It’s funny how a story can come to a writer in the most unexpected way, as it did with longtime Canarsie resident, educator and author, Jacqueline Smartt. When she decided to take up gardening with her mother, Dorothy, Jacqueline had no idea that the mischievous squirrels digging up the backyard would eventually become the rather endearing characters of her latest book, Brooklyn Squirrel Chronicles (available on Amazon).
After all, those bushy-tailed buggers had made quite a nuisance of themselves, destroying much of the hard work the ladies had done to beautify their garden, but when Jacqueline started sharing the frustrating and sometimes harrowing stories of their crazy antics on Facebook, the cute little critters began to grow on her – and just about everyone else. It wasn’t long before her friends started requesting updates on the comings and goings of the squirrel family, some even suggesting she write a book about them. Before she knew it, Jacqueline had brought an entire story to life; she penned a charming chronicle of the squirrels’ adventures, as she had imagined it from their perspective. A light, enjoyable read, the story is guaranteed to entertain.
What made writing the book all the more special for Jacqueline, though, was taking her mother, and sisters Caroline and Sandra, along for the ride, as sharing their observations of the squirrels became something of a family affair. It’s plain to see how family is at the core of all of her literary work, as her first book, Navigators Travel to Guyana (also available on Amazon), is an homage – a celebration of her father Loris’ Guyanese heritage. The book, which is a follow-up to the Navigators Travel to Barbados, written by her friend Howard Liverpool, follows Noah, a Canje Pheasant (the National Bird of Guyana), and a group of intrepid explorers as they learn about the history and geography of the country.
Her true labor of love, however, is what may well turn out to be her magnum opus – a rich family history project, first conceived of by her father, who had begun to write about the wealth of genealogical research he had gathered before he passed – a project which she has taken on in his memory. Having traveled, conducted interviews and compiled and preserved a ton of historical documents and photos, Jacqueline is now the guardian of some four generations’ worth of ancestry and the author of 341 pages, on which she is expanding further and will publish, to be titled In the Footsteps of My Ancestors. Jacqueline has certainly earned the family title of “chronicler” fair and square.
Photos courtesy of Jacqueline Smartt