It is not often I pick up a book and feel compelled to finish it in one sitting, but The Pōrangi Boy had me hooked! I feel confident handing it to some reluctant readers knowing they will find the short chapters appealing and the characters engaging – not to mention my advisory warning below will be the reason they love it even more.
Family, friendship and standing up for what you believe in, is at the heart of this book. Living in a small rural NZ town of Pohe Bay, Niko wants to stop the planned Prison build on sacred land to protect the taniwha. But how can a boy who everyone calls ‘pōrangi’ (crazy), create the change needed to stop the prison from being built?
Niko’s voice is authentic, ‘hungus’ for hungry is a word I haven’t heard since I was at school and Shilo King creates an intimate sense that we are on this journey with him. We feel the shame of being on the end of severe bullying, we feel the sadness and anger after losing a loved one and we feel the helplessness of being too young to be taken seriously.
Many te reo words are used throughout the book with no translation and this will encourage readers to do their own research to gain clarity of their meanings if they are new to them. The story has parallels to the Prison build in Ngawha Springs, Northland, and while The Pōrangi Boy is fiction it gives readers an insight to understanding a Māori perspective to real life events.
The first three chapters are available to read on the publisher's website here
Title: The Pōrangi Boy
Author: Shilo Kino
Illustrator: Miriama Grace-Smith
Publisher: Huia Publishers
Date of Publication: October 2020
Advisory warnings: Yes. There is language that some readers may find offensive, “piss off”, “bloody hell” and there are few instances where characters are “pissed on”, it would however, be a shame to dismiss this book for these inclusions as they are part of the authentic storytelling.
Reviewer: Louana McCormack, Librarian, Opaheke School, Auckland
How are you recommending this book? Highly recommended.
Opening sentence: “Pōrangi boy, I know it’s you!"
You can buy this book here