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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Rugby 1, 2, 3: Whutupōro Tahi, Rua, Toru by Thalia Kehoe Rowden

Timed to tie in with the 2019 Rugby World Cup, this playful counting book is perfect for the littlest rugby fans.

This beautifully illustrated rhyming book features all things rugby - from balls to boots, match officials to spectators. It is absolutely fabulous to see such an inclusive book about what is traditionally a male-dominated sport. There’s children of all shapes, sizes and colours, and both boys and girls take to the field as referees and players.

Illustrator Myles Lawford keeps the pictures bold and simple, while representing the energy and flair of the rugby field perfectly. There's also some clever print-based 'easter eggs' Lawford has hidden within the pages, referencing his other work, also based around New Zealand's national sport. Older siblings reading the book to younger readers will take huge delight in spotting the in-joke.

Author Thalia Kehoe Rowden clearly knows children's books - she's co-editor of The Sapling for one. The simple sentences used throughout this book flow beautifully. It is an absolute delight to read aloud, even after the twentieth time of the week.

It is also bilingual, with both English and te reo Māori on the same double spread. No need to buy two editions of the same story, Scholastic keeps them together as one. This increases accessibility, while also providing adult readers the opportunity to have a go. Translated into te reo Māori by Ngaere Roberts, it's great to see tohutō used throughout the book. It is a simple spelling convention that is sadly overlooked too often by publishers.

Bold numerals help introduce little readers to numbers, while both the English and te reo Māori words/kupu are present too.

With just a few reads, older children will have the book down pat, allowing parents and teachers/kaiako to really have some fun with literacy. Can you continue on the counting game? I can see this becoming a vital resource in the classroom, not just throughout the World Cup though. It is timeless, allowing it to be pulled out as an inspiration or resource time and time again.

A wonderful Kiwi picture book that invites everyone to join the rugby ruckus, boots and all, and have some fun with counting.

Reviewer: Rebekah Fraser Scholastic, RRP $17.99


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