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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Ring Ting Tūī ! by Elena de Roo and Paul Beavis


Ring Ting Tūī ! is a hilarious counting picture book about 10 greedy tūī on a kōwhai tree. The rhythmical, rhyming poetic words are by Elena de Roo, a well-known children’s author and poet. The comical facial expressions and body language of the rascally tūī have been brilliantly captured by Paul Beavis and add greatly to the visual appeal of this book.


At the beginning of the story there is just one tūī whistling in a kōwhai tree looking forward to sipping the sweet nectar from the yellow kōwhai flowers. But soon more and more tūī arrive on his branch and they start to push and shove each other away because each one wants that sweet nectar all for himself. It turns into a mighty tūī squabble!


The branch starts to bend under their weight. When it bends sideways the tūī hang on precariously. Have they slurped too much kōwhai nectar to make an escape? Then, all of a sudden, the branch springs back and the tūī are flung high up into the sky. They flutter away. The nectar-feeding frenzy is over. Peace at last!


Ring Ting Tūī! is very funny to read out loud and it will be nigh well impossible to stop laughing as you repeat the silly raucous noises tūī make and which Elena de Roo has so cleverly translated into rhythmic human language like: chirrup cheee-kk , click-click-click, squawk!, gurgle, gargle, hiccup, and hick!


If preschoolers would like to see and hear real tūī there are lots of YouTube videos where they can hear their coughs, grunts and wheezes interspersed with tuneful notes. It would be a fun challenge to have a competition to see who is the best at mimicking them.


It is a picture book but in real life tūī behave like this too! I have seen them chasing each other away when a kōwhai tree is in full bloom with repetitive screams and loud whirring wings.


Tūī are notoriously aggressive birds, but those rascals have a good side, too. They have a very important role in our forests as they are one of the most common pollinators of our flowering plants and disperse the seeds of trees with medium-sized fruits.


At the end of the book, there is a double-page spread with 10 fascinating facts about tūī including the fact that copycat tūī has an amazing dual/double voice-box. They can make two sounds at the same time and perfectly copy almost any noise, including people talking, other birds and animals, and even a microwave and a lawnmower.

And that tūī remember exactly when and where to return each season for the tastiest treats.


So, when a profusion of bright yellow flowers appears on that kōwhai tree again next spring, there is sure to be another raucous party with lots of ring-ting, yurgling, gargling and flapping tūī !


Reviewer: Lyn Potter

Penguin New Zealand

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