NZ Booklovers ~ Sarah Milne’s magical picture book Kiwis and Koalas will resonate with all those who experienced the heartache of being separated from overseas family and friends, especially during the global pandemic. It shows them that home is never far away when you feel it in your heart and how sweet memories can help to alleviate the heartache.
Kiwis and Koalas is a special book for another reason. Lily is a normal, happy, adventurous little girl. It is easy to overlook on a first reading that she is wearing hearing aids and occasionally uses her hands to sign. Her disability is never mentioned in the text. Authors of children’s picture books are including children who are hearing impaired like Lily, or have other disabilities more often these days, focusing on what they can do and so dispelling negative stereotypes. Every child deserves to be in a picture book. It makes them feel included and that they matter. And it helps other children to build a positive understanding of those with disabilities. I really like the way in which Sarah Milne has done this in such a subtle and natural way.
See Suzy Cato read Kiwis and Koalas
Meet the Kiwi author
Sarah Milne lives by the sea in Christchurch with her daughter and chocolate lab. After learning to walk and talk in Melbourne, Sarah’s family moved back to New Zealand, where she spent her childhood and teen years growing up as a quintessential Kiwi. Her early twenties saw her set off on her OE, spending the next decade living (and dividing her heart) between Australia, England and New Zealand, moving back to Christchurch in 2016 to start her own family..
During her pregnancy, Sarah contracted a virus which she was told could have devastating effects on her unborn baby. It was on this journey that she learnt of CMV, the most common cause of non-hereditary deafness and the leading viral cause of disability in newborn babies. Sarah’s baby tested negative for CMV at birth, but each year hundreds of babies are born with or develop cytomegalovirus-related disease in Australia and New Zealand, alone.
A debut author, Sarah wrote Kiwis and Koalas out of a need to bring Australia and New Zealand together in a story, filling a huge gap on our shelves for the hundreds of thousands of families split between our two countries. It was also an incredible opportunity to subtly normalise differences, because every child deserves to see themselves in a picture book.