Talking Story

surfboard with text2Set in modern Hawaii, the Niuhi Shark Saga is a young adult magic realism trilogy appropriate for grades 5 and up. It tells the story of  Alexander Kaonakai Westin–Zader to his friends–and his ‘ohana. In a world where Pacific myths and legends come to life, fans of Disney’s Moana and Lilo & Stitch, The Karate Kid, and the Percy Jackson series will love The Niuhi Shark Saga trilogy. Told in standard American English, but sprinkled with Hawaiian Pidgin English and Hawaiian in the dialogue, the series paints a vibrant picture of island life where legend and tradition are as much a part of life as eating and drinking.

The Niuhi Shark Saga is published by Makena Press. Books are available in hardback, trade paperback, and eBook from AMAZON, BARNES & NOBLE, and other national and international book stores. Each book contains a discussion guide and glossary. Free classroom materials are available for downloading on


Everybody loves Jay.

I love my brother, too. Sometimes I wish I could be him—a surfing star instead of the weird kid allergic to water and the Blalahs’ favorite punching bag.

But that’s not the worst of it.

In the middle of the night, I dream. There’s a mysterious girl who lives in a magical place and acts like she knows me better than I know myself. We hide from the Man with Too Many Teeth. Some nights I wake up with my heart pounding in my chest and the urge to eat raw meat.

It’s just a dream, right?

But then I saw him, the Man with Too Many Teeth, walking along the reef at Piko Point.

Not even Jay can protect me now.





My dreams are nightmares. I don’t dare fall asleep.

Guro Hari’s teaching me Filipino knife fighting, but I’m too scared to come out of the bathroom. I’d rather learn Lua and train with Jay and Char Siu, but Uncle Kahana won’t let me. He says it’s for our safety, but I don’t believe him.

Uncle Kahana’s obsessed with Niuhi stories, Hawaiian myths about sharks in human form. If he’s right, even out of the water, no one’s safe.

I have a secret knife I call Shark Tooth.

I may have to use it.

That thought excites me.

And that’s the scariest thing of all.





Kalei, The Man with Too Many Teeth, gave me an ultimatum. Bite Jay or watch as Kalei murders everyone I love. Kalei will do it. I have no doubt.

Jay’s anger is white-hot. If I take his leg, he’ll never surf again. He’s my brother, but he’ll hunt me down and kill me for this. He won’t forgive me.

Either way I end up alone.

No matter what they say, I’m not Niuhi. I’m a Westin. I’m a kid, not a shark. I can’t live without Jay, Char Siu, Uncle Kahana, or ‘Ilima. Just me and my psycho sister Maka roaming the seas forever? No thanks.

There’s got to be more to my life than this. I refuse to believe that I’m a monster and a pawn in someone’s cosmic game.

I’m making my own rules now.

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When you’re allergic to water,
growing up in Hawaii
isn’t always paradise.

With Niuhi sharks,
even out of the water,
you’re not safe.

Everything you thought you knew
about Zader is a  lie.