Not long after the lively and enjoyable December 2016 Book Party launching Bad Oil and the Animals, I was invited to join young readers and their teachers online in the national primary school programme, NZReadAloud. 

An Unexpected Hero has been chosen for Year 7-8 readers in 2017, in this ‘connected literacy’ initiative that began in 2015. The focus is on New Zealand authors writing stories in New Zealand settings and the goal is ‘One Book to Connect Kiwi Kids across Aotearoa.’  Children from participating schools throughout New Zealand will read An Unexpected Hero together and share on-line comments with myself and each other as they follow Matt’s adventures, and finally discover the identity of the ‘Unexpected Hero’.  

Programme initiator Kerri Thompson from Tamatea Intermediate in Napier is relishing the contributions shared by both teachers and students as they combine their pleasure in reading and communicating with local authors. I’m anticipating lively discussion during the six-week event.

Meanwhile, Bad Oil and the Animals is also becoming known, through Tieke, NZ Environment and Conservation Organisations online weekly Noticeboard; through ARYSE, the Earth Guardians’ events and through general reviews and publicity, through independent booksellers like the Wellington Children’s Bookshop, Kilbirnie and Paper Plus owners, and through libraries.  Readers can help by requesting it at their local library and bookshop.

Barbara Murison’s ‘Around the Bookshops’ Bad Oil and the Animals review:  

‘Heidi is sixteen and intent on being a society photographer but life doesn’t always turn out the way we expect. Instead Heidi becomes deeply involved with a group of teenage protestors who are trying to save orangutans in the wild. Add factory farming, the use of palm oil extract as stock feed and a whole world of subterfuge. 
A book with a message this certainly is, but it is such an important message and the pages are studded with a cast of such lively and spirited young people that it all makes for an unputdownable read