Book Review: We wish you a Kiwi Christmas, by Lynette Evans, illustrated by Myles Lawford

cv_we_wish_you_a_kiwi_christmasAvailable at bookstores nationwide.

We Wish You a Kiwi Christmas
is a delightfully “kiwi” version of the traditional song “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”, with gorgeous illustrations.

The story follows an excited little Kiwi on Christmas Eve when she discovers Santa and his broken-down sleigh, calls in all her flying friends to act as Santa’s reindeer to get those presents delivered. For an extra touch of delight, as she’s sitting with Santa on his sleigh, we get the verse:

She looked all around,
And with a soft, dreamy sign,
Said, “Who dares to say
That kiwis can’t fly!”

Published by Scholastic in time for Christmas 2014, there is no need to save this one for under the Christmas tree, the accompanying CD makes this great fun to read and sing in the lead up to Christmas Day.

The story runs through once in English, then repeats with a Māori translation, with slightly different illustrations and a few more verses to a page, so there is room to discuss new aspects of the story, even if you don’t read/speak Māori. As an added advantage there is also a small glossary of English-Māori words at the back of the book, to aid in translation for non-speakers.

He mihi Kirihimete Kiwi,
mihi kau ana mō te Tau Hou,
mīharo, tumeke,
ka mau te wehi !

My only issue is that, as a non-Māori speaker, I found the phrasing quite difficult to get my tongue around. As with the English, they have kept the spirit of the song and story more than they have the metre of the song, so some of the pronunciation is quite fast, and some of the sentences are a bit crammed. However, if, like me, you don’t speak Māori, don’t worry too much, a few plays of the very clear CD and you’ll be singing along at the top of your lungs in no time.

Most of us know the tune, so although the CD isn’t strictly necessary, it does help with getting the phrasing right. However, it’s a wonderful addition just by itself. Pio Terei has a distinctive voice which lends itself perfectly to this song. He’s backed up with children singing, and bird song is brought into the mix throughout.

Wonderful illustrations, amusing text, and a lovely CD… this book definitely puts the merry in a Kiwi Christmas.

We Wish You a Kiwi Christmas
By Lynette Evans, Illustrated by Myles Lawford
Māori lyrics by Ngaere Roberts
Published by Scholastic NZ
ISBN  9781775432678