Home > Categories > Books > Kids - Preschool > BatKiwi review
Kiwi lives in the forest amongst the kakapo, kunekune pigs, ruru, weta and kereru. He longs to be fast enough to come to the aid of his friends when they are in need. There is just one problem: Kiwi is pretty fast, but his sturdy legs are just not fast enough - and they can't carry him up trees!
Can Kiwi become the hero of the forest that he longs to be? He learns that we can sometimes achieve more when we work together.
Illustrations are by Isobel Joy Te Aho-White
I am pretty sure whenever a child starts school there favourite game automatically changes to 'schools'. My cousins daughter was staying with us for the night, who has just happened to start school this year - out came the blackboard and teachers chair and this book was quickly added to the days reading timetable.
My nine year old aka Ms Wood, sat in the front of the class and read the story aloud to my twelve year old and the little five year old. They giggled as the kiwi would 'run as fast as his sturdy legs could carry him. He was pretty fast..... but he wasn't fast enough' I could hear them from upstairs all saying this over and over again and it was killing me waiting to read the story myself. I could hear the teacher add drama to her voice as things were not working out for the kiwi and getting excited and the claps when kiwi and the bat finally worked together as a team and succeeded in saving the Kereru. The book was read a couple of times during the school period and then it was placed on the pile - where I finally got the chance to sit down and read it.
The pictures are stunning and they are so informative in their descriptive in their emotions. You could sense how upset Kiwi was and how much he really wanted to help. The story itself is a rather quick read and is aided with the bold writing and the cross over of white and black font - which is rather clever. It would be great for reading with new learners and doing a page each (as how I used to do with both girls). It has a notable ending which shows that sometimes doing it alone is not the best answer and working in a team is the way to go.
Although, this is a cute story, unfortunately, I think my girls and now both a little too advanced for it and we will be passing on to my cousin, so she can read to her siblings. It would be ideal for the four to seven year olds, although, they may need some help with a couple of the words. One thing I really enjoyed was spotting all the New Zealand birds and forest animals. A very cute book, pity my girls are growing up way too fast!
The timing for the children could not have been better: when they received this book to review, both were recovering from winter bugs and were confined to the house, so it was a great way to cheer them up. Mr Two had recently been given another book about bats, so he was delighted to find another story about the same animal. He and his sister, Miss Four, happily snuggled up under a blanket on the couch and prepared to enjoy themselves. They were already won over by the cover picture of Bat carrying Kiwi, and that was before they had so much as opened the book. It was a reminder of how important appropriate graphics are for capturing little ones' attention.
As the pages were turned, the children kept interrupting to point out the animals they recognised - and asking about any they were not familiar with. Miss Four thought the weasel looked naughty; this opened up an opportunity to talk about weasel behaviour and how in real life they target birds' eggs. It was a tribute to the artist that a child could read the intended expression on the predator's face; we were impressed by this! Both children also felt sorry for poor Kiwi sitting sadly in his cave; again, the facial expression and posture conveyed Kiwi's misery most effectively.
While the message of the story was to show how it is easier to get things done when you work co-operatively, we felt that it would have been better if Kiwi had not experienced three failures before finally joining forces with Bat to save the day. The children did not seem to mind this - they loved it when the two friends were finally able to help as a team - but some little ones may not have the same patience! The adults thought two failures followed by two successes might have been a better balance.
As the last page was reached, the children were unanimous in wanting it read a second time. Again, much time was spent looking at each picture and identifying the various animals. And after the third reading, both children shouted "We need BatKiwi" as they reached the last page. It will not be long before Miss Four will be reading it aloud on her own while Mr Two hangs on her every word. She has already started taking the book to bed with her!
A by-product of the story, from the adult perspective, is the way that native species are introduced to the children as friends: kiwi, of course, but also kakapo, skink, weta, ruru, kunekune, and kereru. The other link, the undisputed influence of DC Comics' Batman character, means nothing to preschoolers, but will be appreciated by parents (and grandparents). Even the image of BatKiwi flying off into the night sky accompanied by the legend "WE NEED BATKIWI" is inspired by the original spotlight bat signal projected into the Gotham City night sky. A bit of nostalgia for the older reader!
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