Brer Anancy to the Rescue: A Review of Grandpa Sydney's Anancy Stories

By Hazel Campbell

By this point in the school year, the bullies will have established their territory and there may well be many youngsters fearful of facing another day of school and not knowing what to do about the bullying. If you have gone through school without meeting a bully, lucky you.

In this story, the newcomer to the class, (grade 3?) a big boy named Kevin, immediately begins to terrorize first, our protagonist, Jimmy, and then the other children. Coupled with the sense of outrage is the feeling of helplessness, which threatens to overwhelm Jimmy. If he tells the teacher, he risks being branded as a tattletale, also an unwelcome situation.

Grandpa Sydney's Anancy Stories places Jimmy in a warm family setting in multicultural South Florida, with his Jamaican grandpa being his main ally. Geoffrey Philp cleverly uses an Anancy story - a Jamaican folk tale - recounted by grandpa, to give Jimmy an idea on how to outsmart the bully, which he does to the immense relief of himself and all the other children in the class. I have a small personal problem with the solution as I would have liked to see some hint of remorse and salvation for the bully at the end - but perhaps that is not realistic.

Illustrations by the author's daughter (lucky him) enliven the story. This is an entertaining story in its own right, and a story, which could be used in classes to spark discussion on aspects of family life, as well as its main theme – bullying, and get children to express their feelings about this.

A good read, and you get to meet Brer Anancy, if you didn't know him before.

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