a tale of two friends, part one

       Fables from the Garden by Leslie Ann Hayashi,
     pictures by Kathleen Wong Bishop,
     (University of Hawai’i Press, 1998), ages 4-8, 40 pp.

What a small world!

This week I’m featuring several books written and illustrated by two women originally from my home town of Wahiawa, on the island of O’ahu. Since they’re younger than I am, I didn’t know them growing up, but happily I know them now through their charming picture books.

Leslie Ann Hayashi writes, and Kathleen Wong Bishop illustrates. When they were just seven, they decided that when they grew up, they would do a book together. Decades later, they made their dream come true by publishing their first book, Fables from the Garden (University of Hawai’i Press,1998). It was so well received that Fables became a series, with the fourth title, Fables Beneath the Rainbow (Mutual Publishing) released in 2005.

         Fables Beneath the Rainbow by Leslie Ann Hayashi,
         pictures by Kathleen Wong Bishop (Mutual Publishing, 2005),
         ages 4-8, 32 pp.

Each collection contains ten enchanting stories that provide valuable life lessons using elements of nature. While Fables from the Garden features some of the unique animals and plants from Hawai’i’s gardens, Fables Beneath the Rainbow, which I’m spotlighting today, focuses on rare and endangered plants and animals.

      A bright attitude depends on the right altitude. (“The Climb”)
There’s a Hawaiian happyface spider who shows a pessimistic beetle how to look on the bright side of things, a stilt who tries to warn a lazy goose about the dangers of procrastination, and my favorite, a golden yellow palila (honeycreeper), who learns how to communicate with a lost moth, enabling him to carry it back to its home. I like the whimsical dialogue between the animals and insects. The lessons are gently conveyed via the stories, and encapsulated via maxims in bold face type.

       If you procrastinate, you’ll be left behind. (“The Stilt’s Warning”)

Kathy Bishop’s vibrant watercolor illos bring these fables to life with beautiful, rich, deep, bright colors that will captivate, delight, and surely encourage young readers to learn more about these unique wonders from Hawai’i’s ecosystems. An illustrated glossary provides information about all the life forms featured in the stories, with notes about environmental awareness, preservation, and protection, especially important since Hawai’i has been nicknamed “the world’s endangered species capital.”

     If we learn each other’s language, we’ll never be lost. 
     (“The Palila and the Moth”)

Here are the four books in Leslie and Kathy’s Fables From the Friends series, several of which have won Ka Palapala Po’okela Awards for Excellence in Children’s Books and Illustration. All are a nice blend of character building, inspirational, entertaining fiction, science, and gorgeous art.

Fables from the Garden (University of Hawai’i Press,1998). Spotlighting some of the unique plants and animals found in Hawai’i gardens, such as orchids, mynah birds, and blue ginger.

Fables from the Sea (University of Hawai’i Press, 2000). Features creatures found in Hawai’i’s waters and tropical oceans worldwide, such as manta rays, moray eels and colorful cowries.


Fables from the Deep (Mutual Publishing, 2002). Features creatures from the deep seas, caves, and deep space, such as the wolf spider and deep sea vent crab.

Fables Beneath the Rainbow (Mutual Publishing, 2004). Stories starring rare and endangered plants and animals from Hawai’i.

All may be ordered directly from the publisher, through Booklines Hawai’i, or via major online booksellers. 

Be sure to check out Leslie and Kathy’s websites, to learn more about their unique, enduring friendship and their day jobs (Leslie as an award-winning Honolulu District Court Judge, and Kathy traveling around the world teaching art to children and adults, and working in her youth ministry). 

Next time: another book by these lifelong friends, with a tasty recipe from Leslie!

*All interior spreads from Fables Beneath the Rainbow posted by permission, copyright © 2005 Kathleen Wong Bishop, published by Mutual Publishing. All rights reserved.

**Special thanks to Courtney for her help with the images!

7 thoughts on “a tale of two friends, part one

  1. DUMPLING SOUP and other books written by you and colleagues

    I love the colors in many of the books you’ve recommended. I have several friends who are reading teachers or parents (of young age) and I will share your blog and web page with them.
    Thanks for signing into my HALEAIKO and by now you should have received my email attachment for FAMILY TREE project.
    Will you ever write a book about Habaji and Halmoni? Take care, keep warm. Aloha, Neillie (Aiko)


  2. Re: DUMPLING SOUP and other books written by you and colleagues

    So nice to hear from you! Thanks for sharing my blog information at HaleAiko!

    It would be nice to write about Habaji and Halmoni. 🙂


  3. I love the illustrations that you feature and I also love the way that you review the books themselves. It’s so easy to tell if I’d love it or if I’d rather take a pass. In the case of these Fable books – I’m highly intrigued. And am subscribing to your feed after leaving this comment.

    – Carrie, Reading to Know


  4. Thanks so much, Carrie! I try to obtain interior spreads from the publishers whenever possible. I mostly review picture books, after all — and I do think it makes a difference to the potential reader/buyer to see something beyond the cover art.


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