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When Grandpa Cheddi was a Boy

With engaging illustrations by Paul Harris, Janet Jagan's first collection of children's stories has tales of animals, of Guyanese children, Amerindian legend, and the title story which recounts the rural childhood of her husband, then the President of Guyana.


Janet Jagan
Children, Fiction, Short Stories
Date published
1 Oct 1993

Al Creighton writes: 'It is a very positive document as reading material for children and its appearance is made infinitely more important because of the literary wasteland that so many Guyanese have inherited where the habit and value of reading became alien to many local children... The author has a consistently clear, confident, neat and mature style in her narration which the most discriminating reader will appreciate. This is fortified by her talent for crisp and lively dialogue even where plots are slight. Her moralizing comes over very smoothly even where it is obtrusive such as her description of Grandpa Cheddi’s shooting birds as "a bad practice" and her slight blemishing of the excellent tale of "Kathy and the Ring" in which the moral is laboured in the final paragraph. However, the very moving story of "Kathy and the Ring" is one of the most memorable in the book, which is effectively illustrated by Paul Harris who never fails to capture the correct expressions and give life and character to the various animals.'

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Janet Jagan

Janet Jagan (nee Rosenberg) was born in 1923 in Chicago into a radical Jewish family. She met Cheddi Jagan, then studying as a dentist in the USA, in 1943 and they were married in the same year. She followed him back to British Guiana (he had gone home earlier to win his family over to the marriage) and from that time onwards played an absolutely central role in the development of radical politics in Guyana. First in the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) and then the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), becoming its general secretary in 1950. Despite attempts by political opponents to play on her ‘foreigness’ and Jewishness, Janet Jagan soon won a place in the hearts of the grass-roots Indo-Guyanese sugar workers who provided one element of the core support for the PPP. From the time of the Enmore estate shootings of 1948, when she was one of the leaders of the funeral march, she was known, for instance, as the ‘blue-eyed bowji’ (sister). In 1953, she was elected to the Legislature as part of the PPP victory and appointed deputy speaker. In 1955, she was imprisoned for six months for political activities during the repression which followed the suspension of the constitution in October 1953.

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