Children's, teen & YA book reviews, lists & blogs
A series of exciting events propels the reader forward at a fast pace – an adventure that educates as well. Characters which are culturally and ability diverse are authentic and believable.
"The issues that the author covers in her book are still prevalent and current in our time today and this book will resonate with many of our young people who are struggling to overcome adversities."
Read NZ Te Pou Muramura worked with NZATE (New Zealand Association for the Teaching of English) and the New Zealand Society of Authors (NZSA) to "create a 'master list' of suitable books for secondary school English teachers and students."
Trainsurfer is on the list. Teacher notes are coming soon.
"Richards is a school librarian in Auckland and it is clear her passion and experience of working with children informs her writing."
"Trainsurfer is an easy to read book in terms of readability but packs a punch with some intense themes - including racism, prejudice, substance abuse, poverty, and death. Richards, who immigrated to New Zealand in 2009, doesn’t make the story all roses and sunshine. She doesn’t shy away from the hard issues, nor does she make the characters without flaws."
"While part of a series, each of the three books can be read apart and treated as separate stories. However, it is when they are read as a trilogy that the reader gets a fuller, more nuanced, reading of Jabu and his friends.especially."
"This author has not only created a wonderful story she has also filled a void in children’s literature. Talking about tough subjects with the younger people in our population is a daily struggle for parents, librarians and teachers. This book not only helps fill that gap but also gives the reader a poignant story."
"Her characters are well-written and realistic too. While Jabu is the main character again, Ice also takes to the stage. It was nice to see realistic relationships played out in the pages too – there are moments of doubt, personality clashes and great depth to the emotions displayed by the teenagers especially."
"This is a series that I have now recommended several times to anyone over the age of 11. The insight into the animal rescue preserves and surfing are impeccably done."
"Presented in a realistic manner, the braid of surfing, snowboarding and relationships is fascinating. The author does not shy away from some tough subjects and presents them in an age-appropriate way for readers middle to high school."
"Excellent adventure both at sea and on the game reserve."
"An inspiring novel set in Apartheid South Africa just before the release of Nelson Mandela, with surfing the focus for revealing the contrasting lives of both black and white people."
"So rarely do I read a children’s/MG/YA book that captures my heart and my brain, that I’d almost forgotten what it is like. Author friends, please don’t take offence, because Trainsurfer is a very different book, a recent history exposé of a time many of us would love to forget—a story of racial prejudices, hatred, poverty, and injustice....
Trainsurfer is a tale of redemption and friendship. I won’t spoil it by telling you more. Read it for yourself. Read it to your children. You won’t soon forget Jabu and all his friends."
"Kate has followed her first very serious book with a delightful tale of resurrection, rescue, and redemption. Characters return and new characters appear to continue Jabu’s story. There is action, humor, and a very lovable rhino. What more could there be? Oh, surfing, organized crime, and some really bad dudes."
"The old surfing characters of the first two books are back, but now several years old. They face new challenges, especially Jabu. The introduction of Nikau and his sister Pania leads to a whole new adventure and one you will enjoy. There is a volcano, two drug dealers, an arduous escape, and a hermit in the woods.
I challenge you to introduce your children to two cultures so far from our own here in the US. Show them three books that are fun, real, heartbreaking, and amazing. By the time they get to the end of Nikau’s Escape, they’ll know more about our world and be begging for more.."
The Adventures of Jabu & Friends trilogy
"If searching for a trilogy of adventurous and informative novels set in South Africa and New Zealand one could hardly go past the three books written by librarian Kate S Richards and suitable for ages eleven onwards...
This set of three books is a beautiful collection with each one having a very attractive cover conveying the theme of the story. There is much to be learned as the writer addresses such topics as homelessness, race relations, conservation, as well as personal relationships, making it a valuable addition to any young person’s library."
"Nikau is battling his own personal demons because his no-good father has just got out of prison after ten years inside and he's trying to draw Nikau into his criminal way of life. The story culminates with a nail-biting description of what happened to the group of young people when Ruapehu blows its top and a dangerous lahar surges down the mountain.
There's plenty of action and emotion to keep early teen readers happy, and the teenage main characters are believable."