About Me

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Victoria, Australia
I am an author of Young Adult Fiction books. I worked as a teacher in the Pacific Islands for seven years. Whilst in the Solomon Islands I taught PSSC English before the ethnic tension in 2000 forced a change of plans. I love Pacific literature, art and music. You can find me on Facebook at Beth Montgomery Author.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera

My favourite movie is undoubtedly The Whale Rider. I loved the tight storyline, the emotion, the scenery and the cultural attachment to Maori mythology. I hadn't read the book though until last month. It was very different to the movie, which is often the case.
The Whale Rider
(Raupo Publishing, 2002)
   The book has lots of small chapters from the point of view of the mythical old man whale that carried Paikea to the shores of New Zealand. This gives the book a strong mythological core. The tribe of people whose roots derive from the whale rider story are desperate for a new leader. The old chief thinks it will be a male decendant and searches the men young of the village to find a successor. The truth is his young grand-daughter Kahu is destined to lead.
   The relationship between the old man and the young girl is golden. She loves him so much and he ignores her. Over and over she tolerates his gruff ways and even writes her school speech about him and how much she respects him, but still he will not recognise her shining potential.
The Whale Rider
(Penguin, 2008)
   The characterisation of these two in the book is strongly drawn and will make readers cry, just as it did in the film. A delightful and powerful tale!
   This novel is well worth trying, but I would recommend it as a text suitable for secondary school readers and older. There is a glossary at the back for those not familiar with Maori language. The book was first published in 1987 by Reed Books and became so popular because of the movie that it has undergone many reprints, two of which are shown here.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Other Side of the Island by Allegra Goodman

The Other Side of the Island
(Razorbill, 2008)
Honor doesn't remember much about her past in the wilds of the North. She now lives on a tropical island with her parents and soon to be born baby brother. But much to Honor's disgust her family is different from everyone else. They go out at night, they talk about snow and frost, they don't follow the rules. Set somewhere in the not too distant future The Other Side of the Island is a gripping dystopia in a world where the weather is ordered and everything unpredictable is stamped out, re-used or recycled, including people. 
   It's a creepy story that holds you right to the end, and I admit to reading the last few chapters several times because the whole thing went so fast at the climax that I couldn't process it in one go. The characters are well drawn and everylittle detail has some meaning. I think Goodman has written a tight, polished story which stays with you for days after reading it.
   A tremendous book if you like Science Fiction and suitable for both teens and adults.