The Adventures of Herbert, the Hickatee is the newest publication to be released by a local author. Gianni Martinez is a teacher in Belize City. Her story centers on the many obstacles a turtle has to endure before getting to a comfortable place. Martinez started the project in 2012 and was on hand today when the story book was launched at the Image Factory. Duane Moody and intern Chelsea Wagner were also present and file the following report.

Chelsea Wagner, Reporting

A book launch took place at the Image Factory, the publication was written by Gianni Martinez, a teacher from St. Mary’s Primary School in Belize City. The book, entitled “The Adventures of Herbert, the Hickatee” was printed in March 2014 and focuses on reuniting with our cultural practices and tuning into nature. According to Martinez, she decided to write about an animal which is unique to Belize and, with the assistance from various agencies, she incorporated many social and environmental issues such as wildlife endangerment.

Gianni Martinez

Gianni Martinez, Author

“The book is about a journey that the turtle has taken. A small river turtle goes from one part of the district to another part. He is actually traveling down the river from Flowers Bank to Burrell Boom and he encounters a lot of different obstacles along his way. For example we have pollution; we have the La Ruta Maya going on. We also have the crocodile that wants to eat him. So there are several things that are happening along his journey until he actually finds somewhere he is comfortable to live in.  The book went through the process of a year. The reason why because between 2012 and 2013, we started the book as a big book competition with the school where all the teachers—four teachers collaborated with me—in creating a big book and then with the story, I created this story so we decided to make that possible. When we made that possible, the book won the competition and from there I was presenting the book to different schools through summer classes and through the summer classes was when Miss Cindy Schaffer from Ohio, she was interested in publicizing the book. So that’s how the publication came around and that’s how I made sure that people like the Image Factory found out about the book.”

Also on display were several poems and a collection of paintings created by Martinez over the last ten years. She spoke of what inspires her as an artist.

Gianni Martinez

“From a young girl going to primary school, I have been writing and drawing. And with the years going by, I started to paint. My biggest inspiration was Misses Carolyn Carr; she did a lot of detailed work so I went one summer and worked with her. My paintings are all behind us. The paintings represent my family, my beliefs and also different things I like in nature. You’ll see fruits, you’ll see the flowers—I love orchids so that’s why I painted them.”

Chelsea Wagner

“Which one was your favorite piece?”

Gianni Martinez

“My favorite piece at this time would be this one here where you will see my brother and I—my brother is the sun and I am the moon. He passed away last year in October so I decided to give my mom that picture as a dedication to both him and I. In my poetry, my inspiration comes from anything that is around. From the violence, from the beauty of a woman, from the children. To me, art on a whole is an inspiration all around you; everywhere you look, you will see an art coming out. so when I write my poetry I think about something I like to emphasize on and therefore I start writing my poetry.”

Poetry and art aside, today’s event was about the launch of “The Adventures of Herbert the Hickatee,” which Martinez says is an intricate reading material for primary school students.

Gianni Martinez

“It caters really to the children of Belize. I believe that for them, it is not only information but our culture—our culture of the Belizean lifestyle, of events happening in our country as well as the negative impacts to the environment of this country.”

A limited amount of the books are available at the Image Factory for twelve dollars each copy. The intention is to subsequently produce coloring books and puzzles to make the experience more interactive. Reporting for News Five, I am Chelsea Wagner.

Channel 5