Tu Meke Tuatara!
Words by Malcolm Clarke, Illustrations by FLOX
Published by Little Love; 2 November 2020; RRP: $30.00
“A heart-warming tale that shows how a simple act of kindness helps everyone.” — Anika Moa
Malcolm Clarke’s first children’s book Tu Meke Tūī! was the product of a ground-breaking collaboration with iconic New Zealand stencil artist FLOX (aka Hayley King) and independent publishing company Little Love.
The creative team enjoyed tremendous success with Tu Meke Tūī! with the book having sold over 20,000 copies. In 2019 Tu Meke Tūī! was adapted for the stage and presented in partnership with Auckland Live, to sell out audiences and rave reviews. The reo Māori version, translated by Evelyn M Tobin (MNZM), also received critical acclaim, winning a coveted NZ Book Award for Children and Young Adults in 2018: the Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award for the best book in reo Māori and now features on the IBBY honour list.
Influential website The Sapling raved about Tu Meke Tūī! saying, “This book introduces readers to the particular strength of the takahē and also showcases the stunning artwork of Flox. Her glorious stencils more often grace walls than the pages of books, but they really make this story zing.”
In 2020, our team of five million learned that a little kindness goes a long way. Capturing the mood of contemporary Aotearoa New Zealand, Tu Meke Tuatara! is a story about showing kindness, empathy and friendship, as well as doing your bit to save the environment.
Tahi the Tuatara is down in the dumps and everything is not ka pai. No matter what his friend, Roger the Ruru tries to do to help, nothing seems to lift Tahi’s mood. It’s not until the pair answer a dramatic cry for help from Pepe the Penguin, caught in rubbish and seaweed, that hope returns.
Sometimes, we discover the best way to feel better about ourselves is to help someone else. By accepting support when times are tough, everything gets a little bit more sparkly. And when you look up from your own problems, you’ll notice others who can do with a helping hand. It’s all about building resilience and finding your purpose.
Tu Meke Tuatara! encourages children to help others and talk about their feelings. Visually striking, Flox’s bold and colourful illustrations leap from the pages. They also educate. Tahi Tuatara’s home is a treasure trove of amazing plants and fabulous creatures. Can you find them all? There’s a pictorial catalogue at the back of the book to help you.
Storytelling is what author, writer and screen editor Malcolm Clarke is all about. He’s also passionate about conservation and after the success of Tu Meke Tūī! realised the importance of creating a positive connection with our native world through literature. Clarke believes children are more likely to become kaitiaki (guardians) in the future, if they make that connection early.
When it comes to children’s book illustrating, Flox is ‘the bomb.’ Her trademark native birds, ferns and flowers are a celebration of New Zealand’s environmental taonga (treasure). Together, creative powerhouse Clarke and Flox, in consultation with kaitiaki reo Evelyn Tobin, have created another magical children’s book with Tu Meke Tuatara! One which is sure to fire the imaginations of Kiwi kids.
Clarke and Flox recently joined forces with Mary Egan Publishing to create enterprise Tu Meke Tui Limited. They have received funding from the Mātātuhi Foundation to deliver workshops around storytelling and creativity with young readers. The programme will have a focus on working collaboratively and Clarke is keen to visit places that normally don’t have access to these kinds of events, particularly rural and remote communities.