Spotlight

[Featured Illustrators] Jade Achoy





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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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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