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Kōwhai and the Giants by Kate Parker


Kōwhai first appeared from the golden glow of a beautiful flower...and her voice was the rain and the sea and the cry of a bird.


So begins the story of Kōwhai, as she takes readers on a journey as she discovers a tiny seed's hope to build a great forest.


Author Kate Parker is a visual artist and theatre maker, who is inspired to support positive environmental change on our planet. In this book, her debut, she creatively shares her vision of reforesting Aotearoa, one seedling at a time.


The story is poetic and moving, with Parker using simile and metaphor to great effect.


Kōwhai and the Giants is a bitter-sweet story about the decimation of our forests following human habitation. But Parker offers a seed of hope. While Kōwhai may be small and alone, her actions bring about change and inspire others to join in.

While the story and the message are beautiful, what really sets the book apart is the illustrations.


Parker is responsible for them too, creating each spread from hand-cut paper, placed in a plywood box and lit from behind. Each artwork was then photographer by Haru Sameshima for the book. The resulting silhouettes are breath-taking. While they look like simple shapes at first, Parker has created intricate and detailed layers that captivate the reader. There's an impressive double spread of our native birds, hidden within the canopy of a mighty tree. While each bird is just a shadow, they are instantly recognisable and distinct. The hours and hours of paper-cutting Parker must have put into these artworks is staggering and a good indication of the passion she holds for our environment.


A resources section at the back of the book inspires children to plant a native seed today. Parker includes a set of questions for children to research, as well as providing other books to refer to. A link to Forest & Bird's Kiwi Conservation Club is also included, and Parker puts her money where her mouth is, with $3 from every book sold going to support Forest & Bird.


Kōwhai and the Giants is a beautiful story that will kindle a desire to not only spend time in nature but, more importantly, a call to nurture it. This stunning book has the potential to inspire a new generation to take action, one seedling at a time.


Reviewer: Rebekah Lyell

Little Love, RRP $30

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