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[Guest Post] No Blue, No Green: Reflections on Gone to Drift



Teaching young people about the important issues of our time benefits their development, and helps shape their passion for social justice later in life. Social justice, whether it be environmental, political, gender oriented, or economic is a crucial subject to discuss with children if we want them to grow up to be compassionate global citizens. This is the second essay in a new author series in which we're publishing guest posts by children's and YA authors who've written books with social justice themes. Today, May 22nd, is International Day for Biological Diversity and it's also United States National Maritime Day, making it the perfect day to share Diana's reflection centered on her debut YA novel Gone to Drift. Diana is an environmentalist by training and while the book isn't only about environmental justice, it does deal with issues surrounding the environment, marine conservation and pollution. Without further ado, we welcome Diana to the site!



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I was born in Kingston and Kingston Harbour has always been my front yard. My parents and paternal grandparents were recreational fishers, so I grew up with the sea. My mother told me I went to sea before I was three months old; my protagonist in Gone to Drift, Lloydie, does this too. As a teenager, I read books about going to sea by Hemingway, Monserrat, Defoe, Melville─ novels of exploration, war, shipwrecks and castaways. The sea meant adventure, escape, freedom, drama.

My relationship with the sea was never one of risk, however, and I never had to eke a living from the sea. As a child, I saw fishers in their open boats, in calm seas and rough ones, day and night, and I admired their skills and their bravery. I learned to fish myself and later, to snorkel and much later, scuba-dive.

And as I grew older, I realized that the sea I loved was dying─ beaches were strewn with garbage, reefs were covered with algae and Jamaica’s waters were heavily overfished. I became an environmentalist in 1990 on the day I stood on the Palisadoes strip─ the sandy spit that forms Kingston Harbour ─and saw it had become a garbage dump. That same year, I visited the Harbour View Sewage Treatment Plant, which then had not worked in 15 years. Raw sewage bubbled up out of the pipes and flowed across the land into the sea. In what universe, I asked myself, is this okay?

I knew nothing about the environment but I started reading and the more I read, the more concerned I became. As an islander, I focused on the sea. I learned that all life came from the sea and all life on earth still depends on the sea. As pioneering oceanographer Sylvia Earle famously said: “No water, no life. No blue, no green.” The ocean covers almost three-quarters of the planet and gives us the air we breathe and the water we drink. About half the earth’s people live in the coastal zone and rely on the sea for food and livelihoods. Here in the Caribbean, we live on islands in close relationship with the sea.

I thought my task was a simple one─ I just had to tell people the ocean was under threat, and once they knew, they would act. Of course that was naïve. As the years went by, I began to see that while facts about the state of the sea are important, it is more important to touch people’s hearts. And the best way to do that is through stories.

I have interacted with countless fishers through my environmental work and it seems there are two kinds─ men (yes they are mostly men) who know and love the sea and do not intend to do harm, and men who do not care, who perhaps cannot afford to care. I have seen that a whole way of life is dying in the Caribbean─ the fishing markets and villages, beaches, and the sea itself.  New types of livelihoods have emerged─ some legal, many illegal. My environmental work has also brought me into contact with the captive dolphin industry. I visited one of the dolphin facilities here in Jamaica and I watched those extraordinary marine athletes─ the dolphins ─perform tricks for thoughtless people. Again I thought: in what universe is this okay? I wanted to write a story about this clash between the old ways of fishing and new ways of exploiting the sea. I imagined an old-time fisherman in conflict with a modern fisher and a boy standing between them.

Stories often start with a “what if?” question. Mine was: what if the old-time fisher and the modern fisher were father and son? What if they were in conflict about the capture of dolphins for the tourist trade? And then one night as I was falling asleep, an image came to me of a boy sitting on a wall at night in the rain, staring out to sea. He was waiting for someone. Whom was he waiting for? It had to be someone lost at sea. Why was this person lost at sea? The story of Lloydie’s search for Ma’as Conrad began to unfold in my mind.

Jamaican Coast guard patrol vessel. Photo: Mark Matta.

I decided to set the book in Treasure Beach on Jamaica’s south coast, because dolphins still visit the fishing villages there and also because it is a departure point for fishers leaving for the Pedro Bank and Cays. What if something happened to Ma’as Conrad on the Pedro Bank? Was there somewhere he could be stranded and survive? I spoke to people who worked on the Pedro Bank and learned about Portland Rock, the northern-most of the Pedro Cays group. How could Lloydie get to the Pedro Bank? I knew the Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard went to the Pedro Cays once a week. Could my young protagonist stowaway on a Coast Guard boat? I had no idea. I asked if I could see one of the boats and somewhat to my surprise, the Commander said yes. I stood on the dock, toured the ship and figured out how Lloydie could climb aboard. I had all the major elements of my story.

Although we Caribbean people live on islands, many of us are not really “island people.” We don’t swim, we don’t go to sea, and we’re scared of the sea which brings us storms and holds our tragic history. This may be particularly true for the upcoming generation. I wanted to write a story to introduce readers of all kinds, but especially young readers, to the skill and trade of fishing. My story pays tribute to the old-time fishers who respected and loved the sea, and to seagoing people everywhere. It is also a story about what we’re losing, about the increasingly empty sea that now surrounds us. My hope is that the characters in Gone to Drift have revealed what is at stake through their struggles.


About the Author

Diana McCaulay is an award-winning Jamaican writer and environmental activist. She has written three novels for adults, White Liver Gal, Huracan and Dog-Heart. Gone to Drift, her first young adult novel, placed second in the 2015 Burt Award for Caribbean Literature and won the Vic Reid Award for Young Adult Literature at Jamaica’s national Lignum Vitae Awards in 2016. Both Dog-Heart and Huracan were shortlisted for the Saroyan Prize for International Writing. She won the Hollick Arvon Prize for Caribbean writing in 2014, for her non fiction work-in-progress Loving Jamaica: a Memoir of Place and (Not) Belonging. Diana’s short fiction has appeared in Granta, Eleven Eleven, Fleeting Magazine, The Caribbean Writer, Afro-Beat, Lifestyle Magazine and the Jamaica Observer. She was the Caribbean regional winner for the Commonwealth Writers Short Story prize in 2012 for her story "The Dolphin Catcher." You can find her online at dianamccaulay.com.

