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  • The Hawaiian Survival Handbook (Book review)

    SurvivalHandbookSurvival and preparedness guides have gained a lot of popularity in the last few years, becoming a part of pop culture with the broadcast of reality shows like Doomsday Preppers and apocalyptic dramas like The Walking Dead.

    The Hawaiian Survival Handbook (Watermark Publishing, 2014) by Brother Noland has all the necessities of a mainstream survival guide, but better. Not just because it includes plants, animals and scenarios specific to Hawai‘i, but because it considers the culture and customs of the people that live in Hawai‘i. It’s a valuable collection of knowledge, honed over generations, passed down from kūpuna who were once more connected to the land. Brother No puts an emphasis on aloha as key to not just learning wilderness survival, but balanced living.


    There are all kinds of smarts…and the aloha spirit is key to using all of them together for survival. A good sense of aloha keeps you open to learning as many “smarts” as you can. Your ego won’t get in the way because learning and listening is what aloha is all about. That’s how I learned to survive.

    One might think, “when am I ever going to need to know how to field dress a duck?” But this book is full of practical information for all types of people. So much of our life here is spent outdoors and many of the instructions in this book are helpful for everyday safety and enjoyment of our ʻāina:

    • How to Avoid a Shark Attack
    • How to Survive a Rip Tide or Undertow
    • How to Forage Hawai‘i’s Shoreline
    • How to Wayfind in the Forest
    • How to Read Hawai‘i’s Weather
    • How to Avoid a Wild Pig Attack

    There are also an assortment of sensible tips such as how to treat an upset stomach, an insect bite, or a blister using plants and items in your surroundings. Then there are those little gems of humor that make this an entertaining read in addition to an educational one, like how to deal with box jellyfish: “If you see a box, assume the distance between you and the jellyfish contains its floating stingers and ‘get da hell outta dodge.’” Or how to brush your teeth in the wilderness and what to use if there’s no toilet paper. I also really enjoyed the appendices which included personal essays on the accomplishment of making sacred fire, throwing net, sustainable aloha and more.

    Reading The Hawaiian Survival Handbook reminded me of learning to clean tako with my Dad, or struggling with the leads on the throw net and getting just as tangled up as the fish until Uncle had pity on me and taught me the right way to pull and carry it–of being too busy and too sassy to listen or care until it was too late to learn from Tūtū Kāne. For gathering, cultivating and perpetuating this knowledge, Brother Noland has my sincerest mahalo and admiration. This is a book of things we don’t even know we should know living in Hawai‘i.

    In addition to being an award winning musician, Brother Noland is a cultural leader and teacher, founding the Ho‘ea Initiative and its Hawaiian Inside Tracking Program. The HIT Program offers camps designed to immerse participants in the traditional ways of the Hawaiian culture, including outdoor survival techniques such as tracking, fire-making, net-throwing and more.

    Check out the book’s Facebook page for great pics, tips and the latest information!


    Watermark Publishing has made a good practice of organizing creative book launches, and this one is no exception! Brother Noland’s SurvivALOHA Pa‘ina on September 23rd, promises to be an evening of good food and music with an incredible “from the wild” menu cooked up by Highway Inn and two stages of musical entertainment by Brother Noland and his friends, including Henry Kapono, John Cruz, Raiatea Helm…and more! Get your tickets soon because space is filling up fast.

    The Hawaiian Survival Handbook
    by Brother Noland
    Watermark Publishing, August 2014
    Hardcover, approx. 152-160pp

  • Lihue Mill (Book Review)

    Lihue Mill

    Regardless of the long-term social and environmental impacts of the sugar industry in Hawaiʻi, there is no argument that sugar production played an important role in shaping the culture and communities of our island home. This is evident in the one hundred fifty years of sugar processing along Nāwiliwili Stream that formed and shaped Līhuʻe into the thriving city and county seat that it is today. Kauaʻi journalist Jan Tenbruggencate brings this history to light in Lihue Mill: One Hundred Fifty Years of Sugar Processing Along Nāwiliwili Stream, a book cataloging the lifespan of the mill through an abundance of photographs, a distinct history, and narratives from former employees.

    Unlike many of the major towns in the state, Līhuʻe was not built around a bustling harbor, as the town is located inland, along a stream between two plateaus. Lihue Mill recounts the story of sugar in Hawaiʻi, focusing on the birth and growth of the mill in Kauaʻi and its influence on the town’s growth from sparsely populated woodlands into a bustling economic town. Tenbruggencate’s history of the mill is both detailed and precise, providing an expert insight into the history of the sugar industry and most notably its production, detailing sugar producing innovations, early adoption of technologies, and the development of fuel sources contributing to Lihue Mill being one of the most advanced sugar processing facilities in Hawaiʻi.

    This narrative provides an informative backdrop for the centerpiece of the book: its extensive collection of archival photographs. Beautifully constructed, Lihue Mill is fully deserving of the Honorable Mention it received in Excellence in Design at the 2012 Ka Palapala Pookela Awards. Photos spanning from 1865 to the present visually recount the humble beginnings of the mill and its surrounding community, and the industrious growth as both the mill grew in size and the town surrounding it grew in importance as a direct result.

    Punctuating this collection of historical photographs and reporting are ten oral history interviews with former Lihue Mill employees, written as narratives, providing a much needed injection of the human element to the book. After all, the stories of the people who worked at Lihue Mill are an integral piece in the history and community of Kauaʻi, and thanks to Lihue Mill, their stories and this history will not be lost with the mill’s closing.

