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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

New Zealand Birds of the Week. Ngā Manu O Te Wiki by Gillian Torckler

New Zealand Birds Of The Week. Ngā Manu O Te Wiki, a little book for preschoolers, is filled with beautiful photographs of our unique native birds. It comes from award-winning duo nature photographer Darryl Torckler and natural history writer Gillian Torckler.

The text is loosely based on a popular 19th-century English nursery rhyme Mondays Child is Full of Grace, which was often used to teach children the days of the week.

In this avian version, the Torcklers take us on a journey around New Zealand. Birds in many different habitats are shown, in the bush, the mountains and wetlands, as well as sea and shore birds. While it also teaches children the days of the week in both English and Te Reo. The rhyming text makes it engaging and fun for preschoolers.

I pondered why they had chosen a pied shag with outspread wings for the cover picture, and then it came to me. Preschoolers may well have seen some of the birds in this book in real life, like tui, pukeko and fantail, but are very unlikely to be familiar with others like the kea and yellow-eyed penguin. So it’s a subtle encouragement for children to spread their wings like this pied shag and to learn something new and exciting for the first time in their lives.

Each double-page spread has a large coloured photograph of a native bird with a rhyming sentence alongside e.g. Monday’s bird is noisy and bold, which aptly describes the loud-mouthed kea, and Friday’s bird has a belly full of seeds which the greedy kererū often has.

In addition, there’s a small fact box which provides a little more information for older preschoolers.

During the week, each bird has its own day, but when we reach Sunday, it’s whanau time, and for the next nine pages, we see groups of birds doing things together.

There are lots of delightful storybooks for young children about New Zealand birds, but what makes this book so special are the wonderful close-up photographs of them so children can see what they look like in real life and where they live.

In New Zealand, it is land birds which we think of as ours, but New Zealand is also the seabird capital of the world with many remarkable and unique seabirds. So I was pleased that quite a few shore and seabirds are included.

I think New Zealand Birds of the Week. Ngā Manu O Te Wiki is a great way to introduce little ones to some of our unique New Zealand birds, as well as learning the days of the week and to practice saying them in both Te Reo and English.

Kiwi is on the last page. They are nocturnal, so while the other birds are out and about, kiwi are off to sleep. If this is read to preschoolers as a bedtime story, it is a good note to finish on before wishing them goodnight!

Reviewer: Lyn Potter

Bateman Books


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