Title: The Jumbies
Author: Tracey Baptiste
Published: 28th April 2015
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Book Blurb (via GoodReads):
A spine-tingling tale rooted in Caribbean folklore that will have readers holding their breath as they fly through its pages.
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?
When Corinne spots a beautiful stranger speaking to the town witch at the market the next day, she knows something unexpected is about to happen. And when this same beauty, called Severine, turns up at Corinne’s house, cooking dinner for Corinne’s father, Corinne is sure that danger is in the air. She soon finds out that bewitching her father, Pierre, is only the first step in Severine’s plan 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 save her island home.
With its able and gutsy heroine, lyrical narration, and inventive twist on the classic Haitian folktale “The Magic Orange Tree,” The Jumbies will be a favorite of fans of Breadcrumbs, A Tale Dark and Grimm, and Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.
The Jumbies is a thrilling folk tale retelling set on an island with thriving communities afraid of creatures in the forest called Jumbies. Corinne La Mer doesn’t believe in Jumbies because her father has always told her they’re not real.
I loved the premise of this book. I’ve recently gotten into Grimm fairy tales and folk tales are now something I seek out. The Jumbies is based on a Caribbean folk tale called ‘The Magic Orange Tree‘ and I think that it weaves a magical story for young children.
I was instantly drawn into the island world, the rich descriptions whisking me away, and more than once I found myself envious of the characters eating the delicious oranges often described – my mouth watered at their description each time!
I loved the relationship between Corinne and Dru especially, with the natural doubt and fear at learning your friend is something you hadn’t expected. I also loved Corinne and Pierre’s relationship as well. They were a nice family unit despite her mother having passed away. The brothers were a funny pair and I was pleased with how things turned out for them, and everyone really.
It’s a lovely tale with rich descriptions that draw you in, the Jumbies are sufficiently creepy without being too terrifying (although those douens!) and strong bonds of friendship that has you falling in love with the characters.
A beautiful tale that I’m sure many children will enjoy.
Where to get this book
About the Author
I have always loved books. My favorite, was an oversized complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales with beautiful illustrations, which I lost when my family moved to the United States. I was fascinated by the stories of the tailor who went up against a giant, and clever Hans, who wasn’t so clever as well as the more traditional princess stories. When I was about thirteen, after spending a summer in the library reading Paul Zindel and Judy Blume among other authors, I announced to my best friend that I was going to be a writer. I didn’t decide what I wanted to write until I read “The Friends” by Rosa Guy. I had recently moved to Brooklyn, NY, and the book spoke to my situation precisely. It remains one of my favorite books. I started writing for children then, and never stopped. I had early interest from publishers from the moment I began submitting stories at the age of 21, but I didn’t put in the work necessary to become published until my late twenties. “Angel’s Grace” was largely written while I was on maternity leave with my first child. It was inspired by my mother (the redhead) and my husband. Because I have very young children, I work when they sleep, which, sadly, is very little.