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Reviewed by Nadine Molloy, Library Assistant, Remarkables Primary School
Opening sentence
So, what's this book all about? Well, it covers a lot of the interesting stuff around and about Aotearoa, aka New Zealand...
In his own words, the author details this book as having "heaps of weird, odd, funny and amazing facts, figures, bits and pieces of history, events and happenings" as well as "important and helpful information".

I initially started at the back, reading the six-page timeline, which in itself was very informative. Did you know that Old Russell was the capital in 1840, or that frozen meat was exported as early as 1882? The first Moro bars went on sale in 1967 - something that will be of interest to many of the young readers. The timeline gives just very brief information - perfect for those students who like small snippets of interesting knowledge.

Although the book contains a lot of text throughout, it is broken up into smaller chunks by the use of colourful text boxes, thus making it more accessible for children. Due to the vast array of topics covered, the text gives enough information to grab the reader's attention, but they will need to look elsewhere for elaboration and maybe even to find images.

As the reader may choose to dip in and out, they are sometimes referred to other pages throughout the book as appropriate, e.g. on page 27 during the section on volcanoes, readers are told to see page 37 to read more about the Waimangu geyser in the 'natural curiosities' section.

Unfortunately, the illustrations didn't quite match up to my expectations. I would have loved to have seen more throughout, including when comparing the heights of 'giant objects' in particular towns (pg. 52). A visual here would assist children in comprehending the scale of these models as did the simple, yet effective, diagram of the mountains on page 28. In general, the illustrations are more simple than I expected. They are more cartoon-style than detailed images as in some of the author's previous books.

The humour throughout will appeal to many young readers, such as there being zero people employed here as zombies, and an illustration of glow-worms forming into a smiley face when they are not being watched.

Some of what the students read is bound to 'stick' with them. Personally, I particularly enjoyed learning that the first jail was made out of a very large sea chest with air holes drilled in the sides.

This book will appeal to students who want to be introduced to a wide range of New Zealand topics in an interesting manner. Once their curiosity has been piqued they can refer to other sources for further details.
Author & Illustrator: Dave Gunson
Publisher: Bateman
ISBN: 978-1-77689-058-3
Format: Hardback
Publication: June, 2023
Ages: 7+
Themes: NZ history, environment, statistics and Kiwiana