cover image Land of the Long White Cloud: Maori Myths, Tales, and Legends

Land of the Long White Cloud: Maori Myths, Tales, and Legends

Kiri Te Kanawa, Te Kanawa Kiri. Arcade Publishing, $16.95 (118pp) ISBN 978-1-55970-046-7

The pairing of one of the world's leading divas with a celebrated children's book illustrator may seem unlikely at first, but this duo has produced a ravishing collection, strikingly designed and suffused with the intrigue and magic of an exotic land. Born in New Zealand of a Maori father and an Irish mother, Te Kanawa states in her preface that her intent is to pass along recollected childhood tales that were--and are--so meaningful to her. In these 19 stories, her lyrical language transports readers to a long-ago world where babies are cast adrift in a cradle of seaweed and mother's hair, where a young god retards the Sun's journey with a flaxen net. (``We need more hours of light in our days for hunting and fishing . . . '') Foreman's watercolors possess an almost mystical feel in their depictions of swelling seas, wondrous monsters and peaceful lagoons (a shimmering blue paradise is broken only by vivid green birds and a graceful rainbow). His paintings contrast the tropical serenity with the wildness of this untamed country. Bravos to these gifted artists. Ages 6-10. (Apr.)