Sunday, November 9, 2003

The Local Literary Scene

Isle Pages

New releases from
Hawaii authors

"You Know You're in Hawai'i When ... "
by Don Chapman,
illustrated by Roy Chang
(Mutual, $6.95)

We all know this stuff. It all seems obvious. Still, it's a kick to see it all collected together. Good fun, this. MidWeek editor and bemused Hawaii observer Chapman has been performing a kind of pop-culture anthropology here, jotting down a series of aphorisms about life in the islands, and why we so special, yeah? Like, you know, "You get cuttlefish breath." Yeah, so? Well, think about it. Your cuz in Ohio, no cuttlefish breath for him. It's not a massive, scholarly work -- in fact, it's rather thin, but pithy -- so expect it to be a stocking stuffer this year ... particularly for the mainland-side rels. And it's liberally illustrated with MidWeek artist Roy Chang's often-brilliant cartoons -- he sure can draw us. No lie, round-eye.

"Making Ribbon Leis 2:
More Handmade Gifts of Aloha"

by Coryn Tanaka
and May Masaki
(Bess Press, $9.95)

Get this one before Christmas so you can get started making the actual gifts. This sequel continues the well-illustrated hands-on craft technique of making these unique leis, and the well-designed book is absolutely invaluable to anyone interested in creating these beautiful items.

"The Golden Mallet:
The Story of Hawaii's
Polo Great, Ronnie Tongg"

by Elizabeth Y. Layton
(Grey Lady, $12.95)

Hawaii has a long history of polo, and Tongg was one of the great athletes of the game. Layton has interviewed Tongg at length and quotes liberally from other articles on the Hawaii polo phenom, but this volume reads like a kind of sporter's resume, with little sense of history or drama. The Tongg family's withdrawal from polo is vaguely blamed on God.

"The Hawaiian Word Book:
Over 50 Most Commonly Used
Hawaiian Words and More --
How to Pronounce Them,
What They Mean,
When to Use Them"

by Jade Mapuana Riley
(Mutual, $4.95)

The title pretty much says it all. This is a useful little primer aimed at first-timers to the islands, with basic words, how to say them and what they mean. It's sized to fit in your back pocket, and it's attractively organized. You want more, go buy a Pukui dictionary.

"Pineapple Poet and
the Curse of the Smoothie Man:
A Hawaii Tale of Delicious Drinks"

by Cam MacMillan
and Don Gauthier
(Mutual, $9.95)

Yes, we needed a rhyming book about a surfing pineapple with a beatnik sensibility who runs afoul of an evil, smoothie-makin' tiki. Aren't we all afraid of being, well, blended?

Somebody's been watching "PeeWee's Playhouse." This is a cute book, with amusingly retro illustrations by Don Gauthier, capped off with some tasty smoothie recipes in case you feel like grinding up the hero and drinking him down.

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