An Indigenous legend about how four extraordinary individuals of dual male and female spirit, or Mahu, brought healing arts from Tahiti to Hawaii, based on the Academy Award–contending short film.

Product Code: 9206
ISBN: 9780593530061
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Kokila
Pages: 40
Published Date: 06/07/2022
Availability:In stock
Price: $17.99

In the 15th century, four Mahu sail from Tahiti to Hawaii and share their gifts of science and healing with the people of Waikiki. The islanders return this gift with a monument of four boulders in their honor, which the Mahu imbue with healing powers before disappearing.

As time passes, foreigners inhabit the island and the once-sacred stones are forgotten until the 1960s. Though the true story of these stones was not fully recovered, the power of the Mahu still calls out to those who pass by them at Waikiki Beach today.

With illuminating words and stunning illustrations by Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer, Joe Wilson, and Daniel Sousa, KAPAEMAHU is a monument to an Indigenous Hawaiian legend and a classic in the making.

For Ages 4-8

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“...a glorious picture book reclamation." — Shelf Awareness.

“A poignant monument to the power of hidden Indigenous histories." — Kirkus Reviews, starred review.

“...a fine read-aloud in conjunction with a history lesson on Hawaii, its people, their language, and the colonization that occurred." — School & Library Journal, starred review.

“Sousa's dreamy illustrations—taken from the film—reflect the text's thoughtful tone.” — Booklist

“Sousa’s illustrations portray the healers as chiseled, monumental forms reminiscent of the stones that house their spirits; the inky shadows and rich red-gold light of the ancient tale contrasts dramatically with the sand-reflected brightness of modern Waikiki.” — BCCB

“A beautiful, important book that not only offers indigenous representation, but also underscores the long history and deep importance of nonbinary people in certain cultures.” — Mombian

“The picture book’s stunning sepia-toned illustrations, which match the film, combined with the simple but powerful text, make this an excellent introduction to Indigenous Hawaiian culture and to the mahu and third gender people.” — Book Riot

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by Leo Collas
on 10/23/2023
from Austin, TX
Beautiful book telling a story nearly lost to time
While visiting Honolulu in October of 2022 I discovered the Hawaiian legend that led me to this book.  I was raised in Honolulu, so I consider it my hometown, but I had never heard this story while I was growing up.  We should be very grateful for the struggle of wise Hawaiian elders who kept it intact, despite so many attempts to destroy and erase it.
I got this book as a gift for First UU Austin’s library after visiting the rich and expansive exhibit at Honolulu’s Bishop Museum entitled “The Healer Stones of Kapaemahu”. A video of this book's story is also available on YouTube.  
Growing up in Hawaii, I remember “mahu” being a derogatory slang word for gay.  It wasn’t used with respect or honor, but rather to dehumanize those whom it was meant to insult.  That was not the original Hawaiian intent nor purpose of the word, and I am happy to know that now. It's an excellent and beautiful book with text in both Hawaiian and English.
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