Surfer of the Century: The Life of Duke Kahanamoku

Surfer of the Century: The Life of Duke Kahanamoku

by Ellie Crowe, Richard Waldrep

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The true story of Hawaiian Duke Kahanamoku, six-time Olympic swimming champion and legendary surfer who popularized surfing around the world.


The true story of Hawaiian Duke Kahanamoku, six-time Olympic swimming champion and legendary surfer who popularized surfing around the world.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Barbara Carroll Roberts
It is always fun to find a "new," unsung sports hero, and this biography of Duke Kahanamoku, a six-time Olympic swimming medalist and the man who introduced surfing to the U.S. and Australia, is no exception. Duke shines through this well-written biography as a man of quiet dignity and personal drive who faced down the endemic racism of early 20th century America to pursue his championship dreams. This is a great story and Crowe tells it with a superb sense of scene, action, and drama—yet Waldrep's spectacular illustrations steal the show. Infused with the deep blue of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Hawaii, shimmering with the hot sunlight of the tropics, the illustrations evoke the stylized travel posters of the early 1900s. Parents and children alike will find these images so arresting, they will have trouble turning each page. Parents of young athletes—especially parents who have become disgusted with the unsportsmanlike conduct of many modern athletes—will love sharing this beautiful book with their children. Reviewer: Barbara Carroll Roberts
Kirkus Reviews
"In school Duke struggled with his lessons, but in the ocean he was a star." Duke Paoa Kahanamoku (b. 1890), father of modern surfing, who dropped out of high school and battled racism, politics and financial difficulties on his course to becoming a gold- and silver-medal-winning Olympic swimmer, knew a thing or two about making adjustments and living with aloha (love, peace and compassion). Waldrep's stunning Art Deco-style airbrush illustrations complement this rich picture of the life of the man who began his life as a humble beach boy and ended it as the equally humble State of Hawai'i Ambassador of Aloha. A lovely visual rhythm is created as the text background alternates between hues of blue (ocean-, pool- and sky-) and shades of sandy beige, pulled directly from the impressive artwork opposite. This harmony in the art is matched in the text, a warm and admiring narrative of a fine American athlete and role model readers may not know. The author, an award-winning subject specialist on Hawai'i, its customs and culture, includes acknowledgements and citations on the verso. (timeline, map) (Picture book/nonfiction. 7+)

Product Details

Lee & Low Books, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
11.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.40(d)
980L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Ellie Crowe is a native South African who lived in Australia for eighteen years and has now lived in Hawaii for almost twenty years. She is a full-time writer with several books, most published locally in Hawaii (see below), to her credit. Crowe first heard of Duke Kahanamoku while living in Australia. Moving to Hawaii, she found Duke was a hero there too. "He is a great role model and I wanted to introduce him to young readers today," says Crowe. She lives in Honolulu with her husband and their three children.

Richard Waldrep is a full-time illustrator. He has created award-winning illustrations for editorial, publishing, advertising, and corporate clients including Men's Health, U.S. News and World Report, the Washington Post, and Parker Brothers. His paintings honoring subjects as varied as the Olympic Games, American music, and history have appeared on U.S. postage stamps. He lives in Sparks, Maryland.

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