afro-caribbean, folktales, middle grade, scary

Middle Grade Must-Read: The Jumbies

The Jumbies (Algonquin Young Readers)
Written by Tracey Baptiste

If you are like me, you might have never heard of a jumbie before. A jumbie is a mythological spirit or demon in the folklore of Caribbean countries like Trinidad & Tobago or Jamaica. They are the centerpiece of the first book in a middle-grade fantasy series that brings a unique mythos to young readers. Corrine Le Mer is an 11-year-old girl who lives with her widower father. She sells oranges in the market to make extra money and seems to have an almost supernatural green thumb. One day, a couple of troublemaking boys tie her late mother’s necklace to a wild animal. Corrine chases after it to retrieve the heirloom. A jumbie takes notice of her and follows the girl out of the jungle. Eventually, we learn the jumbie is directly related to Corrine, and the little girl’s mother never revealed something about herself while she lived.

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afro-caribbean, author spotlight, culture, social-emotional

Author Spotlight: Tami Charles

Like many of you, Tami Charles was once a public school teacher. It was a natural fit, as he grew up with a mother who was a teacher, vice-principal, and even principal. So it’s also no surprise that Charles is an excellent writer with parents who encouraged learning and set the bar high. In her younger days, show business seemed possible as she was part of an all-girls singing group that even performed on BET. But ultimately, teaching kids won out, and she spent many years as a teacher, honing her craft and listening to the children she taught. As a woman of Afro-Caribbean descent, that cultural background has also profoundly affected her work. She debuted with a middle-grade book and still writes those texts, but here I will focus on her picture book work. Charles currently lives in New Jersey with her husband and son and loves Caribbean food, as seen in one of the books below.

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afro-caribbean, fantasy, middle grade

Middle Grade Must-Reads: Josephine Against the Sea

Josephine Against the Sea (Scholastic Inc)
Written by Shakira Bourne

This first book in a new middle-grade fantasy series begins with the genuine world conflict of watching your widowed parent start a new relationship. Eleven-year-old Josephine is not ready to see her father move on from her late mother quite yet, which distresses her immensely. Once her mom died, life seemed to get so much more complicated. She lives in Barbados, her dad is a fisherman, and Josephine passionately wants to play cricket on a real team. Everything changes when Maris comes into their lives, a beautiful & mysterious woman who wants dad all to herself. Josephine suspects her potential new stepmother is more than she seems on the surface and begins researching Caribbean folklore to determine what she is up against.

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