Showing posts with label young adult writing caribbean african youth nigeria south africa kenya ghana. Show all posts
Showing posts with label young adult writing caribbean african youth nigeria south africa kenya ghana. Show all posts

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

 Published in The Jamaica Observer literary magazine "Bookends" in August 2018

Down The Rabbit Hole We Go

     “Alice is about a girl being her own hero,” the 16 year-old said on the journey between May Pen and Kingston. We were having a literary discussion which included the original novel, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and my memory threw up the memoir, The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands.

Both books are about an unaccompanied female going through challenging situations; both have the words "Wonder" and "Adventure" and “Land” in the title, and the books were published eight years apart. Seacole’s memoir was published in 1857, eight years before the novel in 1865. Could Carroll have been influenced by Jamaica's Mary Seacole when he created Alice? I did a split screen to compare the two books, and found similar scenes and themes.

Alice voluntarily goes down a rabbit hole without regard for personal safety, following her thirst for adventure and in pursuit of the White Rabbit, a rabbit is the lure in greyhound racing and also hounding. Mary Seacole left Jamaica, following her lure, money, which was forever elusive to her, but more important to her was her thirst for adventure and the thrill of testing her will against a world where the deck was stacked against success for a single Black woman.

Alice encountered systemic prejudice against her in Wonderland, then one by one she wins over the characters to become allies: the White Rabbit, kept mistaking her for his servant MARY-Ann, the caterpillar who spoke to her contemptuously, the duchess who was dismissive on their first meeting and the Hatter, March Hare and Dormouse at the tea party. Seacole wrote about racial and gender prejudice, whether against her or other persons, and how she got around it. Alice's encounters in Wonderland are mostly with male characters, notable exceptions being the duchess and the queen; akin to Seacole, whose adventures happen in the company of men.

Alice cries a sea of tears and swims in it with several animal characters: Seacole made journeys across the Caribbean Sea the Atlantic Ocean through Asia Minor to the Black Sea, pleased to interact with persons of different nationalities and ethnicities and accepting good and bad fortune as they came.

Alice carelessly drinks and eats mysterious substances that result in spectacular body changes: Seacole was renown for her preparations that healed victims of deadly diseases. Alice is illustrated wearing a pinafore, but had not been doing work when her adventure started. Could this be a reference to Seacole’s work as doctress and restaurateur, which required her to wear an apron every day?

Seacole extended herself too much to be successful in business, but always turned her situation around through hard work, friendships and alliances. Alice acquires nothing in Wonderland except experiences with memorable characters, none of whom advance her mission of getting home: pompous birds, haughty caterpillar, queer Cheshire Cat.

Alice's encounter with the duchess and the lunatic tea party fringe, I think, are allegories for the Crimean War which eventually brought Seacole into international prominence. The duchess is unfriendly to Alice, and thrusts her baby on her and sits in a kitchen where her cook is overusing black pepper. Perhaps this represents Florence Nightingale who respectfully received Seacole, but who is focused on giving care. Black pepper in the kitchen could be gunpowder and general munitions. Seacole becomes a hostess in the Crimea: Alice becomes a hostess at the tea party, a confusing affair which I suggest represents the chaos and confusion of war.

The trial of the knave in Carroll's book who was accused of the crime of stealing the queen's tarts is Seacole's return to society as a pauper from the Crimea. Tarts made with black pepper are special to the queen. Could these special black pepper tarts be a connection to the West Indies, the sweet source of British wealth built by Black labour?

After her memoir was published, Seacole’s care for British soldiers during the Crimean war was celebrated by citizens and royalty: In the final chapter of the novel, Alice grows taller than everyone else in the courtroom, including the queen and the king. She is tremendous, but they are revealed to be nothing more substantial than a deck of playing cards and then fallen leaves.

In my view, there is more than a passing similarity between the date of the publishing of the memoir and the first Alice book. The place of the family of ten-year old Alice Lidell in Carroll’s affections is secure, but which other single, unconnected, non-courtesan, proper, and determined woman could have influenced the creation of the fictional Alice, but Mary Seacole?

Do consider these things before you give the thumb down, "Off with her head!"