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[Guest Post] Finding Martí in the Hudson Valley: Building Bridges for Children



Teaching young people about the important issues of our time benefits their development, and helps shape their passion for social justice later in life. Social justice, whether it be environmental, political, gender oriented, or economic is a crucial subject to discuss with children if we want them to grow up to be compassionate global citizens. This is the first essay in a new author series in which we will publish guest posts by children's and YA authors who've written books with social justice themes. Today, on the 122nd anniversary of the death of the great Cuban poet, revolutionary and independence hero José Martí and the eve of Cuba's Independence Day, Emma Otheguy has given us permission to publish an original reflection centered on her debut picturebook Martí’s Song for Freedom/Martí y sus versos por la libertad. Without further ado, we welcome Emma to the site!



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I first knew José Martí not as a political hero, but as a storyteller, and as a link to my parents’ homeland. My mother liked to read to my siblings and I from La edad de oro, the children’s magazine that Martí published in New York City in 1889. Our favorite story was Los zapaticos de rosa, and my mom read it to us again and again, along with other Latin American stories, such as Rubén Darío’s Margarita. In my memory, the father in Los zapaticos de rosa and the king in Margarita have the same voice: my mother’s, deep and strong.

Our edition of La edad de oro was a heavy tome with Martí’s portrait rendered in bold primary colors on the cover. Above the shelf where the book lived, there was a picture of my grandfather. Martí and my grandfather were both small and slight, and both had big moustaches. As a very young child I would confuse the two of them, sometimes surprised when the big book resurfaced after months beneath a pile of toys to find the red-and-yellow Martí portrait and not my grandfather staring back at me. Of course, these two Cuban men lived nearly a half-century apart, but it is no coincidence that Martí is so intimately entwined with my sense of family and home: my mother’s voice, my grandfather’s moustache, childhood books and toys. Like my family and so many other Cuban-Americans, Martí loved Cuba but made a home anew in the United States. This knowledge, that Martí belonged to both my parents’ homeland and my own, is something that I've carried with me always.

Years later, I rediscovered the connections between José Martí, the United States and Latin America when I was working in the Hudson Valley. A relative in Cuba had given me a copy of Versos sencillos, Martí’s most famous work of poetry. While upstate, I’d been savoring the familiar words, those drawn from the song “Guantanamera,” and unpacking the stanzas that were new to me, whose words and images challenged me or forced me to consult a dictionary. I thought that this exercise was entirely separate from the Hudson Valley, from its people and landscape. But just when I felt most isolated from Latino culture, I discovered another connection to José Martí: Versos sencillos had been written in New York’s Catskill Mountains, in a little town just across the river from where I was. On doctor’s orders, Martí had visited the Catskills after an illness, where he was inspired to write his best-known poetry. I’d gone to a place that felt far from my culture and my family only to discover the wellspring of the well-known words:

Yo soy un hombre sincero
De donde crece la palma,
Y antes de morirme quiero
Echar mis versos del alma.

It would be a few years after that before I began writing the picture book Martí’s Song for Freedom/Martí y sus versos por la libertad, and even longer still before it was acquired by Jessica Echeverria at Lee & Low Books, brilliantly translated by Adriana Dominguez and richly illustrated by Beatriz Vidal. In the process of telling Martí’s story for children, I had to re-acquaint myself with Martí through research, by reading the latest academic scholarship as well as Martí’s articles and letters. But the compass and core of this story are what I’ve always known about Martí.

I knew from La edad de oro that the toughest themes can also be laced with magic and music. Los zapaticos de rosa is a story about poverty, but it is lovely in its rhythm and imagery. Its themes are challenging, but even the youngest child can access its simple language. I could never attempt to imitate Martí, but I know he would have wanted his biography to be told with similar bravery. He would have wanted it to include struggles and thorns without sacrificing beauty.

Martí’s Song for Freedom tells the story of Martí the political hero, of his fierce resolve to free Cuba from colonial oppression, but it is also a story about his love for nature and the poetry that flowed from his pen. Most of all, it is a story about connections, and about how a man who loved Cuba so much found inspiration in New York State. The American children’s author Kate DiCamillo has spoken about books making us more capacious of heart, capable of holding more joy and sorrow. [1] I think that Martí was capacious of heart as he held Cuba inside him even while allowing himself to be inspired by New York.I am awed by the many children in our country who, like Martí, hold two homelands in one heart. I hope that Martí’s story will bring us all courage.

Beatriz Vidal's illustrations from Martí’s Song for Freedom/Martí y sus versos por la libertad,

The scholar Ángel Esteban wrote that Martí didn’t distinguish between “theory and praxis, a poem and a gunshot, a meeting of diplomats or a story for children.” [2] Martí didn’t distinguish, instead he built bridges and tied knots, forging connections everywhere he went. Like my family and like so many Americans, he lived a life that laced together the United States and Latin America, fully capable of fighting oppression while embracing the beauty of nature and literature.

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MARTÍ’S SONG FOR FREEDOM hits shelves July 17, 2017. Emma is sending bilingual activity packets as well as signed bookplates and stickers to those who pre-order the book. To get yours, pre-order from any retailer and fill out this form. Happy reading!

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[1] Kate DiCamillo. Flora & Ulysses: Newbery Medal Acceptance Speech. American Library Association Annual Conference, 2014.

[2] Ángel Esteban. Introduction. Cuentos completos: La edad de oro y otros relatos. By José Martí. Barcelona: Anthropos, 1995. ix-xliii.



About the Author

Emma Otheguy is a children’s book author and a historian of Spain and colonial Latin America. She is a member of the Bank Street Writers Lab, and her short story “Fairies in Town” was awarded a Magazine Merit Honor by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Otheguy lives with her husband in New York City. Martí’s Song for Freedom/Martí y sus versos por la libertad is her picture book debut. You can find her online at emmaotheguy.com.

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[Book List] 2017 Releases- Caribbean Books for Children & YAs




It's never too late to start reading your world so if you want to discover the special universe of Caribbean children's and YA lit, our round-up of titles releasing this year is a good place to start. In keeping with our usual new year tradition (see our 2016 list here), we've compiled forthcoming titles for the young and young at heart written by Caribbean authors or with Caribbean protagonists.

The coming year will bring new books from Tracey Baptiste, Emma Otheguy, Ruth Behar, John Agard, Adam Silvera, Ismael Cala, Pablo Cartaya, James Edward English and Anansesem alumni Olive Senior, Nadia L. Hohn, Itah Sadu, Margarita Engle and Ibi Zoboi. Some are debut authors (like Haitian-American writer-to-watch Ibi Zoboi whose short story "The Little Golden Stone Man" appeared in our September 2011 issue) and some are seasoned writers who are breaking new ground (like Margarita Engle, who will cross over into the fantasy genre for the first time).

If we missed any books, please let us know in the comments section below. This list will be updated throughout the year as we discover new titles and book covers. These books are all available for pre-order in our bookstore. Happy reading!

*All book synopses from the publisher's website.



