• NZ Booklovers

Pūkeko Counts to 10 by Ben Brown and Helen Taylor


Pūkeko Counts to 10, is a delightful bilingual board book by award winning duo author Ben Brown and illustrator Helen Taylor. Inside, toddlers will meet 10 of Aotearoa’s precious native birds as they learn to count from 1-10 in both Māori and English.


First up is Pūkeko , followed by Kākāpō. Kiwi, Kōtuku, Takahē, Kea, Pīwakawaka, Kererū, and Kōkako. Last of all come 10 ghostly Huia who will sadly never be seen again in real life. Pūkeko, who is doing the counting, makes a re-appearance on some of the pages and toddlers will enjoy spotting him as he takes a wander through the book.


The colourful illustrations by Helen Taylor are beautiful. She captures the different body shapes and feathery textures of each kind of bird perfectly.


Alongside, Ben Brown has written a sentence (in Māori first and its translation in English underneath) in which he aptly describes an aspect of their behaviour e.g.

4. Whā. E whā ngā kōtuku huatau. Four graceful kōtuku.

5. Rima. E rima ngā takahe waha huka. Five bombastic takahē.

6. Ono. E ono ngā kea mūrere. Six crafty kea.


His poetic language makes it such a pleasure to read this story aloud. Do not be hesitant about saying the words in Te Reo. There is help at hand! I recently discovered Te Aka, the Māori Dictionary which is freely available online. Each word is accompanied by a sound bite so you can practice how to pronounce it.


Ben Brown is New Zealand’s first Te Awhi Rito Reading Ambassador for children and young people. His role is to advocate for and champion the importance of reading in the lives of young New Zealanders, their whanau, and communities.


Awhi rito are the older leaves that grow around the young shoot at the centre of on a harakeke ( flax) plant , protecting it so it can grow and thrive. This is a wonderful metaphor for the role whanau can play to nurture children’s love of reading by surrounding them with books and telling them stories.


I think Pūkeko Counts to 10 provides an excellent learning experience for toddlers. It will teach them how to count in Māori and English from 1-10, grow their vocabulary and help them to become familiar with some of our native birds. And as it is small and sturdy they can hold it and play with it to their hearts’ content.


It would make a special gift for a new baby or a toddler.


Reviewer: Lyn Potter

Picture Puffin