I love watching birds: the kereru, tūī and pīwakawaka around my place and a symphony of birds at the beach near me. I especially love seeing the endangered dotterels scampering across the black sand. They do scamper and they do cheep! I also love going out to the gannet colony at Muriwai. It is the best-view bird colony in the world I reckon. You can watch the chicks learning to walk and fly. The parents head out swooping and feeding across the wild waves. So happy days to get a bird book in the mail!
Toroa’s Journey Maria Gill Illustrated by Gavin Mouldy Potton & Burton
Maria Gill is on of my favourite non-fiction children’s authors. Her new book, Toroa’s Journey follows the life of a baby albatross chick hatched at Taiaroa Head (near Dunedin). The bird was named Toroa which is the Maori word for ‘albatross’. Just before the little bird has leaned to fly (fledged), a transmitter device was attached to his back.
This is astonishing: the royal albatross is one of the biggest seabirds in the world ( think of two cats!) and once it takes flight, it takes flight for years, hardly ever touching land.
This is astonishing: Will Toroa arrived back at Taiaroa Head? Around seventy per cent of the birds make it back to where they were born and start new families. What dangers will he face on his journey? What can we do if we care about birds and the environment?
Maria has used facts for her story. There are gold-mine information boxes that helped me understand more about the life of this extraordinary bird. However Maria also uses her imagination to imagine what happened sea. The tracking device told her where the bird went but not what he saw and felt. That was up to her.
At nightfall, Toroa rides the waves like a sea plane.
He swoops squid with his hooked bill and gobbles it up.
When full, he taxies off the watery runway,
paddling his webbed feet and spreading his
wings wide ready to catch the up-draught.
I have been to the albatross colony and gazed out at the baby birds in awe. Now that I have read this story, I want to go back. Maria writes beautifully; her sentences flow like honey and she makes the journey and the bird spark with life on the page.
Plus you get the evocative illustrations by Gavin Mouldey.
This is a must-have glorious book.
Craig & Burton page
Maria Gill’s teaching notes on her website