Tutu Makes a Lei

Tūtū Makes A Lei By Kuana Torres Kahele, Illustrated by Anneth Lagamo (2019) – hardcover


Recommended ages: 0 to 6

What a delightful book! I love that a grandma is the sole protagonist. Hawaiian author Kuana Torres Kahele took inspiration from his own tūtū (Hawaiian for elder). She passed on to him the art of lei making, using gorgeous and lush local florals to create garlands. 

Tūtū Makes A Lei follows an adorable grandma as she organizes and prepares the materials to create a lei for a dear friend’s birthday. And everything she needs is right in her garden! In whimsical fashion, her feathered friends help deliver the lei across town to the birthday-girl. The rhyming scheme and charming illustrations make this book further endearing. 

Tūtū doesn’t walk far to find what she needs. 

Flowers and ferns that she’s raised up from seeds. Down to the garden is where her heart leads. 

Upon delivery of the lei, her friend is all smiles and very appreciative of the special gift. 

Take-away Message: This book teaches children that the most appreciated gifts are heartfelt and hand-made gifts! Tūtū put in a lot of effort to create something unique and unforgettable to make her friend feel special. 

TAGS: female-lead, grandparents, Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, hardcover

About the Author:
Kuana Torres Kahele is a Hawaiian composer, educator, choreographer and recording artist born in Hilo, Hawai’i. With over 25 years of professional experience in hula and Hawaiian music, Kuana received his start as a young child, learning the art of lei making from his tūtū , and groomed by famed Hilo kumu, Johnny Lum Ho of Halau O Ka Ua Kani Lehua. Today he performs and teaches Hawaiian music, Hawaiian culture and lei making workshops all around the globe to introduce others to the beauty and diversity of Hawai’i and its people. This is his first book.

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