The Calypso Alphabet

by John Agard

read aloud kindergarten, readability grade 1

John Agard takes readers on a wonderful Caribbean journey through the alphabet. Each letter of the alphabet is paired up with something you would find or hear on the Caribbean island including idioms and food. John Agard’s rhythmic poetry and Jennifer Bent’s bright illustrations make readers feel like they actually are visiting the Caribbean (or at least want to vacation there soon!).

“r for roti. Eat it like bread, flatter than a bake.”

Make some West Indian Roti: (makes 5 or 6)

What you need:

  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • corn oil or melted butter as needed (melted butter tastes better)

What to do:

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Continue to mix while adding water, until you get a stiff dough. Put dough in a greased bowl, cover and let rest for about 20 minutes.
Form dough into 5 or 6 balls and flatten each one with a rolling pin. Spread oil or melted butter on top of each one and then fold each one back up into a ball by bringing the sides into the center. Place the balls back into the oiled bowl and let rest for another 10-15 minutes.

Roll each ball back into a very thin circle and brush both sides with more oil or melted butter. Cook each one on a hot griddle for about 6-7 minutes, flipping it frequently. When removing the roti from the griddle, clap it between your hands two or three times or hit it with a wooden mallet several times. Wrap the cooked roti in a clean kitchen towel to keep them warm.