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Pele and the Rivers of Fire Hardcover – August 15, 2002
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From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3-Hawaii's volcano goddess, Pele, has become more familiar to mainland Americans through her appearance in folklore collections and several works of children's fiction, including Dan Greenburg's The Volcano Goddess Will See You Now (Grosset & Dunlap, 1997) and Gloria Skurzynski's Rage of Fire (National Geographic, 1999). Nordenstrom brings the legend to picture-book form as Pele moves from island to island following her shark brother and chased by her ocean sister. Each place that she settles erupts into a new volcanic island. This pourquoi tale is heavy on the "pourquoi" and light on the "tale." The illustrations are paper cuttings, reminiscent of, but not as detailed as, those by David Wisniewski. The image of Pele in nearly every picture gives a repetitive feel to the pages, and her awkwardly portrayed mouth on many pages hints at a mustache. Despite these drawbacks, libraries in areas that study the Hawaiian Islands will want a copy of this book to document one legend about the islands' formation.
Ellen Heath, Orchard School, Ridgewood, NJ
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 2-4. Pele is sleeping, the Hawaiian Islands are quiet, but when the volcano goddess awakens, the earth roars and lava explodes from the mountain. This story recounts how Pele journeyed from Tahiti to the Hawaiian Islands, accompanied by her shark brother and followed by her sea-goddess sister, Namakaokaha'i. The sisters battled until Pele's death, but her spirit still inhabits Hawaiian volcanoes. This retelling is so slight, it reads more like an abstract than a story. No source is cited, but a graceful version of this legend can be found in Vivian Thompson's Hawaiian Myths of Earth, Sea, and Sky (1966.) The strength of this work lies with the dramatic collage, acrylic, and watercolor art, dominated by bold oranges and blues. Rafe Martin's The Shark God (2001) is a better choice for most libraries, but this is an attractive supplement for larger collections. Linda Perkins
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