Friday, May 15, 2015

The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste

I had seen this author in various places, most notably here but for some reason I had not heard of the book but when I saw it come in on the new book crate at my library I told myself that this was a must read and I wasn't disappointed.The story uses creatures from the folklore of Trinidad but the inspiration for the story came from a Haitian tale that Baptiste read.

Set on a fictional island in the Caribbean we meet Corinne, a girl who lives with her loving father, an orange farmer. Her mother, sadly passed away. Corinne and her father do not have much material possessions but what they lack in wealth they more than make up for in affection.

A sensuous woman comes to the village one day and off all the men she chooses Corine's dad as the one she would like to woo. Corinne, and her friends in particular have their suspicions but as children they must know their place. Then things start to get really weird...

 The word "jumbie" is also used as a noun in Trinidadian parlance as to "jumbie" someone means to put them off their stride or to break Baptiste's use of all of the main folkloric creatures under one umbrella term "jumbies" and in the process made me (a native Trinidadian) think about how these things have been used in the past.

This is a well-paced read with endearing nuanced characters. The witch for example is seen as bad by some villagers but she is a pivotal character in the story. Although there are some mildly scary parts i would still recommend this book for readers aged 10+.  I can see this book being used in social studies lessons about other cultures, in Caribbean studies classes as an introduction to the folklore and in a variety of other ways. Excellent book!

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