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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Colour the Stars - Taea Ngā Whetū by Dawn McMillan and Ngaere Roberts

Isaac and Luke are friends. Luke is blind and believes that he doesn't need colours but Isaac can't imagine a world without them. Isaac decides to teach his friend about them, but how do you describe colour to someone who is blind?

Isaac must appeal to Luke's other senses, and what follows are vivid descriptions exploring smell, touch, taste and sound as Isaac tries to convey a sense of what colours are like.

This is sweet story of friendship that shows younger readers kindness, appreciating others' differences and inclusion.

If this book looks familiar, that's because it has now been a decade since it was first released. To celebrate the 10-year anniversary, published Scholastic has created this bilingual edition, retold into te reo Māori by Ngaere Roberts. Combining Colour the Stars and Taea Ngā Whetū into one volume is a fantastic idea, introducing the book up to a new generation of readers, inline with the theme of inclusion that the story also demonstrates. A nice touch was a glossary at the back which included some kupu that beginning or intermediate speakers of te reo Māori may not yet have come across.

Illustrated by Keinyo White the pictures burst from the page in vibrant colour.

My younger readers were fascinated that the text changed colour too - a great introduction to concepts of print.

We love The Black Book of Colours by Menena Cottin in our house. It's a similar concept to Colour the Stars - Taea Ngā Whetū but the pages are black. Using textured art and braille, the book shows you how to see without your eyes. It's a shame that Scholastic don't have access to the resources that would allow it to include braille within the book too, adding another dimension to an already powerful story. Perhaps in another decade producing braille and textured illustrations will be more accessible and affordable and Colour the Stars - Taea Ngā Whetū can celebrate its 20th birthday with another re-release.

Colour the Stars - Taea Ngā Whetū is a delightful book with a strong message. We should be discussing and educating our children about all kinds of physical differences, and one of the the ways we do this is through children's books that show respectful representation.

It's great to see publishers re-releasing books in bilingual editions, especially stories that celebrate and embrace diversity.

Reviewed by Rebekah Lyell

Scholastic, RRP $19.99


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