Dear Reader… (in this case Dear Listener ...)
I'm so glad you're listening to this book! You'll have a great time, especially if you're a kid, a teenager or young adult. Why? Because it's all about someone like you -- except he lived more than 200 years ago. But he was as curious as you probably are, as filled with questions, as overwhelmed by having to grow up fast and face grown up problems a little sooner than he would have liked ... just as you would be. So you'll be able to imagine what it was really like for Henry throughout this amazing adventure, and live it with him.
I am the person whose voice you'll hear when you listen to BLACK ROCKS AND RAINBOWS: The True Adventures of Henry Opukahaia, the Hawaiian Boy Who Changed History. But I'm not the person who wrote the book - that was my mom, who was a great lady, a theatre producer and director as well as a writer, and who—more than anything else in the world—really loved young people. She started a theatre especially for them to act in, and wrote most of the plays. She got interested in this exciting story of Henry Opukahaia when she found out that he was a real person, and had done this amazing thing (which you will find out about when you listen to the book) that has been SO important to Hawaiian history and to its people. She thought Henry would make a wonderful main character because he had such an exciting life, almost from the time he was born.
There will be some sad places in the book, because there were bad things that happened to Henry, especially early on in his young life. But he also had good friends who became like family to him and helped him a lot. He was so many things, too—a warrior, a Kahuna (in Hawaiian that's a kind of priest or sorcerer), a sailor and, finally, a student—which is what made him the happiest of all.
If you're an adult, I think you'll enjoy listening to this book a lot, too, especially if you're interested in history and in the Hawaiian culture, which is full of mystery and beauty as well as cruelty. The fact that this young boy, so relatively naive and untutored in the ways of the wide world, had the courage and determination to achieve what he did is inspiring. And it's a good lesson in what is possible, no matter where you come from or what your limitations might be. Finally, it's a reminder that education can and does make all the difference.
So thank you for listening to this story, with all its twists and turns. It's great to know you'll be along on the adventure!
All proceeds from the audiobook and all other future formats are donated to the Susan C. Riford Children’s Arts Education Fund (501c3)
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The journey of a lifetime told in the audiobook BLACK ROCKS AND RAINBOWS begins with a ship: “An enormous canoe, with great white wings like a magnificent bird.” This is the merchant schooner Triumph from New England, anchored offshore by what is now known as the Big Island of Hawaii, and in 1807, the sight of it captivates a young Hawaiian boy’s imagination and spirit of adventure. Fifteen-year-old Hiapo Opukahaia, orphaned as the result of a war between two rival island chiefs, has been contemplating his future. He dives into the sea and swims to the ship, where he is invited to stay for dinner. When the captain asks if he would like to go to America, he nods Yes.