Book review: ‘Baba Didi and the Godwits Fly’

     A page from 'Baba Didi and the Godwits Fly' (Courtesy of New Internationalist)

    A page from 'Baba Didi and the Godwits Fly' (Courtesy of New Internationalist)

    Now that’s a name for a book, right? The title just begs you to come in and explore what lies between the book covers. And what lies between the covers of Nicola Muir’s new book is a very unique children’s story, chock-full of lessons for kids of all ages.

    On the surface, “Baba Didi and the Godwits Fly” is a book about grandmother Baba Didi and her granddaughter Isabella running along the shores of New Zealand (despite Baba Didi’s dodgy hip). But underneath the surface, the book is about life lessons and resilience, simply defined as “keep-goingness.”

    Annie Hayward’s illustrations are beautifully painted. My 6-year-old co-reviewer put it best: “The pictures have lots of greens and blues so that you know that they’re by the ocean, mostly at night.”

    She loved that there was so much to take in visually on each page.

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    The story is a wonderful tale about the godwit — a plain looking bird that astoundingly flies around the world — visiting at least six different countries: New Zealand, China, the U.S., Korea, Japan, and Russia.

    The bird’s incredible resilience is highlighted and paralleled alongside that of refugees forced to leave their home country in search of safety. Baba Didi shares her own tale of having to leave her home country of Croatia to emigrate to New Zealand: “Sometimes you just have to go. Sometimes you know.”

    In that same spirit, Baba Didi shares nuggets of life lessons for Isabella throughout the book. My 6-year-old co-reviewer chose these three as her favorites:

    There are “a thousand ways” of looking.

    “It’s not about who gets there first — that’s for sports and movies. Mostly what counts in life is getting there at all.”

    “There’s only so far that beauty can take you.”

    This book works beautifully for lap reading (as my co-reviewer proved by asking for it three nights in a row). But it would also be an amazing book to use in the classroom:

    Geography? Mapping, countries, continents and topography.Science? Ornithology, oceanography, meteorology, astronomy, habitats and aviation.Social studies? Families, countries, culture, travel, refugees and immigration.Language arts? Morals, idioms, descriptive language and allegory.

    I could go on, but I’m sure you’d rather experience “Baba Didi and the Godwits Fly” yourself. Pick up a copy of this charming book and enjoy.

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