Book Review: Grandpa Sydney’s Anancy Stories

About Grandpa Sydney’s Anancy Stories
Grandpa Sydney’s Anancy Stories confronts the subject of bullying by using a well-known Caribbean folk tale, “Anancy, Snake, and Tiger,” in the multicultural setting of Miami, Florida. Here’s a summary of the story:


Jimmy Harrison loves school and his favorite subject is snack time! But when a new boy, Kevin, joins his class, he begins to pick on Jimmy and the rest of the children. What’s worse, he begins to take away Jimmy’s snacks. Jimmy doesn’t want to be a tattletale, but he also doesn’t want to be bullied.


When Grandpa Sydney finds out that Jimmy is being bullied, he reads an Anancy story to Jimmy. Will the story help Jimmy to overcome Kevin’s bullying?


Review - Brer Anancy to the Rescue: A Review of Grandpa Sydney’s Anancy Stories by Geoffrey Philp 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 tattle tale, 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.


About the author

Geoffrey Philp is the author of the e-book, Bob Marley and Bradford’s iPod, and a short story collection, Who’s Your Daddy? A critically acclaimed author whose work explores the themes of human rights, masculinity, and fatherhood in a Caribbean context, Geoffrey is one of the few writers whose work has been published in the Oxford Book of Caribbean Short Stories and the Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse. Geoffrey has also won many awards for his poetry and fiction, including a Florida Individual Artist Fellowship, Sauza “Stay Pure” Award, James Michener Fellowships from the University of Miami, and in 2008, he won the coveted “Outstanding Writer” prize from the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission. He now teaches English and creative writing at Miami Dade College, where he is the chairperson of the College Prep Department.


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