Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Two New Children's Picture Books Launched by Diane Browne




https://www.amazon.com/Happiness-Dress-Diane-Browne-ebook/dp/B018R4DRF0

 May is child's month in Jamaica and a good time to launch books for children. On Tuesday May 12, Diane Browne took advantage of this increased interest in children's books and launched two new picture books – Abigal's Glorious Hair and The Happiness Dress. Both books are available as ebooks but, as we know, many people still prefer to hold a book in their hands, so many were pleased to see these books in print.

The story, The Happiness Dress won the special prize for children's story in the Commonwealth Foundation competition in 2011. It is a charming story of the gift of a dress from home being an embarrassment to the immigrant adults, but a delight to the child recipient who wears the dress for a walk with her Dad and brings happiness to many of the neighbourhood immigrants she encounters. 




















Abigal's Glorious Hair is a wonderful story about hair washing and combing-out day for a girl with a lot of 'poufy' hair. This is a special time for her family as they witness the hair combing ritual and use this opportunity to catch up on each other's activities. The story is full of love and the comfort of family time.

Both stories are enhanced by exceptionally delightful illustrations by Rachel Moss. They make good presents for children aged 3 to 8. Available in local bookstores and amazon kindle versions.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Climbing Dunns River Falls - an extract.



  

  Joe said he would be our guide up the falls as he had climbed it many times.  Aunt Candi decided that she would not do the climb, but walk along the stairs and take pictures of us. Some of Maya’s friends wanted to join us.
   “No barefoot, and no slippers” Joe warned. “It’s too slippery.” We waited while they went for their sneakers, which he said would be okay. Then, as we had seen other parties doing, about eight of us, boys and girls held hands and formed a human chain, like rock climbers, to go up the steep waterway.
   As I stood at the foot of the falls, staring up at the tumbling, noisy, foaming water I felt a bit afraid. I was holding Joe’s hand, but I remembered the saying that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Since I was always a klutz at sports, I feared I might be that weak link. I would have preferred being last, but Joe insisted. He wanted me near him, just in case.
   “Is it dangerous?” I asked.
   “Not really. But don’t try anything foolish. And that goes for all of you,” he told the rest of our chain. Not that they were noticing him. They were all busy talking and laughing and deciding who would hold whose hands.   
   Climbing was tricky. We had to go along the paths where the water was not rushing down too strongly. It was cold and a bit scary in places. We had to choose each step carefully. Every now and then I slipped and lost hold of Joe’s hand. He helped me to get up and we continued climbing. Sometimes we had to pull strongly to help each other over a tricky patch. It was exciting, but I was glad when we reached a calm area where we could rest in the pool.
   A tourist party was ahead of us, but we were climbing faster than they were, so we overtook them and wove in and out of their long chain. It was a large party with about 30 persons. They had come to the beach by boat and they were having a ball.  There was a guy with a camera taking shots of them and he would shout, "How you feeling?” and they would answer very loudly, “Hot! Hot! Hot! It seemed that was how they were expected to answer - meaning they were enjoying themselves.
   While we were still passing them, one of Maya’s friends answered "Wet! Wet! Wet!  The tourists laughingly took up that as their response. Then they started to shout different response words like "Cold! Cold! Cold!" and "Hungry! Hungry! Hungry!" They all seemed to find it funny, but I don't think their guide was too happy about it.
   Occasionally, we glimpsed Aunt Candi on the steps which ran beside the falls. She was calling to us, laughing and taking pictures.
We were climbing so fast that by the time we reached the second pool where we could rest, I was quite tired. Maya said that she too was tired, so we decided to end our climb at that point and join Auntie Candi who was looking on from the little pavilion overlooking the water. I guess it must be an exit point for tired climbers as there was a little opening for us to get up the steps to the pavilion.
