Dream of a ‘Monsta’ at Plimouth Plantation

Donna Laurent Caruso, Today correspondent
10/30/09

PLYMOUTH, Mass. – If the historical living museum Plimouth Plantation is your destination over this Thanksgiving holiday, be sure to visit Plimouth Plantation Museum Shops to pick up a signed copy of “Da Goodie Monsta,” a newly released children’s book from Wiggles Press of Cambridge, Mass. that addresses what happens when a child does not have a dream.

“This book reflects on our core values, such as the importance for us to have dreams,” said author and illustrator Robert Peters, who is Mashpee Wampanoag.

The story grew from many years ago when Peters’ son was three years old and awoke from a nap talking about his dream of a good monster who is part bird, lion and dragon and wears roller skates.

“I couldn’t let that dream of his go and in the months that followed I wrote about it and illustrated what my son had described. After meditating on this, I saw I could write a story by introducing to it a little boy who didn’t have any dreams. So the book became a story of what it is like for a child to not have a dream and how the little boy addresses that issue. It is so important to him that the child runs away to find a monster.”

Peters illustrated the children’s book in pencil on parchment paper “in order to create a dream-like state and set the mood for the story.”

Peters is also the nephew of Slow Turtle, who was the supreme medicine man for the Wampanoag Nation. When Peters was 10 years old, Slow Turtle gave him the name Woodchuck.

“I was mad about that for a long time,” Peters said. “But, then, as an adult, I actually did spend long periods of time underground.” Peters became a 24-year employee of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, the famous underground transportation system in Boston.

“The entire time that I worked for the ‘T,’ I took notes, drew cartoons, and studied their underground transportation culture,” Peters said. “It was as if I reversed how the Europeans had studied us.”

Now that Peters is retired, he completed and published “Da Goodie Monsta” as well as assembled a series of his prints into a collection entitled “Thirteen Moons.”

His design “Wampanoag Medicine Shield,” one of the paintings in the series, was one of his first inspirations after retirement. Among the concepts in the painting are the five Wampanoag virtues: Love, respect, trust, courage and kindness. “If you embrace all that the painting says, and treat people accordingly,” Peters said, “this (painting) will act as your shield.”

In “The Honor Beat,” a hauntingly beautiful image of The People at the Drum, Peters’ art was inspired by his tribe’s drummers (Eastern Sun). “I would sit with them, but if I missed a beat they would charge me a dollar,” he mused. “I got stuck on that painting for awhile, until tending a Medicine Fire. It was a full moon; everything I heard was carried to me as a voice of spirit, and from that experience I was able to finish the painting.”

Plimouth Plantation also offers Wampanoag mishoon-making and a recreated Wampanoag home site. It is the same museum that overseas the Mayflower II that is docked near Plymouth Rock and by Plymouth Beach, a stop over for migrating east coast birds.

Peters’ book can be ordered wholesale at (617) 497-3985, or through publisher@wigglespress.com. He is also selling through Amazon, BlackBooksPlus.com, and at Market Street Bookshop in Mashpee, Mass. (508) 539-6985 and Jamaicaway Books and Gifts (617) 983-3204.

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