In spite of the stories, Kalani did not want to be left behind, and since he didn’t get too many invitations to join his brother and sister, he put on a brave face and set off with them, running to keep up.
Maui author Kanara Fei has teamed up with illustrator Angel Melody in Kalani’s Wish, a modern day fairytale of two naughty siblings and their good little brother.
Despite the beauty of their tropical island home, all is not well in paradise, as we quickly grasp from the illustration on the first page. Kainoa and Malia are pointing and laughing at poor Kalani as he crouches on the ground. “He didn’t let [their teasing and leaving him behind] bother him. Much,” Fei writes.
One day, the three siblings take a walk into the spooky forest nearby. As it turns out, all the stories about enchantment are true, because deep within the woods they find a beautiful unicorn in need of help. Led by Kalani, the keiki free him from the snare, and the unicorn rewards them with a gift of magical dust that will grant all their wishes. However, for lasting happiness they must use the dust for good and not for selfish reasons.
In today’s materialistic society where children are bombarded with ads for toys at every turn, many kids would be tempted like Malia, who “showed off her new collection of toys, dolls and dresses. She even had a new bedroom set in her favorite shade of pink.” Still, we know that Kainoa and Malia have a lesson to learn, although it’s a little startling how they end up learning it.
Kalani’s Wish is based on a dream of Fei’s, brought to mind as she practiced writing exercises from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. Born and raised in Hawai‘i, she says she always felt a connection with nature and animals.
Melody is a member of the Lahaina Arts Society and is known on Maui for her large wall murals, including one at Princess Nahienaena Elementary School featuring Maui musician Willie K, and one at Lahainaluna High School featuring a winged unicorn. Her illustrations in Kalani’s Wish are vivid and colorful, with a slightly eerie feel.
The paintings are based on real kids (their pictures are in the back of the book). It’s an attractive publication printed on thick parchment-look paper with plentiful pictures. The text could have been trimmed down and still retained the effect for kids’ shorter attention spans, but the plot is intriguing.
As the story progresses, the naughty siblings are headed for an inevitable downfall. When it comes, and little Kalani saves the day, the moral is clear: only being unselfish and doing good will bring true happiness. It’s a solid message and one that kids will understand and hopefully take to heart.
Kalani’s Wish is based on a dream of Maui author Kanara Fei. It was brought to mind as she practiced writing exercises from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. Born and raised in Hawai‘i, she says she always felt a connection with nature and animals.
Fact Box4 out of 5 Shakas
By Kanara Fei
Illustrated by Angel Melody
Paperback, about $15