"Look at this one!" Iris squealed.
Iris Campbell and her mom were sitting at their kitchen table, looking at a scrapbook Iris had made. The sparkly, purple book was filled with pictures, drawings, and funny messages all celebrating Iris's first experience as a flower girl. Iris had shown this book to her mother probably five hundred times.
"Remember this one?" Iris pointed to another picture.
"Of course I remember. I took that photo, silly girl." Iris's mom smiled.
Iris grinned too. The picture was one of her favorites. It was of her and the two other flower girls, Rosie and Starr. They were eating wedding cake, and each girl had a smear of frosting on her nose.
"You three had so much fun together," said Iris's mom.
Iris, Rosie, and Starr had become very close friends at the wedding. Unfortunately, they all lived in different cities. The girls had formed a club called Flower Girl World and promised to stay in touch. Iris had made everyone Flower Girl World stationery so they could write each other letters. And two different times, Iris's dad had set them up on a three-way video chat.
"I loved being a flower girl," Iris said, pausing on the picture.
"I have some exciting news for you," her mother said suddenly. She went over to the refrigerator and pulled out a plastic bag filled with something pink.
"What's that?" asked Iris.
Iris's mom opened the bag, and the kitchen was filled with a smell as sweet as wedding cake. Inside was a delicate necklace of strung flowers.
"It's called a lei. I made it out of plumeria blossoms," Mrs. Campbell said.
Iris's mom knew all about flowers. She owned a floral and craft store in Philadelphia, where she made beautiful flower arrangements for her customers.
Iris's heart skipped a beat as her mother draped the lei around Iris's neck.
"People get leis when they go to Hawaii," Iris burst out. "Are we ...?"
Mrs. Campbell grinned. "Yes, but that's only part of the surprise."
Iris jumped up and screamed.
"What's going on in here?" asked Iris's dad, rushing into the kitchen. "Did we win the lottery?"
"We're going to Hawaii!" Iris bounded over to hug her father and nearly knocked him to the floor.
"Hold on, honey," Mr. Campbell said, laughing. "That's not the whole story."
Mrs. Campbell chimed back in. "Remember when we went to San Francisco last year to see your cousin Jay and his new girlfriend, Malia Lee?"
"They're getting married," her mother went on. "The wedding will take place at the Lee family home on the Hawaiian island of Maui."
Iris screamed again. "So we're going to a wedding! Does that mean ...?"
"Jay and Malia asked me to make the lei for you as a special gift. They want to know if you will be their flower girl."
Iris threw her arms in the air. "Are you kidding? Yes!"
"Malia has two younger sisters. Leilani, the older one, will be her bridesmaid. The younger one will be a flower girl with you. Her name is Hana."
Iris's smile grew even bigger.
"One last part," her mother added. "This is a very big deal."
"Lori, I don't think Iris can handle any more excitement," Mr. Campbell said, winking at Iris.
"Dad! Stop it! Mom! Go on!"
"We've been asked to arrive a few days early to help set up and decorate. We will be picking flowers, creating the wedding arch, making the leis and centerpieces ..."
"OMG!" Iris was now jumping up and down and clapping.
"Honey, the wedding is six months away. Maybe you should save some excitement for later," said her mother.
But Iris couldn't wait. She immediately ran out of the kitchen and up the stairs.
"Where are you going?" her dad called after her.
Iris shouted back, "I have to tell Rosie and Starr that I'm in another wedding. And that Flower Girl World is about to get a new member!"CHAPTER 2
"Come in the water, Dad! It's not cold at all!"
It was six months later, and Iris was up to her ankles in the Pacific Ocean, waiting for her father to finish putting on his sunscreen. As she waded through the water, the wet sand felt soft and squishy between her toes. Iris smiled. This place is nothing like Philadelphia, she thought.
Iris and her family had arrived in Maui early that morning. The plane ride was so long that Iris was able to read a book, watch two movies, play three games of Crazy Eights with her dad, and knit a scarf before they landed. Even though she was sleepy, Iris was ready to start her vacation right away. As soon as her suitcase was delivered to their hotel room, Iris put on her swimsuit and dragged her father to the beach.
"Dad! Hurry up!" Iris shouted. She looked over at her father and noticed he was talking to a young couple. Iris's heart jumped.
"Jay! Malia!" Iris ran toward her cousin and his bride-to-be.
"Hello, my pretty flower girl!" Jay said, picking her up and twirling her around.
"So when can we start making decorations for your wedding?" Iris blurted out.
Malia laughed, but Jay pretended to groan. "Oh, Iris," said the groom. "Do we have to talk wedding stuff already?"
"Believe me, it's all she wants to talk about!" teased her father.
"Dad!" Iris blushed. "Talking wedding stuff is fun!"
"I agree!" said Malia. "I'm so happy you're here. I can't wait for you to meet my sisters."
"Me too! Where are they?" asked Iris.
"Out there." Malia pointed to the ocean.
Iris spotted two young girls on surfboards riding a cresting wave. The taller girl glided calmly through the water. But the smaller one shot through the waves, weaving in and out at a lightning pace.
"Whoa!" Iris said. "They're really good."
