Book Review: Tu Meke Tūī! , by Malcolm Clarke, illustrated by Flox

cv_tu_meke_tuiAvailable now in bookshops nationwide.

Two native birds (one of which happens to be a favourite of mine) star in this delightful rhyming picture book about friendship, set in the New Zealand bush.

Tere the Tūī would love some company while she is ‘tumbling around in the sun’ and spies someone who might join her, but, alas, Taitu the Takahe’s wings aren’t strong enough to fly. Wanting to help her new friend, Tere comes up with an idea that has Taitu bravely scrambling up onto a rock.

Enter the villain of the story, Stan the Stoat, who does what these creatures do and grabs Tere in his sharp little claws. Not on Taitu’s watch; the brave takahe steps in and saves the day. Tere and Taitu may not be able to fly in the sky together, but they find another way to celebrate their friendship.

Illustrated by Flox, a New Zealand graffiti artist gaining national and international recognition, the pages are alive with vibrant and bold forest scenes. These birds are gorgeously illustrated and wouldn’t look out of place gracing a living room wall (hint, hint). I did find some lines to be ever so slightly off rhythm when reading aloud, however, the story is well paced with a good mix of fun and dramatic moments that will delight young readers.

Hardbound and printed on sturdy cardstock, the book will certainly be able to handle being loved by eager young hands. And as an added bonus, there is a ‘seek and find’ on the back cover page featuring other forest friends who hide within the story’s scenes.

Aimed at preschool and early primary children, it offers plenty of scope for talking about what friendship is and how differences can lead to finding a common ground and shared passions. It also introduces children to our beautiful native flora and fauna and the importance of looking after this treasure (sorry Stan the stoat, you don’t belong in the forest!). I am always a fan of New Zealand stories which celebrate our culture, unique landscapes and all things Kiwi, and I can see this one winging it’s way to families overseas and gracing the shelves of many a kindy here at home.

Reviewed by Vanessa Hatley-Owen

Tu Meke Tūī!
by Malcolm Clarke, illustrations by Flox
Published by Mary Egan Publishing, 2016
ISBN: 9780473343750


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