Picture Book Review: Honu and Moa, by Edna Cabcabin Moran

Favorite Quote
“Moa was squawkless.”
Honu and Moa, written and illustratted by Edna Cabcabin Moran.

Oh, the joy of reading a good picture book that takes you down memory lane on a sunny afternoon! Honu and Moa is a “Hawaiiana retelling of Aesop’s fable The Tortoise and the Hare, and loosely based on the research of renowned Hawaiian historian Kumu Mary Kawena Pukui, and other scholars whose volumes of myths feature kupua, or other supernatural beings.” (Author’s note). Though the main characters differ in nature, the similarities with the well-known classic jump off the page right away: Moa, the beautiful rooster, is chatty and boastful and slightly greedy, while Honu’s coolness, the sea turtle, is heightened by her calm and wisdom and awesome singing skills (I want to hang out with her!).

The plot centers around a water spring – why does it remind me of humans and current events, of all the still on-going wars that originate from the will to control water sources around the world? Anyways, Honu is chilling after a long swim and takes a sip of water. Moa shows up and claims the springs as his, which of course Honu objects to. The matter will be settled with a race, and the sun will be the referee. We know how the story should end, and the author does not disappoint: Our hope of justice is fulfilled. Edna Cabcabin Moran masterfully immerses us into the Hawaiian culture through the story’s illustrations, the descriptions of the landscape, as well as the native words sprinkled in the conversation between Honu and Moa.

A note on the illustrations
They are digital and a symphony of vibrant colors. I was especially drawn to the expressions of the eyes of both Honu and Moa. See below for my favorite illustration.

Honu and Moa, written and illustrated by Edna Cabcacbin Moran

Why I recommend this book:
Yes, Honu and Moa is well written and delightfully illustrated, and yes the core of the story is well known by anyone who’s read Aesop’s Tales. That said, what sets Honu and Moa apart is not just its Hawaiian setting, but its ecological message as well. Indeed, despite being at a physiological disadvantage by her slowness compared to Moa’s ability to fly, Honu makes it clear that she is not just racing for herself, but for all the generations after her too. She also reiterates that everyone should have the rights to have access water, and not just one individual and/or his group of people.
Additionally, this title is surprisingly affordable for a hardcover picture book! (Only $12.95 on both Amazon and the publisher’s website)

Photo courtesy of Edna Cabcabin Moran

About the author
Edna Cabcabin Moran spent her youth playing among boulders in Iceland’s tundra, hanging out in a bustling NorCal Navy town, and bicycling daily through the sprawl of Honolulu. She dances with the critically-acclaimed Hālau Hula Na Lei Hulu I Ka Wekiu, under the direction of Kumu Patrick Makuakāne, from whom she received training as ‘Olapa Hula. Many years after earning a B.A. in Studio Art from UH Mānoa, Edna is author and/or illustrator of four books for children including The Sleeping Giant: A Tale from Kauaʻi.
For more information on Edna’s work (and the causes she supports), visit her website, Instagram, Twitter & Facebook pages.

Additional information on the book
Publisher: BeachHouse Publishing – Books for Hawai’i’s Kids
Release date: October 1, 2018.
Age range: 4-8 years old.
Where to buy: Mutual Publishing, Amazon
Topics covered: Hawaiian folktale, Aesop fable, ecology, competition, water.

Disclaimer: Book received from the publisher.
Edited 02/26/2019: Correction on the character’s names.

#MondayInterview: Award-Winning Author Angela Dalton

Hi everyone, please help me welcome Angela Dalton to the MultiCulturalism Rocks! team!

Angela, it is a joy and honor to interview you. Thank you for joining me today, and congratulations on the publication of your first picture book, If You Look Up to the Sky, and on all the awards and accolades it has received so far, including being one of Kirkus Review’s Best Books of 2018!

Multiculturalism Rocks! (Nathalie Mvondo for MCR): Please tell us a little bit about your background, prior to being an author.