Maya's friends wanted to continue the climb, so they went and joined the tourist group. Aunt Candi had our bags and I was able to towel dry and put on my tee shirt. Joe left us and returned with some bottled coconut water, which we sat and enjoyed as we watched other climbers going up the falls.
What a day! Nowhere in my nearly thirteen years of life, rooted in a Small Town USA could I ever have imagined the kinds of fabulous experiences I was having on this vacation in Jamaica. I smiled as I imagined what my friends back home would say if they could see me now. I was glad Auntie Candi was taking so many pictures, for I know they would not believe me.
Joe said he would be our guide up the falls as he had climbed it many times.   Auntie Candi decided that she would not do the climb, but walk along the stairs and take pictures of us. Some of Maya’s friends wanted to join us.
   “No barefoot, and no slippers” Joe warned. “It’s too slippery.” We waited while they went for their sneakers, which he said would be okay. Then, as we had seen other parties doing, about eight of us, boys and girls held hands and formed a human chain, like rock climbers, to go up the steep waterway.
   As I stood at the foot of the falls, staring up at the tumbling, noisy, foaming water I felt a bit afraid. I was holding Joe’s hand, but I remembered the saying that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Since I was always a klutz at sports, I feared I might be that weak link. I would have preferred being last, but Joe insisted. He wanted me near him, just in case.
   “Is it dangerous?” I asked.
   “Not really. But don’t try anything foolish. And that goes for all of you,” he told the rest of our chain. Not that they were noticing him. They were all busy talking and laughing and deciding who would hold whose hands. 
   Climbing was tricky. We had to go along the paths where the water was not rushing down too strongly. It was cold and a bit scary in places. We had to choose each step carefully. Every now and then I slipped and lost hold of Joe’s hand. He helped me to get up and we continued climbing. Sometimes we had to pull strongly to help each other over a tricky patch. It was exciting, but I was glad when we reached a calm area where we could rest in the pool.
   A tourist party was ahead of us, but we were climbing faster than they were, so we overtook them and wove in and out of their long chain. It was a large party with about 30 persons. They had come to the beach by boat and they were having a ball. There was a guy with a camera taking shots of them and he would shout, "How you feeling?” and they would answer very loudly, “Hot! Hot! Hot! It seemed that was how they were expected to answer — meaning they were enjoying themselves.
   While we were still passing them, one of Maya’s friends answered "Wet! Wet! Wet! The tourists laughingly took up that as their response. Then they started to shout different response words like "Cold! Cold! Cold!" and "Hungry! Hungry! Hungry!" They all seemed to find it funny, but I don't think their guide was too happy about it.
   Occasionally, we glimpsed Auntie Candi on the steps which ran beside the falls. She was calling to us, laughing and taking pictures.
We were climbing so fast that by the time we reached the second pool where we could rest, I was quite tired. Maya said that she too was tired, so we decided to end our climb at that point and join Auntie Candi who was looking on from the little pavilion overlooking the water. I guess it must be an exit point for tired climbers as there was a little opening for us to get up the steps to the pavilion.
Maya's friends wanted to continue the climb, so they went and joined the tourist group. Auntie Candi had our bags and I was able to towel dry and put on my tee shirt. Joe left us and returned with some bottled coconut water, which we sat an enjoyed as we watched other climbers going up the falls.
What a day! Nowhere in my nearly thirteen years of life, rooted in a small town, USA could I ever have imagined the kinds of fabulous experiences I was having on this vacation in Jamaica. I smiled as I imagined what my friends back home would say if they could see me now. I was glad Auntie Candi was taking so many pictures, for I know they would not believe me.
- See more at: https://scriggler.com/DetailPost/Story/35330#sthash.fxjeNX6u.dpuf

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Fun on the beach at Dunns River Falls


