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Written by Nona Beamer

Illustrated by Caren Loebel-Fried
Bishop Museum Press, 2008

32 pages filled with full color illustrations



Bishop Museum Press

Winner - American Folklore Society's Aesop Prize for Children's Folklore

Winner - Ka Palapala Po`okela, Excellence in Children's Hawaiian Culture

Winner - Ka Palapala Po`okela, Excellence in Children's Illustrative Books



Praise for Naupaka

Nona Beamer, an iconic figure of the Hawaiian cultural renaissance, skillfully retells the locally well-known legend of Naupaka, artfully enhanced by Caren Loebel-Fried’s stunning block print illustrations. The picture book, presented bilingually with parallel English and Hawaiian texts on the same page, tells of two lovers kept apart by the rigid strictures of traditional pre-contact Hawaiian social structure. Naupaka, a princess or member of the ruling ali’i class, falls in love with a commoner, Kau’i. Her parents tell her to consult the kúpuna, the village elders, to determine the lovers’ fate. They refer the decision to a distant kahuna, a religious leader, who defers to the judgment of the gods. When a lightning bolt signals that the lovers must be parted, they sorrowfully concur, with Naupaka remaining in the mountains and Kau’i returning to the seashore. The tale is told to explain the origin of two varieties of scaveola, a flowering plant known in Hawai’i as naupaka. An indigenous variety grows on the coast, in Hawai’i and elsewhere, while the mountainous variety is endemic, found only in Hawai’i. Each bears a white half-blossom, signifying the parting of the lovers.

"Aunty" Nona, who died last year, learned Hawaiian oral tradition and dance from her grandmother. She was a member of the Beamer family, known for their extensive role in keeping Hawaiian culture alive during generations when it was suppressed. Cited as an educator, composer, storyteller, chanter, kumu hula, cultural expert and matriarch of one of Hawaii's most beloved musical families," she won the Pacific Business News’s Gladys Kamakakuokalani Ainoa Brandt Kupuna Award in 2008. Naupaka, released shortly after her death, reflects her care not only in retelling the story, but in providing cultural context, botanical details and sources for further research. Artist Loebel-Fried, herself a storyteller, has retold and illustrated several works of Hawaiian legend, often with Auntie Nona as collaborator. She states that her "intention and greatest challenge as an artist and reteller is to give voice to the legends while remaining true to the source." Her distinctive visual style succeeds admirably. Noted slack-key guitarist Keola Beamer provides a musical background to his mother’s reading of the Naupaka story on an enclosed CD, taken from their 1997 CD collection of stories, The Golden Lehua Tree.

-American Folklore Society


A lovely, authentic Hawaiian find — combining good storytelling, beguiling illustrations and a companion CD read by the late, beloved Nona Beamer, set to the gentle background music of her son Keola Beamer. 'Naupaka' is an ancient Hawaiian tale of a princess who falls in love with a commoner. The story is told in English with the Hawaiian translation by Kaliko Beamer-Trapp. Illustrated in rich, radiant block prints, a wonderful choice for holiday giving.
- Honolulu Advertiser 

In 'Naupaka' the beauty of the written and spoken word comes wrapped in world-class art by Caren Keala Loebel-Fried. Hot off the Bishop Museum Press, Naupaka is a long ago story about the love that blossomed between two young Hawaiian villagers. The tale is told in English and Hawaiian by one of Hawaii's most beloved cultural specialists, the late Nona Beamer. The book includes a CD by Beamer and her slack-key master son, Keola.
-Generations Hawai`i

Late Auntie Nona masterfully tells romantic Hawaiian saga Naupaka, that mysterious half-a-bloom white flower commonly found thriving near beaches, long has been a beguiling hula and vocal number in Waikiki shows.

The oft-told legend is retold by the beloved Auntie Nona Beamer in a new book, "Naupaka," crisply illustrated with a series of block-print images by artist Caren Ke'ala Loebel-Fried. The late Auntie Nona's favorite butterfly icon earns a spot on the cover. Auntie Nona's storytelling skills drip into her simple yet compelling text. Loebel-Fried's bold graphics provide iconic images, right on for young readers."

-Honolulu Advertiser, December 2008, By Wayne Harada


Have you ever wondered why the delicate white flowers of the naupaka grow the way they do? Long, long ago, a love blossomed between two young villagers—Naupaka, a kind and beautiful Hawaiian princess, and Kau‘i, a handsome and gentle commoner.

Alas, society’s ancient ways did not allow them to be together. Follow along their journey as they seek to find approval from the gods and discover the fate that befalls them. Just as the lovers in this story, to this day, the naupaka blossoms of the mountains and the sea of Hawai’i bloom in perfect halves

Includes an audio CD with performance by Keola Beamer and Aunty Nona telling the Naupaka story.

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