• NZ Booklovers

The Kauri Family by Suzy Cato and Arthur Baysting

What's that there, can you see? I wonder what that thing can be, in the hole beneath the tree. It's part of the Kauri family.

Join adored children's entertainer Suzy Cato in this catchy and playful sing-along that celebrates among trees and the wonderful wildlife that is at home in the forests of Aotearoa.

Younger readers will have lots of fun guessing the answers to the nature riddles, as well as spotting a wide range of creatures hidden throughout the pages.

The book doubles as a song, performed by Cato and available to download or stream. It's great to have this as an option - even now it is not uncommon for children's books to have CDs. Yet CD players are becoming harder to find, leaving an important element of the book sitting unloved inside the covers.

The song is simple to learn, with a catchy tune. While some parts of the story are sung, the second verse of each page is spoken. This allows plenty of scope for children to add their own elements to the story - what other fauna could be part of the kauri family? This sophisticated element makes the book a huge hit for classrooms - not only can students learn about conservation and the environment, but it could form the centre of a whole unit incorporating the curriculum areas of music, drama, language, geography, science and biology.

The Kauri Family, both book and song, is also available in a te reo Māori version, Te Whānau Kauri too, Cato's pronunciation is a joy to hear. Here is a performer who understands the power of words, and the power of children seeing and hearing themselves. She sets a great example.

Illustrator Craig Fletcher exquisitely renders our native flora and fauna in pencil and water colour. His tuatara is beautiful - full of detail and instantly recognisable, with just the right amount of character.

The Kauri Family is a beautiful book that celebrates New Zealand's special forests and all that inhabit them.

Reviewer: Rebekah Lyell

Scholastic, RRP $18.99