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2015 Diversity Reading Challenge Books

The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste

Have you ever imagined a horror book for tweens? Prior to seeing Neil Himself, I never would have really considered it. Sure, I know kids like to be scared but I guess I never thought of the books as part of the horror genre.

That is, until I met Tracey Baptiste. And when I say met, I mean, I heard her speak at KidLitCon in November. To be sure, I had the book on my shelf just waiting to be read. The cover is kinda sceeery and I’m a big old chicken and don’t like to be sceeered.

But will ya look at this cover??

jumbies

It screams nightlight, doesn’t it??

Yeah. And that’s just the cover.

What’s especially great about The Jumbies, which are as real as the boogeymonster, is that the cast in the book contains all diverse characters. Every single person in the story is a person of color! There are island people of all shades of brown, one family that is possibly Southeast Asian/Indian, and the White Witch. I’m not sure what her ethnicity is but whatever.

Corinne La Mer isn’t afraid of anything. Not scorpions, not the boys who tease her, and certainly not jumbies. They’re just tricksters parents make up to frighten their children. Then one night Corinne chases an agouti all the way into the forbidden forest. Those shining yellow eyes that followed her to the edge of the trees, they couldn’t belong to a jumbie. Or could they?

And as we soon find out, these Caribbean scary things torment Corinne and her little friends all over the island. All kinds of scary creatures with all kinds of scary names will keep kids on their toes the whole book. What I love about the characters is that sure, they are kids of color, but they are kids first. The color of their skin is not an issue. That way, readers of any color or ethnicity can read the book and

a) be equally terrified, and
b) see themselves in the story.

I personally see myself hiding from the soucouyants and the lagahoos until it’s safe to come out.

Thanks Tracey, for the good fright. It’s just right. But don’t read the book at night.

teee heee heee, I made a rhyme.

Diversity is for everyone, even kids who like to be sceeeered!

So much fun!

 

By Pam

My passion is advocating for diversity in children's and YA literature.