Te Kōrero o Te Moko Kauae: Book Review

Nanny, what is the story of your moko kauae?

TitleTe Kōrero o Te Moko Kauae / The Story of the Moko Kauae
Author: Matthew Dion Goodall
Illustrator: Matthew Dion Goodall
ISBN: 9780473489328          Language: Māori : Te reo Māori / English (bilingual)

Classification: Fiction
Type: Picture book
Themes: folklore, family, tradition

What's it about?
A grandchild asks their grandmother what the moko kauae (traditional chin tattoo worn by Māori women), means to her. Her reply weaves in the whole family.

A simple story that includes past and present generations, designed to encourage discussion about the meaning of moko kauae for each person and their family.

The story fills a gap in what's been told before and does so by providing bilingual text. The font size - so easy to read it! I also like how the two languages were differentiated with the English in italics.


My Thoughts
This is a 2019 release from author/illustrator Matthew Goodall.

Those that work in the education system know that finding sound bilingual resources for some languages is tough and there is a growing demand for Māori/English ones. In addition, this isn't just some story about a princess and a dragon...it's about an important facet of the Māori culture. 

What I liked is that moko kauae is clearly something that is hard to define with a few words as it encompasses many things. For this reason, the story goes beyond what a dictionary may define it as to describe how moko kauae is many things, feelings, events, and people. 

The illustrations are simple and complement the text well, supporting the sense of family and connection theme with the story. For those with children with sensory conditions, this one has spot illustrations with a white background making is a good choice. 

Overall, I think this one is great for use in the classroom with younger children from ages 4-8. It could be used when looking at the significance of body markings from different cultures, or if New Zealand is being studied specifically.

There are a couple of activities ready to use as well in the back of the book which will help cut down the teacher prep side! I would recommend combining this book with resources from Garden Grubs who has many free resources specific to New Zealand and the Māori language on her website. 

Special thanks to Matthew for the ARC

1 comment

  1. I love the sound of this. My son and I are in NZ at the moment and he was asking about this after we saw a demonstration. Will grab a copy when we get back home.

    Would love to see more books about their traditions and folktales too!