The Snake King of the Kalinago

Children of Atkinson School, DominIca
Publication date: February 2010
Paperback: 32 pages, colour illustrations
ISBN: 9780953222469
Price: £3.99
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This delightful children’s book – the first to be written by local children in Dominica – tells the story of the myth of the Kalinago snake. Like all myths it has changed down the centuries and this version is an adaptation by a primary school class who, from their own knowledge and their own imaginations, came up with this lively tale.

Dominican historian Lennox Honychurch said,

The Kalinago people live in the Commonwealth of Dominica in the eastern Caribbean. They were the island’s first inhabitants and arrived in their canoes from South America. The Kalinago (also known as Caribs) were farmers and fishermen but after Europeans arrived more than 500 years ago they gradually lost their land. Now they live by the sea in a mountainous and rainforested part of the islands known as the Kalinago Territory.

If you visit the Kalinago Territory, you will see a rocky “staircase” coming out of the sea. It is called L’Escalier tte chien – it means “the staircase of the snake” in the Dominican Creole language. This is where, according to the myth, a great snake, known in our story as Bakwa, came out of the sea, slithered on to the land – the rocks are the marks his belly left – and went up to his cave. He will stay there sleeping, as you will read in our story, until the world is at peace again.

A welcome addition to any primary school’s collection.

Schools Library Association journal

This charming story is retold with refreshing liveliness.

Lennox Honychurch, historian

This is a stunning one-off – the retelling of an east Caribbean myth. It is the captivating work of children”

Kate Kellaway, Observer

A charming and entertaining tale….This book deserves a place in any school library.


The story is well told and illustrated…I like the way these [the bold paintings] are arranged with the text partly because they support the story content and partly because they are placed on the page in a variety of ways.

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