some good hawai’i reads, a recipe, and a giveaway

Recently, I asked my long time friend, O’ahu resident, and fellow Paul McCartney stalker admirer, Sylvia, for some Hawai’i-related book recommendations and a favorite local recipe.

I thought a librarian’s suggestions would be helpful, since books about Hawai’i, especially those for children, vary greatly in quality and substance, running the gamut from mass market vanity press touristy books about sharks and surfboards, to solidly researched and beautifully written trade books (like the works of James Rumford and Graham Salisbury).

It seems most Hawai’i books are published by regional publishers with limited distribution. They’re available for purchase online, of course, but it’s difficult to assess their quality in the absence of reliable reviews or personal recommendations.

So here are Sylvia’s picks:

For adults:

Hawai’i’s Story by Hawai’i’s Queen (Lili’uokalani) (Mutual Publishing, 2004) —  her all-time favorite!
Shoal of Time: A History of the Hawaiian Islands, by Gavan Daws (University of Hawai’i Press, 1989) — Sylvia and I agree that this is the best general history of Hawai’i.
Nation Within: The Story of America’s Annexation of the Nation of Hawai’i, by Tom Coffman (Epicenter, 2003).
Life Behind Barbed Wire, by Yasutaro Soga (University of Hawai’i Press, 2007).
Obake: Ghost Stories in Hawai’i, by Glen Grant (Mutual Publishing, 2005).


Middle grade and young adults:

A Boy at War: A Novel of Pearl Harbor, by Harry Mazer (Aladdin, 2002).
Eyes of the Emperor, by Graham Salisbury (Laurel Leaf, 2007)
Under the Blood Red Sun, by Graham Salisbury (Laurel Leaf, 2005)
Blue Skin of the Sea, by Graham Salisbury (Laurel Leaf, 1994)
From the Mountains to the Sea: Early Hawaiian Life, by Julie Stewart Williams (Kamehameha Press, 1997).


Picture books:


Baby Honu’s Incredible Journey, by Tammy Yee (Island Heritage, 1997).
Whose Slippers are Those? by Marilyn Kahalewai (Bess Press, 2005).
Honu by Marion Coste and Cissy Gray (University of Hawai’i Press, 1993).
Kolea by Marion Coste and Fred E. Salmon (University of Hawai’i Press, 1999).
Nene by Marion Coste and Cissy Gray (University of Hawai’i Press, 1993).

Especially for foodies:

Best of the Best Hawai’i Recipes, (and all other cookbooks) by Jean Hee (Mutual Publishing, 2007).
Ethnic Foods of Hawai’i by Ann Kondo Corum (Bess Press, 2000).
Best of the Best from Hawai’i Cookbook, edited by Gwen McKee and Barbara Moseley (Quail Ridge Press, 2004).

Check out Hawai’i’s regional publishers for more:

Mutual Publishing (Hawai’i’s largest trade publisher of Hawaiiana and local interest books)
Bess Press (trade and educational titles on Hawai’i and the Pacific)
University of Hawai’i Press (books and journals about Asia, Asian Americans, Hawai’i and the Pacific)
Kamehameha Publishing (good source for informational books and curriculum materials; especially notable biographies of Hawaiian royalty)
Bamboo Ridge Press (literary journal reflecting an island sensibility).

When you get hungry:

(from Jean Hee’s Hawai’i’s Best Local Dishes)

1 filet of salmon
mayonnaise for spreading
furikake* for sprinkling
1 T butter

Cut the filet into portion sizes. Generously sprinkle mayonnaise on one side of the salmon. Sprinkle furikake generously over mayonnaise. Heat pan on medium heat and add butter. Place salmon, furikake side down, lower heat to medium low and slowly cook for 10-15 minutes. Turn over and cook until done.

Optional: if desired, served cooked salmon with the following sauce:

2 T butter
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup sugar
2 T shoyu (soy sauce)

Melt butter, add garlic, and stir. Blend in shoyu and sugar. Simmer for 1-2 minutes. Pour over cooked salmon.


*Furikake is a Japanese dried seasoning mix, usually sprinkled over rice. It typically consists of seaweed, salt, sugar, sesame seeds, and sometimes dried fish. Different varieties of furikake are available at most Asian grocery stores.

 Sylvia, luv, who needs the Dewey Decimal System     when you’ve got me?

14 thoughts on “some good hawai’i reads, a recipe, and a giveaway

  1. I love “Librarian: The Original Search Engine”!!!

    I am waiting for the ALA Youth Media Awards to start. 😀

    Into the Wardrobe


  2. Hawaii Related Books

    Elaine M.

    It’s too bad there aren’t more children’s books about Hawaii.

    Have you ever read Rafe Martin’s THE SHARK GOD, which was illustrated by David Shannon? Martin adapted the story from a Hawaiian tale. In the Author’s Note, Martin talks about the research both he and Shannon did for the book and explains the changes he made to the story. The book was published in 2001 by Arthur A. Levine.

    BTW, Happy Lunar New Year!


  3. I just added this entry to my Memories, so I can come back later if I need Hawai’i-based inspiration. 🙂

    Also, love the “Original Search Engine” thing.


  4. I clapped, I cheered, I laughed, I shouted, I cried. Seriously, I cried. Watching the awards was that intense for me. I’m still trying to calm down!

    I was praying Moribito would win the Batchelder. I really like that book. The translation work was out-of-this-world good. I was so relieved and grateful and joyous when I heard it announced as the winner.

    And I was very happy when I heard that The Underneath and Savvy were Newbery Honors. Woot!

    So happy,

    Into the Wardrobe


  5. Oh, wow. I’m happy at your joy over Moribito winning. Now I must read it, too! I agree, the award announcements were really emotional and dramatic. Even if I hadn’t read some of the winning and honored titles, I felt the excitement and tried to imagine the joy those authors and artists felt when they received the news, and then actually heard their names announced. With so many good books published this year, this level of recognition must be mind blowingly awesome for them!

    I was especially pleased over Marla Frazee’s A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever winning a Caldecott Honor, and Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s One Boy winning a Geisel Honor. I was also thrilled for LH Anderson winning the Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award :)! So well deserved.

    What a great morning! *going to put The Graveyard Book on reserve*


  6. Yes, they are the original search engines! Now, with the internet at their disposal, they are super charged search engines. There’s simply no stopping these librarians :)!


  7. Kris Bordessa

    Nice list, Jama, but your mention of McCartney prompted me to comment. Hubby and I saw him in concert in Berkely eons ago (1990?). Best. Concert. Ever!!!


  8. Best of the Best of Hawaii

    Gwen McKee Barbara Moseley We really enjoyed reading your journal and wanted to thank you for including our book in it. We’re glad you liked the cookbook and if you’re interested, we’ve written about all the state books on Our Blog. ~ Gwen McKee and Barbara Moseley


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