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.

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