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Surfer of the Century: The Life of Duke Kahanamoku
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Surfer of the Century: The Life of Duke Kahanamoku

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  142 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
The true story of Hawaiian Duke Kahanamoku, six-time Olympic swimming champion and legendary surfer who popularized surfing around the world.
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published October 1st 2007 by Lee & Low Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Marissa Chiaro
This story was interesting to read because the surfer in real life was a real person. In the back of the book it shows a timeline of events in Duke's life who was the surfer. This story could be great for students to do a biography project on. The illustrations in this book are extremely unique!
Considering our diversity numbers in our biography collection, I was surprised we had a copy of this in the library. It’s been on my TBR pile for about a year now and I decided to pick it up just before the end of school and see if it might work for our summer reading lists.

I think kids will really enjoy the story because Kahanamoku was very driven and inspiring. When he couldn’t get into the local surf club because he was native Hawaiian, he and his friends made their own. When he wanted to swi
Jan 27, 2009 Greg marked it as to-read
Shelves: asian-americans
This delightful children's biography is about Hawaiian swimmer and surfer Duke Kahanamoku. Growing up as a poor boy who loved to surf, Duke overcame racial strife and financial hardships to become one of the greatest swimmers of his time. I found the literary style of this story to be wonderful, especially considering that it is a children's biography. Within the story you find words of inspiration like "determined", "pushed himself", "dedication", and "hard work". Though this story captures the ...more
Apr 16, 2012 Danielle rated it it was amazing

This beautifully illustrated book tells the life story of pioneering surfer Duke Kahanamoku in clear text and carefully composed airbrush-style paintings. The author pays tribute to Duke Kananamoku by showing how his life was defined by the spirit of aloha. Aloha means love, and readers share in Duke’s early years as a part of a loving community of family and friends living near Waikiki beach. Aloha means grace, which Duke shows as an athlete, and in his sportsmanship as an Olympic medalist in t
Apr 27, 2012 Rachel rated it really liked it
Surfing is an exciting and mysterious sport, especially to those of us who live in land locked DFW. Duke Kahanamoku was a man who mastered this sport and shared his love of the water with the world. He learned to swim and surf at a young age, was able to hold his breath underwater for minutes at a time, set World Records for swimming in the Olympic Games, and even saved lives with the help of his surf board. Duke traveled all over the world promoting the sport of surfing and his dream was to see ...more
Jul 11, 2010 Kristi rated it it was amazing
Duke Paoa Kahanamaku was born in 1890 on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. He spent most of his day in the water off of Waikiki Beach. Swimming, surfing and diving came naturally to Duke and he knew he was good. He hoped one day to race the best swimmers from the mainland US. Duke was soon competing for a spot on the US Olympic team. Was he fast enough to accomplish his goal? Would he be able to make history for Hawaii?

Surfer of the Century by Ellie Crowe (illustrated by Richard Waldrep) is a beauti
Apr 23, 2010 Megan rated it it was amazing
A moving and beautiful insight into the life of an amazing athlete in American history. One might say he was the Hawaiian Jesse Owens in overcoming prejudice to rise to athletic glory, all while retaining a spirit of true sportsmanship and humility. Duke Kahanamoku is well-known among surfers worldwide, as he is credited with bringing the sport to Americans and Australians. Thanks to this lovely story with incredibly detailed illustrations, many will come to see him as a true humanitarian and an ...more
Kathy Ellen Davis
What a cool book!
There's a lot of text, but don't let that scare you.
Duke did a lot of things, and everything in here is essential.

The illustrations are amazing, and very realistic.
I'm always amazed at how people illustrate waves, because I find it so difficult.
Richard Waldrep did a great job.

The story is very compelling and inspirational.
I think anyone who enjoys surfing or swimming would love it.

Probably for older kids though; 2nd grade and up? because it's on the longer side.
Abby Johnson
Dec 05, 2007 Abby Johnson rated it really liked it
A very interesting and informative picture book biography, this book tells the true story of Duke Kahanamoku, Hawaii's first Olympic swimmer and the man who spread the sport of surfing all over the world. Duke came from a poor background, but he worked hard and became one of the fastest swimmers in the world. Although he was discriminated against when he traveled to the States for Olympic tryouts, he made it onto the Olympic swim team and brought back gold medals in two different Olympic games. ...more
This book was such a disappointment! Duke Kahanamoku seems like such an interesting person and had such an interesting life, but the writing in this book is just boring and reads like the worse kind of history book. It pretty much just lists everything that happened in his life with a couple of dramatic emotional reactions thrown in here and there. It was entirely too long and had entirely too many useless details. What a shame! The illustrations are great, but who cares when the writing is such ...more
Katherine E
Nov 24, 2010 Katherine E rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
This biography of Duke Kahanamoku is perfect for 3rd 4th and 5th because it is a bluebonnet and it shows young readers like me that dreams can come true and to be good at school.I have schema with this book that when I was 4 I saw a surfing movie that a girl wanted to be a surfer.First Duke wanted to be a surfer when he was a young boy.Next he was a teen and was able to surf.He grew up to be one of the first surfers in the U.S.A.
Nancy Jo Lambert
I really liked this biography of Duke Kahanamoku. This was a very well written and illustrated book about the famous Hawaiian surfer and Olympic swimmer. This book chronicled through highly effective narrative, Duke's life and accomplishments in surfing and swimming. It is told very candidly and includes the times when it was difficult for Duke to achieve success because of obstacles and discrimination.

