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Tracey, a black woman, smiling, wearing a blue polka dot top

Let Me Tell You a Story:

My Author's Journey

​I was born in Trinidad and Tobago, a small Caribbean island just off the coast of South America, within swimming distance from Venezuela. Well, not everyone could swim it, but my father might have if he tried. He was the best swimmer I know.  The little village where I spent my first eight years was Siparia, in the deep south. My older brother, my cousins and I had the run of the place. Both my mother and father’s families lived in the village, so we could walk around by ourselves knowing that a caring adult was never far away. We climbed trees and sat in the branches for hours, picking and eating fruit. When it was dark we went inside because…there were jumbies. Everybody talked about jumbies. They could be anybody. During the day they looked like regular people but at night they would change. And they might get you. Jumbies might be beautiful but deadly women, half-wolf creatures, blood-sucking monsters, toddler-sized menaces with backwards feet, and the list went on. All of them were dangerous. We could never answer someone calling us at night because it might be a jumbie. When we heard our names, we would ask back, “Did someone call me?” That was one way to stop a jumbie. There are plenty of others. During the day, I read everything I could get my hands on. My mother bought me any and every book I wanted. One was an oversized, gorgeously illustrated Grimm’s Fairy Tales. I could not get enough of those stories. I started collecting fairy tales and comparing the words and pictures side-by-side. No version I got was ever quite perfect, so I used my crayons to fix them. Nobody told me I couldn’t write in books. After all, they were mine. At carnival time, the air rang with the sound of calypso and steel pan. Calypsos were stories of love, rivalry, and politics. They were witty, philosophical, and entertaining, not to mention great to dance to. For a small fee, street calypsonians would create a calypso on the spot about you or anything you liked. That was called extempo. Growing up, I was surrounded by stories. It’s no wonder I became a storyteller. I’m a New York Times bestselling author. My most popular books are MINECRAFT: THE CRASH, which has been translated into several languages, and The Jumbies Trilogy, a horror-tinged series that draws on Trinidadian folklore and mythology. I also write nonfiction and historical books such as AFRICAN ICONS: TEN PEOPLE WHO SHAPED HISTORY and BECAUSE CLAUDETTE. My books have received starred reviews from School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, and Kirkus and have been named in best books of the year roundups for NPR, Kirkus, School Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, the New York Public Library, Brightly, We Need Diverse Books, and Bank Street. They have also been on shortlists for several awards such as the Jane Adams Children’s Book Award, the Massachusetts Book Award, and the Texas Topaz Reading List with a unanimous recommendation. My debut novel, ANGEL’S GRACE, was named a Kansas NEA Reading Circle List Junior Title. When I’m not writing, I visit schools all over the world, and teach in the low residency MFA program at Lesley University.

In my 2nd grade classroom.

At a book signing.

My first day of kindergarten.

Say Hi!

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