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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

The Grandmothers of Pikitea Street by Renisa Viraj Maki

As Nīkau is getting ready for bed, her kui (grandma) tells her the story of one of their ancestors - Māui. Across the street, Aida is helping her sēti āyati (grandmother) make injera. The Ethiopian flatbread reminds Aida of the moon and she promises her grandmother she'll eat it all at school the next day.

All down the fictional Pikitea Street, grandmothers are sharing their traditional stories with the younger generation as they make lunchboxes for school the next day. The grandmothers are also preparing dishes for their monthly gathering, where they share their respective traditions and stories.

This is a touching story about multiple cultures in New Zealand bonding across the generations through food and stories.

Māori, Ethiopian, Sāmoan, European, Indian and Chinese cultures are all represented within the book, sharing snippets of tradition and delicious treats.

Author Renisa Viraj Maki says she hopes young readers, and those who read the book with them, will connect to the story and see the beauty of our multicultural society.

It's a sweet story that connects with readers through shared human experiences.

As well as showcasing our multicultural society, this book is also bilingual. Translated into te reo Māori by Kanapu Rangitauira, the text for both English and Māori are included on the same page. The book also celebrates manaakitanga and whakawhanaungatanga, important tikanga within te ao Māori.

Illustrated by Nikki Slade Robinson bring the story to life. Bright, bold colour compliments the details of food and cultural symbols. There is a real lack of representation within children's books of characters from diverse backgrounds. However, Slade Robinson honours the story and ensures children from the ethnic backgrounds represented within the book can see themselves within the pages. Bindi and bangles on Nani alongside a typical 'tiffin' lunchbox, kōwhaiwhai and tapa sit alongside mouthwatering details of the traditional dishes.

This is a heartwarming story that emphasizes the things we all have in common, regardless of our background - storytelling, food and the love for our grandmothers.

Reviewer: Rebekah Lyell

Oratia Books


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