This unassuming New Zealand tale parallels the extraordinary migration of the bar-tailed godwit with the Croatian immigration to New Zealand.
A lengthy foreword hails the migratory achievements of the godwit and describes the work of the U.N. Development Programme in building resilient communities that are able to resist the environmental and socioeconomic conditions that cause refugee migration. The story proper is told from the point of view of Isabella, Baba Didi’s granddaughter, whom Didi encourages to observe the characteristics of the godwit and imagine the challenges and perils of their miraculous migration. According to the immigrant grandmother’s didactic advice, success is only achieved by hard work, stamina and resilience. The Croatians’ dream was realized when they found “gold”: amber that they traded for profitable vineyards. Like the migrating godwit, the immigrants had to shake off their worries and “instead of being preoccupied,…[get] occupied.” In spite of the substantial foreword, this book fails to supply readers with sufficient context. Anyone unfamiliar with Croatian immigration to New Zealand will have a hard time understanding the story except at a most basic level. Hayward’s swirling, colorful acrylic paintings are attractive but too generic to be satisfying.
Though the clumsy title beckons readers to a story of a fascinating migration, the tale never gets off the ground. (Picture book. 4-8)