The Eel Hunt by Jennifer Somervell Illus. by Margery Fern.
Eeling is a compulsory part of being a New Zealander. At least it was when I was growing up and it didn’t matter whether you grew up in the country or the city. We all did it. Even the cities had creeks and rivers but pollution has dealt to most of them and hence it is now mostly gone.
The well honed team of Jennifer Somervell and sister illustrator Margery Fern have captured this rights of passage event at night on the upper Manawatu River.
Once the idea is hatched on a warm summers eve the family use the No 8 mentality to conjure up the eel spears and lighting and under a crescent moon head for the river on the back of the farm truck.
Written in rhyming verse with typical Kiwi language, eels are caught, smoked, cooked and eaten “till our pukus were full”.
The water colour illustrations are just right. This book like the other two by the same sisters, demands to be read allowed with some relish especially the part where the girl has an eel wriggle up her leg.
A bonus is the life cycle of the endangered longfin eel and the more common shortfin eel at the back of this picture book.
Will appeal to all age groups especially juniors and the baby boomers.