Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Between the covers

What a lovely day it's been. School is winding up for the little fella, so he had a good day. Tonsil boy turned a corner in his recovery and was a lot better today. He also got to go to a friend's birthday party. It was Dunedin Diary television night, and Hubby and I got to enjoy the school Board of Trustees Chrissy Dinner at Zucchini Brothers restaurant.

For Dunedin Diary it was my last show of the year and I got to give my Christmas gift ideas from the wealth of locally produced of local interest books. I had five books to cover in four minutes, phew, so these are my notes of what I would have said if everything went according to script. Needless to say it never does, but hey, that's live telly for you!

So these were my local picks for Christmas shopping:

Kids picture book:

Herbert the brave sea dog by Robyn Belton.

This is based on the true story of Herbert, a little terrier dog who fell of a boat in a storm in the Marlborough sounds and survived for thirty hours in the water before his owners and a fisherman found him alive. It’s one of those heart warming stories that delighted my boys, and made me shed a tear or two. Beautiful illustrations by Robyn Belton, of greedy cat fame, and this is her first picture book she has both written and illustrated. They have also reproduced in the back page some of the newspaper reports and letters and the special award Herbert got for bravery. It’s a lovely gift for the kiddies.

Teen fiction:

Anywhere but here by Ella West.

Teens can be difficult to buy for but I think this story about a group of teenagers with a touch of science fiction to it will appeal to girls and boys. This is the second in a trilogy of books but stands alone well. Nicky and her friends have the ability to travel from place to place by the power of their mind. They’ve escaped from The Project, a mysterious organisation that abducted them from their families and trained and them to carry out secret missions. They are in Los Angeles, one of them wounded and they have to keep their wits about them in a strange town and situation. Throw in plenty of the problems teens face with relationships and hormones and their loyalties are being challenged. They have to work together to keep one step ahead of The Project.

Blokes Bo

Into the Wider world by Brian Turner.

Brian Turner is a poet, writer and essayist and he’s a blokes bloke. He loves his fishing and sports and has a real connection to the environment. This book is a wonderful collection of his musings on a myriad of topics from wasting time to, fishing, to dogs. They’re delightful and I’ve enjoyed just opening up at random and reading the story in front of me. I have brought this book for my brother for Christmas – he’s a hunting and fishing kind of a guy and normally difficult to choose for, but this year was no problem, because Brian was kind enough to bring out the perfect book for blokes.

Coffee table type book:

Rita Angus: Life & Vision by William McAloon and Jill Trevelyan

Rita Angus would have of be one of New Zealand’s most recognised artists, and it has been a very special treat to be able to see so many of her works in their full glory at the Rita Angus exhibition at the Dunedin Art Gallery. I urge everyone to go and see it. This book is the catalogue of the exhibition, which marks 100 years since her birth. It’s a beautiful pictorial book, with full colour pictures of all of the works in the exhibition, and therefore a rich cross section of her body of work. It has a good commentary on what was happening in her life at the time of painting some of her works as well as biographical information. I love it for the pictures – it’s a beautifully produced book you can enjoy again and again.

All around great gift book:

Fleur's Place by Paul Sorrell and Graham Warman.

This is simply a fabulous book. Made so by the fact I think Fleur holds a special place in everyone’s hearts down here. This book is as much about Fleur’s vision as it is about the restaurant and the food and the array of characters who people who keep Fleur’s place supplied. From a recipe perspective, they are simple and flavoursome and the type of thing you and I could happily make in our own kitchens. The photography is terrific, and this would just as happily be displayed on the coffee table as getting ingredient stains all over it in the kitchen.

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