Tag Archives: inspired by real life

New Caribbean Children’s Books

Last September, we reported that Harper Collins in the UK was preparing to roll our a series of #ownvoices Caribbean written and illustrated titles as part of its Big Cat series of children’s book.

Those titles are out now; so an update seems timely. Especially as I and the illustrator of my title (The Jungle Outside) Danielle Boodoo-Fortune are planning a live to discuss our collaboration and creative journeys. Hope to see you there.

In the order of (scheduled) release, one of the earliest books to drop was a non-fiction book Sea Turtles which presents, in a visual and child-friendly way, the life cycle, habits, and habitats of different types of sea turtles – with specific reference to Caribbean environmental issues. Each pdf in this post provides book details from the publisher.

The author of Sea Turtles is Carol Mitchell, a Kittitian-Nevisian writer and publisher in her own right (as owner of the independent press Caribbean Reads Publishing, whose publications include Musical Youth and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure).

Diana McCaulay of Jamaica, formerly of the Jamaica Environmental Trust, chose the aquatic world for her story about Finny the Fairy Fish, an Ugly Duckling-esque tale set in a Caribbean coral reef.

McCaulay has won critical acclaim and awards for a number of teen/young adult and adult books, the most recent of which is the Burt Award winning Daylight Come set in a dystopian future Caribbean.

The Jungle Outside by Joanne C. Hillhouse (that’s me) is a book inspired by my mother and my nephew and their interactions when he was younger, which extolls the virtues of exploration and discovery, and overcoming one’s fears in order to taste the fruits of life.

As noted above, the illustrator and I are planning a Live on my YouTube channel. Don’t leave us on there alone. Come through.

Turtle Beach by Barbara Arrindell, with fellow Antiguan-Barbudan illustrator Zavian Archibald, is another environmentally themed, beach-set book, this one set in the real world and inspired by real life.

“It has come to my attention that while children are more aware of environmental issues they are also more burdened, more fatalistic, about it all (this awareness is of course anecdotal but I’ve come across articles pointing to the anxiety climate change awareness has stirred in Generation Z and Z minus). A book like this gives them agency and a sense of hope; a reinforcement that nature knows its course, they can help, and there is a down the road. And that’s good because that’s the energy we need to fight these battles.” (from this review)

That Imam Baksh’s The Lost Sketch Book has one of the more interesting premises is no surprise given that the award winning Guyanese writer made his name as the author of teen/young adult fantasy (Children of the Spider, The Dark of the Sea – both Burt Award winning titles). In this, his first children’s picture book, the titular book can bring images to life.

Desryn Collins is literary arts curriculum officer in Antigua-Barbuda, and originally from Guyana. Her turn to authorship, How to become a Calypsonian, is a book on (arguably) the official music of the Caribbean.

While junior calypso competitions are common in Carnival countries, we believe this breakdown in picture book form of how to become a calypsonian may be a first.

The Wonder of the World Leaf is the first book by Summer Edward, who has been one of the most consistent advocates for Caribbean children’s literature through her Anansesem journal for Caribbean children’s literature and her related consulting services. It is about a connection between grandmother and child, Wygenia, and a quest for a healing herb in the author’s native Trinidad.

What I would encourage you reading this to do, if you believe at all that there is a need for people to read more diversely, if you want to boost Caribbean stories, if you want to help these and other books in that lane find new readers, is share them. This can mean buying them. It can mean passing them on to another reader. It can mean mentioning one or more of them on your social media (plural). It can mean writing a short review on one of the places online (goodreads, amazon etc.) that accommodate reader reviews. The publishing marketplace is crowded, the reader has enormous power to help books they love stand out from the crowd.

As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight,  Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure, and The Jungle Outside). All Rights Reserved. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

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