Tim Tim? Bwa Sech! Keskiya a Kiskeya? - The Xó of Àgasú
by Dr. Jacques-Raphaël Georges

"Once upon a time in Kiskeya, that land that is very far from the shores of America yet so very near…"

This collection of folktales and stories celebrates the island of Haiti. The language and culture are explored through clever allegories and unusual narratives with a wide range of characters whose experiences reflect the history, geography, and magic of Haiti. The collection builds from simpler tales of a thieving eagle to more complex, sophisticated sagas of immigration and revolution. The storyteller continually interjects in the flow of the story to ask questions of the listener. These questions serve as purposeful, philosophical interruptions and remind listeners that the elaborate storylines are designed to inspire reflection on the reality of Haiti’s past, present, and future.

This collection confirms the power of fictional storytelling as a tool to uncover a culture through language exploration and historical analysis all under the cover of entertaining tales. The collection is strongest when the characters represent a distinct feature of Haiti’s history or when the characters and plot illuminate linguistic features. These stronger stories are also the ones that seem most accessible to children and can be classified as folktales.

The voice of the storyteller leaps off the page with vitality, using language that will transfix children. Adults will dig deeper into the symbolism of each story, seeing through to the lingering issues left behind by Haiti’s colonial past. Color photographs—personal snapshots of places that include Africa, Cuba, and Haiti—are interspersed among the pages but lack captions and only loosely appear to support the content of the stories. However, readers interested in multicultural literature will find an authentic viewpoint in this unique offering. Georges is valiantly carrying on the rich tradition of storytelling as a means to instruct and inspire children and adults.

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