Spotlight

Review: A Coconuts Life for Me

Jonathan de la Rosa (Author and Illustrator)
Paria Publishing
Picture book, ages 4-8


Little Husky is a coconut seed and the "baby" in the Coconutree family. Not yet a fully grown coconut tree, he cannot join in the game of "sway" that his older brother and sisters play so happily. Husky spurns his "coconuts life" and longs for the freedom to stretch his palms and dance in the Caribbean breeze, like the mature coconut trees do. When Husky complains to Mummy Coconutree, she says he is still too small to play "sway"; patience she suggests, is the trick. Daddy Coconutree however, has a different point of view; "What's your hurry, Husky?" he says. With a few gentle reminders, Daddy Coconutree helps Husky to see how just how special and wonderful his "coconuts life" really is.

The writing in Jonathan de la Rosa's children's book debut is promising. This reviewer was a bit confused by the use of the phrase "coconuts life" (as opposed to the syntactically correct "coconut's life"). If de la Rosa was aiming for symbolism or poetic irony through his choice of wording, then he may have missed the mark. A more successful aspect of the narration is the loose rhyming structure that is sustained to the end adding a sing-song quality to the tale. The story is narrated by Husky and the guileless first-person narration works to snag our empathy; children will find it easy to relate to the thoughts and feelings of the earnest little coconut. The selective use of dramatically oversized fonts and rhetorical questions, often taking up entire spreads, conveys the desperation and determination behind Husky's earnest inquiry into the important matter of growing up. Altogether, both the rhyming scheme and the conversational narration lend easily to engaging read-alouds.

The results of Dos Ramos' and de la Rosa' collaboration on the illustrations are not spectacular. The simple, computer-generated art does however underscore the childlike perspective of Husky, the narrator. The playful scenes where Husky finally begins to appreciate the merits of his "coconuts life", turning somersaults in the sand and backstroking in a (delightfully odd) purple ocean, work well to convey the joy and momentousness of Husky's revelation. The illustrations, together with the text, also succeed in creating a lively little character, Husky, who "wears his sleeve on his heart" and who is consequently, rather endearing.

Peppered with wistful and exuberant moments, A Coconuts Life for Me is a simple story that addresses the perhaps universal predicament faced by children at some point or the other, that of wanting to grow up all at once and do "grown up things." Ultimately, the book reminds us that childhood is fleeting and thus precious, something to be enjoyed while it lasts. The message that there are privileges that children enjoy that adults do not will surely appeal to children of all ages. Likely to have a long stay in the "Read it to me again!" pile. Ages 3-6.


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About the Reviewer

Summer Edward was born in Trinidad and Tobago. She is the Managing Editor and Kids Editor here at Anansesem. She lives in Philadelphia, USA.

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About Anansesem

Anansesem is an online magazine of Caribbean children's and young adult literature by adults and children. We strive to bring you the best in news, reviews and creative content from the world of Caribbean children's publishing.
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2 comments:

  1. My son is in love with this book! He is only two and has the story memorized, we read it everyday! Can you recommend any other carribean children's book like this one?

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  2. Hi there, I'm not sure what you mean by a book 'like this'. Do you mean a rhyming book?

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