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Celebrating 10: Anansesem's 10 Most-Read Articles





The year 2020 is a year of celebration and nostalgia for us at Anansesem, as we pause to reflect on our decade-long run. Founded on May 24, 2010, Anansesem remains the only publication devoted exclusively to giving children's and young adult literature from the English-speaking Caribbean the critical attention usually reserved for adult work.

The just over 250 articles Anansesem has published have probed the role of children's/YA literature in Caribbean societies, examined children's illustration, and shone a light on the finest Caribbean books for young people. Our articles have been quoted in the media and freely cited by scholars of children's literature. They reflect a variety of voices in the children's book world, from booksellers and publishers, to librarians, authors and illustrators.

Today, we launch our "Celebrating 10" feature, a biweekly look at highlights from the Anansesem annals. We start by looking at the top 10 most-read posts (we're counting creative writing, and not just nonfiction, as 'articles') on our website, according to web analytics data. It's always interesting to note what readers are most drawn to. The fact that a bedtime meditation is the most-viewed post in the magazine's 10-year history indicates that publishers should be looking at publishing more Caribbean bedtime stories.


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Bedtime Meditation for Children

Published in our May 2011 issue, Dominican writer Grethel Joseph's "Bedtime Meditation" is the only material in the vicinity of the bedtime story that we've ever published. Some of the language of the piece is above the target age group, but we still chose to publish it since there was something in the gentle, comforting and innocent tone of the writing that we hadn't seen in any of the submissions we'd received up to that point. Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné's whimsical illustration of a sleeping apsara (as we'd like to think of the fairyesque creature) was the perfect fit.



[Book List] 2018 Releases- Caribbean Children's & YA Books

Every January, Anansesem publishes a preview of the upcoming season of books. Our 2018 list is the second most-read post of all time on our website, probably due to the truly fantastic books that we're published that year. After we published the list, which includes Junot Diaz's children's book debut, Islandborn, allegations of sexual misconduct were brought against him and we were faced (like many in the children's book world) with the dilemma of whether Islandborn should be promoted. Diaz was cleared of the allegations by both MIT and the Pulitzer Prize committee, and in the end, we axed the review of Islandborn planned for our May 2018 issue, but left the book on the 2018 list.



[Book List] Back to School After an Environmental Disaster: Teaching Hurricane Irma

When Hurricane Irma struck on August 30, 2017, many of us felt helpless looking at the destruction, particularly the damage in Barbuda. One of the ways we responded was by providing a list of fiction books and nonfiction resources that could help children process and respond to the traumatic event. Bibliotherapy is a proven, low-cost mental health treatment and most of us instinctively understand the healing power of story. This list was shared far and wide on social media when we first published it, and remains relevant; after Hurricane Dorian struck the Bahamas in August 2019, we shared it with individuals and groups who reached out to us looking for bibliotherapeutic and educational resources for their healing work with Bahamian children.



[Interview & Submissions Call] Anansesem's Special Issue On Puerto Rican Children's Literature

Speaking of hurricanes, it seems facile to say that the devastation Hurricane Maria wrought in Puerto Rico had some positive consequences, but it's true in the children's literature world at least. After Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rican literature for young people has come to the forefront of a lot of people's consciousness, particularly in the States, in a way it never has before; the work of rebuilding Puerto Rico's damaged bookstores, schools, libraries and morale is providing the opportunity to re-envision Puerto Rican literature for the young. In 2019, Anansesem published a Special Issue on Puerto Rico which Dr. Marilisa Jimenez Garcia, writing for the Social Justice Books website, described as follows: "Not since the 1983 bulletin on Puerto Rican materials by the Council on Interracial Children’s Books came out has a single, readable, and accessible issue on Puerto Rican youth literature been more timely and important."

The Special Issue on Puerto Rico was our first guest-edited issue and having Puerto Rican librarian Sujei Lugo Vázquez, a rising star in the children's literature world, serve as guest editor was a great boon. Our interview with her, in which she discussed her vision for the issue with remarkable clarity, laid the groundwork for what is now Anansesem's most impactful issue to date.



[Book List] Caribbean Carnival in Books for Children

It's not surprising that our list of 30 Carnival-themed books is among our most-read articles. Carnival is one of the things our region is best known for beyond our shores, and for North American readers (who are Anansesem's second largest audience after readers from Trinidad and Tobago) children's books about cultural festivals are, for better or worse, often the first and easiest access point to other cultures. Apart from poviding synopses of 30 books published from the early 1980s onward, this list also includes a few illustrations from the books, provides an overview of Caribbean carnivals for the uninitiated, and links through to other content on our website tagged as Carnival-related. This list, published in 2018, also marked the debut of our orange 'own voices' sticker which we use to identify books written by Caribbean authors.



[Interview] Shining a Light on the Human Condition in Books for Children with Vashanti Rahaman

We have no problem saying that it's a point of pride that we got Trinidadian-born Vashanti Rahaman to give an interview back in 2013. In the 1990s, she became one of the first Caribbean children's writers to author a series of picture book titles with a traditional North American publisher, and she remains one of the few traditionally published Indo-Caribbean children's authors. Up until our interview with her, she had retreated from the public eye for almost a decade; no one in the children's literature world had heard from her in years and it took some doing to track her down. Her career, as she describes it in the interview, is a valuable template for any Caribbean children's writer seeking to walk the path of traditional publishing. Her haunting admission that "navigating the publishing world [in the 90s] was like backpacking through a foreign country without a map" is part of the reason Anansesem has, over the years, sought to demystify the process of traditional publishing.



