Row, kiwi, row your boat, out from the wooden pier.
Come hunting for a taniwha, we're sure there's one round here.
This is a story about making new friends. Join the fun as three cheeky kiwi set out on a rowboat adventure to find a new friend - KA PAI! Children will enjoy spotting the cheeky, playful taniwha hidden in the illustrations.
Includes bonus CD by iconic New Zealand entertainer Pio Terei, with lyrics in both English and Maori. There is also a guitar-only version so children can sing by themselves.
Working as an Early Childhood Teacher it's always great when new books come out that I can share with the children. I spend most of my days working in the Nursery room, with children 2 years old and under and there current favourite song and book at the centre is 'Row, Row, Row Your Boat', I have read this to them over and over and no matter how many times I try and hide the book from them it is still requested! When I saw 'Row, Kiwi, Row Your Boat up for review I was really looking forward to sharing this different version with them up to change things up a little for both me and the children!
This book was absolutely gorgeous, the illustrations were bright and colourful and all of the animals and creatures were all so happy and cheerful in appearance, best of all each of these were unique and represented New Zealand natives beautifully, there were Tuatara's, Penguins and Trouts, and of course the Kiwi. What made this story different from the classic version was that the Kiwi's were out rowing their boat trying to find a Taniwha, although initially the Kiwi's were a little hesitant and scared when they kept finding the Taniwha they soon became very good friends, which I thought was a lovely outcome and a great value to teach older children, to always give someone a chance at being their friend!
The nursery children have absolutely loved this book and it has made itself a permanent spot up on my teachers shelf where the children go daily and point at it letting me know they want to listen to it. Miss 4 has been loving this book also, her favourite part is looking for the Taniwha hiding on each of the pages and also singing along with the CD, she particularly loves the music where no words are sung as this is perfect for her to sing along to herself. The teachers at my centre also love this book and love the twist on a Kiwi favourite and the way in which Te Reo is weaved into the story, as a teacher who is not confident in speaking Te Reo I have to agree this is a great learning tool for me.
With Pio Terei singing the lyrics in this awesome book it is such a pleasure to read and listen to, he is always such a fun person to sing along with and his tunes are always so catchy and bring such joy to children, we have several other books which he has sung along to on CD at work and they are a hit each time we play them. With it coming up to Christmas this book would make a fantastic gift for young children or for sending overseas so that friends and family can enjoy a little piece of Kiwiana.
Miss One totally fell in love with this book. She is at the stage now where she likes to be in control when she is listening to a story - turning the pages herself, and making the running as to when the story should proceed. She was captivated by the pictures and had great fun looking for the hidden taniwha; the words came second so it was a matter of her whim as to when they were read if at all!
However, this book does have a nice balance between words and pictures. There are not too many words, just enough to keep the flow of the story going and to encourage her to sing along. In that respect, the CD is useful as she can listen to it with her mother and try to join in. It is also a bonus that there are two versions, English and Maori, as children learn quickly at this age and it will encourage her to develop her vocabulary in both languages.
Basing a story on a well-known nursery song and then tailoring the words and pictures to a kiwi setting is a brilliant idea because it makes the whole book more relevant to a kiwi audience. At the same time, the tune is familiar which means that the parent or other adult (or for that matter, older sibling) who is reading the book with the toddler is already half way there. Little ones love to sing along so it is a very pleasant way of learning.
The creatures featured in the book are all locals (including the kiwi themselves, of course) and, although the drawings are stylised, they are still recognisable so that little ones can pick them out and name them without needing to actually read the words. They can seamlessly learn both the English and the Maori names for each creature as they sing along to the CD and look at the pages at the same time.
There is an added bonus inside the back cover (which contains the CD). If you then open up the back flap, there is a printed glossary with translations of all the main Maori words into English. This makes the task for the parent even easier, helping to overcome any shyness for those who are hesitant about using Te Reo in case they get it wrong. It is so important to encourage all young New Zealanders to take pride in knowing both their languages, and this is a way that parents can really get involved.
It is delightful to see children like Miss One taking so much pleasure in books like this. And, as with all fun learning experiences, the little ones don't even know that they are learning. They just know that they are having a really good time.
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