Songs in the Shade of the Cashew and Coconut Trees, a stunning collection of transatlantic lullabies, lies at the intersection of many disciplines, including fieldwork, musical arrangements, illustration, anthropology, and writing for children. A work that will delight adults and kids alike, it features twenty-three lullabies from West Africa and the Caribbean. Spanning a vast area from Cuba and Haiti to Ghana and Angola, this book illustrates the historical and cultural links between these places, created by the transatlantic slave trade, by pointing to their shared musical styles. As one passage explains, “Lullabies, nursery rhymes and traditional songs are more intimate than historical memory, revealing a people’s way of life, desires and imagination.” It is thus an invitation to “travel” to these countries and catch a glimpse of life at its most intimate – in the songs that shape the early lives of children.
Songs in the Shade of the Cashew and Coconut Trees
Lullabies and Nursery Rhymes from West Africa and the Caribbean
Songs collected by Nathalie Soussana, Musical arrangements by Jean-Christophe Hoarau
Illustrated by Judith Gueyfier
The Secret Mountain
The book also comes with a CD (or a digital download link), either for listening along while flipping through pages or enjoyed on its own. The selected songs represent a wonderful collection of music, featuring traditional instruments beautifully arranged by Jean-Christophe Hoarau.
While the first half of the book serves to illustrate the songs, the second half explains the connection between West Africa and the Caribbean in a way that is appropriate to young audiences. It also includes notes about the languages heard and the role of music as the link between disparate cultures. THe lyrics of each song, in the original language and in English translation, are accompanied by an explanation of the story they tell and their cultural context.
Songs in the Shade of the Cashew and Coconut Trees will please everyone from small children to folklore scholars to world music enthusiasts – a gem of a book.
At some point in the process of raising young ones, parents become intimately familiar with the question: “Why?” Particularly around the preschool age, children set off on a path of wonder and amazement that has them demanding constant explanation of the world from any and all nearby adults. Just Because, a playful new book by Mac Barnett, illustrated by the incomparable Isabelle Arsenault, leans into the interrogation process. More than merely calling on us to appreciate children’s constant questioning, this book celebrates adults who find inspiration in answering.
Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
The Boy Who Invented the Popsicle
Illustrated by Milan Pavlovic
Kids Can Press
Accompanied by Milan Pavlovic’s bright illustrations that pop off the page, this is an ideal book to share with any budding natural science enthusiast or fan of frozen treats!
My Mommy, My Mama, My Brother, and Me
Illustrated by Mathilde Cinq-Mars
It’s no secret that the current generation of adolescents and teens is mentally over- taxed. The main problem plaguing them? Stress. With overwhelming expectations and a digital environment that never allows them to unplug from their stressors, we are seeing more and more reports of depression and anxiety in young people than ever before.
The Science of Stress
Tanya Lloyd Kyi
Illustrated by Marie-Ève Tremblay
Kids Can Press
With colourful illustrations by Marie-Ève Tremblay that lend some levity to a difficult subject, it’s an excellent example of a neutral approach that does not dramatize stress but simply presents the science of what it is. It’s surprising that a book about this particular topic would not give space to one of the major producers of stress, anxiety, and depression kids face right now: digital culture and social media interactions. However, the scientific facts that it focuses on are certainly transferable to any situation – digital or IRL.mRb