Tutu’s Da Kine Hawaii is a picture book written and drawn by Dr. Kurt Schulz, who dedicates it “to all Hawaiians who…have lost their freedom of self-determination against their will.”   Schulz’s history is one in which he escaped the tragedies of a war torn WWII Europe to become a cartoonist for Disney and Warner Bros. and later an Alternative Medicine doctor.  Upon retiring, Schulz moved to the Big Island of Hawai’i—and given his history of oppression in Europe—he found much in common with the plight of the history of Native Hawaiians.

The story itself is framed as a historical cautionary tale told by a tutu (or grandmother) who concludes to the children that only through good education and hard work can they as a people take back their country by being tomorrow’s professionals.  The history itself covers a wide span of information for a picture book including the founding of Hawaii, Ka’ahumanu, Sandalwood, “King” Bingham, Da Great Mahele, Da Big Five and ending with Da Annexation.  In fact, the book is 107 pages long—each pair of pages containing an illustration on the right to correspond with a written description of an issue, person, or event in Hawaiian history on the left.  The pidgin narrative is nice, but can get complicated by the structure implemented in Tutu’s Da Kine Hawaii.  Some sections are done extremely in a heavy “pidgin-like” style while the next will inconsistently fall into very formal, standard English—or yet, a mixture of the two together in one paragraph, which can get confusing (or annoying) and derails the narrative a bit.

The illustrations are done in sketchbook detail and Schultz’s time at Disney and Warner Bros. is evident in the artistry.  The drawings are very cartoonlike, emphasized by the rounded figures, cute features and strong character outlines.  Put together with the narrative, the book does come across somewhat Disney-like in its telling of the history of Kanaka Maoli in Hawaii.  Still, given the amount of history contained in the book (delving even into the brief Russian escapades on Kauai, Claus Spreckels and Parker Ranch), I could see this book providing a young reader with a more inviting step into the wonderful world of history—it has Disneyish cartoons!  I’m not certain but I believe Tutu’s is out of print.  We got our copy at the Friends of the Library Book Sale, and for that price it was a pretty good deal.  Pick it up, if you see it.