Bridges that Lead to the Past: Testimonial Tales in Children’s Literature

by Keila K. Alemán

Caribbean children’s literature may differ from adult narratives in terms of how these texts rework history. According to Dash (1998), “The Caribbean became a fantasy theater for the imaginations of travelers, adventurers, and missionaries: communities whose relations with Europe had been longer and more complex than anywhere else” (24). These settlers created a distorted image of the Caribbean, interpreting history and society as they saw fit. Even today, there is still a shroud of mysticism and exoticism surrounding the islands by those who are in the dark about what lies beneath the paradise façade. Contemporary Caribbean authors attempt to rework history in order to reveal alternative readings of our past. Through narrative, usually intended for adult readers, we are (sometimes) able to uncover the secrets hidden beneath centuries of historical abuse, repression and silence.

On the other hand, children may have difficulties understanding and even learning the hi…

The Bird Who Saved His Food

by Tammi Browne-Bannister

Once upon a time an albatross got caught in a fisherman’s net that was spread out at sea.

“Help me!” the bird cried, for he was trapped, but no one came.

A long while after a beautiful scarlet crab was on the bottom of the seafloor scavenging for scraps and pieces of food.

“Hey!” she said on seeing the large bird floating above. “A whole bird just for me?”

The crab looked around, but saw no other forager about. The crab climbed upon the net, heading for the unlucky bird, but when she reached him, her face took on a sour expression.

“He’s not fit to be eaten. He’s still alive and I prefer stale food.” The bitter crab pinched the bird on its rump, waking him up.

“Quickly! Release me!” the albatross demanded at once.

“Just a minute,” said the crab. “If I trust you, and free you, you’ll soar high, drop me to the ground and pick away my flesh in an instant. I’m weak and you’re strong. So tell me, please, why should I help someone like you: a powerful bird wit…

My Wish Quilt

by Summer Edward

I like to dream,
just me and what I think.
I see from outside looking in,
all my funny thoughts,
some of them strange.

I can do my own dreaming
anywhere, any time.
I have all the yarn I need,
pieces of the story inside
to stitch the dream
together like a quilt,
my wish quilt.

I like to dream 
my wish quilt full of words
I choose, heroes I invent.
My mind sends me postcards,
places new or real in life.
The places are mine now.
What I dream I own;
I’m in charge.

I like to dream
when I’m all alone,
in class not listening at all,
on the bus looking out.
My stories have patterns
full of guessing.

Shake out
the wish quilt
of pictures in my head
moving more
than pictures outside.

About the Author...

Summer Edward is the Founder and Managing Editor of Anansesem. Her poems, fiction and art have been published in tongues of the ocean, BIM: Arts for the 21st Century, St. Somewhere, Philadelphia Stories, The Columbia Review, Obsidian: Literature in The African Diaspora, The Car…

Auntie Cheryl’s Birds

by Sarah Venable

Auntie Cheryl lived in a big, quiet house by herself. One night she heard odd noises in the roof. It sounded like scratching. And it sounded like ‘eep eep eep!’

The next morning she asked her gardener, Thomas, to climb the ladder and see what was up there. He came down with two baby birds, tiny enough to fit in a child’s hand. The mother of the baby birds had flown off, frightened at the sight of Thomas.

The birds were so young that they did not have feathers yet. They had nothing to keep them from getting cold at night. They could not fly. They could not even feed themselves. The babies needed to be taken care of, and that is exactly what Auntie Cheryl did. She had worked in a zoo, so she knew what to do.

She hoped that they would learn to talk. Parakeets can, you know, and that’s what kind of birds they were. She started with “Hello.”

She asked Thomas to make them a snug little house to live in on the patio. There they would be warm enough, and safe from the neighbou…


by Jaixia Ellis (age 13)

Thinking about how the elder
felt when I asked her all those personal questions.
Did she feel I was intruding?

Thinking how I felt reading
out loud to a bunch of strangers on camera.
Was I saying things the right way?

Thinking in the beginning
if this is a waste of time being here.
In the end I realized I thought wrong.

The old lady came from Grenada.
Some things she said about her early life
made me think of mine.
Her smile, the look in her eyes.
Do we have a connection?

Thinking about the old lady, how I felt.
I had learned something special.
That was an experience!


About the author

Jaixia Ellis, known as ‘Jai’, is thirteen years old and lives in England. She is of mixed heritage; her mother’s family are from Jamaica and her father is English. She is a member of the Writing, Acting and Publishing Project for Youngsters (WAPPY) and her hobbies and interests include writing, reading, singing, arts and crafts, and modelling. Jaixa is looking forward to writing …

Featured Illustrators: Danielle C. McManus-Sladek

Danielle C. McManus-Sladek
United States/Jamaica

Danielle C. McManus-Sladek's self-published e-picturebook, My Grandma's Journey is a fictional story inspired by her grandmother, Evelyn Brissette's, journey from Jamaica. It tells of Evelyn's adventure on a ship destined to America when she was seven years old, and her special friendship with a girl named Edna Marsh. You can preview My Grandma's Journey on

In the illustration "Evelyn Leaves Kingston", a sad Evelyn is held in the arms of her mother Edith as she waves goodbye to friends and family. For this illustration McManus-Sladek used watercolor, pastels, and brown sepia ink outlines. She channeled her own memories of moving across town as a child in creating this illustration.

The illustration "Evelyn Remembers" shows Evelyn thinking about all the things she left at home including her cat, Murry; Evelyn is flying back to Jamaica with her favorite blanket that her mother made her. He…

Power's Back, Grandpa

by Lisa Shaw

“Quick! Distract the monster and get the energy shields!” Micky shouted.

“Energy shields activated!” his twin brother Ricky announced. “Just one more obstacle and we’ll be level 9 champions.”

Micky and Ricky both did a little jig as they anticipated the leader board ratings they would surely get for clearing one of the most difficult rounds in their favourite Internet game. They had never made it this far before, and they had been playing all summer.

Micky returned to the computer, rubbed his hands together, and began his turn at clearing the last obstacle course in the game. They had discovered a long time ago that they played the game better together than on their own. Ricky was so excited that he stood, hands in mid-air with fists closed, ready to celebrate. Victory was only a moment away.

“Now, Micky! Now! Fire the cannonball now! ”

“Boys!” Grandpa called from the living room where he was watching television. “Too loud!  Keep it down a little.”

Grandpa had come up fr…