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Give the Caribbean this Christmas

Monday, December 6, 2010

I know how you can spend about $150 and give a truly meaningful gift: buy Caribbean books for Christmas. Buying Caribbean books for presents helps Caribbean literature to stay in print. You give children and adults the wonderful gift of discovering and appreciating their own culture.
You touch many lives with one simple gesture, and your generosity and consideration are felt for many years.
Some of my favourite authors have books out for this Christmas: Earl Lovelace, Andy Campbell, Rabindranath Maharaj, Betty Peter and Roy Galt. Don’t forget Joanne Johnson’s books for elementary readers and the Island Fiction series from Macmillan Caribbean for upper elementary and secondary students.
Here are just some of the many wonderful Caribbean books out there for your Christmas list.
1. Is Just a Movie by Earl Lovelace: I can’t think of a better present than a novel by Lovelace. In this novel, the 1970s Black Power movement is over, and Sonny Boy is trying to be recognised as part of the rebellion that he didn’t participate in.
Meanwhile KingKala tries to make a name for himself in the calypso tent after he is released from prison for his part in the rebellion. Rest assured, I’ll be reading this novel for Christmas.
2. Adventure Stories from the Caribbean by Andy Campbell: This third collection of stories by Trinidadian writer Campbell contains three action-packed tales including a shipwreck on a deserted island off the coast of Trinidad; a heist that takes place in a strange, old man’s house filled with artefacts, and an unexpected trip with a runaway kite soaring above Port-of-Spain.
Campbell’s stories are filled with tension, humour, history and folklore. They make a delightful read for adults and children, and they’re sure to appeal to boys from eight to 12 who are reluctant readers.
3. Mysteriously the Trips by Roy A Galt: The sequel to Boldly, the Trips is here! This time the boys become involved in solving a kidnapping. Galt’s novels are plot-driven adventures that will have young readers—especially boys—on the edge of their seats. These books are a riveting read, and they’re among my favourite children’s novels from anywhere in the world.
4. The Amazing Absorbing Boy by Rabindranath Maharaj: This Canadian-based, Trini writer scores big once again with the story of a teenage boy trying to navigate life in a strange land where everything seems like it’s straight out of a comic book. Maharaj has the uncanny ability to turn Trini stories into universal experiences.
5. Dancing with Wings by Joy Hinkson: This delightful story about living in harmony with the environment features a caterpillar, golden tree frog, two fireflies and a boy all working together in a fun-filled, action-packed story about saving the environment. Young readers from eight to 14 will enjoy learning about the carbon footprint in an entertaining manner. The beauty of El Tucuche creates the backdrop for this delightful story.
6. Legend of the St Ann’s Flood by Debbie Jacob: Ideally one should not have to toot her own horn, but Legend... remains one of a handful of novels that combines environmental issues and folklore for readers eight through 14. Here, two children try to save the village of St Ann’s from the wrath of Mama Dlo, who has destroyed the village with a flash flood after her son, Simon, goes missing.
7. Brown Sugar and Spice by Betty Peter: Every girl from eight to 14 will love adventurous Harriet travelling through the Caribbean with her parents, who work for the British Government. World War II is the setting and the islands are still part of the British Empire. There are German submarines lurking in the harbour and adventures galore. The line drawings add to the energy of the exciting plot. This book is a work of art as well as an excellent read.
8. Passages by Helen Drayton: Senator Drayton’s collection of poems are beautiful and intricate like a multi-tiered wedding cake. These poems offer a personal glimpse of her own life and capture Trinidad in a vivid, thought-provoking way.
9. Shadows Move Among Them and The Life and Death of Sylvia by Edgar Mittelholzer: Last year two classic novels by Mittelholzer, the Guyanese writer famous for My Bones and My Flute, were published. Mittelholzer’s wry sense of humour, keen observation skills and attention to detail combine to create a moving portrait of colonialism in the West Indies.
10. Tantie’s Kitchen: An ABC of Trini Food: This book offers young children, who have not yet learned to read, a way to learn their ABCs with Trini fruits and objects.
11. Sapotee Soil by Joanne Haynes: This book won the Derek Walcott/TTW Children’s Literature Prize.
These exciting Trini legends come to life through mesmerising stories. There’s an accompanying CD featuring the voices of Allyson Hennessy, Albert LaVeau, Errol Fabien and Lisa Jones. This is a real treat! Check your favourite bookstores including RIK, Mohammed’s, Nigel Khan, Paper Based, Chriscross for Craft, Pop-I



Buying Caribbean books for presents helps Caribbean literature to stay in print. You give children and adults the wonderful gift of discovering and appreciating their own culture.
You touch many lives with one simple gesture, and your generosity and consideration are felt for many years.


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