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Childrens Books About Native Hawaiian Culture. Take a look at some of Cardinal Rule Press’s favorite picture books all about native Hawaiians and their stories! #NativeHawaiianCulture #ChildrensBooks #PictureBooks #BooksToRead

Hawai’i is known for its gorgeous landscapes and unique culture. Yet too often, native Hawaiian’s stories are overlooked. With rich history, legends, and values, take a look at some of Cardinal Rule Press’s favorite picture books all about native Hawaiians and their stories!

THE LAST PRINCESS: THE STORY OF PRINCESS KA’IULANI OF HAWAI’I BY FAY STANLEY (AUTHOR), DIANE STANLEY (ILLUSTRATOR)

The day she was born, bells rang joyously and cannon fired noisy salutes–at last there was an heir to the Hawaiian throne. But although this beautiful young princess worked tirelessly to prepare herself to rule, and fought bravely to protect the rights of her beloved people, she would never be queen.

When it was first published, The Last Princess: The Story of Princess Ka’iulani of Hawai’i won many honors for its sensitive text and brilliantly colored illustrations. “The full page paintings are reflecting the beauty of the islands and the handsome racially mixed people who live there…A visual treat,” said School Library Journal in a starred review. A 1991 American Library Association Notable Book, it also won the Carter G. Woodson Award from the National Council Social Studies.

PONO, THE GARDEN GUARDIAN BY DANI HICKMAN (AUTHOR), KRISTI PETOSA-SIGEL (ILLUSTRATOR)

Pono is a little Hawaiian Menehune, a mythological people known for their short stature and being very adept builders and crafters. He lives with his friends in Mrs. Miyamoto’s garden, playing little pranks like hiding gardening tools and moving objects around. One day, Mrs. Miyamoto trips on a displaced garden hose and breaks her foot. A guilty Pono starts to question his behavior, wondering why he and his friends play pranks on the human giants. Will Pono continue to cause mischief like his friends, or will he take a righteous path and make amends?

PUNIA AND THE KING OF SHARKS: A HAWAIIAN FOLKTALE BY LEE WARDLAW (AUTHOR), FELIPE DAVALOS (ILLUSTRATOR)

All Punia wants is a succulent lobster dinner for himself and his mother, and the use of the lobster cave for his fellow villagers.  Three times Punia tricks the King of Sharks, the guardian of the lobster cave; three times he brings home tasty fresh lobster for his mother.  But each time Punia succeeds, the King of Sharks gets angrier.  Will the King of Sharks take revenge on Punia, or will Punia’s clever tricks make him the hero of his whole village?

TOO MANY MANGOS BY TAMMY PAIKAI (AUTHOR), DON ROBINSON (ILLUSTRATOR)

Based on the author’s childhood experiences, Too Many Mangos is the story of two young Hawaiians, Kama and Nani, who help their grandpa pick mangos from the giant mango tree. They pick large, small, ripe, half-ripe, and even green mangos. But this time, they’ve picked too many, so it’s time to load up the wagon and share the tasty treats with friends and family. Along the way, they show young readers the many ways to enjoy the treasured island fruit, and introduce their friendly neighbors around the block. Tammy Paikai’s thoughtful text and Don Robinson’s vibrant illustrations capture the joys of island living while teaching a valuable lesson about friendship and community.

HO’ONANI: HULA WARRIOR BY HEATHER GALE (AUTHOR), MIKA SONG (ILLUSTRATOR)

An empowering celebration of identity, acceptance and Hawaiian culture based on the true story of a young girl in Hawaiʻi who dreams of leading the boys-only hula troupe at her school.

Ho’onani feels in-between. She doesn’t see herself as wahine (girl) OR kane (boy). She’s happy to be in the middle. But not everyone sees it that way.

When Ho’onani finds out that there will be a school performance of a traditional kane hula chant, she wants to be part of it. But can a girl really lead the all-male troupe? Ho’onani has to try . . .

Based on a true story, Ho’onani: Hula Warrior is a celebration of Hawaiian culture and an empowering story of a girl who learns to lead and learns to accept who she really is–and in doing so, gains the respect of all those around her.

Bring native Hawaiian culture into your classrooms, homes, and conversations with these wonderful picture books. Have a favorite off the list? Tweet us @CardinalRulePrs to let us know!

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Martina Rethman is an editorial intern with Cardinal Rule Press. She is currently a senior at Carnegie Mellon University.

Cardinal Rule Press

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