Local children’s book teaches the importance of learning from elders and trying hard to perfect skills

by Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero
University of Guam Press

At the seashore, or chepchop unai, a young boy named Juan learns how to build sand sculptures from his uncle. Although he is met with obstacles along the way, Juan keeps trying until he becomes a talented sand sculptor.

Local author Catherine Payne tells Juan’s story in “Chepchop Unai,” a children’s book published by Taiguini Books, a division of the University of Guam Press that publishes cultural literature for children and adults. The book will be launched at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 1, at UOG’s RFK Memorial Library followed by a series of author readings throughout September.

“Chepchop Unai” highlights the beauty and importance of intergenerational sharing in the CHamoru culture. Illustrated by local author Neill Catangay, the book features captivating artwork of Juan and his family at the beach and the unique island-inspired sand sculptures he creates there. “Chepchop Unai” is written mainly in English and utilizes CHamoru words and phrases throughout the story to help teach the language.

The book launch will feature a special reading by the author followed by a weaving demonstration by Jose Cruz Jr. and arts and crafts activities.

The author will also be reading and signing books at:

• 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 5 at the Nieves M. Flores Memorial Library in Hagåtña

• 10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. on Sept. 15 at Bonita Baby in Hagåtña

“Chepchop Unai” will be available for sale at all of the events for $15 per book. After the launch, the book will also be sold at the UOG Triton Bookstore, Bonita Baby, other local bookstores, and online at www.uog.edu/uogpress and on Amazon.

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