Reviewed by Trish Hereaka, teacher at Rata Street School
This book has a serious message about conservation and man’s role in causing the extinction of animals. It is portrayed in a format that is familiar to children where on each page there is one less bird (similar to the “12 Days of Christmas”). In a subtle way it shows the decline of the native Huia bird through man’s greed and the introduction of other predatory animals. The language is enhanced through rhyme and rhythm and rich language such as “A rat scuttles into view” and “Ivory bills groom each other with low, loving calls”.
The illustrations are simple but graphic as the predators are dark shapes with menacing eyes. The background and use of colour shows the dense forest changing and being eroded by man with the trees becoming barren.
The ending gives the message that we can still remember the huia through pictures and songs.
It led to a discussion by my students about other native species that are under threat and what we could do to ensure their survival.
I would recommend it for children aged 5 to 10 years.