Review: Toitoi 32

Toitoi is a New Zealand magazine that, going forward, will be released once a year, featuring poems and artworks by kids. Eleven-year-old kid Oscar Sweetman shares what he likes about the latest issue.

Cover image by Meilan George-Cawte; top image by Sophie Menzies; bottom image by Max Carter

In Toitoi 32, some of the poems and artwork represent personal experiences and places, for example one person wrote about a member of their family, another wrote about their football team, and someone wrote about their dog. What makes the work stand out is the passion in the writing regardless of the subject. It’s clear, each time, that the subject is what matters to each writer.

Spread from Toitoi 32. Words by Hugo Gray; pictures by Timmy Walker.

I found it really cool seeing the ages of these kids, how young they are, and how talented they are. And there were some genuinely awesome drawings that had my jaw drop because of how young the illustrator is. 

I loved how it was a mixture of bizarre fiction, personal non-fiction, artwork, comic book-style, and sketches. It was just really fun reading it and I loved turning the page to see a brand new piece of work from someone my age, maybe just under or a little bit older.

I found it really cool seeing the ages of these kids, how young they are, and how talented they are.

My favourite thing about this magazine was that there were certain things that I related to. An author the same age as me talked about his dog, Bowie, which is also the name for my dog, named after David Bowie, the famous musician. There was a story about a time where a girl named Mia Crothers had to see her dog get put down at a vet, and I experienced the same thing around about a year ago with my cat Sylvie, and I was really sad afterwards.

Spread from Toitoi 32. Words by Jack Nishida; pictures by Bella Carlin-Shadbolt.

I also loved seeing the different writing styles of poetry and storytelling, how certain kids would write. Some were mature,  some were silly, some were long, some were short.

The most interesting piece was about ADHD and a teenager’s experience with it, which I can relate to personally. It was really powerful and educational, taking us through the certain types of ADHD and its symptoms, along with other disorders connected to it. 

Spread from Toitoi 32. Words by Scarlett Oulsnam; pictures by Sophia Keats

“Picture this, scrolling through TikTok – 30 seconds, scroll… 30 seconds, scroll… and it goes on and on until you finally switch off. Well that’s what it’s like for me having ADHD.”

I would recommend Toitoi for everyone, especially Kiwi kids, as it’s very inspirational, and could get you thinking about writing poems. I already love writing stories, however, I picture myself writing a novel, or a series. It never goes anywhere, so I also thought about writing a poem and how awesome it would be to enter a poem or a piece of writing for Toitoi next year. This was a very great, enjoyable magazine and the first magazine I’ve ever read.

I would recommend Toitoi for everyone, especially Kiwi kids, as it’s very inspirational

Toitoi invites young writers and artists ages 5-18 who are curious, courageous and creative to submit original material in English or te reo Māori that reflects the cultures and experiences of life in New Zealand.

The next deadline for submissions is 31 May 2024. Find out more about submitting here.

Toitoi 32

Edited by Vicki Birks & Venice White

Published by Charlotte Gibbs / Toitoi Media

RRP: $17.25

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Oscar Sweetman
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Oscar Sweetman is a reader, writer, and reviewer. He lives at home in Wellington with his mum and dad and their dog, Bowie. He loves horror movies, hip-hop music and books. Loads of books. He reviews and comments on books on his YouTube channel, HeHatesNovels. (He actually loves novels, so it’s ironic!)