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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
by Margarita Engle
Middle grade verse novel. Atheneum Books for Young Readers. Pub date: October 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!
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.
by Anika Denise (Author) and Lorena Alvarez (Illustrator)
Picturebook. Abrams. Pub date: 01 September, 2017
Synopsis coming soon.
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!
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.