Review by mums, teachers and school kids
The smelly giant / Tio tiamu
Kurahau (2019), New Zealand: Huia Publishers.
The Smelly Giant/Tio Tiamu, tells the story of Toe Butter/Tio Pata, a big friendly giant shunned by the people of his village because he was different.

The Smelly Giant/Tio Tiamu, tells the story of Toe Butter/Tio Pata, a big friendly giant shunned by the people of his village because he was different. He was teased because of his huge, sweaty and smelly feet and cruelly nicknamed ‘Toe Jam’.  A series of natural disasters brings Toe Jam back to protect and save his people. But time and time again the villagers take his help but banish him away again.

Finally, Toe Jam has to decide whether to save the people of his village again as Rūaumoko begins to rumble and erupt. Will he make the ultimate sacrifice for the villagers? Will the people of the village finally learn to come together to appreciate his bravery and kindness?

 “It’s trying to teach us that it’s not the outside that counts, but the inside” says Rose. “It’s showing us how to be brave and follow your heart”.  We see that Toe Jam is being bullied by his peers and even other adults because of the way he looks, but he shows remarkable resilience – “The people are not respectful to Toe Jam but he shows respect to the people” says Rose.

Set in pre-European Aotearoa, The Smelly Giant/Tio Tiamu illustrates a traditional way of life for Māori. It gives us a creation story for the wharenui and why values such as whanaungatanga (relationships, connection), aroha, and manaakitanga (kindness, generosity) and are at the heart of Te Ao Māori.

Available in both Te Reo and English, this is story for all New Zealanders – “We can all learn something from Toe Jam” says Rose.  “I like the pictures and the expressions on the characters’ faces” says Rose – and it really is beautifully illustrated with rich colours evoking the natural environment and the mood of characters.

Reviewed by Rose Cameron (aged 6 years) and her mum Olivia Stapleton, Senior Policy Analyst, MHF 

This story is about a big smelly giant but he is a nice one and always trying to help people so they would accept him. This story is about helping people and how you should be kind and not let anyone put you down, and how you shouldn’t put others down. This book tells you to not judge people for who they are. It is not right to do that. This is a good book for anyone to read because it will tell them that being mean hurts sometimes.

Review by Alyssa Y6 - Owhata Primary School

This story is about being kind and not letting others put you down. You should always be nice no matter what others do to you. This is a very good story to read because anyone can be friends, however big or small.

Review by Zaphyre Y6 - Owhata Primary School

What a great story which shows how Toe Jam the giant never loses sight of who he is and his kindness. No matter how often he is rejected, he stays true to himself and does what is right. Eventually the people can see past what is on the outside and see what is truly good about him on the inside.

Year 6 children who took the book away to read - came running back saying what a great story and encouraged others to read it. They were immediately able to understand the message in the story.

Review by Whaea Robyn - Teacher at Owhata Primary School

For reviews from Owhata Primary School's Rūmaki class of the Te Reo Māori edition Tio Tiamu, see here.

Disclaimer: Please note these reviews are not intended as endorsements or recommendations from the Mental Health Foundation. This feature introduces resources that may be useful for individuals with an interest in bullying prevention, mental health and wellbeing topics.

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