Book Review: Keoni and the Return of the Li’i by Kapuna Kane


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“Keoni and the Return of the Li’i” was a great surprise. It is an original, creative story that combines magic, mythology, and elements from different cultures, thus arousing the children’s curiosity and making them want to learn more about the countries and peoples mentioned in it. What made me pick up this book was the promise of a lighthearted read and the fact that it is based on Eastern mythologies. However, I was glad to discover that Kapuna Kane’s book has to offer much more than an exotic universe populated by mythical beings that are less known to children, and even adults.

Keoni is a young Menehune boy who is trained by teachers skilled in different forms of magic to become the best in this ancient art. He has been chosen for a special, secret mission that will put not only his magical abilities to test, but also his heart. The future of all magical creatures in the world is in Keoni’s hands, and his friends and mentors are there for him, teaching him everything they know and guiding him on the right path. More than anything, this is a story about family, friendship, and cultural diversity. It teaches children the importance of trusting their loved ones, and it also shows how they should never judge other people just because they are different.

Keoni is a great role model for any child. One of the many virtues he needed to learn was patience, which is something so many kids lack today. He is curious and excited about everything that is new, and he wants to grow and learn as much as possible. He is also compassionate, and he always starts from the idea that everyone is good, even those who harm others. Here is one of my favorite quotes from the book, when Keoni tells Parrick the Leprechaun that he should never assume people are bad because of what they do, and he should always give them a second chance:

“Parrick, you mustn’t assume that all Druids are bad just because they are different than you. Look around this gathering and you’ll see many beings who are now your friends. We may speak differently, dress differently, and even look different than you, but deep inside we are all the same.”

Another thing that I thought was brilliant about Kapuna Kane’s book was all the hyperlinks that take the readers to maps, pictures, and lovely illustrations of the characters. Children can find out more information about the magical creatures, about the islands where the action takes place, and even about the food that is mentioned in the text. Thus, “Keoni and the Return of the Li’i” is not only a fun and entertaining story, but it’s also a great opportunity to learn about Hawaii, Japan, and Ireland. The author has chosen some of the most interesting facts from all these cultures and explained them briefly at the end of the book. My bet is that, if your children haven’t been much interested in mythology and culture until now, they will surely become little experts after reading this book.