NZ Book Month – Down in the Forest

downintheforestDown in the Forest, retold by Yvonne Morrison, illustrated by Jenny Cooper

A retelling of the old rhyme, “Over in the meadow.” This time, it’s down in the forest, with tui, kiwi, and weta, and other New Zealand birds and insects and reptiles and even snails.

Down in the forest
in an old kowhai tree
lived a sweet mother tui
and her little tuis three.

“Sing!” said the mother.
“We sing!” said the three.
so they sang so sweetly
in that old kowhai tree.

As ever, rhyme and rhythm and repetition work well for small children. And it is a joy to see the celebration of the native flora and fauna. The illustrations are very effective; all greens and golds, and very much oriented towards the New Zealand bush. The picture of geckos features native clematis, even though it’s not mentioned in the rhyme, ruru swoop amid puriri, and tuatara nestle under silver fern.

When I was a child, my parents found it very hard, if not impossible, to get books featuring New Zealand landscapes and plants and animals. It’s very different now; I estimate that more than half of my daughters’ picture books are by New Zealand writers, or about New Zealand. They have grown up seeing their lives reflected back to them in books. Of course we have read books by writers from other countries too, and I have some real favourites among those books (Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge anyone?). But it’s lovely to have been able to read books to my girls that are about the place where we belong. We are starting to acquire more Australian books now, with exactly that thought in mind, that is, that it is very satisfying to read about the place where we live.


NZBMsmlI’m taking up Ele’s challenge, and blogging a book a day in October, which is New Zealand Book Month. All the books are by New Zealand authors.


One comment on “NZ Book Month – Down in the Forest

  1. homepaddock says:

    “Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge anyone?”

    Oh yes, in English – and in Spanish where it’s Guillermo Jorge Manuel José.

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