Happy April Fool’s Day! I’m not much of a prankster myself, but several of my closest loved ones are. I’m usually their favorite target because I’m terribly gullible and naturally inclined to believe others. So, every year I try to be especially on guard on April 1st… wish me luck!  But seriously, when your mother says “hey try this cookie, it tastes SO good!” or “can you stand here for a second?” you listen because she’s your MOTHER! And you don’t not listen to your mom, no matter what day it is. So you see how, almost every year, I fall prey to my own mother’s devious schemes. Sadly, her talent for trickery was not passed down to me.

One thing my mom did pass down to me however, were stories about Kamapua’a, the pig-god. Kamapua’a is one of Hawaiian Mythology’s most well known deities often referred to as the prankster or Robin Hood of native legend. So here are some quick book recs in honor of this local trickster.

Vivian Thompson has been collecting Hawaiian folktales for many years now and through UH Press published several books perfect for kids of all ages.  Kamapua’a is featured in both her books Hawaiian Myths of Earth, Sea and Sky and Hawaiian Legends of Tricksters and Riddlers. The second book is quite appropriate for April Fool’s Day because in addition to Kamapua’a and riddling chiefs, it has trickster stories about other central Hawaiian figures such as Maui. You can read snippets of both books (through Google) by clicking on their images!

I do recommend the Thompson version of Kamapua’a’s tales if you’re reading to or with keiki because she spares some of the more gory, violent or sexual details of his various exploits.

However, if you’re interested in reading those details I suggest A Legendary Tradition of Kamapua’a, The Hawaiian Pig-God. It’s a brilliantly compiled work by UH Professor of Hawaiian Studies, Lilikala Kameeleihiwa. It’s full of all those juicy bits that were lost in early English translations by clergy scholars and their propriety. It’s a shame though, because Kamapua’a was the on-again, off-again lover of Pele and stories surrounding their dysfunctional love affair are very entertaining but not appropriate for the little ones. 😉 Thankfully, Kameeleihiwa did extensive research with primary sources and it really shows. It’s ultimately an annotated translation of  “He Mo’olelo Ka’ao o Kamapua’a,” a version of the Kamapua’a tales that were printed anonymously in the Hawaiian-language newspaper Ka Leo o ka Lahui in 1891. The original re-telling and Kameeleihiwa’s meticulous translation and attention to detail is another good example of how folktales are used to convey messages and how they evolve to meet the needs of the people, keeping them constantly relevant.

Her translation offers valuable insights into nineteenth-century Hawaiian culture, as well as that of ancient times. — Bishop Museum Press

Sex and culture, you can’t go wrong. Unfortunately, the book is currently out of print and needs to be special ordered through the publisher at Bishop Museum Press. To be honest, their website drives me bananas, it’s nearly impossible to search for a book by title, subject or author  BUT… the book is also available through Native Books: Na Mea Hawaii, which is a bit more user friendly.

On a side note, my brother swears he saw Kamapua’a once on an ATV ride through Kualoa Ranch. Really? Yup, and it’s not so far fetched since according to legend it was actually where many of his hideouts were. You never know….

— Happy Birthday Leila! —

This post is dedicated to my dear, sweet cousin Leila whose birthday is on April Fool’s Day! When they called and told me she was born I didn’t believe them at first, thinking they were trying to pull one over on me. But it wasn’t a prank! And I wouldn’t have it any other way!