Friday, October 11, 2019
The Jumbie God's Revenge
by Tracey Baptiste
pages 272; ages 8-12
Algonquin Young Readers, 2019
Corinne La Mer leapt from one tall coconut tree to another. Nothing but air surrounded her and there was only the sand and a few sharp rocks below.
By the end of the first paragraph, author Tracey Baptiste has grounded us so firmly into the setting that one can almost smell the salty breeze and feel the warmth of the Caribbean sun. Even if you haven’t read the first two books of the Jumbies series, you will feel at home in this story.
Corinne’s island is hit by a June storm – an early hurricane – and she knows in her bones that this is no ordinary storm. It must be the work of the Jumbies. If you don’t know what a jumbie is, just ask Tracey. They are tricksters from Caribbean folktales, she says, “a group of malevolent creatures who [are] hell bent on harming or at least tricking any human who dared to cross their path.”
So Corrinne sets off to find Mama D’Leau, the half-woman, half-snake who protects and rules the ocean. But Mama D’Leau is just as worried about the storm. Even worse, Mama D’Leau is frightened. What, Corinne wonders, would scare a jumbie?
When a second, more ferocious storm wrecks the island, and villagers flee to the mountain for safety, Corinne discovers that the storms are caused by the angry god, Huracan. Confronting this god is too large a task for a single girl. In addition to her friends, Corinne needs the help the jumbies – but can she trust them?
What I like about this book: I like the story of courage, the theme of community, the action-packed adventure. And the luscious language. Take a listen:
Everything about the white witch looked like it was near expiration: the sun-bleached pattern on her dress, the threadbare wrap that tied her head, the few drooping twists of short white hair that refused to be contained in her headwrap.
If I gave stars, I’d toss a basketful into the sky for this book. It’s a great read-aloud for the week before Halloween, or a cold, gray, rainy week – make a pot of hot cocoa, put on a CD of ocean waves lapping on the beach, turn on your best warm yellow lights, and enjoy a magical adventure.
Always in the Middle, so hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copy provided by the publisher.