Children’s Author, Dellaphine Chitty, On Writing Trickster Tales

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha | Global Editor At Large | @ChiefKMasimba | February 24, 2014

Children’s author, Dellaphine Chitty’s book titled, “Bruh Beaver, Bruh Rabbit and the Man in the Moon,” which she co-authored with her daughter, Dawn, is a delightful trickster tale with origins in African American culture.

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The book tells the story of  two animal characters whose power struggles eventually lead them to an intriguing location. In the story, a seemingly weak animal gains leverage by the mere use of cunning wit and strategy.

At a public reading during the Magical Mirrors Children Festival held recently at Sankofa Cafe, Washington DC, Chitty read from the book captivating a small audience – including children – which was in attendance.

The Roots of Trickster Tales in Africa
Chitty said that the story can be traced back to the trickster tales in Africa and is part of stories that were told by slaves and passed on through the generations.

When Africans were brought to the Americas as slaves, the animals in the stories were adapted to feature animals that the slaves saw in the United States and in the Caribbean.

“All the stories that were passed down to us were passed down mother to daughter, and mother to children and so on like that. And I passed down these stories to my children and my mother passed them down to me and my grandmother told these stories too,” she said.

“And my great, grandmother told the stories too before she passed on and they all came out of Africa. And we were given these stories as children. We would sit around and talked about it after having baths in the evening and sitting up before we went to bed.”

The Importance of Children’s Writing
Chitty said that children’s writing is important because children learning by reading and being exposed to the written word as well as oral histories of information.

“This is a way of passing on our a part of our culture that’s been in my family and I know it’s been in other people’s families that are of African descent,” she said.

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