Two Classic New Zealand Picture Books Re-IssuedBidibidi by Gavin Bishop, Scholastic New Zealand
It only seems a short time ago that I was reviewing the last re-released and re-designed edition of Bidibidi. I commented then that it’s very hard to review a classic book like this - it will simply go on forever. It was originally published in 1982, so if you’ve got tatty old copies of earlier editions on your shelves, here’s a chance to update your collection. I imagine every teacher and parent knows this book, but if you don’t all you need to be told is that it’s a story about searching for rainbows, that it can be slightly scary in parts, and that it’s imbued with “New Zealandness”. Every New Zealand child of about four to seven should read it or listen to it being read (there is a Te Reo edition available). My copy is going straight into my “must give to the grandchildren” pile.
ISBN 978-1-77543-192-3 $19.50 Pb
The Bantam and the Soldier by Jennifer Beck, ill. Robyn Belton, Scholastic New ZealandScholastic are taking the opportunity provided by the current WWI centenary events to publish a re-designed edition of another classic picture book. Originally published in 1996, this book won the New Zealand Children’s Book of the Year in 1997 - a prize richly deserved. On re-reading the book I was struck by the excellent integration of the story and the pictures. Bertha the bantam becomes a symbol of hope and survival for the unfortunate soldiers stuck in the trenches, and throughout the illustrations - mainly done in shades of brown and khaki and grey - Bertha’s rich red-gold feathers provide a cheering focal point. I particularly enjoyed the end papers with their reproductions of relevant photos, drawings and ephemera. Teachers will find these pictures useful for studies of WWI, along with the author and illustrator’s comments about their families during the war, also the Bibliography on the last page. This is another must-buy for public, primary school and intermediate school libraries; also for families who want to remember ancestors involved in The Great War.
ISBN 978-1-77543-207-4 $19.50 Pb
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman