I’ve never done this before, my friends (no, not that), but I need your help/opinion. I have drafted a children’s story to be read by parents to kids age 6 and under as a fun, exotic adventure to amuse the little ankle bitters and maybe share interesting facts and stories about a mix between an ancient Hawaiian legend and a Road Runner cartoon. I would compare this story to the popular children’s book, “But, No Elephants” (although I have been delusional before). I have no one to illustrate the story yet, so fill in with your imagination.
What I need from you is an honest opinion (You are my writers’ feedback group):
- Is it an interesting story kids would enjoy hearing?
- Does it in any way insult, denigrate, or appear offensive to the Hawaiian people or their culture?
Okay, enough setup here’s the story…
The Menehune Twins
“Day at the Beach”
by Rich Allan
Jake Menehune woke early, leaned over from his top bunk, and yelled at his six-year-old twin sister, Jessie. “Wake up sleepy head. It’s Saturday morning.”
“I’m already awake, goofball,” she said, standing on her bed, pushing up with both hands, launching her brother’s tiny body in a high arc where he bounced off the ceiling, landed on the overhead fan, swung around until he got dizzy, laughing like crazy, shouting “Whee-e-e!” before falling to the floor.
He stood up, shook his head and checked over his body. “Head okay, arms okay, fingers okay, chest okay, legs okay, feet okay, toes okay…” He looked over his shoulder and said, “Uh-Oh, no-o-o-o butt.”
Jessie Menehune giggled as she watched Jake hold his nose, stick his thumb in his mouth, and blow hard enough until his flattened butt popped out to its normal bubble shape.
The twins, shoulder to shoulder, rushed the three-foot round opening to their room, barely squeezing through at the same time. They then raced out to the water-filled Kikiaola ditch in front of their home and in perfect sync, leaped into the air and splashed down in matching cannonballs. Dunking their head and body in the cool water, they rinsed off, climbed out and shook off the excess water like a dog who has just finished a bath.
Mother Kiana called from the kitchen, “Breakfast!”
Arriving at the table, Father Kane sat in front of a stalk of apple bananas. “Dig in, kids!” he said. Jake and Jessie climbed up into their chairs and started stuffing the bananas into their mouths…skin and all! Mother Kiana smiled, sat down and joined in the feast.
Some important information about the Menehune…who are a bit different than you and me. They are little people, only three feet tall when fully grown, living in the Hawaiian Islands, mainly on the island of Kauai. They are busy, happy people, building dams, ditches, fish ponds and stone temples.
Not only are Menehune small and magical, they are good at hiding, living in out of the way places and rarely seen by full-sized folks. They love to dance, sing, cliff-dive and shoot their little bows and arrows. Some say one arrow can change an angry man’s heart to love.
Oh, they are full of mischief, especially with the other islanders, like moving things around when people aren’t looking and trading lava rocks for necessities.
The Menehune wear only a loin cloth, although some of the older folks have flip-flops. On special occasions, the women put on colorful feathered Hawaiian headbands and the men may grow mustaches or beards. They cover up when they sleep with their thick, black, waist-long, curly hair or when the trade winds turn chilly.
Nobody knows how long the Menehune live, but the twins’ grandfather, Kamaka, recently celebrated his 200th birthday. As the Menehune grow older they tend to grow a pot belly, their hair turns gray and is reduced to a strip on the crown of their heads and fringe over each ear.
Now back to our story…
After they finished off all the bananas, Mother Kiana said, “Today, we are going to the beach.”
“Right,” said Father Kane, “…and we are stopping by the fish pond on the way back to gather more food before the winter monsoons.”
“Can we go cliff diving, father?” asked Jake Menehune.
“And swim in the ocean?” said Jessie Menehune.
“Yes,” said Mother Kiana, “but only if the waves aren’t too big or the cliff too high.”
“YAY!!” The twins shouted.
(Remember, Jake and Jessie are only 18 inches tall, so what seems like a small ocean ripple is a giant wave to them and jumping off a five-foot pile of rocks would be so scary!)
The Kane and Kiana Menehune family live on Kauai with twelve other extended Menehune families deep in the forest near Nawiliwili Harbor and the Alekoko fish pond. Because they are so small, today’s trip to the beach will take them a long time, even though it isn’t that far.
When they reached the shore, Jake and Jessie were tired but excited. The waves appeared mild, so with Mother’s approval, Jessie threw off her loin cloth, ran across the sand, and plunged into the ocean, with brother Jake close behind.
Mother and Father watched as the twins body surfed and paddled about in the blue water inside the protected reef.
When Jake first spotted ‘Opelu Mama or what most Hawaiians call The Great Barracuda, he shouted “Kaku” to his sister. They immediately started swimming as fast as they could toward the shore with the silver submarine-shaped fish with two rows of razor sharp teeth close behind.
“Swim, kids, swim!” yelled Father.
“Snap,” the barracuda bit down. “Snap” the barracuda stuck a second time.
The twins flew out of the surf, big grins on their faces, landing with a thud on the sand. They looked at each other, shook off the sea water, and in unison said, “Let’s do it again!” followed by “Head okay, arms okay, fingers okay, chest okay, legs okay, feet okay, toes okay…” Looking behind, they smiled…”Uh-Oh, no-o-o-o butt.”
Jake and Jessie giggled as they held their nose, put their thumb in their mouth, and blew hard enough until magically their bit off butt resumed its normal shape.
Kane and Kiana Menehune chuckled and Mother said, “Well that’s enough fun at the beach for one day, let’s go to the fish pond.”
Arriving, Father Kane said with some pride, “Legend has it our ancestors overnight built the Alekoko fish pond over 1000 years ago by passing stones hand-by-hand from the village of Makaweli, 25 miles away, and damming up the Hulei’a Stream with a 900-foot long by five-feet high lava rock wall, so the Menehune people would never go hungry.”
Father then pulled a lasso from his pocket and looking deep into the clear water spied a thirty-inch Ono just below the surface. Carefully dropping the loop down, he slipped it over the fish’s head until the strong fiber caught on the top dorsal fin, and then Kane jumped on the back of the Ono and pulled the loop tight.
“Ride ’em, Daddy,” said Jake, as the startled fish took off at full speed. The Kane Menehune family cheered him on as he tightened the loop to keep the Ono from doing a deep dive. The fight between Father and fish went on for so long, the twins got bored and asked if they could do at least one jump while they waited and Mother agreed.
Jake and Jessie climbed the nearby giant pile of rocks and stared down at the pond far below. Father was still racing back and forth across the five-acre pond, but the Ono appeared to be tiring.
“Ready?” Jake asked his sister.
“Ready,” said Jessie.
The twins joined hands and leaped off the rocks aiming for the pond. Unfortunately, they lost their grip with Jake reaching the water, but Jessie falling short, bouncing across the stone rocks until she finally skidded to a halt.
Jake watched as Jessie got up, shook herself off and announced, “Head okay, arms okay, fingers okay, chest okay, legs okay, feet okay, toes okay…but, Uh-Oh, no-o-o-o butt.” She grinned, held her nose, blew hard on her thumb and returned to her normal self.
Meanwhile, Kane Menehune was making one final run across the fish pond aiming for the stone wall, waiting until the very last moment to pull up hard on the lasso, causing the fish to clear the edge and flop onto the bank.
The family joined together to lift the large fish onto a skateboard, a useful tool the Menehune village had acquired for this very purpose from nearby Lihue by trading lava rocks for it (at night and unseen, of course).
Once loaded, the family rolled their Father’s catch all the way back home, safely arriving as the sun set with enough food to last them through the winter.
The twins, Jake and Jessie, exhausted, fell asleep in their daddy’s arms, as Father Kane Menehune carried them to their room and tucked them into bed, the day’s adventure complete.
Looking forward to your slings and arrows….Rich Allan