Olympic Swimmer Duke Kahanamoku (Story Of)

by Ellie Crowe (Author) Richard Waldrep (Illustrator)

Olympic Swimmer Duke Kahanamoku (Story Of)
Reading Level: 4th − 5th Grade
Series: Story of

This entry in the innovative Story line of chapter-book biographies focuses on Duke Kahanamoku, the six-time Olympic swimming champion and a legendary surfer who popularized surfing around the world.

Growing up in Hawai'i with the Pacific Ocean as his backyard, Duke Kahanamoku learned to swim and surf at a young age. By his early twenties, Duke's lightning-fast swimming won him a place on the 1912 United States Olympic team and a gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle race. Over the years Duke struggled with racism and financial troubles, but by the end of his twenty-year Olympic career, he was a six-time medal winner.

Although he became a swimming champion, Duke's real passion was surfing. He traveled the world, introducing surfboarding to Australia and the east and west coasts of the United States. Considered the father of modern surfing, Duke spread his love of the ocean and Hawai'i wherever he went.

The Story of Olympic Swimmer Duke Kahanamoku introduces young readers to a man who was beloved for his modesty, sportsmanship, and amazing skill in the water. Today Duke remains a legendary waterman and an inspiration to all to live life with aloha.

This chapter book in our Story line includes black-and-white illustrations as well as sidebars on related subjects, a timeline, a glossary, and recommended reading.

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School Library Journal

Gr 3-6--This new addition to the biography series highlights a Hawaiian hometown hero and a surfing and swimming legend. This slim but informative text covers Kahanamoku's life, from ocean-hungry and broke "beachboy" through several Olympic games to his later years as Honolulu sheriff. Crowe details the ins and outs of surfing and swimming and the challenges and adventures Kahanamoku faced as an athlete and a dark-skinned Hawaiian. Short inserts offer brief histories of Hawaii and the Olympics, the career of fellow athlete Jim Thorpe, and more. The writing is simple and direct, and Crowe doesn't shy away from exploring complex issues and using more advanced vocabulary, much of which is defined at the end of the book; a time line and an extensive bibliography are appended. Waldrep's illustrations add movement and humanity to this loving portrait of a fascinating life. VERDICT A good fit for confident readers, and for fans of the "Who Was?" series.--Katya Schapiro, Brooklyn Public Library

Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Ellie Crowe

Ellie Crowe has written several award-winning children's books, as well as travel/cultural books on Hawai'i. Her titles have been recognized with the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature and on the Texas Bluebonnet Master List. Crowe first heard of Duke Kahanamoku while living in Australia. When she moved to Hawai'i, she found Duke was a hero there too. She lives in Honolulu with her family. You can visit her online at elliecrowe.com.

Richard Waldrep's paintings honoring subjects as varied as the Olympic Games, American music, and history have appeared on thirty-nine US postage stamps. He has also created award-winning illustrations for editorial, publishing, advertising, and corporate clients including Men's Health , U.S. News and World Report , the Washington Post , and Parker Brothers. He lives in Sparks, Maryland.

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Lee & Low Books
Publication date
January 08, 2019
Story of
BISAC categories
JNF007050 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | Cultural Heritage
JNF007100 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Biography & Autobiography | Sports & Recreation
JNF054150 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Sports & Recreation | Water Sports
JNF054110 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Sports & Recreation | Olympics
Library of Congress categories
Kahanamoku, Duke
Olympic athletes

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