Friday, April 6, 2012

How the stories we tell children influence the type of treatment children believe they deserve

Excerpt from "The Skerrit" in The Talking Palm

Any moment now the skerrit could take me and place me in the old leaky fishing boat that people said he always used.  He would take me past the school house, past the boathouses covered with coconut branches, past the jetty littered with empty coconut shells, row me to a dilapidated wooden house in the middle of the angry Atlantic Ocean, and abandon me at a spot only the skerrit knew about.  If I could not swim well, I would drown. 
The skerrit’s sea house was one the government built to punish truant children like me, people said… (45) 

A classroom is a place where children should feel safe and protected.   But according to “The Skerrit,” a story in The Talking Palm,, Sheryl waits in her classroom for a man to take her to the ocean and let her drown as punishment for her truancy.

According to the story, eight-year old Sheryl:

- accepts the cruel punishment as appropriate for her truancy.
- believes she deserves the punishment
- expects no one to help or rescue her
- never cries out for help
- does not try to defend herself
- does not tell her parents before or after her encounter with the skerrit

The "skerrit" is a cultural myth that some Dominican adults previously used to frighten children to stay in school in.  According to that myth, the country gave a mysterious man permission to punish truant children by drowning them.  

Do you think the cultural myths we share with our children affect their self worth and influence the type of treatment children think they deserve? The Talking Palm:

How do you feel for little Sheryl in the story? Like Sheryl, have you ever had a “skerrit" moment?  
Esther Jno-Charles

Friday, February 3, 2012

10 sy Steps to Writing a Book Review on

1. Go to or use the book's link to take you to the page on

2. If you go directly to, write the name of the book (like The Talking Palm or the author's name) into the search box.

3. The book shows up.

4. Click on the image of the book for which you want to write a review.

5. Beside the book image that emerges after that click, and on the right hand side of the book is a phrase that says, "Be the first to review this item."

6. Click on that link.

7. It will take you to a login page that also has the 3-4 simple steps to write your review.

8.  Two of the easy steps include rating the book out of five stars and choosing either a video or written review. Choose one, preferably written.  

8. Don't worry or be afraid that your review may not be like the professionals'.  It does not need to be.  You read the book.  You have an opinion.  Your opinion is important. Express it!

9. Make your review simple.  Let it a few sentences stating what you think the book is about, if you like the book or not and why, if the book impacted you in any way and if you would you recommend the book or not. What you say will help another person decide whether to buy the book or not. That is power!  

10.Preview your work to see how it looks. Post it.

11. Voila! Done! .You wrote a review! You are published!

Thank you
Esther Jno-Charles
Author of The Talking Palm: How the childhood storms of a young woman's life remained hidden until a palm fruit started talking: