Archive for the ‘dzagbe cudjoe’ Category

Children’s Book Illustrations

September 23, 2009

Illustration from “Tales My Ghanaian Grandmother Told Me”
akuas-folish-wish1

Things we need to bear in mind when buying illustrated childrens books.Some are self-evident, others are not.

We buy children books with stories which we ourselves enjoy and illustrations which appeal to us. We know that children are sensitive to pictures before they can speak let alone read. This fact has led to the production of books with pictures and no text which are aimed at the very young. Children can look at the pictures and their imaginations are ignited as they create their own stories.
Illustrations help young readers understand the message of the text more easily. Illustrations can also help a child to discover his or her own identity and cultural heritage. This is an important point for children from minorities or those who belong to groups which have been held in low esteem or discriminated against.
Illustrations show such things as objects, landscapes and processes which it would be hard for a child to comprehend from a verbal description.

Folktales often feature creatures and situations which the young reader will have difficulty in imagining. This is the reason why I have full color illustrations in my book Tales My Ghanaian Grandmother Told Me for Information Click Here
Illustrations can send positive, uplifting messages to readers. There are so many wonderful, original authors and illustrators at work that it can be very difficult deciding which book to choose. We need to be discriminating buyers.

TALES MY GHANAIAN GRANDMOTHER TOLD ME <a href="http://www.lulu. Some are self-evident, others are not.

We buy children books with stories which we ourselves enjoy and illustrations which appeal to us. We know that children are sensitive to pictures before they can speak let alone read. This fact has led to the production of books with pictures and no text which are aimed at the very young. Children can look at the pictures and their imaginations are ignited as they create their own stories.
Illustrations help young readers understand the message of the text more easily. Illustrations can also help a child to discover his or her own identity and cultural heritage. This is an important point for children from minorities or those who belong to groups which have been held in low esteem or discriminated against.
Illustrations show such things as objects, landscapes and processes which it would be hard for a child to comprehend from a verbal description.

Folktales often feature creatures and situations which the young reader will have difficulty in imagining. This is the reason why I have full color illustrations in my book Tales My Ghanaian Grandmother Told Me for Information Click Here
Illustrations can send positive, uplifting messages to readers. There are so many wonderful, original authors and illustrators at work that it can be very difficult deciding which book to choose. We need to be discriminating buyers.

TALES MY GHANAIAN GRANDMOTHER TOLD ME http://www.lulu.com/content/5427635

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Nuggets of Wisdom from Writers

July 12, 2009

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I have always been admiring of and intrigued by people who are able to express their wisdom and insight in a clear and pithy manner. Here are a few gems on writing.

“The total life of the writer
is the source of his work,
all of these go into his writing
in varying quantities:

the sense, as of taste and touch,
the rate of metabolism, blood pressure,
the digestion, body temperature,
the memory of things past,
perhaps going back to the childhood
not only of the writer but of the race itself.

The success of his work
depends on the liveliness
and alertness of his brain,
previous reading of books,
shrewdness of insight into human character,
his ear for the sound of language.

The writer, therefore,
must have a more than ordinary
capacity for life
and the power to retain what he experiences.”

Paul Engle

“I write for the same reason I breathe- because if I didn’t, I would die.” Isaac Asimov

“You write in order to change the world, knowing perfectly well that you probably can’t, but also knowing that literature is indispensable to the world… The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way … people look at reality, then you can change it.” James Arthur Baldwin

“When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters – one represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.” Saul David Alinsky

A book must be an ice-axe to break the seas frozen inside our soul.” Franz Kafka

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” Jack London

“You must write for children the same way you write for adults, only better” Maxim Gorky

Tales my Ghanaian Grandmother Told Me
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The Frustrations of a Would Be Writer

July 3, 2009

Today the temperature was more than 30 degrees Celsius. I know for many of you this probably represents springtime conditions. But for me it is just too, too hot. Nevertheless I have actually achieved quite a lot. This has necessitated numerous lie down on the sofa with the air conditioning on. I’m trying to do my bit for the environment and I felt bad about turning it on. I have also dutifully increased my intake of water.

The reason why the day has not been entirely satisfactory for me lies with the choices I had to make earlier in the day. I am a great believer in prioritizing tasks so clearly making a loving input into my neglected website Dance to Health was the first thing on the list.