Malia caught her sisters' attention and motioned for them to come in. When they made their way back to the beach, Malia introduced Iris to them.
"Aloha!" said the younger girl, Hana. Her white smile glistened against her tan skin.
"Welcome to Maui," added Leilani.
"Thanks! It's nice to meet you," Iris replied.
"Malia told me you've been a flower girl before," Hana said. "This is my first time. I'm so excited."
"I'm excited too!" said Iris. "I want to give you something."
Iris bent down to rummage through her beach bag. She pulled out a sparkly, pearl-beaded bracelet. "This is for you. I made it."
Iris placed the bracelet on Hana's wrist. Hanging from it were two charms: one was shaped like a flower, and the other was oval and had the letters FGW painted on it.
"I love it! Thank you!" said Hana. "What does FGW mean?"
"Flower Girl World. It's a club all about flower girls. Now that you're in a wedding, you're an official member."
Iris told Hana about Rosie and Starr and how much fun they had had being flower girls together.
"Flower Girl World connects every girl who loves being a flower girl! Even girls who have never been in a wedding!"
"That's so cool!" said Hana.
"I'm sorry to interrupt," said Malia. "Hana, we have to clean up before the luau."
"Luau?" asked Iris.
"We're all coming back here to your hotel for a big party tonight," said Jay. "There will be Hawaiian food and a hula dancing show."
"You'll meet my parents, and that's when our families will talk about the plans for setting up the wedding," said Malia.
"Great," said Iris.
"And don't forget," Hana chimed in. "She'll meet Tutu too."
"Who's Tutu?" Iris asked.
Hana and her sisters exchanged looks and giggled.
"You'll find out tonight," said Hana as she turned to go.CHAPTER 3
Rumble, rumble, boom!
Five pretty hula dancers wearing grass skirts shook their hips wildly.
Rumble, rumble, boom!
Men draped in Hawaiian print fabric stomped across the stage. Each carried a large stick, its ends lit on fire.
Iris and Hana looked at each other with wide eyes. They were sitting in the front row at the luau show, excited for what would happen next.
Rumble, rumble, boom!
The men threw their fire sticks in the air like batons.
Boom! Boom! Boom!
On stage, a large ring was set aflame. One by one, each man dove through the ring. They tumbled into a forward roll before standing up again. But that wasn't all. A second ring was set on fire. The last man in line would be diving through both hoops at the same time!
Iris could barely watch. She covered her eyes but left a little space between her fingers for peeking.
A powerful drumroll pounded, and the brave dancer took a running start ... one ring ... two rings ... He did it!
Iris and Hana stood up and cheered. "That was awesome!" Iris shouted.
Hana nodded. "Leilani and I are doing a hula dance at the wedding. It's our gift for Malia and Jay. Do you want to be in it too?"
Iris didn't have to think very long. "No way!"
Hana looked surprised "Are you sure? It'll be fun!"
"I'm not a good dancer," Iris explained. "One time, I had to dance in a school show. I twirled the wrong way and landed on a lady's lap in the front row!"
The girls hooted with laughter until a thundering voice made them jump.
"WHAT'S SO FUNNY?"
Iris turned to see a plump woman with tightly curled short hair. She was wearing a sack dress with big orange flowers. Her eyes narrowed as she glared at Iris and Hana. Iris gulped.
"Aloha!" Hana cheered. She ran over to the woman and threw her arms around her. "You missed dinner and the show. It was the best luau ever!"
Iris was confused. Why is Hana talking to this scary lady? she thought.
"Iris, this is Tutu, my grandma," Hana said.
Tutu's angry scowl quickly turned into a warm, beaming smile. "Nice to meet you, honey! Hope I didn't scare you!"
"Oh!" Iris sighed as the color returned to her face. "It's nice to meet you, Tutu. I like your name. Were you a ballerina?"
"Ha-ha!" Tutu burst out laughing as if the image of Tutu in a tutu was very funny. "Tutu is an island nickname for Grandmother," she said. "Kind of like Nana."
"Our family is a mix of many cultures – Chinese, Japanese, Hawaiian," added Hana. "My name means flower in Japanese."
"A flower name is perfect for Flower Girl World!" said Iris.
Hana beamed proudly.
"Okay, that's enough chitchatting," Tutu roared, startling Iris again. Tutu put her arm around the girls' shoulders and led them over to their parents. "It's time for wedding work!"CHAPTER 4
Iris, Hana, and their families gathered around the large table where they had met earlier for the luau meal. There were many adults present, but Tutu was clearly in charge.
"The wedding is in three days," she said. "That means we only have two days to finish everything."
Worried looks spread across the table.
"If we work together, everything will get done. Here's the plan ..."
Tutu began by barking orders to Iris's and Hana's dads. "Men, you need to rent the guest chairs and set them up on the beach."
Then she glanced at Iris's and Hana's moms. "You're in charge of decorating the tables, chairs, and grounds."
Next, she focused on Malia and Jay.
"You two meet with the judge, DJ, and jeweler to finalize everything."
Then she took a deep breath. "I will cook the food. And if you all know what's good for you, you'll stay far away from my kitchen!"
