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Home > Categories > Books > Kids - Middle > Koro's Star review

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Score: 9.8/10  [1 review]
5 out of 5
ProdID: 9209 - Koro's Star
Written by Claire Aramakutu

Koro's Star
Sample/s Supplied by:
Click to search for all products supplied by Scholastic (NZ)

Disclosure StatementFULL DISCLOSURE: A number of units of this product have, at some time, been provided to KIWIreviews by Scholastic (NZ) or their agents for the sole purposes of unbiased, independent reviews. No fee was requested, offered nor accepted by KIWIreviews or the reviewers themselves - these are genuine, unpaid consumer reviews.
March 2024

Koro's Star product reviews

Proud to promote NZ productsSet in the 1960s, Koro's Star is a heart-warming, exciting adventure story. It's the beginning of the summer holidays in 1967 when 10-year-old Atama moves with his family into a new army base. His father, Atama's hero, departs for Vietnam, asking Atama to look after his mum and younger sister Maia while he's away.

Atama is nervous about making friends at the new camp, so his dad leaves a surprise under his pillow: Koro's 1939-1945 star medal, handed down to Dad after his own father died during World War ll. Atama finds new friends, but has to undergo an "initiation" to become part of their club. Wearing Koro's medal round his neck, Atama hopes it will give him courage - but is unprepared for what lies ahead, deep in the tunnels beneath the army base.

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adventure   army   atama   claire aramakutu   initiation   koro   koros star   maia   medal   nzmade   tunnel   vietnam   world war two
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Review by: savta (Jo)
Dated: 9th of April, 2024

Link to this review Report this review


This Review: 9.8/10
Age Appropriate:
Score 10 out of 10
Score 10 out of 10
Score 9 out of 10
Personal Choice:
Score 10 out of 10

I still remember my steelie - a wonderful heavy, shiny, smooth-surfaced ball that lived in my pocket ready for the next game of marbles. To own such a shooter gave kids great mana among their friends; if you lost a game, you might forfeit a cat-eye (which we called cat's-eyes) or a clay marble, but never the shooter - the rules would prevent that from ever happening! In comparison, the regular marbles were two-a-penny. Cat-eyes were pretty and came in lots of colours; clays were easy to shatter so worth even less. Reading about the games that Atama and his friends enjoyed took me straight back to my own youth when the rest of my marble collection lived in a drawstring cloth bag rather than an ice-cream box.

Throughout the book, other games are described - tag, bullrush, cycling - enjoyed by children who lived in the early Information Age, before digital devices and wifi became standard. Those were the times when physical activity was a major component of play, with an emphasis on adventure and risk-taking (usually when there were no adults around!). The culmination of this was the initiation challenge, involving a descent down a dark shaft and along a secret tunnel. Atama emerges successful; he has returned unfazed with the trophy that proves he has completed the task.

The story appeals to children; they can relate to Atama and his friends. Many of the situations - coping with a younger sibling who always wants to tag along, making friends in a new community, having an absentee parent, the anxiety caused by knowing someone close to you is in a war zone - are common to many young people already growing up in a world that is constantly changing. Even though the story is set at a time when most modern children's grandparents were growing up, the stresses are real. Just different. But precisely because of this setting, older people can enjoy the story just as much. Like me, they will relate to something from their own past. For me, it was the marbles of course!

I asked Mr Eight to read the story after I had finished it. His great grandfather was a soldier in World War II, and saw active service overseas. Unlike Koro in the story, however, he returned to his family and was there for his own mokopuna when they were growing up. He died before Mr Eight was born so they never got to meet, but his memory is kept alive in the family and Mr Eight was impressed by the tunnel rescue near the end of the book - he said his own tupuna tane would undoubtedly have done the same thing. He also said he would give the book full marks for interest value - high praise indeed from an eight year old. He is not a fast reader, but he had finished the book in under a week because he could not put it down!

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