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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Hello! Kia ora! Welcome New Friend! by Rachel Weston

Ruby is the new girl at her early childhood centre, and she feels like an outsider. However, the fellow pre-schoolers have learned a smile is easy to do and costs nothing to share. Their kind actions have a transforming effect.

This beautifully illustrated book models the importance of a kind and caring attitude.

Author Rachel Weston was inspired to write the book after her experience with her children - who attended various early childhood education settings, including Playcentre kindergartens and pre-schools.

"A couple of early childhood environments stood out well above the rest, with their purposeful warm culture of kindness, connections and belonging."

It is this culture that Weston has done a superb job of capturing on the page. It oozes with kindness, connection and belonging.

The book is wonderfully illustrated by Deborah Hinde. Children from many cultures will recognise themselves within the pages. The pictures depict early childhood education settings in a simple, yet detailed way. Every child who attends a centre - whatever it may be - will recognise the play equipment and setting.

The design of the book is also well thought-out. Big, bold text and clear illustrations make it a fabulous book to read aloud. We donated our review copy to our youngest's kindergarten and all the teachers have let us know it's a big hit with both the children and the staff. It's a book that potentially set a high bar for itself, but clears it easily, supporting children to feel a sense of belonging. For it to be universally loved by both adults and children is a rare feat as well.

Weston also includes 24 ways to say hello at the back of the book, as well as an informative spread that could be described as teachers’ notes. The questions prompt children to think about body language, and why smiles are so important.

This is a brilliant book for whānau and kaiako to use to support children as they transition in to, or between, early childhood education services.

Reviewer: Rebekah Lyell

Weston Books, RRP $19.99

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