Thursday, January 15, 2015

Children's Book


The Jumbies
by Tracey Baptiste

This story brought out the child in me, the one who loved fairy tales, the one who was just a little scared of rustling sounds in the night.

Corinne lives at the edge of the forest with her father, a forest thought to be home to jumbies.  Jumbies are the spirits of the dead who play tricks on humans and occasionally lure them into the woods where they are never seen again.  Legend says that many years ago jumbies helped save men from ships stranded near their beautiful island.  But the humans soon began to take over the island, cut down trees from the jumbies' forests, and push the jumbies further into the woods.  The island was no longer theirs.  And they want it back!

Corinne thought she knew everyone on the island, but when she comes home one day and a beautiful stranger is chatting with her widowed father, Corinne feels something is terribly wrong.  When mysterious things begin to happen, the townspeople begin to fear jumbie magic is at work.  Corinne realizes it all started when the beautiful stranger appeared, and Corinne feels that, somehow, she is the one who must bring the jumbie magic to an end.

With the elements of a fairy tale throughout, the delightful chapter book weaves mystery, adventure, and magic into a great read-aloud book for 2nd-4th graders.

This was an advance copy provided by NetGalley
Available April 28, 2015


Friday, January 9, 2015

Adult Book


Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal

Opening with family trauma and tragedy, I instantly felt like part of the family.  McNeal’s descriptive writing made me feel like I could look out the window and see the houses on Prytania Street passing by, feel the sweat running down my face, and feel the oppressive fear of being pushed out of the car in front of a stranger’s house with my daddy’s urn tucked under my arm.

Set in the 60’s in the South, prejudice was rampant, sit-in’s were occurring, and Miss Winnie employed a “colored” cook and maid.  Twelve-year-old Ibby (Liberty) had never talked to a colored person before much less lived in a house with them.  But filled with kindness and a little bit of pity, Queenie and Dollbaby (Doll) take Ibby under their wings and soothe the hurt, ease the fear, and initiate her to life in the South with an eccentric grandmother.

But these three strong women each harbor heartaches and family secrets, secrets of tragedy and crime that weave a web of interconnectedness among them that is only revealed at the end.

I loved this book for its strong women characters, its metaphors and similes, and the way the story warmly pulls you into this family.   An outstanding debut for Laura Lane McNeal!  This was an advance copy provided by Penguin Books.