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J IS FOR JAMAICA by Benjamin Zephaniah


by Benjamin Zephaniah & illustrated by Prodeepta Das

Age Range: 5 - 7

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 1-84507-401-7
Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Bright, tourist-friendly photos of happy people at play alternate with views of verdant landscapes, exotic foodstuffs and typical flora and fauna in this alphabetical jaunt to Jamaica. Unfortunately, the accompanying quatrains demonstrate such pervasive indifference to rhythm (cricket “batters must be careful to protect their heads and knees. / The best players from Jamaica can play for the West Indies”), rhyme (“Jamaicans love their netball as well as their athletics, / And that is why they send a netball team to the Olympics”) or clarity of expression (“Y is for yams, which are grown in the ground, / They are light and dark and long and round”) that Zephaniah—a part-Jamaican poet better known in Britain than here—seems to be phoning them in. Children will come away more attuned to the special character of the island and its people from the more conventional, and systematic, likes of Ann Heinrichs’s Jamaica (2003). (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-7)