If you’re familiar with the Edward Lear rhyme The Owl and the Pussycat then this book will be instantly recognisable to you! A delightful Kiwi adaption, if you like, of the famous poem is a Kiwi way to tell a sweet sweet story about creatures in the moonlight.
The awesome thing about a lyrical rhyme and its poetic nature is it allows children to grasp at more abstract thought and language and really explore and exercise their imaginations. Clare Scott imagines Lear’s famous poem taking place in our own backyard. While keeping the style of the poem the story expands as we follow a nocturnal adventure replacing the pussycat and owl with a Kiwi and our small native owl Ruru, a Morepork. Instead of an elopement the duo plan a midnight soiree for their friends in the forest under the midnight moonlight.
There’s a cast of familiar creatures and critters of Aotearoa as they slither, zoom and boom about with a backdrop of Punga, Totara and Kowhai. Invites are dispatched and the Kiwi cast head to a feast of worms, larvae and Manuka honey at the stroke of twelve. The Midnight Adventures of Ruru and Kiwi harks back to the poem throughout as the creatures plan to party party, party, nibble grubs from the tips of their nose, nose, nose and dance by the light of the moon, the moon, the moon.
The illustrations by award winning Amy Haarhoff are muted and moody setting the scene for the midnight feast in the dark of the night. Each page an interesting picture grabbing hold of the 3 year olds imagination and allowing him to engage in the story, and in fact tell his own story alongside this one. The morepork is a bird, and the Kiwi is a Kiwi, he said, but the slinks were snakes till he realised they had hands then they became bugs, “ew yuk, no thank you” he said as if he’s heard that somewhere before. As I read on he kept turning the pages telling his own side story about the weta which was a bug and the lizards that were snakes, then bugs, now lizards, and the moon was not a moon but a light, and the slinks are riding bikes not dancing. Even without fully grasping the poetic adventure unfolding he was fully engrossed in the characters nocturnal activity through the magic of illustration. The 6 year old was enchanted as most 6 year olds are by talking animals, especially ones that are planning midnight parties, making invites and eating feasts of worms and grubs!
The night creatures are introduced to us at the end including the Weta and skinks, Kiwi and Kakapo, Tuatara and Titiwai (Glow-worms) to name a few along with a good bite sized fact. Did you know that the Kauri Snail can grow to more than 7 centimetres in diameter and has a ribbon-like tongue covered with thousands of tiny raspy teeth? Not just a plain snail is our Pupu Rangi.
The Midnight Adventures of Ruru and Kiwi is a quick, sweet read, snuggle up together and be transported to the happening in our forest and to a tale as old as… as old as dancing by the light of the moon.
Written by Ronnie Swainston
Online Producer & Experiences Editor Ronnie is mum to two spirited kids who keep her on her toes. With a love for travel, film, tv, photography and food plus having a keen curiosity means she’ll give almost anything a go, making her and her family up for the task of experiencing.
Favourite place to be: On an adventure