June is Caribbean Heritage Month! And here to guide children through a brand new Caribbean adventure is Trinidadian author Marjuan Canady and her new book, Callaloo: A Jazz Folktale.
“The rich history and storytelling traditions of the Caribbean have been practiced and maintained for centuries,” says Canady. “The folklore stories are an oral tradition dating back to the 1500s. It is a ‘mixing’ of cultures — African, Indian, French, Spanish, English, Carib and more. I really wanted to take this mixture of history and culture and use it to celebrate diversity in children’s literature. All children should see themselves in stories and not feel invisible.”
Major themes in the book include:
- Lessons in Caribbean mythology
- Words and language of various Caribbean dialects
- A look at the Caribbean islands themselves
- A second-generation child looking at his family’s original culture
- Lessons about greed and moderation
Complemented, visually, by the vivid illustrations of artist Nabeeh Bilal, Callaloo takes kids on a wild adventure from the hot sidewalks of the city to the tropical islands of the Caribbean. On the way, the main character, Winston, encounters countless mythological beings, learns words of Caribbean dialect, and discovers the importance of not being greedy. The resultant book is a terrific way for kids to learn important life lessons while taking in a wonderful new culture!
Marjuan Canady, a native Washingtonian with Trinidadian/African-American roots, is a published writer, actress, playwright, director, educator and producer for both film and the stage. Her one-woman play, Girls! Girls? Girls. has been featured Off-Broadway, at national festivals, regional theaters and over fifty schools nationwide. Her second play, Callaloo: A Jazz Folktale, has been seen at the Ellington Theater and IATI Theatre. For this work, Canady served as a featured playwright at the 2013 Lincoln Center for Performing Arts Director’s Lab. A Matteo Ricci and Schomburg Mellon Fellow, Canady is the founder and creative director of her production company, Sepia Works. Her diverse acting work includes plays, films, television, commercials and voiceovers. Canady currently writes for The Caribbean Current and recently starred and co-produced the short film The Resort, shot on location in Tobago, WI. She is also currently directing her first documentary, Girls! Girls? Girls. set to release in 2015. In 2013, she published her first children’s book, Callaloo: A Jazz Folktale, for which she was recognized by The National Library of Trinidad and Tobago in their First Time Author’s Awards program. She is a graduate of Duke Ellington School of the Arts and holds a B.A. in Theater/African Studies from Fordham University and her M.A. in Arts Politics from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.