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Book cover for Poa Polu, the Pretty Blue Hawaiian Flower

Pua Polu, the Pretty Blue Hawaiian Flower
Written by Nona Beamer

Illustrated by Caren Loebel-Fried
Bishop Museum Press, 2005

32 pages filled with full color illustrations


Pua Polu, the Pretty Blue Hawaiian Flower
Published by Bishop Museum Press


A children’s picture book in English and Hawaiian, accompanied by a spoken word CD with the story told by Nona Beamer and slack key guitar by Keola Beamer

"Pua Polu, the Pretty Blue Flower", a 32 page children's picture book for young readers, is a story about family and the cycles of life told from the point of view of a koali, a morning glory. Author and Hawaiian elder Nona Beamer blends her experience of the natural world of Hawai’i with songs and bits of information she has gathered through her life. Written in English with a Hawaiian translation, Pua Polu acts as a Hawaiian primer.

A koali vine starts growing on the title page of the book with the invitation for keiki, children, to “follow this way.” The vine meanders through every page of the story, separating the English text from the Hawaiian, encouraging young readers to follow along and see where it goes. After the story, Nona speaks directly to the readers, explaining how the story of Pua Polu came to be. The book ends with a brief description of the block prints in the story and the ancient Hawaiian block printing technique called ohe kapala.

Caren Loebel-Fried is an artist and author whose inspiration comes from the legends and natural world of Hawai’i. A friendship was born between Nona and Caren when Nona reviewed the manuscript for Caren’s book, Hawaiian Legends of the Guardian Spirits. At an exhibit at East Hawai’i Cultural Center in Hilo, Hawai’i entitled Ancient Legends, Modern Parables in 2000, Pua Polu was the featured story, with a series of Caren’s block prints accompanying the text. The idea of Pua Polu as a children’s picture book was born out of this exhibit.

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