• Black Rocks and Rainbows

  • The True Adventures of Henry Opukahaia, the Hawaiian Boy Who Changed History
  • By: Susan C. Riford
  • Narrated by: Suzanne Ford
  • Length: 7 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Americas
  • 5.0 out of 5 stars (3 ratings)
adbl_ms_membershipImage_includedwith_altText_B076FLV3HT
adbl_ms_membershipImage_includedwith_altText_B076FLV3HT

1 audiobook of your choice.
Stream or download thousands of included titles.
$14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $23.07

Buy for $23.07

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

High on a cliff in Hawaii in 1807, an irrepressibly curious native boy dives into the sea and swims to an American merchant ship anchored offshore, embarking on an extraordinary adventure that will change history.

Young Hiapo Opukahaia (Hee-ah-poh Oh-poo-kai-ee-ya) and his family are happily thriving when a bitter war between two rival chiefs tears them apart. The enemy chief adopts the orphaned boy and forces him to learn the ways of a warrior. Hiapo manages to triumph through unexpected friendships, until a shocking accident changes his life once again.

Saved by an uncle who is a “kahuna nui”, or high priest, Hiapo becomes his apprentice. One day he sees a miraculous sight below him in the bay: “an enormous canoe with great white wings like a magnificent bird.” It is the merchant schooner Triumph out of New England, and it is irresistible.

He signs on as cabin boy, and soon acquires from his fellow sailors the more pronounceable first name of Henry. After a year of wild adventures - storms, pirates, daunting adversity, deep bonds with comrades and, most significant, the chance for him to master English - the ship arrives in America. Opukahaia realizes he desperately wants to keep learning but has no idea how.

When he is found weeping on the steps of Yale college, a kind student leads him to the school’s president, who takes him under his wing. Henry becomes a scholar and eventually creates the written Hawaiian language that is still in use today.

©1997, 2013 Susan C. Riford (P)2014 Suzanne Ford

Critic Reviews

“The author’s work and the narrator’s voice do an excellent job of capturing the unique blend of American and Hawaiian cultures…Educational and impactful, Black Rocks and Rainbows is a must-listen audiobook.” (Pacific Book Review)

“A rollicking listening experience…that carries you along at a steady clip…with the lasting substance of another culture depicted in vivid detail…This is an action-packed historical narrative lacking nearly all pretense and satisfying the greatest requirement of all - it keeps us wanting more.” (TheMagicPen.com) 

More from the same

Narrator

What listeners say about Black Rocks and Rainbows

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    3
  • 4 Stars
    0
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2
  • 4 Stars
    0
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Story
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    3
  • 4 Stars
    0
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Enjoyable for listeners young and old

This was a fascinating story. From watching his parents die to sailing on a ship to becoming a scholar at a prestigious college, Opukahaia had a fascinating, (if unfortunately short), life. Riford certainly brought the story to life, and you were transported through time, following along with every twist and turn of this captivating tale of adventure and discovery. This historical fiction will capture the imagination of adults young and old for hours. A great listen that I highly recommend for historical fiction lovers and anyone interested in Hawaiian history.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding

I chose to listen to the book after receiving a free audio copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

This story is based on the facts of the life of Opukahaia, which was an amazing one. At just 10 years old he witnessed the murder of his parents and then had to live with the chief of the tribe responsible for killing his parents. When his uncle found out that he was alive, he took over his care and wanted to teach him to follow in his footsteps. Although everyone treated him well, he wanted to find his calling in life instead of being told what he was going to do. Such a strong young man!

At 15 years old, Opukahaia became a cabin boy which started his journey that not only changed his life but made his mark in history. He was so smart and he had a thirst for knowledge so, fittingly, he ended up at Yale and learned as well as taught others about his homeland.

Historical fiction has been one of my favorite genres since I read Johnny Tremain as a child. I enjoyed this story immensely and believe that young adults as well as adults will like it. The ending was sad and really touched me, I think because I knew that Opukahaia was an actual person. But he did inspire others to go to Hawaii to teach his people to read and write using the alphabet that he devised.

Suzanne Ford does a great job narrating the story. Her pace and timing are great, and I enjoyed listening to her. I definitely recommend Black Rocks & Rainbows to anyone who likes audiobooks.