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

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Score: 9.4/10  [2 reviews]
4 out of 5
ProdID: 9209 - Koro's Star
Written by Claire Aramakutu

Koro's Star
Sample/s Supplied by:
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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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Click here to read the profile of sassy121

Review by: sassy121 (Amelia)
Dated: 28th of April, 2024

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This Review: 9.0/10
Age Appropriate:
Score 9 out of 10
Score 9 out of 10
Score 9 out of 10
Personal Choice:
Score 9 out of 10

Recently because ANZAC Day was approaching, my children have been learning about World War II at their primary school, I thought that reading 'Koro's Star' together would give the kids a wee insight into life with someone that serves for their country. My grandad served in the war, and I still remember some of his stories of what he encountered, I am very thankful that my grandad managed to make it back home safely.

The cover of the page is fairly simple and predominantly the focus is on the shiny, gold medal with its ribbon, and then above that we see a silhouette of a soldier against a bright light, assuming this is Koro. The cover also tells us that this book was a winner of the Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon award, so I was hoping that it would be a decent read, and that we would all enjoy it.

We started reading the story with the intention of reading a little bit each night for the week, however this did not end up happening as we became too engrossed in the storyline and wanted to know what would happen next - we ended up completing reading the story in one sitting. We are introduced to the main character Atama who lives with his mum, dad and little sister Maia, because dad is a soldier they have recently had to move to another army camp, and this means that Atama will need to try make some new friends or be in for a long boring summer.

Atama's dad gets sent to Vietnam, but before he leaves, he gives Atama a special treasure to look after, it is Atama's Koro's star from when he served in the war, sadly though Koro had never made it home. Atama's family do not know how long Atama's dad will be away for, understandably this makes Atama very anxious and scared that his dad may not come back too, just like the case of Koro, but his dad told him to be brave and make new friends. Atama tried to get the courage to say hello and make new friends with some of the kids living in the camp, eventually the kids came and asked if he would like to join them, after some initial bullying type behaviour from one of the boys Jace, things settled when Atama stood up to him. There was an initiation into the group which involved going into an underground tunnel at midnight to collect something, Atama was successful.

There was a girl Eden that had just moved in across the road and she asked Atama if she could join the gang of friends too, and she was told she would have to do the same initiation as Atama had just done, he gave her a couple of words of advice. They all snuck out at midnight, but while at the entrance to the tunnels there were some noises that made Atama nervous like rustling in the bushes. Eden went into the tunnel but was taking a long time, so Atama went to make sure she hadn't got lost, he found her injured and went to find the quickest way out, on the way though he found his little sister Maia who had followed her big brother, she was very scared, so Atama left her with Eden. While trying to find the way out Atama started losing hope of finding the way out when his torch stopped working, but he saw a light and a 'ghost' which he assumed was his dad, he got upset thinking this was a sign dad wasn't coming back, however there was a twist in the story here, in the end everyone gets out of the tunnel safely.

We all enjoyed this story, and it kept us on the ends of our seats trying to anticipate the final outcome, I enjoyed the writing of the author and will be looking to see which other books they have written. This book is now off to our local primary school for more children to enjoy.

Click here to read the profile of savta

Review by: savta (Jo)
Dated: 9th of April, 2024

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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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