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CaribbeanReads’ Title Shortlisted for Bocas Children’s Book Prize

The Bocas Lit Festival today announced the three titles shortlisted for their inaugural Children’s Book Prize. Chaos in Castries, the fifth book in the Caribbean Adventure Series by Carol Ottley-Mitchell was among the three finalists. The book was described as presenting “a historically illuminating tale wrapped up in an engaging and adventurous narrative of beauty and resistance.”

The judges—Joan Osborne, storyteller and retired deputy Executive Director at NALIS; Olive Senior, writer and Poet Laureate of Jamaica; and Johnny Temple, publisher and editor-in-chief at Akashic Books—were joined by fourteen-year-old Clarisee Lee-Sing, who added her youthful perspective to the deliberation process for the shortlist. 

The BLF Children’s Book Prize aims to address a noticeable dearth in Caribbean books for young independent readers aged 7 to 12, and was open to books written by Caribbean-born or naturalised authors. The shortlisted writers represent various Caribbean islands and publishing interests, but all have books that are engaging, emotionally and culturally relevant, and engender a love of storytelling in children.

Joining Chaos in Castries on the shortlist are:

When Life Gives You Mangoes, Kereen Getten’s debut novel, is based on the author’s own childhood in Jamaica, and was described by the judges as a “heartwarming read…taking you through a wide range of emotions – joy, excitement, sadness, apprehension, surprise and happiness.” 

A Different Me, A Better You, Janet Morrison’s celebration of inclusivity, a collection of stories about differently-abledchildren, has been making waves in her native Jamaica. The judges effused that “Morrison’s gift is to teach valuable lessons without seeming to, by presenting in a seamless way, highly engaging stories of challenges that are met and overcome by the determined and formidable protagonists.”

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Caribbean authors stepping into 2021

It feels like 2021 is going to be great for Caribbean authors, based on the award announcements that have been released recently.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. (SFWA) awarded Nalo Hopkinson the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award which recognizes “lifetime achievement in science fiction and/or fantasy.” (This was in December 2020 but deserves a lot of notice.)

Mermaid of Black Conch Cover AwardMermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey won the Best Novel Cost Award (reviewed here last year by CR author Carol Mitchell).

Love after Love by Ingrid Persaud won the First Novel Costa Award.

We at CaribbeanReads celebrated our own 2020 win when Musical Youth was named one of the top 100 Indie books of 2020 by Kirkus Reviews.

I am sure we have missed some others, and it’s only January 6!

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Middle Grade Submissions

CaribbeanReads is actively seeking to acquire middle-grade novels with Caribbean settings by Caribbean authors.


There’s no deadline, we anticipate holding this open for a while so take your time and submit your best work. Your novel should be already complete and ready to send if we ask to see the full work. Be sure to be familiar with this genre before writing. If you don’t like reading this type of book, you’re unlikely to enjoy writing it. Continue reading

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Lesson Plans for the uninitiated

As we adjust to the orders to remain at home during the COVID-19 crisis, a number of parents have been required to support their your children’s education at home. We wanted to point out a valuable resource published by Hands Across the Sea which is available on their website.

Three CaribbeanReads books are included in this valuable resource and we will be providing additional supporting material for our other books in the near future, so use this great Hands Across the Sea resource and be on the lookout for more from us!

Lesson Plans from Hands Across the Sea
Sweet Victory: Kindergarten on kindle
Oliver and Friends: Grade One on kindle
Chee Chee in Paradise: Grade Three

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Kirkus Reviews-Greyborn Rising is “an unforgettable read—and (author) Sandy, a name to watch.”

In a very favorable review, Kirkus Reviews praised Derry Sandy’s Greyborn Rising published by CaribbeanReads in 2019. Following a detailed description of the book, the Kirkus reviewer states “The author truly excels, however, in his meticulous plotting involving supernatural elements… generate entertaining mayhem … [and] moments of unnerving prose.” The reviewer sums the book up as “A masterful tale that illuminates terrifying creatures in Caribbean lore.”

