Penguin/Kokila. Jun. 2022. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593530061.
Gr 3-5–Kapaemahu, a reference to the four healing stones found on Waikiki Beach, is a Hawaiian legend told through the eyes of its spiritual natives. The story’s opening pages highlight the journey that four Tahitians took to settle in Ulukou on Waikiki. Each of the four leaders—Kapaemahu, Kapuni, Kinohi, and Kahaloa—possessed a special healing power to help the island’s inhabitants. Following their healing, the people of Waikiki showed their gratitude by moving four large boulders to their beach. This book is best suited for elementary students at the intermediate level due to its advanced vocabulary; the illustrations feature mostly dark colors to represent the mysticism and suppression of Hawaii’s Indigenous people. The book is also incredibly important as a story for children to connect with regarding gender identity (“The visitors were tall and deep in voice yet gentle and soft-spoken. They were not male; they were not female”) as well as cultural preservation. The latter can be translated to any culture being studied or observed in school or at home and provides a great lesson in acceptance and love in a diverse world. Few readers will have heard of the Kapaemahu. It is a wonderful story to honor the Indigenous people of Hawaii and celebrates their history beautifully, while still giving appropriate attention to the suppression of native people and the need to honor those who came before. Back matter includes glossary, author’s note, and more.
VERDICT This unique offering serves as a fine read-aloud in conjunction with a history lesson on Hawaii, its people, their language, and the colonization that occurred.

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