Shadowhouse Fall
by Daniel José Older
YA novel. Scholastic. Pub date: September 12, 2017



SHADOWHOUSE RISING

Sierra and her friends love their new lives as shadowshapers, making art and creating change with the spirits of Brooklyn. Then Sierra receives a strange card depicting a white beast called the Hound of Light -- an image from the enigmatic, influential Deck of Worlds. The Deck tracks the players and powers of all the magical houses in the city, and when the real Hound begins to stalk Sierra through the streets, the shadowshapers know their next battle has arrived.

WORLDS IN REVOLUTION

Sierra and Shadowhouse have been thrust into an ancient struggle with enemies old and new -- a struggle they didn't want, but are determined to win. Revolution is brewing in the real world as well, as the shadowshapers join the fight against systems that oppress and incarcerate their community. To protect her family and friends in every sphere, Sierra must take down the Hound and master the Deck of Worlds ... or else she could lose everything that matters most.



Sebi and the Land of Cha Cha Cha / Sebi Y La Tierra Del Chachacha
by Roselyn Sanchez (Author), Eric Winter (Author) and Nivea Ortiz (Illustrator)
Picturebook. Celebra Young Readers/Penguin Random House. Pub date: September 5, 2017



From Devious Maids star Roselyn Sanchez and Witches of East End star Eric Winter comes a story about the joys of dance!

It is El Carnaval Latino and Sebi is really excited. She loves the colorful clothes, the lively music but most of all she loves the dance. Her mother says she is a bit too young to take dance lessons. But when a beautiful Cotorra bird flies by and invites her and her friend, Keeke to follow, they are led on an exciting adventure to an enchanted land where the dancing fun has just begun!

Perfect for young children who love to dance!



My Brigadista Year
by Katherine Patterson
YA novel. Candlewick. Pub date: October 10, 2017



In an engrossing historical novel, the Newbery Medal-winning author of Bridge to Terebithia follows a young Cuban teenager as she volunteers for Fidel Castro’s national literacy campaign and travels into the impoverished countryside to teach others how to read.

When thirteen-year-old Nora tells her parents that she wants to join Premier Castro’s army of young literacy teachers, her mother screeches to high heaven, and her father roars like a lion. Nora has barely been outside of Havana — why would she throw away her life in a remote shack with no electricity, sleeping on a hammock in somebody’s kitchen? But Nora is stubborn: didn’t her parents teach her to share what she has with someone in need? Surprisingly, Nora’s abuela takes her side, even as she makes Nora promise to come home if things get too hard. But how will Nora know for sure when that time has come?

Shining light on a little-known moment in history, Katherine Paterson traces a young teen’s coming-of-age journey from a sheltered life to a singular mission: teaching fellow Cubans of all ages to read and write, while helping with the work of their daily lives and sharing the dangers posed by counterrevolutionaries hiding in the hills nearby. Inspired by true accounts, the novel includes an author’s note and a timeline of Cuban history.



All the Way to Havana
by Margarita Engle (Author) and Mike Curato (Illustrator)
Picturebook. Henry Holt & Company. Pub date: August 29, 2017



So we purr, cara cara, and we glide, taka taka, and we zoom, zoom, ZOOM!

A family drives into the city of Havana to celebrate a cousin's first birthday. Before their journey, the boy helps his papa tune up their old car, Cara Cara, which has been in their family for many years. They drive along the sea wall, along the coast, past other colorful old cars. The sounds of the city are rich—the putt putts and honks and bumpety bumps of other cars chorus through the streets. A rich celebration of the culture of the Cuban people, their resourcefulness and innovative spirit, and their joy.



American Street
by Ibi Zoboi
YA novel. HarperCollins. Pub date: March 23, 2017



American Street is an evocative and powerful coming-of-age story perfect for fans of Everything, Everything; Bone Gap; and All American Boys. In this stunning debut novel, Pushcart-nominated author Ibi Zoboi draws on her own experience as a young Haitian immigrant, infusing this lyrical exploration of America with magical realism and vodou culture.

On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life. But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own.

Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?



Bravo!: Poems About Amazing Hispanics
by Margarita Engle (Author) and Rafael López (Illustrator)
Picturebook. Henry Holt and Co. Pub date: March 14, 2017



Musician, botanist, baseball player, pilot―the Latinos featured in this collection come from many different countries and from many different backgrounds. Celebrate their accomplishments and their contributions to a collective history and a community that continues to evolve and thrive today!

Biographical poems include: Aida de Acosta, Arnold Rojas, Baruj Benacerraf, César Chávez, Fabiola Cabeza de Baca, Félix Varela, George Meléndez, José Martí, Juan de Miralles, Juana Briones, Julia de Burgos, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, Paulina Pedroso, Pura Belpré, Roberto Clemente, Tito Puente, Ynes Mexia, Tomás Rivera



Lucky Broken Girl
by Ruth Behar
Middle grade novel. Nancy Paulsen Books. Pub date: April 11, 2017



In this unforgettable multicultural coming-of-age narrative—based on the author’s childhood in the 1960s—a young Cuban-Jewish immigrant girl is adjusting to her new life in New York City when her American dream is suddenly derailed. Ruthie’s plight will intrigue readers, and her powerful story of strength and resilience, full of color, light, and poignancy, will stay with them for a long time.

Ruthie Mizrahi and her family recently emigrated from Castro’s Cuba to New York City. Just when she’s finally beginning to gain confidence in her mastery of English—and enjoying her reign as her neighborhood’s hopscotch queen—a horrific car accident leaves her in a body cast and confined her to her bed for a long recovery. As Ruthie’s world shrinks because of her inability to move, her powers of observation and her heart grow larger and she comes to understand how fragile life is, how vulnerable we all are as human beings, and how friends, neighbors, and the power of the arts can sweeten even the worst of times.



The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora
by Pablo Cartaya
Middle grade novel. Viking Books for Young Readers. Pub date: May 16, 2017



Save the restaurant. Save the town. Get the girl. Make Abuela proud. Can thirteen-year-old Arturo Zamora do it all or is he in for a BIG, EPIC FAIL?

For Arturo, summetime in Miami means playing basketball until dark, sipping mango smoothies, and keeping cool under banyan trees. And maybe a few shifts as junior lunchtime dishwasher at Abuela’s restaurant. Maybe. But this summer also includes Carmen, a cute girl who moves into Arturo’s apartment complex and turns his stomach into a deep fryer. He almost doesn’t notice the smarmy land developer who rolls into town and threatens to change it. Arturo refuses to let his family and community go down without a fight, and as he schemes with Carmen, Arturo discovers the power of poetry and protest through untold family stories and the work of José Martí.

