Book review: The Little Kiwi and the treaty, by Nikki Slade Robinson

Available at bookshops nationwide.

cv_the_little_kiwi_and_the_treatyThis is another gem of a book in the Little Kiwi series by Nikki Slade Robinson.  Little Kiwi’s Koro tells the story of their ancestors coming from different lands.  Koro’s ancestors were the best food finders in the land and the ancestors of Kuia were known as the best nest builders.

They settled on the same land and a fight broke out before the chiefs stepped forward to find a resolution to the conflict. The author talks through the tense negotiations, staying true to the high emotions we all feel when we need to compromise! Te reo Māori is woven throughout the text – and many words are quietly translated as you read along (perfect for introducing new vocabulary).

The text is beautifully accompanied by Nikki’s illustrations. We are transported back in time by the clever use of black and white pictures when Koro is remembering the past. I still love all the emotion Nikki can portray with Little Kiwi – and the little details which distinguish each character (especially the pounamu being worn by the chiefs).

The familiar characters of Little Kiwi and her family introduces ideas about family history and identity to young children. Through Koro’s story we also come to understand what a treaty is. It is a gentle reminder for all children about friendship, conflict resolution and learning from each other.

It is a picture book that can be a wonderful teaching tool to talk about co-operation or simply enjoyed for the wonderful story-telling within.

Reviewed by Sara Croft

The Little Kiwi and the Treaty
by Nikki Slade Robinson
Published by David Ling Publishing
ISBN 9781927305485

Book Review: Puffin The Architect, by Kimberly Andrews

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_puffin_the_architectEveryone wants different features in a new home and Puffin is an architect who takes pride in designing the perfect home for clients. But the pufflings seem hard to please even when Puffin takes them on a journey to all the recent builds the architect has designed.

Puffin the Architect is a delightful read by Wellington author Kimberly Andrews whose first picture book Tuna and Hiriwa was a 2017 Storylines Notable book.

The exquisite illustrations in her latest publication will capture children’s attention and they will find interesting topics for discussion each time the book is read to them. Suitable for ages 3-7 years, I am sure these children will have as much fun looking for the 19 snails hidden among the pictures as I did.

The pufflings visit Platypus’s bakery, Otter’s fishing boat, Detective Hound’s home, Pig’s tool shed, Painter Goose’s studio, as well as the homes for a moose and giraffe , but none of the features in these unique homes appeal to the pufflings. ‘Can’t you make a puffin cottage?’

The resulting cottage by the sea is just what the pufflings want and we see in the final page Puffin the Architect is moving into the home with her two young pufflings and their toys.

Lots to stimulate children in this book, the rhyming text on each double page, the intricate details in the different illustrated homes, as well as finding out where puffins are living in world.

It is a good sized book for sharing with a group of children, and will certainly create wonderful discussion and stimulate ideas for a new generation of designers and architects.

Reviewed by Lesley McIntosh

Puffin The Architect
by Kimberly Andrews
Published by Puffin
ISBN 9780143772187

Book Review: Shhh! Don’t Wake The Baby…, illustrated by Scott Pearson

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_shh_dont_wake_the_baby.jpegYou have to admit, the opportunity was just too good. A new Prime Minister, a husband who’d step up to raise the child while his wife ran the country, and a country captivated by a young vibrant first couple at a time when old, white men were reeking destruction and chaos elsewhere in the world. Quick off the mark, illustrator Scott Pearson has very carefully blended his cartoon style into 10 contemporary scenes that we will instantly recognise.

The ‘story’, if there is one is simple: don’t wake little Neve Te Aroha. But there are many interruptions, unique to this couple. All Black supporters off to the game cheer loudly outside the window; Clarke showing off his fishing skills; camera clicks from the paparazzi; noisy espresso machines during parent coffee mornings; loud tractors on a Morrinsville farm; extra bass during Jacinda’s night club DJ session (a great one, that) and Winston shhhhing Crusher Collins in the House whilst Parliament is sitting. That is my favourite scene. He’s captured the Deputy PM’s grumpiness perfectly. Oddly, apart from Collins, the other MPs don’t look like any currently sitting but that’s a minor point.

There’s not much else you can say about this book apart from that it’s a quintessentially ‘Kiwi’ book. Plenty of small references such as kiwi mobiles, hibiscus flowers in the vase, photos of the beehive on the walls, buzzy bees, caravans at the beach. This is a colourful, vibrant, snatch in time. Sure it’s cashing in on the moment but why not. Even my 6 year old immediately took to it, and she knows very little about current affairs, yet she knew enough to get all the small innuendos and jokes in the pictures. A great book for right now. Adults and kids alike will be happy with this.

Reviewed by Tim Gruar

Shh… Don’t Wake the Baby
illustrated by Scott Pearson
Published by Moa/ Hachette
ISBN 9781869713942

Book Review: The Top Secret Undercover Notes of Buttons McGinty – Book 1, by Rhys Darby

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_the_top_secret_undercover_notes_of_buttons_mcgintyI finally managed to steal this from my 9-year-old.  You see, she sleeps with one eye open, so there was no chance she’d share a book like this until she’s finished it.  Now, she doesn’t do this with just any old book.  It has to be quirky, challenging and, in her terms, ‘un-put-a-down-able’.  It helps if the subject matter leads to a bit of a session on Google afterwards. ‘What’s Morse Code, Dad? Never mind, Mr Google told me!’ Kid’s eh?

My daughter has never heard of Rhys Darby, or Flight of the Conchords, but she knows a good book when it arrives in the post.

Written in the same book-style as the Treehouse books, with a handwritten font and plenty of ‘random’ sketches, Mr Darby brings us a slice of his awkward, Kiwi humour and out-of-this-world absurdity, served between two slices of mystery-comedy.