A great book!
Dec 01, 2010 Lucy rated it liked it
This is a book with many facts about a young man with a dream that was a little unrealistic. With the help of his friends and family he can conquer his dream. This book reminds me of the story of Martin Luther King Jr. because both the men weren't exactly welcome in the U.S. In the end they faced the people and accomplished their dream. This book has encouraged me to always chase my dreams. If you ever need a little help with something then you should read this book.
Mar 08, 2010 Trish rated it it was amazing
Just read this beautiful book with my children. It was perfect timing after watching the Winter Olympics. My daughter claims to dislike history, but she loved reading about the first Hawaiian to win gold in the Olympics and she even huffed when the book touched on racism and how Duke Kahanamoku was initially treated in a Chicago restaurant. Duke lived an amazing life of humility despite all of his successes. He deserves to be remembered well and this book ensures that he will be.
Jul 14, 2010 Melissa rated it it was amazing
A biography on Duke Kahanamoku the first well known surfer of all time. Duke became a hero in the early 20th century first as a well known surfer and long distance swimmer in Wakiki. His athletic ability allowed him to become well known all around the world as an Olympic Medalist 6 times over. He continued his passion of surfing and swimming and introduced the world to it as well as Hawaii.
Sep 20, 2009 Lisa rated it really liked it
We read this book as part of our Hawaii study. It was interesting and we were able to talk not only about surfing, but also about hard work and determination. Setting goals and achieving goals. The difference in culture and discrimination. My kids really enjoyed it, it also helped that one of our friends was named after this man it gave us another connection.
Destiny R.
Mar 31, 2011 Destiny R. rated it liked it
I like this biography book because it talkes about a man who wants to fallow his dream and how his family is suporing him 105%.why is drem was to be a surfer? I want to remember how he did not give up on his drem no matter what any body told him.I would recommend this book to people who learn to face there fears.
Luis T.
Oct 08, 2010 Luis T. rated it really liked it
This book was a man about a man that liked to swim and swim and surfe .This book was kind of awsome .So I choose to give it 4 stars .One thing that I didn't understand is why didn't understand was why didn't he stayed focus in school?The genere for this book is biography.I recomend this book to people ho like to read information.

Sep 25, 2010 Joel rated it liked it
This book is about a famous swimmer that won a silver and gold medal . This book is historical fiction because hes recognized for helping the ones from the civil war . I would recommend this book to kids ho like historical fiction . How much time did it take for him to get were the civil war took place .
Clemente M.
Oct 07, 2010 Clemente M. rated it it was amazing
Sufer of the cetury is a cool book. it talks about the guy name Duke he is a very good surfer and a fast suwimer he has two friends that swim fast but if they race Duke will win and the geare is biography. I half shema for when i furst surft and learned how to swim. I wonder if he had children they will do the same.
Feb 03, 2009 Khris rated it really liked it
Great picture book for older children. Like Kathleen Krull's books, this one keeps the reader's interest by focusing on an historical figure who beat the odds, in this case, the great Hawaiian athlete, Duke Kahanamoku.
Yomi O
Oct 20, 2010 Yomi O rated it it was ok
This biography book is about a man named Duke.He spent his life swimming
surffing while everyone else plays soccer.He and his two friends made a club in 1911.What I want to remember is how he saved the people in 1925.
I would recommend this book to Kay because he will like it.
This book was about a surfer from long ago when surfing was an un heard of sport of its time. The pictures were very well done and keeps the reader engaged and interested to find out what is going to happen next.
Aug 01, 2008 Marianne rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jr-non-fiction
Great biography of an Olympic Gold Medal Winner (several times over) Duke Kahanamoku who changed the swimming world in the early 1900s. Great biography for a young athlete and anyone interested in going the mile and then some. I would recommend this book.
Diana R.
Oct 08, 2010 Diana R. rated it really liked it
I think surfer of the century is Bioghaphy beacauseduke was one of the first best surfers . What I want to remember is how he swims every time he gets out of school.I will recomend thi book to someone who loves to swim as much as Duke.
Jose V.
Sep 21, 2010 Jose V. rated it it was amazing
This biography book made me smilled.Duke loved to swim and surf he even saved 8 people of the army from drowning.Once my dad saved me from drowning.I wonder how tall he was.I want to remember him win the olimpics.
Mar 13, 2015 Hillary rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
This is the biography of Duke Kahanamoku, an Olympic medalist in swimming, and a great surfer. Deals with some of the discrimination Duke faced because of his dark skin and his Hawaiian heritage. Tells the story of a great swimmer and sportsman.
May 09, 2011 Melissa rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful children's biography. The values of good sportsmanship run throughout the story. I had no idea who Duke was until I read this story, and I'm really glad I got to know of him. Paul and Lila both enjoyed this story and its beautiful illustrations.
Daniel O.
Sep 21, 2010 Daniel O. rated it liked it
this book is a biografy picture book about duke a famous swimmer becomes a surfer and brings the gold to hawalli.he wasnt good at school but he rock on the ocean.i hope you go and check out this book you mith enjoy it better than i.i recomend this book to challenging readers.
Lesley V.
Oct 11, 2010 Lesley V. rated it it was amazing
This book is a biografy.This book is about the life of Duke Kahanamoku.I liked this book,if you readed,will you liked like me?What I want to remember is that I have lots of fun.I recoment this book to anyone who likes to swim.
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Ellie Crowe loves to read and to write and is the author of Surfer of the Century, The Life of Duke Kahanamoku,(Lee and Low NY 2008), Hardcore Inventing, Invent, Protect, Promote and Profit (Skyhorse Publishing, NY 2009), Hawaii, A Pictorial Celebration, (Sterling Publishing NY), Exploring Lost Hawaii, Places of Power, History, Mystery and Magic, (Island Heritage, Hawaii 2003), content featured on ...more
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