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!
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.
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
CaribbeanReads will be publishing two YA novels in 2017, bringing our total YA offerings to four. Since CR is a small publisher, this is significant. Three of the four books have been recognised by the Burt Award for Caribbean Literature, Musical Youth was a 2014 winner, The Protector’s Pledge was a 2016 winner, and Barberry Hill was one of six finalists in 2016. So why is YA literature being given such a spotlight on the Caribbean front?
The term “young adult literature” can be hard to define. One would think that it means books that appeal mainly to a particular age range-teenagers. However, with adults being the most prolific readers of YA, it is clear that YA is more than a target age. Young Adult literature has come to mean ‘coming of age’ literature in which the central characters-usually teenagers-are impacted by the events in the book in a way that leaves them a step closer to adulthood.
YA books typically handle issues that are not addressed in the same way in books for younger children or adult literature for that matter. They tackle life complexities with which most teenagers are having their first experiences such as romantic love, fitting in, abandonment, family breakdown, drugs, sex, politics, and more. Often these themes are wrapped within a larger story, but whether the protagonists are embroiled in a fight with mystical creatures (as in The Protector’s Pledge) or in a true-to-life setting (as in Musical Youth, Another Day, and Barberry Hill), when you strip the book down to its bare minimum you should find a teen struggling against adversity to become more.
So, are these books important beyond their pure entertainment value? Definitely. They can play a key developmental role in a teen’s life.
- Having these new experiences vicariously through books can be a safe way for teens to learn about life and to be inspired by the way that other teens overcome challenges.
- Reading these stories can engender empathy for others, a very important skill in our day-to-day lives.
- For children who may be in the midst of situations similar to those being faced by the protagonist, a YA book may provide a sense of comfort and a jumping-off point for discussing their problems with friends and an adult. It is much easier for a teen to present a book to an adult and say: “This is what is happening to me” than to find the words to describe how they are hurting.
- Caribbean YA novels are important to our young people because, while the challenges of growing up are ubiquitous, every culture has a particular spin. Caribbean teens need support in their particular brand of coming-of-age. One example is colourism, a theme addressed in Joanne C. Hillhouse’s Musical Youth. While this problem may be endemic to the Caribbean or to people of African descent, being rated based on a physical feature is a concept with which all teens are familiar.
The world needs to read about how life impacts Caribbean teens and to understand that the Caribbean is a part of the global scene. Books, even fictional ones, play a key role in how the past is viewed. The Caribbean voice must be part of the collection of stories being told.
So how do we adults help this important movement? Write YA novels and share YA novels not just with Caribbean teens but with teens worldwide.
Kimberly Wallace published an article on Marvin and the Race to the Nest in the Trinidad Express yesterday.
“FLIGHTY, even feisty and adorned with feathers that shine and shimmer like jewels under a hot Caribbean sun — hummingbirds usually don’t have to do much to capture our imagination. Now, these tiny marvels of creation have been transported onto the pages of a one-of-a-kind book Marvin and the Race to the Nest which is specially designed for children ages five to eight….”
Read the full article here.
On Tuesday 3rd May, 2016, the Honourable Anthony Garcia, Minister of Education in Trinidad and Tobago spoke at the launch of the Yerette Readers Series on Hummingbirds at the National Library and Information System (NALIS) building and pledged to include hummingbirds in the revised Curriculum.
Mark your calendars for March 17, 2016. Four Caribbean authors will come together for an evening event at the Grenadian Embassy in Washington DC to discuss their books and literature in general. The evening will feature:
The Embassy will supply light finger foods and drinks. Come out to enjoy an engaging evening. Thursday 17th March, 2016, 6:30 – 8:30 pm, 1701 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington DC, 20009
Publishers make mistakes. My daughter takes great pride in pointing out errors in the books that she reads and there are many, regardless of whether the book is published by large, medium, or small presses. I won’t get into the fact that small presses are held to a much higher standard than large ones so even the most minute of errors are highlighted as an indication of ineptitude. This post is not about that particular soapbox.
We have made errors at CaribbeanReads, not many, but they have existed. I remember publishing my first book, Adventure at Brimstone Hill and going back and forth with the printers about having a spine on the book although it was less than 100 pages. I was so focused on the existence of the spine that I did not notice a spelling error on it until after the first run.
Luckily there has not been anything quite as dramatic since, or at least none that we care to mention. That is up until the publication of The Blessing of Charlie Sand. We loved this story by Amanda Smyth right away, hunted down and hired the incredibly talented illustrator, Colin Bootman to do the illustrations, but for various reasons the execution of the first edition was not up to our usually high standards.
My dad used to tell the story of a Mercedes Benz breaking down and Mercedes replacing the car immediately and disavowing any knowledge of the incident whatsoever. We would love to do the same. We will be releasing the second edition of Charlie Sand in a few days, replacing all book store copies of the first edition, and obliterating the memory of edition one.
So, what about the free stuff? We’ll be hosting a giveaway in March for Charlie Sand. All you have to do is enter the contest, visit our FaceBook page and you will be entered to win a copy of the book. The giveaway starts on March 1 so keep a look out for more information.
CaribbeanReads participated in the Baltimore Book Festival in October. It was on the beautiful Inner Harbor in Baltimore, a promenade that attracts a lot of people, so in addition to people who came to the festival, there were many others just wandering by.
Build a Cell From Candy
Many of these people stopped to take a look at the CaribbeanReads booth. We had a display put on by Zapped! author, Jewel Daniel. We invited children to make a model of the cell using candy. This drew a big crowd, but most of the people who stopped just to ask questions about the books were people with Caribbean roots. One elderly couple drifted near the booth and as they moved away I overheard the woman say:
“Oh, those are books for people who want their children to go to the beach.”
“These are books for people who would like to expose their kids to Caribbean culture,” I retorted. Perhaps not the most professional approach, but my aim is to educate.
She kept walking.
I wish that I could convince myself that her attitude was a minority one, but the evidence did not bear this out. People who took our cards and flyers were sure to promise to pass the information on to their Caribbean contacts. Why not to their American, European, African, and Asian friends? I really hope that our customers can break the mold, share Caribbean books with their non-Caribbean friends and bring a little Caribbean warmth into the lives of the rest of the world.