Do you know “The bestest things about Kauai?”
If you don’t, you should.
All you have to do is find a copy of the 2008 book, “Rainbow Cookies.” It’s packed with stories about Kauai as told by Kathy Kiaha’s Hanalei School kindergarten class.
Now, I happened to come across a copy of this book at my favorite thrift store, Blooming Tails, in Lihue. It might actually be my best thrift store find because of the simple beauty and innocence shared by the 5-year-old keiki who not only wrote it, but drew pictures for it, as well. It’s what they wrote about that they found “bestest” that makes these fascinating tales such a delight. They wrote about people and places. They wrote about mountains and rivers. They wrote about fish and shells. They wrote about stars and sleepovers.
They didn’t write about TV shows, computer games or toys. They didn’t write about a meal at a nice restaurant, buying a gift at a retail store or new clothes.
It doesn’t take much to keep us happy when we’re little, when we’re growing up. It’s when we get older we tend to become dissatisfied because we don’t have all the stuff we think we deserve. Funny how many angry adults there are in this world, including Kauai, because they don’t get what they want or because their life just didn’t turn out the way they expected or even sadder, their goal is to drag others down to the mud, with them.
There is hope, even for these crabby folks.
And they can be found on the pages of Rainbow Cookies. Oh, such a simplistic viewpoint, the haters will shout. America is crumbling, the president will ruin us and that editor says read a book by children. By God, we won’t do it, they will rant. Which is too bad. It might have brought a smile to a frowning face.
This book is out of print and difficult to find. So you if you want, swing by TGI’s office and you can borrow it.
Here are a few condensed versions of the stories of what these kingartners found bestest on Kauai:
Climbing the mountain
“My daddy likes to take me behind Hanalei down past the taro patches and the Nene geese to climb the trail. We call it ‘Climbing the Mountain.’ Usually we bring a friend too. We have so much fun …’
“When we’re done climbing the mountain, it feels great. I feel proud of myself. Especially if I didn’t want to do at first. But the best thing is that when we’re done, Daddy always takes us to get a vaniilla milkshake at Lappert’s. That’s the best part!!”
— Kenna Horgan, age 5
“I have been been to big hula shows. I love watching those dancers. They are so good. I love their colorful costumes and the way they move their hands and their lips. Their hands area so gentle. I hope I can keep learing hula so I can be as good as those dancers someday.”
— Kirra Lindman, age 4
In the River Mouth
“One time I went surfing at Lumahai out in the ocean with my Daddy! It was so fun. He held on to me, and he pushed me into the waves. One time he let go and I got pounded by the waves.”
“I always wake up on Saturday wondering if I am going to get to go to Lumahai that day and I always hope so.”
— Isabella Perreira, age 5
Ice cold coconuts
“I wonder if there are all the colors of the rainbow at the farmer’s markets. Starfruits, mangoes, papayas, bananas, lettuce, avocadoes and my favorite, coconuts. The coconuts are the part.”
— June Hsu, age 5
“I really love to snorkel with my mask. It’s my favorite thing on Kauai because I see so much. I see colorful fish. They change colors. They are green, red, yellow, blue, and white.”
“I feel like I am one of the fish. I really like fish and I love their reef world.”
— Sunny Whitefield-Seebeck, age 5
Shells with legs and elephants on the beach
“There are so many shells on the beach. We sometimes go to Anini Beach too to collect shells. Some of the shells actually walk! How do they do that? They have legs! They show up in the morning. Some of the shells don’t have any legs. They just lay there in the sand. Those are the ones I like to pick up. The ones with the legs are hard to catch … well … because they run.”
— Chandra Kaufis, age 5
“Me and my brother and sister and a bunch of kids in the neighborhood like to ride our bikes especially when it’s all rainy and muddy. We don’t have a lot of road to ride on but we ride ‘em anyway on the grass and on the dirt. It’s so much fun! Now I can ride with no training wheels. I just took them off.”
— Brenden Gomez, age 4
None left over
“The pig cooked all day long in the hot rocks in the ground. We took the pig out with a shovel. We ate that pig. That pig was ono after cooking all day long. We ate it with our hands. We had a big party and ate that pig all up. There are none left over.”
— Kaina Haumea-Oliver, age 4
Stringing the leis
“We make a lot because people really love them. It makes people happy because the leis make them smell and look beautiful. Leis are a really special Hawaiian treat.”
“I really love stringing leis. I know it is something special in Hawaii. Someday if I have a daughter I will teach her how to make beautiful leis.”
— Mahealani Punahele, age 5
Well, you get the idea of what makes keiki happy.
The kids who penned these stories are today, teenagers. I hope, all these years later, they still find the “bestest things about Kauai” are the beauty of the land, ocean and sky, the joy of friends and the love of family.
Bill Buley is editor-in-chief of The Garden Island. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org