Funny and poignant, The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora is the vibrant story of a family, a striking portrait of a town, and one boy’s quest to save both, perfect for fans of Rita Williams-Garcia.



The Education of Margot Sanchez
by Lilliam Rivera
YA novel. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Pub date: February 21, 2017



Pretty in Pink comes to the South Bronx in this bold and romantic coming-of-age novel about dysfunctional families, good and bad choices, and finding the courage to question everything you ever thought you wanted—from debut author Lilliam Rivera.

Things/People Margot Hates:
Mami, for destroying her social life
Papi, for allowing Junior to become a Neanderthal
Junior, for becoming a Neanderthal
The supermarket
Everyone else

After “borrowing” her father’s credit card to finance a more stylish wardrobe, Margot Sanchez suddenly finds herself grounded. And by grounded, she means working as an indentured servant in her family’s struggling grocery store to pay off her debts.

With each order of deli meat she slices, Margot can feel her carefully cultivated prep school reputation slipping through her fingers, and she’s willing to do anything to get out of this punishment. Lie, cheat, and maybe even steal…

Margot’s invitation to the ultimate beach party is within reach and she has no intention of letting her family’s drama or Moises—the admittedly good looking but outspoken boy from the neighborhood—keep her from her goal.



The Magic Piñata/La Piñata Mágica
by Ismael Cala (Author) and Yunior Suárez (Illustrator)
Picturebook. HarperCollins Español. Pub date: January 24, 2017



After his successful children's book, Ser Como el Bambu/Be Like The Bamboo, the bestselling author Ismael Cala has once again reached young audiences with The Magic Piñata/La Piñata Mágica.

The story -- which is bilingual and illustrated -- tells the story of Alex, a boy who is about to celebrate his birthday, but has to learn an important lesson about selfishness.

Through its pages, illustrated in full color by Yunior Suárez, The Magic Piñata/La Piñata Mágica draws its young readers into the world of its protagonist, whose parents are preparing a wonderful birthday party with a great big piñata, inviting children from the little town of Tepoztlán where Alex lives, to attend.

During the party, Alex discovers that he must share whatever tumbles out of the piñata with others, and this bothers him. From now on, he decides, he will ask his parents to celebrate his birthday a little differently: with two piñatas, one for his friends and one for him alone.



They Both Die at the End
by Adam Silvera
YA novel. HarperCollins. Pub date: September 5, 2017



When Mateo receives the dreaded call from Death-Cast, informing him that today will be his last, he doesn't know where to begin. Quiet and shy, Mateo is devastated at the thought of leaving behind his hospitalised father, and his best friend and her baby girl. But he knows that he has to make the most of this day, it's his last chance to get out there and make an impression.

Rufus is busy beating up his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend when he gets the call. Having lost his entire family, Rufus is no stranger to Death-Cast. Not that it makes it any easier. With bridges to mend, the police searching for him and the angry new boyfriend on his tail, it's time to run. Isolated and scared, the boys reach out to each other, and what follows is a day of living life to the full. Though neither of them had expected that this would involve falling in love...Another beautiful, heartbreaking and life-affirming book from the brilliant Adam Silvera, author of More Happy Than Not and History Is All You Left Me.



The Rise of the Jumbies
by Tracey Baptiste
Middle grade novel. Algonquin Young Readers. Pub date: September 19, 2017



Corinne LaMer defeated the wicked jumbie Severine months ago, but things haven't exactly gone back to normal in her Caribbean island home. Everyone knows Corinne is half-jumbie, and many of her neighbors treat her with mistrust. When local children begin to go missing, snatched from the beach and vanishing into wells, suspicious eyes turn to Corinne.

To rescue the missing children and clear her own name, Corinne goes deep into the ocean to find Mama D Leau, the dangerous jumbie who rules the sea. But Mama D Leau s help comes with a price. Corinne and her friends Dru, Bouki, and Malik must travel with mermaids across the ocean to the shores of Ghana to fetch a powerful object for Mama D Leau. The only thing more perilous than Corinne s adventures across the sea is the foe that waits for her back home.

With its action-packed storytelling, diverse characters, and inventive twists on Caribbean and West African mythology and fairy tales, The Rise of the Jumbies will appeal to readers of A Snicker of Magic, Crenshaw, and The Girl Who Drank the Moon.



Forest World
by Margarita Engle
Middle grade verse novel. Atheneum Books for Young Readers. Pub date: August 2017



From award-winning author Margarita Engle comes a lively middle grade novel in verse that tells the story of a Cuban-American boy who visits his family’s village in Cuba for the first time— and meets a sister he didn’t know he had.

Edver isn’t happy about being shipped off to Cuba to visit the father he barely knows. The island is a place that no one in Miami ever mentions without a sigh, but travel laws have suddenly changed, and now it’s a lot easier for divided families to be reunited. Technology in Cuba hasn’t caught up with the times, though, and Edver is expecting a long, boring summer.

He was NOT expecting to meet a sister he didn’t know he had. Luza is a year older and excited to see her little brother, until she realizes what a spoiled American he is. Looking for something—anything—they might have in common, the siblings sneak onto the Internet, despite it being forbidden in Cuba, and make up a fake butterfly. Maybe now their cryptozoologist mother will come to visit. But their message is intercepted by a dangerous poacher, and suddenly much more than their family is at stake. Edver and Luza have to find a way to overcome their differences to save the Cuban jungle that they both have grown to love.



Rooting for Rafael Rosales
by Kurtis Scaletta
Middle grade novel. Albert Whitman & Company. Pub date: April 25, 2017



Rafael has dreams. Every chance he gets he plays in the street games trying to build his skills, get noticed by scouts, and—someday—play Major League Baseball. Maya has worries. The bees are dying all over the world, and the company her father works for is responsible, making products that harm the environment. Follow Rafael and Maya in a story that shifts back and forth in time and place, from Rafael’s neighborhood in the Dominican Republic to present-day Minnesota, where Maya and her sister are following Rafael’s first year in the minor leagues. In their own ways, Maya and Rafael search for hope, face difficult choices, and learn a secret—the same secret—that forever changes how they see the world.



Who Was Fidel Castro?
by Sarah Fabiny (Author) and Ted Hammond (Illustrator)
Middle grade biography. Grosset & Dunlap. Pub date: August 22, 2017



When Fidel Castro died on November 25, 2016, many people around the world responded with mixed emotions. Learn all about the man who shaped Cuba for more than half a decade.

After overthrowing Fulgencia Batista in 1959, Fidel Castro became the leader of an island country only ninety miles away from Florida. While in power, Castro outlasted ten US presidents and turned the small nation into a one-party state with influence over the entire world. Called a leader by some and a dictator by others, Castro defined not one but several eras in world politics.



