Makana is a Gift
Makana es un Regalo/ Bilingual version
Janet Lucy, Author
Alexis Cantu, Illustrator
Seven Seas Press, Nonfiction, Jun. 13, 2022
Suitable for ages: 4-8
Themes: Sea turtles, Marine life, Oceans, Pollution, Plastics, Purpose, Identity
Opening: “The Sun glistened on the water like gold glitter, where a little green seat turtle was basking on the surface of the warm turquoise water of Turtle Cove.”
One bright morning a little green sea turtle basks on the surface of Turtle Cove, where he arrived the night before. He hatched from a nest on a shore hundreds of miles away, and has spent the first six years of his life swimming through the ocean. Here in Turtle Cove he meets the inhabitants—a wise elder turtle, Kato, and other sea creatures. He admires the unique features of an octopus and starfish, and wishes he could swim with a school of fish. He observes the gulls and terns flying freely overhead, and begins to question his identity.
Makana is a Gift is the story of a young sea turtle’s quest to understand his unique purpose, who and why he is, while waiting to be given his name. One morning while hungry for breakfast, he mistakes a plastic bag for a jellyfish, takes a bite as many sea turtles do, and must seek help to survive this too common, life-threatening experience.
In the end, he understands that all creatures are needed to help and care for each other; he too has a unique and essential purpose; that life is a gift, and so is he. In Hawaiian, Makana means gift, and thus he receives his name.
Why I like Makana is a Gift:
Janet Lucy’s storytelling is magical. Her prose has a gentle rhythm that reminds one of the lapping waves. Packed with fascinating facts, beautiful watercolor illustrations and a lovely theme about identity and finding your purpose, Makana’s journey will fuel curious young minds and inspire the next generation of nature lovers. It will definitely appeal to children who have a passion for learning about marine wildlife and a special interest in ocean creatures and all things hidden beneath the sea.
Children will learn about how a mother sea turtle makes a nest in the sand and lays around 100 eggs the size of ping pong balls. The sun warms the sand as the little turtles develop in about two months. Once they begin to hatch, they crawl to the ocean, hoping they won’t meet predators along the way. If they reach the water, they will be on their own.
Sea turtles and marine life need protection from the plastic bags and straws that they mistake for food, as Makana discovers. It is important for children to learn how vulnerable sea turtles and marine life can be to the plastics carelessly dumped into the oceans by humans.
Makana means gift in the lovely Hawaiian language and is such a beautiful and fitting title for Lucy’s book. It is a reminder that nature (and life) is a gift and needs to be cherished and protected by all of us. I highly recommend Makana is a Gift for school libraries.
Resources: There is a Discussion & Activities Guide, links to Resources, and a list of Books and Documentaries at the end of the story. Encourage children to draw or paint a sea turtle and the other marine life Makana meets in the ocean. If you live near a beach, plan a day to clean up the plastics you see before they reach the ocean.
Janet Lucy, MA, is the award-winning author of Mermaid Dreams/Suenos de Sirena, multi-award winning The Three Sunflowers/Lost Tres Girasoles , and co-author of Moon Mother, Moon Daughter – Myths and Rituals that Celebrate a Girl’s Coming of Age. Janet is the Director of Women’s Creative Network in Santa Barbara, California, where she is a teacher and consultant, facilitates women’s writing groups and leads international retreats. She can often be found in or near the water. Visit Janet Lucy at her website.
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.
*Review copy provided by the author in exchange for a review.