Kapaemahu by Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu Dean Hamer, and Joe Wilson, illustrated by Daniel Sousa

Published by Kokila

Summary:  This Hawaiian legend tells the story of four healers, or mahu, who traveled from Tahiti.  They were neither male nor female, but “a mixture of both in mind, heart, and spirit.”  Each one had their own healing power: spiritual, all-seeing, healing from afar, and laying on of hands.  After bequeathing their powers on the people of the island, the Hawaiians wanted to build a monument to show their gratitude.  They moved four huge boulders onto the beach at Waikiki.  Even after the mahu left, the stones remained for many centuries until more and more people arrived in Hawaii and the area was built up.  The stones have been recovered, but the true nature of the mahu has often been written out of the story.  This book (and the film on which it is based) seeks to correct that.  Includes authors’ notes, a history of the healer stones, additional information about the Olelo Niihau language, and a glossary.  40 pages; grades 1-5.

Pros:  Written in both English and the indigenous Hawaiian Olelo Niihau language, this beautiful legend inspired both this book and a short film, released in 2021.  The author’s note reveals that the nature of the mahu was removed from the story for many years, due to their possession of both male and female spirits.  An excellent addition to collections of both folklore and bilingual books.

Cons:  A Google search revealed to me that the stones are popularly known as the Wizard Stones, which feels like kind of a trivialization of the true story. 

August 24, 2022 at 03:49PM Janet Dawson