"ATA! Titiro ki te wai e Ma!
He MEA kei ro moana i WHAKAPA mai ana!"
Ko koe ka tangi kakawa, ka kirea, ka ngawe ... pakinakina ana te kata ki nga mahi ohorere, i tenei ra ngahau, i tenei haerenga-a-whanau ki tahuna.
When a small child goes to the seaside with Mum and Ma, she is unprepared for "things" floating in the water. Ma explains what each one is, and that it is nothing to be afraid of ... and then gets a big fright herself when Mum grabs her ankle!
You'll squawk, screech, yelp, and laugh out loud at the surprises for all on this funny-sunny day at the beach. The simple. bold colours are perfect for young children. Themes include diversity, dealing with fear, outdoor education, and the seaside.
Na Minky Stapleton nga pikitia i ta.
Illustrated by Minky Stapleton.
Na Ngaere Roberts nga korero i whakamaori.
Translated into Te Reo Maori by Ngaere Roberts.
Now that the twins are at a kura, they are keen to use their reo as much as possible. It is a delight to watch such small children chatting competently in two different languages and welcoming the chance to read another book with me which is written entirely in Te Reo. Even their little sister and brother joined in so I ended up on the sofa with all four children plus their father, looking at the pictures and reading the text with them. We had a ball, with the children ending up in fits of giggles each time the little girl in the story panicked when something mysterious touched her. They are all waterbabies, jumping in their paddling pool when the weather is warm and they can't get away for a real swim, so they instantly recognised all the "threats".
I love the way the book uses repetition each time the child gets a fright. By the time we were reading the book through for a second time (because you can't read it only once!) they were anticipating the words: as soon as I shouted "Ata!" they joined in with "Titiro ki te wai e Ma!", and when we got to the bit where Ma reassured the little girl with "Kei te pai!" they all joined in after the first word. Even Mr One was concentrating fully, whether or nor he could follow the entire story; he loved the colourful pictures and tried to join in with the repeated words along with his sisters.
The story is simple and very relevant to small children. They knew all about crabs and seaweed and floaty bits in the water, and assured me that they would not be afraid in the same circumstances. When we reached the end of the story where Mama plays a trick by pretending to be a seaweed monster, all four of them found it so hilarious that Mr One fell off the sofa because he was giggling so hard. I am not sure if he was old enough to understand why it was so funny, but because his sisters and father were all laughing he could not help but join in too.
The story is very kiwi in flavour. The whole concept of putting on your beach clothes and heading for the water on a hot day is familiar to everyone. The twins pointed out the hats and jandals straight away, and asked if I would like to see theirs! The seaweed tendrils, dark and hand shaped, were the source of amusement rather than fear; even though the picture was quite stylised, they recognised it for what it was and laughed at the little girl for being frightened by it. Both girls liked the pictures of the whole family swimming in what appeared to be quite deep water in places. (I was assured several times that they are both excellent swimmers too!)
There are messages on several levels in this book which are relevant to children. Water safety, of course; although she is scared several times in the story, the heroine knows to ask an adult for help - she is never left to swim on her own. Ma and Mama are always there to come to the rescue. Sun awareness is also a theme. Both adults and their little girl wear sunhats and they carry beach bags so one would assume that these contain sunscreen and water bottles. New Zealand's clean green image is promoted through the clarity of the sea water and the abundance of creatures on the foreshore and in the water itself. And diversity is presented through the child's having two mums, both of whom are looking out for her.
At the back of the book is a glossary for those who may not be completely fluent in Te Reo; this is always useful as it encourages parents (and teachers!) to use the language with their children in the knowledge that there is this support available. And, of course, there is an occasional word which varies according to which region they are in; I sometimes find there is a word which is quite different from the version I am familiar with, so I make a point of double checking if there is something I don't get. It is ok to look up an unfamiliar word and to admit it if you don't understand. That is good modelling for the children - both can learn together.
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Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)