Wednesday, 23 December 2020


 The Rio Pēpi boardbooks: Set Three:  Boardbooks in Maori [and English]

Here are the latest in the Rio Pēpi boardbooks, the ideal gift for every Kiwi chick.

Kupu Tauaro: Opposites   

Mahi: Actions  

Kare ā-roto: Feelings  

Kitty Brown    Kirsten Parkinson (ill)

Allen & Unwin, (2020)

$18 individually or $50 box set.

 The early boardbooks in this charming bi-lingual series offered the Maori (and English) terms for colours, shapes, numbers, and animals. These three –the Reo Pēpi–Toru series - offer an introduction

to concepts that are sometimes trickier for young minds to grasp.

 In Kupu Tauaro: Opposites we see a nest. Two just-hatching birds are roto [inside], while an adventurous fledgling is waho [outside]. A nui [big] whale eyes an iti [small] shrimp. Any parent can make a mini-story out of pictures and concepts like these.

The same applies to Mahi: Actions where once again Kirsten Parkinson’s charmingly realistic  animal pictures convey ideas of action in vivid ways.

‘Ko patiki ahau. Kei te huna ahau.’ [I am Flounder. I am hiding.] The picture shows a school of flounder blending into their sandy surroundings – a lovely reminder that many of the illustrations are based on Otago Peninsula creatures.  

 Kare ā-roto: Feelings deals with the trickier topic of feeling sad, confused, happy hungry and so on. My favourite exchange is illustrated by a group of nest-building fantails:

‘Kei te pēhea koutou, e hoa mā?’ [How are you, friends?]

‘Kei te pukumahi mātou!’ [We are busy.]

The pages of these user-friendly boardbooks are not only pleasant to hold; they also wipe clean. At the end of each book, there is a simple Maori pronunciation guide and a well-organised glossary. Each one is a welcome way to build up vocabulary in both languages.

The pride of Portobello, Kitty Brown and Kirsten Parkinson are brave entrepreneurs whose work is truly valuable. 

Trevor Agnew

December 2020


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