Review by Burl Burlingame Honolulu Star-Bulletin August 15 2004
As usual its good to have an elder bless a Hawaiian-culture project and here its kumu hula Vicky Holt Takamine. Golembe who wrote the soothingly rhythmic words and created the charmingly naive illustrations understands that the tradition of hula is largely oral and inter-generational and frames the story in that way. Bess Press has mastered the once-gimmicky addition of an audio disc inserted into a book and here it works naturally.
Review by Joseph Bean Maui Weekly September 16 2004
The Story of Hula written and illustrated by Carla Golembe and edited by Vicky Holt Takamine is a very special childrens book.
It is hard to say anything meaningful about most childrens books because children and families differ so much. A book that one five-year-old child might struggle with but enjoy could be fine for another child two years older or two years younger. Children develop steadily but the books -and toys and foods etc.- appropriate for each age can only be publicly stated in wildly inexact generalities. The Story of Hula bridges gaps in several directions.
Golembes words are simple enough for children who have not begun to read and her illustrations are simple too. For the earliest months of book-handling actual words often mean little. Hes telling her? and she is making a? types of explanations from the child tend to provide a story that will fascinate. Then there are the words on the page when the imagination turns in that direction.
As the child becomes more adept at reading whole phrases and sentences there is a discovery waiting in this text. It is all poetry. The youngest child will find a comfort in the rhymes and meters and a little older child will actually read the book as poetry.
Then theres the CD that comes with the book. It has all the text from the book read gently and sensitively and at a pace that any child can follow if he or she is ready to read along.
From the first page to the last human children and an adult are interacting in this book without conflict stress or misunderstanding. Thats a relief from most contemporary writing in which young characters have their calm relationships largely with animals. Youll be glad to have your child read The Story of Hula and to see him or her reflect the styles of relationships as demonstrated here. And the fact that your family will learn a little something about what hula is and what it means to Hawaiians is also good.
The story is also a well-crafted teaching aid for pre-schoolers. It demonstrates respect for the kumu - teacher - explains a number of Hawaiian words and connects imagination with fact art with history and so forth. From the pictures telling their own various stories through a childs imagination to the read-along ages with the CD which also helps with pronouncing unfamiliar words in both Hawaiian and English to still older children who may actually read and enjoy the glossary of Hawaiian words and the historic notes this is a book for every Maui family with children.
Review by James Cox Childrens Bookwatch December 1 2004
Carla Golembes The Story of Hula is a picturebook with a narrative audio CD all about the meaning and expression of the Hawaiian hula dance. Teaching young people about the origins and symbolic values behind traditional hula costume and the power of the story behind the dance that is handed down through generations The Story of Hula is a delightful introduction to other cultures and celebrations. Simple color illustrations by Golembe a glossary of Hawaiian terms and a final page of historic notes round out this enjoyable and educational volume.
Review by Dee Ray Clinton Oklahoma Daily News December 30 2004
For a family change of pace consider taking the time to learn to hula dance. A delightful new childrens book for all ages has recently been published by Bess Press of Honolulu.
Author Carla Golembe is also the illustrator. Included in the book s is a CD with story and music so that the readers hands may be free to dance. Hands are as important in the hula as the rest of the body.
Golembe first had the idea for this book in 1992 when working in Hawaii as an artist in residence at Kalani Honua.
She was drawn into the hula by the beauty and grace of the hula movements and the fact that every movement has meaning.
This book is colorful and a real treat for the eyes. The illustrations draw readers into the story with all of the things associated with Hawaii.
Review by Mary Quattlebaum Washington Parent January 1 2005
Want to escape even momentarily winters relentless white landscape and gray sky? Reach for The Story of Hula a vibrant book written and illustrated by Carla Golembe. A kumu hula teacher invites youngsters to listen to the waves watch the birds fly and delight in the magic of moon and flower in order to understand the rhythms and images that inform Hawaiian chants and dance. Golembes descriptions of dance steps and gestures music and clothing are succinct and poetic and her historic notes and glossary are very helpful. Readers of all ages will especially relish her rich palette. Hulas pages pulse with warmth and color.