This book alternated between ancient mythology and the modern struggle of a young girl trying to take her place in society The mythology portions tell the story of the whale rider, who was a long ago ancestor who rode a giant ancient whale to the land where the Maori tribe of Whangara, New Zealand live The young girl is Eight year old Kahu Kahu is the only great grandchild of an aging chief who is desperate for a male heir to take his title So, the parts about the mythology and the internal narrative of the giant whale were not the most compelling passages to me, but I liked Kahu and her struggle to be accepted by her grandfather Her persistent love and optimism shone brightly through the old chief s scowl You have to suspend disbelief almost entirely to get through the plot, but I enjoyed the journey Note there is a scene where a lot of giant whales start beaching themselves near Whangara I know it s like, a metaphor for everything that s wrong but it made me so sad I was seriously emotional I would love to forget it, but it won t get out of my brain. Also available on the WondrousBooks blog. Country New ZealandIn all honesty, this was a peculiar little book I both liked it, and didn t like it I m saying this in the sense that while I was reading The Whale Rider, I wasn t bored out of my mind However, at the same time, I can t say that I actually enjoyed myself.So in a way, this book just was The story was interesting in its entirety and the fairytale quality of the entire novel There are two stories between which the narration shifts current times and the birth of Kahu, a little girl who possesses the spirit of Maori mythology, but is not loved by her grandfather, who, as the chief of the community, wants a grandson and is always displeased with little Kahu and the stories from the Maori legends about the whale riders, and the pain of a whale which was ridden by the last whale rider.As you can imagine, Kahu s story is very endearing and cute, and the whales story has of a surreal quality However, this would be an oversimplification of how exactly wild this book gets at times It s a wildness in the method and narration, rather than one in the actual events, but ultimately leads to a very fairytale ish world of collision between myth and reality.This, however, can also be confusing, as I wasn t sure how I m supposed to take the story utter fiction Mythological reality Fairtytale My confusion lead me to that awkward moment which one experiences when they meet someone who seems to be insane and one doesn t know if that person is joking sarcastic, or really mentally unstable In all fairness, I m in this situation often than I should The other thing which a story like this heavily influences is the depth of the characters Mythological characters are rarely very deep and well developed, so in a book which is unsure about its allegiances with reality, expectedly, the characters were not really three intentional.Lastly, while I enjoyed the stories about Kahu, I was rather bored with the whale narration and the general repetitiveness of the book Every encounter with Kahu and her grandfather, or the two of her grandparents just ended up being the exact same chapter over and over again, down to the actual expressions.On the positive side, I learned very interesting things, albeit minor ones, about the Maori culture and the belief system they have, to a degree So, while this was not the most successful encounter, it was definitely not without virtues. Eight Year Old Kahu, A Member Of The Maori Tribe Of Whangara, New Zealand, Fights To Prove Her Love, Her Leadership, And Her Destiny Her People Claim Descent From Kahutia Te Rangi, The Legendary Whale Rider In Every Generation Since Kahutia, A Male Heir Has Inherited The Title Of Chief But Now There Is No Male Heir, And The Aging Chief Is Desperate To Find A Successor Kahu Is His Only Great Grandchild And Maori Tradition Has No Use For A Girl But When Hundreds Of Whales Beach Themselves And Threaten The Future Of The Maori Tribe, Kahu Will Do Anything To Save Them Even The Impossible A gem that glistens Beautiful A contemporary rewriting of an ancient Maori legend Its messages speak of the strength of women, but even importantly of the oneness of the past and present, the rational and the irrational, what we understand and don t understand and of all life on earth This is young adult literature for adults.The audiobook narration by Kiwi Jay Laga aia was well done There is music throughout the recording, but it is the same snippet repeated over and over again When will we get audiobooks with varied music and numerous songs Anybody listening out there This book was amazing The M ori culture was really interesting, and I love how Kahu and Nanny Flowers are constantly trying to fight the iwi s sexist, traditional ways As a kiwi, I feel that this book has an amazing way of telling one of our many stories all the M ori legends and myths we should know but don t Witi has a unique way of writing stories, and it s captivating 5 Oh boy howdy I put on my ice skates and slid my way through this one It didn t take long for me to realize that 1 I am a jaded YA reader from years in the biz 2 there s much better out there 3 I would never have read this if not for my book club I really wanted to like it too Other than the excellent The Bone People I have read little and know virtually nothing about the Maori people Add a girl power element and mythology involving whales and I m enticed.Unfortunately, my shackles