Book Reviews: Te Reo & Trilingual Picture Books

February 10, 2019

Over Summer, my nephews and I read some recently published te reo Māori and bilingual children’s books. Nō Tauranga Moana rāua, Te Kaponga and Mangō-Ururoa are almost 10 and 7 years old respectively and te reo Māori is their first language. Ko Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Rangiwēwehi, Ngāti Hinerangi ō rāua iwi. These are our thoughts.

 

 

Te Pohū, nā Sacha Cotter i tuhi, nā Kawata Teepa (Tūhoe) i whakamāori, nā Josh Morgan (Te Aitangā-a-Māhaki, Rongowhakaata) ngā pikitia i tā

 

Te Kaponga - He pai te hononga o ngā kupu ki te kaupapa kōrero. He pai ngā pikitia, nā te tino whakaatu i te āhua o ngā tāngata i kōrerohia e te pūrākau. Kāore au i pānui i tētehi atu kōrero mō te pohū. E maha ngā pukapuka i ngā kaupapa ōrite; ka pai te kaupapa rerekē.


Mangō-Ururoa - He rawe te āhua, he katakata nā tana auē i tana tīmatatanga. Ka katakata ngā whakaaro āwhina o ngā ake tāngata.

 

Ka wani kē! What a delight!


Ka wani kē! What a delight!
 

 

Huia Publishers’ new book by the talented duo, Sacha Cotter and Josh Morgan, was also released in English as The Bomb. It is a very funny and insightful tale about one tamaiti’s endeavour to perfect the best bomb ever. The illustrations are equally wonderful, filled with small details and variety, sweeping you up into the story. The book as a whole is a very tight production, with writing, pictures, translation and design that really hum. It’s evidently been a real collaboration.

 

I loved the way in which this story champions children who may be a little different to their peers and I hope that Te Pohū encourages young readers who feel similarly about themselves.

 

Two highlights: the rhyme and rhythm of the original language is beautifully maintained in Kawata Teepa’s translation. While it’s got lots of kupu hou, it’s a pleasure to read (suitable for mid-primary immersion reading level). I was also happy to see a main character depicted in a way that wasn’t confined to gender norms either in behaviour or appearance - how refreshing!

 

 

TE POHŪ
nā Sacha Cotter i tuhi, nā Kawata Teepa (Tūhoe) i whakamāori, nā Josh Morgan (Te Aitangā-a-Māhaki, Rongowhakaata) ngā pikitia i tā
Published by Huia Publishers
RRP: $23.00

 

 

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Kurī Pango, nā Pamela Allen i tuhi, nā Ngaere Roberts ngā kōrero i whakamāori

 

Mangō-Ururoa - He rawe ngā pikitia. He pōuri tēnei pakiwaitara nā te mea i taka te kurī, ā, i tata mate ia.

 

Te Kaponga - Ko te kaupapa o te pukapuka, nā te aro pū o te kōtiro ki te manu kikorangi i pōhēhē ia kua kite ia ia, i wareware a ia ki tōna mōkai tuatahi.

 

Twelve years after its original publication, this book has been translated by Ngaere Roberts. It’s a dark and wistful story about a young girl and her beloved dog, who she later disregards while yearning for a mysterious blue bird. Reading it as an adult, I immediately see complicated themes about obsession, mental wellbeing, jealousy and loyalty. However, my preschooler didn’t concern himself with anything more than the safety of the kurī at the end.


...my preschooler didn’t concern himself with anything more than the safety of the kurī at the end.
 

I was disappointed in the book design. The Māori kupu have been relegated to the bottom of each page, in italics and a different font to the original English. The translation includes some great new vocabulary for me, but it reads at a level that is more advanced than the English language text. This left the two different versions seeming mismatched. However, it is great to see that it’s also been translated into Sāmoan, Hindi, Tongan and Arabic.

 

 

 

KURĪ PANGO
nā Pamela Allen i tuhi, nā Ngaere Roberts ngā kōrero i whakamāori

Published by OneTree House
RRP: $40.00

 

 

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Ko te Hipi Tekau mā Tahi, nā Kyle Mewburn i tuhi, nā Claire Richards ngā pikitia i tā, nā Ngaere Roberts ngā kōrero i whakamāori

 

Te Kaponga - He āhua pai ngā pikitia, he pai ngā kara e maha. He katakata te pakiwaitara.

 

Mangō-Ururoa - He tino pai ki te pānui tēnei pukapuka kia ako i ētahi nama.

