New Holland Publishers are one of the leading publishers of children’s non-fiction in New Zealand and their books are often nominated for the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards. Their latest gem is the wonderful Kiwi: the real story by Annemarie Florian and illustrated/designed by Heather Hunt.
Kiwi: the real story is a marvelous multi-layered book thattells the story of Kiwi behaviour. Weaving its way through the pages is a poem about the Kiwi, full of beautiful descriptive language, like ‘gorging grubber’ and ‘cricket-cruncher.’ I love alliteration and this poem is chock-full of it, making it a joy to read aloud. Tying in wonderfully with the poem are the blocks of more detailed information on each page, which explain why the Kiwi is a ‘spider-wrestler’ and a ‘covert nestler.’ The design of the book means that you can read the poem and the information separately, or both together. Younger children will love the poem and the illustrations, whereas older children will also enjoy finding out more about the Kiwi.
Heather Hunt’s illustrations are stunning. I find it amazing how she can make a bunch of squiggly lines look exactly like a Kiwi. I love the way that she shows the movement of the Kiwi on the page and the way that she brings out the character of this marvelous bird. The colours that Heather has used, from the bright green of the praying mantis to the blue of the egg, are vibrant against the black background, and the grey and white of the Kiwi makes it really stand out on the page. I especially like the way that she has used different colours to differentiate between the adult Kiwi and the baby Kiwi. Heather also designed the book and I think that it’s this design that really makes the book special. She has taken the three layers of the story and woven them together so that they can be enjoyed in unison. The words of the poem seem to dance around the illustrations, making the book extremely appealing to young children. The book is beautifully produced too, in a hardback format, with endpapers that look like the night sky.
The character of the Kiwi in the story was originally created by Heather to be the ambassador for Backyard Kiwi, a project carried out by the Whangarei Heads Landcare Forum. The quirky design is used to personify the bird for road signs and billboards. You can learn more about Backyard Kiwi at www.backyardkiwi.org.nz and you can find out more about Heather and her working process at heatherhunt.co.nz/KIWI-the-real-story.
Kiwi: the real story is a must for any primary school library and is sure to be a finalist in next year’s New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards. Grab a copy offrom your local library or bookshop now, or if you would like a special signed copy you can order these from Heather Hunt’s website – www.heatherhunt.co.nz/shop
4 out of 5 stars