Monday, 19 March 2012

Radio Silence - All Five Episodes


Sponsored in the Youth Link by Mother's
The Great Jamaican Patty Company

  1. Triple Threat, Double Jeopardy
  2. Mosquito 1
  3. Hawk Eyes for Reggie
  4. High Wires
  5. Navigating
This is the second season of a young adult adventure series that involves the glorious intrigue of flying in the Caribbean.

Suitable from as young as Grades 7 to 9. Characters are sophisticated Caribbean youth.
Can be further developed for audio, film or television.

If you liked this, you will also like the first season. Fly Guy.

Spoiler Summary

A near mid-air collision causes pilot, Christopher "Kit" Khouri, to doubt the professionalism of Montego 
Bay's air traffic controllers before his friend, the determined Detective Avis Moore, reveals that they are
victims of a diabolical scheme by the reclusive ICT genius, Reginald Bowers. His goal is to control satellite
communication across the entire country.

Kit and Avis believe that they can convince him to use his developments for good, but find their efforts lead them to dangerous exposures on the deserted cay, Great Goat Island, where Bowers has his lair.

He traps them but they escape, debilitate his antenna and force him off the cay. Their efforts return good ICT service to the island, but Bowers' whereabouts are unknown.

Gwyneth Harold is the writer of the young adult novel, Bad Girls in School
Review of novel

Radio Silence - (5) Navigating


Episode 5

After successfully collapsing a satellite-blocking antenna, pilot Christopher Khouri and detective Avis Moore were chased off Great Goat Island and into the Caribbean Sea. Not before Avis was mauled by a guard dog.

“Please, no sharks,” Christopher prayed as he scanned the surface of the sea. A few feet away, Avis was struggling to swim to the cay, their best chance for survival, but the current was slowly pulling them into open water. After a lot of effort, they passed close enough to the outlying mangroves, grabbed aerial roots and hung on to rest. The water there was calm and dark and the mangroves impenetrable.   
“Eyes, eyes!” Christopher gasped. He saw a pair of dark brown eyes emerge from the swamp and re submerge. Despite his fright, he reasoned that it was not a shark…but maybe a crocodile.
“Manatees,” Avis said. If they are here there is a channel through the mangroves that we can follow. It might be a dead end, but it might just go to the other side.”
Another movement was a second manatee that had come up for air before slipping back into the murky water. Avis swum to the spot where the animal submerged and went under herself. A few seconds later she called to Christopher from behind the mangroves, urging him to follow.
Christopher, always uncomfortable in open water, realised that swamps were no less disturbing. Keeping his eyes open, he went down and groped through the roots towards a bright spot. When he came up, he had joined her in a quiet lagoon.
“How is your leg?” he asked.
‘Hurting, but I am not losing blood. Let’s go.”
The progress up the lagoon was easy and enchanting as they passed a small group of manatees quietly feeding. It terminated in dense mangroves and when they eventually got through, they were on the leeward side of the cay and a few feet away from the two parked planes. Christopher insisted that they stop so that he could rip the sleeve off his t-shirt and make a rough bandage for Avis’ wound.
“Reggie is going to set our plane on fire!  Stop him!” she hissed.
Reginald was on the airfield walking towards the taildragger with a burning torch. Christopher sprinted towards his childhood friend, confident that he was close enough to catch and overpower him.
Reginald turned towards Christopher and waited. When they were an arms length away, Reginald pulled a weapon from his waist and delivered an electroshock to Christopher’s ribs. Christopher felt a stab of pain as he lost control of his limbs and fell hard. As he tried to regain his composure, he could only watch as Reginald walked to his plane and started the single propeller engine. Goats scampered as he taxied into position, sped up and was airborne. By the time Avis reached Christopher, Reginald’s plane was receding behind the highest of the cay’s dunes.
“Reggie, our mad genius. We need you,” Christopher said; sad but confident that the nation’s radio frequencies were safe, for now.
By Gwyneth Harold

Gwyneth Harold is the writer of the young adult novel, Bad Girls in School

Radio Silence - (2) Mosquito 1



Episode 2
Mosquito 1

After a near mid-air collision, airplane pilot, Christopher Khouri, agrees to secretly meet his friend, Detective Moore where he learns about a mystery.

