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Ho'onani: Hula Warrior

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  449 ratings  ·  104 reviews
An empowering celebration of identity, acceptance and Hawaiian culture based on the true story of a young girl in Hawaiʻi who dreams of leading the boys-only hula troupe at her school.

Ho'onani feels in-between. She doesn't see herself as wahine (girl) OR kane (boy). She's happy to be in the middle. But not everyone sees it that way.

When Ho'onani finds out that there will b
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published October 1st 2019 by Tundra Books (NY)
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Average rating 4.20  · 
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 ·  449 ratings  ·  104 reviews

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I was rather disappointed in the artwork. The colors were mute and not vibrant and there was a lot of grey in the pallet making it feel rather sad. The tone was mute as well.

A Hula Warrior is apparently the lead warrior and they do a type of dance to face an opponent and the leader has to be fearless. Anyone can be a hula warrior, but it’s mostly men. In the story Ho’onani is a girl and she is the best at this and she becomes their leader and her sister has issues with it.

The story is a bit con
La Coccinelle
This is a simple narrative (based on a true story) about Ho'onani and her quest to perform in the boys' hula troupe.

I like how the issue of gender is addressed here. Ho'onani really wants to be part of the hula troupe. But it's traditionally only for boys. There's an audition, and she tries out and gets in. As she tells her sister, she feels more male than female. So why shouldn't she be part of the boys' troupe? What I really like is that Ho'onani doesn't really care about the traditional gende
Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Ho'onani: Hula Warrior by Heather Gale is a picture book for young readers of any age. It could be a read aloud for kindergarten - 1st grade as it has brightly colored illustrations and text that a younger child would be able to follow along with as a read aloud. The book is based on a real person Ho-onani Kamai who was from Honolulu, Hawaii. The story tells her truth as she felt "in between" and didn't see herself as wahine (girl) or kane (boy). She feels content to be in the middle but not eve ...more
Jun 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Most western people are probably more familiar with the hula that has women swaying with grass skirts. But there was another hula practiced, that of the stomping and chanting, usually done by men. If you have seen Maori dances, you get the idea.

Ho'onani is the fictionalized story of a real wahini (girl) who wants to dance the male dance that only the kane (boys) dance. She feels she is just as strong, and can do the chants just as well, if not better.

This is not so much a story about a girl wan
Aubrey Marie
Jan 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
This book is based on real life and is about a child who does not feel like a girl or boy. The child doesn’t feel as though they need to conform to a gender. They decide to dance in the boy’s group despite what others may feel or say. I really liked that this was a children’s picture book because there isn’t enough literature that represents diversity and children who may have the same thoughts or feelings deserve to see/read that representation.
Jul 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
In Hawaiian culture you can be feminine, masculine, or both. This story is about Ho’onani who finds her place in the middle as a Hula Warrior. This story is based on true events that can be seen in the documentary A Place in the Middle. This is a nice true life tale of someone finding themselves, a school’s acceptance, and a look at the family involved.
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful and empowering story about Ho’onani Kamai and her teacher Kumu Hina and a powerful message of acceptance and belonging. Author Heather Gale and illustrator Mika Song together create a beautiful story about a person who doesn’t always feel like a wahine (girl) or a kāne (boy) and becomes a hula warrior “strong, sure and steady.” Based on a documentary called A Place in the Middle, this book delivers a clear message about acceptance in a way young readers can clearly understand.

Nikki Romano
Mar 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbtq
Ho'onani: Hula Warrior is a great picture book to share with grades K-3 for a read aloud. Ho'onani is just happy as can be the way she is. In Hawaiin culture, people either associate with wahine (girl) OR kane (boy); Ho'onani feels as though she possesses both qualities. She wants to be the Hula Warrior and tries out knowing she will be the only girl. Her family supports her except for her sister who is a little weary about the idea since it is not very wahine like.

In the end, Ho'onani is shine
Abby Johnson
Ho'onani doesn't feel entirely wahine (girl) or kane (boy), but somewhere in the middle. When her community announces that they are going to put on a traditional Hawaiian hula chant for kane, she feels drawn to audition, even though the chanters are traditionally boys. This is an empowering story bringing much needed representation to the page. Ho'onani is such a good chanter that she's chosen to lead the group. When her teachers warns her that some people might object to a wahine leading a grou ...more
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful! I am Māhū.
This book is just amazing, it teaches younger children to comprehend gender identity. And that is okay if some people have feminine traits or male-like hobbies. I adore this book, seeing the protagonists stand up for what she believes in even if it goes against the views of those that surround her even if it's her own family.
A simple story a about a girl who views herself a girl who feels more like a boy. She claims she is a waging, an intersexual girl. She chooses to join a boys group for dancing and chanting. Her younger sister has a hard time dealing with it.
Jun 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Good enough story about Hawaiian culture and gender stereotypes. Not the best book I read this week, but I like the message it shares!
Lauren Paletta
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Strong, determined and unique; that's Ho'onani! She know what she wants, embraces the different and values her culture and history. A wonderful story!
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Gave me goosebumps!
Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Tears of pride.
Michelle (FabBookReviews)

Ho'onani Kamai did not see herself as a wahine, "girl".
Or think she was a kāne, "boy".
She preferred just Ho'onani.

