeingeconomicswebwriters” – with Wellbeing Economics: Future Directions for New Zealand, by Paul Dalziel and Caroline Saunders ($14.99 print book; $4.99 as an e-book).

According to publicity material from BWB: “Dalziel and Saunders say the purpose of economic activity should be to promote the wellbeing of people. Therefore, instead of measuring economic growth for its own sake, we should be assessing how well the economy enables all New Zealanders to lead ‘the kinds of lives they value and have reason to value’.

Wellbeing economics aims to address issues like unemployment and poverty directly, rather than assuming these problems will be solved automatically with higher economic growth.”

Book Television Is Coming

Book television, aka The Book Show, is coming to Aotearoa New Zealand, on screen at FaceTV, now on the Sky platform, as well as online.

Carole Beu and Graham Beattie in a promo video for their upcoming show.

Carole Beu and Graham Beattie in a promo video for their upcoming show.

Carole Beu of The Women’s Bookshop in Auckland, Graham Beattie of The Book Blog and producer Deb Faith of FaceTV have raised enough money via crowd funding at Boosted – just under $7,000 so far – for 12 episodes, which begin production in September, and will be on screen later that month. The Book Show will feature “author interviews, reviews and great reads from both NZ contributors and visiting international book people.”

Faith says the show will screen at prime time (no day set yet), with a daytime repeat. It will also be available online at FaceTV’s YouTube channel, Beattie’s blog and Carol Beu’s bookstore website.

Book lovers may remember Lindsey Dawson’s show Let’s Talk, that featured books and authors, among other things, and ran on FaceTV for two years, ending with last year’s digital switchover.

Dawson told Scoop Review of Books that the show had NZ On Air support, but that ended because funding can only cover shows on free-to-air platforms, and since the switchover, FaceTV has only been available on Sky, which requires a paid subscription. The show was something of a labour of love for Dawson, who said the pay barely covered petrol to get the studio.

“I do miss it, as I met some great creative and gifted people, and it kept me up with the play on various fronts.”

Dawson says she’ll still do the occasional interview for the show “if authors pop up in whom I’m really interested or have a previous link with”.

“It would be great if there was a well-resourced local book show on free-to-air TV, but mainstream TV is simply not interested,” Dawson said. “For them it’s all about how much advertising they can sell around shows, or how much corporate sponsorship is available, and with books/arts/ culture in general, that is thin on the ground in NZ.”

“However, Carole Beu and Graham Beattie will be great on the new show at presenting the best of what’s on offer in print, given Carole’s long history in book selling and Graham’s prominence as an all-round publishing expert,” she said.

– by Alison McCulloch

Car Talk

20th Century Classic Cars by Jim Heimann and Phil Patton (Taschen/distributed by New Holland, $39.99)
Reviewed by Jim Robinson


Since I became a copywriter in 1989, I’ve spent untold hours poring over ‘best of’ advertising collections. Annuals like D&AD (Design and Art Direction), and campaign reviews like the stunning Well-written and red (Economist newspaper) are glorious things indeed for anyone who appreciates that advertising can be creatively brilliant, as well as selling stuff.

So, while I’m no car enthusiast, I’ve had a good deal of pleasure reading 20th Century Classic Cars, by Jim Heimann (editor) and Phil Patton (author). Across a hefty 500+ glossy pages, the book shows car print ads from the early-1900s to the end of the millennium.

There’s a wealth of US vehicular sales creativity here, from Republic tyres (‘No Skid to Dread, with Staggard Tread’) to Lincoln (‘Look out for those clouds!’); from Oldsmobile (‘Hydra-Matic Drive!’) to Plymouth (‘SOLID BEAUTY’); from Renault (‘Le Fun Car’) to Pontiac (‘YOUR TIME HAS COME’); from Mercedes-Benz (Coupe d’Etat’) to Rolls-Royce (‘The heart and soul of a masterpiece’).

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