Kororā and the Sushi Shop by Linda Jane Keegan
What better place for a penguin to waddle across the road than to a local sushi shop, lured by the smell of delicious seafood?
In June 2019, a kororā (little blue penguin) was removed from beneath a sushi shop near the main railway station in Wellington. It returned with a friend to make a second attempt of nesting beneath the shop. However, both birds were returned to a nesting box on the waterfront and their antics inspired author Linda Jane Keegan to pen a children's book.
This is a fun story, with great use of rhyme and rhythm, about the cheeky kororā and the efforts by both the local police and the Department of Conservation to escort them somewhere more appropriate. So often in children's books rhyme ruins the story, but Keegan masters it. Parts of the story sing ("A platter of squid and crustaceous delights; an all-day buffet and a home for the nights" for example) and it is a delight to read aloud.
Illustrator Jenny Cooper has created wonderfully moody and atmospheric artwork to accompany the story. With much of the book set at nighttime, we loved the use of shadow and light to spotlight the kororā in the inky blackness. Cooper's kororā are full of character and expression. There's an especially lovely illustration of when Win spots the penguin beneath the sushi shop. The emotion on the kororā had my little readers in stitches as they recognised their cheeky selves in the bird.
It's always fun to see New Zealand's real-life events immortalised in book form for our younger readers, and Kororā and the Sushi Shop is a wonderful addition.
Reviewer: Rebekah Lyell
Scholastic, RRP $19.99