From Chapter 3 - Fly Away With Me
After a moment, a shimmering light passed over Shelby and her
sleeping brothers, stirring her, then--the sound of a thud. Yam Yam, a
black Barbie Doll-sized pixie in a tiny outfit, more flesh than material,
gleefully did a somersault and triumphantly thumbed her nose
skyward. She was surprised at the sight of the sleeping group on the
ground and tip-toed around them for a closer look. She sniffed their
scent, then checked out the area.
Shelby stirred even further when there was a second thud. Mpeta had
landed. He held a cooing pigeon, which he put up to his ear to hear it
more clearly. He was an odd-looking boy, about Shelby ’s age, with
dredlock hair and a wild, self-styled outfit you don’t see every day.
“Alright, Yam Yam,” he said to his pixie companion, “I just want you to
know I let you win...this time.” She teasingly flew circles around him as
he placed the pigeon on the ground near Todd, “Here you are, Kite,
back with your pack.”
Shelby awakened and was startled to see Mpeta and Yam Yam
standing nearby, “Hey, what are you doing?” She sat straight up,
ready to protect her brothers from these weirdos.
“I was just bringing—“
“You better get out of here!” Shelby looked around desperately, a
rock, a big stick, anything to defend us with—she thought.
Mpeta backed up and Yam, ready to protect him, got his back, “Hey, I’
m just doing Kite a favor,” Mpeta said, trying to calm her down, “We’re
Mpeta was especially delighted to have Shelby come along—The
Pack is gonna flip when they hear I’ve brought ‘em a storyteller--a
goooood storyteller!--“Good, let’s go!” he commanded and eagerly
lifted off into the air.
Yam followed in close order and Wade tried to keep up with her as he
pulled his little brother Todd after him. So surprised was Todd, to be
yanked so suddenly, that he lost his grip on his crutches and dropped
them, leaving them behind as he was wooshed up and up into the
“We’re off!” Mpeta cried, leading his new recruits, “Bandits to fight and
new stories to hear!”
“Bandits? Fighting?” Shelby desperately tried to achieve liftoff, “Todd!
Wade! Hey you -- M-peetee guy! Wait for me!” She finally made an
awkward ascent into the air after them--I hope I don’t live to regret
this,” she worried.
Their silhouetted images crossed the big full moon as they flew over
the Brooklyn Bridge and beyond. Yam buzzed Shelby who was trying
to keep up, “Cut it out you little pest!” She protested.
Todd suddenly panicked, “Wait! My crutches! -- I left them!”
“Don’t worry,” Mpeta assured him. “you won’t need them on Misbegot.”
"Back in the day..."
From Chapter 1 - Shelby's In Charge
'Back in the day,' as they say today, particularly in a long-ago Brooklyn,
New York, where our story begins, many African-American families were
headed by hard-working fathers and home-making mothers who lived in
brownstone homes, on tree-lined streets, in neighborhoods that were
clean and safe for kids and adults alike. It was a time when going to
Prospect Park, Coney Island, or Ebbets Field to see a baseball game were
summertime highlights. A Saturday matinee at the movies would include a
double feature, action serials, several cartoons and newsreels of people
and events around the globe and a few odd-ball ‘BELIEVE IT OR NOT's –
all for only twenty-five cents!
Back then, comic books still sold for ten cents and receiving your first
library card was a thrill. The whole borough of Brooklyn was still feeling the
loss of their beloved Dodgers baseball team to far away Los Angeles and
Jazz and Rock 'n' Roll were the height of ‘Cool’...
Once upon a time, Past became Present...
A Young Adult Novel inspired by the story of Peter Pan
by John Edward Byrd in collaboration with Sheree Sano
As our story begins, we meet fifteen-year-old, Shelby Simmons, who dreams of someday
becoming a famous author. She and her siblings, Wade and Todd, have been allowed
by their parents to stay up on a balmy summer evening to view the 4th of July fireworks
from their favorite spot in nearby Prospect Park.
While dozing dreamily after the fireworks, they are visited by a strange boy, Mpeta (em-
PEE-ta), and his pixie-cute sidekick, Yam Yam, who have come to return Todd’s pet
pigeon who had plummeted, lost and exhausted, onto Mpeta’s magical island.
