cover image Dawn Raid

Dawn Raid

Pauline Vaeluaga Smith, illus. by Mat Hunkin. Levine Querido, $17.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-64614-041-1

Through the diary entries of 13-year-old Sofia Savea, Smith explores an era of New Zealand history little known to many readers outside Oceania: the 1970s movement for Pacific Islanders’ rights. In Porirua, 1976, Sofia focuses on the opening of the first McDonald’s in New Zealand, the white go-go boots she craves, and the speech she must prepare to give at school. Her father is a Samoan immigrant, but Sofia doesn’t truly consider her ethnic heritage until her brother Lenny, 17, becomes active in Māori protests for land rights in New Zealand. Soon, Sofia finds herself drawn to social justice—especially when she learns about the growing anger at immigrant Pacific Islanders and the dawn raids, in which many are deported. Sofia’s writing—about her troublesome younger brothers, her frustrations with managing money from a new part-time job, and awakening to injustice—feels relatable, while Hunkin’s b&w art adds a personalized flair to the text. Smith realistically traces Sofia’s growing political awareness and her development from reluctant to stirring public speaker in a straightforward voice that rings true. Back matter includes an extensive historical note with photographs and a glossary of New Zealand slang and Samoan and Māori words. Ages 8–12. [em](Mar.) [/em]