Nearly two centuries after foreigners assimilated the Hawaiian language into written form, many of us have learned to appreciate how the written version of an otherwise oral tradition has actually helped preserve the Hawaiian language and other elements of Hawaiian culture. While we’ve come to appreciate seeing Hawaiian words in print–sometimes if only as a reminder that people are still printing them–there’s always that sense of feeling one-step removed, like how the description on a menu can make our mouths water but can’t enable us to taste the dish being described. If food is best when eaten, ‘olelo Hawaii is undoubtedly best when heard and spoken.
Kamehameha Publishing’s Mohala Mai ‘o Hau, or How Hau Became Hauula, makes it easy for Hawaiian language practitioners of all levels to revel in the beauty and power of the language o ka ‘aina. The story, which features side-by-side English and Hawaiian translations, is about a girl named Hau, who feels overshadowed by the beauty and talents of her four older sisters, or kaikuaana.
A children’s story for all ages, Mohala Mai ‘o Hau is simple yet strong, and coupled with lovely illustrations. With the help of a wise kupuna, Hau finally blossoms. So, too, will the Hawaiian language for anyone who grows to love this beautiful story.