    Lihue Mill: One Hundred Fifty Years of Sugar Processing Along Nāwiliwili Stream
    Jan Tenbruggencate
    Pahio Development & Lihue MS, 2011
    Hardcover, 116 pages
    ASIN: B00HBL8S96

  • The Hawaii Movie & Television Book (book review)

    Hawaii movie television

    The scenic islands of Hawai‘i have long been the subject and location of many television and movie productions. Ed Rampell and Luis I. Reyes have compiled a unique reference book for screen enthusiasts in The Hawai‘i Movie and Television Book: Celebrating 100 Years of Film Production Throughout the Hawaiian Islands (Mutual Publishing, 2013). It’s their third collaboration of island cinematic history following the previous books Made In Paradise: Hollywood’s Films of Hawaii and The South Seas and Pearl Harbor In The Movies.

    The title is a bit misleading, since the book focuses primarily on Hollywood films and television shows made in Hawai‘i from 1995 to the present but was published with the subtitle to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first made-in-Hawai‘i feature films. There is a great deal of history in this book, don’t get me wrong, it really does cover one hundred years… just not in as much detail as the disproportionately longer (much longer) sections about the new Hawaii Five-0 and the movie The Descendants.

    Still, early chapters provide an overview of the start of South Seas Cinema and a quick look at the history of Hawai‘i crime fighting television serials. The ‘Made in Paradise’ chapter, which is the bulk of the book,  has pictures, production info and critical commentary on 100 years of projects in chronological order starting in 1913.

    Particularly fun for visitors and locals alike is the chapter on filming locations. I know I’m not the only one who tries to recognize/find landmarks in a movie or show that’s filmed here. This book features some of the most popular locations across the major islands from Kualoa Ranch to Hanalei Bay.

    A book about moving pictures should be visually engaging and this one is. Retouched, four-color vintage pictures, movie posters and other memorabilia decorate the pages. It can look a bit mish-mash but that’s part of it’s charm with a variety of images: nostalgic, candid, behind-the-scenes, and promotional. Authors Rampell and Reyes have truly curated a book that would please any film buff.

    The Hawai‘i Movie and Television Book is a comprehensive look at the scope and impact of the Hawai‘i film industry and a look at how movie-making in the islands has evolved and developed. I was very happy to see info about independent, documentary and student films (not just major motion pictures and network television shows) and mentions of our internationally known film festivals. There is also coverage of films about Hawaiian life made by native Hawaiians and local filmmakers.

    For those who are interested in learning more about Pacific film history, L.A.-based film historian Ed Rampell, who formerly lived in Hawai‘i is also a co-founder of the South Seas Cinema Society, an Oahu-based fan club/film society.

    The Hawai‘i Movie and Television Book: Celebrating 100 Years of Film Production Throughout the Hawaiian Islands
    Ed Rampell and Luis I. Reyes
    Mutual Publishing, 2013
    ISBN: 9781939487025
    Softcover, 208 pgs.

  • Cacy & Kiara and the Curse of the Kii (Book Review)

    Cacy and Kiara and the Curse of the Kii

    You don’t see many local chapter books for children published regularly, so anytime Misty and I come across one, we are always eager to see how well it stands up and helps advance the genre. Cacy & Kiara and the Curse of the Kiʻi by Roy Chang is an intense yet fun and humorous children’s novel that brings together Hawaiian geography, legends, themes and more.

    In this thrilling adventure, two sixth-grade cousins–brash Cacy and book-smart Kiara–embark on a field trip with their different schools to Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. While there, they are accidentally cursed by an ancient kii they stumble upon. This curse will bring about complete destruction of the land if the duo do not trek across the park to a nearby heiau before the sun rises on the next day. To make matters worse, an antagonistic collector of artifacts sets her evil henchmen on their trail in order to add the kii to her collection of rare, mystical antiques.

    Roy Chang creatively fabricates a world of mystical wonder where Hawaiian spirits and deities come alive, taking active roles in helping (or hindering) the quest of our female heroes (girl power!). I thoroughly enjoyed Chang’s framing of the story within a class trip, providing the narrative expositional license that gives young readers brief, yet educational explanations of Hawaiian geography, history, and myths and legends. For example, the use of Hawaiian words peppered throughout the pages teaches young readers such things as different lava flows (Aʻa vs. Pahoehoe), Hawaiian place names, mythical creatures, and much more.

    Though the book runs a bit long at 416 pages, the story moves at a brisk pace as Cacy and Kiara are constantly running in and out of precarious situations with a wealth of characters, including ʻaumākua, the goddesses Pele and Hiʻiaka, and a tribe of Menehune. Aiding in the narrative is Roy Chang’s charming manga-style illustrations, which helps punctuate the notion of this novel being an epic comic book come alive.

    Cacy & Kiara and the Curse of the Kiʻi is a fun and fantastical addition to our wealth of local literature and an especially needed book within the roster of local children’s novels. I look forward to reading and seeing more of Roy Chang’s work, including maybe another adventure for these spunky young heroines.

    You can preview the first three chapters of the book here! This book is recommended for ages 9 and up.

    Cacy & Kiara and the Curse of the Kiʻi
    written and illustrated by Roy Chang
    BeachHouse Publishing,
    416 pages, Softcover
    ISBN 1-933067-47-0

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    • Roy Chang

      Thank you so much for the review! I saw it posted on Facebook and wrote in the comment.

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