Tag Archives: Heather Hunt

NZ wildlife on show in three gorgeous new books for children

Potton and Burton are the New Zealand publishers who really showcase the beautiful country that we live in.  Not only do they produce wonderful coffee table books full of stunning photographs of our country, they also produce some of the best children’s books in the country.  Their children’s nonfiction and picture books are top quality and introduce kiwi kids to our native wildlife.

Three wonderful new children’s books have just been released from Potton and Burton – Up the River: Explore and discover New Zealand’s rivers, lakes and wetlands, Watch Out for the Weka, and It’s my egg (and you can’t have it!).

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Up the River is the latest book by Gillian Candler and Ned Barraud in their popular Explore and Discover series.  I love this series because it gives children a perfect introduction to different parts of our land and sea and the wildlife that make these environments their home.  Like the other books in the series, Up the River uses simple language, small chunks of text and realistic illustrations to engage young readers.  In this book children are introduced to creeks, rivers, lakes and wetlands and the wildlife that they will find living there.  For most children these environments will be familiar but they may not have thought about what lies beneath the water or who nests in the reeds. Up the River is a fantastic addition to the series and is a book that children will come back to again and again, whether just out of curiosity or for school work.

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As well as illustrating nonfiction books, Ned Barraud also writes and illustrates his own picture books.  Watch Out for the Weka is Ned’s latest picture book and it tells the story of a mischievous weka who steals a DOC hut warden’s watch as he is taking a swim.  Ned takes us to Awaroa Inlet in Abel Tasman National Park, a gorgeous part of the country that lots of birds call home, including herons, oystercatchers and weka.  Weka are always on the lookout for food and something shiny, and one hot, sunny day, while Alf, the hut warden is cooling off in the stream, a weka steals his watch.  Alf gives chase in the nude but quickly loses the weka in the thick bush.  That night Alf comes up with a plan to tempt the weka and get his watch back.  Ned’s style of illustration is quite different from the Explore and Discover books, but the cartoony style matches the humour of the story.  Ned has made the weka look very cheeky indeed and he is sure to make kids laugh.  It is a fun picture book that is based on a true story.  Ned even includes weka facts in the back of the book.

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Heather Hunt’s stunning illustrations of kiwi have featured in several books, including the award-winning Kiwi: the real story.  Her illustrations jump right off the page in her latest book, written by Kennedy Warne, It’s my egg (and you can’t have it!).  This gorgeous picture book highlights the reality of life for a kiwi trying to hatch an egg in the wild.  After laying the egg the female leaves the nest to go and build up her strength, leaving the male to look after the egg until it hatches.  It is not just a lot of sitting around for the kiwi dad though as he has to fend off attacks from predators, including cats, dogs and stoats.  The cat and the stoat look especially menacing as they creep up to the nest in the hope of a meal.  The kiwi fends off each attack though, repeating the line ‘It’s my egg, and you can’t have it!’  I love Heather’s illustrations, especially the way that she creates texture, making the kiwi look fluffy.  This is another picture book that is ideal to share with preschoolers through to the upper end of primary school.

Each of these wonderful books from Potton and Burton are available now in all good bookshops.

 

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Kiwi: the real story by Annemarie Florian, illustrated by Heather Hunt

New Holland Publishers are one of the leading publishers of children’s non-fiction in New Zealand and their books are often nominated for the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards.  Their latest gem is the wonderful Kiwi: the real story by Annemarie Florian and illustrated/designed by Heather Hunt.

Kiwi: the real story is a marvelous multi-layered book thattells the story of Kiwi behaviour.  Weaving its way through the pages is a poem about the Kiwi, full of beautiful descriptive language, like ‘gorging grubber’ and ‘cricket-cruncher.’ I love alliteration and this poem is chock-full of it, making it a joy to read aloud.  Tying in wonderfully with the poem are the blocks of more detailed information on each page, which explain why the Kiwi is a ‘spider-wrestler’ and a ‘covert nestler.’  The design of the book means that you can read the poem and the information separately, or both together.  Younger children will love the poem and the illustrations, whereas older children will also enjoy finding out more about the Kiwi.

Heather Hunt’s illustrations are stunning.  I find it amazing how she can make a bunch of squiggly lines look exactly like a Kiwi.  I love the way that she shows the movement of the Kiwi on the page and the way that she brings out the character of this marvelous bird.  The colours that Heather has used, from the bright green of the praying mantis to the blue of the egg, are vibrant against the black background, and the grey and white of the Kiwi makes it really stand out on the page.  I especially like the way that she has used different colours to differentiate between the adult Kiwi and the baby Kiwi.  Heather also designed the book and I think that it’s this design that really makes the book special.  She has taken the three layers of the story and woven them together so that they can be enjoyed in unison.  The words of the poem seem to dance around the illustrations, making the book extremely appealing to young children.  The book is beautifully produced too, in a hardback format, with endpapers that look like the night sky.

The character of the Kiwi in the story was originally created by Heather to be the ambassador for Backyard Kiwi, a project carried out by the Whangarei Heads Landcare Forum.  The quirky design is used to personify the bird for road signs and billboards.  You can learn more about Backyard Kiwi at www.backyardkiwi.org.nz  and you can find out more about Heather and her working process at heatherhunt.co.nz/KIWI-the-real-story.

Kiwi: the real story is a must for any primary school library and is sure to be a finalist in next year’s New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards.  Grab a copy offrom your local library or bookshop now, or if you would like a special signed copy you can order these from Heather Hunt’s website – www.heatherhunt.co.nz/shop

4 out of 5 stars

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Filed under books, children, New Zealand, non-fiction, picture books