Who Was Bob Marley?
by Katie Ellison (Author) and Gregory Copeland (Illustrator)
Middle grade biography. Grosset & Dunlap. Pub date: June 6, 2017



Get Up, Stand Up! for the king of reggae music!

Bob Marley was a reggae superstar who is considered to be one of the most influential musicians of all time. Born in rural Jamaica, this musician and songwriter began his career with his band, The Wailing Wailers, in 1963. The Wailers went on to spread the gospel of reggae music around the globe. Bob's distinctive style and dedication to his Rastafari beliefs became a rallying cry for the poor and disenfranchised the world over and led to a hugely successful solo career. After his death in 1981, Bob Marley became a symbol of Jamaican culture and identity. His greatest-hits album, Legend, remains the best-selling reggae album of all time. Who Was Bob Marley? tells the story of how a man with humble roots became an international icon.

This title in the New York Times best-selling series contains eighty illustrations that help bring the story to life.



Handimals: Animals in Art and Nature
by Silvia Lopez (Author) and Guido Daniele (Illustrator)
Nonfiction picturebook. Christy Ottaviano Books/HenryHolt. Pub date: 2017



Synopsis coming soon.



Tales from the Caribbean
by Trish Cooke (Author)
Middle grade anthology. Puffin Classics. Pub date: 03 August, 2017



A collection of favourite tales gathered from the many different islands of the Caribbean, one of the world's richest sources of traditional storytelling. From the very first Kingfisher to Anansi the Spider Man, these lively retellings full of humour and pathos, are beautifully retold by Trish Cooke.

The book includes endnotes with a glossary, additional information as well as ideas for activities that children can do to explore the stories further.



Plus Don't Miss These Titles from Indie Publishers!



Boonoonoonous Hair
by Olive Senior (Author) and Laura James (Illustrator)
Picturebook. Tradewinds Books. Pub date: February 15, 2017



In this beautifully illustrated picture book written by Commonwealth Prize-winning author Olive Senior and illustrated by the much-acclaimed artist of Anna Carries Water a little girl learns to love her difficult-to-manage curly hair.



Greetings, Leroy
by Itah Sadu (Author) and Alix Delinois (Illustrator)
Picturebook. Groundwood Books. Pub date: May 1, 2017



The first day at a new school is nerve-wracking enough, never mind when it’s in a new country! In this lively picture book from award-winning storyteller Itah Sadu, Roy realizes he may come to love his new home in Canada as much as he loves his old home in Jamaica.

Written as an email to a friend back home, this picture book tells the story of Roy, whose family has just moved to Canada from Jamaica. His new home is different from his old home – in Canada, even the sun feels cold! His nerves ease, though, as welcome reminders of home follow him through his day. His neighbor gives him a button as a gift for his first day of school. The principal tells him about the soccer team and his new class makes him feel welcome.

Everything is looking up until Roy goes to show his classmates his new button and he can’t find it! He rushes back to the principal’s office where they look up and down and all around for the button. Thanks to his powers of observation, Roy finds it in an unexpected place and is able to show it to his new friends. The friendly people he meets, and their shared love of Bob Marley, make for a good start at his new school. By the end of the day, Roy is happy to find a piece of his old home in his new home.

Sadu captures the voice of a young boy in a new country in this story about finding a new home while still staying proud of where you’re from. Harlem-based artist Alix Delinois shows the joy of making new friends with his vibrant, layered paintings.



Miguel's Brave Knight: Young Cervantes and his Dream of Don Quixote
by Margarita Engle (Author) and Raúl Colón (Illustrator)
Picturebook. Peachtree Publishers. Pub date: October 2017



Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra finds refuge from his difficult childhood by imagining the adventures of a brave but clumsy knight.

This fictionalized first-person biography in verse of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra follows the early years of the child who grows up to pen Don Quixote, the first modern novel. The son of a gambling, vagabond barber-surgeon, Miguel looks to his own imagination for an escape from his family's troubles and finds comfort in his colorful daydreams. At a time when access to books is limited and imaginative books are considered evil, Miguel is inspired by storytellers and wandering actors who perform during festivals. He longs to tell stories of his own. When Miguel is nineteen, four of his poems are published, launching the career of one of the greatest writers in the Spanish language.

Award-winning author Margarita Engle's distinctive picture book depiction of the childhood of the father of the modern novel, told in a series of free verse poems, is enhanced by Raúl Colón's stunning illustrations. Backmatter includes a note from both the author and illustrator as well as additional information on Cervantes and his novel Don Quixote.



Martí's Song for Freedom/Martí y Sus Versos Por La Independencia
by Emma Otheguy (Author) and Beatriz Vidal (Illustrator)
Picturebook. Lee and Low Books. Pub date: April 1, 2017



A bilingual biography of José Martí, who dedicated his life to the promotion of liberty, the abolishment of slavery, political independence for Cuba, and intellectual independence from colonialism for all Latinos. Written in verse with excerpts from Mart's seminal work, Versos Sencillos.



Morning Star Horse / El Caballo Lucero
by Margarita Engle (Author), Alexis Romay (Translator) and Josiah Muster (Illustrator)
Middle grade verse novel. HBE Publishing . Pub date: January 30, 2017




"When Mamacita chose to call me Estrellita, / it was her way of imagining a little bit / of starlight, deep down in that cavern / where only rare streaks of day or night / could reach--now, Lucero and I will be / Morning Star and Little Star, / a lit-from-within racing team!"

A young girl stricken with rickets and her mother face the aftermath of the Spanish-American War, the challenges of a new century and innovative teachers. Dreams realized and dreams crushed exploring the freedoms only a magical horse can offer. Award winning author Margarita Engle brings a tale of history mixed with a touch of fantasy.



Malaika's Winter Carnival
by Nadia L. Hohn (Author) and Irene Luxbacher (Illustrator)
Picturebook. Groundwood Books. Pub date: September 5, 2017.




This follow-up to Malaika's Costume is an uplifting story about immigration, family and community.

An introduction to winter celebrations, and how children can maintain their own traditions while embracing new ones.

Curriculum tie-ins: social studies (family and community traditions).



Galia's Dad Is in a Wheelchair
by James Edward English (Author) and Teddy Keser Mombrun (Illustrator)
Picturebook. Texas Christian University Press. Pub date: January 31, 2017.




Galia is a young girl from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, who likes to ride her bike, dance, and spend time with her father, Gérald, who has muscular dystrophy and has been in a wheelchair since he was a young boy. Despite his disability, Gérald received a master’s degree from Harvard University, served as President Michel Martelly’s Secretary of State with the disability portfolio, and enjoys many of the same activities with his daughter as other dads.

