“Kapaemahu is a Poignant Monument to the Power of Hidden Histories” - Kirkus Reviews

Kirkus Reviews of the Kapaemahu children’s picture book to be released by Penguin Random House – April 1, 2022:

“A rich retelling of an ancient Indigenous Hawaiian legend.”

Long ago, four mahu (spirits) traveled from Tahiti to Waikiki, Hawaii. Neither male nor female, they were “a mixture of both in mind, heart, and spirit.” Each had a specific “skill in the science of healing.” Their leader, Kapaemahu, “healed by laying on hands.” Kapuni “possessed great spiritual power.” Kinohi could look inside a person and see what was ailing them. Kahaloa had the gift of distance healing. The mahu shared their wisdom with the islanders, who, in turn, erected a monument in their honor; four enormous boulders were moved down a mountain and placed together on the beach. The mahu ceremonially transferred their powers to the rocks then vanished. For centuries the stones remained on Waikiki Beach; times changed, and eventually the monument lay forgotten under the city. It has since been recovered, but its history and meaning continue to be erased. Written in both Olelo Niihau and English, this picture book, based on the authors’ Academy Award–shortlisted animated short, underscores the importance of preserving sacred spaces and is a powerful reminder of how story honors our ancestors. Filled with cultural details and beautifully illustrated in vibrant tropical colors, the book pays homage to Indigenous Hawaiian healing traditions and affirms two-spirit people. The fascinating backmatter provides background information about the original Hawaiian legend and Niihau dialect. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A poignant monument to the power of hidden Indigenous histories. (author’s note, glossary)(Picture book. 7-12)”