Book Review: Puffin New Zealand Children’s Treasury: Ten Best-Loved Stories From Favourite Kiwi Authors

Available from bookstores from 26 September

What incredible value for money this new treasury is – cv_puffin_nz_children's_treasuryten children’s books in a hardbound volume for the cost of one book! This would make a terrific gift for any child aged 3–7.

The books included in the treasury are: My Cat Likes To Hide In Boxes by Eve Sutton, Who Sank The Boat by Pamela Allen, The Kuia and the Spider by Patricia Grace, A Summery Saturday Morning by Margaret Mahy, The Tree Witches by Gwenda Turner, A Brooming in the Night by Ben Brown, My Brown Bear Barney by Dorothy Butler, A Dragon in a Wagon by Lynley Dodd, Mrs Wishy-Washy’s Farm by Joy Cowley, A Pukeko in a Ponga Tree by Kingi. M. Ihaka.

The subtitle states these books are ‘best-loved’ and I was convinced of that claim. It is a combination of books I read and loved myself as a child and some newer titles I hadn’t come across. The books are presented as they were in their original editions, with the same illustrations. Amongst the illustrators are some of New Zealand’s finest artists including Robyn Kahukiwa and Dick Frizzell and illustrators, including Lynley Dodd and Gwenda Turner. It’s a great opportunity to share some of the books you might have grown up with yourself, with a child in your life.

The book is well-produced. It is hardbound with thick, glossy pages. There is a well-written index of information about the authors and illustrators at the back of the book, something which is often lacking in children’s books and is most welcome in this one.

I’ve yet to meet a child who doesn’t love the repetition and wit of My Cat Likes To Hide In Boxes. In my household, the Christmas classic A Pukeko In a Ponga Tree gets pulled off the shelf for a re-read every December, and pre-schoolers love the clumsy exploits of Mrs Wishy-Washy.Pages from Treasury page 18 and page 19The illustrations in the book are wonderful and varied in style, from realistic to highly stylised. Flicking through the book, I got a true taste of a New Zealand childhood experience, from lovely illustrations of our native flora and fauna, to beach, gardening and farming scenes – the New Zealand childhood is definitely a more outdoors experience than in some other Western countries, and the book reflects this.

If you have children to shop for this Christmas, this new treasury is beautifully produced, the books are well-chosen and it is superb value for money. It would be a great ‘sampler’ for a pre-school child who is moving on from toddler picture books, however there is plenty of fun in here for the older child for independent reading as well. With it’s generous inclusion of ten books under one cover, it could even be given as a one-gift-fits-all for siblings. I highly recommend this excellent compendium of ten classic New Zealand stories.

Reviewed by Helen Lehndorf

Puffin New Zealand Children’s Treasury: Ten Best-Loved Stories From Favourite Kiwi Authors
Published by Penguin NZ (Puffin imprint)
ISBN 9780143307617