Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Dawn Raid

Smith, Pauline Vaeluaga. Dawn Raid (My New Zealand series)
March 2nd 2021 by Levine Querido 
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Sophia lives in New Zealand in 1976 with her family that includes her father, an autoworker born in Samoa, her mother, a night cleaner who is Pākehā (a white or non-Māori New Zealander), an older brother and sister, and two accident prone younger brothers. Her dearest desire is to own a pair of Go Go boots, and she has been given a diary for her 13th birthday in which she chronicles her life. Events range from the exciting (a McDonald's opening in her town of Porirua) to the mundane (going to school). When she has to write an autobiography and deliver it to her class, she finds that she has a knack for public speaking, even though it makes her nervous. Her older brother Lenny does as well, and he is using his talents to work with his friend Rawiri to fight for Māori rights. He has been involved in a march, and although the family isn't too happy about it, they are aware that Samoans have also been dealing with problems with the government. There was a large influx of workers from the Pacific Islands after World War II, but now politicians are saying that these people are taking jobs away from New Zealanders. There have been a number of Dawn Raids, as well as street sweeps, aimed at finding people from other countries who have overstayed their visas, and the Polynesian Panthers (who are influenced by the US Black Panthers) are trying to fight against these kinds of operations. When Sophia and her family travel to an uncle's for a large family party, several of the family are taken to the police station during one of these raids. Sophia uses this experience as the subject for her speech for a competition. In addition to the political causes of the time, we get a lot of information about popular culture and music, as well as the fantastic fashions of the mid 1970s, which she manages to fund through her job delivering milk in the afternoons. Will Sophia continue to fight for civil rights as the decade continues?
Strengths: It's interesting and informative for young readers to be able to see books published in other countries. All too often, those of us living in the US know little about what has gone on in other countries. I can't say that I had really ever thought about the Pacific Islanders; in the US, they are listed on forms along with Asians, and I don't know that I have had any students who have said that is their ethnic background. Learning about the treatment of indigenous peoples in other countries helps to understand the treatment of indigenous people in the US, and that has certainly been problematic. As much as I learned about the racial issues in New Zealand in the 1970s (including the fact that Hanna-Barbera made a political commercial for a candidate!), I was completely captivated by the details about daily life. Hearing that a second television channel had just been started, seeing Sophia's interest in the View-Master, and watching her obsession with putting items on lay-away were so much fun. There were glimpses of school as well, including a cultural food festival, that are somewhat similar to things we do in the US, but completely different! I do hope that we see more of this kind of title being published in the US in the future!
Weaknesses: I would recommend reading the end notes and glossary before reading the book. Since this is a book written and published in New Zealand for that audience, there were a lot of things that I had to look up while reading it. (Pikelets are just small pancakes!) This means that I learned a lot, but younger readers might need some guidance so that they understand everything about Sophia's life. 
What I really think: I am definitely purchasing this title and hope that Levine Querido looks into publishing similar books from many countries around the world! This was a fascinating look at Civil Rights in another country, and I learned a lot. This was somewhat similar to Atheaide's Orange for the Sunsets in that regard, although this definitely had more of a tween voice. Plus, I got to look up the video of Donny and Marie singing Deep Purple

Ms. Yingling

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