Twinkle, Tickle, Little Star by Anne Hunter
Updated: Mar 10
Playful and delightful rhymes perfectly capture the unique characteristics of a range of creatures and plant life that young children commonly encounter when exploring New Zealand's seashore.
This collection of rhyming verse delightfully details some of the special features of our triplefins, hermit crabs, scallops, paia, katipō and many more beach-based creatures.
Author Anne Hunter uses wonderful descriptive language that is bound to capture imaginations in her short, snappy poems. The book opens with the simple poem The Seashore where children and adults alike will picture themselves on the beach snapping and stomping the dry, crunchy seaweed.
She has also created poems about some of the flora and fauna you're most likely to encounter on our coasts.
Each poem is accompanied by detailed illustrations by David Gunson - the pair have previously teamed up for Hunter's book Eekily, Sneakily.
Gunson uses plenty of details and rich, but realistic, colouring to document the creatures. Different perspectives and viewpoints add to the charm.
As well as illustrating the creature that is the subject of the poem, Gunson ensures their habitat is also documented. The double spread page with scallops is a great example of this - not only is a scallop shown in the whole, it's also shown moving through the water, as well as 'open' with it's eyes showing, and with other creatures attached to it. Other creatures likely found near scallops are also detailed, including crabs, cockles and shrimp. Different creatures and plants are also labelled, allowing readers to learn more about the beach life than just the subject of the poem.
One niggle of this otherwise wonderful book is the lack of tohutō - macrons - on the Māori words. It's such a simple, yet vitally important, part of te reo Māori and it's frustrating to see words sans tohutō.
Hunter has done a superb job to make sure the book is fun to read aloud as well. Each poem flows well, and with the designers ensuring some words are emphasised, it's an easy read for those adults less confident at reading aloud.
A facts section at the back of the book to supplement each poem is a nice addition.
Together with a book like Rock Pools: A Guide for Kiwi Kids, a trip to the beach will be taken to the next level. Not only would children get the non-fiction side of beach life; Twinkle, Tickle, Little Star would act as inspiration, sparking a new level of understanding and creativity. I can see this book being a wonderful addition to a classroom, used to inspire poetry and short stories about the world around us from our younger generation.
Reviewer: Rebekah Lyell
New Holland Publishers, RRP $24.99