Penguin have released a 60 year celebratory issue of this kiwi kids classic. They have not altered any of it – the illustrations and typeface and paper stock are all reminiscent of a past era. And the slightly padded hardback cover completes the package. It is a lovely package that I think will find its place under many Christmas Trees this year. Why so? Because it is a simple, yet effective, story of camaraderie – the twin babies that live within the pohutukawa flowers are inseparable and go on a great adventure together. Along the way they meet friends (the kiwi) and foes (the hawk) as they wander too deep into the bush, too far away from home. Or is it just far enough to experience the thrill of danger?
Safe danger is something those of us over 40 still remember. We took a few risks – mostly to our physical bodies – when we were let to free range in the great New Zealand outdoors. I remember times when my parents had no idea where I was and times when we only came home when our mothers bellowed to tell us dinner was ready. Those days are gone, but this magical little story brings that exploration excitement back. The forest is full of fairies and elves and the colours and excitement that is the New Zealand bush. The tiny orchids that look like fairies, the little blue berries where Blueberry the pixie lives. A community that works together.
I like that this is also a biologically correct introduction to some of the wonders of the New Zealand bush, but it’s a totally fictional story with elements of non-fiction, not a traditional nonfiction book.
Grandparents will buy this book because they remember it as part of their own childhood, parents will buy it because it represents innocence in children’s literature. And children will enjoy the comfort of the words and the production values. A wonderful bedtime read and a winner all round.