are still shaking as I think about how important it is to put well written books into children s hands in order to turn them into lifelong readers Here s a few basics 1 If you use big words, provide context 2 Don t dumb down3 Every element of the story should clearly belong Don t lose your reader.First, there were unfamiliar names in the legends This is excusable But, there were also lots of unfamiliar words in the opening scenes Nuff said on that I m still struggling to decide if this book is a children s book or a YA book At times it seemed to be written for grade schoolers and at others for young adults Then there were things written over the heads of all of us The narrator is sixteen years older than the subject, a young girl gifted to be the savior of her people At times a scene would feel childish and at others worldly And only upon reflection did I understand how an uncle could have been killed in the car accident in New Guinea when all the Maori relatives live in New Zealand Perhaps a very short 1 2 paragraphs preface on terminology would have been helpful And, when it comes right down to it, was that part of the story necessary Would a young reader understand why it was included But that s not all I ll just dissect the scene that had me spitting spume Fistfights erupt between the Maori and the New Zealanders who were mutilating beached whales I m going to paraphrase a bit, but here goes The gulls cried, outraged, as we vroomed through their New Zealanders gathering numbers The first sight to greet out eyes was this old European lady who had sat down on a whale that some men were pulling onto the beach with a tractor They had put a rope round the whale s rear flukes and were getting angrier and angrier with the woman, manhandling her away.We came to the rescue and that was the first fistfight of the day There were several beefy guys loading a dismembered jaw onto the back of a truck As we approached we saw an old man scuffling with them One of the young men smacked him in the mouth and the old man went down.We roared up to the truck Hey, man I hissed, that whale belongs to Tongaroa Who s stopping us We are, Billy said He grabbed the chain saw that the beefy guys were using to cut up the whales started it up, and, next minute, had sawed the front tires of the truck That started the second fistfight of the day Okay, I have to interject something here Billy took the guy s chainsaw The beefy guy didn t like, try and stop him He sawed one tire and then walked ran around the truck and then sawed the other one Okay, back to the story It was at this stage that the police and rangers arrived I guess they must have had trouble figuring out who were the good guys and who were the bad guys because they started to manhandle us as well Are you kidding me So, there s a fight going on and the police rangers don t immediately understand what s going on Good guys and bad guys See what I mean about dumbing down There s to this scene, and it doesn t get any better.It s always interesting how writing reviews solidifies one s opinions of a book I ve now dropped it to one star Just can t recommend it I ve heard the movie is really good Skip the book Try the movie. Such a beautiful, challenging book Witi Ihimaera weaves a lush story, combining land and sea, past and present The tragic scenes were incredibly heartbreaking between Kahu s one sided relationship with Koro and when the whales beach themselves, I about started crying at my work desk And the triumphs were equally brilliant as fluid and swift as the feeling evoked as the whales sliced through the sea.I would like to wonder out loud though as to the general designation of this book as children s literature In the primary library in which I work, we shelve it as J generally, chapter books for grade school and middle school readers Ihimaera uses a reasonable amount of very erudite language that I imagine would be challenging even for some adult readers, and he addresses some rather adult issues of race and poaching through the novel s narrator, Kahu s Uncle Rawiri I m thinking specifically of two scenes 1 The hit and run that occurs in Papua New Guinea when Rawiri s white friend, Jeff, hits and kills a native and friend on the side of the road with his family s car, and the family urges him to drive on because It s only a native, and the tribe might seek retribution and 2 The horrific and immensely sad scene when a herd of 200 whales beach themselves and poachers come to dismember the bodies before they ve actually died.I wonder sometimes what differentiates a children s book from an adult book Just because Kahu is an 8 year old doesn t mean necessarily that it should be a book for 8 year olds I wouldn t suggest a child read Bastard out of Carolina just because it has a young protagonist I think this book has definite crossover appeal along the lines of To Kill a Mockingbird, and after viewing the movie after reading this book, I can see how they toned down a lot of the various conflict in the book to make it kid friendly But that s the movie, which is great in its own right, and this is the book Other libraries consider it a Young Adult book, but in a general sense of its audience, would a teen want to read a book in which its main character only reaches the age of 8 I haven t done any research yet into this question, but I wonder if Ihimaera intended for The Whale Rider to be a children s book or if this was the publisher s marketing idea Hmmmjust some questions.Despite all this , I