Saturday, 15 April 2017

Reo Pepi Rua (2): Colours, Counting, Shapes

Reo Pepi Rua (2) (2017):
Nga Tae - Colours   
Te Kaute – Counting
Nga Ahua - Shapes   
Kitty Brown & Kirsten Parkinson
Board books, each 22 pages
NZ$18 each

Contact Details:

One of the pleasures of the reviewing life is seeing self-publishers achieve success. Back in 2015 two cousins from the Otago Peninsula, artist Kitty Brown and writer Kirsten Parkinson, saw a need for Maori language resources for the very young. What made them special was that they had the determination, skills and drive to get three delightful board books published.

The three - Kanohi - My Face, Kararehe – Animals, and Kakahu – Getting Dressed – are bilingual books offering a set of familiar images, each with appropriate sentences (‘Put on your socks.’ ‘Where are your ears?’) in both Maori and English. [More information at the publishers’ website]

The cousins’ publishing operation is called Reo Pepi, which can be translated formally as Baby Language, but can also be rendered as baby talk, which is what their books encourage.

Those first three books have sold well and two reprints and 5000 copies later, three new volumes have also been published.  Given the series title of Reo Pepi-Rua [2], these new books are in the same easy-to-handle, round-cornered, board-book format. Their titles are:
Nga Tae - Colours   
Te Kaute - Counting
Nga Ahua - Shapes   

 Parents themselves, Kitty and Kirsten have created books which encourage interaction between adult and child.  Nga Tae – Colours uses a series of familiar insects to pose questions about their colour.   
He aha te tae o te huhu?  He ma.
What colour is the huhu grub?  White.

Ten colours later – from whero to parauri – the book offers a very clear phonetic pronunciation guide, as well as a glossary and translations. On the facing page there is an easy-to-point-at set of labelled colours. These books are well-designed and easy to hold in tiny hands. The board book format is sturdy and resists chewing.
The same well-thought-out design is followed in the other two books

Te Kaute – Counting presents familiar toys to be counted
E hia nga karetao?  E ono.
How many robots?  Six.
The pictures show toys that real kids have obviously owned and inflicted loving wear-and tear on.
There is a comfortable sense of recognition at each turn of the page.

 Nga Ahua - Shapes has the trickiest set of concepts to illustrate but it rises to the challenge by offering familiar shapes concealed in familiar settings or objects. I particularly appreciated this entry:
Rapua nga tapaono.
Find the hexagons.
The illustration shows a toolbox with plenty of six-sided items. Needless to say, the usual services are offered at the back of these two books.

Of all the illustrations the one I liked best was the picture of two Toroa (royal albatrosses) on Taiaroa Head. They depict the manawa (heart) shape but you’ll have to read the book to see why.

Or get a three-year-old to read it to you.

Trevor Agnew
15 April 2017


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