Hula Moose hits Hawaiʻi shelves! Previously Legend of the Hula Moose could only be purchased online and in a few specialty stores. The latest news from the book’s author Christine Taylor Sprowl Tetak, is that she will soon be able to have the book distributed locally. Congratulations Christine!

Legend of the Hula Moose is a children’s book about two Canadian moose (conveniently a boy moose and a girl moose) who get caught up in a herd of cattle destined for the island of Hawaiʻi as a gift for King Kamehameha. Once they arrive they are separated from the herd and together explore their strange, new tropical surroundings, make interesting friends and carve out a home for themselves in the colder climate around Mauna Loa. They begin a family of their own and prosper in the cool hidden valleys of the upland mountains. In the end, few people can say for certain that they’ve seen a “Hula Moose” but you just might catch a glimpse if the light is right.

Diane Lucas’s illustrations are colorful and imaginative, especially given the task of depicting moose frolicking on a beach or surrounded by tropical foliage. Although it looks like a picture book with text and illustrations on each page-set, it reads and is formatted more like an early chapter book. The long paragraphs and blocks of text might overwhelm younger readers but luckily the pictures are detailed and fun. Overall, the book is cute, the pictures are delightful and if your children love animals then they’ll likely enjoy it. Tetak writes that “this story demonstrates that living creatures can adjust to unfamiliar surroundings, make new friends, and overcome all obstacles to thrive.”

Touted as a historical fiction book for kids (with some large liberties taken under ‘fiction’), there are quite a few accurate aspects in the story. Captain Vancouver’s gift of cattle to Kamehameha; the kapu that enabled the cattle to freely roam; the first paniolo. I suppose that’s why the Hawaiian language errors were so diappointing and the implication that this is a local “legend” greatly bothered me. It’s a children’s book so I won’t overanalyze, but kids are amazingly perceptive and I feel like this book is treading a very thin line.

A few short notes:

  • An apostrophe is NOT an ʻokina.
  • The moose meet several native animals and there are lots of Hawaiian names, words and places mentioned. This is great! The pronunciation guides after these words are incorrect. This is not great. See here for a  quick guide and link to pronunciation resources. Also, the glossary has no sources.
  • This book committed one of the cardinal sins of Hawaiʻi keiki books. It threw an overused Hawaiian word in the title to Hawaiianize it (or to Hawaiianize the moose). Why “Hula”? There’s no hula in this book at all. Why not “Aloha Moose”? Or how about “Mahalo Moose” and go for some bonus alliteration points. Or we could pick a word at random out of a Hawaiʻi Tour Guide and put it in front of “Moose”. Maybe using “hula” gets the book more SEO hits on the internet. (future post idea: common clichés in Hawaiʻi books)
  • Legends are stories passed through time that are popularly regarded as historical, although acceptably unverified. I feel like labeling this a legend is misleading and a little bit scary because the whole “moose living on Mauna Loa” thing is right out of thin air. The only moose I know of in Hawaiʻi is Moose McGillycuddy’s, and that is an entirely different animal.
  • The epilogue begins with: “Some people say that the moose are just a legend and that mystical rainbows over Mauna Loa enchanted the Hawaiian people into believing they had actually seen them.” Um. No. I’m gonna be nice and not touch this one.

Having said all that, I applaud Tetak’s positive message and appreciate that Hawaiʻi has inspired her.  However, I do hope Tetak didn’t pay for the editing package at  Although there were no typos or errors, the story would have greatly benefitted from an organized editor. Really. Note: proofreading is not the same as editing!

Check out the kids page on the book’s website for games, activities and coloring pages.


*Edit (2/27/12):
Hula Moose Farm LLC is the new publisher of Legend of the Hula Moose.
ISBN# 978-0-615-54123-5
Printer: Imaging Hawaii
Distributor: Islander Group