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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Wildlife of Aotearoa Colouring Book by Gavin Bishop

Gavin Bishop is one of our most prolific and popular New Zealand writers and illustrators and has won numerous awards. It is a real treat to find a colouring book for children by such an award-winning artist.

The Wildlife of Aotearoa Colouring Book starts in the world of Tangaroa, the Atua of the oceans, lakes, and rivers. First come the Ngū-nui/Giant Squid and gigantic whales. Then, the creatures who live in the sun-warmed shallows, in the deep, dark waters and the coastal kelp forest. They are followed by seabirds, wildlife of the sea dunes, the rocky shore, the tidal flats, and the wetlands.

Before we enter the world of Tāne Mahuta, God of the Forest and of forest birds, there is a double page spread of a tearful Ranginui, the sky father, mourning his separation from Papatūānuku, the Earth Mother for it was Tāne who separated his parents to allow light into the world.

In Tāne Mahuta’s world live the canopy birds as well as creatures who live on the forest floor like Tokoeka/ Southern Brown Kiwi and Pepeketua/Archie’s frogs. Ruru/Morepork, moths, dragonflies, and wasps wait until dark before they make an appearance in the bush.

From the mountains and the rivers, we move closer to home, to the wildlife which lives in the town and around the house. Children will already be familiar with many of these creatures.

Gavin has devoted a page to The Hungry Foreigners including a ship rat, stoat, and ferret but nothing is mentioned about the harm such predators are doing as this is a colouring book so there are no stories. These were told by Gavin in his popular large-format Picture Book Wildlife of Aotearoa which was the inspiration for this colouring book.

With sixty-four awesome pages to colour in, The Wildlife of Aotearoa Colouring Book would keep a child who loves colouring in happy for hours. The fact that the creatures have been labelled in both Māori and English is also a great way for them to extend their vocabulary and to learn their names in both languages.

From an art teacher’s perspective, I would also encourage children who enjoy drawing to pick up a pencil or pen and hone their drawing skills by spending time copying Gavin’s lively drawings. He still draws his illustrations by hand, and they are so much more appealing than the stylized images in most children’s colouring books.

The Wildlife of Aotearoa Colouring Book would make a special and very affordable Christmas present for 3–12-year-olds.

Reviewer: Lyn Potter



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