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HomeNewsArchivesHURST WEAVES TALE OF JUMBIES AND REDEMPTION

HURST WEAVES TALE OF JUMBIES AND REDEMPTION

Dec. 17, 2001 – The newly released children's book "Grannie and the Jumbie" by St. Thomian Margaret M. Hurst is as much a parable for 3 to 7 year olds as it is a perfect vehicle for Hurst's colorful and unique fabric illustrations, which she calls "story fabric."
Born and raised on St. Thomas, Hurst has literally woven a Caribbean tale with "pieces … from dresses I remember my mom wearing; some from dresses that she made" about the bold and boastful Emanuel, "a very small chile," and his unfortunate encounter with an evil-spirited Jumbie.
The story is short and simple – a fable told in West Indian dialect – about what happens to this arrogant little boy who doesn't listen to the wisdom of his "grannie" and so "He play with his shadow and walk on the cemetery graves!"
But having ignored his grannie's admonitions, Emanuel is visited by the evil-spirited Jumbie who is "angry about Emanuel's boastful ways" and nearly carries the boy away. But thanks to Mista Moko Jumbie, well … let's not give away the story.
Hurst's tale has risen from her childhood memories of the local lore. She grew up versed in West Indian folklore and participating in Carnival. "I have been a red hibiscus, an angelfish, an American colonial woman, a flamingo, a grasshopper, a jellyfish, an Olympic athlete and a star in the American flag," she says.
Along with the fabric from her mother's dresses, Hurst also drew from her experiences as a child working at Jim Tillett's studio. "On rainy Saturdays my mom would pile friends and cousins into the car and drive us to Mr. Tillett's. He would allow us to silk-screen colorful patterns onto the long rows of white cotton fabric."
Much of the fabric actually came from those days at Tillett's, Hurst said.
After she created the "story fabric," a beautiful and intricate interweaving of fabric and story, the illustrations were then photographed for use in the book.
Two of them have been chosen for showing at the 44th annual Society of Illustrators Exhibition in February in New York City. They will also be produced in the society's catalogue.
Hurst left St. Thomas in the late 1970s after graduating from All Saints Cathedral School. She went on to graduate from Boston University, Parsons School of Design and the Passalacqua School.
"Grannie and the Jumbie" is her first children's book, but not her last. She is currently working on another about African Indians.
She has taken the story of "Grannie and the Jumbie" into performance by creating puppets of the characters. At the Brooklyn Museum and two of its branches, she has read and played the story for children.
Her favorite performance, she says, was at the annex in Flatbush, where she met a group of West Indians. "They were so lovely," she says. "One of the women offered to make me bullfoot soup."
Along with being an enchanting tale for young children, the book also is one of those adults love for the sake of the original art and design.
Being written and designed by a local author and artist makes it even more desirable as a special gift in the Christmas season.
The book is available on St Thomas at Dockside Bookshop and can be ordered via e-mail at dockside@islands.vi, or call 340-774-4937.

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Dec. 17, 2001 – The newly released children's book "Grannie and the Jumbie" by St. Thomian Margaret M. Hurst is as much a parable for 3 to 7 year olds as it is a perfect vehicle for Hurst's colorful and unique fabric illustrations, which she calls "story fabric."
Born and raised on St. Thomas, Hurst has literally woven a Caribbean tale with "pieces ... from dresses I remember my mom wearing; some from dresses that she made" about the bold and boastful Emanuel, "a very small chile," and his unfortunate encounter with an evil-spirited Jumbie.
The story is short and simple – a fable told in West Indian dialect – about what happens to this arrogant little boy who doesn't listen to the wisdom of his "grannie" and so "He play with his shadow and walk on the cemetery graves!"
But having ignored his grannie's admonitions, Emanuel is visited by the evil-spirited Jumbie who is "angry about Emanuel's boastful ways" and nearly carries the boy away. But thanks to Mista Moko Jumbie, well ... let's not give away the story.
Hurst's tale has risen from her childhood memories of the local lore. She grew up versed in West Indian folklore and participating in Carnival. "I have been a red hibiscus, an angelfish, an American colonial woman, a flamingo, a grasshopper, a jellyfish, an Olympic athlete and a star in the American flag," she says.
Along with the fabric from her mother's dresses, Hurst also drew from her experiences as a child working at Jim Tillett's studio. "On rainy Saturdays my mom would pile friends and cousins into the car and drive us to Mr. Tillett's. He would allow us to silk-screen colorful patterns onto the long rows of white cotton fabric."
Much of the fabric actually came from those days at Tillett's, Hurst said.
After she created the "story fabric," a beautiful and intricate interweaving of fabric and story, the illustrations were then photographed for use in the book.
Two of them have been chosen for showing at the 44th annual Society of Illustrators Exhibition in February in New York City. They will also be produced in the society's catalogue.
Hurst left St. Thomas in the late 1970s after graduating from All Saints Cathedral School. She went on to graduate from Boston University, Parsons School of Design and the Passalacqua School.
"Grannie and the Jumbie" is her first children's book, but not her last. She is currently working on another about African Indians.
She has taken the story of "Grannie and the Jumbie" into performance by creating puppets of the characters. At the Brooklyn Museum and two of its branches, she has read and played the story for children.
Her favorite performance, she says, was at the annex in Flatbush, where she met a group of West Indians. "They were so lovely," she says. "One of the women offered to make me bullfoot soup."
Along with being an enchanting tale for young children, the book also is one of those adults love for the sake of the original art and design.
Being written and designed by a local author and artist makes it even more desirable as a special gift in the Christmas season.
The book is available on St Thomas at Dockside Bookshop and can be ordered via e-mail at dockside@islands.vi, or call 340-774-4937.