for Dawn Raid
by Pauline Vaeluaga Smith
and Mat Hunkin
Twelve-year-old biracial Sofia (Samoan/white) lives in New Zealand in the mid-1970s. Sofia 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 in 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 two-thirds of those 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. (Ages 9-12)
CCBC Choices 2022. © Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2022. Used with permission.
Imagine this: You're having an amazing family holiday, one where everyone is there and all 18 of you are squeezed into one house. All of sudden it's 4 o'clock in the morning and there's banging and yelling and screaming. The police are in the house pulling people out of bed ...
Sofia is like most 12-year-old girls in New Zealand. How is she going to earn enough money for those boots? WHY does she have to give that speech at school? Who is she going to be friends with this year?
It comes as a surprise to Sofia and her family when her big brother, Lenny, starts talking about protests, "overstayers", and injustices against Pacific Islanders by the government. Inspired by the Black Panthers in America, a group has formed called the Polynesian Panthers, who encourage immigrant and Indigenous families across New Zealand to stand up for their rights. Soon the whole family becomes involved in the movement.
Told through Sofia's diary entries, with illustrations throughout, Dawn Raid is the story of one ordinary girl living in extraordinary times, learning how to stand up and fight.
Publisher description retrieved from Google Books.