Tales of Polynesia

Folktales from Hawai'i, New Zealand, Tahiti, and Samoa

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Pub Date May 09 2023 | Archive Date May 08 2023

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Explore the enchanting world of Polynesian folklore in this beautifully illustrated collection of traditional stories.

A woman falls in love with the king of the sharks. Two powerful sorcerers compete in a battle of magical wits. The king of Maui's fastest messenger races to bring a young woman back from the dead. In these traditional tales, the borders blur between life and death, reality and magic, and land and sea.

This volume includes legends from Hawai'i, New Zealand, Tahiti, and Samoa, showcasing the rich narrative tradition of the Polynesian islands. You'll encounter awe-inspiring warriors, tricky magicians, and fearsome creatures of the deep. Each tale is paired with evocative contemporary art, creating a special illustrated edition to read, share, and treasure across generations.  

Explore the enchanting world of Polynesian folklore in this beautifully illustrated collection of traditional stories.

A woman falls in love with the king of the sharks. Two powerful sorcerers...

Available Editions

EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9781797217567
PRICE $24.95 (USD)

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Average rating from 21 members

Featured Reviews

Tales of Polynesia is the perfect introduction to the rich folklore and native cultural heritage of Hawai'i, New Zealand, Tahiti, and Samoa. Divided into sections, these fascinating tales deal with legends and myths surrounding Trickers, Creatures of the Earth and Sea, Life and Death, and Family. Bringing the tales to life are stunning illustrations from Yingling Changues. A perfect addition to the folklore series from Chronicle Books and a great way to engage young readers in the vibrant world of mythology.

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This is a very nice compilation of tales from a part of the world I’m not very familiar with. I felt like I was able to catch a glimpse into the cultures and customs of each place as I read. The illustrations were vibrant and really helped set each story up.

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This book, and series in general, is good for anybody who is interested in folktales from different cultures. If you've read any of Grimm's fairy tales, you'll already be familiar with the writing style in this. Unfortunately, it is not one that I particularly like.

The footnotes throughout are more annoying than helpful. Sometimes they're just stating the Latin name of a plant, or a phrase in the native language. A couple times they translated something from the text, but there were a few more times where that would've been helpful instead of just leaving the reader to guess the meaning of non-English words.

I'm unsure about the art style in this, but I think that I like it overall. The cover is definitely the best one.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an eARC.

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Disclaimer: I received an ARC via Netgalley.
This is a wonderful collection. Changues divides the tales up into types – such as Life and Death, Tricksters. There are tragic love stories, happy endings, and tricky characters. There is a good section of tales from Hawaii which is nice as that state tends to get overlooked way too often. I also like the fac that Samoa is included.
While the book can be used by the younger set, it is also a good source for adults interested in folktales and legends.
While most of the tales are shorter ones, the inclusion of longer, almost epic tales, is wonderful to see. Including such stories is important and provides a nice showcase for the legends. Changues also includes darker tales, and some tales do not have the traditional happy ending. This too is a nice touch.
There are plenty of tales, as well, where women take center stage.

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I love the inclusion of short stories and epics. There were so many different kinds of stories that opened my eyes to Polynesian folklore. The illustrations were beautiful and complemented the stories very well.

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This is a very enjoyable introduction to Polynesian folktales, appropriate for both adults and children. The stories are drawn from different regions and are divided into sections on tricksters, creatures of earth and sea, life and death, and family. I also appreciate the list of sources at the end of the book, complete with links to digitized editions of the collections from which the stories were taken.

My one complaint is kind of nit-picky: the stories were printed nearly verbatim from late 19th and early 20th century anthropological works and there is no consistency in how the authors used footnotes. It would have been nice if this collection had done some light editing so the footnotes were uniform.

Received via NetGalley.

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Thank you so much to NetGalley and Yiling Changues for providing me with a complimentary digital ARC for Tales of Polynesia coming out May 8, 2023. The honest opinions expressed in this review are my own.

A young woman falls in love with the king of sharks. Two great sorcerers compete in a battle of wits. The king of Maui's messenger works to bring a young woman back from the dead. In these traditional folktales, the lines blur between life and death, reality and magic, and land and sea.

This volume includes legends from Hawai'i, New Zealand, Tahiti, and Samoa, showcasing the rich traditional narrative of the Polynesian islands. You'll encounter great warriors, tricky magicians, and dark creatures of the deep. Each tale is paired with contemporary art, creating a special illustrated edition to read, share, and treasure across generations.

I loved this book so much! It wasn’t long enough. I hope there are more books like this. I’m part Samoan on my mom’s side. My grandparents and mom have lived in Samoa, New Zealand and Hawai’i. So I was definitely interested in reading these tales. I’m always looking for new books about Polynesians. I don’t think there are a lot out there, so I appreciate the author creating this compilation of stories and artwork. It’s such a beautiful culture.

I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in Polynesian folktales!

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I really enjoyed reading these stories and learning more about Polynesian folklore. I also really loved the visual art included!

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this book was a fantastic introduction to a mythology and culture I was unfamiliar with. Really enjoyed reading these stories.

