'Wild' tale of sea-creature land
By Jolie Jean Cotton
Special to The Advertiser
By Jolie Jean Cotton
"WILD BEACH" BY MARION COSTE, ILLUSTRATED BY CISSY GRAY; WINDWARD PUBLISHING, $8.25 SOFTCOVER, AGES 5-10
One of our best local authors of nonfiction picture books, Marion Coste, usually writes about native Hawaiian species. In her latest work, from Minneapolis-based Windward Publishing, Coste explores the natural landscape of a South Carolina beach.
"Wild Beach" is set on the shores of the Isle of Palms, near Charleston. "There are differences and similarities to Hawai'i's beaches," Coste said. "Since our beach habitats are also heavily used by humans, the environmental impact issues are the same."
The story begins one morning when a girl and her dog have the beach to themselves. The quiet stillness allows them to investigate the spiders, ghost crabs and other creatures that live along the beach.
Coste writes: "Out in the channel, low gray shapes move slowly on gray water. Shadow ships on a shadow sea. The rising sun shimmers like a giant red ball. This is my favorite time, the beginning of the day."
"Fascinating Facts" fill the margins, as a starting point to get readers interested in learning more about the sea creatures described.
Cissy Gray, who illustrated Coste's "Nene" and "Honu" books, evokes warmth and wonder in bright watercolor images. A thorough word list at the end of the book offers even more descriptive detail on plant and animal life.
"Wild Beach" is available at Bookends in Kailua or through Amazon.com. Teaching activities and study guides for Coste's "Honu," "Nene," "Kolea" and "Hawaiian Bat" books are at www.marioncoste.com.
"A Butterfly Tale" by Jennifer Fixman and Lynne Wikoff, illustrated by Kristi Petosa-Sigel; Island Heritage, $10.99, ages 4-8
This new picture book, set in a Hawaiian forest, mixes science and storytelling. It begins with three tiny eggs, resting upon koa, laulele and mamaki leaves, which hatch three argumentative caterpillars. Their disputes endanger their safety, and through Pulelehua, a wise butterfly, the young caterpillars discover that the key to surviving — and thriving — is to learn the spirit of aloha.
Petosa-Sigel's bright, expressive illustrations bring to mind Eric Carle's classic "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" and David Kirk's humanlike bugs in "Miss Spider's Tea Party." The book concludes with more detail on butterflies in Hawai'i and the butterfly life cycle.
"MY HAWAIIAN FARM" BY PEARL MAXNER, ILLUSTRATED BY PEARL MAXNER AND ANNETH LAGAMO; ISLAND HERITAGE, $8.99, AGES 3-6
A young girl narrates this story of what grows when on her Big Island farm. She takes us through each month of the year, following the work to be done during the seasons. April rains cause tree ferns to unfurl new fronds; the rose-apple blossoms in June; October is the month for picking macadamia nuts.
Author Pearl Maxner lives on a Big Island organic farm, which, along with her observations of the children of Hawai'i, inspired the book.
"Let's Learn the Hawaiian Alphabet" by Patricia Lei Murray, illustrated by Sharon Carter; Island Heritage, $15.99, ages 3-6
Two revamped picture books offer a simple introduction to the Hawaiian alphabet and to counting in Hawaiian. Both include colorful illustrations of beaches, sea creatures and baby lu'au, and both come with a sing-along CD with Patricia Lei Murray and the Lanakila Children's Chorus.
"Let's learn to count in Hawaiian" by Keiki Chang-Kawai'ae'a, illustrated by Sharon Carter; Island Heritage, $15.99, ages 3-6
The counting book is an Island version of the nursery rhyme "One, Two, Buckle My Shoe." Coloring and activity books are available for both titles.
Jolie Jean Cotton is a Honolulu mom and children's book author.