Sunday, June 6, 2004

Isle Pages

New releases from Hawaii authors

"Early Mapping of the Pacific"
by Thomas Suarez
(Periplus, $50)

The ancient voyagers who settled the Pacific didn't need maps. The Europeans who followed were completely lost without maps. This extraordinarily handsome volume reproduces a couple of hundred early maps of the greatest ocean in the universe with style and clarity, and Suarez explains the process of mapping an area that is mostly water with a sense of great adventure.

"Water and the Law in Hawaii"
by Lawrence H. Miike, M.D. J.D.
(University of Hawaii Press, $45)

The story of civilization is also the story of bringing water from there to here. Hawaii's ahupua'a system is built entirely around water, and the rise of the plantation barons is also intricately linked to water. Miike's scholarship here is thorough, serious and abundantly footnoted, but -- forgive me -- his approach to the subject is rather dry.

"Pidgin Grammar -- An Introduction
to the Creole Language of Hawai'i"

by Kent Sakoda and Jeff Siegel
(Bess Press, $11.95)

Scholars just can't resist imposing order on chaos. Apparently pidgin, the free-flowing language of convenience in the islands, has grammatical rules! Where's the fun in that? At any rate, this is a classy introduction to the subject.

"Making Eyelash Crochet Leis"
by Coryn Tanaka and May Masaki
(Bess Press, $9.95)

I guess they're called "eyelash" leis because the yarn used is combed out into a spiralling frizz. Well-illustrated and easy to follow, it also includes a useful list of Hawaii's high-school colors.

"Hawaiian Tropical Flower Arranging
-- A Step-By-Step Guide"

by Laurie Shimizu Ide
(Mutual, $13.95)

The art of Japanese flower arranging gets a Polynesian make-over using Hawaii's robust, colorful blooms. The results are pretty. The binding of DIY books should open flat, however.

"Two Tales of Hawai'i"
by Terry Pierce,
illustrated by Kristen Kofsky
(Island Heritage, $10.95)

There's a museum display in Cahokia Mounds, IL, in which all the artifacts have two labels -- one for Western science, one for Indian mythology. This evenhanded treatment is the case here, in which the volcanic geology of the islands is equally contrasted with the legends of Pele in this attractive volume.

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