“You’ll get all mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.” -Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
I first heard these words, and I will never forget them, in my last year at St. Catherine Academy. It was during free period, one of the few that we had, as it was 4th form, which was just crammed with SBAs, biology and chemistry labs, CXCs and graduation exams. Mrs. Lucy Zuniga took out this bright whimsically designed book. She then said ‘I will read to you one of my granddaughter’s favourite books.’ Cynically, I thought what could a toddler possibly teach a 16 year old? The answer to my question came with the turn of each page: a great deal. Page after page of colourful rhyme was infused with home truths and a practical approach to this game called life. This reading gave me an instant nostalgia for my childhood and a deep longing for that time when everything was so simple and pure. I craved returning to that time when surely the most frightening thing at Christmas time was the Grinch.
When the book came to the last page, as all good things surely do end, I had an epiphany. My childhood memories were filled with great stories. We had to read all the time, even the illustrations coaxed us to read. I remember reading about a boy who desperately searched for a cure for his freckles. Beside each set of lines were beautiful drawings of auburn curls and tiny red dots which lined his cheeks and nose.
I remember that book even now, not only because of the story but because of the fun images, the bright colours, and the slightly larger font. Somehow when we grow up, we leave all those children’s books behind and with them the colour and the simplicity. We somehow forget about all ‘those places we’ll go’ or could go whenever we open a book and travel through time and to distant lands.
Thankfully not all of us have lost that adventurous spirit, to look over the literary horizons and see how far we really can go. Mali Cayetano, a painter, designer and musician has offered us a childhood literary treasure with a Belizean flair. Her book ‘We Are Free’, first published in German and now available in English, was presented for the first time in Belize 2010. The book is the story of three Garifuna children who are transported to the past by a Paradise bird. The time travel allows them to see their ancestors’ journey from Africa to St. Vincent, then from Honduras to Belize. The book has very vibrant shapes and colours and beautifully illustrates the adventure of the three children on the journey.
The magic of books and especially children’s books is that ability to take you on adventures without ever leaving your room. Could you imagine soaring over the African desert, the islands of the Caribbean and finally the valleys of Stann Creek? If your imagination fails you, Mali gives you ideas with her playful illustrations.
The Image Factory Shop is a local bookstore which features the latest and best in local and international best sellers. The store is also on a constant quest to see all the places they can go. The IF Shop keeps looking for new ways to re-invent itself and promote reading. There on 91 North Front Street is where you can always come across the new releases. When everything has gone virtual, and life has become high-tech, it is a thing of beauty to see children hold an actual book in their hands. It surely is refreshing to see a child consuming books like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Big Nate as if they were the new games for the Wii or Xbox 360 kinect consoles.
The Image Factory Shop has now teamed up with Mali, Pen and Ingrid Cayetano to launch the new look of the store by featuring We Are Free. And as Pen Cayetano plays live music, there will be face-painting, drawing competition and a dance competition. Additionally children who attend the event in their cultural costumes will be given a little prize from the bookstore. This event will serve as an inauguration of ‘Saturdays at the Factory Shop.’ On Saturdays, children will be able to come to the bookstore to do art lessons and be a part of the children’s book club. This is just one of the future initiatives that the bookstore is embarking on to promote reading and expression in the Belizean youth.
The event starts at 10:00 am on Saturday December 3rd, 2011 at the Image Factory Art Gallery. The event is free and open to the public. Though, I would encourage you to come prepared to purchase any or all of the latest releases to fill your Christmas stockings.
The crossword puzzle in this article can be brought to the presentation and completed puzzles will get a discount on selected items in the store.