Ho‘onani: Hula Warrior

Heather Gale, illus. by Mika Song. Tundra, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7352-6449-6
Ho‘onani, a Hawaiian schoolchild, identifies not as wahine (girl), or kāne (boy), but just as herself (she uses she/her pronouns). Her parents are proud of her strength and independence: “She does what she wants!” her father says. But her sister Kana rolls her eyes when Ho‘onani auditions for the traditional hula chant performance given by the high school kāne, and says “How embarrassing!” when she’s accepted. After working hard to internalize “the sway and song of story,” Ho‘onani is chosen as the group’s chant leader: “When Ho‘onani saw complete awe and true acceptance, she held her place. Strong,/ sure,/ and steady.” Ho‘onani confronts the possibility that the audience will resist a wahine leader, but in a triumphant conclusion, they acknowledge her gifts—and so does her sister. Boldly outlined watercolor and ink artwork by Song (A Friend for Henry) conveys visual information with strength that suggests Ho‘onani’s own. And Gale grounds the child’s experience, based on a true story, in Hawaiian traditions, modeling showing “every person the same unconditional acceptance and respect.” Ages 4–8. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 07/25/2019
Release date: 10/01/2019
Genre: Children's
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