New tac­tile book for tots

North Taranaki Midweek - - FRONT PAGE - CHRISTINE WALSH

It’s a tall ask to ex­pect a tiny-tot to read, but a new book is set to take story time for tod­dlers to a whole new level.

Taranaki au­thor and artist Lois Parkes’ new touch and feel chil­dren’s book, How New Zealand Feels, will take preschool­ers on a unique New Zealand-themed learn­ing jour­ney.

Parkes col­lab­o­rated with chil­dren’s book spe­cial­ist Diane Hart­ley in a bid to turn an idea of Hart­ley’s into a re­al­ity.

‘‘We wanted it to rhyme and my cri­te­ria to her was I wanted iconic New Zealand fea­tures,’’ Hart­ley said.

She said they pur­posely chose the touch and feel for­mat to tar­get the very young.

The book is jam-packed with Kiwi icons such as the ‘scaly green tu­atara very rarely seen, or the spongy white pavlova with ki­wifruit and cream’

‘‘I wanted a mix­ture of birds, rep­tiles, and icons like a rugby jersey and a pair of jan­dals,’’ Parkes said.

‘‘I liked their unique­ness. Our paua is unique, the weta, the kowhai, the tu­atara and even the floun­der, be­cause he is so un­usual with the two eyes on the one side.’’

Each of its kiddy-proof card­board pages are a sen­sory de­light of colour­ful il­lus­tra­tions with tex­tured swatches to match, that beg to be touched by lit­tle fin­gers.

An artist in her own right, Parkes de­scribed her il­lus­tra­tions as ‘‘naive and bor­der­ing on car­toon’’.

The pic­tures were in­spired by those from her first chil­dren’s book, Cre­ative Crea­tures, pub­lished in 2015, and the pic­tures for that were in­spired by the book Na­tive New Zealand An­i­mals.

‘‘I loved it as a kid. I colourised them all with my paint set I got when I was nine.’’

The book is told through rhyme in sim­ple, yet de­scrip­tive lan­guage, and is bound to stim­u­late even the short­est of at­ten­tion spans.

‘‘They are learn­ing the word of what the feel­ing is, they are learn­ing the colour, they are learn­ing the name of the icon, and then they are learn­ing what it does,’’ Parkes said.

How New Zealand Feels has a lim­ited print run of 700 copies and is cur­rently avail­able for pur­chase from Hart­ley’s shop for $20. Po­hutukawa Chil­dren’s Book­shop in Stran­don, next to the Taranaki Hard­core Surf Shop.

SI­MON O’CON­NOR/STUFF

Lois Parkes (right) has cre­ated the first New Zealand themed tac­tile (touch and feel) book for preschool­ers with the help of Po­hutukawa Books in Stran­don. owner Diane Hart­ley (left).

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