By: Hiwalani Perkins, Puniaikeao Perkins, Alapaki Perkins & Paki Perkins
Publisher: Perks Publishing, LLC
Publication Date: November 22, 2022
Reviewed by: Katie Specht
Review Date: January 16, 2023
From a father and his three teenage children comes their debut children’s book entitled Mahalo Does Not Mean Trash. In this heartwarming story of gratitude, two sisters from Hawaii meet their cousin from California for the first time. During their visit, they experience an unexpected lesson on gratitude, compassion and kindness taught to them by their Pupu and Papa.
The story opens as AJ, the cousin from California, comes to Hawaii to visit the sisters Hiwa and Keao. They give each other hugs and exchange the gifts they brought for each other. Hiwa hugs AJ and tells him “Mahalo!” after opening her gift, to which AJ looks confused and withdraws from Hiwa’s hug. AJ asks his mother why Hiwa called him trash. The parents all laugh and explain that ‘mahalo’ does not mean trash; rather, it is a way to say ‘thank you.’ AJ thought it meant trash since the garbage cans in Waikiki are all labeled with the word ‘mahalo.’ After this silly misunderstanding, the parents drive the kids over to the grandparent’s house so they can spend the day with them.
As the children spend the day with their Pupu and Papa, the ‘mahalo’ question comes up again, and the cousins begin arguing about what it means. Pupu and Papa see this as an opportunity to tell their grandchildren a story to help them understand and solve this dilemma. They explain about the deeper meaning of ‘mahalo:’ how in Hawaiian it means admiration, praise, respect and appreciation. By the end of the day, all the children have a new understanding for the word and what it means to the Hawaiian people.
On the surface, Mahalo Does Not Mean Trash is an adorable and fun children’s book. However, if you look deeper, there is a more significant message that the authors are trying to convey with their story. Young readers need to be taught about the importance of being grateful every day, no matter what their circumstances may be. This story teaches them just that. This story also shows how to effectively solve disagreements, as evidenced when Hiwa and AJ were arguing about the meaning of ‘mahalo.’ Although they were both frustrated and upset, they calmed down enough to listen to one another and eventually come to an understanding.
Young readers will love the bright, vibrant illustrations in this story. The authors also included some pronunciation tips for the Hawaiian language as well as definitions of Hawaiian words found in the story, which was a nice added bonus that readers and parents alike will appreciate. For a children’s book, this was a bit long at 54 pages, and could be wordy at times. Depending on the target age of the reader, some kids may not have the attention span for a children’s book of this length.
Quill says: Mahalo Does Not Mean Trash is a delightful children’s story that conveys an important message for young readers of gratitude and showing respect for others.
For more information on Mahalo Does Not Mean Trash, please visit the book's website at: mahalobooks.com
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