Gr 2–5—This colorful, quick-paced biography brings life to a famous figure in Hawaiian history. Duke Kahanamoku is known for many things: an amazing Olympic swimming career, a miraculous surfing rescue of shipwrecked sailors, and a long ambassadorship on behalf of Hawaii just as it was becoming a U.S. state. The illustrations capture the lighthearted nature of Duke, showing him frequently smiling or concentrating on any one of his many talents. The brief text balances accounts of the events of Kahanamoku's life with a portrait of his character, all in a light tone that is not didactic and yet still manages to contain all the important elements of a usable biography. Since Kahanamoku may not be well known in the mainland United States, the text places him within major historical events (World War I) which provide grounding context that highlights the relevance of this figure. An additional section with encyclopedic entries about general Hawaiian history and culture helps readers unfamiliar with the island chain. Finally, a short quiz at the end allows for a quick review of all the information packed into the slim volume. VERDICT A good purchase for school and public library biography collections alike.—Chelsea Woods, New Brunswick Free Public Library, NJ
Meet Duke Kahanamoku, three-time Olympic gold medalist and the father of modern surfing. Duke gained international fame for participating in four Olympics and won five medals in total. Fans began calling Duke “the human fish.” Wherever he went, Duke would demonstrate his surfing skills and in 1915, Duke introduced board surfing to Australia. Ten years later, he found another use for a surfboard—as a lifesaving device—using it to save eight people from a capsized boat in California!
A special section at the back of the book includes extras like how to speak Hawaiian and a brief history of Hawaii and its culture. With the You Should Meet series, learning about historical figures has never been so fascinating!