First published in 2004 as A New Song in the Land, in the My Story series, Mission Girl is deserving of this 2020 reprint. It has had a ‘make-over’ and the cover is beautiful. The book opens to a map of Te Ika a Maui, the North Island, showing the places mentioned in the story, followed by a foreword by historian, Buddy Mikaere, and an extensive glossary. At the back of the book is an interesting historical note and photographs.
The story follows Atapo, a young teenage girl, captured into slavery by another tribe. When sickness threatens that tribe, Atapo escapes to a Mission House, where she eagerly learns the language and the ways of the English settlers. Atapo’s knowledge stands her in good stead as she prevents her people from being duped.
This is a book in which readers are exposed to an important part of our history, both Maori and Pakeha, and Fleur Beale tells it well. To quote from Buddy Mikaere’s foreword, "... (she) has the interests of the land and its people at heart and for that reason, Atapo’s story is, indeed, our story."
Tiitle: Mission Girl
Author: Fleur Beale
Publisher: Scholastic New Zealand
Date of Publication: February 2020
Ages: 9-12 years
Reviewer: Vickie Humphries, Librarian, Mount Cook School, Wellington
How are you recommending this book? Highly Recommended
What’s the book’s opening sentence? “Our warriors performed the haka perfectly.”
You can buy this book here