My own children and the students I work with at school love mythology and books like the Percy Jackson series are still very popular. I’m very excited about the beautiful new publications this year that explore Māori mythology and make it as relatable and fun as Rick Riordon does.
Hine and the Tohunga Portal is an action-packed story of siblings that stumble into the spirit world. Alongside patupaiarehe, moa, kea ancestors and atua they battle with an evil sorcerer who has tricked a community into signing a corrupt treaty. It has similarities to classics like The Half Men of O by Maurice Gee, as well as newer titles like Falling into Rarohenga by Steph Matuku.
Sharman weaves together slang, descriptive action sequences and large smatterings of te reo Māori to create an easy-to-read middle grades novel. Each chapter ends in a cliff hanger and this may be a good read for reluctant readers that need a fast-moving plot. I particularly like the way ancient creatures like moa and pouakai are featured.
This would be a fun class novel for those who are confident in pronouncing te reo Māori and I think it would lead to a lot of interesting research and discussion. I think students will be drawn to the shiny and exciting cover and accessible length.
Title: Hine and the Tohunga Portal
Author: Ataria Sharman (Tapuika, Ngāpuhi)
Illustrator: cover illustration by Reweti Arapere
Publication: August 2021
Do you have any advisory warnings for this book? none
Would this book work as a read-aloud? Yes (especially with a reader confident with their te reo)
Is there a particular part of the country that it’s set in? Northland
Reviewer: Lucy Black, Librarian, Mt Cook School Wellington
How are you recommending this book? Recommended
What’s the book’s opening sentence? It started off like any other day.
You can read a sample chapter here