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by Jo Ann Jeffries ; illustrated by Lydia and Isaia of Worlds Beyond Art

Pub Date: Feb. 10th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-949711-05-9
Publisher: Bluewater Publications

After the 2018 eruption of the Kilauea volcano, a young girl organizes a beach cleanup in this debut illustrated chapter book for kids ages 5 to 8.

Puanani, a brown-skinned Hawaiian elementary schooler who loves turtles, is feeling nervous about giving a science presentation to her class. Then a mysterious earthquake interrupts the day’s lessons. After the students emerge from under their desks, school ends for the day. Puanani and her brother, Kua, learn from the night’s news reports that Kilauea is erupting and sending lava into the sea. Both of them are afraid until their parents talk with them about how to stay safe if another earthquake strikes. Puanani gives her science presentation without a hitch the next day, but she’s sad when a park ranger at Volcano Park later tells her that Kilauea’s lava kills sea life, including the turtles she loves, as it spills into the sea. She’s also unhappy to hear that people cause more harm to the sea than volcanoes—she wants turtles and other creatures to have “a clean place to live”—and sees refuse like fish hooks and partial fishnets along a shoreline that she and her family visit. Puanani begins to pick up trash and eventually gets help from her parents and a hui wa’a (canoe club) after she plucks up the nerve to speak to its board. Very little conflict occurs in the book’s 11 quick chapters; while Puanani is afraid of public speaking, she prepares copiously and encounters no significant difficulties in the moment. Young readers interested in sea life and volcanic activity will appreciate paragraphs detailing lava flow, and others may enjoy learning the italicized Hawaiian words that occur throughout the text and are defined in a box at the beginning of each short chapter. Bright, full-color illustrations depict key scenes; most adults and children are shown with different shades of brown skin and dark hair.

For high drama, look elsewhere—but a diverse cast and contemporary setting set this book apart from other volcano books.

(glossary, discussion questions)