The Story of Olympic Swimmer Duke Kahanamoku

By School Library Journal

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.