During his five years in public office, Secretary Gérald Oriol Jr. recognized his country’s critical shortage of children’s literature, particularly related to disability, and encouraged his friend and adviser James English to create a children’s book for Haiti, which has an estimated one million persons with disabilities, a number that increased significantly following the 2010 earthquake.

Galia’s Dad Is in a Wheelchair aims to counter negative stereotypes and stigmas surrounding disability and is believed to be the only children’s book on the subject in Haiti available in Creole, French, and English. The book’s positive messages, which promote disability awareness and close parent-child relations, are universal and extend to general readers beyond the small Caribbean island nation.

Teddy Keser Mombrun, a political cartoonist for Haiti’s largest newspaper, Le Nouvelliste, used Haiti’s unique color palette and landscapes to create illustrations for the book.



Starring Carmen!
by Anika Denise (Author) and Lorena Alvarez (Illustrator)
Picturebook. Abrams. Pub date: 01 September, 2017



Meet Carmen! She LOVES the spotlight and applause. She's an actress, a singer, a dancer—a one-girl sensación! She exhausts her parents with her nightly performances and completely overshadows Eduardo, her adoring little brother. But when Eduardo shows his big sister how much he loves her in a way even Carmen can’t ignore, will Carmen realize that the stage is big enough for two?

Exuberant illustrations by Lorena Alvarez Gómez offer the perfect complement to Anika Denise’s warm, Spanish-sprinkled text in this celebration of theater, family, and imagination.



Mayanito's New Friends/ Los Nuevos Amigos De Mayanito
by Tato Laviera (Author) and Gabhor Utomo (Illustrator)
Picturebook. Pinata Books. Pub date: 31 October, 2017



From his perch high up on a mountaintop, a young Mayan prince watched as raindrops formed in the clouds below him. Suddenly, within each drop, there was a child! The raindrop children landed gently on the ground and Mayanito raced down the mountainside to play with them. They were from Mexico, Brazil, Jamaica and other countries in the Americas, but as the sun warmed the land, they evaporated and turned into flowers!

Mayanito was sad to lose his friends, so he decided to go find them. Thankfully, the animals of the jungle including Pablito the snake, Teresa the crocodile and Rafael the jaguar helped him. In this adventurous romp through the rainforest, monkeys pulled him from quicksand and carried him over a waterfall in a hammock made of vines! Riding on a flamingo s back, he landed in the village far below his mountaintop home and finally found his new friends. Together, they rode an inchworm train back up the mountain. And when Mayanito was named king, he declared all the children of the hemisphere members of his tribe!

Gabhor Utomo's gorgeous illustrations of the lush rainforest, its flora and fauna complement the boy s fantastical journey in this bilingual picture book for children ages 5-10. Parents and teachers will find this beautiful book provides a good introduction to basic concepts of jungle creatures, geography and even musical instruments from different regions.



Let's Explore Cuba
by Walt K. Moon (Author)
Nonfiction Picturebook. Lerner Publications. Pub date: 01 January, 2017



There are lots of different places to visit in the world! Have you ever been on an island? What would it be like to live on one? Take a trip to tropical Cuba and learn about the history and culture of this Caribbean country. Full-color photographs and carefully leveled text bring Cuba to life, while age-appropriate critical thinking questions introduce readers to nonfiction. It's almost like being on the beach yourself!



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About the Author

Summer Edward is the Managing Editor and Kids Editor 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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[Featured Illustrators] Jade Achoy

Jade Achoy
Trinidad and Tobago



In 2014, Plain Vision Publishing published Jade Ahoy's first illustrated children's book, written by her librarian mother Grace Achoy. The Black Lake is loosely based on an Amerindian legend about the formation of the Pitch Lake, the largest natural deposit of asphalt in the world, found in the town of La Brea in southwest Trinidad.

The book tells the story of a little Amerindian girl named Tacumeh, the daughter of the village cacique (chief) and how she escapes death when the Pitch Lake is formed. Tacumeh, her brother Hisran and their parents live with their tribe in the lush green fields of La Brea. Their idyllic lives are turned upside one day when the villagers get their god angry, and life changes drastically for Tacumeh.

All of the illustrations were digitally created using Adobe Photoshop. The shadowy palette and heavy, dark lines convey a sense of mystery appropriate for an origin myth, and foreshadow the dark forces at play when "strange men" attack and pillage Tacumeh's village and chaos and fire break out. Achoy commented:

The illustration "Tacumeh with Hummingbird" focuses on the loveliness of Tacumeh and her unique connection with the hummingbird. I spent the longest time working on the details of the "Amerindian Village" illustration; it was fun to imagine and visualize the daily activities and lifestyles of the Amerindians. I wanted the cover of the book to provide the reader with a sense of the story, mood and mystery.
Tacumeh with Hummingbird

Amerindian Village

Book cover

The Resistance


Achoy on what Caribbean children's illustration means to her:

The Caribbean has a colourful, bright and vibrant culture and upbeat lifestyle. From my perspective, illustration helps to capture this wonderful culture that teems with rich stories of the pursuit of happiness, overcoming trials, and folklore from an amalgamation of people with diverse origins who came to the Caribbean. Ergo, Caribbean illustration can meaningfully showcase folklore and culture, and encourage the love of reading as the illustrations bring the words and ideas to life and provide enjoyment to a reader. Illustration can be inculcated like a hearty, filling and delicious slice of the Caribbean.


Biography

Jade Achoy graduated from the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine in 2010 and from Savannah College of Art Design in 2012. Her work ranges from identity and branding to illustrated children's books. Jade is currently a secondary school teacher, a freelance illustrator and part-time lecturer at the University of West Indies. She lives in Trinidad and Tobago with her family and two dogs, Trixie and Chance, where she likes to draw cute things and artistically depict Caribbean culture and life. Jade's work has been featured by STAN Magazine (UWI), Animae Caribe Festival (2010), Arc Magazine and Trinidad and Tobago's Guardian and Newsday newspapers.





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[Book Review] Gone to Drift by Diana McCaulay



Diana McCaulay (Author)
Papillote Press, 2016
YA novel, ages 12 and up



The young adult novel Gone to Drift by Diana McCaulay presents the story of how truth is discovered through losses. Lloyd is a twelve-year-old Jamaican boy who loves his grandfather Maas Conrad. It has been two weeks since his grandfather left for a fishing expedition to Pedro Cays and while all the people in the community know there is something preventing Maas Conrad's return, only Lloyd is willing to find out the true reason. 

