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The Whale Rider Paperback – 28 Jul 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Robson Books Ltd; New edition edition (28 July 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1861057040
  • ISBN-13: 978-1861057044
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 843,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"A poetic blend of reality and myth provides a riveting tale of adventure and passion." (School Library Journal)

"The book behind the award-winning movie opens with the tale of the original whale rider, immersing the listener in the sweep of Maori culture at the heart of this remarkable story. The new young whale rider takes her rightful name, Kahu. The girl-child's story is told by her uncle Rawiri: her breaking of the male chain of descendants, her rejection by her great-grandfather, her role in saving her people, and her extraordinary ride on the old bull whale. New Zealander Jay Laga'aia effortlessly navigates the Maori names, facilitating the listener's entrance into another culture. His pacing is confident, and his inflections, though sometimes a bit comical for the women, allow for easy differentiation among characters. Laga'aia's narration acts as a guide as the story's characters move from traditional beliefs to new awareness. The audio is instrumental in proving that even with such a wonderful movie, the book is better." (AudioFile Magazine) --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Book Description

The classic book that inspired the award-winning film. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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The Valde's Peninsula, Patagonia. Te Whiti Te Ra. the nursery, the cetacean crib. Read the first page
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83 of 90 people found the following review helpful By Alexis Dimyan on 15 May 2003
Format: Paperback
For those of us lucky to have seen the movie adaptation we will have been seduced by its magical allure and simple charm. If this incites us into reading the novel then we are doubly fortunate for we can see at first hand where all the magic comes from. The film works so well because at its heart pulsates a captivating story which is hugely indebted to the imaginative brilliance of the author, Witi Ihimaera. The Whale Rider revolves around a seemingly simple storyline yet it is testament to the novelist"s creative powers that although it is rooted within a specific Maori context on the East coast of the North island, New Zealand, the themes that the novel raises can apply to any similiar situation around the world without losing any of their power.
Koro Apirana is the respected "rangatira" (old noble leader) of the tribe, the chief who is the standard-bearer, the glue that keeps his family and society intact, whose role is to hand down the "mana" (prestige, honour) from generation to generation so that tradition can be kept alive. He is fixed in the "old ways" wanting to instill in the younger generation a respect for history, tradition and ancestry. Koro is Ihimarea"s mouthpiece for the older generation. His sense of right and morality is crudely interrupted when his grand-daughter, Kahu, is born who in turn is the voice through which the young speaks.
On Kahu"s arrival in his family, Koro"s world is thrown upside down. Expecting a boy, so that the chieftainship can be seamlessly passed down from eldest son to eldest son the birth of a girl poses a huge problem in the mind of the chief. This is a masculine world where masculine values are praised and valued such as courage, bravery, strength and resilience.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Judy Croome on 21 Jan. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Written in 1987, THE WHALE RIDER is a deceptively short book. Only 120 pages long, it's a richly layered story dealing with several major social issues: family relationships, gender discrimination, generational differences, racial prejudice, loss of the cultural identity of indigenous tribes, ecological conservationism and modern man's disconnection from his spiritual self.

Kahu is a young Maori girl who, from the moment of her birth, had a deep connection with her great-grandfather Koro Apirana, a powerful Maori Chieftan. Custodian of his people's indigenous culture, Koro searches desperately for his successor: a boy who, for the good of all his people, will value and understand the ancient Maori traditions as much as Koro does. Kahu's uncle Rawiri, who narrates most of the story, and her great-grandmother Nanni Flowers, see in Kahu's spirit that which Koro seeks: the soul of the future Chieftan who will lead the Maoris of Whangara into the 21st century. But Kahu is a girl and, in Maori tradition, only men can perform the sacred traditions that keep the Maori people blessed of their gods and their ancestors.

From the delightfully subversive feminist Nanni Flowers to good guy Rawiri who, along with a diverse group of people tried desperately to save 200 beached whales (one of the several scenes in the book which had me sobbing out loud), to the serene, compassionate and otherworldly Kahu, the story is filled with remarkable characters. These include the Old Whale, an ancient sea-creature that has survived for centuries to ensure that Kahu meets her destiny of ensuring that the sacred Maori traditions shall live on into the new century.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lydia Clare on 7 April 2010
Format: Hardcover
Having watched the film I rushed to read this.
I was not disappointed.
It contains a riveting, magical and enlightning plot and language that is almost poetry.
The deep Moari culture is depicted with love and care.
A beautiful tale for children and adults alike!
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Format: Hardcover
A tale about Maori culture saving itself, and the world. The plot switches between what the whales are up to and the hunt for a new Maori chief in Whangara - a tribe that is descended from the legendary whale rider. Unfortunately the next in line for the title is a girl whose many gifts are completely missed by her great grandfather. The Whale Rider, written in 1987, offers fascinating insights into other people's lives - the way generations can mix well, and badly; the rights of passage we all make but seem so unique to us (schooling, running away, coming home). Best of all the book makes the case for equality, which is why I tried to persuade my 14 year old daughter to read it, but she found it too dull and domestic (clearly skipping the sections about the whales as they swim the oceans...). I will try and pass it to her again!

Readability: 7/10 - and easy to read too, you could finish it in one sitting.
Should you read it? Yes, it offers insights into Maori culture (without the misery endured in Alan Duff's Once Were Warriors, 1995). Apparently it's a great film too
Worth finding more Witi Ihimaera books? Yes. It seems incredible but he was the first Maori writer to publish a novel, Tangi, back in 1973. Ihimaera has worked as a diplomat and a uni lecturer - plus written collections of short stories and novels. He another look at New Zealand culture, one which should not be missed. See nicola [...]
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