#Tumeke! by Michael Petherick

2020 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults Junior Fiction Finalist

Plans for the Newtoun community’s Waitangi Day celebrations are well under way: Monty and Pete `The Deadly Icedagger’ plan a wrestling demo. Dreadflock needs to upskill her braiding technique. Constable Rutene is planning the biggest kapa haka event in suburban memory. Sauerkraut Burgers are gearing up for fierce battle with Carnivores Rule. And that’s not the half of it.

Flicking through Tumeke originally I didn’t think I would like it but after reading it in one sitting I completely loved it! It’s totally unique and has a real Kiwi flavour to it. The story is pieced together from notices on the community noticeboard at the library, text messages, emails, diary entries, social media posts and more. The design is so clever and visually appealing. I loved all the different personalities, from the local constable and his relationship with the teacher to the local Lord of the Rings and Beatles Appreciation Society and the owner of the goat who keeps causing havoc (and communicates using emojis).

I think, because of Tumeke’s uniqueness this will be the winner of the Junior Fiction category of the 2020 NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

Prince of Ponies by Stacy Gregg

2020 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults Junior Fiction Finalist

Stacy Gregg is NZ’s answer to Michael Morpurgo. Stacy is a captivating storyteller who weaves the plight of animals and humans together with history, adventure and suspense. Prince of Ponies is one of her best.

Prince of Ponies has a duel storyline, one in the present and one in Poland during the Second World War. Mira is a Syrian refugee now living in Berlin. She is bullied at school and her mother appears to be busy working (she is not mentioned much). However, Mira’s life is changed when she meets a spirited pony while walking in the woods. The pony leads her to Zofia, an old woman with an astounding story to tell. Mira agrees to write down Zofia’s story in exchange for riding lessons. As we discover more about Mira and watch her bond with Zofia and her pony Emir grow, we also discover Zofia’s past and her childhood in a Poland ruled by the Nazis. Mira’s skill as a rider grows to which leads to her competing in her first competition.

There is something in this story for all readers – princely ponies, daring escapes, nail-biting competitions, history, and characters who you are routing for. Having read and loved The Princess and the Foal I really liked the cameo of Princess Jana. This was a nice connection between Stacy’s books. I also love the epilogue which connects the story to the history behind it. Stacy always makes this information accessible to her readers.

My only niggle about this book is the cover. Much like Stacy’s other books I really wish the covers were more neutral to encourage boys to read them.