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Takahe Maths by Julie Ellis

For a picture book aimed at 5+ year olds you can’t get much more deep than Takahe Maths. It takes the premise of a story book which explores the trajectory of the endangered takahe from its origins without any interference from any humans, to the advent of the Māori settlers, to the British, to thoughts around its extinction, to where we are now. It is a pretty tricky terrain to navigate clocking in at just over 30 pages long.

At the same time, the story celebrates the maths of the whole equation. Readers are encouraged to make the mathematical links of ‘how many takahe are there after this event’ and similarly on the next page. All the expected basic functions of mathematics are used too, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division all get their turn in the sun in this wonderfully practical application of mathematics skill.

But overall, the story is a celebration of the impact that conservational practices have on struggling species. The bringing back of takahe numbers is celebrated - and rightly so. It is a reminder to young people and older teachers and parents alike of the importance of doing all we can to retain precious species like the takahe so that they may continue to thrive.

A wonderful exploration of nature, conservation, storytelling and mathematics all neatly packaged in a beautifully illustrated piece. Praise must go to Julie Ellis for the thought of combining such elements so artfully, and to Isobel Te Aho-White for such vibrant and stunning imagery.

Reviewer: Chris Reed

One Tree House