Maui News

New children’s book showcases beautiful places families love to visit on Maui

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L-R: NIcki Barsamian, Traci Robello and Jenny Coon. Photo Courtesy: Waikapu Publishing Company

In November 2021, Traci Robello, the Early Literacy Coordinator for Maui Family Support Services, contacted Waikapu Publishing Company owners Jenny Coon and Nicki Barsamian with a proposal to create a new children’s book using grant funding.

The result is Huaka‘i o Maui: An Island Guidebook for Families.

The book, written by Coon and illustrated by Barsamian, showcases beautiful places on Maui that local families love to visit, including parks, beaches and farms from all over the island — and four family-friendly businesses, including the Maui Ocean Center.


Robello said the book provides “place-based learning,” in which local children and families will see familiar places with people who look like them, doing the things they do.

“This type of learning will increase a desire in children to read, look and talk about the pictures, listen to the words and rhymes, and inevitably build their love for books,” Robello said. “This book will also act as a catalyst, encouraging local families to explore new places around the island and have new experiences with one another.”

The book was funded by a US Department of Education grant to Maui Family Support Services for its Early Literacy Project for children from birth through age 5. The grant is through the Hawaiʻi Department of Education and is administered by Hawaiʻi P-20 Partnerships for Education at the University of Hawaiʻi.


The three primary initiatives of the grant are child literacy, family literacy and culture-based education. The book meets all three requirements.

During the pandemic, Waikapu Publishing had successfully self-published two children’s books: Huli the Hawaiian Chicken: Dances on the Moon and Huli the Hawaiian Chicken: Searches for Snow.

Both books are in the Hawaiʻi State Library Circulation. Huli the Hawaiian Chicken: Searches for Snow also can be purchased at the seven Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice locations around Maui.


Paperback versions of the new book are available through Hardbacks are available at

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