Activity for ‘Talia’


by Catherine Hannken

Talia is a young Samoan New Zealand girl, who is visiting Samoa with her dad for the first time. The story tells of her initial hesitation about meeting new family members and joining in the Samoan way of life, as she struggles to make sense of a new language and culture. With the help and support of her dad and a friendly older cousin called Leilani, Talia soon warms to the Samoan way of life. She finds ways to communicate using Samoan and English, as well as non-verbal ways of communication. By the end of the story, Talia decides that maybe her holiday in Samoa will not be so bad after all. Illustrator Trish Bowles has created some beautiful watercolour images of Samoa – coconut trees, tapa designs, frangipani and beach scenes.

Talia was nominated for the collection because of its true \-to-life story, which many Samoan New Zealand children can relate to. It was also nominated because of the book’s beauty, and the vibrant illustrations.


 (English/ Health & Physical Education)

Curriculum Level

1 & 2 (see curriculum links at the end of the activity)

NZC Key Competencies

  • thinking
  • using language, symbols and text
  • relating to others


 In this story, Talia faces a new experience as she visits her family’s island of Samoa for the first time.

1.     After reading, talk about how Talia must have been feeling as she had to deal with a new language, new people, new foods and ways of living for the first time.

Ask: how do we know that she is feeling this way? What clues are in the story?

2.     Establish that we all find it a bit scary when we have to do something new, for the first time. Ask children to think of a time when they felt scared about trying something new.

Share this experience with a buddy.

3.     In the story, Talia felt much happier by the end of the story.

Ask: what happened that helped Talia to feel happier in Samoa?

  • Talia made a new friend. Even though she was really scared, and could not speak the same language as Leilani, she was brave and made an effort to go and play with her. She felt much better once she had a new friend to look after her.

Ask: When you were feeling scared about doing something new, was there anything that helped to make you feel better? Did anyone else say or do anything to help you?

Share with a buddy.

This could lead on to some writing about new experiences. Writing could be published and presented as a class book. Children will understand that feeling scared about trying something new is really normal – it is something that we all feel (even adults!) But what is important is that, like Talia, we are brave and have a go anyway, and that we ask for help when we need it.


  • paper, pens, pencils for writing

Curriculum Links

 EnglishListening, Reading and Viewing

  • recognise and identify ideas within and across texts (Level 1)
  • show some understanding of ideas within, across and beyond texts (Level 2)

Speaking, Writing and Presenting

  • form and express ideas on a range of topics (Level 1)
  • select, form and express ideas on a range of topics (Level 2)

Health & Physical Education

Personal Health & Physical Development

Personal Identity

  • describe themselves in relation to a range of contexts (Level 1)
  • identify personal qualities that contribute to a sense of self-worth (Level 2)

Relationships with Other People


  • explore and share ideas about relationships with other people (Level 1)
  • identify and demonstrate ways of maintaining and enhancing relationships between individuals and within groups (Level 2)

Interpersonal Skills

  • express their own ideas, needs, wants and feelings clearly and listen to those of other people (Level 2)
  • express their ideas, needs, wants and feelings appropriately and listen sensitively to other people and affirm them (Level 2)

Links to other PPBC books

Selafina by Catherine HannkenFiapule by Catherine Hannken

– both of these books describe a child facing a new situation and having to be brave.

Other Ideas

 This story tells us a lot about what it is like to live in Samoa. Talk about these aspects of Samoan life – physical environment, language (use glossary at the back of the book), clothing, housing, eating, village life, sleeping, playtime for children. Compare and contrast with children’s own lives – what things are similar to the way you live? What things are different?