Category Archives: Caribbean Lit News This Week

St. Croix recognizes CR author Opal Palmer Adisa

In this article, Elisa McKay of the St. Croix Source highlights the work of Opal Palmer Adisa and her contributions to children’s literature. In both her children’s and adult work, Adisa work features Caribbean traditions and culture.

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Musical Youth Second Edition Releases (with Bonus Author Information Revealed)

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In November 2014, CaribbeanReads was tremendously proud to publish the Burt Award prize-winning title Musical Youth #musicalyouthbook by Joanne C. Hillhouse. We printed 4000 copies of the book, and today, thanks to the support of Code, the NGC Bocas Lit Fest, schools, bookstores such as Best of Books in Antigua and Paperbased in Trinidad, and book festivals in Brooklyn, St. Martin, USVI, Barbados, Anguilla, and Miami, we are all sold out!

With the second printing, we made a few changes to the cover (still maintaining the beautiful artwork of Glenroy Aaron) and the acknowledgements in which Hillhouse speaks of her own gratefulness and thanks “readers everywhere—tout monde sam and baggai, as we say in Antigua and Barbuda—who bought and/or took the time to recommend the book; and specifically, Caribbean readers and young people who have told me how much they love Zahara, and how Zahara and Shaka are #relationshipgoals.”

Inside, the second edition of Musical Youth contains the same content that has prompted the incredible support the book has received. Zahara and Shaka pop off the page with the same intensity that keeps teens talking about them long after they’ve read the last word. Read reviews of the book here.

In commemoration of the new edition, author Joanne C. Hillhouse has put together a candid discussion about her writing process, her vision of the characters, and more in this study guide: author’s edition.

Musical Youth is the first of two Burt Award winners published by CaribbeanReads, the second being The Protectors’ Pledge by Danielle Y. C. McClean. The success of these titles speaks to the fact that we need Caribbean books and, more generally, #weneeddiversebooks.

Where to buy it? The new edition is available from the publisher, on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and select bookstores. Ask your local bookstores and schools for your copy of the new edition. Copies of the OG (original version of) Musical Youth are still available at select bookstores. It’s may become a collectors’ item, so get yours quickly.

Share the news, let’s make this hashtag go viral. #musicalyouthbook. As Caribbean schoolchildren (of old?) might say, we glad bag bus’!

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Toni Morrison’s Passing

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I had just completed a post celebrating Jamaica’s Independence when I read the news that Toni Morrison had died. My first instinct was to delete the light-hearted post. How could I be joyous when an icon like Morrison, Nobel prize and Pulitzer prize winning author, inspirational on so many levels, had departed this world? Her life’s example suggests that she would encourage us to celebrate her life rather than mourn her death.

Morrison inspires me as a writer with her metaphorical, original, and visionary use of language. I have no doubt that each word she leaves on the page is placed with careful consideration of its contribution to her meaning and the image it leaves in her readers minds.

Morrison inspires me to write truth. To write my stories without tailoring them to mollify the sensibilities of one group of readers or another. She was determined not to write literature that catered exclusively to a white audience, and if you have read Beloved or Tar Baby you will know that she held nothing back. She paved a way for the writers who choose to walk in and therefore enlarge the mark her footsteps have left.

Morrison inspires me to persevere. Although she was a storyteller as a child, she did not write her first novel until she was in her late 30’s, yet she completed almost a dozen substantive novels before passing away this year. Her work reminds us that once we are alive there are stories that we must tell.

Although I did not read this quote from Morrision until after I wrote my first book, it epitomizes the motivation for my journey into being an author and publisher.

I purposely used the present tense here, she inspires me. Her passing from this world does not mean an end to her influence. Her legacy will linger for as long as we read and understand the importance of literature. CNN reports that Morrison once said: “We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.”

Rest in peace Ms. Morrison. #tonimorrison

-Carol Mitchell

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E-Picture Books

CaribbeanReads put out our first kindle picture book back in 2012. It was Lion Paw and Oliver: An Unlikely Friendship, the first book in the Living the Beach Life series by Heidi Fagerberg.

Way back then…seven years is an eon when it comes to technology…the process for developing picture books that would be read on an electronic device was challenging and the results less than perfect.

Scholastic Biannual Report supports giving children access to books in all formats

We really wanted the books to be available in an e-version. We believe that one of the best ways to encourage children to read is ensure that books are visible and always within easy reach. E-books on their devices next to their other electronic activities, can be a way to encourage children to access books over and over again. So we persisted, and ended up putting the text and image on separate pages. This helped with the flow of the text but was not ideal for the beginning readers who love Heidi’s books.

As I’m sure you’ve guessed, the technology has changed and it’s now easier to produce these books in an easy-to-read format, and we’ve updated the entire Living the Beach Life series and some of our other titles. The good news is that, if you’ve already bought an ebook it will automatically update the next time you open it while connected to the internet. If you haven’t got your ecopy of Heidi’s books, check it out. Ebooks are a great alternative for entertaining little ones.

CaribbeanReads picture book titles with e-versions (all books will be converted soon):

No need to wait for your book to arrive, start reading today!

