Hello, New Zealand! by Megan McKean
In this fourth book of author Megan McKean's Hello...! series, New Zealand is ready for its close up.
This bright picture book takes readers tripping around our country, helped along by six kiwi guides. Brown kiwi lead the way as the reader moves down Aotearoa, stopping at some familiar places and sights along the way.
McKean, an Australian, shows great respect for our country, and has clearly done her research. She includes Māori words, phrases and names. Most use correct tohutō (macrons) although there are a few missing on the names of animals which is a little disappointing.
She starts the book at the top of Aotearoa, with a beautiful double spread that encapsulates the spirit of Northland. From the sand dunes to Opo the dolphin, kauri snails to Tāne Mahuta, she packs in the icons. The journey continues down the islands, stopping in at 13 different locations along the way, including Cook Straight.
Fauna and flora are well documented, as are our man-made structures like the Auckland Harbour Bridge and Hobbiton. The illustration for the page on Wellington is a particular favourite, featuring the likes of Matariki the whale, the iconic bright red cable car, and the capital's infamous wind.
McKean uses a cartoonish drawing style, but one that makes our icons instantly recognisable. Bright and bold colours perfectly 'match' the towns and cities - Napier's art deco style full of geometric shapes and pastel colours is spot on. The end pages of the book are a beautiful touch too.
She has also included a little game of sorts into the book, enticing readers to spot the six brown kiwi on each page.
As McKean is Sydney-based, it would be interesting to see this book taken on by a Kiwi. Do we see ourselves the same way as the Australian author?
A visual feast for the eyes, this is a lovely book. It would make a wonderful gift for any Kiwi baby being raised overseas, or a thoughtful gift for a new family to our country.
Reviewer: Rebekah Fraser
Thames & Hudson, RRP $24.99