New Children’s Tale Captures Puerto Rican Folklore

Author uses Puerto Rican folklore to teach children history and culture
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Callaloo: The Legend of the Golden Coquí, by Marjuan Canady – Author uses Puerto Rican folklore to teach children history and culture

Avoiding wicked stepmothers, poisonous apples, and evil witches with houses made out of junk food are all familiar fairytale elements. But what about Ancient Taino cave symbols, coquí frogs and magical New York City subways all blended together through Puerto Rican food?

Callaloo2_cover-Final (1)Here to guide children through another Caribbean-American adventure is Marjuan Canady and her second book in the Callalooseries, Callaloo: The Legend of the Golden Coquí. Telling the story of two Caribbean-American children in the city, Canady takes readers on a wild adventure from the busy sidewalks of New York City’s Puerto Rican El Barrio neighborhood, to the tropical island of Puerto Rico. Winston and his best friend Marisol, a ten year old Nuyorican girl and the newest character in the book series, travel to Puerto Rico to free a golden coquí frog that has been trapped under an evil spell for centuries according to an ancient Taino Indian legend. On the way, Winston and Marisol encounter a world of enchanted coquís (co-kees), tiny tree frogs only found in Puerto Rico, who guide them through El Yunque Rainforest.

Inspired by traditional Caribbean folklore storytelling and food culture, this story is once again complemented, visually, by the vivid, bold and contemporary illustrations of artist Nabeeh Bilal. The resultant book creatively blends the old with the new, all through the eyes of Caribbean-American children.

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“Caribbean and Caribbean-American people have made strong contributions to the landscape of American society, specifically through arts and culture,” says Canady. “Being a first generation Caribbean-American, I am specifically interested in how culture, stories and family tradition are preserved through migration and children. Food culture is the key element in the Callalooseries, as it is the major component on how the Caribbean-Diaspora experience has been preserved, changed and re-created into what I like to call a blended Callaloo stew.

This book series celebrates the complexity of Puerto Rican culture in a contemporary and relatable way for all children. With the introduction of our newest character, Marisol, readers get to truly experience the island of her family, the rich history that is in her own living room all through the eyes of a first generation Caribbean-American child.”

Major themes in the book include:

  • Ancient Taino Indian and Puerto Rican mythology
  • Words and language of Spanish Puerto Rico
  • Geography of the Caribbean and U.S.
  • Caribbean Diaspora migration / Inter-generational culture
  • Lessons about family tradition, food culture and cultural preservation

Callaloo: The Legend of the Golden Coqui takes children on a wild ride as they learn about Puerto Rican food, language, traditions, and folklore. Pre-orders for the book goes from December 1st-18th. It’s official release is set for January 2016. Published by Sepia Works / ISBN #: 9780692573112 /

marjuan canady

Marjuan Canady Callaloo

Marjuan Canady, a native Washingtonian with Trinidadian/African-American roots, is a published writer, actress, playwright, director, educator and producer for both film and the stage. Her original works have been supported by Harlem Stage, DC Commission on the Arts and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

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She is the Founder/CEO of her production company, Sepia Works. She is the Creator/ CEO of Callaloo, a cultural children’s media brand that promotes cultural literacy. In 2013, she published her first children’s book, Callaloo: A Jazz Folktale, for which she was awarded the First Time Author’s Award from The National Library of Trinidad and Tobago. Her one-woman play, Girls! Girls? Girls. has been featured Off-Broadway, at regional theatres and national festivals and universities. Her second play, Callaloo: A Jazz Folktale, has been seen at the Ellington Theater and IATI Theatre. Past fellowships include the Innovative Cultural Advocacy Fellow at the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, Schomburg Mellon Fellow at the Schomburg Center for Black Research and Culture and the Matteo Ricci Fellow at Fordham University.

She is the founder and president of the Canady Foundation for the Arts, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that serves young people of color in Washington, DC in arts mentorship. She is a graduate of Duke Ellington School of the Arts and holds a B.A. in Theater/African Studies from Fordham University and an M.A. in Arts Politics from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Twitter: @CallalooTheBook
YouTube: @callalootv:

*Callaloo: A Jazz Folktale is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iBooks

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