Book Review: We’re off to Find a Kiwi by Juliette MacIver, illustrated by Kate Wilkinson

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_were_off_to_find_a_kiwiEveryone in New Zealand dreams of seeing a kiwi, but very few of us in fact have seen one. In this delightful picture book Louie and his older sister set off to find a kiwi.

The author uses an excellent rhyming method to carry the children from their street into the city where they meet a tui who offers advice.

From there they go to a farm, then up a mountain, where a kea tells them to look in a dimmer place.

They try a forest and hear,
A scratch – a rustle – something close …
I feel the need to wee-wee!
It’s coming near! I freeze in fear!
And then we see a … KIWI.

It’s a wonderful story for the 3-7 age group: my 3-year-old grandson loves it. The week before this book arrived we had been walking in the Orokonui Sanctuary looking for birds, kiwi included, and other wildlife, so this book continues our adventures.

Juliette MacIver has created a wonderful New Zealand story, introducing children to some of our finest native birds and with the subtle illustrations by Kate Wilkinson, children can learn about the special places which are home to these birds.

The last page includes facts about kiwi, good discussion points for parents and teachers.

Reviewed by Lesley McIntosh

We’re off to Find a Kiwi
by Juliette MacIver, illustrated by Kate Wilkinson
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775433750

Book Review: Gwendolyn!, by Juliette MacIver, illustrated by Terri Rose Baynton

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

cv_gwendolynHow many penguins do you think there are in the jungle? You’d probably say none, because we all know penguins live in cold climates, but you haven’t met Gwendolyn! She is the only penguin in the jungle and she’s there because she loves the heat, the gorgeous flowers and the other jungle animals.

We get to meet a jaguar, monkeys and a parrot, and she points out all the good things about the jungle. Gwendolyn is always upbeat and she makes all her jungle friends realise how lucky they are to live in such a beautiful place.

But then her friend Parrot asks a simple question – has Gwendolyn ever been to Antarctica, where all the other penguins live?

A tear rolls down Gwendolyn’s cheek and she admits she hasn’t, and that starts to make her pine for the place she really belongs, where she can be a real penguin. Nothing her friends say can cheer her up, and she sets off on a really long journey to Antarctica.
She meets other penguins there and has the time of her life, but after a while she starts to notice the cold, and the fact she’s very hungry… and decides there is no reason why a penguin can’t live in Antarctica AND the jungle!

This book made me smile, as the illustrations are simply beautiful. There is so much to look at on every page that younger children will enjoy this book even if they can’t read the words. I think it will delight children and adults alike and become a treasured favourite. It’s a great tale about friendship and how we don’t have to be the same to get along.

Reviewed by Faye Lougher

Gwendolyn
by Juliette MacIver, illustrated by Terri Rose Baynton
Published by ABC Books (HarperCollins NZ)
ISBN 9780733335174

 

Maui Sun Catcher, by Tim Tipene, illustrated by Zak Waipara, translated by Rob Ruha

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

cv_maui_sun_catcher.jpgRe-working a traditional and much loved myth is a big challenge and requires ensuring the familiar story features are finely balanced with new ideas and fresh imagery to retain the essence of the original while engaging new audiences. Award winning New Zealand author Tim Tipene took up this challenge with Maui – Sun Catcher and has hit that balance perfectly, delivering a Maui who is both mischief-maker and cheeky fella.

Bringing Maui into the 21st century sees him cajoling his brothers to help him capture Tama Nui Te Ra, the Sun, and force him to slow down so that all can get their work done and enjoy a full day. The brothers are modern day blokes and the dialogue between them is as Kiwi as it gets: ‘You think too much, said Roto, rolling his eyes and turning on the television. ‘Sit down and watch the rugby, man.’ The striking cartoon like illustrations depicting them in familiar clothing (jeans, mechanic’s overalls and school uniform), coupled with mentions of sunscreen and gassing up the car brings the myth well and truly into modern day.

In keeping with the magical capabilities of Maui the trickster, he is depicted in what looks suspiciously like a superhero outfit, complete with emblem on his top, fish hook slung low across his hips, and… is that a cape or a hoodie? Also setting him apart and adding to his mystery, is Maui’s speech which, in rhyming couplets, is the only rhyme found in the text; a feature acknowledged by one of his brothers: “Maui the poet, eh, always out to be the hero,’ Waho grumbled.”