In my heart though I longed to begin work on my second book. I wanted to start designing the plan of the town where the story is set. This plan kept coming into my mind and needed to be firmly banished. One of the signs of the passage of time where I am concerned is that I am no longer so good at multitasking. I need to fully concentrate on one thing at a time so I do not like switching from one projet to another.

When I wrote Tales my Ghanaian Grandmother Told MeI had the exceptionally good fortune of being able to concentrate solely on that project. Now like most people I have to find a specific time to write. Getting up an hour or so earlier is not appealing but may be the way forward as going to bed later is out of the question. I’m going to have to find a solution. I have ideas for the book which I am dying to put to paper but the problem is one of organization.

But that’s life and these things are sent to try us. When I’ve found a solution I’ll let you know!

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A Free Children’s Story

June 29, 2009

‘s ME READING TO KIDS

Click here to print this page

Special Online Story

written & narrated by Sharri McGarry

“I saw a rat last night in the garden,” Mum said. “A big brown rat!”

Dad looked up from fastening his briefcase. “Did you?”

“We’ll have to get rid of it.” Mum said pointedly.

“Well,” Dad clucked, as he picked up the briefcase and walked from the room. “If you see it again, we’ll get the poison out. Now, I’ve got to go. See you later!”

“Is a rat…DANGEROUS?” said little Jimmy in a wobbly voice.

His brother, Ben, turned to him. “Oh YES!” he said fiercely. “Rats have got long, sharp front teeth and if they catch you, they will BITE you!”

“Nonsense, Ben!” said Mum sharply. “Rats will run away from you!”

Ben shook his head at little Jimmy and screwed up his face into a vicious expression. He smoothed his face as Mum turned from the sink. She set down two glasses and two chocolate biscuits on the table.

“Here’s your elevenses, boys,” she said as she hurried out. “I just have to say goodbye to Dad.”

Ben grabbed his biscuit. “Watch this!” he said, and stuffed the whole biscuit into his mouth.

“Coo!” said little Jimmy admiringly. He reached for his own biscuit.

“LOOK OUT!” screamed Ben. “There’s the RAT!”

Little Jimmy shrieked and leapt on to a chair.
Ben grinned wickedly, picked up little Jimmy’s biscuit ….
And calmly popped it into his mouth.
“Got you!” he said.

The swimming pool was hot and steamy. Ben grabbed his goggles and headed for the slide.

“I want to go on the slide!” little Jimmy yelled.

“Are you sure, dear?” Mum asked. “You’ve never BEEN before!”

“I WANT to go on the slide,” little Jimmy insisted. “with Ben!”

“Ben!” Mum called him. “Please take little Jimmy up the slide.”

“Aw Mum!” Ben moaned. “Do I HAVE to?”

“Yes!” Mum insisted. “Be a good brother and take your little brother up the slide.”

Little Jimmy followed happily as Ben slouched off towards the steps.

“Is the slide FUN, Ben?” asked little Jimmy, nervously climbing the steps.

Ben stopped and considered him. “Fun?” he asked slowly. “Fun? No! Not fun! Did you know that this is a RAT slide?”

Little Jimmy looked around nervously. “A …..RAT….slide?” he echoed.

“A RAT slide,” said Ben firmly. “You have to slide down ….the rat’s tail!” Ben continued. “Round and round and down and down his long black tail….until…. PLOP! You fall straight into his…..STOMACH! Into his stomach filled with bubbling, gurgling ACID! PLOP! Glug..glug..glug….”

Little Jimmy’s eyes filled with horrow. “D..d..down his t..tail?” he quavered.

“Down his long black tail!” Ben insisted.

“And into his…gulp…stomach?” little Jimmy wavered.

“PLOP! Into his nasty, acid-filled stomach” said Ben firmly.

“O..o…o..h!” little Jimmy shuddered. “I.. want…MUMMY!” and he set off back down the steps at top speed.

Ben chuckled and continued up the steps…by himself.

“That was very naughty of you Ben,” Mum scolded. “Scaring your little brother like that!”

She opened the front door wearily. “He was so nervous, I had to take him up the slide myself, just to show him that it was quite safe.”

“It was FUN!” little Jimmy beamed happily.

“He loved it so much that I had to go up and down twenty times with him.” Mum sighed. “I am exhausted!”

Ben grinned unrepentantly.

“I am hungry!” he announced.

