A long time ago when the world flooded over, some creatures set sail on an ark built by Noah. Poor Noah is on the hunt for dry land for all the animals, with two impatient moa in tow.
So begins author Peter Millet's New Zealand-based spin on the well known biblical narrative. The rhyming account of Noah's trip around the world sees the moa partaking in every child's favourite game - "are we there yet?"
The book is a revised and re-illustrated version of Millett's 2005 book.
Cartoonist Shaun Yeo is on hand for this revised edition, and his illustrations add to the humour and fun of the story. The creatures are full of expression and movement, from slithering snake to bold kea. Each country the ark visits has its own distinct flavour which makes it super easy for children to follow. We had great fun working out which animals would be disembarking the ark and which groups would be left. Yeo's New Zealand native animals are instantly recognisable, giving little children a boost in their confidence at prediction.
At first, I was a little let down by the rhyme - moa and Noah don't rhyme. Or do they?
Fortunately, there are three different ways to say Noah - American, European or Middle Eastern. Millett has used the European pronunciation which does rhyme with moa.
He has also asked a bilingual friend to read a section of the book and Scholastic New Zealand has posted the passage on its Facebook page here. Millett wants people to pronounce moa correctly, so this is a handy hint. It would have been nice to have a pronunciation guide in the book too to ensure people are honouring the taonga that is te reo Māori.
For those that aren't too sure, the online Māori Dictionary also has a handy function whereby you can hit the speaker icon and hear the word spoken (moa is here).
Once you wrap your head around the way to say Noah, the beat and rhythm of the story is easy to read aloud.
Millett also does a good job of keeping the story relatively secular. He also does a brilliant job of introducing younger readers to exciting and interesting words - lumbering, serene, jubilant to name but a few.
While it may make you stumble over your pronunciation the first few readings, Moa's Ark is a fun New Zealand twist on a classic story.
Reviewer: Rebekah Lyell
Scholastic, RRP $18.99