Shelby and her brothers are intrigued by Mpeta's ability to fly and by the wild stories he
tells about his "Pack" of daredevil youths who fight bandits on his island called,
After learning of Shelby's story-telling ability, Mpeta convinces her and her eager
brothers to fly off with him to his mystical isle. When they land on Misbegot, Shelby and
her brothers are drawn into the world of Mpeta and his Adventure Pack - wild and free
youths who struggle to save their wondrous little island from predatory bandits - just as
Shelby and her family are struggling to protect their Brooklyn home from under-handed
real estate developers.
Mpeta and his cohorts have long forgotten their African origins but Shelby's stories
awaken vague memories of their past and the events that led them to their shrouded
haven of Miisbegot Island.
Thus: “Once upon a time, Past became Present . . .”
John Edward Byrd has
written several plays that have
been produced in New York and
Los Angeles, including an Afro-
Caribbean musical adaptation of
Peter Pan entitled, Forever Mpeta
His play, Poles Apart, received a
commendation from the Eugene
O’Neill National Playwright’s
His screenplay, "The
Independant" chronicles the
career of pioneer black filmmaker
Oscar Micheaux. He has also
written short stories, and is
currently editing a biography of
jazz legend, Sam Wooding, Jr.
He attended City College of NY
majoring in Film and
Communication and has enjoyed
a long career as a working actor.
Mr. Byrd and his wife, Ruthann,
both divide their time between
working in Manhattan and
relaxing on their farm in Upstate
Sheree Sano is an
with recordings by Dionne
Champagne King, Chuck
Jackson and others and she
is the recipient of multiple
songwriting awards from
ASCAP, SESAC and
Billboard Magazine. Ms.
Sano is an alumna of the
elite BMI Musical Theater
Workshop as well as the
ASCAP Popular Music and
Musical Theater Workshops.
As a singer and a pianist,
Ms. Sano has toured the
world performing for major
resorts, hotels, clubs, cruise
lines - even trains.
Sheree Sano is based in
New York City which is where
she first met and began
working with John Byrd on
an Afro-Caribbean musical
adaptation of Peter Pan
entitled, Forever Mpeta,
upon which Shelby And The
Lost Boy Of Misbegot Island
on tree-lined streets..."
|"...comic books still sold
for ten cents..."
Excerpts (Text and Audio) :
was still feeling
the loss of
to far away
"...fireworks over the water..."
From Chapter 4 - Look, Up In The Sky!
Shelby and Todd walked together along with other excited neighborhood
kids and adults, all heading to the park to watch the evening fireworks over
the water. Some had brought binoculars; others were carrying folding chairs
or lugging coolers for the Fourth of July celebration. Wade hung back,
horsing around with his buddies on the way. Shelby bought chips and small
juices at the neighborhood deli with the money her mother had given her on
the sly, making sure to add some grapes--Daddy worries over every
penny these days, she thought. She and her brothers would enjoy snacking
as they watched the fireworks from their favorite spot in the park.
- - - - -
...All of a sudden, with booms and whistles and loud pops, bright colors filled
the night sky. Nearby park observers thrilled to the spectacle as Shelby and
her brothers also watched the show above. They were wowed by the variety
of sounds and colors until it all eventually subsided sometime much later.
The excitement and the warm summer night made Shelby and her brothers
drowsy, Wade and Todd were sleepily slumped against each other as they
tried to count the stars above.
“Come on, guys,” Shelby said, not getting up herself, “we’d better get home.
It’s getting late.”
“In a while, okay Shel?” Wade pleaded, barely able to move, “It’s like
summer camp out here, listening to all the crickets an’ stuff.”
“And I’m too tired to walk now,” Todd complained.
Shelby stretched and yawned as she lingered on the warm grass, “Just for a
little while longer, then we’ve got to go. Gosh, this summer heat’s
intense…like an African jungle or something…”
Her words trailed off and became lost in the sounds of the crickets. Wade
and Todd drifted off to a contented snooze, snores and all, and soon Shelby
herself was asleep, a gentle breeze wafting over the park. The stars twinkled
above as two strange figures in the sky were fast descending toward the
"All of a sudden,
and loud pops,
filled the night sky."
"...Ebbets Field -
to see a baseball game..."
is set in