Book Reviews: New Bilingual Picture Books

February 23, 2020

The bilingual Simmonds whānau has reviewed two new picture books. Read on to find out what Shirley, Tamihana (10) and Raukawa (9), think about them. You can also read a version of these reviews written in te reo Māori

 

 

 

The Smelly Giant, by Kurahau and illustrated by Laya Mutton-Rogers (Huia Publishing) 

 

No doubt we all know the stench of smelly feet! As we were reading this book, it was as if we could smell the odour of Toe Jam’s giant stinky toes.

 

Spread from The Smelly Giant, by Kurahau, illustrated by Laya Mutton-Rogers (Huia Publishing), reproduced with kind permission.

 

We felt sorry for Toe Jam. He grew, his feet grew, and the stink of his feet grew too. They caused trouble to all the things he encountered; the fish, the birds, the insects and flowers. But most of all they were a huge problem to the people of his village. They teased him and ridiculed him.

 

We felt sorry for Toe Jam. He grew, his feet grew, and the stink of his feet grew too.

 

 

Tamihana observed, 'Tio has a big heart'. Tio wanted to help the people, however no matter what he did, nobody made friends with him. They changed his name from Toe Butter to Toe Jam. They sent him away from the village to live on his own.

 

Raukawa reckons, 'This is really sad. Bullying is bad'.

 

Some thoughts from Tamihana.

 

There came a time when the village had one disaster after another. Great winds from Tawhirimātea, a huge wave from Tangaroa, a hot, dry summer from Tama-nui-te-rā and an erupting volcano from Rūaumoko. Each time, Toe Jam saved the people from these disasters. Because of Tio, the people of the village lived on.

 

Spread from The Smelly Giant, by Kurahau, illustrated by Laya Mutton-Rogers (Huia Publishing), reproduced with kind permission.  

 

Although this story is sad in many ways, there are several things we enjoyed. For us, the descriptions of Toe Jam’s feet were great! We learned several new words in te reo, some of which were synonyms, such as:

 

Haunga = kehakeha (stench or foul smell)

Koikara = matimati (finger or toe)

Kerakera = wetiweti (offensive, disgusting)

 

 Some thoughts from Raukawa.

 

The illustrations in the book were also great. If you followed only the pictures throughout the book, you would be able to follow and understand the entire story. You would also see, in each picture and on every page, Toe Jam’s closest friend Birdy. Birdy stayed with him right throughout.

 

 

If you followed only the pictures throughout the book, you would be able to follow and understand the entire story.

 

 

As we were reading this book, several questions arose:

 

Is Mount Mimi a real mountain?

Does mimi flow down from Mount Mimi? (this was Raukawa’s question)

Why does Toe Jam grow so big?

Why doesn’t he wash his feet? (according to Raukawa, 'if he washed his feet, this would be a very short book!')

Why do the people of the village shun him, even when he helps them?

 

Spread from The Smelly Giant, by Kurahau, illustrated by Laya Mutton-Rogers (Huia Publishing), reproduced with kind permission.  

 

To us, there were two main ideas in the tale of Toe Jam, the Smelly Giant. Firstly, a lesson about how hurtful it is to tease, ridicule and bully another person. But we thought perhaps the main lesson in this story is; no matter what, treat all people with kindness and respect, no matter how smelly their feet are.

 

We read both books, the book of Tio Tiamu in te reo Māori and the book of The Smelly Giant in te reo Pākehā. As Tamihana said, 'my favourite was the one in te reo.'

 

 

 

Tio Tiamu

By Kurahau 

Illustrated by Laya Mutton-Rogers 

Huia Publishing

RRP $25

 

Buy now

 

 

 

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star/Tīrama, Tīrama, Whetū Riki E, illustrated by Renee Chin, translated by Piripi Walker (Hachette NZ) 

 

Just reading the title of this book sets off the so-very-familiar song in my head. I’m sure every child knows this tune, which is the same as that sung for the alphabet in English, and also for the song Baa Baa Black Sheep. It took me many years to realise they were all one and the same tune.

 

Image from Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star/Tīrama, Tīrama, Whetū Riki E, illustrated by Renee Chin, translated by Piripi Walker (Hachette NZ), reproduced with kind permission.  

 

So we already knew the story in this book – or so we thought.

 

The thing that surprised me was the length of the song. I thought it was a short ditty, of only one verse. So I was keen to read further to learn what else there was to the story. The song continues on to depict the star as a guiding light after the sun sets, to help those that travel in the hours of dark.

 

 

So we already knew the story in this book – or so we thought. The thing that surprised me was the length of the song.

 

 

Some thoughts from Raukawa.

 

 

The traveller in the pictures of this book is the morepork, delivering letters to all the different birds; the kea, kiwi, tūī, pukeko, piwaiwaka and the kakapō. When morepork has finished his work for the night, he returns home to bed, the stars go to sleep, and the sun appears. Perhaps the underlying message in the book is an acknowledgement to those who work during the hours when the majority of us are snug in bed.

 

Reading is hungry work for kids!

 

 

Raukawa mentioned that it’s a good thing this song has been translated into te reo Māori. I agree, although my preference is that te reo Māori is written first. We tried to sing the reo version to fit the tune, but we weren’t entirely successful! It might take us a bit of practice to fit each of the words into the beat of the song, or perhaps it's best left as a story to read.

 

 

Image from Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star/Tīrama, Tīrama, Whetū Riki E, illustrated by Renee Chin, translated by Piripi Walker (Hachette NZ), reproduced with kind permission.  

 

We all agreed the illustrations in the book are great. The morepork is very cute – one of our favourite birds. Tamihana also liked the challenge in the book. At the very beginning, morepork asks us to find on each page: a grasshopper, a ladybird and a moth. This of course becomes a race with each turn of a new page.

 

Some thoughts from Tamihana.

 

Overall the book is best suited for younger tamariki, and helpful for learners of te reo Māori who can follow the translations as they read along.

 

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star TIIrama, TIIrama, WhetUU Riki E

Illustrated by Renee Chin
Māori translation by Piripi Walker 

Hachette NZ
RRP $19.99

 

Buy now

 

Shirley Simmonds

Shirley Simmonds is a mother of two young sons, Tamihana and Raukawa and is a Kaupapa Māori health researcher. She is dedicated to raising her children in te reo Māori with the values passed onto us by our ancestors, and to living a more sustainable life. Shirley has an interest in creative writing, is an avid reader, and spends much of her spare time in the garden. Tamihana (age 10) and Raukawa (nearly 9) also descend from Ngāti Toa Rangatira. They enjoy reading, Lego, swimming in the waves, kapa haka, and making pancakes.

 

Shirley, Tamihana and Raukawa live in Tauranga.

 

 

 

 

 

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