Kauri danced with the wind. And the years passed.
Cloaked in mist, warmed by the sun and stirred by a whirling wind, Kauri grows
tall and wise through passing years and changing times. This is his song.
"The Song Of Kauri" has all the elements of a legend - it starts (as do all good stories) with "Once Upon a Time" and proceeds to track the life story of Kauri as he grows from an insignificant seedling to adulthood and then moves on to a permanent home in the sky. Kauri does not find life easy: he is lonely and would love someone to stop and socialise with him, but nobody has time! This is disappointing as he knows he is special so he feels rejected and unloved.
Eventually the birds become his friends and he is never happier than when they are with him. Of all the elements and creatures he has encountered, only the birds are his real friends. The relationship is mutual: he offers them shelter and they offer him companionship. The illustrations are a combination of Maori motifs and impressionism - possibly to show the duality of Kauri's life in modern New Zealand where the influences are both Maori and Western. The colours are lovely, each reflecting the section of the story represented. So the Moon sequence is captured in tones of yellow and blue, while the Sun's colours are red, yellow and brown.
I have to say I really enjoyed the story - although it is original, it captures the story-tale aspects of Maori mythology and the illustrations make the text come alive. I don't think this is a book for young children alone; I can see it being equally appealing to adults. It is published in hard-cover format which means it will be durable and will withstand being passed around different family members. This is definitely a must for a New Zealand bookshelf. Although it is quite expensive, it is a book that will be read and re-read for many years to come.
The Kauri tree is such a treasured part of New Zealand, and indeed to our family. A big reason for this is that my father in law is a well known wood turner who turns Kauri that's been underground for hundreds of years. Both my husband and I have therefore been brought up around the wood and to treasure what it is. I was therefore really interested in reading this book and sharing it with my daughter. I want her to grow up with the same knowledge that we had.
The Song of the Kauri is an absolutely beautiful book! From the moment I saw the front cover's illustrations (including a shiny koru behind the image) I had high expectations and I was not at all disappointed. Being the first thing you see, the front cover often says so much about a book and they have got things bang on with this image. I love that the pictures aren't cartoon based and there is so many different aspects to take in. Not only are the illustrations throughout simply stunning but the words tell such a wonderful story that has you captivated the entire time.
I read this book to some of the four year olds I work with... Normally we have mat time with all the children but I knew some of the younger children wouldn't handle the length and depth of this story. The children who joined me had so many questions, they were engaged the entire time and really enjoyed this book. Immediately I could tell that we will be reading this over and over again for months to come. No doubt we will also end up with some dramatic play happening from this story too. I have to say that I do wish this entire book was hardcover - simply because it would make it a bit more sturdy to last through all the children wanting to point out their favourite aspect or help to turn the pages. As my daughter is under one, it also would have helped hugely when I was trying to read this to her as of course she wanted to play with the book but I wouldn't let her. Unless your child is an avid reader I wouldn't recommend this for under 2 - my daughter is already used to really long stories (for her age) as I have always read to her. (I'm Not saying that she understood all the messages in the book, but she did sit there and listen. The pictures definitely appealed to her too)!
This book is probably one of the more complex picture books that I have read but the children I have read it with have really enjoyed that about it. I have also found that the more we read it the more we discover or notice, and there are different questions to go with the things noticed. Its definitely a book to get children thinking and I love that. A top quality book that deserves top dollar, I totally recommend this to others
In our household we are very interested in books that reflect our kiwi heritage and lifestyle. A book about a Kauri has got to fit into that interest. The Song of Kauri is a beautiful hard-covered book. It feels so nice to hold and the added shiny koru on the front of the book enhance the effect.
When I started to read it to my four year old son, I could imagine his class at kindergarten using it. They often act out stories as the teachers read it. The stories they act out often involve trees and aspects of Maori myths and legends.
The book is much more sophisticated than a standard picture book and I could see it being used in upper primary school as a discussion point about trees, how important they are and how humans can influence their survival. I could also see it being used for the children to create dance and movement presentations as a result of reading the book. Most of us have a tree which has been very special to us growing up. Mine was the tree at our house on the west coast of Ireland, we had a tyre swing there and we would spend hours out there having fun. Children could look at their special tree and write about the things that their tree has experienced during its lifetime and why it is so special to them.
The illustrations are quite different to other children's books. I think they would particularly appeal to adults and older children. A little guided viewing of the images with younger children would help bring out their beauty and meaning. The colours are so earthy and natural. They suit the story perfectly. The illustrations have been influenced by Maori art and incorporate koru designs throughout the book.
I found the story very poetic in the way the words are written and they seem to paint a picture as the reader ventures into the book.
My four year old managed to get some of the meaning from the book and during one of the readings of the book, he commented about the Kauri dying. He responded but saying "it is sad if a tree dies" and went on to say "it is sad if a person dies too". It was interesting that he came up with those comments and it made a great opening for us to discuss death and what he understood about it. I think that beginning with talking about animals and plants dying is good preparation for loved ones in the family passing away.
I found the price higher than I would like to pay for a children's book, however I feel I have no choice other than to give it a 10/10 as the book is quality in every way and as consumers we have to realise that we have to pay if we want quality.
Overall, a very different book to your average picture book and worth reading a number of times to enjoy the book to its full potential. I think that my son and I got more out of the book with each reading and he seems to find a new thing to talk about each time.
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