It’s aimed at kids aged 8-15 yrs. Darby assumes the clothes of 12-year-old Buttons McGinty, and pens his top secret scribbles in his nutty notebooks, as he and his mates dive into a universe unlike any they’ve known. Our hero has been shipped off to Ranktwerp Island Education Fortress for Gifted Lame Unruly Minors (R.I.E.F.G.L.U.M), which is apparently a boarding school located on a remote island, somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. Sounds like that island in Famous Five books, doesn’t it? Well, maybe. Add to that his parents have disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Plus, there’s bogus baddies and a weird kind of yeti on the prowl.

Apart from the obvious ‘dad’ jokes and random acts of hilarity, my daughter loved problem solving the Morse Codes that Buttons (who was partially ‘modelled’ on Darby’s audio producer) tries to crack in order to figure out the clues necessary to solve the crimes. And that was the best bit, frankly. The immersion and engagement. The main reason why I couldn’t sneak the book away – until the notes in the margins had all been rubbed out. Apparently, this is only volume one. So that means more to come. Someone in my household has already added the next volume to Santa’s list.

Reviewed by Tim Gruar

The Top Secret Undercover Notes of Buttons McGinty – Book 1
by Rhys Darby
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775434979

Book Review:  Nanny Mihi and the Bellbird, by Melanie Drewery, illustrated by Tracy Duncan

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_nanny_mihi_and_the_bellbirdNanny Mihi and her grandchildren make friends with a bellbird in the garden, but then in spring the bellbird disappears. They’re puzzled by the disappearance, and try to entice the bird back. Then in the summer, they get a lovely surprise…

Nanny Mihi and the Bellbird is a gentle story about appreciating nature and whānau. The illustrations are beautiful, particularly of our native birds and plant life, vivid and almost hyper-realistic. It’s a great read-aloud story, and my class of 6-year-olds enjoyed it very much, and enjoyed predicting where the bellbird might have disappeared to.

Award winning author Melanie Drewery brings us another lovely visit to Nanny Mihi’s house. A very welcome addition to the Nanny Mihi series of stories (last added to in 2006), Nanny Mihi and the Bellbird is the perfect sort of picture book for a child of New Zealand – a blend of both English and Te Reo Māori language with a focus on our native bird life. Readers who are unfamiliar with the Te Reo Māori phrases in the story will find a translation at the bottom of each page to help them.

The perfect gift for Christmas, I’ll be buying copies to send overseas as well.  It’s a lovely showcase of the things that make New Zealand special.  Recommended for children 3-8 years.  There’s also a fact sheet about bellbirds available for curious children or classroom use on the publisher’s website – a lovely touch!

Reviewed by Rachel Moore

Nanny Mihi and the Bellbird
by Melanie Drewery, illustrated by Tracy Duncan
Published by Oratia Books
ISBN 9780947506360

Book Review: Paraweta, by Stephanie Blake

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

Paraweta-cover-451x600This is a te reo Māori version of the well-known picture book Poo Bum. Little rabbit is rather rude and from the moment he wakes up little rabbit answers every question with ‘paraweta (Poo Bum)’ – until he meets a wolf who likes to eat rabbits!

Te reo Māori is growing in strength as we all see the importance of sharing our indigenous language with our little ones. Translations of classic stories that young children already know and love are a perfect way to introduce te reo Māori. Children can hear natural language patterns as they follow the familiar storyline and illustrations. It won’t be long before children will start shouting out ‘paraweta’ in all the right spots!

For nervous readers, you could start by changing out ‘poo-bum’ for ‘paraweta’ – however children tend to be a very forgiving audience when it comes to practicing a new language.

This book shows how much fun language can be. It will draw in the most book-shy child who will enjoy laughing at a parent or teacher saying ‘taboo’ words. The bold illustrations use blocks of colour and black lines to continue the absurdity – who has ever seen a green wolf or a rabbit in a suit?!

As an adult, you will either love or hate the storyline but young children are almost guaranteed to love the silliness! A book filled with toilet humour, familiar characters and a witty punchline – what is not to love? Just be prepared to read this book over and over again.

Reviewed by Sara Croft

Paraweta
by Stephanie Blake, translated by Karena Kelly
Published by Gecko Press
ISBN 9781776572182

Book Review: Lonely Planet Kids: World’s Strangest Creepy Crawlies

cv_worlds_strangest_creepyCrawliesAvailable in bookshops nationwide.

Most definitely not for squeamish grown-ups, this book will delight bug-obsessed kids with its catalogue of weird and wonderful insects. Have you ever heard of a bird-dung crab spider?

This new book by the clever folk at Lonely Planet is a Top 40 of the world’s strangest species, ranked in order and scored on a scale of creepiness, beauty, fighting ability, and superpowers. It is chock-full of coloured photos, fact boxes, lists, and brightly coloured graphics. The cast includes a full array of bugs from spiders to ants to bees. I confess it was extremely satisfying to see that New Zealand’s own Giant Weta made an appearance. Did you know that a weta’s ears are on its knees?

It is hard to imagine a child who would not be fascinated by this treasure trove of facts and photographs. With quizzes, maps, and a glossary, there is plenty of information in this compact book to keep primary school-aged children captivated. It may be a little basic for older readers but it could provide a good starting point for the curious researcher.

Adults, be prepared to be regaled incessantly with all sorts of weird and revolting statistics. ‘Mum! Mum, did you know…?’ Just be glad you are not a termite queen that produces one egg every three seconds for fifteen years; that’s a lot of babies.

Reviewed by Tiffany Matsis

Lonely Planet Kids: World’s Strangest Creepy Crawlies
by Lonely Planet
Published by Lonely Planet Kids
ISBN 9781787012974