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This Christmas, why not give a Caribbean book? We’ve rounded up some of the best books of the year for children, young people and adults.
The list was compiled by speaking to industry experts: managing editor of Anansesem Caribbean Children’s Magazine Summer Edward, school librarian and author Debbie Jacob, Caribbean Review of Books editor Nicholas Laughlin and writer Sharon Millar. See list below.
NB: Book descriptions are from publishers’ blurbs.
Look Back! by Trish Cooke (Papillote Press, 2013)
“Look Back! celebrates the relationship between a grandmother and her grandson as she tells him about her Caribbean childhood adventures in the rainforest in search of a mysterious creature called Ti Bolom.”
Anna Carries Water by Olive Senior (Tradewind Books, 2014)
“A beautifully illustrated picture book, set in Jamaica, about a girl learning to balance water from the spring on her head.”
A is for Ayiti by Ibi Zoboi (One Moore Book, 2012)
“An alphabet book that explores the rich culture of Haiti.”
The Lesson Box by Tregenza Roach (Little Bell Caribbean, 2012)
“Find out how two seven-year-olds handle a situation after a mysterious, shiny box lands in their hands while out running an errand.”
Parrots over Puerto Rico by Susan L Roth (Roth Lee & Low Books, 2013)
“A picture book telling the intertwined histories of the Puerto Rican parrot and the island of Puerto Rico, culminating with current efforts to save the parrots from extinction.”
Remembering Peter Tosh by Ceil Tulloch (Ian Randle Publishers, 2013)
“This book captures the thoughts of many of Tosh’s closest confidants and generals to take you inside the mind of the genius Bush Doctor.”
If I Never Went Home by Ingrid Persaud (Blue China Press, 2013)
“Written in two distinct, alternating voices, If I Never Went Home follows ten years in the turbulent lives of two narrators—30-something Bea, an immigrant in Boston, and ten-year-old Tina in Trinidad—as they separately navigate devastating losses, illness and betrayal in their quest to belong.”
As Flies to Whatless Boys by Robert Antoni (Akashic Books, 2013)
“This tragic historical novel, accented with West Indian cadence and captivating humour, provides an unforgettable glimpse into 19th-century T&T. The book’s narrator, Willy, falls headover- heels for the enthralling and wise Marguerite Whitechurch. Coming from the gentry, Marguerite is a world away from Willy’s labouring class.”
Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat (Quercus Books, 2013)
“From the best-selling author of Brother, I’m Dying and The Dew Breaker: a stunning new work of fiction that brings us deep into the intertwined lives of a small seaside town where a little girl, the daughter of a fisherman, has gone missing.”
Black Sand: New and Selected Poems by Edward Baugh (Peepal Tree Press, 2013)
“Bringing together previously published works and original poems these poems cover a wide swath of subjects, including race, history, cricket, love, the academic life, and the consolations of natural beauty. With shrewdly analytical eye, additional works look at a modern Jamaica that at once includes the worlds of urbane polish, gated communities, religious enthusiasm, and a black majority still struggling to overcome the wrongs inflicted in the past.”
Wishing for Wings by Debbie Jacob (Ian Randle Publishers, 2013)
“Based on a true story told in her Guardian columns, Wishing for Wings recounts Debbie’s challenging journey of preparing seven young men for the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) English Language exam. Heartbreaking but also encouraging, Debbie’s story and those of her students, offer an unprecedented look into the lives of troubled teens and boys in prison.”
Sic Transit Wagon and other stories by Barbara Jenkins (Peepal Tree Press, 2013)
“In Jenkins’ debut, the stories move from the all-seeing naivete of a child narrator through the consciousness of the child-become mother, to the mature perceptions of the older woman taking stock of her life. Set over a time-span from colonial era Trinidad to the hazards and alarms of its postcolonial present, at the core of these stories is the experience of uncomfortable change.”
Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture, by Gaiutra Bahadur (University of Chicago Press, 2013)
“Coolie Woman is a meditation on survival, a gripping story of a double diaspora—from India to the West Indies in one century, Guyana to the United States in the next—that is at once a search for one’s roots and an exploration of gender and power, peril and opportunity.”
REVENGE OF THE PRINT BOOK
When Amazon released their Kindle e-reader in 2008, many experts predicted the extinction of print books. However, according to the Wall Street Journal, recent studies have disproved this trend. In an article earlier this year, the WSJ reported that a Pew Research Center survey of regular American readers showed only 30 per cent had read an e-book in the past year. The report said the percentage of adults who had read e-books had only risen from 16 to 23 per cent. There was also an abrupt drop in e-books sales in 2012, according to the article which said sales had dropped from an annual growth rate in the triple digits to 34 per cent. WSJ columnist and author Nicholas Carr believes print books have “survived 500 years of technological upheaval” and are here to stay. He said there was a certain nostalgia and special “something” about print books that readers are not ready to give up.
What is an e-book?
An e-book or electronic book is a digital book-length publication readable on computers or other electronic devices.
Some popular e-reader brands:
Amazon Kindle • Barnes & Noble Nook • Kobo • Sony Reader • Bookeen How much does an e-book cost? In March, Forbes.com reported that the average cost of an e-book was US$8.
How can you buy e-books as gifts?
E-books can be purchased as gifts for friends and family who own e-readers by visiting booksellers’ Web sites. Some popular sellers include Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. The ebooks are delivered to the readers via e-mail.
Selections for young readers
The Moko Jumbi Majorette Series by Alscess Lewis-Brown (Little Bell Caribbean, 2012)
“Life becomes a rollercoaster for our young heroine, Lexi, as she learns that getting what you want comes with a price, especially when what you want is not yours to have.” Series includes Moko Jumbi Dreams, Promise of the Pomegranate, and The Moko Jumbi Majorette.
Fury on Soufriere Hills by Carol Ottley-Mitchell (CAS, 2013)
“In Fury on Soufriere Hills, two best friends are thrown into an exciting adventure as they travel into the past to the island of Montserrat, where they must try to save the Carib people from being destroyed by a volcanic eruption.”
Flowers in the Sky by Lynn Joseph (HarperTeen, 2013)
“Nina Perez is faced with hardship when she leaves her lush island home in Samana, Dominican Republic, to live with her brother, Darrio, in New York, to seek out a better life. A powerful story of a girl who must make her way in a new world and find her place within it.”
The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist by Margarita Engle (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2013)
“The most daring abolitionists were poets who veiled their work in metaphor. Of these, the boldest was Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, nicknamed Tula. In passionate verses Engle evokes the voice of the abolitionist who bravely resisted an arranged marriage at the age of 14, and was ultimately courageous enough to fight against injustice. Historical notes, excerpts, and source notes round out this tribute.”