Pepe and Tute by Marion Day
Pepe is a rare New Zealand native, a beautiful forest ringlet butterfly. She only lives for a month, so asks Tute the tūī to protect her eggs. She flies away never to be seen again. Things don't quite go to plan for poor protective Tute as he cares for her babies.
Pepe and Tute is the fourth book in Marion Day's nature series and it is both beautiful and bittersweet.
As well as a heartwarming story, Day does a fantastic job conveying to our youngest readers the importance, beauty and fragility of our flora and fauna.
While a picture book, Day packs it full of facts -- including the facts of life when it comes to the survival of species. The strong conservation theme and nature facts will delight budding scientists and conservationists.
Pepe and Tute is also, subtly, a counting book and it's unusual, and exciting, to find one that extends beyond a nice round number. Whether intentional or not, it added another dimension to the story and the learning that is possible with it.
A book of many layers, it is also a story of friendship and kindness. That thread runs through the story almost invisible until the final page.
Day does a great job at pulling all the threads together. She is a skilful writer, one that captures a child's attention while understanding that adults will also read the story.
Of particular joy is the way Day captures the chortling and chuckling of a tūī. While Tute 'speaks' words, his dialogue is written to be read exactly like the tūī's distinctive song. It is a delight to read aloud.
Stunning illustrations by Anna Evans compliment the story perfectly. The characters are bright and bold, while also very realistic.
Fact pages at the beginning and end of the story help highlight the importance of these lovely creatures, and show what we can do to help the forest ringlet.
Pepe and Tute is a great little book that will possibly fly under the radar -- much like it's subject -- but it deserves to fly far and wide.
Reviewer: Rebekah Fraser
AM Publishing New Zealand, RRP $19.99