This is a moving story of Samoa’s independence told through the markings on a Siapo, a fine cloth made from the bark of a paper mulberry tree. “These three dots that come from the niu or coconut, are at the centre. Niu gives us life and these three dots anchor and connect us to everything.”
Samoa gained independence from Germany in 1962 and this book shares that journey to independence, written in a way that makes it accessible for young readers. This is an important story to tell and highlights New Zealand’s involvement, in 2002 Helen Clark gave a formal apology for the “injustices arising from New Zealand’s past misadministration of Samoa”.
There is a timeline spanning several pages, The Road to Independence, featuring prominent dates and black and white photographs. This feature brings a deeper understanding to the story. There is also a glossary of the Samoan words used, helpful to readers who are unfamiliar with some words and phrases. The images are bold and have interesting details.
Grandpa’s Siapo is a must for every school library and Mila’s Books are filling the gap that has long existed by providing “accessible quality Pasifika stories, that reflect Pasifika values, languages, cultures and most importantly, our tamaiti”.
Title: Grandpa’s Siapo
Author: Dahlia Malaeulu
Illustrator: Darcy Solia
Publisher: Mila’s Books
Any advisory warnings: No
Would this book work as a read aloud? Yes
Reviewer: Louana McCormack, Librarian, Opaheke School, Auckland
How are you recommending this book? Highly recommended
Opening sentence: “Manuia lou aso fanau!” Luka said as grandpa wrapped him up in his arms.
You can buy this book here