‘Ohana Means Family by Ilima Loomis, illustrated by Kenard Pak (9780823443260)
Written in the cumulative story style of The House That Jack Built, this picture book explores the tradition of a Hawaiian luau. The book begins with the kalo (or taro root) that is used to make poi. The kalo comes from the mud, with clear and cold water that covers it. It is picked by hands that are wise and old which have worked the land for generations. Sun and rain help the kalo grow. Wind carries the stories that the family tells until they gather together at the luau.
Loomis’ text is marvelous, moving readers backwards through how kalo is grown and the importance of it being land that has never been sold. The connection to weather and this land is evident throughout the text and then repeats over and over again as the cumulative format continues. The story then loops back around to the luau itself and a focus on family.
The art in the book is done with watercolor, gouache, and digital art. It depicts Hawaiians with many different skin tones, all part of the same family and working together. The landscapes are remarkable, whether bright green in sunshine or hazy in rain.
A celebration of traditions and family. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from ARC provided by Holiday House.