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Sala's Surprise / Kuso's Clean Magpie Review

Sala's Surprise / Kuso's Clean reviewed in Magpies Magazine Volume 37. Magpies have graciously allowed us to share this review here:


Sala's Surprise / Kuso's Clean

Dahlia Malaeulu, ill. Darcy Solia

Review by Melissa Spark


This is the second in the My Gagana series. There’s heaps to like about this 2-in-1 book! If you flip the book one way in Sala’s Surprise Sala is getting dressed all by herself to surprise her mum and dad. The story explores the use of sequencing for very young readers and on every page there is a Samoan word and an illustration to describe that Sala is putting on a variety of colourful clothing. Easy words that the young reader can follow are used like: ofu mafanafana/sweatshirt, mitiafu/t-shirt, sakete/skirt. The illustrations are clear and vibrant and nicely represent a Samoan family.


When the book is flipped the other way, you can read about Kuso. Every day he comes home from school dirty and so has a bath. He washes his ulu/hair, eyes/mata, isu/nose, talinga/ears... again each illustration mirrors the words which makes this a great book for little ones to read alone or super as a read-aloud too.


I love the thick, clear font and the fact that each page has a large illustration but a small amount of text. The glossary at the end of both stories is a bonus. Don’t we all want to know exactly what each Samoan word means and how to pronounce it?


Dahlia Malaeulu’s experience as an educator is apparent in the construction of this book. The detail and the points of discussion are cleverly and simply interwoven and there’s so much to discuss. There’s also lots to point at in the illustrations, like the Pacifika-patterned wallpaper in the bathroom, the photos of the family in Kuso’s home, looking at the clock in Sala’s bedroom and talking about what time she gets up and how long it takes her to get dressed. With lots to giggle over, I highly recommend this for a school library or for a parent to purchase to read at home while sharing their Samoan language or, for a non-speaker of Samoan to learn some new words.




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