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Tōku Whānau Rerehua - My Beautiful Family by Rauhina Cooper

Huia feels too shy to talk to her classmates because she has two mums. As school she learns that some whānau have a step-parent or one parent, and some children are adopted. So when it's her turn to show her family photo, she doesn't have to be shy.

This is a lovely story about a young girl's experience learning that families come in all types and all of them are beautiful.

This reorua - bilingual book, highlights whānau and discusses a topic I haven't seen in a picture book before. Sure, there are stories that cover diversity, but not one within Aotearoa. Author Rauhina Cooper gives tamariki that come from 'different' whānau the chance to see themselves, and their families, on the page. I like how Cooper, in her mihi, states that she is a teacher but always a student. Her book gives adults, especially teachers, the chance to pause and reflect on whether we are being inclusive in our practice.

Cooper penned the story in te reo Māori and translated it into English, which adds to the beauty of it.

Illustrator Isobel Joy Te Aho-White adds to the gorgeousness of the story with her artwork. She takes the values of whānau, whakapapa and tikanga Māori that Cooper so eloquently shares and weaves them into her illustrations. Huia's worry about her whānau isn't discussed in the text immediately, but keen readers will use the illustrations to deepen their understanding. The 'aha' moment was lovely with my younger readers.

Grounded in te ao Māori, this is a beautiful, gentle story with an incredibly important message that everybody belongs.

Oratia Books

Reviewed by Rebekah Lyell


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