Book Review: Kuwi’s Very Shiny Bum, by Kat Merewether

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

cv_kuwis_very_shiny_bumForget Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – here in New Zealand we have Kuwi the Kiwi and her shiny red bum instead!

The book starts off in Kuwi the Kiwi’s burrow, with her reading a festive story about a round red ball falling from the sky to young Huwi. In the tale, Kuwi is thrilled at the gift and promptly attaches it to her bum before setting off to make presents for her friends in the forest.

She bakes and paints and builds until she has something for everyone, then sets off to deliver her gifts, with her tail-light twinkling. We travel with Kuwi as she visits Florence the fantail, Sharon the snail, Bruce the bat, Herb the hoiho, Tash the tui, and a host of other friends who are all so excited about their gifts that they forget to say thank you.

This makes Kuwi a little sad as she doesn’t know if her friends liked her gifts… until they arrive to say thanks in their own way. The book ends with Huwi waking up and opening a very special present – a familiar shiny, red bum!

This is a delightful book, beautifully and colorfully illustrated by the author. It would make a great Christmas book and is likely to become a favourite read-along Kiwi classic.

This is the latest of Kat Merewether’s Kuwi books. Money from each purchase is donated to Kiwis for Kiwi, so there’s an added incentive to pop this book under the tree this year.

Reviewed by Faye Lougher

Kuwi’s Very Shiny Bum
by Kat Merewether
Published by Illustrated Publishing
ISBN 9780994136404

Book Review: The Kiwi Hokey Tokey, by Pio Terei, Stevie Mahardika and Ngaere Roberts

cv_the_kiwi_hokey_tokeyAvailable now in bookshops nationwide.

The Kiwi Hokey Tokey
is sure to become a firm favourite book in homes around the country and I bet it won’t just be the children who can’t stop singing the title tune!

I started reading the book while playing the accompanying CD, but by the third page I was singing the words instead – you just can’t help yourself. Sung by popular New Zealand entertainer Pio Terei, the catchy tune will be great for teaching children te reo, as the words in English are followed by lyrics in Māori, and the CD features both versions, as well as guitar-only track if you prefer your own voices to dominate.

New Zealanders will recognise the animals featured in The Kiwi Hokey Tokey – kiwi, pukeko, tuatara, kea, pigs, fantails, ducks, horse, and sheep – and have fun singing the words to go with their versions of the familiar dance. The second part of the book features the te rep Māori verses so children can learn the words for the birds and animals they met earlier.

The kiwi-as illustrations are by Stevie Mahardhika, who moved to New Zealand to study at AUT, and the Maori lyrics are by Ngaere Roberts.

This is one of those books that will never get old and tired – but your voice may, as it’s sure to be on high rotation in kiwi households.

The Kiwi Hokey Tokey
by Pio Terei and Ngaere Roberts, illustrated by Stevie Mahardika
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775434115

Book Review: Alice’s Food A-Z, by Alice Zaslavsky

Available in bookstores nationwide.
Alice Zaslavsky is a former teacher and Masterchef Australia contestant. She now hosts an Australian kids cooking knowledge quiz show, thus this book, Alice’s Food A-Z is a logical combination of those two experiences. This colourful book is aimed at sharing food facts, cooking tips and terminology with children –the main audience being 8-14 year olds.

There are nearly 40 recipes included, from the simple – peanut butter on celery sticks, to the more involved recipe for borscht. It is framed as an A-Z, with each letter featuring a food and recipe or two. The writing style is very casual, perhaps somewhat irritating for adults (the sentence “Science, yo” still sits uncomfortably with me) but it is very engaging for the target audience.

The fun facts are interesting. I enjoyed learning why bananas are curved and being reminded that baby carrots are not young carrots, but sculptured seconds from the adult carrot harvest. We have also changed the way we peel bananas – we now peel from the short end – on her recommendation. My eight-year-old daughter had this book by her side for a few days. Kids her age love facts – so we heard a lot of them during this time. She also really enjoyed the mushroom guide – she hadn’t realised that there were more types of mushrooms than those we typically buy from the supermarket.

The recipes are all labeled to make it clear which contain nuts and gluten, with some of the recipes being at ‘expert level’ – needing independent knife skills for example. The recipes are often written in a very informal way and do not assume prior knowledge of cooking skills. They also give good reminders when you may need some adult assistance.

This is one of those hard to categorise books. It is the sort of book that has a really wide potential audience, because it is very engaging once you pick it up. But it is one that would perhaps be easy to overlook as it isn’t really just a recipe book, or a fact guide. I recommend it for children who enjoy sharing ‘fun facts’ or would like a slightly more than basic recipe book.

Reviewed by Emma Wong-Ming

Alice’s Food A-Z
by Alice Zaslavsky
Published by Walker Books
ISBN 9781922179388