Angela Dalton,
Author of If You Look Up to the Sky

Angela Dalton: Prior to becoming an author, I was a content strategist and digital producer; I’ve worked on projects for brands that span from a digital story series for Kix cereal to online games for television networks like Cartoon Network. It’s interesting to look back on my career and realize that much of my work centered around content for children. I feel like the universe was getting me ready to take the leap into children’s literature.

MCR: Wow! There is something to be said here about children and their early aspirations. Thank you for sharing. What inspired you to write, and specifically to write a picture book?

Angela Dalton: I’ve been writing since I was a child. I loved writing plays and then recruiting neighborhood kids to put them on for the adults. I think I’ve always been drawn to the intricate nature of words and how to visualize them – it’s what draws me to technology and digital media. And, there’s just an incredible satisfaction I feel seeing joy in a child’s face when you read that magical page that resonates with them. There’s nothing like it.

MCR: Tell us a bit more about the inspiration behind IF YOU LOOK UP TO THE SKY.

If You Look Up to the Sky, by Angela Dalton

The story was inspired by something my great-grandmother said to me when I was very young. I was fascinated by how the moon appeared to be following me and she said, “If you’re feeling lost and you see the moon peeking through the clouds, just know you are exactly where you are meant to be.” I think that simple statement began my love for the sky and cosmos. When I moved to Oakland, CA, from Minneapolis, MN, her words came back to me. I was in this new city, feeling a little lost and this sentiment gave me some comfort. I began thinking about how the different sky- and nighttime elements can be very comforting, especially when you’re a child. Everything just kind of came to me, so I was able to sit down and write the manuscript in two days.

MCR: That is so amazing! You chose to self-publish your first book, and the result is stellar. What was the appeal about self-publishing, and what are your thoughts regarding traditional publishing as well?

Angela Dalton: Thank you! Being this was my first attempt publishing a children’s book, I knew pretty quickly that I had no idea what I was doing. Through the help of friends, I was able to connect with and interview five self-published authors and five traditionally published authors. Both had their pros and cons; but, being this had personal family ties I felt that self-publishing was the better choice. Visually, it was very clear in my head how I wanted it to look and you don’t really have creative control if you publish traditionally. However, I also want to be very transparent – I worked with Beaver’s Pond Press to publish the book, so I wasn’t doing it by myself. It also was a lot of work to promote and distribute the book myself, and I don’t think I would have been as successful had I not had a background in marketing and a great network. I think that’s really important for anyone considering self-publishing to understand.

I’m currently trying the traditional publishing for new stories I’ve written. I would love to work with an editorial team at a publishing house, but for this one I think self-publishing was the right choice.

Editorial Note: Beaver’s Pond Press is a hybrid publishing company based in Edina, Minnesota that publishes independent authors and artists. Source: Wikipedia

MCR: Do you have a literary agent, and if not, are you interested in working with one?

Angela Dalton: I’m definitely open to it. As much as I loved the experience I had with If You Look Up to the Sky, I very much want this to be a career. I would welcome the guidance of someone who knows what they’re doing – I still have so much to learn!

MCR: Any agent would be very lucky to work with you. What is a children’s book, beside your own, that you would love to see adapted on the big screen?

Angela Dalton: I would love to see Little Leaders by Vashti Harrison turned into a series! I think it would be so incredible if each of the women featured had a 30-minute segment that focused on their childhood and those defining moments that made them the leader they became. Girls of color need to see that they, too, can be a leader. Whoever develops and produces this would get ALL OF MY MONEY! M

MCR: This is such a great suggestion, and I cannot wait to see it on screen.

Thank you so much for this interview, Angela, and welcome aboard! MCR Family, I am excited to announce that Angela offered to join Multiculturalism Rocks! as a contributor. Please help me in welcoming her, and look forward to reviews on some of her favorite books!

For more information on Angela Dalton and to support her work, see:

o Her website

o Her Facebook page

o Twitter