A local author has created the territory’s first-ever colouring book series for both children and adults, which depicts the heritage, culture and history of the territory dating as far back as the late 1700s.
She is Gabrielle Skelton-Bardo who spoke to BVI News about her recently-released book titled ‘Virgin Islands History Illustrated: The Colouring Book Series’.
The first book of the three-part series focuses on the history of the central areas of Tortola, including the fortifications that once existed which were taken from the 1798 map of the island.
These fortifications, according Bardo, include Fort Burt, Fort Charlotte, Fort Road Town (the Purple Palace now known as the Bougainvillea Clinic), Fort Shirley (Fish Bay), Fort George (Baughers Bay), St Philip Anglican Church, Historical Main Street, Sunday Morning Well and the first agriculture station in the BVI.
“They’re going to see some of the buildings dated back from the 1800’s in the state that they were, they will also see the first hospital in the original state and then the stages through the years when it went from a wooden building to a concrete building, to the building that it is today,” Bardo stated.
Inspiration behind the book
The colouring aspect of the 56-page book makes it enjoyable for children while the snippets of researched information associated with each illustration make it valuable to persons of all ages.
Bardo said the inspiration behind the book started back in January 2018. She told our news centre the idea came to her when several children approached her wanting to learn more about the history of the BVI to assist with the completion of school-based assignments.
“They wanted to be able to access resources that were easy or readily available for them. One child told me that when they go on the internet, they can’t find the information pertaining to the subject matter that the teacher might ask them at school or they don’t know where they could collect information from in order to finish the project,” she explained.
“I remember the boys didn’t want to read when I was in primary school, they found it boring, especially if the books didn’t have pictures, so I wanted to create something that pertains to our culture and our history and is vital for young people to want to know and be able to access and want to read it,” she further explained.
Queries from adult residents and tourists
In addition to the interest shown from children regarding the territory’s history, Bardo said there were also several residents and tourists who had many questions about the origins of the islands.
“I was working in the charter industry and I met guests that would always ask me questions about the history of the Virgin Islands and different information about the Virgin Islands, not just because they come here and yacht and go to restaurants and other things, but they wanted to know other things about the British Virgin Islands.”
“And then I had persons that were going through the Fast-Track system for Belonger status and residency, and they wanted to know more about the BVI,” she added.
Persons and entities involved in process
Describing the process which she took to gather all the material needed for the book, the local author made reference to two places - the National Archives Unit (NAU) and the Virgin Islands Studies Institute (VISI) at H Lavity Stoutt Community College (HLSCC).
“I started doing searches, I had a few historical books of my own and I was going through those and then I needed to broaden the horizon because I needed more based on the locations and based on the different sites I had written down,” she said.
It was at VISI that Bardo met Director Bernadine Louis who played a pivotal role in the creation process as the editor.
“She worked with me to collaborate on the images and get the history … She was very pivotal in getting everything structured so that when we were able to tell a story it was prepared,” Bardo stated.
In addition to Louis, Bardo spoke highly of the book’s illustrator David Thrasher, who was the pioneer behind getting the images for the book.
Second book in progress
Meanwhile, Bardo said the second book of the three-part-series will focus on the eastern side of Tortola, and will have a number of surprises since that section of the island is well documented.
The final book of the series will focus on the western side of Tortola. However, Bardo said there will be four additional books which each focus on Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, Anegada and other islands in the BVI.
How to contact
Persons interested in purchasing a book can visit the Facebook page ‘Colour ME BVI History’. The book will also be available at Bamboushay Boutique in Road Town.