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This is an absolutely beautiful book! It is perfect for middle-schoolers to old-timers. Yiling Changues does a wonderful job bringing these stories from Hawaii, Tahiti, New Zealand, and Samoa to life. The stories are about tricksters, love, family, creatures, and life and death.. Each story has a beautiful piece of art next to it. This book is perfect for lovers of folklore, it is a must for your collection.

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This was a particularly interesting read now that I've been to both Hawai'i and New Zealand! That certainly lent depth and appreciation to the read; not that it's mandatory, of course, but it sure helped for me. I grew up with such a Northern Hemisphere-centric feast of folktales and children's stories, I really had minimal exposure to "down south," as it were. This book is a welcome addition on that front, and also helpfully provides additional resources at the end for those who want to learn more.

I realized while reading this that folktales have a writing style all their own. It's hard to edit them for conciseness, nor would one necessarily want to; yes, certainly it's possible to be overly wordy, but on the same token, brevity doesn't do a folktale favors! (And let's face it, one an editor, always an editor, lol. It's in my blood. :D) I think this collection suffers a wee bit in that most of the translations are from the public domain, ergo around a hundred years old...sometimes the stories read a little rough as a result, but they're still enjoyable.

The cover art is definitely my favorite of the illustrations, and what initially drew me to the book. It's quite pretty.

A solid introduction to the topic of Polynesian folktales; 3.5 stars.

I received an eARC of the book from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

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In a Nutshell: An interesting collection of folklore from four Polynesian places. Liked the stories; didn’t like the presentation. This is more of a collector’s edition than a children’s storybook.

This is a collection of fifteen folktales taken from Hawaii, New Zealand, Tahiti, and Samoa. The stories are clubbed into four groups: Tricksters; Creatures of Earth and Sea; Life and Death; and Family.

The stories are similar in feel to most traditional lore, in that they are somewhat dark and not exactly straightforward and not necessarily with neat or happy endings. Nature and fae folk have an important role to play in every tale. The location is the highlight, and the richness of the island locale can be perceived in each story.

These stories have all been taken from works published in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As the original text hasn’t been modified much, the stories feel somewhat clunky in flow. The roundabout writing style, and the vocabulary level makes this suitable only to teens and older readers.

The length of the stories is quite varied; while most are just about 3-4 pages long, a few are quite lengthy, with one story reaching 24 pages.

Some of the unusual names/terms are accompanied by a footnote. But many of these notes were totally useless. For instance, why would the Latin/scientific name of a traditional plant be helpful to me the lay reader in understanding the story better? Wouldn’t its relevance in local culture be a more useful bit of information? Or when I see the name ‘Mohoalii’ in the text, how is learning that it is the alternate name of ‘Kamohoalii’ going to help me if I don’t even know who Kamohoalii is or what he does!?

I was also disappointed in the illustrations. When the blurb promised ‘a beautifully illustrated collection’, I expected the pages to be filled with artwork. However, the stories are presented in a plain text format. Each story has only one main full-page colour illustration, which appears just before the story begins. The illustrations also weren’t really appealing to me, but this can’t be taken as a concrete negative as art is always subjective.

This would work well for readers who have a passion for folklore and would want to explore beautiful tales from places whose lore isn’t commonly found in print. I just wish the writing style had made it a more accessible book to a wider audience. We do need more indigenous stories from the Polynesian islands.

3.25 stars.

My thanks to Chronicle Books and NetGalley for the DRC of “Tales of Polynesia: Folktales from Hawai'i, New Zealand, Tahiti, and Samoa”. This review is voluntary and contains my honest opinion about the book.

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Tales of Polynesia: Folkltales from Hawai’i, New Zealand, Tahiti, and Samoa by Yiling Changues.
Thank you Chronicle Books for providing an e-copy through NetGalley.
Rating: 4.5
This is a short yet comprehensive book of folktales from Polynesia, featuring tales about trickers, creatures of the earth and sea, life and death, and family (those are the chapters). The art is stunning: A mix of black and white line work contrasted with intense, bright color with market/paint. What makes the book especially great is its Polynesian author, Yiling Changues. With folklore books, many editors or authors are not of the same heritage as the folklore, so readers miss crucial cultural insights, perspectives, and translations, or even sometimes get inaccuracies and bias in the storytelling. Fortunately for this book, Changues is Tahitian, so she can compile this wonderful collection that is fun to read. She lists her sources in the back and explains the translation changes that she made in the stories as well. Many of the sources come from older collections compiled by non-natives, but many of those got their stories from actual natives. As is the case with much folklore and ethnographic studies, sometimes you have to take what you can get. Overall, this is a great start into Polynesian storytelling.
Review Date: May 1, 2023

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Chronicle Books and NetGalley provided an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed here are solely my own.

I love folks tales and mythology, but this particular collection felt flat. I felt like I was reading back dictation instead of being immersed in rich stores and I found myself quickly losing interest.

In contrast, the artwork included in this book is stunning. I have to add a star just for that.

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I just really liked it because the book highlights fairytales that you don't normally hear about or see portrayed by Disney (excluding Moana), so I found this book to be a welcome addition to anyone's collection of worldly fairytales.

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