Book Review: The Last of Maui’s Dolphins, by Maria Gill and Bruce Potter

cv_the_last_of_mauis_dolphinsAvailable now in bookstores nationwide.

As a resident of Raglan, one of the last places Maui’s Dolphin can be found, I was keen to get this book for my five-year-old daughter, to help her understand the importance of protecting these unique and beautiful animals.

The book consists of two parts: a fictional story about a young Maui’s dolphin, Hiriwa, and a couple of reference pages at the end with factual information about the dolphins.

Hiriwa’s story was easy to read and follow, and thankfully the writer did not fall into the trap of trying to rhyme, which many educational children’s books do, usually poorly. This is not one of those children’s stories that is a particular delight to read – the sentences are short and prosaic and the vocabulary basic. The story is also basic, and there are no real surprises or twists in the tale. However, it does what it sets out to do – it explains in an engaging and age-appropriate way the plight of the Maui’s dolphins, and the reasons for their being endangered.

The illustrations are appropriate and interesting, and help tell the story well. The dappled effect of light coming through water is particularly well captured.

My daughter enjoyed listening to the story, and asked lots of questions about the dolphins and how we could help them. It helped that we recently had “Maui’s Dolphin Day” in Raglan, so it tied in nicely with that experience, and helped me to explain to her what the day is for and why it is important. It’s not a book she has reached for over and over again, but she is happy to listen to it whenever I offer it.

Hopefully one day we won’t need books like this, as our waters will once again be teeming with plenty of beautiful native species, but until then I applaud the efforts of the writers and illustrators writing environmentally themed children’s books. Maybe my daughter’s generation will get the message and do something before it’s too late.

Reviewed by Renee Boyer-Willisson

The Last of Maui’s Dolphins
by Maria Gill and Bruce Potter
Published by New Holland
ISBN 9781869664107