From School Library Journal
Grade 6 Up-This anthropological tour of the Pacific Islands through legend is as seductive as Bloody Mary beckoning from Bali Hai. Flood acknowledges the paradox of freezing oral stories in print, and attempts to capture each geographical area's history and culture in introductory sections written in a crisp, expository manner. The tales that follow are told in a simple, conversational style. Stories include creation myths, explanations of events, and healthy doses of romance and intrigue where the ocean is the defining element that binds islands and life together. "Micronesia" includes tales from geographically isolated areas (Guam, the Mariana Islands, Palau, the Marshall Islands). From "Melanesia" (Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, and others), with over 1000 native language groups, come stories of magical powers, cannibalism, and self-sacrifice. Tales from "Polynesia" explain life, love, and death. Only Australian aboriginal myths incorporate landlocked legends about the sun, the kangaroo, and the origin of frost. Intended as a companion volume to anthropology textbooks, Legends stands nicely on its own as an introductory overview, and interested readers can locate additional legends from specific islands through the extensive bibliography. Sidebar definitions and pronunciation keys assist with unfamiliar vocabulary. Woodcut illustrations are beautifully rendered and culturally evocative; unfortunately, there is no map of the islands. Nevertheless, given the quality and scope of the work, this is an admirable collection.Mary R. Hofmann, Rivera Middle School, Merced, CA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
paper 1-57306-078-X Giant clams that give birth to the world, cannibalistic ghosts, and tender love stories swirl through these legends of the Pacific Islands. The authors provide a historical and geographical context for this collection of tales from an oral tradition, ``talk stories'' that they describe as a dance between teller and listener. Divided into sections reflecting the four distinct areas of the Pacific, the book records the stories in an engaging and often exciting style. The islanders' belief in magic and spirits, along with their violence, compassion, and humor, dominate the stories. Many stories are intended to teach children, while others try to explain the world and history of the people, such as how the Samoans finally abandoned cannibalism. Pronunciation and vocabulary guides appear in the margins, aiding readers (sometimes unnecessarily, with entries on sassy, haste, boasting, and gushed among them), who will find thrills, laughter, grief, disaster, and triumphs here, adding up to a charming portrait of an often neglected culture. (bibliography) (Folklore. 9-13) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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