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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Tama and the Taniwha by Melanie Koster

Tama is down at the lake with his sisters and grandparents. When his sisters tease him about a taniwha being in the water, he takes a deep breath and dives in anyway. But what is that wonderful, swirling, sparkling apparition? Could it be a taniwha?

This is a humorous look at sibling teasing and the secrets that lurk beneath the water that will resonate with anyone. The story, which won the 2022 Joy Cowley award, is full of mystery and fun. Koster is a teacher aide and you can tell she understands how much joy books can bring. This is a great book to read aloud, with lots of dialogue to play with and plenty of space for readers to add their own twist on things.

Te reo Māori is sprinkled within the text naturally, so even those beginning their learning journey can quickly pick up key words. Koster helpfully includes the translation on the page too, making it accessible to everyone. A te reo Māori edition - Ko Tama me te Taniwha - has also been published.

The design of the book is great, with words that swirl and drift across the page, adding to the movement.

The book is illustrated by Koster's daughter Monica. Her illustrations are bold and bright, drawing the reader in. She uses really interesting perspectives and viewpoints - the double-spread page of Tama taking his first steps into the water is captivating. She also adds little details, adding to the allure of what lurks beneath the water.

This is an endearing story about family fun, and dynamics, with a distinctly New Zealand flavour that will spark the imaginations of younger readers.

Reviewer: Rebekah Lyell



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