Christopher Khouri shuffled through the throng in Times Square, Downtown searching for Avis. Even at dusk, hawkers were busy calling out their wares. He felt a tug on his sleeve; it was her urging him to stand in the street: a traffic jam of handcarts, cars, bicycles and pedestrians. He tried to move to a less congested spot, but she persisted, “This is the safest place. Satellite microphones can’t hear us in this crowd.”

If his childhood friend had not been a police Detective, Christopher would have written-off Avis Moore as crazy, especially when she added: “Radio signals are being manipulated. We are under a terror attack.”

A woman nearby sucked her teeth in disgust as she looked at her cellular phone.
“Mi tyad a di drop call! From weh day not even one of me cell phone dem a work.”

Avis spoke directly into Christopher’s ear: “Every telecoms company on the island has an upsurge of dropped calls and internet service disruptions. Air traffic controllers are reporting that communication with satellites are being deliberately blocked at the ionosphere.”
“I barely escaped a mid air crash today because of radio silence,” said Christopher. “We were blaming the air traffic controllers. Who could do that?”
“Someone we know.”
“So go arrest them.”
“It’s complicated.” Avis cupped her hands and showed Christopher the words on her phone screen: Reggie Quito. “Our intelligence intercepted this correspondence from a foreign law enforcement agency. It is a code name.”
Christopher whistled. “Mosquito Reggie from down the road? Reginald Bowers?”
“It must be,” she hissed. “He turned our nickname for him into this alias. You know he has a PhD in atmospheric electrical something or other.”
“You are the police, call him in.”
“Kit, Reggie is our friend, let’s give him a chance to explain. Maybe he is in trouble.”  
“He is trouble. I nearly died up there. Do you even know where he is?”
“My guess, in a lab on the deserted cay, Great Goat Island. He knows it well from fishing trips with his father and uncles. Also, years ago he told me that he landed his plane on the old military airstrip over there…you do know that Reggie has a pilot license?”
“Nothing Reggie can do would surprise me. But living on that unhealthy, vermin-infested swamp is another matter. If we do find him, and if he is tampering with the ionosphere, then what?”
“We convince him to stop before he is arrested for terrorism.”
 “We have anti-terrorism laws in Jamaica?”
“No, but countries with whom we have extradition treaties, do. Let’s go tomorrow. We don’t have much time.”
“The one time I flew there, I barely found enough clear space to land the chopper. An airplane needs a smooth runway.”
“Mosquito Reggie lands there,” she reminded. “Thought you were a better pilot than he.”
By 7:00a.m. the following day, Christopher and Avis were already in Papa Romeo flying over the mangroves of Great Goat Island.

By Gwyneth Harold

Gwyneth Harold is the writer of the young adult novel, Bad Girls in School

Radio Silence - (1) Triple Threat Double Jeopardy


Episode 1
Triple Threat, Double Jeopardy

On a routine flight across Jamaica, airplane pilot, Christopher Khouri experiences the unbelievable. Have the air traffic controllers lost it?

"You are off the pink line, get back on the line!"

Christopher Khouri gently steered the taildragger Papa Romeo back on the instrument panel's navigation track to the Sangster International Airport. He preferred to approach Sangster a bit lower and tighter but, as his pilot 
passenger was a stickler, he kept to the rules.

It was a clear afternoon over Ironshore when Christopher called in to Sangster Radar to announce his arrival in
their zone. He eased off the throttle to begin a slow, gentle descent to 1,000 feet.

Thirty seconds of radio silence elapsed. Christopher switched on Sangster Tower as a backup, and called to both.

"Papa Romeo approaching. Requesting permission to land."

The radio silence was as if they were travelling over a desolate part of Earth and not five miles from
Jamaica's busiest airport.

"Why don't they answer? Turn up the volume," insisted the passenger.

"It is up," said Christopher. He twisted his neck like a bird to look at all the sky around them. He knew too well
that if he saw anything meaningful, there would only be time to whisper a prayer. Just then, a radio
squawk tore the silence. Sangster Tower was clear and insistent.

"Kilo Alpha, keep climbing and veer South 180, over Flower Hill! Papa Romeo, stop descent and turn right. Repeat, hold altitude and go North, 340 degrees immediately!"

Christopher pushed in the throttle and cranked the yoke right. The wing dipped and the taildragger shivered from
the effort to stop descent. What was empty sky a moment before now had a bright glint some distance away

and the hulk of a turbo airplane was directly in front.
They were in double jeopardy.

