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Reaching for the sky

Neighbors: Profiles of our community

In addition to its vibrant illustrations and uplifting, lesson-filled story, the 44-page book also serves as a primer on Hawaii’s wildlife and comes with an animal identification chart and poster. Photos courtesy Alicia Adkins

What has eight arms and can fly? Kimo the Flying Octopus. He’s the multilimbed protagonist of a new children’s picture book of the same name written and illustrated by Kihei resident Alicia Adkins.

But wait a minute — octopuses can’t fly, right? So how does Kimo do it? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out.

“Kimo the Flying Octopus” is Adkins’s first book. She says her authorial debut was inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic. Amid the gloom of coronavirus she said, “I wanted to contribute something positive — something that would bring people joy.”

Like so many others, Adkins, a freelance artist and professional fitness trainer, was forced to put her career on hold last March. And like so many others, she was consumed with worry as she confronted an uncertain future. To occupy herself, she opened a notebook and started doodling. One intricate sketch captured her imagination: a wide-eyed octopus holding a telescope, sextant and rolled-up map. She says something about the drawing tugged at her, but she couldn’t pinpoint what it was.

A few weeks later, Adkins jolted awake in the middle of the night. She grabbed her iPhone, clicked on the Notes app and began typing. The next thing she knew, she had written the first draft of a children’s book about a lovable little octopus named Kimo who takes to the skies above Maui.

Kihei resident Alicia Adkins recently self-published her first children’s picture book, “Kimo the Flying Octopus,” which she also edited and illustrated. A second book is in the works.

The illustrations came next. In the weeks that followed, Adkins filled page after page with beautifully rendered characters: Kimo, a humpback whale and her calf, a Hawaiian monk seal, a trio of green sea turtles and a Kamehameha butterfly, among others.

She says the process was deeply cathartic. “It was such a ray of light,” she said.

Adkins not only authored and illustrated the book, but also edited and self-published it. The newly printed books arrived on Maui in late January; they are now available for purchase online and at the Paper Garden store in Wailea.

Adkins says she hopes “Kimo the Flying Octopus” will delight little readers (and big readers, too). And she also hopes it will be a source of inspiration, as there are important life lessons embedded in the story. Among them: Don’t let fear or self-doubt stand in the way of your dreams.

Just like Kimo, if we cast aside our fears and believe in ourselves, Adkins said, “We can achieve unbelievable things.”

You can pick up a copy of “Kimo the Flying Octopus” for $19.95 at Paper Garden in the Wailea Village shops (116 Wailea Ike Dr.) or purchase it online at www.kimotheflyingoctopus.com.

* Sarah Ruppenthal is a Maui-based writer. Do you have an interesting neighbor? Tell us about them at missruppenthal@gmail.com. Neighbors and “The State of Aloha,” written by Ben Lowenthal, alternate Fridays.

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