Hawaii: Paradise or Polar?

Hello USA series

Submitter: May I present to you the 1995 cover of a children’s book about Hawaii, from Lerner Publications’ Hello USA series, discovered while weeding my long-neglected States books collection at my branch library today.

There are so many things to love about this cover, the first being that it was picked to represent Hawaii in the first place. No cliched palm trees or hula dancers here! Nothing says “paradise” like white tourists bundled up in sweatshirts and blankets as if this were a fall day on Nantucket, am I right? Not to mention that one of the girls has her eyes closed, poor thing, immortalized forever on a book cover.

You have to wonder if there was really no better choice. At first I thought maybe some publishing bigwig insisted on using his family’s photo from a recent trip. But the copy on the t.p. verso reads, “Cover photograph of tourists on a Hawaiian beach in December courtesy of Independent Picture Service.” Someone paid real money for this picture!

Needless to say, I didn’t even have to check the circulation before I chucked this one from the shelves – but when I did, surprise surprise, it hadn’t caught any kid’s eye in ages. ūüôā

Holly: They did update this cover in 2001 to a much nicer picture Рan erupting volcano and a postcard of a lovely sunny beach (no people). This one, that you have submitted, could as easily be on the cover of a book about Michigan!  Lake Superior in July or Waikiki in December?  You decide.

  1. I went to boarding school in Ayr on the west coast of Scotland. In 5 years at the school, which was almost on the beach, I only went on to the beach twice. We looked out over the Firth of Clyde to the island of Arran. There was a saying that if you couldn’t see Arran it was raining and if you could see Arran it was about to rain and if you.
    The cover of that book is more reminiscent of of the beach in Ayr in summertime than Hawaii – looks like a Glaswegian family on holidays!

    Heidi (now resident in much sunnier climes in Australia)

  2. I love this cover! It’s right up there with the skiing clowns on that New Year’s book. I weeded my library’s copy of that haunting clowns cover for myself, and I will definitely weed this frigid Hawaiian book (must have been taken in subpolar Hawaii) for my own Awful Library Books personal collection.

  3. Even in December, it doesn’t get to be sweatshirt on the beach weather here very often. This has got to be the worst photo of Hawaii ever.

  4. This is amazingly timely. I just got back last week from visiting friends on Hawaii’s Big Island. We went camping in Volcanoes National Park and it was FREEZING. Well, for Hawaii. Anyway, in our pictures we look remarkably like this picture, only not on a beach…

  5. But it says Hawaii on the chair so where else could it be? You can’t have a chair with the name Hawaii on it any place OTHER than in Hawaii!

    1. Wow, thanks for drawing my attention to that chair, because it brings back memories of my first trip to Hawaii over 20 years ago. We have photos of us with those chairs which would be much more appropriate for this cover, since we’re frolicking on the beach in swimsuits, not bundled up in bath towels and Twins or Stanford sweatshirts (geez, couldn’t they at least have gotten U of Hawaii gear for this family?).

  6. wow, I remember this book. I recognized the cover right away. I remember shelving this book in a public library children’s department back around 2001-03, hopefully it is not still there. I may have to check.

  7. The guy with the glasses looks like John Oliver, the Englishman on “The Daily Show.” When I saw the picture, I immediately thought, here’s an English family at Blackpool or Brighton–and somehow their picture has been slapped on a book about Hawaii.

  8. I love this cover. It’s so wrong in every way. I wish I owned this book. Can I send you fifty cents plus postage? Wow.

  9. So obviously not Canadians in that picture… anything above freezing and we wouldn’t be wearing a sweatshirt on a tropical vacation.

  10. Heh, I just came back from Hawai’i too. Oahu though where at its coldest I had to put on a windbreaker. Still had my shorts and sandals though as we went to Zippy’s.

  11. I totally thought this was an April Fool’s joke, and then I looked up the book. Holy Cold Beach, it’s real!

  12. Having lived many a summer in Duluth, on the shores of Lake Superior, I can attest to the fact that this is a perfect family photo of Duluth’s Park Point in July. My children actually swam in those waters when they were small, and lived to tell about it. Also, having seen many Lerner books over the years, I have to say that there covers are generally more, should we say, relevant.

  13. Are you sure it’s not Lake Superior? The guy in the middle is wearing a Minnesota Twins sweatshirt.

  14. Could be that it was really windy that day (looks rather overcast), and having just got out of the water, they were chilly and wanted to warm up. Or somebody stole all of their clothes except the sweatshirts, because really who’s gonna steal a sweatshirt on the beach, so they were forced to wear them.

    Either way, it’s a wretchedly beautiful cover. Great find!

  15. Hawaii?!?

    awful cover, guess the publishers wanted to save money on cover art and photography, but *still*…

  16. This cover reminds me of this other site,called awkward family photos blog. Here’s the link:
    I’m not trying to take people away from this site,cause this is a great site all by itself…but…there’s so many funny sites online.
    (I don’t run awkward family photos site either)
    I’m just suggesting it…

  17. Ahhh, Lake Champlain in June.
    This must be from a quality publisher! You automatically buy a set of 50, right? The catalog shows NY with Statue of Liberty. The other 49 are random photos. “Wait–Hawaii–there was a beach one in here somewhere!”

  18. Your first inclination was correct – that picture is in fact of the publisher and his family vacationing in Hawaii. I used to work for them.

  19. I weeded a Hawaii book from my elementary school library in the early 2000’s that was so old it had stories of Lucille ball bringing her children to Hawaii. so much for current information.