Much has been written about Saint Lucia as the perfect Caribbean island destination, with its sandy beaches, stunning peaks and scuba diving locations.* Far less has been penned about picture books by Saint Lucian writers. Not being one to give up easily, I’m excited to say that I have located not just one but two wonderful titles to share with you – and I’d love to hear of more!
The first is by educator and author Patricia G. Turnbull, who was born in St Lucia but now lives and works in the British Virgin Islands. Her writings have been published in journals, reviews, anthologies and newspapers. Ti Koko and Kush Kush, a story about a little coconut tree and a wise yam, is her first picture book. The distinctive title and lush cover art by British Virgin Islands illustrator Reuben Vanterpool caught my eye on Twitter last year.
The second title The Field – about a game of football/soccer in the local community – was another find on Twitter, where it has been enjoying some excellent coverage. It is also a picture book debut for both author Baptiste Paul and Chicago-based illustrator Jacqueline Alcántara. Baptiste Paul was born and raised in St Lucia and is a native speaker of Creole/Patois, the language spoken by around 95% of the island’s population. He now lives with his family in Wisconsin in the United States. Baptiste Paul has co-authored a second picture book with his wife Miranda Paul titled Adventures to School: Real-Life Journeys of Students from Around the World, which I would love to read at some stage. I have opted to feature The Field on my blog, however. Not only is it set in Saint Lucia, it is also liberally sprinkled with Creole words. And, well, it’s about football. With FIFA fever soon to reach its peak, you don’t get much more topical than that!
As some of you will know, I do use a variety of sources to find picture book titles for this journey, not just Twitter, but all my other searches have led to dead ends. Having said that, I would like to give a special mention to a book project I have just found out about: The Soufrière Young Authors Project. This fabulous initiative provides high school students in Saint Lucia with the opportunity to become published authors. The importance of access to diverse books is central to the project: six culturally-relevant Creole-influenced children’s books have been published since the first workshop in April 2016, with more to follow. The first six titles are available for purchase through the Soufrière Public Library in St Lucia.
Here are the two picture books I’ll be sharing with you in more detail:
Ti Koko and Kush Kush by Patricia G. Turnbull, illustrated by Reuben Vanterpool (House of Nehesi Publishers, 2018).
The Field by Baptiste Paul, illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara (NorthSouth Books, Inc., 2018)
I hope you enjoy both of these titles as much as I do.
*This 2017 article in the UK’s Telegraph newspaper is one of many examples.[Image: Soufrière by Frank Kehren made available under a creative commons licence. Source: flickr.com]