ONE SHARK, NO SWIM continues raise and questions about its characters and the slowly unveiling mysteries that surround Zadar. Of course, I had already connected with Zadar in the first book, so was anxious to see where his adventures led him.
The Hawaiian world Lehua Parker portrays--one lived in not just visited--is rich in color, tradition and culture. And adventure. As I read both books, I found hints and references to Hawaiian legends, myths and traditions that fascinated me. I had to ask her to explain some of those to us.
Thanks for satisfying our curiosity, Lehua!
Aloha Berk and Andy! Thanks for letting me stop by your blog. You asked about some of theHawaiian legends, myths, and traditions that are part of the Niuhi Shark Saga.
In book 1, One Boy, No Water, readers are introduced to the idea that there is another reality right under our noses. Ancient Hawaiians believed that everything was connected in ways modern science can’t quantify, but still very concrete—there were reasons you didn’t whistle in the dark, answer when someone you didn’t know called your name in a rainforest, or slept with your feet toward the door. In the series I ran with the idea that many of the gods, goddess, aumakua, and other spiritual beings that were a part of old Hawaii were still around.
As a kid growing up in the ocean these stories fascinated me.
Sharks were a big part of Hawaiian culture and lore. Sharks could be protectors, benefactors, guardians—or man-eating terrors. The Hawaiian language is very lyrical and symbolic and there are many historical records that talk about chiefs with a shark-like appetite for war. But beyond the poetry are legends and myths about sharks and humans living together, about women having shark babies that return to the sea, sharks that return to land to eat the dead, and about sharks that can appear as men.
The idea for the series began with a lot of what ifs. What if a tourist came to Hawaii and caught the eye of a shark in the form of a woman? What if she had twins, a boy and a girl, and had to hide the boy with a human family? What if a boy grew up not knowing he was really a shark? What if no one knew he was a shark? There were so many ways to tell this tale that it just rattled around in my brain for decades until one day Zader and his friends started talking about building a sled out of cardboard, and poof, I found my way into the story.
Once I knew I was writing a MG/YA story, I looked for ways to incorporate the unseen in daily life. In One Boy, No Water, there’s a side plot where Uncle Kahana is cooking a big dinner on Respite Island for Santa and the gang Christmas Day. Uncle Kahana also leaves food under bushes on lauhala mats which makes Zader curious. In book 2, One Shark, No Swim, it becomes clear when pebbles are thrown at windows and when hidden Survivor fans snicker from the bushes that menehunes, Hawaii’s little people, are around.
Ti leaves also play a part in the story and it’s here that I do a disservice to traditional Hawaiian beliefs. Anciently ti plants were used to mark sacred places, bind wounds, wrap offerings, create clothing, and things of that nature. It’s an important plant, but there’s nothing mystical about it. After western contact much of Hawaiian culture and tradition was blurred, re-written, or simply forgotten. People began to confuse the plant’s usefulness with mana or power itself. While I tried to emphasize that it’s the symbolism of the ti leaf that’s important, I think kids could easily misunderstand and think the ti plant is magical.
Less obvious instances of Hawaiian culture in the series are the ideas that our ancestors still watch over us, that prayer and gratitude and are an important part of everyday life, and that family and community are pillars of strength and support. For the most part, the people in the series are generous with their time, talents, and material possessions and that’s definitely a corner-stone of island living.
Thanks, Berk and Andy, for the opportunity to talk a little about the Niuhi Shark Saga. Books one and two, One Boy, No Water and One Shark, No Swim, are published by Jolly Fish Press and available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Book 3, tentatively titled One Fight, No Fist, will be coming out fall 2014.
What a fun person Lehua is! We are fellow authors at Jolly Fish Press and believe me, she can be the life of the party. She is also an extremely talented author. Read her books and you'll agree totally.
Lehua Parker is originally from Hawaii and a graduate of The Kamehameha Schools and Brigham Young University. In addition to writing award-winning short fiction, poetry, and plays, she is the author of the Pacific literature MG/YA series the Niuhi Shark Saga published by Jolly Fish Press. One Boy, No Water and One Shark, No Swim are available now. Book 3, One Fight, No Fist will be published in 2014.
So far Lehua has been a live television director, a school teacher, a courseware manager, an instructional designer, a sports coach, a theater critic, a SCUBA instructor, a playwright, a web designer, a book editor, a mother, and a wife. She currently lives in Utah with her husband, two children, three cats, two dogs, six horses, and assorted chickens. During the snowy Utah winters she dreams about the beach.
To Connect with Lehua Parker, click the links below:
Twitter: @Lehua Parker
You will want to read both these books! Excellent for middle grade readers as well as all ages. I'm far removed from being middle grade age, but I enjoyed them and was sorry to leave the magical Hawaiian world I discovered in their pages. That's why I love sequels.
If you want to know what we think of ONE BOY, NO WATER, check here: REVIEW
ONE BOY, NO WATER
11 year old Alexander Kaonakai Westin—Zader for short—is allergic to water. One drop on his skin sears like white-hot lava. Too bad a lifetime of carrying an umbrella and staying away from the beach isn’t the answer, especially when his popular almost twin brother Jay looks destined to become the next Hawaiian surfing sensation.
But avoiding water is just the tip of Zader’s troubles. Eating raw seafood and rare meat gives him strange dreams about a young girl in a red cape and nightmares about a man with too many teeth. There’s also the school bullies who want to make Zader their personal punching bag, the pressure of getting into Ridgemont Academy, and the mysterious yearly presents from his birth family that nobody talks about.
It’s enough to drive Zader crazy, especially when he suspects old Uncle Kahana and ‘Ilima know a secret that explains his unusual biological quirks. After all, they were the ones who found him newborn and abandoned on a reef and brought him to the Westins to adopt. Uncle Kahana swears Zader is ‘ohana—family—by blood as well as adoption. Too bad he’s not saying more.
When Jay quits surfing after a shark scare, Zader decides it’s time to stop hiding in the shadows and start searching for answers.
Growing up adopted in Hawai‘i just got a little weirder.
ONE BOY, NO WATER can be found on AMAZON BARNES & NOBLE & GOODREADS
We have read and thoroughly enjoyed ONE SHARK, NO SWIM. It was nice to be back in Zadar's world.
ONE SHARK, NO SWIM
There’s something bugging adopted Zader Westin, something more troubling than his water allergies where one drop on his skin burns like hot lava. It’s bigger than his new obsession with knives, designing the new murals for the pavilion with Mr. Halpert, or dealing with Char Siu’s Lauele Girlz scotch tape makeover. Zader can’t stop thinking about a dream, the dream that might not have been a dream where Lē‘ia called him brother then jumped into the ocean and turned into a shark.
Zader’s got a lot of questions, not the least being why he’s hungry all the time, restless at night, and why he feels a constant itch on the back of his neck. It’s making him feel like teri chicken on a pūpū platter, but Zader doesn’t want to think about chicken, not with his growing compulsion to slip it down his throat—raw.
With Jay busy at surf camp and Uncle Kahana pretending nothing’s happening, Zader’s left alone to figure things out, including why someone—something—is stalking him before it’s too late.Summer in Lauele Town, Hawaii just got a little more interesting.
Find ONE SHARK, NO SWIM at AMAZON BARNES & NOBLE and GOODREADS