OK, I’ll admit it, I’m going to cheat a little bit here. I know our theme this month is Australian children’s literature, and there are more than enough fantastic titles out there to fill up a month’s worth of blog posts.
But, here’s the thing…I’m a Kiwi. Well, part-Kiwi anyway (like many Canadians my ancestry could affectionately be referred to as a mini United Nations), and my New Zealand-based family would be most unimpressed if I were to dedicated several blog posts to Aussies and leave Kiwi kids lit entirely untouched.
So, here I am, sneaking a beloved New Zealand picture book into the mix this month. Shh….it’ll be our little secret, OK?
First, a Kiwi vocabulary primary – in New Zealand, a dairy is actually a corner store or small shop, usually in a small town or rural community. Just so you know. :)
Hairy Maclary is the leader of a merry band of scruffy dogs who rule the town in this bouncing, rhyming text –
Schnitzel von Krumm
with a very low tum,
all skinny and bony,
like a bundle of hay,
covered in spots,
as big as a horse
and Hairy Maclary
from Donaldson’s Dairy….
Hairy meets his match in the form of his arch-nemesis, the cat baddie aptly-named Scarface Claw, who rules a crew of clever felines.
In addition to charming, highly-detailed illustrations, Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy introduces young readers to a varied and expressive vocabulary, proving once again that books for children need not necessarily be simplistic, but can feature complex and engaging word choices.
Dame Lynley Stuart Dodd is one of New Zealand’s most popular and successful children’s book authors, whose books have gone to become best-selling bedtime stories. Her two best-known characters are Hairy Maclary, the street-wise dog, and Slinky Malinki, a cat who becomes a stealthy thief at night, both of which have starred in several books.
And in a very exciting move, the iconic story of Hairy Maclary has been translated into Maori!
Translated by broadcaster, actor and writer, Waihoroi Shortland, Hairy Maclary nō te Tēri a Tānarahana would be a fantastic addition to Te Reo collections in homes, libraries, childcare centers and schools both in Aotearoa and abroad. Shortland masterfully manages to capture much of the original’s sparkling rhythm and rhyme, which is no mean feat in a translation.
So there you have it – my sneaky Kiwi addition to this month’s Antipodean literary theme. Mission accomplished! :)