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A President from Hawai'i


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About the Author

Dr. Terry Carolan was born in Melbourne, Australia, and moved to Hawai'i in 1977. A pediatrician in private practice on the island of Kaua'i since 1979, Dr. Carolan has written six other children's books with Hawaiian themes.

Joanna Carolan was born in San Francisco. Her grandparents moved to Kaua'i in 1967, and she spent part of her teenage years living with them in Wailua. She is an artist and owner of a studio and gallery on Kaua'i, Hawai'i.

Elizabeth Zunon is the illustrator of several picture books, including Lala Salama by Patricia MacLachlan. She lives in Albany, New York.


The Carolans, a husband-and-wife team who published an earlier version of this book in 2009 via their Banana Patch Press company, pay homage to President Obama and the state of his birth. Zunon (The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind) contributes oil and collage spreads that both mimic and refine the hodgepodge look of the original, assembling photographs, signs, postcards, and more against the natural vistas of the Aloha State. The overall effect, though, is still quite busy, with pages including childhood and contemporary snapshots of Obama, historical newspaper headlines, and archival photos of Hawaiian royalty. Choppy, strained couplets, which are sprinkled with Hawaiian words (defined in a glossary), present tidbits about the state's culture and traditions: "It is a gesture of aloha to give a flower lei./ Showing kindness always is the aloha way." Obama is spotlighted only briefly in the verse, and is instead represented primarily through quotations from his speeches. This slim offering doesn't provide an especially edifying or informative look at either the man or the state. Ages 7-10. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Gr 2-5-Part biography, part portrait of the Aloha State, this book covers a lot of ground with a sunny touch. The collage artwork mixes oil paintings with postcards, headlines, and photographs of the president, Hawaiian people, buildings, and landscapes. In the same way, the text mixes information with quotes from Obama. Simple facts such as the number of islands and largest city are interspersed with biographical information about the president's life growing up there and a celebration of Hawaiian culture. "Mana is what Hawaiians call divine spirit or power. They believe it can be found in every person, rock, and flower. Hawai'i had a monarchy, which was taken away, but the people's mana was strong, and it still is today." Hawaiian words are in bold and defined, then listed in a glossary. This is not a book to turn to for reports. Instead, it will be best loved by students interested in the state, and by Hawaiians themselves.-Amelia Jenkins, Juneau Public Library, AK (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Zunon's illustrations, saturated with lush greens and deep orange sunsets, lend a comforting warmth to the Hawaiian way of life.
-Kirkus Reviews

Part biography, part portrait of the Aloha State, this book covers a lot of ground with a sunny touch.
-School Library Journal

Vivid illustrations and photographs grace an upbeat story of President Obama's birth and childhood in Hawai'i...
-Yellow Brick Road

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