About Me

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I am a children's writer from the Virgin Islands. Growing up there was like living inside a history book; an imagination stimulator. Consequently I've been writing for just about forever. I am a graduate of the Institute of Children's Literature and a member of SCBWI.

Blog Schedule

I post on Monday and Thursday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Q is for...

Click HERE for a list of all
the participants!
For this, my 5th year doing the Challenge, it's the
A to Z of Anansi the spider.

Q is for Quilts - specifically,   Crazy Quilts.

Simply put, Anansi stories are a patchwork that cover everything from why mosquitoes buzz in our ears to Anansi doing his best to get out of working.

Crazy Quilt LACMA M.79.239.1

Because he is small and weak, Anansi has to get what he needs or wants through guile and tricks. And though sometimes his tricks back-fire on him, his actions can often set things in motion, causing a different effect or out-come than he anticipated.

Much like a crazy quilt. One never quite knows what the quilt will look like when it's finished. So too, the result of Anansi's behavior may surprise.

In the end you have something unique and individual.








Friday, April 18, 2014

P is for...

Click HERE for a list of all
the participants!
For this, my 5th year doing the Challenge, it's the

A to Z of Anansi the spider.


P is for Peas and Pumpkin




Papas y arvejas

When you hear/read the words peas and pumpkin I bet you picture these guys.
Pumpkin-Pie-Whole-Slice






When I hear/read peas and pumpkin I'm thinking pigeon peas (gondules) and a squash grown in the tropics that I've always known to be a Hubbard squash. But it isn't the Hubbard it's called calabaza (Cucurbita moschata). There's an article from the University of Puerto Rico about growing them HERE and it has some pictures.
Arroz con gandules
Rice and pigeon peas.

Pumpkins are a delicious staple and the vine grows well in the tropics. After all, it's a tropical squash.

Pigeon peas can be brown or green. The plants are hardy and thrive evenin the islands.

Both peas and pumpkin are added to many different dishes and are mentioned quite a bit in the Anansi stories.

But then they would be, because it's... FOOD!

Have you ever eaten gondules? 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

O is for...

Click HERE for a list of all
the participants!
For this, my 5th year doing the Challenge, it's the
A to Z of Anansi the spider.

O is for Ocean

Rivers seem to be mentioned more often than the ocean in the Anansi stories. There are fish stories, one of which is included in my book, Anansi and Company, but the ocean itself, doesn't seem to play any roles.
Sir Francis Drake Passage, named after him because he sailed 
right through here. St. John, U. S. Virgin Island is on the right. 
Tortola, British VirginIsland is on the left. In the distant center in 
Virgin Gorda, BVI. Before they won their freedom from Denmark
 in 1848, many slaves on St. John swam or smuggled themselves 
across The Passage to Tortola where slavery had been 
abolished in 1833.




I could hazard a guess as to why. As beautiful as the ocean can be, it was a constant reminder to the slaves of the horrors of the Middle Passage. It was a barrier, both physical and psychological, which they could not get across.

This is only my thoughts on it. I could be wrong. But when something so obvious is rarely mentioned, one wonders why.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N is for...

Click HERE for a list of all
the participants!
For this, my 5th year doing the Challenge, it's the
A to Z of Anansi the spider.

N is for Names

Like the story Rumpelstiltskin, there are name guessing stories in the Caribbean. I included one in my book, Anansi and Company. It's called, "Miss Ophelia's Daughter," and happens to be my personal favorite.

Here's a list of some characters who appear both in my book and in the collection of Jamaican Anansi stories.

With some names, it's obvious who the characters are. Others, not so much.

Anansi
Ant
Beetle
Blinkie - firefly or lightening bug
But-But - butterfly
Cow
Crow
Dog
Duppy - a ghost or spirit
Guinea-hen
Monkey
Mosquito
Mygga1
Mrs. Anansi
Pig
Quit-Quit - possibly a bird, either a bananaquit (pictured below) or grassquit
Banaquit, StJohn2 RWD
Rabbit
Ram-Goat
Rat
Pacific rat
Sheep
Tacoomah, pronounced TUCK-a-man, is probably a spider but in different stories the name has been given to a dog, Anansi's son, and even to his wife.
Tiger

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M is for...

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the participants!
Sorry I wasn't around yesterday, byt we had a wonderful thunderstorm which knocked out my connection. The nice thing is we got 2 inches of much needed rain.

For this, my 5th year doing the Challenge, it's the
A to Z of Anansi the spider.

M is for Martha Warren Beckwith

Martha Beckwith, Folklore Foundation

Were it not for Martha I would not have the Anansi stories to retell and the world would be an emptier place had she not gathered the stories together.

Martha was "the first person to hold a chair in Folklore at any college or university in the country." (You can read her bio in the Vassar Encyclopedia HERE.)

In the summer 1919 and again in the winter of 1921 she went to Jamaica and recorded storytellers and their music, then faithfully transcribed the stories, "without polish or adornment, as nearly as possible as they were told to me...." She published her collection in 1924, under the title, Jamaica Anansi Stories. 


I have an original first addition copy. It has since been republished and can even be gotten for Kindle!

The stories, written in the original Jamaican dialect, can be difficult to read and understand. Many of the stories are more like fragments than stories with a true beginning, middle and end.

What I have tried to do is not only translate them, but to retell the stories in a way that readers can easily understand.

Here's to Martha Warren Beckwith, the Joel Chandler Harris of the Caribbean. If you don't know who Joel was, he gathered and compiled the Uncle Remus stories.

Monday, April 14, 2014

L is for...

Click HERE for a list of all
the participants!
For this, my 5th year doing the Challenge, it's the
A to Z of Anansi the spider.

L is for Lion
Just one lion









If there's anything that seems odd to me about the Anansi stories, it's that Tiger is a main character. Tiger is big, strong, rich and usually has plenty of food. He and Anansi are cautious friends. They understand each other. Tiger knows Anansi can be deceiving and Anansi knows Tiger can easily kill him.

Sumatraanse Tijger


My question is, why Tiger and not Lion, when lions are African? Tigers are Asian. So how did Tiger get into stories?  Lion does show up from time to time, but he seems to be minor actor, at best.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

K is for...

Click HERE for a list of all
the participants!
For this, my 5th year doing the Challenge, it's the
A to Z of Anansi the spider.

K is for King

Kings, marrying off their beautiful daughters to the highest bidder, turn up in Anansi stories, just as they do in many fairy tales.

One such story in my book, Anansi and Company, is "Anansi and Beetle." To win the hand of the princess, all that is needed is a jar full of money. Of course, Anansi does not have any money, but Beetle does.

Let the games begin.

This isn't exactly a painting of a king auctioning off his daughter (it's The Judgement of Midas) but it kind of looks like it. I also like that there's a fiddle and flute player.
Abraham Govaerts - The Judgement of Midas - WGA9978