Hit children's book A Caribbean Journey from A to Y (Read and Discover What Happened to the Z) coming to the Virgin Islands.
Author Mario Picayo invited by Office of Cultural Education to present the book at Virgin Islands Council on the Arts gathering this coming Thursday, May 22.
New York, NY – May 14, 2008 – Photographer and cultural activist turned author Mario Picayo will visit his old home turf, St. Thomas, this coming week to talk about his illustrated children's book A Caribbean Journey from A to Y (Read and Discover What Happened to the Z). The talk and book presentation, followed by a reception, will be on Thursday, May 22nd at 6 PM at the VI Council on the Arts Gallery. The event is part of the Active Voices of Authors Series, featuring artists and writers whose work promotes cultural awareness. There will also be a book-signing event on Saturday May 24 between 12 and 2 PM at Dockside Bookshop in Havensight.
The Active Voices of Authors Series is presented by the Office of Cultural Education with collaboration from the Virgin Islands Cultural Heritage Institute, and the Virgin Islands Council on the Arts, and the Virgin Islands Humanities Council.
Born in Cuba, Picayo called St. Thomas home from the mid seventies until he moved to New York in the 1990's. He is known in the Territory for his work as photographer and video artist with a strong socio-cultural component.
Picayo does not stray very far from his passions and obsessions with this intelligent, fun, and gorgeously illustrated children's book. A Caribbean Journey from A to Y (Read and Discover what Happened to the Z), more than a typical ABC is a guide to the islands, one letter at a time. In its 64 pages the reader can explore the history, culture, fauna, flora and geography of the Caribbean. With colorful, richly detailed illustrations and the simplicity of language required to engage small children, the book succeeds at several levels, and introduces words and concepts ripe for discussion. The letter "S" alone includes animal extinction (Caribbean seals), sailing, sugarcane, and slavery ("one of the saddest of words", as the text reads). Little known facts are inserted in almost every page, and simple questions (sometimes with no quick answers) make the reading interactive. Do you know the difference between a tortoise and a turtle (letter "T"), a house and a home (letter "H"), from which island is the Caribbean's only astronaut? (letter "R"). There is also pleasure to be found in searching the illustrations for words that begin with the page's letter: bananaquit and bougainvillea are two examples from the letter "B" and St. Thomas' own unmistakable Fort Christian serves as background for the letter "F
The book's title with its reference to a mystery, "Read and Discover What Happened to the Z" does not let children or adults down. Picayo turns the last letter into a closing and an opening, recognition to our heritage and a perfect farewell to this delightful journey.
Don't miss the chance to meet and talk to the author. Books will be available for purchase at both events.
For more information, please write to Alicia Castaneda at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (845) 247-0546.
About the Author Mario Picayo is a cultural activist, audiovisual artist and producer. A citizen of the Caribbean, as he likes to say, Mario was born in Cuba, grew up in Puerto Rico, has done extensive professional work in the Dominican Republic and lived for almost twenty years in the United States Virgin Islands. His work, centered on the subjects of Caribbean folklore and festival arts, has taken him to most Caribbean nations, from Trinidad and Tobago to his native Cuba.
While in the Virgin Islands he worked with the research team responsible for the Smithsonian Institution's 1991 Folklife Festival presentation in Washington DC. and was also Media Specialist for the Virgin Islands Department of Education's project titled: Carnival Revival 1952. As a photographer, his solo exhibitions have been presented in New York, Spain, Paraguay, Dominican Republic, Cuba, the US Virgin Islands and in Argentina, with the support of the Hon. Terence Todman, United States Ambassador to that country at the time.
The New York State Assembly made public recognition to his artistic career and his work as defender and promoter of Latino and Caribbean culture in 2004.
He currently divides his time between duties as Editor in Chief of Editorial Campana, an independent publishing house, producer of Gente y cultura, the award winning public television program, and Executive Director of LART (Latino Artist Round Table), a not-for-profit organization founded in 1999.
With A Caribbean Journey from A to Y (Read and Discover What Happened to the Z) his first published book, Picayo has created a much needed entry into the category of Caribbean-centered children books. The subject of the book, like all of Picayo's previous artistic and cultural projects, revolves around his love and respect for the Caribbean. As Mario expressed in the afterword to the book: "This book celebrates everything that makes each island unique and special but recognizes our many similarities. I hope I have succeeded in what was my ultimate intention, to bring our islands and our people a little closer."
• A Caribbean Journey from A to Y (Read and Discover What Happened to the Z)
was selected as a 2008 Américas Award Commended Title
Praise for A Caribbean Journey from A to Y
(Read and Discover What Happened to the Z)
"From his personal experiences [Picayo] has compiled a fascinating collection of historical and natural facts. All young people in our islands and else-where, would gain immense knowledge and enjoyment from the lively narrative and brilliant illustrations. A Caribbean Journey should be on everyone’s reading list."
--Prof. Roy L. Schneider, M.D., Former Comm. of Health, Former Governor, USVI
"A Caribbean Journey from A to Y, written by Mario Picayo and illustrated by Earleen Griswold, describes insular portions of the Caribbean region in a manner that truly teaches and delights the child reader for whom the book is intended. Told as an account of the letters of the alphabet, the verbal side of the story engagingly caters to the child’s curiosity offering invaluable information about the flora, the fauna, the landscape, and the human populations of the region. Picayo delivers historical details throughout with beautiful simplicity, as in the explanation of “what happened to Z,” which alerts readers to the slavery period and the presence of Africans in the cultures of the region. With equal command of well chosen details, Griswold’s visual side of the story of A Caribbean Journey from A to Y depicts the rural, the urban, the past, the present, tradition, and change without resorting to binaries, while giving women their due at the center of life in the Caribbean and suggesting the region’s racial and cultural diversity. The images and the words combine to disrupt many of the visual and discursive stereotypes that often recur in representations of the Caribbean. I can think of no better book for children to begin the life-long adventure of knowing the Caribbean. I can think of no better book for children to begin the life-long adventure of knowing the Caribbean."
--Silvio Torres-Saillant, Author of Caribbean Poetics and An Intellectual History of the Caribbean
"From a Caribbean perspective, this book is relevant to both children living in the Caribbean and also those children living outside the region. A Caribbean Journey is a must have in every library and great learning tool in which a person of any age could pick up and learn a thing or two."
--Myron Jackson, Executive Director of the Virgin Islands Cultural Heritage Institute
"Mario Picayo's A Caribbean Journey from A to Y is a book sure to motivate kids to read it over and over. The illustrations and the artistic appeal of the book make it really stand out among other children's books."
--Glenn "Kwabena" Davis, Director of Cultural Education, Virgin Islands Department of Education
"The text, simple enough for very small children to understand and sophisticated enough to entertain and educate older ones, offers way more than any ABC book I've seen to date."
--Tanya Torres, Artist, Cultural Acitivist and Writer, New York
"What makes this book so great is that it's both factual and fun ... a great book to have for all children learning geography or simply fun facts about the Caribbean Islands."
--Kathy Schlesinger, Assistant Manager, Dockside Bookshop, Virgin Island