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Joanne C. Hillhouse’s books on sale at Best of Books Antigua

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Greyborn Rising Hard cover

As of July 1, you now have three ways to enjoy Greyborn Rising, paperback, kindle, and it is now available in hardcover. Check out this fantastic new novel set in a fantasy version of Trinidad where there are three parallel realms; the Grey where Greyborn—preternatural creatures of legend live; the Ether which is the realm of Heaven and Hell; and the Absolute where humans make their home, blissfully unaware of the tripartite nature of their world. Read to find out how Rohan, a member of The Order, fights to protect the world from the rising of the Greyborn.

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New Review for Tata and the Big Bad Bull

In an article entitled “Overcoming Barriers to Education in Tata and the Big Bad Bull,” Anansesem reviewer, Shanimarie Ogilvie, reviews this CaribbeanReads title by author and poet, Juleus Ghunta. She refers to the book’s protagonist as a “universally relatable character,” and points out how “Ghunta’s use of rhyme…engages the reader.” She describes the narrative as “brisk” and the plot as “spirited.”

Read the full review in the beautifully designed full color PDF edition of the May 2019 Anansesem book review issue.

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Facelift for the Living the Beach Life Series

When we published Lion Paw and Oliver, An Unlikely Friendship, the first installation of Heidi Fagerberg’s Living the Beach Life Series in 2012, we had no idea that we were at the beginning of a fruitful, collaborative relationship that would bear seven titles by Heidi. Heidi’s contributions to CaribbeanReads have gone far beyond the books w have published together. She is trained in early childhood education and so is an integral part of our team as we work to provide quality titles in our children’s catalog.

Heidi was one of the first authors to trust CaribbeanReads with her ideas and dreams. She chose to write about the animals on Reggae Beach, Lion Paw, Oliver, Wilbur, and Miss Mocha because they were so close and dear to her heart and she wanted to share that joy with others. The downside of working with a small press and a new one at the time, was that she journeyed with us as we navigated the world of publishing and she had to endure our growing pains. While I loved the original covers of the Living the Beach Life Series, the new touches put on them by Kitwana Julius give these books the brilliant shine they deserve.

The  Living the Beach Life Series is available in bookstores in the Caribbean, online on Amazon, in kindle, in libraries and schools in the Caribbean, and coming soon in audio. Heidi and the CaribbeanReads team are available for school visits and more.



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Tata and the Big Bad Bull author returns home

Internationally recognised poet and Chevening scholar, Juleus Ghunta, returned to his home parish, Hanover, to launch his picture book, Tata and the Big Bad Bull. The launch took place on May 22 at 10 am at the Hanover Parish Library and was attended by community officials, school representatives, and most importantly school children, some of who performed a dance.
There were activities and crafts for the children and a presentation by the Director of the Institute for Gender and Development Studies, UWI, Mona, Professor Opal Palmer Adisa, along with the Mayor of Lucea, Mr Sheridan Samuels, and the principal of Kendal Primary, Ms Karlene Wallace.

After the formal event, Ghunta led a walk following the route from his childhood home in Pell River to his alma mater, Kendal Primary School. The purpose of the walk was to raise awareness about the negative impact that the almost decade–long closure of the Green Island Branch Library has had on communities in Hanover.

Additionally, the walk provided children with a unique opportunity to engage with the real–life experiences that inspired fictional characters in a book. Although this portion of the event was marred by rain, the children enjoyed the experience of bringing the book to life.

Tata and the Big Bad Bull is a fast–paced narrative poem of a young Jamaican boy overcoming financial challenges and bullying to achieve his goals. The book is loosely based on Ghunta’s childhood. Determined to go to school despite financial constraints, he took a shortcut through a pasture and encountered a fierce bull who charged at him. The story is amusing on the surface, but there is a lot to unpack in the simple rhyming lines. It addresses how to deal with bullying on individual and community levels and encourages children to embrace tolerance and problem solving.



The book has received high praise for its handling of these issues. Jamaican author of Garvey’s Ghost, Geoffrey Philp commented that “in this delightful tale, young readers learn that perseverance is a gift in itself.” The Midwest Review called it “An island wisdom tale with messages of compassion for all,” and The Old School Magazine said that “There are so many huge life lessons tucked into this small children’s book that it is definitely one you’ll want to read multiple times.”

Publishing Tata is a great triumph for Ghunta who experienced many obstacles during his childhood, including being illiterate up to age twelve. Ghunta is delighted that his book will be launched in the parish of his birth. “This is a profoundly challenging time for Hanover. We need to do all we can to inspire hope in our young people. Tata is a story about hope and our possibilities. I would like to encourage everyone to participate,” he said.

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Launch of the Masquerade Dance

Children in St. Kitts-Nevis were the first to experience the official launch of the new children’s book by Carol Mitchell, The Masquerade Dance. Mitchell spent the morning of Friday April 12 at the Charles A. Halbert Public Library in Basseterre, St. Kitts reading her book to groups of children who were there attending the Easter summer camp.

Reading to our young readers

Children in the older group were also enthralled by the story.

Something is interesting!

Student Interpretation of the Masquerade Dance

Student Interpretation of the Masquerade Dance

After the library event, Mitchell held a children-focused launch of the book. The launch, held at Splash St. Kitts, featured arts and crafts, a reading, and a demonstration of the masquerade by a local masquerader, Sylvester Huggins.

The calm before the storm

Children colouring on table-sized print outs of pages from the Masquerade Dance

Making masquerade hats


Colouring is fun for adults too!

I want to dance the masquerade!

Mitchell with her collaborator, Saulo

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