Dawn Raid

Dawn Raid cover
Dawn Raid by Pauline Vaeluaga Smith. Illustrated by Mat Hunkin

By Pauline Vaeluaga Smith
Illustrated by Mat Hunkin
Levine Querido, 2021
224 pages

Ages 9-12

Twelve-year-old Sofia, Samoan/white, living in New Zealand in the mid-1970s, is chosen to participate in a regional speech competition after wowing with a classroom presentation titled “About Me.” Sofia is encouraged to pick a topic she’s genuinely interested for the 10-minute competition entry, but she has no idea what that might be. Her older brother Lenny is the one who tells her about the Polynesian Panthers, an activist and community support group modeled on the Black Panthers working to end the dawn raids against Pacific Islanders in New Zealand. Aimed at arresting “overstayers” whose visas have expired, Sofia learns the raids are racially motivated, primarily targeting Pacific Islanders, although 2/3 who are in violation are from Australia and Europe. This story about family, friendship, activism, and social justice is told through Sofia’s entertaining diary entries. Her voice is often funny and always fresh and honest, whether describing her quest to earn enough to buy white Go-Go boots, the antics of her younger brothers, surprising discoveries about people she thought she had figured out, or the intersection of the personal and political. ©2021 Cooperative Children’s Book Center