Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star: Tīrama, Tīrama, Whetū Riki e
Illustrated by Renee Chin
Māori translation by Piripi Walker
What a stunning book. This was my first thought when I saw the cover and picked it up, and as I became more and more engrossed in its magical night-time world, I can testify that this gem – or perhaps diamond?! – of a book did not disappoint.
‘Twinkle, twinkle, little star, like a diamond in the sky’ started out life as an English lullaby, but for most children it is also the first song they learn to play on the recorder, or the piano, or perhaps to sing. Now it has been Kiwi-fied. For Ruru the New Zealand native owl, this picture book transforms the song into the background soundtrack of his nightly deliveries of mail to all the birds. He visits the tui, the kakapo, the pukeko, and even the DOC Ranger. While the lyrics on the page match the original song, with the English and Māori words alternating line by line, Ruru’s story is told through Renee Chin’s gorgeous pictures. The colours are so vibrant and rich I can’t stop opening the book to look at them. Even the inside covers are printed with a wallpaper pattern of Ruru and his friends. The printing has certainly done justice to the superb artistry of Chin’s pen. A moth (pūrerehu), grasshopper (māwhitiwhiti) and ladybird (mumutawa) to be found hiding on every page will help to feed every child’s interest in the natural world – particularly, for New Zealand children, in the one right outside their doors. The translations into Māori by Piripi Walker are the key to changing this traditional lullaby into something uniquely Kiwi.
Chin has dedicated this work to ‘all children, such marvellous souls.’ If you are going to buy a book for your children’s shelf – or for the child in your heart – let it be this. It is perfect for schools, libraries, and the home. It will have you humming, and I am quite certain that it will entertain and be cherished by generations to come.
Reviewer: Susannah Whaley
Hachette New Zealand, $19.99