Friday, December 15, 2017

Adventures of Akli'e' Book Launch

Local children's book launches tomorrow
by Andrew Roberto
The Guam Daily Post
December 15, 2017

Local author and activist Michael Lujan Bevacqua, through his publishing group The Guam Bus, hopes his latest project can get young and old readers alike to think more profoundly about Guam's culture.

Titled "The Adventures of Akli'e'," the new bilingual project is one book made up of two stories: In the first story, the titular character spends a day with his great-grandfather, a master blacksmith, and imagines what it would be like to use the tools his great-grandfather forges every day. In the second story, the young Akli'e' listens to his great-grandmother's tales of CHamoru history and legend, bringing the stories to life in his imagination.

Bevacqua said he took inspiration for the tales from his own life. The main character is named after his son, and his own grandfather is master blacksmith Joaquin Flores Lujan. Bevacqua said, growing up, he often spent time listening to the stories of his grandmother. The book project came about as a way to invigorate the way CHamorus approach their culture.

"When me and my brothers were young, there was one CHamoru children's book in the house," Bevacqua said. "There wasn't much to really look at and think, 'Man, so this is where I come from, these are my roots.' There's nothing to look at and think, 'Man this is kind of exciting, the culture that I come from is cool.'"

Bevacqua and his brother Jack Bevacqua, an illustrator, hope that "The Adventures of Akli'e'" changes that.

"The goal is to give them something which connects enough to the world around us in a creative, sometimes funny way, but also gets them to think about certain things," the author said.

The "certain things" Bevacqua mentioned include problematic areas of CHamoru identity, as well as Guam's relationship with the United States.

'Difficult and complicated things'

"A children's book doesn't have to avoid difficult and complicated things," Michael Bevacqua said, adding that this isn't going to be a politically centered story. "You want to make it critical, but you don't want to make it so critical that people say that this is an activist book."

Instead, the author hopes the book opens up a space for children and parents to start having conversations about what happens on Guam every day.

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