Saturday, October 30, 2010

Book review #1 - Little Island-Big Adventures

Here is a Caribbean children’s book which is immensely interesting as it gives a glimpse of life in the 1960s on one of the tiny Grenadine islands owned by Grenada in the Eastern Caribbean. (You may need to consult a map of the Caribbean) The author deliberately does not name the island which is the setting for the story, and it is my belief that the story is largely autobiographical. Life on this tiny island is both a pleasure and trial. There is no electricity, no police presence, one school, and one church. Children attend school barefooted, but there is no sense of deprivation.

The island is described by someone who is obviously fond of it, and wishes to preserve a bit of its history and the customs peculiar to its culture. In this first person story, Sara-Ann tells us about that last delightful year spent on her beloved island. She and her best friend, Ruben, get up to a lot of antics during a very busy school year filled with a witch, a bad bull, a giant cat, a graveyard adventure, a jealous school friend, a jilted bride and other exciting events. The language might seem sophisticated, in parts, for an eleven to twelve year old, but this protagonist is presented as being precocious, a very avid reader and a highly imaginative child.

Here’s an excerpt from one of my favourite incidents: Sara-Ann and Ruben are in an old crypt in the graveyard at midnight on All Saints' Night planning a prank against a very irritating fellow student – Elsie:
The darkness was complete. So complete it snatched away my breath, smothering me like a thick blanket. I gasped, struggling for breath. I had never been as afraid as I was of that dreadful place.
Suddenly , without warning, a light flickered on.I shrieked and turned to flee, but Ruben caught me by the arm. “It’s only my flashlight,” he said, holding up a small one.
Light … light… light …light

The style of this novel is episodic, that is, almost all the chapters can stand on their own as short stories. Therefore there is not the kind of cause and effect development of plot, building to a strong climax. Although there is action aplenty as Sara-Ann and Ruben get in and out of scrapes, the story is more character driven as we learn about several of the people who live on the island and their interaction one with another,
This story celebrates family, friendship and community. Its strengths are in descriptive language and characterization. It is a good introduction to the study of literature at grades 6 or 7.

There is a glossary which explains words and phrases which are peculiar to that part of the Eastern Caribbean in which the story is set

Author Maria Roberts-Squires was born in Petite Martinique, schooled in Grenada and now lives in Barbados. This is her second novel for children.

Book link here
Sorry I had to re-post this. Something went wrong with the first post and messed up viewing of the blog 
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