ILLUSTRATIONS BY RICHARD WALDREP
Book on Duke goes national
Writer Ellie Crowe says "Surfer of the Century" is geared for kids 7 to 12 but can be enjoyed by all ages
Ellie Crowe has introduced King Kamehameha and Princess Kaiulani to Hawaii's youngest readers. She's explored rain forests and the seashore with them as well. Now the writer reaches out to a mainland audience with tales of champion swimmer and surfer Duke Kahanamoku.
Several of Crowe's cute and colorful picture books have been published over the years by Island Heritage, and she promises that there are more of those to come. But she's also writing books that appeal to a broader audience, including one on Nelson Mandela. "Surfer of the Century: The Life of Duke Kahanamoku" is her first to be distributed nationally.
"I'm so pleased that the book is being recommended for public libraries and school libraries. Duke will become better known to children throughout the United States," Crowe said. "He was such an admirable person and is such a wonderful role model for children."
"Surfer of the Century" is geared toward those 7 to 12 but could be enjoyed by all ages. Vibrant color illustrations by Richard Waldrep highlight the story of Kahanamoku's upbringing in the islands, showing him introducing the use of surfboards for lifeguard rescues and promoting surfing as a sport.
Crowe learned about the island icon while visiting a museum in Australia, where she lived before moving to Honolulu. Her interest was sparked again by photos and local sculptures.
Putting together a time line of Kahanamoku's life required thorough research -- she even returned to the museum in Australia to review all of the newspaper clippings, she said. "I also go to speak to some people there. He made a big impression on them."
The book begins with Kahanamoku's 2-mile ride on a giant wave, depicts his trials and financial difficulties, and highlights his Olympic records and other accomplishments.
"Surfer of the Century" also lightly touches upon issues of racism and difficulties that Kahanamoku faced along his journey. "He shows that one can have very little hope and live on a small island, not living a privileged life," she said. "But, with determination, you can make it. That is the kind of determination that makes a star."
'Surfer of the Century'
» Book signing: 7 p.m. Friday, Barnes & Noble
» Publishing info: Written by Ellie Crowe (Lee & Low Books, hardcover, 48 pages, $18.95)