Book cover of Lei and the Fire Goddess

Lei and the Fire Goddess



Publisher & Publication Year

Penguin Workshop, 2023

Publisher's Book Page


Malia Maunakea (Native Hawaiian)

Author's Website 




Curses aren’t real—at least, that’s what twelve-year-old, part-Hawaiian Anna Leilani Kamaʻehu thinks when she listens to her grandmother’s folktales about sacred flowers and family guardians. So when Anna goes back to Hawaiʻi to visit her Tūtū, she has no interest in becoming the heir to her family’s history; she’s set on having a touristy, fun vacation. But when Anna accidentally insults Pele the fire goddess by destroying her lehua blossom, a giant hawk swoops in and kidnaps her best friend, and she quickly learns just how real these moʻolelo are. In order to save her friends and family, Anna must now battle mythical creatures, team up with demigods and talking bats, and evade the traps Pele hurls her way.

This tale captures the essence of Hawaiian moʻolelo (stories), weaving together encounters with Pele, the fiery goddess, a giant hawk, a demigod, talking bats, and a potent curse—ingredients that weave a tapestry of enchanting speculative fiction, perfectly suited for young readers.

Notable Achievements


Publishers Weekly: "Anna feels too Hawaiian to fit in at school, but too haole, or white, to feel at home in Hawaii—a struggle that aptly centers themes of identity and connection in Maunakea’s energetic, adventuresome debut.”

Kirkus Reviews: "An exhilarating, adventure-filled celebration of Hawaiian culture.”

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Educator Guide

This guide, created by the author, includes questions for group discussion and extension activities.

Link to Guide

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