The beauty of Jamaican patois jumps off the page in this tale of one of its most acclaimed wielders, poet Louise Bennett Coverley.
As dressmaker’s daughter Louise becomes enamored with language, readers see the nascent poet even as the young girl deals with the conflicts of balancing what feels like two worlds. This struggle will be familiar to children who speak multiple languages. In school, Louise is taught standard English, as it is the official language of her country, Jamaica, but at home and on the streets of Kingston, she is wrapped in the more jovial and just as significant Jamaican Creole. The juxtaposition of the King’s English and Jamaican patois will make for an early, fun lesson in code-switching. “I must say I love the silhouette,” one of Louise’s mother’s customers says; “Naw, miss, de frock fit you nice,” Louise’s mother replies. Vibrant, playful, sunny-hued illustrations depict the people, places, animals, and food that are characteristic of Jamaica. English and patois ornamentally splashed on a couple of pages serve to give even more life to the story and will enable readers to get a glimpse of the world through young Louise’s eyes.
This joyful book celebrates the importance of language and taking it as your own, from early. (author’s note) (Picture book/biography. 4-8)