Sunday 23 April 2017

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Mini-Review: The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste

The Jumbies by Tracey BaptisteThe Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste (bought) - Corinne La Mer claims she isn’t afraid of anything. Not scorpions, not the boys who tease her, and certainly not jumbies. They’re just tricksters made up by parents to frighten their children. Then one night Corinne chases an agouti all the way into the forbidden forest, and shining yellow eyes follow her to the edge of the trees. They couldn’t belong to a jumbie. Or could they?

When Corinne spots a beautiful stranger at the market the very next day, she knows something extraordinary is about to happen. When this same beauty, called Severine, turns up at Corinne’s house, danger is in the air. Severine plans to claim the entire island for the jumbies. Corinne must call on her courage and her friends and learn to use ancient magic she didn’t know she possessed to stop Severine and to save her island home.
From Goodreads.

The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste is such a wonderful, creepy, fantasy adventure story! Everywhere I have seen The Jumbies reviewed, I've read nothing but praise, but it took me a while to get to it because MG isn't normally something I enjoy. I'm slowly learning that there are some gems on the MG shelves, and The Jumbies is one of them.

This story is so full of heart. I loved the characters; strong and courageous Corinne who will do what she will have to to save her island; the little rascal Bouki, who has a heart of gold, and his clever, brave, silent younger brother Malik; and Dru, scared and unsure, but so sweet. These characters felt so real to me, so alive, and their friendship warmed my heart. But what captivated me the most was Baptiste's incredible storytelling.

Not only is The Jumbie an exciting though creepy fantasy, it's also an education in cultural stories. The Jumbies is a retelling of the Haitian folktale The Magic Orange Tree crossed with the Carribean fairy tales of the jumbies. The jumbies - the douens, spirit children with backwards feet, the La Diabless, beautiful women with one cow's hoof for a foot, the lagahoo, werewolf like creatures in chains, the soucouyant, old ladies who can remove their skin to become fireballs - are creatures from stories told to children in the Caribbean, stories Baptiste was told herself as a child in Trinidad. As Baptiste weaves her words, she breathes life into the creepy, trickster jumbies.

It's wonderful to follow Corinne as she discovers the truth about her mother and her death, and the magic she holds. This #OwnVoices novel - in which the whole island is inhabited by people of colour - is a story with love, kindness and friendship at it's heart.The Jumbies is fun, creepy, and completely wonderful! I'm so looking forward to the sequel, The Rise of the Jumbies!

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Published: 26th April 2016
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Tracey Baptiste's Website

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