We've got a boat that flies across the water.
We've got a boat that flies across the sea.
You know this boat, it sailed from Aotearoa.
It stays afloat because it's carried by Kiwis.
Join Team Kiwi and sail away on a boat guided by ancient waka, woven with flax sails, powered by a taniwha, and bound for victory... GO KIWIS GO! Featuring Aotearoa's unofficial America's Cup song!
Included is a CD with two tracks - one with Jay Laga'aia on vocals, and one with just the backing for kids (and adults too!) to sing along.
I am an early childhood teacher and read books on a daily basis. Me (and most of the other teachers in my centre) have come to love a good CD book. They capture the children's attention while giving our voices a break too! And whoever picks the singer for each CD book (we have a few now!) does an amazing job as they seem to pick the perfect voice for each story.
When my latest KIWIreviews parcel arrived I had to open it up with the children. They have come to recognise the KIWIreviews sticker on the parcel and know that sometimes there are books or other things in there for them to try. They were so excited to find three books inside this time. This was the third book that we listened to, but they really wanted to hear them all so we did all three one after the other.
This book is based on the America's cup and when New Zealand won. Even though it is a picture book with a CD to it, the children learn many different things through the book about the America's cup and the boats that they race. Learning through play is important for children under 5, and this book being full of cartoon animals and lots of fun pictures certainly leads to learning through fun.
We have one other book featuring Jay Laga'aia's voice and I have to say he is a very good singer! As the song began ALL of the children fell quiet. The tune was very catchy and we all wanted to hear the words. I noticed a little bit of the tune of Drunken Sailor and was quickly able to sing along while reading the words. The pictures are nice and bright and feature many different animals. Once we had read the book once we went back through and talked about the different animals and the countries that they represent - all of the children were able to identify New Zealand and Australia! Each page brought discussion - from talking about how the New Zealand boat had bikes in it to the time our boat tipped over. The parts of the racing that they have shown are all accurate as far as my memories go. An extra added bonus was the section at the back that had real photos and facts from the races. One child in particular wanted me to keep going back to the photos, particularly the one of the big cup!
This book will become a regular at our centre. Both the teachers and the children enjoyed it, and I would recommend it to anyone who was considering buying it.
Miss Six really made me laugh the first time we read this book together. When we finished the last page, she told me that she loved it. I wanted to know why: she replied that she was a kiwi, and the kiwis won of course, so that made her very proud! Interesting that a six-year-old can sum up the theme so succinctly, because of course she is right. The graphics reflect all manner of kiwi images - taniwha, waka, sport (and not just sailing!), flax, silver ferns ... the list goes on and on. Coupled with that are the slightly gormless Australian team of marsupials and the determined American eagles, among other nations, who provide a somewhat stereotypical contrast to the physically diverse kiwis - a political statement if ever there was one.
National pride is the central idea: pride in the Number 8 wire mentality (I loved the image of a sticking plaster mending a small rip in a sail); pride in the strength of the diversity of our ethnicity as kiwi, cow, sheep and kea all work together as a team; pride in our cultural identity as the team mates perform a haka when the taniwha powers the waka from underneath. There is even the delightful inclusion of a floating bottle containing an SOS message which refers to a famous NZ song; Miss Six thought this was wonderful too!
Having read the book and discussed the content, we put on the CD and played it through as we sang along. The tune is simple and catchy, so it did not take us long to join in at full volume. Miss Six kept bobbing up and down as she could not decide whether to dance along to the music or sit down and follow the words in the book, so we went through it several times so she could have a go both ways.
After we had played the CD half a dozen times, we switched off the music and looked at the last few pages of the book. They are a little too complicated for a six-year-old (although her older brother was very interested) so we just looked at the photographs while I explained to her in simpler terms what had inspired the book, and how the America's cup has a big place in New Zealand sport. We have had several sailors in the family, both at sea and shore based, so there is a certain tradition anyway. Miss Six loves going to the beach and also goes kayaking on lakes locally with her parents and brother, so this is certainly a story that appeals to her.
Finally, I like the format of the book. It has a hard cover - a good thing as it will last longer and also provide a rigid storage area for the accompanying CD. The pages are fully illustrated, with blues and greens the dominant colours, evoking the sea atmosphere. Miss Six' favourite page was that featuring the taniwha and the upended boat. She was relieved to see that everyone was wearing a lifejacket! It is also great that the CD has a karaoke track as well as a full sung version because, as Miss Six says, it is perfect to dance to.
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