Lloyd defies all odds to discover the mystery of his grandfather’s disappearance at sea, despite warnings from the adults that Maas Conrad may be gone for good. It is through this journey that the reader discovers the tangled lies that surround Lloyd’s family as he races against time to rescue his grandfather. The story is set in Jamaica, juxtaposing the richness of the Caribbean milieu with the universality of the challenges our globalized societies face. 

The story unravels the events that led to Maas Conrad's disappearance in multiple voice narrative. The main narrative is told in third person point of view. It gives the reader a macroscopic view of the issues that lead to Maas Conrad's disappearance while fishing in Pedro Cays. Lloyd's quest to rescue Maas Conrad takes center stage while the discoveries of what really happened in this community unfolds through this point of view.

The story periodically switches to Maas Conrad's first person voice as he battles against the challenges of being stranded on a solitary island without water or food, and with an injury. This microscopic perspective opens the Caribbean world of Maas Conrad: his ancestral beliefs and the transformation his island has undergone due to illegal fishing, pollution and the tourist trade. Both narratives merge to give a richness of perspectives, ultimately suggesting that not only Maas Conrad has “gone to drift,” but many of the adults who are supposed to be guiding Lloyd into adulthood.

The livelihood of fishing is at the heart of Lloyd's community. His grandfather is a fisherman who comes from a long line of fishermen, each of whom experienced his people’s growing indifference to nature and the tragic consequences of such. Fishing reserves have been depleted causing a disruption in the economic stability of the community. Vernon Saunders, Lloyd's father, has not followed the fishermen's footsteps but has “gone to drift” in many ways, from abandoning his family to his collaboration in illegal dolphin fishing practices that go against moral values. 

While the disappearance of Maas Conrad is the core of the plot of this novel, it is only the tip of the iceberg considering the complexity of the societal and environmental problems facing his community, and by extension the world. The illegal traffic of dolphins is not a situation unique to the Caribbean, but a global issue with serious implications. The individual’s quest for economic survival leads to morally and legally questionable decisions. Lloyd ends up in the middle of this battle and learns that many of the people he believed to be respectable hold secrets. The world as he knew it crumbles into dust as he tries to figure out what is really true. 

The novel is a bildungsroman of our contemporary world. It is through the unveiling of painful truths─ about his parents, his community and his world─ that Lloyd is able to find the answers he is seeking. The story poses moral questions to the reader that are not easy to answer. Can an immoral decision be justified in the name of human survival? This is the question that is interwoven throughout the story as Lloyd meets the different characters that give him the missing pieces to the puzzle of Maas Conrad's disappearance. Through the eyes and worlds of Jules, Black Crab, Lloyd's mother, Vernon Saunders and Slowly, both Lloyd and the reader discover that the world is full of shades of gray. At the same time, the voice of Maas Conrad provides depth and wisdom for understanding how past events shape the world we live in.

As an educator, I celebrate the portrayal of the love between a grandchild and grandparent. In contemporary life, grandparents have had to break away from paradigms imposed by Western society. Many of our grandparents have very active roles in raising and protecting their grandchildren. These roles have been silenced for too long. It is time that literary works show how grandparents' legacies shape the roles the new generations undertake. Maas Conrad is the anchor and compass in Lloyd Saunders' life, guiding him into a world of truth.

Gone to Drift is a beautiful and profound realistic fiction novel full of suspense that keeps the reader turning pages to discover the cause of Maas Conrad's disappearance. At the same time, the ending leaves the reader in a labyrinth of emotions, wondering how Lloyd will now face his world. Lloyd understands that the price he paid to discover the truth is the loss of the world he once knew. The novel, which was the second prize winner of CODE's Burt Award for Caribbean Literature in 2015, is an ideal literary work for young adult readers to see that life is full of ambiguities and that the power of love can overcome what can appear to be insurmountable obstacles. Lloyd's determination showed how true love can be the strongest weapon of all.


About the Author

Dr. Carmen Milagros-Torres is an Associate Editor here at Anansesem. She is an English professor who teaches Children’s Literature (INGL 4326) and Literature for Adolescents (INGL 4327) at the University of Puerto Rico in Humacao, Puerto Rico. Her articles on Puerto Rican children’s literature have appeared in Bookbird: A Journal of International Children's Literature, PRTESOLGram and Caribbean Without Borders: Beyond the Can[n]on’s Range (Cambridge Scholars Publishing). She has presented her research on Afro-Puerto Rican children’s literature at various conferences and sits on the Board of Directors of the Puerto Rican English Writers Association.

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28 Surefire Ways to Keep your Children’s or YA Book on the Radar




Regardless of how well a book is written, critical praise doesn’t always translate into sales, and often even well-reviewed books disappear, out-of-print within a couple of years. No matter how much publicity and support your publisher offers, you are the best advocate for your book, and there are actions you can take to prolong its life in print.

Perhaps you’re about to publish a first book and have no idea what to expect. Maybe you’re a seasoned pro looking for new ideas on promoting your books. Either way, here are some strategies to put your book over the top.

  1. Begin laying the groundwork for promotion six months before your book is published. Write a press release and e-mail it to newspapers and TV stations closer to the publication date along with a review or two if you have them. If newspapers have a lifestyle editor or a Sunday team reach out to them as well. Keep contacts lists of reporters and remember to invite them to signings and other events.

  1. Find a public relations ally. If you can’t hire one then barter. Find a friend or a student and offer to edit their writing for free in exchange for helping you with publicity. This may sound extreme, but book publicity can be grueling work and it helps so much to have a friend with a sense of humor who “gets it.”

  1. Use the internet; search engines are your friend. Research as much as you can and look at comments and reviews to find tips about sites you should be reading up on. Check out writing groups and ask for assistance or information on who can help you with your publishing journey.

  1. Make flyers and/or bookmarks. Start with 100 copies. You can leave stacks in bookstores, restaurants and libraries, or hand them out on school visits. Always be prepared with something to hand out.

  1. Set up a website where caregivers and children can write to you and learn more about the world of the book and what you do as an author. Peruse other author sites to get ideas.

  1. Update your website regularly. Offer creative writing ideas, story prompts and giveaways.

  1. Send out e-mail blasts as often as you feel comfortable, but don’t overdo it; three or four times a year is a good rule of thumb, and only if there are real updates. Be wary of e-mailing in bulk too often.

  1. Create your Facebook page long before the book is due. Post funny sayings, as well as other books, so that when your book is finally out, you will have a following that you can interact with. Don’t wait.

  1. Use the giveaway feature on the Goodreads and Booklikes websites. Readers all over the world will add your book to their shelf in hopes of winning a copy.

