Keiki Can Catch ABCs, Learn About 26 Marine Animals

Children can now learn their ABCs while discovering amazing sea life found in Hawaii’s waters, thanks to Alphabet Hukilau in Hawai’i.

“It was literally me fooling around on the Notes section of my iPad,” explained author Vera Arita, who started this project last year. “Normally, when I write a draft, it’s with a pencil and paper, but this is the first time I did it strictly on the iPad.”


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Vera Arita will autograph her new book, 'Alphabet Hukilau in Hawai'i', Nov. 22 at Barnes & Noble in Ala Moana and at Native Books (Na Mea Hawaii). Photo from Vera Arita. Book photos from BeachHouse Publishing.

Arita, who has been a special education teacher for more than 30 years, aimed to merge fiction with nonfiction in her latest book, which takes keiki fishing in Hawaii waters to catch not fish, but the entire alphabet from A to Z. “Instead of getting an angelfish, you catch the letter A,” explained Arita, a Waipahu native. “The letters that get caught are lowercase (letters in the story are uppercase), so parents can teach both upper and lower case.”

It was somewhat of a challenge to come up with 26 examples of local marine life, and Arita credits publisher Jane Gillespie for helping her find some of the animals.

“Especially for X and letters like that,” she admitted. She noted that she loves illustrator Mariko Merritt’s work in creating the sea creatures.

A full photographic glossary of the marine life featured in Alphabet Hukilau in Hawai’i is found at the back of the book.

Arita also has written the children’s books Animals Sing Aloha, All Around The Islands and Can You Catch A Coqui Frog?

More information on Alphabet Hukilau in Hawai’i is online at or by emailing

Fans can meet Arita at these Nov. 22 book signings: noon to 1 p.m. at Barnes & Noble in Ala Moana Center, and at 3-5 p.m at Native Books (Na Mea Hawaii).