Written by Lois-Ann Yamanaka and Illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky
Jodie Chiemi Ching
Lois-Ann Yamanaka — one of Hawai‘i’s most treasured voices in literature — just released “Snow Angel, Sand Angel,” a children’s picture book inspired by her keiki-hood on the Big Island. Together with the spirited illustrations of Ashley Lukashevsky, “Snow Angel, Sand Angel” emphasizes the importance of mälama ‘äina and celebrating family and heritage.
Penguin Random House’s website synopsis reads: “Claire has been surrounded by the deep blue waves of Hapuna Beach and the magnificent mountains of Hawai‘i all her life, but has never, ever seen snow. When her father drives her and her family to the top of Mauna Kea, she can’t help but be disappointed … it’s not the winter wonderland she’s always dreamed of. And that’s what she wants more than anything.
“But as Claire edges ever closer to the new year, she wonders if maybe — just maybe — she can delight in the special joys of winter in her own way — right there, on her Big Island of Hawai‘i.”
“Snow Angel” reminded me of how I grew up longing to see the snow I saw in Christmas television specials growing up like “Frosty the Snowman” and “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Many children in Hawai‘i — even my own boys — long to see the winter wonderland that Claire dreams of seeing and need to be reminded that our beaches are envied by many of those who live far away.
To add to the richness of the story is an author’s note about Yamanaka’s personal connection with the ten “sacred ecosystems” of Hawai‘i island, the current feelings and perspectives of scientists and protectors of Mauna Kea regarding the Thirty Meter Telescope, and a glossary of Hawaiian words that appear in the story.
When I checked into the background of the artist Lukashevsky, I loved this book even more. The Hawai‘i-born artist, who moves between Los Angeles and Honolulu, uses “illustrations and art as a tool to strengthen social movements for racial justice, immigrant justice, climate justice, mental health and LGBTQIA+ liberation.” (ashleylukashevsky.com)
Yamanaka’s eloquence and Lukashevsky’s passion for inclusion meld together and create a meaningful and universal message for all ages; in Yamanaka’s words: “My hope remains for you to respect and take care of sacred living and life-giving gifts where you live. Then you, like me, can tell your children and their children about your courage to protect the place you call home.”
Note: “Snow Angel, Sand Angel” is published by Make Me a World, an imprint of Penguin Random House. According to the publisher’s website, “Make Me a World is dedicated to exploring the vast possibilities of contemporary childhood. We strive to imagine a universe in which no young person is invisible, in which no kid’s story is erased, in which no glass ceiling presses down on the dreams of a child. Then, we publish books for that world, where kids ask hard questions, and we struggle with them together, where dreams stretch from eons ago into the future, and we do our best to provide road maps to where these young folks want to be. We make books where the children of today can see themselves and each other.”
This book can be purchased on amazon at amazon.com/Snow-Angel-Sand-Lois-Ann-Yamanaka/dp/0593127374 .