Book Review: The Marae Visit, by Rebecca Beyer & Linley Wellington, illustrated by Nikki Slade Robinson

Available in bookshops nationwide from 12 April. 

cv_the_marae_visitThe Marae Visit is a brilliant, cheerful introduction to what children can expect on their first visit to a marae. It feels like this book should have always been on our bookshelf – and I can’t believe it has taken this long for it to appear!

The story follows a primary class through their day at the marae. We meet the class at the front gate as they gather together to be formally welcomed. The authors spend time gently walking the reader through the  pōwhiri. Attention is drawn to tikanga and the reader gets a clear picture of what to expect and what to do. The pōwhiri ends and the class disperses to sing, dance with poi and make kites.

Children will easily find themselves in the multicultural illustrations. Nikki Slade Robinson captures the children’s bravado and hesitancy as they go through the unfamiliar process of the pōwhiri. We see their confidence and smiles grow throughout the story. The warmth and wairua you will find on a marae is beautifully depicted throughout the story.

The text is written in both English and te reo Māori; and well designed to read in either or both languages easily. The authors have kept key Māori words in the English text too, such as tangata whenua, hongi, wharenui and kaumātua. These words deserve to be known by English speakers and are contextualised for meaning.

Finally, the children gather for the poroporoaki, saying goodbye and promising to return. My class would like to return to the marae with them and join in the fun too. The authors have created an honest, uplifting portrayal of a class visit to their local marae that will be welcome in classrooms around Aotearoa.

Reviewed by Sara Croft

The Marae Visit
by Rebecca Beyer & Linley Wellington, Illustrated by Nikki Slade Robinson
Published by Duck Creek Press
ISBN 9781927305539

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: Muddle & Mo’s Rainy Day, by Nikki Slade Robinson

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_muddle_and_mos_rainy_dayIt’s a beautiful rainy day and all Muddle wants to do is jump, stomp, splash, sing and slide in the puddles. But Mo is less than excited about the big ploppy drops. Goats don’t like rain. Muddle can be very persuasive though and urges Mo to give it a try because rain is so much fun!

The third adventure from the loveable yet unconventional friendship of Muddle & Mo. Muddle is still his enthusiastic and happy-go-lucky self and Mo his patient and rain-phobic friend finds himself being convinced to step out of his comfort zone once again. A sweet little tale about how friendship can make you brave enough to try new things. Nikki Slade Robinson’s adorable, expressive and uncluttered illustrations are appealing to a young audience and paired with the repetitive dialogue from the two friends this picture book gives you the perfect opportunity to use your voice acting skills!

I loved reading this story to my preschool class and they enjoyed identifying all the different emotions Mo goes through as Muddle tries to encourage him to play in the rain. It’s easy to sympathise with both Muddle and Mo! Rainy Day is a delightful little book that explores how friendship can encourage an otherwise gloomy situation like a rainy day into something fun and positive.

Reviewed by Alana Bird

Muddle & Mo’s Rainy Day
by Nikki Slade Robinson
Published by Duck Creek Press
ISBN 9781927305393

Book Review: Weka’s Waiata, by Nikki Slade Robinson

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_wekas_waiata.jpgI picked up this book and immediately recognised the illustrations of Nikki Slade Robinson from her award-winning The Little Kiwi’s Matariki.  Her illustrations and story-telling continues to enchant our young readers with this story about young weka welcoming their kuia and koro for a visit.

Five young weka go off in search of different musical sounds to create a waiata to welcome their grandparents for a visit.  Children love predictable text and, so, with five vowel sounds to find, the author creates a repetitive pattern.  However, each weka finds a different sound in a different location to make it unique.  Together the weka use their sounds to make a waiata to sing when their grandparents arrive.

As a teacher, it can be difficult to find books which introduce concepts of our culture to our children.  This book will find a permanent place on our bookshelf as it is a perfect introduction about mihi whakatau and the importance of showing manaakitanga to our manahuri.

The illustrations are what make this book special.  Nikki Slade Robinson layers mixed media to create depth and story-telling through her pictures. The musical sounds swirl about, little wisps that might just float away!  The little weka are illustrated with black ink to create movement and character.  We fell in love with these little guys!  Little Kiwi also makes a star appearance.

At the end of the book includes a song which the weka sing.  Although the music score is written, it would have been good if a CD was included too.  With or without the song, this book is a delightful story to read.  I only wish we had some weka living in our backyard!

Reviewed by Sara Croft

Weka’s Waiata      
by Nikki Slade Robinson
Published by Duck Creek Press
ISBN 9781927305386


Book Review: Witch’s Cat Wanted – Apply Within, by Joy H. Davidson & Nikki Slade Robinson

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_witchs_cat_wantedJoy H. Davidson is from the Hawkes Bay. Davidson recieved the 2015 Joy Cowley Award for the unpublished manuscript of this book. Nikki Slade Robinson lives in Opitiki, and has written and illustrated a number of children’s books. Slade Robinson won the Picture Book award at the 2016 NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults for her book Little Kiwi’s Matariki.

There was once a very pleasant witch. She looked exactly as a witch should look, except for one small, furry detail. No cat! She had a broom and a tall black hat but her spells wouldn’t work without a cat! She stirred her cauldron and with a rumble and a hiss, the cauldron spat out a sign!
Witch’s Cat
Apply within

Knock, knock, tiddly-ock knock (don’t you love those words? – they drip off the tongue) on her front door. Outside sat a fluffy Persian cat. “I’ve come about the job” she purred. “Please come in,” the witch said. Unfortunately on further questioning the fluffy Persian couldn’t possibly ride on her broom as he’d get broomsick and cough up fur-balls into her cauldron. Whoever heard of a broomsick cat?

The story continues with an elegant Siamese cat applying for the job – he too was unsuccessful as he couldn’t possibly eat animal gizzards and live with toads and lizards. He was far too fussy with his food to be a successful witch’s cat.

I read this book to nearly 2-year-old Quinn. She sat attentively listening to the story with us both stopping and admiring the different cats. Quinn’s vocabulary is fairly limited, but she really enjoyed this story. I was told to “read it” Grandma again and then again. Quinn then took the book from me and said “mine”. So one little girl was captivated by poor witch trying hard to fill a job vacancy for a full-time companion and assistant. The ending is rather wonderful with the solution so obvious, it’s a wonder we all didn’t think of it!

This is a beautiful story with such lovely illustrations. Quinn has a birthday shortly so this book will join others as part of her 2nd birthday presents.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Witch’s Cat Wanted – Apply Within
by Joy H. Davidson & Nikki Slade Robinson
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775433729