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Reviewed by Shelley Sutherland, St Bernadette's School, Canterbury
Opening sentence
One day, all of us will become stars, and children just like you will be looking up at the sky just like us.
Linda Tuhiwai Smith's poignant children's book, 'Te Wai, Tama and the Moon' explores the resilience and imagination of Te Wai, a young girl facing the serious illness of her mother. In the face of adversity, Te Wai's boundless creativity takes centre stage as she, along with her friend Tama, embarks on a whimsical journey to the moon. This imaginative escape becomes a poignant metaphor for coping with life's challenges, providing solace and distraction during trying times.

The narrative unfolds at a bus stop where each arrival brings familiar faces, turning a simple wait into a communal gathering. The kindness and generosity of those passing by create a heartwarming tableau of human connection and support. Aunty Cherrie's car ride under the stars adds a touch of magic, intertwining te ao Māori with the comforting concept that departed loved ones become stars in the sky.

Isobel Joy Te Aho-White's illustrations, influenced by mythology and life experience, beautifully complement the story. The symbolism and metaphor in her work add depth to the narrative, enhancing the emotional impact of Te Wai's journey.

This touching tale is not just a celebration of creativity but a reminder of the strength found in community, love, and the enduring spirit of whanau. Linda Tuhiwai Smith and Isobel Joy Te Aho-White have crafted a story that resonates with universal themes of hope, resilience, and the enduring power of imagination.

Note from Read NZ Te Pou Muramura: This series features trauma and difficult experiences, including violence and suicide. There is a very good interview with the author on The Sapling, which discusses these books further. You can find this here:
Author & Illustrator: Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Translator: Isobel Joy Te Aho-White
Publisher: Huia Publishers
ISBN: 9781775506843
Format: Paperback
Publication: Mar 2023
Ages: 5-14 years
Themes: Hope, resilience, and the enduring power of imagination