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Aloha, Hawaii!

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I started this list because of all the buzz about Moana; while I realize that film is not totally rooted in Hawaiian culture, I wanted my children to have a deeper understanding of the rich history of one of the Polynesian islands than a single film (however dominant in the marketplace) could provide. What follows is a list that delves into the historical, geological, and mythological stories of Hawaii. There are stories that focus on native peoples, colonialism, Pearl Harbor, and President Obama, as well as tales that tell of contemporary, everyday life on the islands. There are stories of the volcanoes and wildlife that make the islands unique. And there are, of course, stories from the mythological tradition (many about Maui that, my elder daughter noted, did not make it into the Disney movie). As always, I appreciate the interdisciplinary approach of this list and the way it illustrates a place with a rich history that is by no means confined to the past.

  1. A is for Aloha: A Hawai’i Alphabet by U’ilani Goldsberry and Tammy Yee
  2. The Adventures of Bella & Harry: Let’s Visit Maui! by Lisa Manzione and Kristine Lucco
  3. Aloha Is… by Tammy Paikai and Rosalie Prussing
  4. Children of Hawaii by Frank Staub
  5. Dumpling Soup by Jama Kim Rattigan and Lillian Hsu-Flanders
  6. Goodnight Hawaiian Moon by Dr. Carolan and Joanna F. Carolan
  7. Grandma Calls Me Beautiful by Barbara Joosse and Barbara Lavallee
  8. Listen to Hawaiian Playground by Putumayo Kids Presents
  9. Hawai’i: The Aloha State by Jill Foran
  10. Hawaii: The Aloha State by Emily Oachs
  11. The Hawai’i Snowman by Christine Lê and Michel Lê
  12. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park by M.C. Hall
  13. How Māui Slowed the Sun by Suelyn Ching Tune and Robert Yoko Burningham
  14. Hula Lullaby by Erin Eitter Kono
  15. The Last Princess: The Story of Princess Ka’iulani of Hawai’i by Fay Stanley and Diane Stanley
  16. The Legend of the Kukui Nut by Robert Brandon Henderson and Mark McKenna
  17. Legends of Landforms: Native American Lore and the Geology of the Land by Carole G. Vogel
  18. Little Princess Ka’iulani in Her Garden in the Sea by Ellie Crowe and Mary Koski
  19. Māui and the Secret of Fire by Suelyn Ching Tune and Robert Yoko Burningham
  20. The Menehune of Naupaka Village: A Hawaiian Fairy Tale by Christopher Sur and Gary Kato
  21. The Musubi Man: Hawai’i’s Gingerbread Man by Sandi Takayama and Pat Hall
  22. Pearl Harbor by Stephen Krensky and Larry Day
  23. Pele and Poli’ahu: A Tale of Fire and Ice by Malia Collins and Kathleen Peterson
  24. Pele and the Rivers of Fire by Michael Nordenstrom
  25. Pig-Boy: A Trickster Tale from Hawai’i by Gerald McDermott
  26. A President from Hawai’i by Dr. Terry Carolan, Joanna Carolan, and Elizabeth Zunon
  27. Punia and the King of Sharks: A Hawaiian Folktale by Lee Wardlaw and Felipe Davalos
  28. South Pacific Mythology by Jim Ollhoff
  29. The Story of Hula by Carla Golembe
  30. The Surprising Things Maui Did by Jay Williams and Charles Mikolaycak
  31. Tales of Tutu Nene and Nele by Gale Bates and Carole Hinds McCarty
  32. Tsunami: The True Story of an April Fools’ Day Disaster by Gail Langer Karwoski and John MacDonald
  33. The Woman in the Moon: A Story from Hawai’i by Jama Kim Rattigan and Carla Golembe
  34. Young Princesses around the World: A Story Based on the Real Life of Princess Liliuokalani of Hawaii by Joan Holub and Nonna Aleshina
  35. Who Is Barack Obama? by Roberta Edwards and John O’Brien
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Water, Water Everywhere!

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This list combines our study of water, the water cycle, and oceans. After all, it’s all connected! A family vacation to the ocean (and our second trip to The Mystic Aquarium, which inspired this list on whales two years ago) prompted further study of the enchanting Atlantic. As much as I consider this a science unit, the art of the ocean is inescapable. The photographs, illustrations, and films showed us a world of wonder that is both essential to our survival and astoundingly beautiful.

  1. All the Water in the World by George Ella Lyon and Katherine Tillatson
  2. Watch The Cat in the Hat Knows a lot about That: Ocean Commotion
  3. Watch The Cat in the Hat Knows a lot about That: Told from the Cold
  4. Watch Disneynature’s Oceans
  5. Down Comes the Rain by Franklyn Branley and James Graham Hale
  6. A Drop of Water: A Book of Science and Wonder by Walter Wick
  7. Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Sharks and Other Sea Monsters by Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart
  8. Watch DK Eyewitness’s Ocean
  9. Follow the Water from Brook to Ocean by Arthur Dorros
  10. Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by Claire A. Nivola
  11. Oh Say Can You Say What’s the Weather Today? All about Weather by Tish Rabe and Aristides Ruiz
  12. Magic School Bus Wet All Over: A Book about the Water Cycle by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen
  13. Raindrops Roll by April Pulley Sayre
  14. Watch DK Eyewitness Seashore
  15. The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
  16. The Snowflake: A Water Cycle Story by Neil Waldman
  17. Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems by Joyce Sidman and Beckie Prange
  18. Water by John Woodward
  19. Water Dance by Thomas Locker
  20. What Makes an Ocean Wave? Questions and Answers about Oceans and Ocean Life by Melvin Berger, Gilda Berger, and John Rice
  21. Wish for Fish: All about Sea Creatures by Bonnie Worth and Aristides Ruiz
  22. Why Is the Sea Salty? And Other Questions about…Oceans by Benjamin Richmond

 

 


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Whale Tales

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My entire family was enchanted by the beluga whale exhibit at The Mystic Aquarium. We watched through the glass, mesmerized, as those big white beauties glided through the water. Although we saw a lot of amazing animals on that trip, none made quite the same impression as the belugas—whose combination of adorableness and majesty captivated my older daughter in particular. She used some of her birthday money to purchase a plush beluga in the souvenir shop, and that whale still holds pride of place even months after our aquarium encounter. I fueled her interest with this book list, featuring some titles about belugas specifically and some about whales more generally. These stories balance fiction and nonfiction while highlighting the beauty of these gentle giants.

  1. Amos & Boris by William Steig
  2. Beluga Passage by Linda Lingemann and Jon Weiman
  3. Beluga Whales by Megan Gunderson
  4. The Christmas Whale by Roger Duvoisin
  5. Hello, Baby Beluga by Darrin Lunde and Patricia J. Wynne
  6. Humphrey the Lost Whale: A True Story by Wendy Tokuda, Richard Hall, and Hanako Wakiyama
  7. Ibis: A True Whale Story by John Himmelman
  8. Jonah’s Whale by Eileen Spinelli and Giuliano Ferri
  9. Pipaluk and the Whales by John Himmelman
  10. The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
  11. The Whale: Lighthouse Family by Cynthia Rylant and Preston McDaniels
  12. Whale Is Stuck by Karen Hayles and Charles Fuge
  13. A Whale of a Tale! All About Porpoises, Dolphins, and Whales by Bonnie Worth, Aritides Ruiz, and Joe Mathieu
  14. Whales by Gail Gibbons
  15. Whales by Seymour Simon
  16. Whales: The Gentle Giants by Joyce Milton and Alton Langford