Winter Books Issue - 2005

Winter Books Issue – 2005 / Pop stars Madonna and Paul McCartney, former New York City mayor Ed Koch, soccer star Mia Hamm, TV personality Katie Couric. What do these celebrities have in common? Why, writing childrens’ books, of course. These days it seems easier to become a household name before trying to break into the children’s book market but that doesn’t stop some local authors and publishers from cranking out the colorful readers every few months. The Weekly spent some small-kid time with POG and hanabata face as we perused some of the season’s children’s book offerings.

If you grew up in Hawai’i, you’ve probably heard about the faceless lady in the Wai’alae Drive-in bathroom and the Morgan’s Corner ghost on the Old Pali Road. Storyteller Lopaka Kapanui possesses a rich collection of tales in his memory bank, but many of these have been relayed to him firsthand from folks who have actually experienced a supernatural occurrence–these aren’t just legends passed down from tutu. Kapanui compiled a bunch of these chicken-skin stories into book form–Haunted Hawaiian Nights (Mutual Publishing, $9.95). The book’s most promising attribute is that each story is short enough to read at one sitting. A lot of the ghost-story-by-the-campfire shock value is lost when reading the hard copy–BOO! (see what I mean?)– but for the histrionic middle-schooler, remembering and retelling these tales with a creepy demeanor shouldn’t be too hard a task.

No surprises in Wuz da Nite Befo’, by Margaret Steele (Mutual Publishing, $10.95). The cadence of the original Christmas Eve poem is intact.

An’ me wid my coco
An’ ma wid her poi,
We jus’ settle down
Fo’ one rap–when oh boy!

Some things you shouldn’t mess with too much. This pidgin version of ”Twas the Night Before Christmas’ is a close parallel to the one we all know and love. The colorful, expressive illustrations by Roy Chang don’t hurt. Fo’ da extra las’-minute keiki on your lis’, fo’ shua!

Sometimes it seems that many children’s book authors really don’t get it when it comes to the intricate make-up of a child’s mind. Not true for author/poet Sue Cowling and illustrator Jon J. Murakami. My Dog Has Flies: Poetry For Hawai’i’s Kids (Beachhouse Publishing, $12.95) demonstrates a complete understanding of kids’ complex sense of humor and interests in 2005–not the 1970s. My personal favorite for titular reasons: ‘Connecting With Becky.’

Becky has all the latest gear
Everything’s beeping, a plug in each ear.
Her player’s digital, her notebook’s solar.
There’s a tiny telephone in -her molar.

Sleeping Bear Press completes its Discover America State by State series of alphabet books with A is for Aloha (Sleeping Bear Press, $17.95) by U’ilani Goldsberry, illustrated by Tammy Yee. Kids can learn about ‘Iolani Palace (the letter ‘I’ of course), tsunamis, volcanoes and other ‘local’ stuffs through short rhymes and more detailed text. What does ‘X’ stand for, you’re dying to know? ‘X marks the spot,’ with a description of where the Hawaiian archipelago fits on the world map.