THE OLD ZION by William Mayne
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A South Sea island; a ship; a peculiar cargo. ""...who is Koalamatangi? And why has he bought a church?"" So begins this pleasant surprise from William Mayne. Koalamatangi is a Ha'apai man, from another island, and his people have imported a new prefabricated church from America for the Queen; but before it can be put up, the old church, the Zion, must be moved by the resident islanders. Beni and Tui, outspoken little boys, advise their father, George, to ""Let a lot of men pick it up and carry it in one piece."" The move, guided by Beni on the roof ringing the bell, turns into a race between George and the islanders relocating old Zion and the Ha'apai erecting the new church. Simple? Only on the surface; underneath is a relaxed, rueful acceptance of fate, with, here and there, a sly surprise--expectations turned slightly askew in a different thought pattern. Unfortunately for the large illustrated format, the drawings are somewhat heavy, and the arbitrary color accents--one color to a double-page spread--become somewhat monotonous. But the story, told with tantalizing style, gives effortless insight via a small vignette of island life.

Pub Date: Feb. 14th, 1967
Publisher: Dutton