When he and his brothers find the sun’s pit, they prepare to trap the Sun in a net made of magic flax. Maui steps up to challenge the Sun to slow down and, in this version, beats the Sun not with his fists but with his words – tricking the Sun into slowing down using flattery: ‘The Sun was quiet, He looked around. He liked Maui’s words of magnificence and greatness. They made him feel special.’

Presented in both te Reo Maori and English this bi-lingual modern retelling of a myth unique to Aotearoa is equally accessible to all young readers. It is beautifully presented in hardback with bright colours and bold illustrations and I do hope it is the first of many such re-workings presented by the Tipene, Waipara and Oratia Books team.

Reviewed by Vanessa Hatley-Owen

Maui: Sun Catcher
by Tim Tipene, illustrated by Zak Waipara, translated by Rob Ruha
Published by Oratia Books, 2016
ISBN 9780947506148

Book Review: Squeakopotamus, by Dawn McMillan, illustrated by Ross Kinnaird

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

cv_squeakopotamusWho’s this in our house, munching toast and cheese? Squeakopotamus! Is he a hippo that looks like a mouse? Or is he a mouse too big for this house?

What will Squeakopotamus do when he has run out of things to eat – will he eat us? Is he a hippo? Or is he a mouse? And will the children be able to keep him?

This is such a gorgeous book with stunning illustrations. Quinn, my youngest granddaughter is 2 ½ years old. I read this to her before she had her mid-morning nap. Her eyes got wider and wider at Squeakopotamus’s reactions and of course she wanted one just like him. No such luck – she’ll have to be content with her dog Mini, a rescue greyhound and her cats, Gus and Rocky.

Dawn McMillan as the author and Ross Kinnaird as the illustrator of this book are already know to our family through their wonderful collaboration in, I need a New Bum, Doctor Grundy’s Undies and Mister Spears and his Hairy Ears –all great favourites.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Squeakopotamus
by Dawn McMillan Illustrated by Ross Kinnaird
Oratia Books
ISBN 9780947506117

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: Dinosaur Hunting, by Lucy Davey, illustrated by Kirsten Richards

Available in bookshops nationwide.Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_dinosaur_huntingDown to the garden, tiptoe tracking. Dinosaur hunting, Daddy and me. Following footprints, twigs snap-cracking – which kinds of dinosaurs can we see?

A number of types it seems – Stegosaurus, Shamosaurus, Segisaurus, Ammosaurus, Spinosaurus, Supersaurus………. to name a few whether real or imagined. But wait T-REX! Romp-stomp, romp-stomp, “Rrraaaaaah”…….CHOMP!

Quinn is 2 years of age, and her eyes nearly popped out of her head. The excitement builds as this little boy and his Dad explore the outdoors with his T-REX firmly clutched in his hand or snuggly tucked in his rucksack.

At the end of the adventure there is nothing quite like home and being safe inside while planning to do the same again tomorrow, perhaps. Romp-stomp, romp-stomp, “Rrraaaaaah….” CHOMP!

Brightly coloured illustrations with simple text appealed to my little listener with her insisting on it being read – “AGAIN, GRANDMA!”

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Dinosaur Hunting
by Lucy Davey, illustrated by Kirsten Richards
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775433958

Book Review: A Kiwi Night Before Christmas, by Yvonne Morrison and Deborah Hinde

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_a_kiwi_night_before_christmas16This title is a new edition of the 2003 book which quickly became a family favourite. The traditional poem is given a Kiwi flavour which includes all the familiar parts of a Southern Hemisphere Christmas. It is set in a bach, by the sea, Mum and Dad watching sport on TV.

It rhymes beautifully. Of course Santa arrives by sheep-drawn tractor and is appropriately attired in a black singlet and gumboots. Deborah Hinde has illustrated using a simple style which clearly supports the Kiwi text. I loved the details which were fun to spot: tuatara PJs, kereru in the pohutakawa trees, the Southern Cross and Dad’s fishing photo in a frame.

As a teacher, I used this book with my Junior classes and they enjoyed reading along with the rhyming text. It also leads to a comparison with the original poem and why we need a new version.

As a Granny, I will enjoy sharing this with the grandkids. It makes me want to go and get my Christmas tree ready.

Reviewed by Kathy Watson

A Kiwi Night Before Christmas
by Yvonne Morrison and Deborah Hinde
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN 9781775434276