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Nutmeg Princess enchants hearts of children throughout Caribbean
Once upon a time, there was a little boy who lived in Grenada’s lovely capital St. George’s.  When he got older, he went to a big theatre school in Canada and became a famous story-teller. All the children loved to hear his stories. But then one day a small, dark-skinned young girl stood up and asked: “Don’t you know any fairytales with a black princess?”

By Bernhard Grdseloff
Ricardo Keens-Douglas: “Children’s book with people...
Ricardo Keens-Douglas: “Children’s book with people...
...who look like me”: Nutmeg Princess
...who look like me”: Nutmeg Princess

Richardo Keens-Douglas did not know one, and that started him thinking. “So I sat down and wrote the Nutmeg Princess.” The tale is set on Grenada, the Spice Island, where nutmeg is the most important product. The princess lives high up by the large Crater Lake in the rain forest, only appearing at harvest-time. The story of the little girl who sets out to search for her idol and is richly rewarded for her efforts inspires children all over the Caribbean to follow their dreams and believe in themselves.

Keens-Douglas, the author, is himself a sort of nutmeg prince. The youngest of seven children, he too followed his dreams, leaving Grenada at the age of 17 to become a star in Canada. He presents radio and television shows, has written several prize-winning musicals, and has shared the theatrical stage with international celebrities like Peter Ustinov and Maggie Smith.

The playwright insists that he is a story-teller first and foremost. “I visit schools in Canada and the USA where many of the children never get to hear fairy tales at home.” The love of story-telling was imbued in Keens-Douglas from the cradle. He can recall sitting out on the terrace listening to old Grenada folk legends in the evenings: about the beautiful ‘Diabless’, with her one human foot and one cow’s foot, who takes men’s souls and steals children; about Loup Garou, a vampire-like figure who can fly through the air as a fireball; and about Baku, an evil dwarf in a bottle.

In his own stories, the artist connects the figures from old Caribbean legends with present day issues. He has written twelve children’s books since the day that little girl asked him about a black princess. The tale about the Nutmeg Princess, first published in 1992, has become a true Grenada folktale. It was translated to French and Spanish.

Keens-Douglas, who has since moved back to his homeland, points out that when he was growing up, there were no children’s books about people who looked like him – “It’s important for me to change that!”

The Nutmeg Pricess by Richardo Keens-Douglas, illustarted by Annouchka Galouchko, Annick Press.

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