Back in November 2010, Des Hunt told us on the Christchurch Kids Blog about a new story that he was working on, which he thought would be called Steel Pelicans. He told us all about the characters, the setting and a little bit about the plot, but he didn’t know whether it was going to get published. I’ve loved all of Des Hunt’s books so far and Steel Pelicans sounded like a really great story. I was really excited when I found out that HarperCollins NZ were going to publish Steel Pelicans and I knew that it would be full of the action, adventure, New Zealand locations, and great characters that are always part of Des Hunt’s stories.
Steel Pelicans is about two friends called Dean Steele and Pete Kelly who are the Steel Pelicans of the story. The story starts in Wollongong, Australia where Dean and Pete have spent most of their life. Dean gets them into all sorts of trouble, especially when it comes to mucking around with explosives. Pete’s parents don’t like him hanging around with Dean, and when Pete’s grandmother in New Zealand becomes ill his family decide to move to Auckland to look after her. Dean doesn’t want Pete to go and gets him involved in one last dangerous stunt before he leaves. It’s not long before Pete becomes friends with Afi at his new school. Pete’s parents approve of Afi and let Pete go and stay with Afi and his family at their batch in Port Waikato. It’s here that Pete and Afi stumble on a smuggling operation and find themselves in deep trouble, which only gets worse when Dean comes over for the holidays. They’re about to learn that they shouldn’t mess with the Redfern family.
Steel Pelicans is a classic Des Hunt story with all the adventure, mystery and danger that make his stories so good. His stories are usually set just in New Zealand but this story starts in Australia as that’s where the two main characters are from. One thing I like about his stories is that they have a real Kiwi feel about them and they’re set in different parts of the country, from the Coromandel to the West Coast to Port Waikato. He always adds an ecological message into the story and this time it’s about fishing and Paradise Ducks. I always finish his books knowing that I’ve read a great story and learnt a little bit about New Zealand wildlife at the same time. I really liked the characters of Pete (or Pelly) and Dean. They’re almost complete opposites but somehow are still best mates. I liked how Des Hunt added a second friend into the mix because it created some conflict between the three boys. Des Hunt also really knows how to write scumbag villains, whether they’re gang members or drug dealers, and you can imagine that they’re the sort of people who might live in your neighbourhood. If you’re a fan of Des Hunt’s books you’ll love Steel Pelicans, but if you haven’t read any of his books then this one is a great one to start with.
5 out of 5 stars