  1. Join a fiction writers or picturebook listserv or online group. There is Goodreads Lovers of Diversity and Folklore Group. Caribbean Writers, SCBWI Caribbean Chapters and SocaMom Book Club are all Facebook Groups you can request to join. Follow Anansesem Caribbean children’s literature ezine, Caribbean Books Foundation and Caribbean blogs. Look for blogs about the world of children’s literature. There are many great children’s and young adult (YA) book blogs. Reading one will lead you to many more. Children’s and YA book bloggers are the ones who keep your books alive so ask them to feature you. Send them your books to review and thank them. Only devote a little time each day to these blogs; you want to be protective of your writing time.

  1. Create your own book tour by visiting literary festivals. Tight budget? Lodge with friends and family or contact the SCBWI regional advisor in your area to see if a nearby member might have a guest room available. Make yourself available to promote your book with copies on hand. Rent the cheapest rental car and purchase airline tickets through inexpensive online travel sites.

  1. Visit bookstores before your book comes out—six months is a good rule of thumb. Set up e-mail correspondence with the store manager, or the person in charge of scheduling author visits or promotions. Set up dates for the book signings/writing workshops. If you just have a handful of review copies, make photocopies or send a .pdf to select book reviewers. This works especially well for regional newspapers or magazines. Smaller papers do a great job with author profiles and reviews if you let them know in time.

  1. E-mail bookstores with your information (book, website, jacket quotes) and offer them short writing workshops for kids instead of just traditional readings. Follow up those e-mails with store visits or phone calls. Be upbeat and professional even when clerks are –and some will be- indifferent. You will find the ones who “get you”, and as for the ones who don’t, move on with grace. Try to focus on the independent bookstores because they are the ones who will hand-sell your book and may have a small sitting for you to interact with children.

  1. Set up writing workshops for children in schools, libraries, bookstores and other settings where you will have a guaranteed audience of children. Lead children in writing their own stories and poems. Make sure art supplies are on hand so the kids can illustrate their creations, and offer to publish any stories that they e-mail you in a special section of your blog or website. Have the bookstore require the purchase of one of your books in lieu of a workshop attendance fee. Talk to the parents and teachers who attend. Networking can lead to artist residencies at schools and more school visits. Keep writing workshops high-energy to encourage more participation. Get kids excited through sincere praise and encouragement, and then up on their feet to read their poems or stories. With older kids and teen groups, smaller circles work best.

  1. Consider having a reading/book signing at a place other than a bookstore. Go to a pizza parlour, a fast food restaurant with a children’s area, a tea house or some other nontraditional place. A friend’s backyard or your own can work. Independent booksellers love to sell local books, and you’ll be able to woo more friends into coming and bringing their friends. If you have children, your children can run around and celebrate too. Hire or sponsor an up-and-coming musician for the gig and let them give out their cards or CD’s.

  1. Do as many free writing workshops as you feel you can at first. Do them for foster children, children in juvenile hall, children who are differently-abled and children who don’t often have a chance to meet with writers. Publish their stories on your blog if they want you to do so.

  1. Pitch workshops or classes to your library, universities or a school near you. It’s free advertising for you, your book and your class. You also get to meet wonderful students in your workshop.

  1. Set up a six- or ten-week writing workshop at a local library for teens or adults who want to write children’s stories. You will be able to charge a fee, of course, and the bookstore will advertise the class and your book on its website and in its newsletter.

  1. Support other authors. Show up at their signings and readings and buy their books. Host them in interviews on your website or blog, or simply mention their books in a short review. We’re all in this together, and the more we can reach out and support each other, the more we’ll get back.

  1. Send your press release to your alma mater. Offer to meet with students from your old high school or college to talk to them about writing.

  1. Write an essay for your alumni magazine about writing for kids, or about how you became a writer. You’ll get readers; universities like to hear about their graduates and their adventures. If a rural library asks you to donate books, say yes. Say yes as much as you can. Just do it. If you can’t do it all the time, that’s okay, but say yes whenever possible.

  1. Write an essay/op. ed. piece for a newspaper with a large readership. This will get your name out to more readers.

  1. Record your book at your local Braille Institute and offer to do a workshop for its summer reading program. You’ll meet amazing kids who are budding storytellers.

  1. Go to events. Go to SCBWI events or book festivals on your own dime at least once if you have a book coming out. If they cannot offer you a signing during the festival, still go to meet people. You will make connections you cannot make online.

  1. Find a local chapter of the SCBWI and offer to do a workshop on setting, plot, voice or anything else.

  1. Write thank-you notes to everyone: librarians, teachers, booksellers. Be appreciative. Don’t whine. Say “thank you.”

  1. Get a GPS navigation device. It really helps out there on the road. Remember, the more you give of yourself as an author, the more you will connect with your readers at every level.

  1. Keep writing. The more books you market the easier it becomes. Press on. Give yourself a break and time to be alone to write and just be, so you can gather the stamina needed to get out there again.

Adapted from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators' (SCBWI) tips.



The SCBWI Caribbean South Chapter

The SCBWI, a non-profit organization, is one of the largest existing organizations for writers and illustrators. It is the only professional organization specifically for individuals writing and illustrating for children and young adults in the fields of children’s literature, magazines, film, television, and multimedia. Its mission is “to support the creation and availability of quality children’s books around the world.”

We accomplish this by fostering a vibrant community of individuals who bring books for young readers to the public including writers, illustrators, translators, editors, publishers, agents, librarians, educators, booksellers, bloggers, enthusiasts and others. We provide education and support for these individuals and the community through our awards, grants, programs and events. We strive to increase the quality and quantity of children’s books in the marketplace, and act as a consolidated voice for writers and illustrators of children's books worldwide. Membership in the SCBWI is open to anyone with an active interest in literature for young people. We welcome aspiring and published writers and illustrators, librarians, educators, artists, students, dramatists, musicians, filmmakers, and others. A passion for children’s literature is our number one criterion.

There are two SCBWI regional chapters: Caribbean North and Caribbean South. Visit the website at www.scbwi.org for more information.



About the Author

Marsha Gomes Mckie is the Foundress of Caribbean Books Foundation, an online platform (www.caribbeanbooks.org) that connects the Caribbean community and diaspora through literature. She is the Regional Advisor for the Caribbean South Chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), an international NGO devoted to supporting children’s book creators. She is a published author of a line of children books, Aunty Marsha Children’s Books, which she both writes and illustrates. She also writes romance and folklore fantasy fiction. She is an artist, public relations innovator and avid Caribbean book reviewer. She is a member of The Writers Union of Trinidad and Tobago and Women in Art of Trinidad and Tobago.

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