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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Miro The Little Brown Kiwi by Kelly Lynch

The Kiwi, our national icon, is a bird seldom seen because of its nocturnal habits. Now, in a delightful new children’s book Miro The Little Brown Kiwi, Kelly Lynch brings this bird to life in words and pictures.

In 40 pages, she has packed everything children might want to know about the North Island brown kiwi/ kiwi nui: its habitat, its appearance, how it forages for its food, defends itself from a predator, its breeding habits, and how its chick knows instinctively how to fend for itself.

Through her storytelling talent, Kelly makes science fun, makes children want to learn, and encourages them to look closely. e.g. when describing Miro’s feathers she writes:

The feathers are a soft grey and many shades of brown. Some are the colour of a chocolate drink, some the colour of honey in a pot, the colour of a barbecued sausage, and Mum’s black coffee. Some feathers have a reddish tinge, like the sun has kissed them.

As well as being a very engaging storyteller, Kelly is also a superb nature photographer. On each double-page spread, her story is matched on the opposite side by a full-page colour photograph.

Going on a hunt for the elusive kiwi with her camera proved to be exceedingly challenging. At times it involved climbing up the relentlessly steep Coromandel terrain accompanied by Dianne Prince from Save the Kiwi with her kiwi tracker dog. And hiding at night waiting for a kiwi sighting, left her ravaged by mosquitoes.

At the beginning of her book, Kelly sets the scene with a dramatic description of the bush at night. Tall trees are surrounded by ferns sprouting out of the damp dirt and the earth is covered in leaf litter. There’s the earthy scent of damp dirt and moss, and the sound of humming cicadas and small singing birds.

This is where Miro, a North Island brown kiwi/kiwi nui has made its nest inside a large rotten log. It’s nighttime, so she ventures out, and we follow her throughout the night as she forages for food, catches a juicy worm, and lays her egg.

There is a vivid description, accompanied by a series of photographs, of how Miro goes about catching a fat juicy worm by drilling into the ground with her bill and how, once she has it, she chomps on it by:

Clicking her bill together click-click-click like the sound of chopsticks tapping together- she tosses the worm back to swallow it. 

By focusing in with her camera, Kelly has created some striking close-ups, one showing Miro’s strong, scaly, reptilian feet and another of Miro’s huge egg.

And she has captured that magical moment when A kiwi chick breaks out of its egg. Followed by that of a newly hatched chick, its feathers still damp.

Miro The Little Brown Kiwi has a conservation focus. At the end of the book are sections about the kiwi, why they are vulnerable, who their predators are, and what we can do to help to protect them. And also, where kiwis can safely be seen indoors in specially built nocturnal houses and outdoors in predator-free sanctuaries, with an accompanying map. And there’s a useful glossary of some of the words encountered in the story.

Undoubtedly, every primary school will want a copy for their library, but nature-loving families will also want their own copy for the whole whanau to enjoy and learn together.

Reviewer: Lyn Potter

Bateman Books




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