[Interview] Carol Mitchell-Ottley: Awakening an Interest in History

Carol Mitchell-Ottley has made significant contributions to Caribbean children's and young adult literature. She's published about 40 books for young readers through her publishing house, CaribbeanReads, has written and self-published her own well-received children's and YA books, and served as Anansesem's first Kids Editor, responding to and editing submissions from child and teen writers. When we published this wide-ranging interview with her in 2013, she'd just been nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. Working for over a decade in a field that's severely under-recognized and under-resourced in the Caribbean, her longevity and dedication is admirable and instructive.



May 2019— Special Issue: Puerto Rico

The Table of Contents for our Special Issue on Puerto Rico, published in 2019, is the eight most-read post on our website. The Special Issue on Puerto Rico marked a few milestones for Anansesem: our first bilingual issue; our first guest-edited issue; our first issue officially endorsed by a TESOL organization; our longest issue; our top-selling issue. It still resembles all of our other issues in one key way: the contributors are mostly women of color. With its focus on the "Maria generation", the Puerto Rico issue is the most topical one we've ever published, which partly explains it success. We sent a copy of the issue to Loida Garcia-Febo, the Puerto Rican American librarian who served as president of the American Library Association from 2018 to 2019. Although she couldn't endorse any publications in her official role, she was [quote] "delighted to see an entire issue devoted to sharing publications and news from libraries from Puerto Rico."



[Book List] 2019 Releases- Caribbean Children's & YA Books

Our 2019 preview list is notable because 2019 was a notable year for traditionally published Caribbean books for young readers. You can find every kind of book on the list: the debut author book; the well-known-writer-for-adults-turned-children's-author book; the won-a-writing-competition-in-the-manuscript-stage book; the bilingual book; the written-by-a-celebrity book; the developed-by-a-book-packager book. The fact that Caribbean books for young readers, though still grievously under-published, are finding their way into the traditional publishing pipeline in all these different manifestations, and via a number of different routes, is promising.



Picturebook Love: 5 Caribbean Children's Authors on Helping Kids Choose Love Through Stories

Every child deserves to snuggle up with loveable picture books, and it just so happens that the most loveable picture books are the ones that offer themes and images of love. We don't often think of love stories as compatible with children's literature, but many of the finest children's books are, in fact, love stories. Making love a literary universal in Caribbean children's literature is so important one could consider it a high calling for the region's children's authors. For our Special Issue on Love published in 2017, it was a delight to feature five authors expounding the message of love at the heart of their picture books.




About the Author

Summer Edward is the Editor-in-Chief here at Anansesem. Her writing and art have been published in various literary magazines and anthologies. Her home on the web is www.summeredward.com.




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[Book List] 2020 Releases- Caribbean Children's & YA Books




Happy new year, everybody. Putting together Anansesem's annual list of *English-language* Caribbean children's and young adult (YA) books expected from traditional publishers in the coming year is an end-of-year ritual I always look forward to. (See previous annual lists here). The books below are all 'ownvoices' books by Caribbean-based and Caribbean self-identified authors. We're happy to see that Hannah Carmona, Anika Denise, Emma Otheguy, Lulu Delacre and Ruth Behar—all past Anansesem contributors—have interesting books (I'm particularly beguiled by the prospect of dragons in the Dominican Republic, as promised by Carmona's picture book) coming out this year, and expect to add more books to the list as the year unfolds. Do leave a comment if you know of a book that needs to be added.

*All book synopses from the publisher's website. Inclusion in the list below does not constitute an endorsement by Anansesem or its editors.



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Holiday Sale! – Back Issue Bundle





Gift or receive the gift of Anansesem this Christmas.

Happy holidays to all our readers! This Christmas season, we invite you to enjoy a Back Issue Bundle, featuring our three most recent issues, with a limited-time 50% off special offer.

Anansesem is the world's largest and most authoritative reviewer of Caribbean children's and young adult material. Get top-notch industry coverage and access to a broad range of resources and digital content.


The perfect gift for librarians, reader advisory specialists, teachers and parents. Buy for yourself or give as a gift. Offer ends December 31 at midnight. Get 3 Special Issues (the Love Issue, the Book Reviews Issue and the Puerto Rico Issue), a total 259 pages in full color. Sharp editorials, insightful reviews, special features, starred books, author and illustrator interviews and more.



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Contributors to the Special Issue on Puerto Rico






Good news— the .pdf of our special bilingual issue on Puerto Rico is now available for purchase here.

Guest edited by Boston-based librarian and Association for Library Service to Children (USA) Board member Sujei Lugo Vásquez (herself Puerto Rican), the Puerto Rico Issue is dynamic and our longest (128 pages lovingly designed in full color) to date. With its focus on post-Hurricane Maria literacy, storytelling, library and publication projects that are connecting children and youth to Puerto Rican children's literature and Puerto Rican history, the issue both clarifies and problematizes the current social and political climate in Puerto Rico, which is grappling with a plummeting economy while renewing its push for statehood.

Contributors to the issue include Puerto Rican professors, librarians, primary/secondary school teachers, storytellers, and children's authors/illustrators, and we wanted to take a moment to share their faces. Right click on the image above to download the promotional banner, and do share with your networks! (Feel free to use the handy link below to share on Twitter).



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Interviews

This Month's Books