Kirkus Reviews is an American review magazine founded in 1933 and one of the few who review books published by very small independent presses like CaribbeanReads. They’ve also reviewed The Protectors Pledge by Danielle Y. C. McClean very favorably.

Read Greyborn Rising for yourself in print (hard and soft cover) and on kindle. It’s available at bookstores in Trinidad and at online booksellers such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Read the full review here.

“A masterful tale that illuminates terrifying creatures in Caribbean lore.” Kirkus Reviews

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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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Happy Independence Day, Jamaica!

Jamaica celebrates its 57th anniversary of Independence today, and we celebrate with all of our Jamaica connections.

Congratulations to the island for all the strides it has made over the years and best wishes for many to come. We think especially of CaribbeanReads’ authors like Opal Palmer Adisa (Look! A Moko Jumbie, Love’s Promise, Dance Quadrille Play Quelbe) and Juleus Ghunta (Tata and the Big Bad Bull), our collaborators such as Caribbean Cultural Theatre with E. Wayne McDonald, Tanya Batson-Savage at Blue Banyon Books, and The Kingston Bookshop.

We can’t forget Jamaica-set Pirates at Port Royal, the second book in the Caribbean Adventure Series.

#JamaicaIndependence2019 #caribbeanliterature #bkbf

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2019 (to date) Books in Reviews

It’s July, and while it seems like just yesterday we heralded in an infant 2019 with fireworks and fanfare, it’s almost grown and already has more time behind it than in front.

CaribbeanReads books have received some love from our readers this year and we wanted to share some of the comments with you.

Musical Youth (about to enter its second edition) has a five star rating on Amazon and GoodReads, but its reach is growing beyond those well-trodden paths to include reviews on Instagram and on personal web pages including foreign language pages. Here are two of our favorites:
*Read more on Joanne’s blog. We were kind of blown away by all the great feedback.

  • “I first recognized the weight of her work by the response of the teens to her book, Musical Youth , in the Grenada Community Library. It remains one of the most popular books with teens, despite their tendency to shun Caribbean literature when they have a choice because they are required to read it in schools.” – Oonya Kempadoo, author of Buxton Spice
  • In April we came across a review in French from a blog titled myinsaeng. You can read the french review here and the English translation here, but this is the last paragraph: “To my knowledge, there is no French translation available, much less Creole, but I hope that “Musical Youth” will become a classic of literature for generations to come. And why not an audiovisual adaptation to immortalize this illustration of our time?”
  • “I love the little loving details that go into making a book that much more special, like the musical staff here on every new chapter of #MusicalYouth by @jhohadli . If you’re looking for a great YA summer read that’s also got some depth, check this one out. It’s all about learning to work together, the effects of colourism, coming out of your shell, and embracing your own self worth. I will read this one again at some point!…It’s a heart-warming Antiguan YA that’s pretty quick and easy to get through. 🌴🌺🌊📖Would highly recommend!” –beauty.on.the.bookshelf  on Instagram

Greyborn Rising, released in May 2019 has received a lot of reader praise. The main theme seemed to be that the book is impossible to put down.

  • An excellent read that I would highly recommend. Well researched and artfully written. I learned a lot while being entertained. Characters are well developed and you will not be able to put this book down. 
  • Greyborn Rising is a book I truly enjoyed.  From the first pages I felt captivated and entertained. The more I read the more I became interested in the characters and their challenges and successes. My favorite character is Katharine the soucouyant and once you read the book you will see why. 

Tata and the Big Bad Bull has received great praise from key educators and authors, and also from publications such as the Midwest Review and the Old Schoolhouse Magazine. The review love continued in 2019…

  • In an article entitled “Overcoming Barriers to Education in Tata and the Big Bad Bull,” Anansesem contributor, 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.

The Masquerade Dance released in April 2019. Reviews are still in coming in, but we loved this one from one of our own, Joanne C. Hillhouse.

  • In summary, Joanne C. Hillhouse comments: “Nicely done; quick (and colourful) read overall and good for classroom or reading club story time.” Read her entire review here.

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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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