The Boy and the Dolphin by Robyn Kahukiwa, little island press
A search of the internet didn’t give me much information about this 24-page book, apart from the fact that it was published in April of this year. Two online booksellers didn’t have any copies in stock, so if you’re interested in purchasing it, you should probably go to the publisher’s website at http://www.littleisland.co.nz Robyn Kahukiwa is a well-known New Zealand artist, but this is the first children’s book from her that I’ve seen for a few years.
It’s a calm, gentle story about a boy who frees a dolphin from a piece of netting, and they become friends. The dolphin visits the boy occasionally and many years later, when the boy has turned into a young man, the dolphin saves his life. The attractive seascapes in the illustrations are done with pencil outlines and swathes of ocean-coloured paint on a pleasant textured background. Just one technical criticism of the design – each page has its own full-page illustration going right to the edges, which means that the gutter down the middle of every double-spread makes an awkward inside edge for all the pictures. And children looking at the double-spreads would try to interpret them as one big picture instead of two side-by-side.
Note that this is also available in a Maori version called Te Tamaiti me te Aihe.
ISBN 978 1 877484 30 8 $25 Pb
A Gift For Ana by Jane Va`afusuaga, illus. Azra Pinder-Pancho, little island press
The author’s passion is “to write stories that children from New Zealand and the Pacific Islands can relate to.” This 24-page story certainly fits the bill. In text blocks on the right-hand pages we read about Ana and her parents going to stay with Ana’s grandmother in Samoa. Ana shares a mango with her grandmother at the grave of her grandfather, and together they celebrate Ana’s Samoan heritage as they walk off together to plant the mango seed.
It’s a simple child-focused story that will appeal to children of about four to six, especially if they have some knowledge of Samoa. The striking illustrations on the left-hand pages are done with strong lines, lively colours and Pacific Island designs that are familiar to all New Zealanders.
The book is also available in Samoan, called O le Meaālofa mo Ana.
ISBN 978 1 877484 24 7 $25 Pb
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman