Pearlie and the Silver Fern Fairy by Wendy Harmer
Random House, 2011. ISBN: 978 174166 3792.
Highly recommended for ages 5 and up. Pearlie's adventure begins when she arrives in New Zealand and meets Omaka, the Silver Fern Fairy. Her task is to visit each of the animals on Omaka's list and invite them to the party she is planning, to celebrate Grandfather Tuatara's 150th birthday. Colin the Kiwi, Hoki the kakapo and Wanda the short-tailed bat are all on Pearlie's list. At first, Pearlie is worried because she has no idea what the first two creatures may look like yet she manages to find them. Although Pearlie expects to find Wanda the bat hanging upside down in a tree, it is not where she finds her. With all of the invitations delivered Pearlie heads back to find Omaka. She begins to worry that there may something dangerous waiting for her which would also explain the differences she has noticed.
Harmer has struck a winning combination in the Pearlie series as she aims to simultaneously educate and entertain her readers. Here, she introduces various words and phrases from the Maori culture as well as the animals particular to New Zealand. There is a strong conservation theme which is highlighted at the end of the story. This title would support any unit on endangered species or studies of other countries and serves as an introduction to the concept of human impact on the rainforest ecosystem. It places the responsibility of caring for nature firmly back on the reader. Containing minimal text, this could be read quickly to a junior class to begin conversation on any of these topics. Thanks to Gypsy Taylor's stylised cartoon type illustrations and the vibrant gem coloured backgrounds, children can hardly fail to be entertained as well. Another winning title!