Author Heather Gale and illustrator Mika Song (Picnic with Oliver) bring readers the children's picture book Ho'onani: Hula Warrior, which is based on a true story and a real person named Ho'onani Kamai. When readers meet young Ho'onani, they learn that she doesn't see herself as boy or girl: she is simply "just Ho'onani". Her mother and her father support Ho'onani's love of sin
May 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbtq, picture-books
I found this book through my local library and got it in an e-book format. I located this book on the Rainbow Books list for 2020 and was intrigued by the summary. This book tells the story of Ho'onani Kamai who didn't see herself as either a girl or boy, so she preferred just Ho'onani. She was accepted by her mother and father, but her sister had a hard time with how she sings, plays the ukelele, and would often get in small fights with her. Ho'onani tries out the for the school's performance o ...more
J Aislynn d'Merricksson
Dec 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ho'onani: Hula Warrior by Heather Gale is a delightful, empowering picture book for kids based on a true story. Ho'onani is part of a big, loving family who mostly encourage her to be herself. All but her sister, that is. Her sister can't understand why Ho'onani doesn't act like a 'normal' girl. But Ho'onani doesn't feel like a 'girl'. She doesn't feel like a 'boy' either. She feels somewhere in-between. Hawai'ian actually has a word for someone who feels this way, and it was perfectly acceptabl ...more
Oct 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: k-3rd grade
3.5 stars
A young girl dreams of taking part in the custom of hula despite the announcement that high school boys will perform it. The desire, perseverance, and determination of Ho'onani is shown, including her confrontation with her sister who questions her participation and a warning from the teacher that some may be opposed to a girl leading the hula. Despite these conversations, Ho'onani knows herself and what she can do, and is not deterred.

Based on a true story and inspired by a documentary
Review copy: Digital ARC via Netgalley

Ho'onani Hula Warrior is a picture book re-telling of a documentary film about a young Hawaiian who feels that girl or boy as a designation doesn't always fit for everyone. There is a middle space and that is where Ho'onani is most comfortable. Ho'onani has people who support this identification and a space is held for people in this middle place in the Hawaiian culture - at least there had been until first contact with non indigenous people. There are peopl
Destinee Sutton
Nov 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
I watched the trailer for the documentary this book is based on. Just the trailer and I got chills. I may have even teared up. This picture book doesn't quite have the power of seeing the real Ho'onani belt out a traditional hula chant. But it's worth reading and sharing. Today in the US there is greater recognition and acceptance of gender fluidity. We should also recognize that different cultures around the world have been accepting of people who are nonbinary. Ho'onani is referred to as "she" ...more
Jill Jemmett
Dec 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This story is about a little girl, named Ho’onani, in Hawaii who identifies as being in between a boy and a girl. She refers to herself as a girl, but she wants to join the boys hula troupe at her school. After some convincing, she is allowed to join the boys and even lead them in a performance.

Ho’onani was a strong girl in the story. She wanted to be a hula warrior, so she kept trying to reach her dream. She received some backlash at home, when her sister didn’t approve of what Ho’onani was doi
Maria Marshall
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love books with strong female characters; girls and women willing to follow their dreams, even if that means challenging the status quo. And books that make us examine our beliefs and misconceptions; ones that challenge us to be better people. This book does both. And it shows that everyone deserves unconditional acceptance and respect. This is a wonderfully well-written and illustrated book offering a peek at Hawaiian traditions and language and a call for acceptance of the differences (big a ...more
Feb 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Read for Book Riot's 2020 Read Harder Challenge. Category: Read a picture book with a human main character from a marginalized community

I feel like it's silly to say that this picture book didn't include enough stuff--I get that it is a short story for kids. I guess I was looking for more growth from Ho'onani and her community. Besides Ho'onani's sister being a jerk, she didn't really face a lot of opposition for wanting to break out of traditional gender roles. I also get that a children's book
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love this! The art is beautiful, which is very important to me. The story is exciting, with a great message on two levels: a broadly applicable message of "you can achieve your dreams" as well as the specific message of accepting people for who they are.

The only thing I would want differently is a pronunciation guide to the Hawaiian words so I don't mispronounce them trying to read this out loud to my daughter.

I received a free ebook version in exchange for an honest review via Netgalley.
Ho'onani feels neither completely like a kane, a boy, nor a wahine, a girl. She is somewhere in the middle, but this identity is not always accepted. When she auditions and is selected to lead the school's hula warrior performance, Ho'onani worries about rejection from her sister Kana most of all, but through her own fortitude and belief in her self, Ho'onani succeeds and is celebrated. A really beautiful look at Hawai'ian culture, diversity, and appreciation of our differences.

Themes: Gender d
Nov 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
I loved this book at first sight. The issue arose when I watched the video “A Place In the Middle” before reading the book, and there was no conflict with a sister in the film, so I am disappointed that they seem to have created one. In the book and in the video, it was good to see how many people respected Ho’onani’s identity, so to see it called into question for the sake of creating conflict really is disappointing.
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An excellent and empowering book based on a true story of a Hawaiian girl who doesn't feel entirely wahine (girl) or kane (boy), who feels like she is in the middle. Her dream is to lead the boy's hula warrior dance and with the help of her teacher, she joins the troupe and rises to the leadership position. The story of inclusion and acceptance is told simply and lyrically with bold illustrations.
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Hawaiian tradition includes kanes -- boys -- to lead the hula chants. Ho'onani is not boy or girl, but in the middle, and has the big voice and confidence to do that job. This story shows how she prevails, even with her sister, who is embarrassed that her sister does not act more like a wahine--a girl.

The book is based on a true story, which can be seen in a documentary film, a Place in the Middle, readily accessible online.
Sarah Hannah
I love the art. The writing? Meh. A little too on the nose and message-y.
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