It was deep mid-winter and all through the village preparations were being made to farewell the old year and greet the new. For the first time ever, the seventh little sister, Ururangi, was big enough to make her own celebration kite. But when the seven sisters take the finished kites to fly them, the east wind whip them all away into the sky ... where they now appear as the stars of Matariki to welcome the Maori new year.
Paperback also available in Te Reo Maori
I know of Matariki, having seen more to do with it when my kids were in Mindy, than I ever remember seeing when I was in school, which is a shame. I love different mythologies and tales behind well known names, places etc. and I want to make sure my kids know of them, so this was a perfect book to add to our bookshelf. My kids were drawn in by beautiful rainbow kite on the front cover and begging to have me read this tale to them.
The illustrations were gorgeous, though we did find that we thought several of the sisters looked too similar to each other (which gave the kids a little confusion at first), Mr 8 says he wishes that they could have looked a little more different to each other. My 7 year old says that she loves the entire book and loves looking at the kites. Both my 8 and 5 year olds say that they love Ururangi and her kite the most and that her kite is so different from the others. Not knowing the story well, I cannot comment on if this story is accurate to the mythology or not, I found it a bit quick to end, but that is due to the writing style.
This is a good book to kick start our lessons on Matariki and gorgeously illustrated.
Matariki is a very special time of year here in New Zealand but it has only been in recent years that I have been introduced to what Matariki is. I was very surprised that this was not something that I learnt at school along with the traditional Maori legends. I feel that it is my duty as a parent to make sure that my children are well educated and introduced as much as possible to the culture of New Zealand. I think it is important for books of this kind to be published so that we as parents can share these with our children in a kid friendly way, many of us learning alongside them.
The story of Matariki is written with just enough information to tell the story. It sets the scene of the seven sisters, where they lived, and what they were aiming to achieve. Each of the girls personalities were slowly shown by the kite that they designed in preparation for Matariki. Each kite had different eyes, each made using different shells. There is a lot of soft language used in this story, which set the scene even further and kept a little suspense. In a very clever way the kites that the seven sister made became the stars of Matariki.
I loved the illustrations of this book, using a combination of water colour and pastels. They were illustrations that I feel could be reproduced by students so that gives this book another teaching aspect. I can see teachers using this book in their class as part of the explanation of Matariki, traditional maori legends and also engaging students into making their own kites. I really enjoyed sharing this book with my son as this was the first time that I have read a book about Matariki that was at a level kids could understand.
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