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Ho'onani: Hula Warrior

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  155 ratings  ·  45 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
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published October 1st 2019 by Tundra Books (NY)
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Average rating 4.22  · 
Rating details
 ·  155 ratings  ·  45 reviews

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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
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.
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
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 ...more
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!
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!
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.

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
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
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
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 ...more
Amber S.
Nov 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: multicultural
Summary: Ho'onani, a young Hawaiian girl, feels that she is neither wahine (girl) nor kane (boy). Her family (except for her older sister) embrace her and accept her nontraditional traits, even when Ho'onani performs in the traditionally male-dominant hula chant at her high school. After the powerful performance (lead by Ho'onani), she earns respect from her community, including her sister!

Review: I think this book sends a powerful message of self-respect and self-acceptance. It is
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.
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
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.
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The book didn't download too goo in my Kindle, but the story read just fine! I like the message to pursue interests that are right for you rather than what others think your genders should be and to also be true to yourself. Sexual orientation shouldn't be a given or deal breaker. Pursue your dreams! I love that this story was also a bio on a real person.

I received a Kindle arc from Netgalley in exchange for a fair review.
April Gray
Dec 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this story! Ho'onani doesn't feel like a girl and doesn't feel like a boy, she feels like Ho'onani. She tries out for a school hula chant that is normally for boys only, and not only gets accepted, but is made the leader. She knows some people at the performance may not like this, but she says "If someone wants to leave, that is their problem." And she was fierce. See for yourself in the short film "A Place in the Middle."

#HoonaniHulaWarrior #NetGalley
Oct 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book enough to dig further and watch the film. One thing that’s great about the film is that it focuses on the acceptance of Ho’onani by her peers and family and highlights the nurturing of her as her whole self by her teacher. The addition in this book of a sister character that is upset by Ho’onani’s embracing of male things makes it a little pat and lessens the impact that the documentary had. Still I’m grateful that this book was made as it called my attention to the film ...more
Beth Anderson
Oct 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This dare-to-be-different story celebrates the courage to push past expectations, take a chance, and persevere. It inspires the question – why not? – and allows young readers to see there’s room for everyone. Along with the universal theme of acceptance, the Hawaiian culture takes center stage, bringing readers lots to enjoy and explore.
This is a great entry point for anyone who is unfamiliar with or uncomfortable with the concept of fluid gender because it references a historical cultural precedent and tells a story within that culture, AND incorporates characters who are at various stages of uncertainty about Ho'onani's self identification and self determination. Excellent, excellent, excellent.
Leah Horton
Jun 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Ho’onani:Hula Warrior is a story about a young wahine (girl) who doesn’t quite fit into that box or a kane (boy) box. ho’onani defies gender and cultural norms by trying out to become the leader of her schools hula chant. Despite the negative and uneasy feelings from classmates, her sister and others she becomes the leader.

A story about self discovery, acceptance and understanding.
Although the description makes it sound like the main character is non-binary, the story presents her more as a girl who wants to do a thing that is traditionally masculine. Ho'onani's nonconformity embarrasses her sister, but ultimately she does the thing, and does it really well.
Elizabeth Seibel
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you #netgalley for giving me a copy of #HoonaniHulaWarrior to review. This was the perfect book to show that you don't have to fit into someone else's mold. I loved how the main character embraced who she was and stood get ground when her sister didn't like it. This is a definite must read.
Anneke Alnatour
Based on a true story, this was a truly inspirational message to my children. Ho'onani doesn't identify as a girl or a boy and wants to join the hula, which is traditionally a male chant. Of course, Ho'onani excels at it! Great story!
Chelsea Smith
Sep 15, 2019 rated it liked it
This book would be a good starting point for discussing different cultures and gender identity. Many parents may be uncomfortable with having this discussion with their children, so should be aware that that’s mentioned in this book. It was a nice story of triumph though.
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
True story of Ho'onani, a young Hawaiian who describes themselves as somewhere "between" a wahine (girl) and a kāne (boy) but struggles to be accepted by their own sister and community. The story is positive and empowering and has an associated documentary which the frontmatter directs readers to.
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: net-galley
This empowering story of Ho-onani finding her place in a traditionally masculine tradition was beautifully illustrated and is a good read for young children!
Thanks NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Michelle Gray
Theme: being true to yourself
Angie  Moore
Oct 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fabulous story about being true to yourself. Being brave. Not worrying about what others think. Beautiful!
Marta Wright
Nov 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful and wonderful! We need more books like these.
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