The Whale Rider

Koro Apirana, the chief of the Māori tribe of Whangara, New Zealand, anxiously awaits the birth of his great-grandchild, hoping it will be a son to inherit his leadership role.  When the baby is born, Koro is disgusted to find that it is a girl.  Named Kahu after their legendary whale-riding ancestor, this small girl grows up in the shadow of her great-grandfather, desperately seeking his love and approval.  When whales begin to strand themselves on the beach near Kahu's home, she uncovers her ability to communicate with sea creatures.

"The whales kept dying.  As each death occurred, the people who were looking after the whale would weep and clasp one another.  They would try to force away the younger, healthier whales that had returned to keep company with their dying mates.  When a large whale was turning on its side, several juveniles would try to assist it, rubbing their bodies against the dying whale's head.  All the time the animals were uttering cries of distress or alarm, like lost children."

Witi Ihimaera is a Māori author from New Zealand.  His works include Yellow Brick Road; Tangi; Pounamu, Pounamu; and The Whale Rider.

Published:  2003
Length:  135 pages
Set in:  Whangara, New Zealand