Monday, February 25, 2008

Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera

I've been a bad blogger... and an even worse English major. With midterms distracting me, I haven't wanted to do any extra reading which is a strange phenomenon that doesn't happen much.

Whale Rider is a book that's probably fourth or fifth grade reading level that my World Literature professor decided we needed to read for class, for some reason. Though it's narrated by a young adult male in a motorcycle gang called the Head Hunters, it's a fluffly feel-good story that centers around his young niece Kahu and her relationship with whales. The setting is New Zealand, and all of the characters are members of the Maori tribe. Their ancestors had the ability to communicate with whales, and in the present day we find the tribe questioning their connection to nature. The climax of the story deals with suicidal whales beaching themselves, and the tribe trying to save the whales while getting back their sacred ties with the animals. If the animal dies, they believe the tribe will die as well, so all of their members are rounded up and taken to shore.

The main character, Rawiri, is the grandson of the Maori's leader, Koro. Koro has a great disdain for his great-grandchild because he wanted a boy instead of a white dress wearing, pigtailed, giggling girl. The majority of the book's minor conflicts are repetitive scenes where Kahu tries to gain Koro's approval, but cannot. In the end, though, it's only the eight year old girl that can talk to the whales and urge them into the ocean, saving the day and her people.

Obviously, I would not recommend this book to any of you, but if you know an elementary aged girl that's into books about girl power and that sort of thing, it wouldn't hurt to give it to them.


Christopher said...

I think they made this into a film.

Carlton Farmer said...

I am an elementary girl and I like whales.
I liked the movie.

Brooke said...

They did, but I had never heard of it at all until reading the book. The girl on the movie poster looks nothing like the girl described in the book, though.

Liz Waggoner said...

Suicidal whales.