Home > Categories > Books > Kids - General > Maui and the Goddess of Fire review
In this Maori folktale, Maui puts out all the fires in the village just to see what would happen. His mother sends him off to visit his grandmother Mahuika, the fire goddess, to get more, and cautions him to behave. But Maui, the trickster, can't help himself and Mahuika's wrath is fierce.
I was excited to see that a well known Maori legend had been revisited by scholastic. When I was at school the stories of Maui were not only well known but also well loved. I was keen to share this story with my 4 year old son, who is so interested in the Maori culture at present. I thought he was at the right age to introduce him to what a legend was and to see how well he took in the story.
The illustrations captured his attention. This book has very different illustrations in bland colours. We could talk about the village and how Maui lived. He was fascinated as to how Maui turned from a person to a hawk to a fish. It was great that Maui's moko moved onto the hawk and I would have liked it to also be put onto the fish just to show the connection.
I found that although this legend is what I remember, the words used did not flow as nicely as I had hoped. My son still understood the story and asked questions to clarify his understanding. I was disappointed to see that there was a typo in the story. You always hope that stories that you are reading to kids and have gone to print are free from spelling errors.
Overall I think that it is nice to see these legends coming back out in print and will be looking out for more to share with my sons. Not only does it connect them with the Maori culture but also shares a message we can all relate to.
A few times in the last few years, my kids and I have been to see a play version of this Maori legend. So this book was great for me, because I knew how to pronounce most of the names in it. The story is the same, though with more detail than what I remember. This helped to really flesh out the narrative for us. I grew up with the stories of Maui and I think that revisiting these legends with my own kids is brilliant. It helps them connect more with the culture and the language they are learning and exploring at daycare and school.
The first time I read this book, it was to Miss 8. She thought that the style of the illustrations was really different to many of the books she owns. The colours in the book are far more natural and muted. There is a lot of browns, greys and then the colours of the fire as well. Our favourite part was when Maui tuns into a hawk. I really liked the illustration because Maui's moko is still on the Hawk's face. It was a really striking image. Miss 8 just likes magic and the idea of shape shifting.
The next time I read this through, it was to Miss 3. She found the book a little scary. She was very worried about Maui and kept pointing at Mahuika and saying "no, no, no". I reassured her and we continued to read. Eventually she felt calmer. Afterwards I asked her if she liked the book and she said yes. She really liked Maui. I have also read it to the two girls together, and when together it was nice to hear Miss 8 sharing more about Maui and his stories with her sister.
The only downside of this book, was a wee typo towards the end of the book. Every time I read that sentence it throws me and I need to stop and think my way to the correct word. Still, I could just get a fine tip Sharpie and correct the page and I will probably do that. While it was annoying to me, it didn't stop the girls enjoying the book. However, I suspect people who are buying this book as a teaching or education resource may find it off-putting.
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