Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

It’s so special when I get to share a critique partner’s book for Perfect Picture Book Friday! Based on a true story, this book sprang from the documentary, A Place in the Middle. A few weeks ago, author Heather Gale wrote a guest post for Mining for Heart. If you missed it, go back and read how she uncovered the heart of Ho’onani: Hula Warrior. [Thanks to Tundra Books for supplying a review copy.] 

Ho_onani-coverTitle: Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

Written by: Heather Gale

Illustrated by: Mika Song

Tundra Books, 2019

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes/topics: gender identity, Hawaiian cultured, perseverance

Ho’onani Kamai did not see herself as a wahine, “girl.”
Or think she was a kane, “boy.”
She preferred just Ho’onani.

Ho’onani feels in-between. She doesn’t see herself as wahine (girl) OR kane(boy). She’s happy to be in the middle. But not everyone sees it that way.

When Ho’onani finds out that there will be a school performance of a traditional kane hula chant, she wants to be part of it. But can a girl really lead the all-male troupe? Ho’onani has to try . . .

Activities and Resources:
Hawaiian crafts for kids: Make a lei and grass crown.
Talk about the formation of the Hawaiian islands and make a volcano. 
Make up hand motions to help tell the story in a song you know.

Why I like this book:
Full transparency—as one of Heather’s critique partners, I saw this manuscript very early on and got to be a part of the nurturing. This dare-to-be-different story celebrates the courage to push past expectations, take a chance, and persevere. It inspires the question – why not? – and allows young readers to see there’s room for everyone. Along with the universal theme of acceptance, the Hawaiian culture takes center stage, bringing readers lots to enjoy and explore.

You can view the documentary A Place in the Middle HERE.


Visit author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books for a plethora of picture books listed by title and topic/theme, each with teacher/parent activities and resources.

Visit the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge on Kid Lit Frenzy on Wednesdays for more great nonfiction books for kids!


8 thoughts on “Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

  1. This sounds like a wonderful book! I can’t wait to read it. Always looking for stories about people who discover their own path.


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