Watch Out for the Weka is the latest superb children’s book from independent publisher Potton & Burton, adding to their list of high quality, informative books which highlight New Zealand’s many natural treasures. Although primarily an entertaining story based on a campfire yarn heard by the author back in the day, there are plenty of details within it that tell you a bit about our cheeky weka – for instance, I had no idea they liked to steal shiny things!
Set in the beautiful Abel Tasman National Park, the illustrations showcase the colours and textures of the New Zealand bush and coastline. The story features Alf, a DOC ranger who spends his summers looking after the tramping hut and visiting trampers. While cooling off in the stream, a weka takes off with the watch his dad gave him. Alf leaps out of the water giving chase but to no avail (cue lots of giggles at that particular illustration). Later that evening, the moonlight on the water gives Alf an idea of how to get his watch back.
Author Ned Barraud spent many childhood summers camping in the Abel Tasman National Park and his love of it is evident in this book. Many young New Zealanders don’t get the opportunity to encounter the weka (or other native birds for that matter) in its natural habitat which makes books such as these so important, as they help bring children closer to their environment, and an understanding of the unique flora and fauna which they share the country with.
The text is well balanced with the illustrations and reads well. Coupled with some weka facts at the end, the book would make a great resource to add to any classroom. Potton & Burton seek to share stories that ‘inspire and matter’, and with Watch Out for the Weka, I would say they and Barraud have got it spot on.
Reviewed by Vanessa Hatley-Owen
Watch Out for the Weka
by Ned Barraud
Potton & Burton, 2017