Te Kōkōrangi / The Astromancer
This is the enthralling story of an orphan girl Aria and her amazing guide. Along with four boys and her dog, Aria is taught the lessons and importance of Matariki and Maramataka. Aria is headstrong and carrying the burden of sorrow and self-doubt she does not seem to appreciate the lessons. Will Aria’s impetuous nature be her downfall and jeopardise the whole tribe or will she step up as a leader and save them?
There are many powerful messages within this woven mix of mythology and creativity including the value of heritage and the wisdom of elders but also the importance of youth and reality of change.
The strength of the female characters of Aria and the Astronomancer, Te Kōkōrangi is as inspirational as is the fortitude of the boys. This story lends itself to many moral lessons but its merit is in the story telling. The illustrations with their dreamy hues of muted colour and flowing lines enhance the spirit of the narrative and the contrast to the black and white images of conflict are effective in their starkness.
While this is a longer text than many picture books it is presented in chapters and would work as a classroom read aloud.
Title:Te Kōkōrangi: Te Aranga o Matariki / The Astromancer: The Rising of Matariki
Author: Witi Ihimaera
Illustrator: Isobel Joy Te Aho-White
Translator: Hēni Jacob
Publisher: Penguin Random House
ISBN: 9780143778271 (te reo Māori) 978 0143776154 (te reo Pākehā)
Publication: May 2022
Would this book work as a read aloud? Yes
Is there a particular part of the country that it is set in? Aotearoa
Reviewer: Elaine Wills, Library manager, Enner Glynn School, Nelson
How are you recommending this book? Highly recommend
What’s the book’s opening sentence? Te Kōkōrangi heard a dog barking
You can buy this book here