The issue of not knowing where you fit in culturally isn’t a new phenomenon, but rather a problem that has plagued humanity both young and old for many generations. It forces us to reexamine who we are as individuals and has challenged and taught society to not judge a book solely by its cover.
In the case with Danny, who is a continental-U.S.-born Hawaiian, he struggles in Danny’s Hawaiian Journey with his identity and is deeply ashamed with the fact that he cannot perform many of the traditional tasks that many of his peers expects him to know how to do.
Moreover, Danny’s psychological struggle of feeling culturally isolated is an extension of social pressures, which are perpetuated by the preconceived notions and stereotypes established by his friends. As a result, he feels disconnected from his own ethnic culture and struggles to come to terms with himself.
Attending the luau every weekend with his family and not knowing how to take part in many of the festivities in Hawai‘i like putting together a lei or playing the ukulele, Danny quickly realizes that he does not fit in with the Hawaiian community. Having been born on the continent, Danny becomes entangled with an overwhelming feeling of guilt for not being able to identify with Hawaiian culture. Will he ever be able to call himself a Hawaiian? With a little motivation from his dad and a little affirmation from a familiar guest, Danny is not just able to realize who he is both inside and out, but is also able to find pride within himself.
Through Danny’s cultural journey and curiosity, the reader becomes aware that the only solution to counteract this invisibility that Danny feels is for individuals to fully embrace who they are as individuals. Landeza and Moran’s newly released work provides the reader an all too common experience that is surely relatable in many other cultures.
This much anticipated book is much more than just a story of a child born away from his homeland, but rather a story that provides readers an opportunity to engage in their own journey in finding out who they are as individuals in society; one that is deeply rooted through self-reflection and self-discovery.
Title: Danny’s Hawaiian Journey
Illustrator: Edna Cabcabin Moran
Publisher: Addison Street Books 2013
Age Suitability: 4-8 years