Book Review: He Wāhi i te Puruma, by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler, and translated by Karena Kelly

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_he_wahi_i_te_purumaThis is a delightful story about the exploits of a witch, her broom and how friends help each other. However, it is a version with a difference. While I have been the proud owner of this story in English, it took my daughter to encourage me to get the te reo Māori version. Why? Because she is raising her daughter (my Granddaughter) to be fluent in te reo. Her pre-school, like most educational places, makes use of bilingual labels, conversation and waiata. Having books to support this is the next step.

Unlike some of the earlier books in te reo, this one does not include an English version or a glossary of words. This indicates a coming-of-age for bilingual books. I know the beautiful rhyming tale of the Witch on her broom and the helpers who want to join her. Like all good stories, there is a little lesson to be learned. When misfortune befalls her, the friends step in to save the day.

Julia Donaldson has a natural way with rhyme and the story hums along in Māori as in English. It reminded me of the Snail on the Whale and What the Ladybird Heard. She has a great ear for sounds and I know my audience loved joining in with, “Ka eke ra te kuri, whuuu! Ka rere runga hau.”

Axel Scheffler provides entertaining illustrations that add visual details to the melody of the story. I love his eyes, which have that surprised expression, “What? Me?” The colours are bright and clear and by placing the smaller illustrations beside each block of text, there are visual clues to help the reader. I noticed one student found the English copy and was turning the pages with a friend as they looked at the translation. What a great way to explore language.

I was hoping to keep this title in my Nanna bookshelf, but a visiting niece asked politely if she might take it back with her daughter to Australia. How could I resist a bit of Trans-Tasman re-education. I am now looking forward to seeing other titles by Donaldson translated and available to all.

Reviewed by Kathy Watson

He Wāhi i te Puruma
by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler, and translated by Karena Kelly
Huia Publishers
ISBN 9781775503293