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by James Rumford & illustrated by James Rumford

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: March 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-395-85159-9
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

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 fifth—Manu, considered too young for so perilous a voyage, and so a stowaway—is 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)