Koko and the Coconut
32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99
It’s a big day for Koko for not only does he have to leave the shell that has been his home since he was born because he now has a tough shell of his own, but he must also crack a coconut by himself if he is to feed himself and survive. But to reach the coconut there is an enormous palm tree to climb, and then, once he has the coconut on the ground there is the task of opening it. Even though all his friends are cheering him on, it does seem like an insurmountable task so will he succeed?
Based on the life stories of Birgus latro, the large terrestrial crabs of her native Tahiti, Turia Pitt has crafted a story of determination, perseverance and resilience – all those qualities that adults associate with her own story of survival. But for young readers, it is also an inspirational story as they tackle big challenges in their own lives, such as starting school. Like Koko, it is the next must-do part of their growing up, and like Koko, all their family and friends are encouraging them on the way, expecting them to succeed even if there are setbacks. But most importantly, like Koko, they have to believe in themselves, know that they will succeed and be willing and courageous enough to take the next step, just as Koko climbed the palm tree continually telling himself he could do it.
Koko is the story’s narrator which immediately puts the reader in Koko’s “shoes”, while the stunning illustrations with their clever use of perspective echo the enormity of the task ahead so they are invested in the story from the get-go.
At this time of the year our young ones are hearing all sorts of stories about starting school and overcoming their fears, so this is one to add to that collection because of its parallels with that experience and its positive message. As a story it is a stand-alone but astute adults will help the young listener dig deeper, helping them to understand that stories can have lots of layers of meaning. The message of believing in yourself is powerful and one our children need to hear so often.