 

Kyle Mewburn’s story was originally published in English in 2008 and has now been translated for this bilingual version. It tells a lovely story about friendship and the comfort of someone special to snuggle at bedtime. This is a great book for little ones who struggle to fall asleep and switch their busy minds off at the end of the day.


This is a great book for little ones who struggle to fall asleep and switch their busy minds off at the end of the day.
 

Similarly to Kurī Pango, the translation appears like a footnote on each page. Regardless of the constraints that may have influenced these decisions, it is great to see more and more of our own stories becoming available in our indigenous language.

 

KO TE HIPI TEKAU MĀ TAHI
nā Kyle Mewburn i tuhi, nā Claire Richards ngā pikitia i tā, nā Ngaere Roberts ngā kōrero i whakamāori

Published by OneTree House

RRP $40.00

 

 

Buy now

 

Speak to me/Kōrero Mai series; ‘Family’, ‘Animals’, ‘Home’, nā Jenny Chapman i tuhi

 

Mangō-Ururoa - He pai te āhua o ngā pikitia. He tika te reo Māori.

 

Te Kaponga - He pai rawa mō ngā tamariki paku ki te ako i ngā ā-ringa mō ngā kupu. He tino pai ēnei pukapuka ki te ako i ngā kupu i te reo rotarota. Engari, kāore he kupu ‘miraka’ te kupu mā te ‘wai-ū’ i te reo Māori.

 

These gorgeous trilingual board books introduce preschoolers and young readers to basic vocabulary about their home, family and animals in English, te reo Māori and New Zealand Sign Language. This will be a fantastic series to use in classrooms, or for any parents of young pēpi who are learning to sign. These may be the first books published in Aotearoa that use all three of our official languages.


These may be the first books published in Aotearoa that use all three of our official languages.
 

Each page includes text, an illustration to match and sign instructions, too. The clear and simple design of the books doesn’t overwhelm the reader, despite the small scale of the pages and the amount of content on each. The images use a soft colour palette and are very relatable to New Zealand whānau. The NZSL instructions are easy to interpret and the back cover directs readers to check out some very helpful video tutorials on their website.

 

 

SPEAK TO ME / KŌRERO MAI SERIES: FAMILY, ANIMALS, HOME

nā Jenny Chapman i tuhi
Published by Rakino Publishing
RRP $18.99 each


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He Raiona i roto i ngā Otaota, nā Margaret Mahy i tuhi, ko ngā whakaahua nā Jenny Williams, he mea whakamāori nā Piripi Walker

 

Mangō-Ururoa - He rawe ngā whakaahua i tēnei pukapuka. Ko te kiripuaki pai ki ahau ko te raiona.

 

Te Kaponga - Ko te kaupapa o te pukapuka ko ngā titonga pūrākau o te tama, o te māmā hoki. Ko te akoranga nei, e tūturu ētahi pūrākau kāore kua ētahi atu. He āhua pai te reo Māori ki ahau, nā te mea, kāore au i te rata i te tāruatanga o ngā rerenga kōrero.

 

He rawe rawa atu tēnei pukapuka māku. Margaret Mahy’s iconic tale has now been translated into te reo Māori and it’s a glorious thing! Originally published in 1969, with Jenny William’s re-illustrated edition then published in 1986 (check out the original illustrations), it’s an inter-generational delight! What a way to mark 50 years of tamariki enjoying this book in Aotearoa.


Originally published in 1969, with Jenny William’s re-illustrated edition then published in 1986, it’s an inter-generational delight!
 

 

This story is a firm favourite in our whare. The reo beautifully depicts the fantastical story of the tama’s imaginative exploits and his patient māmā’s understanding of them. It’s clear and easy to understand for second language learners with emerging fluency and first language learners at a 7-year-old reading age.

 

 

HE RAIONA I ROTO I NGĀ OTAOTA

nā Margaret Mahy i tuhi, ko ngā whakaahua nā Jenny Williams, he mea whakamāori nā Piripi Walker

Published by Hachette NZ
RRP: $22.00

 

Buy Now

Read Krissi Smith's interview with Piripi Walker

 

 

 

kay benseman

Kay Benseman has been collecting quirky children’s books and pursuing fluency in te reo Māori for over 20 years. Previously, a teacher, gallery educator, librarian and student, she now shares her love of storytelling with her two small tamariki in their bilingual home. Nō ngā hau e whā ōku tūpuna, nō Tiamana, nō Kōtirana, nō Ingarangi, nō Airana, nō Peina rātou. Nō reira, he tangata tiriti ahau. E noho ana ahau ki Whanganui. Toi tū te kupu, toi tū te mana, toi tū te whenua

 

 

 

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