This is the second book about Whetū and her life on a magical farm with her mum, talking animals and a magician. The story opens with Whetū about to start school, but not all the animals are happy. Bull, who cries at the slightest thing, is particularly upset. Who will look after the animals?
Steph Matuku has given the animals unique personalities that is evident in the narrative. Bull thinks, because of his name, his destiny is to be bullied; the horses develop minds of their own and sneak off to enter a talent quest; the sole chicken becomes an unmanageable 3000, and Ramses, the golden ram, goes missing.
With the magician away on a trip, Whetū has a short timeframe to get the farm back in order.
Whetū faces many obstacles, including a pesky reporter and magic that doesn’t work properly but she shows great resilience in not giving up and pursuing her mission to right everything that has gone askew.
Katharine’s illustrations are in blackline drawings, so could be coloured in (if the book is owned, not borrowed). The facial expressions on the characters add to the story.
This book will appeal to primary school children with its delightful mix of magic, quirky animals, alternative universes and chapters that end on a cliffhanger.
With 153 pages divided into 23 exciting chapters, this would be a good story to be read aloud as a serial.
Title: Whetū Toa and the Hunt for Ramses
Author: Steph Matuku (lives in Taranaki)
Illustrator: Katharine Hall
Publisher: Huia Publishers
Publication: October 2021
Themes: overcoming problems, friendship
Advisory warnings: none
Would this book work as a read aloud? Yes
Is there a particular part of the country it’s set in? No
Reviewer: Nova Gibson, Librarian, Massey Primary School, Auckland
How are you recommending this book? Recommended
Opening sentence: Whetū Toa and her mum lived in a little cottage in the country.
You can buy this book here