Rhymes and song great for learning
Pu¯ keko, Kiwi and Hoiho are back in another delightful story illustrated and written by Rebecca Larsen, after their last adventure in her debut bestseller Row, row, row your waka.
In her new book Pu¯ keko, Kiwi and Hoiho explore the forest.
Sing along with them to the waiata and join them as they perform the actions. Ta¯ ne Mahuta has a forest is sung in English and Ma¯ ori to the tune of Old MacDonald had a farm.
Rebecca has taken this well-loved children’s classic song and created a wonderful story that will help children sound out their vowels, accompanied by her delightful, lively illustrations.
We asked her some questions: What inspired you to write and illustrate your new book?
Our visit to Opotiki and the bush walk which was simply beautiful, full of bird song — waiata. After writing
Row, row, row your waka for my son, then having the experience of being published I have been sent many messages from people sharing how their child adores my book, or plays it on repeat. I have seen how much the children engage with the book when it is a song with actions, and how this is helpful in their learning of new words in Ma¯ ori. I believe that teaching children a second language at a young age is the best time to do it and it will establish in them an appreciation for language from an early age. Why did you choose the song Old MacDonald has a farm for your book?
Old MacDonalds has a farm is a well loved verse, but I wanted to change the setting to a beautiful forest walk. The idea that our forest is home to many living creatures and plants is important for children to learn. Our forest is alive both during the daytime and at nighttime which I explore through imagery in my book. When our forest is healthy it is alive with waiata and building an appreciation for this at an early age is important. When I ask young preschool children what creatures we might find in a forest, I often hear ‘bears, kangaroos, tigers’, and all sorts of other creatures we don’t find here in New Zealand, so the journey through the forest in my book will give them a glimpse of what we have here in our native forests. Do you find rhyming books with music help younger children learn to read and if so why? As a parent observing my own children with books, it is always the books with rhyme that they learn to repeat before they can read. Song is a catchy and fun learning tool, and children especially love song when it also has actions to perform. Pu¯ keko, Kiwi and Hoiho are the main characters in this book and your first book. Is there a reason you chose these three characters? I decided to keep them as the main characters, so I could build up a series that my young fans would come to recognise. Do you and your children speak te reo? I am learning te reo through TWOA, however, I am still very much a beginner. My children learn a little through their school. It’s a goal of mine that we will all learn more but they are too young for evening classes just yet. I would love to see Ma¯ ori language embraced and represented more in our day-to-day products, publications and media just as I saw French and English on everything while living in Canada. Many countries give the opportunity of learning a second language to their children, and I fully support that idea here in New Zealand. What were you first impressions when you saw Ta¯ ne Mahuta?
It was many years ago now that we visited Tane Mahuta. I recall that the walk was short, but Tane Mahuta was stunning, a very spiritual feeling. Ta¯ ne Mahuta has a forest Written and illustrated by Rebecca Larsen, $19.99
Author Rebecca Larsen