The Whale Rider - Witi Ihimaera It’s very unusual for me to read a book that I’ve already seen the movie for. However, it’s been some time since I’ve seen The Whale Rider movie and this audio was a freebie from the YA Sync Summer Program so I decided to give it a try. I’m so glad I did. It was a whale of a tale!!! (Sorry couldn’t resist : P).

This audio was sheer perfection! The narration, the music, the story…the whole thing was just lovely and just as good (at times even better) than the movie. The narrator and music really gave the story that extra something special. It felt like I was sitting on the couch on a rainy day while my favorite uncle told me a story from his life. I loved it!

What made this story were the characters. They were all awesome even when they weren’t acting awesome (ahem, Koro). Their interaction and dialogue made them real. I know I’m not expressing this right, but I felt like they were my family members because I could identify their personalities with the people in my life. The stubborn grandfather reminded me of my dad. Nanny Flowers with her gentleness and spunkiness reminded me a bit of my mom.

I loved how the magic realism was integrated into the story. It was a slow integration until finally towards the end it became more of a modern day folktale. It was very simplistic in style, but still highly emotional. For example, the school scene… I was balling while driving listening to how Kahu had learned the Maori speech specifically for Koro, yet he didn’t show, and how her family stood up to support her. It still brings tears to my eyes at the years Koro wasted away.

I also loved the environmental lessons thrown in throughout the book. How humans have affected the environment by doings things like overfishing. How we have become careless of the world and have tipped the balance. These lessons are shown through the perspective of human eyes and whale eyes. I thought it made it all the more poignant and I hope that this book is featured in schools more.