Williams (The Long Silk Strand) fashions an affectionate original folktale about a boy who inherits his grandfather's legacy of catching the sun so the men of their village can fish the Hawaiian seas at night. Young Makoa's grandfather launches out in his canoe every afternoon, explaining to Makoa that he must catch the sun and drag it over the edge of the sea so that the "feeble flames" of the torch fishers will "attract fish to their spears." Each day at dusk, the fishermen head out to sea, holding a torch in one hand and a spear in the other, to catch food for their families. Then one day, Makoa's friend tells him that the old man is a hoax. But Makoa chooses to heed his grandfather--"Sometimes you must believe in things you cannot see." When Grandfather dies, he bequeaths his mission to Makoa. Williams spools her tale in timeless language ("A long time ago, when the wind had a name and the stars pointed the way") and gentle metaphor ("With a sigh as soft as a plumeria petal, [Grandfather] closed his eyes for the last time") as she strengthens the tie between elder and grandson. Vanden Broeck (Under the Breadfruit Tree) applies layers of tropical acrylics, setting spirited human gestures against sponge-textured skies and seas. The warmth of the Hawaiian backdrop and the intimacy between Makoa and his grandfather seem to flow out of the pages. Ages 5-8. (Jan.)
- Barbara Youngblood
A wonderful read aloud book for storytime, this book can also be enjoyed individually. Fables of nature's mysteries are found in every culture, and this one deals creatively with how the sun sets each day. Makao faithfully helps his grandfather cast off in his small fishing boat each evening so that he can go to the farthest horizon of the ocean and fish with help from the sun's bright light. At one point in the story a fisherman's son questions how Grandfather catches his fish but Makao remains true to his Grandfather. After the grandfather's death, Makao is able to test the torch-fishing method for himself and realizes what an important thing his grandfather did each evening. The outstanding illustrations make the story visually delightful.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3A fictional tale inspired by the authors childhood memory of Hawaiian fishermen who hunted sea animals by night, using torches to attract them. Young Makoas grandfather claims to capture the sun in his fishing net and pull it from the sky, thereby making it night so that the other men can catch fish by torchlight. When another boy insists that the man is lying, Makoa begins to have doubts. When confronted, Grandfather merely states that Sometimes you must believe in things you cannot see. This is enough for Makoa, who trusts the truth of his grandfathers words from that day on. Sure enough, when the man dies, the sun fails to set and the torch fishermen cannot hunt. Remembering his grandfathers words, Makoa himself, now grown, paddles to the edge of the sea and nets the sun. Vibrant acrylic paintings bring the island world to life. Sea and sky fill the pages, with reflected light from the sun and moon lending motion and beauty to the scenes. The figures and colors reflect the emotions of the characters, from dark disillusionment as Makoa stands alone on the beach to triumphant bright brilliance as he captures the sun. The simple message of faith and trust gains dramatic impact from the fascinating setting and vivid illustrations.Steven Engelfried, West Linn Public Library, OR Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.