Hush, little baby, and go to sleep, Mama's going to give you a woolly sheep...' Regarded by some as the mother of children's publishing in New Zealand, it is fitting that Joy Cowley has penned this warm hearted Kiwi version of a traditional lullaby, with words in both English and te reo Maori. From sheep to kowhai flowers, and from paua shells to silver ferns, this special picture book will be a treasured addition to any home library. Stunningly illustrated by Andrew Burdan with pictures that could easily grace the walls of any art lover's home.
Joy Cowley is an amazing writer for kiwi children and it was her name that drew me to this book. Anything she is involved in is definitely worth a read.
The front cover of this book is so beautifully illustrated with a mum and child and these awesome soft illustrations continue throughout the book. They really show the joy that this story/song will bring to your own children. I know the traditional song and am always trying to sing it to my children, especially when trying to get them to sleep. It is great to have the same tune with a kiwi twist. The only one that I didn't felt went with the kiwi theme is that of the swan.
When singing this to my children my 1 year old was fully engaged in the pictures. My 3 year old was humming along with me and pointing to the finer details in the illustrations.
When we got to the end of the English version my son was quick to remind me that I had not yet finished. I attempted to sing the Maori to hi as he was just fascinated that the same song could be sung differently. My Maori obviously was not that great and as a 3 year old he decided he would have a go.
This book really illustrates the bond between mother and child in illustrations, words and the joy of reading together.
It was so easy to fall in love with this book. In fact, it happened the moment I saw it. The hard cover and beautifully painted mother and child on the front gave me a strong sense that this book was a must read to my children. I enjoy the well known stories which are given a Kiwi flavour and I could tell this would be one of this type of books.
I sang the book to Miss 3 at bedtime last night. She loved it. The English was easy as the words fitted in perfectly to the very familiar tune of Hush A Bye Baby. I started to sing the Māori version, which is in the second half of the book. I asked Miss 3 if she liked it and she gave a very positive response. In fact, she insisted that I continue. When she went to bed, Miss 3 started singing to herself and making up her own version based on what she had heard. She certainly enjoyed the book.
I found it a bit harder to get the rhythm going right as I sang the Māori version. I think this was just because I am not so familiar with the words and phrasing in Māori. I want to keep at it as the words do sound beautiful and I like to give me children the chance to hear languages other than English. As I have read it more and more, I am starting to get better at getting the flow right and I know it will sound lovely when I do! In the meantime, the children are able to watch as I learn and practice in order to get better at a skill - it is so good to be able to show children that even as adults we have to work at new skills.
My husband read it to Mr 5. It was quite different hearing it read rather than having it sung. It worked in this way too, however, I did feel the need to start singing it! Mr 5 enjoyed joining in to read some of the sentence endings as it was read to him. He added in his own commend as we went too - "Paua shells are special". The fact that this book has so much Kiwiana in it, he knew about all the things we were singing about and felt a personal link to them.
The illustrations are a credit to Andrew Burdan. The illustrations to go with the English version are quite different in style to the ones used in the Māori version at the end of the book. I particularly enjoyed the illustrations with the English version. They include gorgeous detail and look like they have painted with such love and care. My children and I took quite a bit of time to look at and enjoy the illustrations on each page.
Even though the price is higher than I would usually like to pay for a book, it is simply beautiful and worth considering when choosing new books.
This would be a beautiful gift for a new baby and I am sure it would be used and loved for years. I think it would also be perfect as a gift for babies or children of friends and family overseas. I know it will be a cherished book in our family.
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