really did truly enjoy the book, especially for its insight on Maori culture, the ecological concerns of a world very different from mine, and the bravery and persistence of Kahu I would absolutely recommend it, focusing on mature readers Yay The BBC World Book Club interviewed Witi Ihimaera and used one of my questions Ihimaera provides a moving and eye opening commentary about the book you should check it out. It was an interesting book it showed how the females couldn t gain traditional leadership of the Maori people but Kahu short for Kahutia Te Rangi , an eight year old Maori girl who was a member of the Maori tribe of Whangara, New Zealand, kept trying to learn the ways of a leader and wants to become the chief of the tribe Her grandfather Koro believes that this is a role reserved for males only My favourite character in this book is the main lead, Kahu Even though she is a young eight year old, she is brave, strong and determined to prove her love, her leadership and her destiny The leader should be the first born grandson a direct descendant of Kahutia Te Rangi, the Whale Rider he who rode on top of a whale from Hawaiki However, Kahu is female and technically cannot inherit the leadership But now there is no male heir, and the aging chief her grandfather is desperate to find a successor Kahu is his only great grandchild and Maori tradition has no use for a girl But when hundreds of whales beach themselves and threaten the future of the Maori tribe, it is Kahu who saves the tribe when she reveals that she has the whale rider s ancient gift of communicating with whales.The main learning that i took from this book was that if something has been done a certain way for a certain time, it doesn t necessary need to be kept the same way Determination and bravery goes a long way and we should do what we believe in and what we believe to be right.I enjoyed this book as this gave me an insight into the Maori culture but also told a story of a determined little girl and her quest to find her way into her grandfather s heart. 2.5 I am having a wee moment of picking up New Zealand books that I should have read a long time ago and that have co incidentally been made into films Maurice Gee sIn my Fathers Denwas my most recent foray and off the back of that I decided to read Witi Ihimaera s novelThe Whale RiderIhimaera has written quite a long list of books and short stories butThe Whale Rideris probably his most well known due to the 2002 film of the same name It is a beautiful film I highly recommend it The book I was less enthusiastic about What I did like was the melding of the rational world and the world of maori mythology The opening sequence describing a primordial New Zealand complete with fairies and sentient Tuatara was quite evocative The famous legend of Paikea who travels to NZ on the back of a whale is lovingly interpreted throughout this novel I enjoyed Ihimaera s mythical, majestic whales right up until the point they started considering the genetic effects of oceanic radiation from Moruroa atoll, which seemed an anthropomorphism too far Putting that issue to one side, in general I found the story telling quite ham fisted The characters feel thin and underdeveloped There was the odd decision to have the narrator travel to Sydney and Papua New Guinea for a few chapters The story, in my opinion, is best when cleaving to that intersection between reality and myth I don t think this book has aged particularly well, and might struggle against the nuanced stories YA readers would now come to expect I would love to find NZ authors taking on our own myths and legends and weaving some fictional magic out of them but unfortunately this particular interpretation didn t work for me, but it did make an enduringly beautiful film. I read this in my self proclaimed New Zealand November, 2015 I saw the movie based on the film a few years ago but only have a vague memory of it The book comes from the perspective of Rawiri, the uncle of the girl Kahu It is a very readable intertwining story of the modern day characters with the mythology of the gods of New Zealand and the ancient whales within their own societies and rituals Whereas Once Were Warriors shows the Maori on the margins and struggling with poverty and violence, this novel takes a much positive approach The Maori in this novel are active in teaching their native languages and passing down traditions What once was in danger of being lost such as the ability to communicate with whales looks like it might be preserved, if the Maori are willing to change with the times Unexpectedly, there is a small diversion where the narrator travels to Australia and then to Papua New Guinea before embracing his Maori identity This was great for me in my year of reading Oceania because he talks about the differences between the three countries and the treatment of the native populations In particular that the PNG tribal groups had to live one thousand year in one lifetime because of the rate of change in technology and culture.
Witi Ihimaera is a novelist and short story writer from New Zealand, perhaps the best known M ori writer today He is internationally famous for The Whale Rider.Ihimaera lives in New Zealand and is of M ori descent and Anglo Saxon descent through his father, Tom He attended Church College of New Zealand in Temple View, Hamilton, New Zealand He was the first M ori writer to publish both a novel a
- 150 pages
- The Whale Rider
- Witi Ihimaera
- 13 November 2017 Witi Ihimaera