the Zine page for current issue of news and articles concerning New Zealand life and culture in 1996 NZine became New Zealands first interactive online magazine showing NZ to the world warts and all New Zealand Regional Information and Links to New Zealand Resources contact the publishers and editorship of NZine
clickable listings of previously issued NZine articles - over 1000 still of interest Add your comment to the NZine guestbook - also join and use forums for more interaction
Search Articles  

           Home >  Reviews  > Reviews  :

Gecko Press publishes two outstanding books for children - Friends - Snake and Lizard and There was a Crooked Man

Reviewed by Dorothy - 28/01/2010

Friends - Snake and Lizard There was a Crooked Man
Click on image to view a larger version

Buy these books for children in the appropriate age group and you will be assured of a worthwhile purchase. There was a Crooked Man is a board book for very young children and Joy Cowley's Friends - Snake and Lizard is recommended for ages six and over.

Gavin Bishop's charming and eye-catching illustrations add life to the traditional nursery rhyme and to Joy Cowley's stories.

I remember that as a child the crooked man rhyme had no appeal for me. With the visual impact of the illustrations it becomes truly entertaining nonsense.

I heartily endorse the age recommendation for Snake and Lizard at six plus and I believe that there should be no upper limit. Enthusiastic readers will certainly include most grandparents. The stories can be read with enjoyment at the children's level – arguments between friends, experiences with which the children can readily identify. For adults the frequent echoes of adult conversation provide much entertainment.

Snake and Lizard, two species expected to be foes, become friends when the wall separating their burrows collapses leaving them sharing one large burrow with two doorways. They set themselves up in a partnership in the helping profession but have frequent arguments. By various means at the end of each chapter they are still friends occupying the same burrow.

In the chapter called The Hero the friends explored various clichés they could use in their funeral orations to glorify the sacrifice made by the rabbit which was being honoured by the animal community for having defied the monsters on the River of Death (vehicles on the road). The chapter ends, " 'He was an absolute idiot,' Lizard said firmly. "They nodded in agreement and went back into the burrow to finish their breakfast."

Other themes explore envy, credulity, hunger, fear, exaggeration and pride in ancestors - all in stories to be appreciated at two levels – pure narrative and adult enjoyment of echoes of typical human conversational patterns and ironic comment.

I was disappointed that these books did not reach me until after I resumed work in mid-January as I would have liked to recommend them for Christmas gifts, but they will make a welcome gift at any time. Reading them will give readers a lift in spirits during a harsh winter or a disappointing summer.

Friends - Snake and Lizard
Author: Joy Cowley
Illustrator: Gavin Bishop
978-0-9582787-3-7 Paperback
978-0-9582720-7-0 Hardback
Published by Gecko Press
$NZ19.99 Paperback

There was a Crooked Man
Author: Gavin Bishop
Illustrator: Gavin Bishop
978-1-877467-24-0 Boardbook
Published by Gecko Press
$NZ19.99 Board book