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Hawaiʻi children’s book series to become a musical in Hilo

The first "Wordsworth the Poet" book was published in 2003.
Watermark Publishing
The first "Wordsworth the Poet" book was published in 2003.

A local children’s book series about a mouse who tries to fix problems through poetry will soon become a musical.

“Wordsworth the Poet” is written by author and educator Frances Kakugawa, who grew up on Hawaiʻi Island. The series features the adventures of a young mouse, who lives in the rainforest. Although he is bullied for being different, the rest of the mice eventually come to appreciate the power of his poems.

The musical is being produced by the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo’s Performing Arts Center and Performing Arts Department.

Kakugawa’s first “Wordsworth” book was published in 2003. Since then, she said she’s dreamed of having her books turned into a play or musical.

She said UH Hilo sent her a script, and she had very few changes. She added that the musical is “so true to the book.” Kakugawa said she hopes the musical and the books’ messages will resonate with even more people.

“The first 'Wordsworth' book is, people make fun of him because he’s a poet and he’s different. So it was that message of… we accept people, even if they are different from us,” she said. “I wanted to introduce poetry into our readers’ lives. And it has worked because for 20 years now, those children who first read 'Wordsworth the Poet' or heard that story began to write poems and they began to send it to me. And these children are now adults, and they are still sending me their poems.”

The musical premieres in November at UH Hilo. To buy tickets, click here or call (808) 932-7490.

Jayna Omaye was a culture and arts reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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