Book Review: Keep fit kiwi: Head and shoulders, knees and toes

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_keep_fit_kiwi.jpgOur children love Row, kiwi, row your boat so we were excited to get the next instalment from Lynette Evans and her team. The three kiwi friends are back and ready to get fit. This time we are at the farm, stretching up and preparing to move.

The three kiwi invite their farmyard friends to join in dancing to Heads, Shoulders, Knees & Toes. The familiar nursery rhyme is tailored to their animal friends, for example, kiwi points to her wings, beak and nose; and lamb finds his hooves and tail. Finally, our kiwi and friends are ready for a nap as the music winds down.

The focus is on being active and this is reflected in the illustrations. There is so much movement, colour and vibrancy! From the moment we see the kiwi in their aerobic sweatbands pumping and dancing, the pages come alive with action. We used the pictures as inspiration for other fitness ideas too – skipping, yoga and kick boxing.

There are so many kiwi sing-along books available for young children but they are a popular format for a reason. Connecting language to music helps us learn vocabulary and are a lot of fun! Children will fall in love with the upbeat tune. It’s like a catchy Jump Jam song and could easily be sung alone at group times when young children need to get their wriggles out.

This is a toe-tapping, body-stretching feel-good book that makes us smile and dance every time we turn on the music.  Don’t read it at bedtime because it is sure to wake up any sleepy reader!

Reviewed by Sara Croft

Keep fit kiwi: Head and shoulders, knees and toes
by Lynette Evans, Pictures by Stevie Mahardhika
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775435464

Book Review: We wish you a Kiwi Christmas, by Lynette Evans, illustrated by Myles Lawford

cv_we_wish_you_a_kiwi_christmasAvailable at bookstores nationwide.

We Wish You a Kiwi Christmas
is a delightfully “kiwi” version of the traditional song “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”, with gorgeous illustrations.

The story follows an excited little Kiwi on Christmas Eve when she discovers Santa and his broken-down sleigh, calls in all her flying friends to act as Santa’s reindeer to get those presents delivered. For an extra touch of delight, as she’s sitting with Santa on his sleigh, we get the verse:

She looked all around,
And with a soft, dreamy sign,
Said, “Who dares to say
That kiwis can’t fly!”

Published by Scholastic in time for Christmas 2014, there is no need to save this one for under the Christmas tree, the accompanying CD makes this great fun to read and sing in the lead up to Christmas Day.

The story runs through once in English, then repeats with a Māori translation, with slightly different illustrations and a few more verses to a page, so there is room to discuss new aspects of the story, even if you don’t read/speak Māori. As an added advantage there is also a small glossary of English-Māori words at the back of the book, to aid in translation for non-speakers.

He mihi Kirihimete Kiwi,
mihi kau ana mō te Tau Hou,
mīharo, tumeke,
ka mau te wehi !

My only issue is that, as a non-Māori speaker, I found the phrasing quite difficult to get my tongue around. As with the English, they have kept the spirit of the song and story more than they have the metre of the song, so some of the pronunciation is quite fast, and some of the sentences are a bit crammed. However, if, like me, you don’t speak Māori, don’t worry too much, a few plays of the very clear CD and you’ll be singing along at the top of your lungs in no time.

Most of us know the tune, so although the CD isn’t strictly necessary, it does help with getting the phrasing right. However, it’s a wonderful addition just by itself. Pio Terei has a distinctive voice which lends itself perfectly to this song. He’s backed up with children singing, and bird song is brought into the mix throughout.

Wonderful illustrations, amusing text, and a lovely CD… this book definitely puts the merry in a Kiwi Christmas.

We Wish You a Kiwi Christmas
By Lynette Evans, Illustrated by Myles Lawford
Māori lyrics by Ngaere Roberts
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN  9781775432678

Scholastic editors talk about their favourite projects

We asked the Scholastic team which title (or more) they are most proud of and the reasons why. Their entertaining answers:

Penny Scown: One of the books that probably had the most cv_roccoimpact on me was Rocco, which we published in 1990. It was the best manuscript that had ever crossed my desk at the time – and it launched Sherryl Jordan’s stellar international writing career. Rocco was also picked up in hardback by Scholastic US, and we are about to publish it as an e-book, 23 years later … In addition, we are still publishing Sherryl Jordan, with two titles having recently come out – Ransomwood and The Freedom Merchants.

Lynette Evans: Being the new kid on the block herecv_she'll_be_coming at Scholastic, many of my favourites are works in progress. However, She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain (The Topp Twins/Jenny Cooper) is a standout for me because it was a quintessential toe-tapping team effort involving collaboration between publishing team, musicians, illustrator, designer, printer and international affiliates from go to woah. It was a delightful assault on the senses, both aurally and visually, from soundtrack through to concept roughs and to final art. It bucked and reared at times… but the final product is a pick-me-up magnet for kids of all ages.

Frith Hughes: For me it’s seeing the ongoing success ofcv_best_loved-bear_20 books – the classics that are 20-odd years old and still selling strongly to a whole new generation of NZ children. I’ve loved being involved in the redesigns of The Best-Loved Bear (Diana Noonan/Elizabeth Fuller) and The Three Little Pigs (Gavin Bishop) as well as celebrating the 20th birthday of The Little Yellow Digger (Betty & Alan Gilderdale) last year – all three are picture books I read as a kid!