Kia kaha, kia kaha! Together standing strong,
We join our hands in friendship, that's how we get along.
This is a rousing and fortifying new waiata for Kiwi children from all backgrounds, celebrating the strength in community from a child's viewpoint.
Included is a CD of the heart-warming song, performed in both English and Maori by June Pitman-Hayes and Pio Terei. The Maori lyrics are by Ngaere Roberts.
My three were very excited to receive this book in the review box, as they adore anything with a song, anything with Te Reo Maori in it, and of course, being a New Zealand book, they appreciate the uniqueness of that even more.
We did not put the CD on straight away - rather Miss nearly 11 and I decided to read it together. She is a budding artist and wants to be an illustrator, so the first thing she noticed and mentioned was the illustrations and the amount of detail contained in each page. This book is a beautiful tribute to the diversity of New Zealand and how we as a nation (especially in the current Covid lockdown/Rahui) need to remember that we are strong and able and that Kiwis really do have that attitude of not giving up easily.
One thing I really loved in this book was how simple and relevant the ideas are - with things/situations that relate daily to my children - falling over, unfortunately being stung by a bee, or hearing noises that they are not sure of. I also really loved how many cultures, ethnicities, physical abilities, ages, and the general diversity of New Zealand are represented throughout this book. My favourite page is one where there are lots of families in it - handing around food, chatting, and doing what I really feel is a true Kiwi way of life.
The CD and songs simply add to this awesome book, and would be great for younger ones that cannot read yet. The tune is super catchy, and having the English, Maori and then instrumental all there means the kids really go for it!!
My kids all loved this book (we have all read it separately and multiple times now!) and the song as well, and so did I, as a teacher. I am really glad to have both language versions of this in one book - meaning I can use it in my relief teaching as something new, and can teach the kids some new words and phrases, with the correct pronunciation.
Excellent excellent book - this is going to absolutely be read over and over and over - as well as danced and sung to!
Mr Two and Miss Four immediately threw themselves into dancing and singing along with the CD that accompanies this book - even forgetting to look at the pictures because they were so swept away by the rhythm. The melody is catchy, and by the time they had gone through both the English and the Maori versions they were able to improvise to the third track (which is just instrumental). They cottoned on to the "Kia Kaha!" chorus straight away even though the rest of the words were a little wobbly, with both languages mixed up together! I had thought that the twins, who are a little older, would have found it too easy - but no, they were soon joining in as well so we had four little people all jigging and swaying away to the music.
Once we had played all three tracks through (more than 16 minutes in total) the children were ready to settle to look at the pictures while they listened to the written text. The printed words are simply the song lyrics, so they were already familiar with them and were able to concentrate on the graphics instead. I thought the pictures were essential to understanding the message of the book; while lots of fun and encouraging plenty of interaction, the song would have been too difficult for the younger ones to follow without the pictures as well. Once they were looking at the children in the drawings, they were able to work out what was happening and apply their own knowledge and experience to the story.
I liked the way that all the situations were relevant to those faced by young children - falling over and skinning your knee, getting bumped on the head, suffering a bee sting, enjoying time at the playground, or hearing a strange sound in the dark outside the window. One little boy is in a wheelchair yet is very much accepted as part of the friendship group, included in their activities and valued as an equal. The children are dressed in clothing which suggests different ethnic groups' customs, and their facial features reflect the diversity of racial origin within New Zealand. The message is that all kids are equal whoever they are, and that everyone should be there for their mates.
The picture backgrounds reflect different aspects of New Zealand life. One Tree Hill and the Auckland Sky Tower are unmistakable as are Moeraki and Milford Sound - despite the stylised drawings, they are hard to miss. There are also other images of kiwi life: the classroom with its wall map of New Zealand, the kiwi in the bushes outside the bedroom, the ferns and the various birds in the bush scenes. It would be very hard to mistake where the story is set.
The children loved this book and CD and so did I. I felt there was a lot to gain from it, both in the message and in the performance: two for the price of one! Because the four children are growing up bilingual, all being at either a kura kaupapa or a kohanga reo, they were at home with both versions of the text. They moved seamlessly from the first to the second without seeming to notice that they had changed from one language to the other. I like the way both versions are in the same book as it would be a useful tool for a classroom teacher or a family member trying to upskill his or her own knowledge of Te Reo. And just to make things even more accessible, there is a glossary at the end of the book. My only reservation would be that the soft cover of the publication might mean that it does not stand up to lots of little fingers handling it.
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