“Yes – so are we all!” Mum agreed. “You can have a biscuit while I put dinner on.”

She put two chocolate biscuits on the table and went out to the freezer.

“Aaagh!” screamed little Jimmy, pointing behind Ben. “It’s a RAT!”

Ben caught a movement out of the corner of his eye. Something sleek and black passed behind him. He spun around in horror, ready to shriek in terror. And there was the cat. The cat stared back at him, raising its fur in alarm.

Ben groaned. “Aw Jimmy! You BABY!” He turned towards his brother. “It’s not a rat! Its only the…”

He stopped and stared in amazement as his little brother calmly stuffed the last biscuit into his overfull mouth.
“GOT YOU!” said little Jimmy.
Tales my Ghanaian Grandmother Told Me by Dzagbe Cudjoe

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The Sounds of a Gemelan Orchestra will always remind me of graceful Balinese Dancers

June 25, 2009

childdancersBali-4

Dance and the all pervasive sound of gamalan orchestras drifting through the perfumed air will forever remain for me an enduring memory of the Indonesian island of Bali. I remember the orchestras mainly as an accompaniment to dance and theatrical events.

In Yogyakarta the performers are young girls from the royal family or the nobility.They must be virgins and as soon as they start to menstruate they must retire. As they perform rarely these days some girls will only ever be seen at practice but they will never dance officially in public.

One evening I went to Peliatan village near Ubud for a performance by the Mekar Sari ladies orchestra and children’s dancing group.It is very unusual to have a womans gamelan group. The ladies were in their middle years and obviously loved playing. The girls scattered flower petals to welcome the audience. Then came the Baris (a warrior dance) this time enacted by a boy of about eleven. He gave a magnificent performance. I had seen a performance by a woman at the palace in Ubud.

Then we watched Tari Kelinci which was about rabbits. This is a recent piece created by a graduate of the Academy of Performing Arts. It was perfectly suited to children and had great charm.

This was followed by Tari Tenun which was about weaving. It portrayed how the balinese prepare threads then how they warp the loom.

The finale was Tari Kijang, Kencana about a golden deer. All the children taking part were dressed in beautiful colours and expensive materials. A family has to be relatively affluent to send a child to classes because of the high cost of the costumes.

I also watched a weekly session at the palace.The girls practiced to a cassette recording. To my surprise the teacher demonstrated with her back to the girls and never turned round or corrected them.There were no mirrors so perhaps it was more important that the children learned through watching her back view. As far as I could make out the most experienced girls were in the front line with beginners at the very back. The girls appeared to be in the 5-15 year old range. They wore cloths tied over lycra pedal-pushers and didn’t look in the least bit picturesque. There were far fewer boys to be seen.

In the evening I went to a a village outside Kuta for a Kecak performance. Unusually there is no musical accompaniment but about thirty men established a rhythm by chanting “kecak kecak and this provided the background music.

Sanghyang dedari was performed by two little girls (approximately six and nine years old) who in a trance mirrored each others movements. Their eyes were wide open but we were told that they saw nothing. At the conclusion of the dance they were brought out of by a white-clad priest who sprinkled holy water on them.

There was a very spectacular presentation of Sanghyang Jaran where a young man again in a trance and wearing a hobby horse belt woven from coconut fronds danced on burning embers. The belt featured a woven horse-like head and palm fronds hung down all the way round it. The priest put the young man into trance. He stomped and jumped around in the fire. The burning husks were raked together and he repeated the performance. The third time he actually sat on the embers and rolled around. At some crucial point, not identifiable to those of us watching, he was pulled clear.A fellow performer seated behind held the young man as he came out of the trance.

I have been very interested to learn that there are no clearly defined male and female roles in Balinese dance.Women can perform the Baris whose choreography depicts a warrior and boys can perform Leggong with their female counterparts. Who performs what seems to depend partly on the energies and in the case of boys that they are very feminine in their looks and movements. I have seen Baris performed by a girl and you would not have guessed this from her performance. Only once have I knowingly seen a boy amongst a group of girls. The only thing that made me wonder if the performer was male were the slight difference in height and the larger hands and feet. Otherwise he was indistinguishable.

Balinese dance is fascinating to watch and while unique shows its links to other South East Asian countries. I would love to visit again
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Author Interview at Book Signing Part 2

March 31, 2009

Author Interview at Book Signing