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Book reviews: November 2021

3 min read

Pick of the month

Gone Bush
Paul Kilgour
HarperCollins Publishers
Reviewed by Esha Chanda

Most Kiwis know of Paul Kilgour and his epic long walk home in 2007 and 2008 – a 1550km tramp from Fiordland to Golden Bay via backcountry huts and off-track routes. After clocking up 50 years of backcountry tramping, it’s no surprise that Paul has a treasure trove of stories to share. Gone Bush is about a lifetime of walking the backcountry, unforgettable journeys, and some of the 1200 huts Paul’s visited. It’s a charming read, meandering through his life, like setting off on a beautiful tramp in the mountains with the sun on your back.

Paul was bitten by the tramping bug early on in life when he began going on trips as a young boy beyond the northwest Auckland farm and out along the coast, igniting a passion for adventure. During those wanderings, he met old folk living simply in tiny huts and swaggers walking in remote and beautiful locations.

Gone Bush is an account of those adventures. It’s also a book about the effects of being in the natural environment. With many miles under his belt, Paul is also more conscious than most of the ways the backcountry is changing: glacial melting, landscapes altered, and scars left after historic earthquakes. The weather has drastically altered, too, along with the foot traffic at some of the iconic tramps in New Zealand. Is it all bad? Maybe not, but as Paul says, while he’s lucky to have experienced both before and after, he’s seen too many instances where we seem to be milking it for all we can without thinking about the consequences.

At 70 years old, Paul has no intention of hanging up his boots, with a laundry list of trips he still wants to do. Perhaps a second epic traverse in the style of his big walk home? Maybe. It’s a hard act to follow, but I guess you never know.   

More good reads

Ranulph Fiennes
Penguin, Random House NZ
Reviewed by Tony Orman

This book is a beaut that should appeal to those with a love of the outdoors and a sense of adventure. The author is a polar explorer – like Ernest Shackleton, who was one of the great polar explorers – and is well qualified to understand the challenges and the rigours of such adventures and, therefore, impart his unique insights to the reader.
Shackleton possessed immense mana with exceptional leadership skills but also had some flaws, which impacted deeply on his family life. A terrific read about a great man. Highly absorbing and strongly recommended.

Out in the Moana
Yvonne Morrison
Scholastic NZ
Reviewed by Esha Chanda

The best way to review a children’s book is perhaps by handing it over to a kid. So, I gave this one to a colleague’s two-year-old, and within a day, I was told, she was happily reciting it at her dinner table – and that speaks volumes about the latest title from Yvonne Morrison.

Out in the Moana is a catchy and playful retelling of the much-loved traditional story, Over in the Meadow. Featuring fascinating and lovable creatures from the sea, it is a delightful picture book and a great way to introduce young readers to the variety of sea life found in New Zealand.

The ocean adventure is brought to life by the beautiful illustrations from Jenny Cooper. Also available in te reo Māori: I Waho, i te Moana, the book is perfect for bedtime reading, so make sure you add it to your Christmas shopping list.

Little Yellow Digger and the Big Ship
Peter Gilderdale
Scholastic NZ
Reviewed by Esha Chanda

The grounding of Ever Green – the massive container ship that was grounded in the Suez Canal back in March this
year – has inspired the latest Little Yellow Digger adventure.

Betty and Alan Gilderdale’s son Peter has inherited his mother’s great story-telling ability that you can see in this playful addition to the classic series sees the favourite Little Yellow Digger come to the rescue – again.

Complementing the story is Fifi Colston’s fabulous illustrations.

The Little Yellow Digger series has always been a favourite among the little ones – there are more than 650,000 books in print – and the latest one, with a creative take on solving a problem that made the headlines around the world is sure to be a new favourite among kids.

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