An extract




To get to the beach we had to go steeply downhill through a lush park with a craft village, different kinds of snack counters, First Aid and police posts and an army of attendants all willing to assist visitors. Joe seemed to know many of them so we often stopped to greet and be introduced to various persons. Even those he didn’t know nodded and said howdy. Most Jamaicans are friendly. You don’t have to know them, they’ll stop and talk to you anywhere, anytime.
   “If your trucking business fails, you can make a living as a tour guide,” Auntie Candi told Joe.
   He laughed. “I’ve thought of it.”
   As we went down the steps we could see and hear the rushing water of the falls; steep in places, looking scary in others with lots of overhanging tree branches, and here and there a few calm pools, where people who were climbing the falls were resting.
“Want to climb the falls?” Joe asked.
I looked at Maya. “I’ve never climbed it,” she said. “But since we’re doing so many touristy things. I might as well.”      
Finally, we reached the beach, another beautiful stretch of light brown, powdery sand with palm and almond and other trees gnarled and twisted by the wind, but with clear blue waters stretching out into the distance. There were buoys marking the limit for swimming and the end of the falls roaring into the sea. Maya and I quickly stripped to our swimsuits which we were wearing under our clothes.
As it was a school holiday, a lot of young persons were on the beach; some seemed to have come prepared to spend the day. They had picnic baskets, drinks and beach balls. Some were in the sea having a good time.
Joe rented a couple of beach chairs for us, but before we could settle on a spot for ourselves, I heard some voices calling, “Maya! Maya! Over here!”
Maya shaded her eyes and started waving. A group of children from her school rushed over. They were in swimsuits and seemed to have already been in the water as they were all wet.
One of the girls, whose name was Heather, welcomed me enthusiastically. “Hey, Lori, if I knew you were coming, I’d have brought the skipping ropes.” I had been teaching them how to jump double dutch when I visited their school.
I smiled.
“Come,” they invited us. “We were just setting up for volley ball over there.”
I looked at Auntie Candi, who waved us to go on. She was already plastering sun blocking cream on her skin and preparing to stretch out on her towel on the beach chair.
I didn’t learn the names of all the kids, but they were very friendly. I am not a fan of ball games, but since there were no rules, and all you had to do was to try to get the ball over the net, I joined in. Teams were as many players as wanted to join in the game. At one time we were about ten a side. Since there was no competition and no coach, in fact what we were playing should NOT be called volleyball at all. I didn’t feel pressured and was soon running from side to side, bouncing into the others on my team trying to get at the ball and screaming: “Get it! Block! Over here! Mine!” and things like that with the best of them.
Then we played a game of tic tac toe in the sand – boys against girls.
They drew a very large square in the powdery sand. The boxes for the X’s and O’s were very large, because the X’s would be occupied by girls and the O’s by boys. It was great fun. We sat cross-legged in the boxes when chosen to do so, and were all mixed up. (Us girls spread our towels across our legs to be decent since we were in swim suits.)
While the teams were deciding which box to ‘mark’, those of us inside had to keep moving our upper bodies to the music from somebody's box. In no time we were moving together as if choreographed, since, if you moved the wrong way, you bumped into somebody. Maya and I were chosen to play several games. There was one boy who kept bumping into me. Somehow, he always seemed to end up in a box next to me. I realized he was doing it deliberately, but couldn’t bother to take him on, I was having too much fun.
Again I had that strange feeling of being in a movie. Neither team won a game because everybody kept shouting instructions, so the teams were able to block one another successfully. 
After a new set of players joined us, Maya and I went for a swim. The water felt refreshingly cool. I was having so much fun, I never want to leave this place, I thought.
In a quiet moment swimming, I wondered why I was enjoying everything so much, including the games, until I realized that one of the things I liked about this vacation, was that none of the young people (except Maya) knew me. So, I could do anything I wanted without fear of being judged. I could be myself, or NOT myself, if I wanted to. Here I was nobody’s sister, I was not an A student, nor the worst at sports. If anyone criticized me behind my back, what would I care?
Then Joe called us to come out of the sea if we wanted to climb the falls.