Thursday, 30 November 2017

Toroa’s Journey Maria Gill Gavin Mouldey

Toroa’s Journey  (2017)
Maria Gill 
ill. Gavin Mouldey
Potton & Burton
32 pages (with gatefold)
Hardback NZ$30
ISBN 978 0 947503 53 6
Paperback NZ$20
ISBN 978 0 947503 52 9

The magic of Maria Gill’s non-fiction books is that they consistently provide lively, entertaining reading. Give her a few facts and she’ll create a story. Toroa’s Journey is no exception.
In 2007 Toroa was the 500th Southern Royal Albatross chick to hatch at the protected albatross
colony at Taiaroa Head, near Dunedin. A ranger fitted him with a tiny transmitter just before he grew his adult feathers.
Maria Gill has used her writing skills to take these facts and create not one but two books. One is a splendid picture book which tells the story of Toroa’s amazing endurance flights. Children can read this as a story about a bird’s awe-inspiring, seven-year journey. The other is a nature study book with fact-boxes packed with amazing information about albatrosses. My favourite is that Toroa’s grandmother raised her last chick when she was 60 years old.
Gavin Mouldey’s colour illustrations add another whole dimension to the story. He has captured the various moods of the giant birds, their surprising anatomy and their surroundings.

It is a sobering thought that the picture of Toroa encountering an ocean scrapheap of drifting plastic rubbish is actually a mixed media illustration, combining paint and actual plastic trash Gavin Mouldey collected from Kapiti Beach near his home. The highlight of the book is a 4-page fold-out showing Toroa in flight, with his three metre wing-span at full extent.  It is a show-stopper at any reading session.
There is a useful glossary.

Gavin Mouldey’s website is at:
Maria Gill’s website is at:
Toroa’s website is at:


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