Mixed feelings about this one. I can absolutely see why there are recommendations by Jack Lasenby and Sam Hunt on the cover, it is the sort of book I can see them really liking. A bit like a yarn told by an older man to his grandchildren. I was not really hooked in the first quarter of the book, it felt like it was tricky to set up the relationships, particularly between Awatea and his uncle Kim, stronger editing would have made the book much better at hooking me (and the kids) in. The dialogue was not quite right but after we get past that, the story moves along and is really great. My concern is that this would be clunky to read aloud, this is disappointing because this is exactly the sort of book which gets read aloud in our school. It is a relief when the story gets itself sorted and becomes a good read.
The characters of Awatea and his grandparents and the neighbours along the beach are beautifully done. Lots of rich New Zealand country kid stuff to treasure in there, the bush, the beach, the tree hut that needs to be worked on, hidden treasure of a very interesting kind, fish and crayfish to be caught and a parrot for company.
There is a lot to like about the book but a fix up to the opening section would really have helped it.
Here comes a political statement. New Zealand stories are important. Our children need to read stories that reflect their lives. This is a good story, but it is set long before any of our current youth were born. Publishers, you need to sort your shit out and start commissioning some stuff which is like this but which is contemporary. We have lots of stories of the past for our youth, but we don’t have stories of kids who live now, who go on holiday with their grandparents now, who have experiences like Awatea has but who have them in 2017. I have to tell you that my kids don’t care what happened in the past. They want stories of now! I honestly think we need to move on from stories recommended by elderly men. I want a story recommended by Julian Dennison. Or by