I recently had the pleasure of reading and reviewing The Mystic Princesses and the Whirlpool by PJ LaRue. I recommend it highly whether you have children, grandchildren or just like children’s books. I asked the author if she would share how she came to write the book. The following is a narrative of her experience.
I didn’t know it at the time, but the seeds that eventually grew into my children’s book, “The Mystic Princesses and the Whirlpool,”were planted when my husband and I went to Maui and Kauai for our 25th anniversary. At the top of the Kalaulau Lookout, where the Polynesians were said to have first come ashore on Kauai, we had the pleasure of talking to two native Hawaiians.
The first man spoke of the fight to keep Kauai’s vegetation pristine and the impact that tourism can cause. We learned that the tiniest spores on hiking boots or tire tread can spread from island to island threatening indigenous plant species with new uncontrollable growth. The Super Ferry was to begin running, but became entangled with environmental impact delays. Because my husband and I are both native Floridians, we thought the Super Ferry and its convenience to tourists was unbeatable. But after our conversation, we understood that promoting tourism at the cost of losing one’s environment is an undesirable outcome.
The second Hawaiian was a father of a young girl and boy, teaching his children a traditional hula in tribute to the history and beauty of the Kalaulau Lookout, a place that Hawaiians consider sacred. Seeing the children learn the traditional hula, taught parent to child, was an opportunity that few non-Hawaiians can say they have encountered. Once they finished, my husband spoke to the father, who told us that keeping the Hawaiian culture alive has been a struggle. Originally, the Hawaiian language was only spoken. History passed from generation to generation through the hula dance, repeating stories with the lyrical and rhythmic steps and hand motions. For many years, English was the only language taught in schools, and the hula dances were banned. But the Hawaiians were protective of their language and dance, and continued to secretly teach children about their culture. Their resiliency has given rise to a rebirth in understanding and respect in recent years.
And at a different location on Kauai, we saw Spouting Horn outlined by a double rainbow. This blow hole was a gorgeous natural occurrence, where water rushes into a hole and flows through a lava tube to another opening and spurts out, similar to a geyser. This location inspired the new cover to my book.
The final book, “The Mystic Princesses and the Whirlpool” came about after coworkers read some of my poetry and encouraged me to continue writing. The story started out as two or three pages centering on Princess Coral. One of my staff members read it and gave it to her daughter who was about eight at the time. Both of them encouraged me to expand it into a chapter book, and loaned several books to me, so that I’d have an idea of the format and content.
After the initial draft, I realized I had four characters that represented the elements of water, fire, air and the earth, but no conflict. The book was all happy, and needed tension. I added Princess Harmonie, named for Harmonia, the daughter of Ares, god of war, from Greek mythology. Princess Harmonie represents peace, and the initial four characters use their elemental powers to protect her from her brothers and sisters, known as the Children of Ares, who want to fight and cause wars.
The book begins with Princess Harmonie nearly being captured by the Children of Ares. She is moved to Hawaii, where she meets the other princesses, Coral, Breanna, Catie and Janna. The girls learn of their elemental powers at Princess Coral’s birthday party. Princess Coral is King Neptune’s daughter and will command all sea creatures when she is grown. Princess Breanna is the daughter of Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess. She can throw fire balls. Princess Catie is Iris daughter. Iris is a lesser known Greek goddess who used rainbows to send messages between the gods and goddesses. Princess Catie can turn her friends into birds and make rainbows for the girls to slide down. And finally, Princess Janna is Mother Nature’s daughter. She can turn her friends into flowers to blend into the landscape if they need to hide. She will also command all land animals when she is grown.
From there, the adventures begin. The princesses explore underwater Hawaii and ride rainbows for transportation. Along the way, they learn life lessons about peaceful, non-violent behavior, environmental consciousness, trust and confidence. And of course, good triumphs over evil, as the girls protect Princess Harmonie from the Children of Ares.
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Mystic-Princesses-Whirlpool-ebook/dp/B0086YGAEM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1358714213&sr=8-1
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