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Posts Tagged ‘hawaii’

When we were preparing for my mother’s memorial service last month, we found several files full of newspaper clippings, photos and documents relating to her service in the Women’s Army Corps during World War II.

It was interesting to see the orders calling her to active duty, a roster of the first 59 women from Hawai’i to enlist, correspondence about awards and medals she had earned, and her certificate of Honorable Discharge. But what my brother and I probably cherished most was a short chronology she had written about her experiences.

Her simple words were an unexpected gift that made us appreciate anew her courage and resolve during uncertain times. She was living on O’ahu when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. She was willing to leave her family and friends to serve in the military at a time of rampant racism and sexism, not knowing where in the world she would be sent once she finished basic training.

In my mom’s handwriting on the back of this photo: “This is the picture we took at our company party. The lei are all paper lei we made.”

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“What would happen if all the poets in the world wrote poems to save our forests, rivers, animals, earth, air and oceans? Wouldn’t that be something?” ~ Wordsworth the Mouse Poet

frances planting three

Frances and Wordsworth plant a koa tree at Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods in honor of their new book, Wordsworth! Stop the Bulldozer! (photo by Tammy Antonio)

Happy Poetry Friday!

I’m delighted and honored to welcome back award-winning author, poet and educator Frances H. Kakugawa to Alphabet Soup!

You may remember when I shared her beautiful and poignant poem, “Emily Dickinson, I Am Somebody,”  (written in the voice of an Alzheimer’s patient), and we learned more about how writing poetry can help ease the heavy burden of caregiving.

wordsworth singleToday, Frances is here to tell us a little about her heartwarming, award-winning series of children’s picture books featuring Wordsworth, the poetry-writing mouse. All three stories, a unique combination of poetry + prose, celebrate the power and wonder of poetry, the enduring value of friendship, and the primacy of the imagination.

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moon mangoes cover

Imagine a magical Hawaiian night with a fat, round moon streaming its silvery light on ocean and shore, illuminating a mango tree drooping “with heavy, ripe fruit.”

A mother and daughter sit on the lanai of a tiny blue house that is “tucked under the tree’s broad branches,” engaging in a fanciful dialog of “what if” questions and answers. There’s no limit to little Ānuenue’s* curiosity and wild imaginings, no boundaries to her mother’s love.

What if I ate up all those mangoes one by one, and I got so full of them that I turned into a mango tree?

Then I would bring you fresh, cool water to drink every morning. I’d gently pull out any weeds that block the sun and keep the soil healthy for your roots to grow deep and strong. And I would spend my days resting in your shade so that I could tell you about the fantastic adventures of your great-great-grandparents.

Moon Mangoes, a warmhearted, stunningly illustrated picture book that Papertigers reviewer Aline Pereira calls, “an ode to children’s imagination and a meditation on parental love,” has all the makings of a modern classic alongside such perennial favorites as Mama, Do You Love Me? and The Runaway Bunny.

moon mangoes two

I love the pairing of Lindy Shapiro’s lyrical, poetic narrative with Kathleen Peterson’s highly evocative, color saturated spreads rendered in rich jewel tones. Here is a universal theme presented with a distinct Hawaiian flavor, illuminating the lush, natural beauty of the islands and the spirituality and animism characterizing the native peoples.

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food trucks cover

When I was little, every so often my father would take us for a drive around the island. This was an all-day affair, where we’d see what we could see and eat what we could eat all over O’ahu.

plate lunch (2) fish 500

Mahi Plate Lunch via Go Backpacking

I loved spotting the lunch wagons parked along the Honolulu waterfront, hoping to feast on an onolicious plate lunch with beef stew, teriyaki, or breaded mahimahi. No matter what you ordered, you always got two scoops of rice and macaroni salad. But usually we’d drive right on by because it wasn’t lunch time yet. This only intensified my fascination with lunch wagons: I thought it would be so cool to cook on a little stove in a truck and wait on people through the window on the side. :)

I don’t know exactly when people in Hawai’i started calling lunch wagons, “food trucks.” But they’re still a big part of the local scene, enticing the always hungry on side streets and main streets with longstanding island favorites as well as gourmet treats.

In jaunty rhyming verse, Beth Greenway’s Hawai’i’s Food Trucks on the Go! takes kids on a fun and tasty ride around the island from sunrise to sunset.

The trucks all rev their engines up
and head out on their way:
it’s time to feed the working cars
this bright Hawaiian day.

food trucks one

All illustrations © 2012 Jamie Meckel Tablason

The Harbor’s where the cranes all work
unloading boats and ships,
a bowl of saimin’s great for lunch
just right for slurps and sips.

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book and soup

Nothing like a bowl of homemade mandu to start off a new year!

Once upon a time, I published a picture book called Dumpling Soup, illustrated by Lillian Hsu-Flanders:

Every year on New Year’s Eve, my whole family goes to Grandma’s house for dumpling soup. My aunties and uncles and cousins come from all around Oahu. Most of them are Korean, but some are Japanese, Chinese, Hawaiian, or haole (Hawaiian for white people). Grandma calls our family ‘chop suey,’ which means ‘all mixed up’ in pidgin. I like it that way. So does Grandma. ‘More spice,’ she says.

This year, I celebrated the New Year in Hawai’i for the first time in decades. Thanks to my mom, I got to eat my favorite traditional Korean dishes, and for the first time ever, I got to hear my story read aloud on New Year’s Eve.

julia book

julia book 2

My niece Julia wasn’t yet born when the book was first published almost twenty years ago, and she never experienced those big, noisy family gatherings I so fondly recall in the story. But at least she can still eat some of the same food! It was hilarious hearing her trying to pronounce the Korean phrases — but what a wonderful, expressive reader she is, and for a few moments, I was 7 years old again, smack dab in the middle of “so many Yangs!” :)

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