The air traffic controller’s instruction for both Kilo Alpha and Papa Romeo to turn right and
to maintain different altitudes put plenty of sky between them but Kilo Alpha still had to avoid the hills above Montego Bay and the turn put Christopher directly across the Sangster takeoff runway.
If there was any reason for the jumbo's pilots to execute a missed approach, they would pull up and maintain the same direction, and even if they missed Christopher, the air turbulence generated by the jumbo’s huge engines and body would toss the smaller plane, causing it to lose lift and plummet to earth.
The jumbo's roar preceded its approach and the pilots slanted the fuselage to a ten degree flare between up-tilted nose and lowered tail.
Christopher saw the landing gear emerge from the shadow of its white belly and prayed that no pelicans
were on the tarmac to force the pilots to defer landing.

He watched the cockpit descend, then there was nothing more.

His passenger was livid.
"This insane incident must be addressed at the highest level!”

When they were safely on the ground, Christopher checked his phone and read a text message from his
childhood friend Avis.

"Must c u ASAP cnr Beckford and Princess. Don't call!"
"B at ur hse @ 5."
"2 risky. Dwntwn @ 6.”

By Gwyneth Harold

Gwyneth Harold is the writer of the young adult novel, Bad Girls in School
Review of novel

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Papa Romeo - A Fly Guy Aviation Adventure

As a young jet pilot, Kit Khouri had it all, and lived life sometimes to excess. A tragic crash led to a police charge that changed his life. Through a series of events, he is slowly rebuilding his life. A Caribbean aviation adventure series. Papa Romeo was serialised in the Gleaner's Youth Link in 2010.
AKindle - Papa Romeo

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Episode - Radio Silence - (4) High Wires

Photo of Youth Link page


Episode 4
High Wires

After watching their airplane disappear, Christopher Khouri and Avis Moore realise that they are trapped on Great Goat Island, but even more determined to stop atmospheric engineer, Reginald Bowers, from blocking satellite communication in Jamaica

“The plane is there. It is an illusion,” Christopher said looking at the space on the runway where the plane sat a few moments before. If we take down Reggie’s radio tower it should destroy the receiver and lock off the force he is using.”

“Listen,” Avis said. Barking dogs were in the distance. “We need to move fast.”
Christopher led the way to a dune and they climbed it to get a further view. The sand was warm, not yet scorched by the mid morning sun. At the summit, they could follow the steel guy wires holding the slender 500 foot tower under tension. The stay for each guy was shrouded by the thick vegetation. Christopher selected the guy that was nearest to them and he and Avis slid down the dune. Not stopping to knock sand properly out of their shoes, they found a clearing where a large concrete block was the stay holding the guy in place.
“We have to shoot out this guy. If it goes, it will break the tension and the antenna will fall,” he said.
Avis took her sidearm from her waist. “This is a 9mm but I only have six in the clip.”
“Hollow point?”
“I’m not a butcher Khouri! My sidearm is to stop an assailant, not carve him up.” she said.
With both hands on the grip, she placed the muzzle on the steel, gently squeezed the trigger and fired. The bullet barely notched the cable and the dogs in the distance became more agitated.
Reginald’s voice came to them again. Christopher saw the small camera and the speaker mounted in one of the stouter mangrove branches. “Leave that alone!”
The second shot hit the cable in the centre, slightly denting it.
“Aim for the edge; chip it off,” Christopher said.
The dogs were closer. Their barks were punctuated by the third, fourth and fifth bullets that left a slender strand of cable remaining. Christopher landed a strong kick on it. It snapped and somewhere in the distance, a few seconds later, the antenna, no longer supported by tension, collapsed softly on the tops of the thick vegetation.
“The sea,” he said, and they ran towards a glimmer of water. Breaking out of the undergrowth on to a slim beach, Avis squealed as sharp teeth sank into her left calf. Christopher grabbed a handful of sand and threw it in the guard dog’s face and repeated it for another canine near to him. Disarranged, the pack stopped as the affected dogs heaved and coughed. The pair kept moving. Christopher leaped into the water first and swallowed brine as his feet never touched bottom. The shore had a sharp fall off into deep water. He broke the surface, gasped and treaded water, relieved to see that Avis was doing the same.
By Gwyneth Harold

