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****Whale Rider

by Witi Ihimaera

Reviewed March 8, 2004.
Harcourt, Orlando, 2003.  First published in New Zealand in 1987.  152 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (JF IHI).

When his grandson’s wife gives birth to a girl, Maori chief Koro Apirana is terribly disappointed.  He knows that his people need a strong leader, an heir of the great whale rider who founded their tribe.

Because of his disappointment, Koro is blind to his great-granddaughter Kahu’s special gifts, though her uncle notices some clues.  Kahu is determined to please Koro, but only when a crisis faces the whole tribe does everyone learn how special she is.

This mystical novel is told with the music of Maori sayings built into the text.  It has the feel and wisdom of a folktale, even taking the perspective of whales at times.  You can’t help but keep reading to find out what Kahu’s special destiny will be.  This book is the basis for the award-winning film of the same name.

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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