Tutu had a special way of being funny even when she seemed angry. Everyone chuckled – except Iris. She was disappointed that she, Hana, and Leilani weren't given jobs. Iris turned to Hana, but her friend wasn't at the table. Instead, Hana was turning cartwheels on the grass.
Mrs. Lee noticed too. "Hana!" she said. "Get back over here."
Hana stopped turning. "Why? Tutu didn't give me a job."
Tutu chimed back in. "You, Leilani, and Iris are in charge of making the leis. Tomorrow, I will take you to pick flowers in the local gardens."
Iris's heart skipped a beat. She couldn't wait for tomorrow morning. She glanced at Hana, who rolled her eyes.
"Excuse me," interrupted Iris's mom. "I'm concerned. We have a lot to do in two days."
"Don't worry. We'll get it all done," Tutu assured everyone. "And if we run into problems, the Menehune will help us."
Hana quickly perked up at the sound of this funny word.
"Many who who?" echoed Iris.
"It's pronounced Meh-neh-hoo-neh," corrected Tutu. "They're happy little island creatures, kind of like leprechauns or elves. They help people finish big jobs. In fact, they built the entire Hawaiian Islands."
"Mother!" Hana's mom interrupted. "That's a legend."
Hana jumped in. "Menehune live in big trees. They only come out at night when everyone is asleep. No one has ever seen one."
"Do you really think they'll help us?" asked Iris.
"Of course!" exclaimed Tutu. "This wedding is as important as all the Hawaiian Islands combined!"
"Mother!" Hana's mom shook her head with a slight smile.
Iris turned to Hana, who was now grinning widely.
"This is going to be fun!" Hana said.
Yes, it is! Iris thought.CHAPTER 5
Iris closed her eyes and inhaled deeply.
The scents of all the tropical flowers mixed together to create a perfume as sugary as cotton candy. Iris licked her lips, wishing she could eat petals for lunch!
Iris, Hana, and Leilani were in a local garden, collecting flowers for the wedding leis. The sun was warm, but a slight breeze and the shade of the trees kept the girls cool. Iris was plucking an orange and pink plumeria blossom, when some leaves dropped on her head. She looked up, expecting to see an exotic bird or a Menehune, but instead ...
"Hana!" Iris laughed. "What are you doing up there?"
Hana was stretched across several limbs, grabbing flowers. As she moved, more leaves fell to the ground. Iris noticed that the branches bent under Hana's weight.
"The best flowers are on the top," claimed Hana as she climbed higher.
Leilani ran over. "Hana, get down! You know Mom doesn't let us climb trees!"
"I'm not that high!" Hana crawled further.
"Do you want to get hurt before the wedding?" Leilani asked.
"Fine!" Hana climbed out of the tree. "I was only trying to have some fun while I worked."
"Yes, but that's when you get into trouble," said Leilani.
Hana crossed her arms and scowled.
"Remember your famous 'dishwashing dance,' when you broke Mom's favorite platter? Or when you decided to play with the hose instead of cleaning off the patio? You flooded the backyard!"
Hana shook her head and walked away from Leilani.
Iris approached her. "Are you okay?" she whispered to her friend.
Hana shrugged off the question while she pulled some blossoms off a low-hanging branch. For the rest of the morning, Hana stayed on the ground, but she also kept to herself.
* * *
Later, everyone met at the Lee home to work on wedding tasks. Iris, Hana, and Leilani sat on the patio, stringing sweet-smelling leis. From her seat, Iris could see her mom and Mrs. Lee on the lawn, making an elaborate wedding arch out of hibiscus flowers. Out on the beach, her dad and Mr. Lee were setting up white chairs along the sand.
It's so beautiful here, Iris thought.
All of a sudden, Hana cried out in frustration. "Agh! These flowers don't work right."
Iris noticed that Hana was covered in torn petals.
"I think it's you who doesn't work right," teased Leilani.
"Ha-ha," Hana replied, not amused. She tried again to string a few more blossoms. When the petals crumbled in her hand, she threw everything to the ground.
"These leis are a waste of time," she muttered. "Leilani, let's practice our hula."
"You can practice our hula. I have to finish making leis," said her sister.
"Fine!" Hana replied, stomping off. "Watch me!"
Out on the lawn, Hana began to shake her hips. She started slowly but quickly picked up the pace. Iris couldn't believe how fast Hana could move her hips without moving her top half at all. Then Hana began to turn. At first she twirled in place, but then she began moving across the lawn. She kept shaking and turning and moving faster and faster ...
"HANA!" everyone suddenly shouted as she danced near a table set up for the wedding reception.
But the warning came too late. Hana's flip-flop caught hold of the tablecloth, and she pitched forward, taking the cloth and the vase of flowers with her.
Hana's mother ran over. The young girl was covered in soggy flowers and a wet pink tablecloth.
"Are you okay?" Mrs. Lee asked while helping her stand.
Then her mother's tone changed. "No more playing around! Do you want to get hurt before the wedding?"
Iris realized it was the second time someone had asked Hana that question that day.
Hana looked down. "I'm sorry."
"We don't have time for games," her mom scolded. "Go to your room so the rest of us can get our work done!"