Introducing smart Granny JJ

The front page of a proposed book on Guyanan character Granny JJ
The front page of a proposed book on Guyanan character Granny JJ

First we had Mma Ramotswe of the No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency in Gaberone, Botswana.

Now hot on her heels – if Luton author Joshua Cartwright has anything to do with it – comes Granny JJ, a loveable Guyanese character who travels round the local community solving mysteries.

But first he needs funding to get his imaginative children’s stories illustrated. So he and his Guyanese wife Glenda have launched a Kickstarter campaign with this in mind.

Joshua, 43, who lives with Glenda, 45, in Leagrave said: “The book is written in Guyanese Creole which is a mixture of English, Dutch, African and Arawak Indian words. Guyana is the only predominantly English speaking country in South America but its language has many influences.

“Glenda felt the children in her country didn’t have enough characters from their own culture so we’ve written 10 stories with titles like ‘The case of the multi-coloured draggin’ ants’ and ‘The case of the blackout thief.’

“I wanted to give children a role model they could relate to. It’s quite a matriarchal society and the idea of an old woman solving problems the police cannot is not entirely unrealistic.”

The tales came about as a result of their daughter Seraphina demanding a new bedtime adventure every night. Joshua explains: “I imagined mysteries her grandmother might have solved – she’s a smart woman who’s raised 10 children and Granny JJ is based on her.

“I’ve simply exaggerated events that could have happened. They’re not quite Miss Marple standard but it’s the impact they’ll have on local children and their parents that’s important.

“I’ve written other books – mainly non-fiction about popular psychology – but this is the first time I’ve tried producing a children’s book.”

He added: “We’d like to get eight stories written and illustrated before Christmas. Each one reflects some aspect of Guyanan life and we’re going to approach the education ministry in Guyana to encourage them to buy the book for school children.

“It would be wonderful if our local community could get behind us on this project.”

> If you’d like to support the Cartwrights by sponsoring a page illustration for this innovative educational idea, visit www.kickstarter.com and type ‘granny.’