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.
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):
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.
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.”
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 TheOld 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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The Midwest Book Review posted a very positive review of Tata and the Big Bad Bull by Juleus Ghunta.
“Written in musical verse, Tata and the Big Bad Bull is a West Indies morality tale, with more than one kernel of wisdom about human and animal relationships and interaction. … The colorful illustrations present animals as large, almost human creatures, and contain clues and context to the secrets of the story. All the musical verse is full of cheer and specific images of common island life… Tata and the Big Bad Bull is an island wisdom tale with messages of compassion for all.”
The Old Schoolhouse Magazine posted an enthusiastic review of Tata and the Big Bad Bull by Juleus Ghunta. Among other things, the reviewer points out that “This cute children’s story is perfect for a read-aloud or beginning readers…This is an excellent story for toddlers up through upper elementary aged children. …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.” Full review here.
Pick up a copy of Tata and the Big Bad Bull in bookstores or on Amazon. Read more reviews on GoodReads.