Scholastic has published a new edition of bilingual classic Tangaroa’s Gift, by Mere Whaanga, which tells the story of a sad and lonely sea creature named Paua, who ended up with a gift that changed his life.
The book has the Māori and English text on facing pages so will be welcomed by those who are fluent in Māori as well as those who want to learn.
Paua was sad because he could not find a friend. There weren’t many like him and it was hard to find others because they all had to hide from the hungry fish. He so ached with loneliness that Tangaroa, the god of the sea, asks him what is wrong.
Paua tells how the fish and other sea creatures taunt him with their beauty and speed and laugh at his ugliness. Tangaroa decides Paua deserves something special, so he makes Paua a beautiful shell. Tangaroa made Paua so beautiful the other sea creatures were curious and poked and prodded his shell until it lay in pieces and he was alone again.
When he saw what had happened, Tangaroa again took those beautiful colours and layered them until the shell was so strong it could not be broken.Instead of making Paua happy, this made him even sadder because all the others were jealous.
Tangaroa saw his gift had made Paua sad, so he added a layer of drabness so Paua would once again be able to come and go as he pleased without being bothered. He still had the beautiful shell but only he knew of its beauty. It is only at the end of his life, when Paua’s empty shell washes up on the beach, that his inner beauty is revealed to others.
The watercolour illustrations, also done by Whaanga, are delightful and could be used to keep the interest of younger children who may not yet be able to follow the text. This is a lovely book with a touching message that will continue to be a popular resource for a wide age group.
Reviewed by Faye Lougher
by Mere Whaanga
Published by Scholastic NZ