• NZ Booklovers

T is for Tuatara by Jo van Dam


Packed full of equally quirky animal characters, the book is a survey of some of the world's more unusual animals - from aardvark to zebus - all told in rhyme. New Zealand favourites - kiwi, tuatara and weta feature in the poems, alongside more exotic species such as gharial and numbats.


New Zealand author Jo van Dam's new book T is for Tuatara: Amazing animals from A to Z is a treat for new and existing fans of her quirky rhymes and catchy ditties.


Her latest offering builds on the success of her popular Doggy Ditties from A to Z, released in 2014. Using the same formula, van Dam combines fun poems with interesting animals to engage young readers.


A non-fiction section at the end, with information about the featured animals helps build knowledge. There's also a fact to accompany each animal poem.


Van Dam also includes tips for writing poetry, giving a brief overview of different poetic devices, including onomatopoeia, rhythm and personification. This makes the book a great asset to teachers and classrooms, while offering more for enquiring children.


Van Dam's love of poetry is paired with well-known illustrator Deborah Hinde. Hinde has illustrated almost 50 New Zealand picture books, many of them featuring animals. As is her style, the animals are detailed, well-researched but full of character. Kim the chameleon, Tuatara Tia and Phil the flamingo were particular favourites with my bunch of little readers.


T is for Tuatara is a great collection that will be enjoyed again and again by readers. From fluffy indri to squishy jellyfish, a hot ocelot to partying tuatara, there is a wealth of animal alphabet magic for everyone to enjoy.


Reviewed by Rebekah Lyell

PictureBook Publishing, RRP $19.99