Alana Joli Abbott (alanajoli) wrote,
Alana Joli Abbott

"Maui, Trickster, Demi-god, Hero of All People" (Pre-Disney Tales)

I went to see Moana this past weekend and, unsurprisingly, really enjoyed it. An action-adventure mythology tale with a prominent Trickster figure and a female lead is pretty much a perfect fit for a story I'm guaranteed to enjoy. This is not to say I'm not a Disney critical thinker; I have certainly applied the word "Disnification" to folk and fairy tales to imply the tale is reduced from an earlier form. That gets even more complicated beyond the Western fairy tale cannon (see footnote about indigenous commentary—worth checking out!). So I've always been a fan of expanding knowledge of a Disney animated feature's background stories, whether that's with the slew of international Cinderella tales, rereading Anderson's The Little Mermaid or The Snow Queen, or, in the case of Moana, doing some research into previously published Maui stories, especially the ones accessible to the same audience who will be attracted to the film.

So here's the beginning of my research into Maui stories. I am likely to post this on my website for others to reference and so it's easier to update, and I'll put a link in this post when I do. My links are to B&N or the publisher's site if the book is currently available new, and Alibris if it's only available used. I've put in cover images where I could find them. If you know of additional Maui books available for younger readers, I'd be delighted to list them here, especially if they come recommended! I've not yet read any of these, so it's a resource list, not a recommendation (though I hope many of them are good!).

Also worth mentioning is Maui the Demigod by Steven Goldsberry, Poseidon, 1984. It's an adult novel that retells several Maui tales. I've also had recommended for this list the children's novel Call It Courage by Armstrong Sperry, which won a Newberry in 1941, and I list it here with the caveat that several Goodreads reviews mention that it is very much of its era and gives a very European-centric impression of Polynesia.

Update 12/8/16: There's an excellent essay on Maui (and criticism of the film) in Huffington Post article "Goddess Hina: The Missing Heroine from Disney's Moana" by Tevita O. Ka'ili.

[Updated 12/13/16: For those looking for indigenous criticism of the film, there are some interesting discussions here, here, here, here, here, here, and another roundup here, as well as a pretty comprehensive article in Smithsonian.]
Tags: mythology

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