A Tahitian tale of a monstrous mother.
Rona Long-Teeth loves her daughter, Hina, dearly. She keeps her skin moisturized, combs her hair until it shines like water and feeds her the best food so she will grow up strong and healthy. Though Rona cares for her daughter, she “[feels] nothing for the people on the island.” In the evenings, while Hina sleeps, Rona makes late-night visits to the huts in her village to eat the juiciest young humans. Hina is completely unaware of her mother’s monstrous tendencies until she befriends a young man named Monoi, who falls in love with her and tells her the truth. Undertones of the Rapunzel story run deep here, but understatement is the order of the day. “Hina had no idea that Rona Long-Teeth ate human beings. She was very upset.” This story, told in five chapters, gallops on to its stunning conclusion: Tricking the murdering mother, the village chief kills her before she can kill her own daughter. Vivid acrylic paintings and amusing speech bubbles unsuccessfully attempt to make light of the violence. The recurring theme of cannibalism and the image of the mother, with her huge, toothy mouth and fanglike beads on her shirt, about to eat her own daughter are a bit rough in a book for emerging readers.
Misses the mark for the intended audience. (sources) (Folktale/early reader. 6-10)