A couple of years ago I tried to find a book on famous New Zealanders that my children could use for school projects. I failed miserably as there seemed to be a real gap in the market, so I was thrilled to come across Bruce Potter drawing caricatures for a new book on famous New Zealanders at the Storyline Festival.
I had to wait for it to be published and it was well worth the wait. Maria Gill has identified an interesting mix of 50 New Zealanders, both living and dead, who’ve all done something remarkable in their field.
The table of contents is split into sections: adventurers, leaders, pioneers, scientists, inventors, artists and sportspeople, so when my daughter was looking for a scientist to do a school project on, it was easy to identify four likely candidates.
I like the way that the four people are all quite different and specialise in different areas so there is bound to be someone of interest to all readers. My daughter chose Steve O’Shea (world-renowned squid expert) for her homework assignment and found plenty of information in the book.
Each page has some specific sections – Trophy Board, Timeline and Passport (with a photo and facts like name, date of birth and place of birth). All information is written in a very child-friendly way and includes information that children would find interesting.
Bruce Potter has drawn a caricature of each person and this takes pride of place on each double-spread. These are complimented by smaller photos and other drawings. One thing I don’t understand is why small drawings have been made from photographs on some of the pages. I don’t think these drawings have been done very well (poor Dave Dobbyn looks like Shrek in the picture on Tim Finn’s page), and the original photos are easily found on the internet.
My daughter has enjoyed flicking through the book and reading snippets of information. She declared she likes the book because ‘it tells you lots of interesting things about people.’
The book includes web addresses, and references to documentaries and films that can be found online.
I think this book is a ‘must have’ for any family with young children and I highly recommend it.
Reviewed by Niki Bailey, Facebook fan
New Zealand Hall of Fame: 50 Remarkable Kiwis
by Maria Gill and illustrated by Bruce Potter
(New Holland Publishing)