Tuesday, 5 January 2016

A taonga for schools (and others of course)

NZ Writer & Illustrator

Michael Brown, illustrated by Mat Tait

The Heading Dog Who Split in Half

Potton & Burton 2015  $39.99pb 156pp

ISBN: 978 1 9272 1357 5

Themes: Graphic Novels/ Legends and Tall Tales from New Zealand/ New Zealand folk tales

In a meticulously and clearly illustrated graphic novel we are treated here to a collection of seven weird and amazing tales from Pakeha and Maori stories – some to stretch the imagination and some definitely true. There are stories based on old songs (Rueben Ranzo which was sung on the old sailing ships around 1880) and some have been handed down as folk tales through generations of families.  My favourite is the spooky story of Cargill’s Castle in Dunedin, the tunnel that led from it to the private cove and the mysterious deaths of at least two of the beloved Cargill daughters. There is a detailed section where the author shows us all his sources. I agree with Sarah Laing reviewing the book in The Listener (9.1.16 p56) who writes that laying them out for us in such detail does deflate the stories a little (but you don’t have to read the story behind the story).

This is a book that, in my opinion, belongs in every school library in the country. It is a treasure.

Find much about Michael Brown, a Wellingtonian, on his website: notunlikeatrumpet.wordpress.com
The book website is:   https://oldweirdnewzealand.wordpress.com/
 Mat Tait's website is:  http://www.mattait.com/                   

Year 6 up/ Age 10 up – and adults

A Ball at Cargill's Castle by Mat Tait p62-63 The Heading Dog who Split in Half


  1. Kia ora Barbara,
    Thanks for your review of our book. We're glad that you enjoyed it and appreciate your endorsement. Did you notice that your own book about the Cargill Family 'Children of the Captain' was cited? It was helpful in researching the background to the Tunnel Beach legend.

    For your information, we have a book website at: https://oldweirdnewzealand.wordpress.com/

    And Mat's site is: http://www.mattait.com/

    Ngā mihi,


  2. Thanks Michael I will add your websites later today. Barbara M