Proudly sponsored by Mother's, The Great Jamaican Patty Company

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Fly Guy - Radio Silence - (3) Hawk Eyes for Reggie

Part three of Radio Silence "Hawk Eyes for Reggie" published in The Gleaner's Youth link, August 9, 2011


Episode 3
Hawk Eyes For Reggie
Christopher Khouri agrees to fly Detective Moore to a deserted cay in search of the ICT genius presumed responsible for wide scale disruption of national satellite communications.
 Christopher Khouri completed another fly pass over Great Goat Island without finding anywhere to land. Beneath him, an azure Old Harbour Bay moved in its own underground currents through to the Caribbean Sea. His passenger, Detective Avis Moore, a childhood friend insisted they go lower.
“Make another turn,” she said, although, the only breaks in the green were glints of swamp water.
Christopher checked the dials; they were already at 500 ft, much lower than regulations allowed for landing surveillance. He turned again, approaching the cay from the West, dropping the flaps to descend a further 100 ft. The cay’s thin white beach of powdery sand and small shells, quickly gave way to dense mangroves. At the last moment, Christopher spotted a slender radio tower directly ahead and swerved sharply away from it, pitching him and Avis sideways and causing the small taildragger to wobble.
“No way!” he exclaimed. “That is a very powerful antenna without beacons in the middle of the bush. Somebody is confident that nobody is going to fly over here.”
“It’s Mosquito Reggie,” said Mavis triumphantly.
“You do realise that Reginald Bowers has a lifelong complex because of that nick name,” said Christopher.”
He approached the cay again, this time gaining an oblique view by dipping the left wing; there was a break in the mangroves just beyond a dune. It was the old military airstrip, and parked at one end was a single propeller plane.
Aside from a few goats sitting in the shade of the dune, the runway was unobstructed. There was no air sock to gauge wind speed or direction, but the leaves of a solitary coconut tree wafted West, telling him that there was an Easterly breeze.  He landed neatly into the wind, causing the goats to scamper into the undergrowth.
Christopher parked next to the other plane and he and Avis disembarked on the hot, smelly island; notoriously home to large spiders, bush rats, toads, crocodiles and manatees; but mostly wild goats.
A wide footpath trailed the side of the dune and Christopher and Avis used it to advance further inland. They did not take Reggie by surprise because he spoke to them as they stalked through the dense bush.

“How lovely: Show off Kit, Sneaky Avis and Crazy Mosquito Reggie together again, except now you are trespassing on my island.”
His voice sounded from above.
“Share your ideas with the world Reggie. Blocking radio signals hurts innocent environmentalists, fishermen, meter readers and of course law enforcement.”
“The small price of scientific advancement.”  
“Stop being a pest Reggie,” said Avis.
“The conversation is over Nancy Drew! You have found my secret laboratory; so you will never leave Great Goat Island.”
“Get to the plane,” Christopher said, grabbing Avis, “The cay is totally wired; maybe booby trapped.”
They raced down the trail to the runway only to see both parked planes fade and vanish in the steamy morning heat.
By Gwyneth Harold

Series proudly sponsored by Mother's The Great Jamaican Patty Company

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Radio Silence - Stories of a Caribbean Aviator

A near mid-air collision causes pilot Christopher 'Kit' Khouri to doubt the professionalism of Montego Bay's air-traffic controllers before his friend, the determined Detective Avis Moore, reveals that they are all victims of a diabolical scheme by the reclusive ICT genius, Reginald Bowers, to control satellite communication across the entire country. Kit and Avis believe that they can convince him to use his developments for good, but find that their efforts lead them to face certain death on the deserted cay, Great Goat Island, where Bowers has his lair.

Promotional illustration in the Gleaner's Youth Link
Radio Silence is the second installment in the Fly Guy - Stories of a Caribbean Aviator series.
The first installment, Papa Romeo, was published as Fly Guy in the Gleaner's Youth Link in 2010.
Papa Romeo is available as an e-book on Amazon.
Visit this link to listen to audio series, see the artwork and complete text for the first for episodes of Fly Guy

Proudly sponsored by Mother's, The Great Jamaican Patty Company