The Island-below-the-Star

The Island-below-the-Star

by James Rumford
     
 

As little Manu watches, his older brothers prepare for a great journey to find a new island, far away under a distant star. Manu hides in the canoe, and when he is discovered, it's too late to turn back. "Make yourself useful," his brothers tell him. But what possible use can gentle Manu be when a great storm hits? It is commonly thought that Hawaii was settled by

Overview

As little Manu watches, his older brothers prepare for a great journey to find a new island, far away under a distant star. Manu hides in the canoe, and when he is discovered, it's too late to turn back. "Make yourself useful," his brothers tell him. But what possible use can gentle Manu be when a great storm hits? It is commonly thought that Hawaii was settled by people from the Marquesas Islands who traveled more than 2,000 miles in double-hulled canoes, relying on the stars, clouds, ocean currents, and seabirds to find their way. This tale highlights the glories of these seafaring people as well as the love and cooperation that allowed them to undertake such incredible voyages. The year 1998 marks the hundredth anniversary of the annexation by the United States of the Hawaiian Islands, a sad time for the Polynesian natives, for they lost both their land and their sovereignty.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Children's Literature
Five brothers from a Polynesian village dream of exploring an island far out to sea. The five older ones prepare for the journey and insist that the youngest one, Manu is too little to come along. Manu has other plans and becomes a stowaway aboard their canoe. When he is finally discovered it is too late. They do insist that he make himself useful. Manu catches fish and is very brave during a storm. But his biggest contribution comes from his love of birds. Manu helps guide the brothers out of danger by following a bird who finally leads them to the Island-below-the-star, known today as the Hawaiian Islands. More than 1,500 years ago, it is believed that early explorers from the Polynesian islands discovered Hawaii, the islands below the star Arcturus. On some pages, Rumford's watercolor illustrations seem a bit overworked and muddy. His style works best when he lets a few fresh brush strokes create the image, as in the scene at the end of the storm.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3Part legend, part history, this original tale evokes the early Polynesian explorers' finding and settling of the Hawaiian Islands. Four brothers, each of whom has a special love and skill, set out on an adventure to find the island below a star they see in the northern sky (Arcturus). Traveling in an outrigger canoe and carrying water and dried foods, they sail steadily for several weeks until a violent storm throws them off course. Manu, the youngest, who has stowed away and whose specialty is birds, leads them to the island by following the flight of the gulls. Told with the spare formulaic structure of a folktale, even to having the youngest brother save the day, the tale has the appeal of a youthful adventure while it uses the five brothers to tell the story of the migration of a whole people. As he did in The Cloudmakers (Houghton, 1996), Rumford appends an explanatory historical note. Here, he tells how the early explorers probably used patterns of winds, currents, and bird migration to guide them through the Pacific from 2500 miles to the south. His strong watercolor paintings are alive with the movement and vibrant light of the sea and sky and the vigor of the young men. Text and pictures are equals in this eloquent and appealing look at island history.Sally Margolis, Barton Public Library, VT
Fritz Lehmann-Grube
Vibrant, engaging watercolors reveal how five brothers set out from a tiny South Pacific island for a new island they believe must lie under a brightly shining star. -- The New York Times
Kirkus Reviews
This excellent piece of historical fiction follows in the footsteps of Rumford's Cloudmakers (1996): a well-paced, engrossing story that is freighted with all sorts of fascinating nuggets of information from times long past. Rumford tells of early Polynesian navigators through the adventure of five brothers who set off into the great wide ocean to discover the Island-below-the-Star (today's Hawaiian islands). One brother can decipher the firmament, another speaks the language of the currents and waves, one has a facility with the clouds and weather, a fourth understands the wind, while the fifthþManu, considered too young for so perilous a voyage, and so a stowawayþis a crack birder. Mortal obstacles are thrown their way, and each brother is called upon to work his magic, but it is Manu and an avian comrade who steer them to the speck of land hidden in the watery blue. Handsome, veracious watercolors and an exemplary author's note on Polynesian exploration round out this dramatic tale of high hopes, wayfinding, and lives tuned to the music of the spheres. (Picture book. 4-8)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780395851593
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
03/30/1998
Edition description:
None
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
8.78(w) x 10.80(h) x 0.39(d)
Lexile:
680L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

Master storyteller James Rumford combines his love for art and history in his picture books. Each of his books is vastly different in its content, design, and illustrations but one aspect remains constant throughout his work: his passion about his subjects. Rumford, a resident of Hawaii, has studied more than a dozen languages and worked in the Peace Corps, where he traveled to Africa, Asia, and Afghanistan. He draws from these experiences and the history of his subject when he is working on a book. His book Sequoyah: The Cherokee Man Who Gave His People Writing was a 2005 Sibert Honor winner.

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