Review: A Likkle Miss Lou

Summary

A biography of Jamaican poet Louise Bennett Coverly’s early life in Jamaica, including how she drew inspiration from the sounds of Jamaican patois and eventually overcame her fear of sharing her poetry with others. The book includes some writing samples by Miss Lou, an extended author’s note covering the life and legacy of the poet, and a glossary of Jamaican patois terms used in the book.  

Review

A Likkle Miss Lou: How Jamaican Poet Louise Bennett Coverly Found Her Voice by Nadia L. Hohn is a well-researched, inspiring, and lyrical biography of Jamaican poet Louise Bennett Coverly. It is fitting that Nadia L. Hohn has written this biography of Miss Lou, a woman captivated by the sounds of words, in such a poetic style. The story sends an inspiring message to readers to find courage to share their true selves and lean into what they love. Both Hohn’s use of language and the storyline may encourage some budding poets to emerge in its young readers!

“Louise Bennett loved words. She played with them. She ate them up for breakfast, served with roasted breadfruit, ackee, and saltfish. She swallowed each word whole.”

– Nadia L. Hohn, A Likkle Miss Lou

Eugenie Fernandes’ illustrations are bright, clear, and expressive, and support reading this biography in a group setting for school age children. A Likkle Miss Lou offers many opportunities for educational tie-ins, from Black history to women’s history, from language to geography, from poetry to the craft of biography itself. Miss Lou’s impact as an icon across the Jamaican diaspora makes A Likkle Miss Lou a perfect fit for shelves all over the world, but this title by a Black Canadian author about a Black woman living in Canada is especially vital in Canadian schools and libraries where biographies of Black American figures often dominate children’s non-fiction collections.

About the Author

Nadia L. Hohn is a first generation Canadian, born to parents with Jamaican ancestry. She lives in Toronto. 

About the Illustrator

Eugenie Fernandes grew up in Long Island, NY, and now lives near Peterborough, ON. 

Helpful Links

Behind the Book: A Likkle Miss Lou Author Nadia L. Hohn

Socamom: Book Review: A Likkle Miss Lou

Toronto Star: Miss Lou’s sweet Jamaican patois speaks to a whole new generation

CBC Books: A Likkle Miss Lou

Book Details

Title: A Likkle Miss Lou: How Jamaican Poet Louise Bennett Coverley Found Her Voice

Author: Nadia L. Hohn

Illustrator: Eugenie Fernandes 

Publisher: Owlkids

Year Published: 2019

ISBN: 9781771473507

Review: Keeshig & the Ojibwe Pterodactyls

Summary

Keeshig and his family go to the beach, and he tells his mother stories about Nanaboozhoo (commonly referred to by settlers as Sleeping Giant) who he sees in the distance. To his mother’s delight, Keeshig muses about what he calls ‘Ojibwe pterodactyls’ and considers where they live and what they eat. He then shares that the Ojibwe pterodactyls are thunderbirds and their thunderous wingbeats are really the heartbeat of Nanaboozhoo. His mother tells Keeshig how grateful she is for his story. 

Review

Keeshig & the Ojibwe Pterodactyls is a beautiful example of what can happen when a family creates together. It is a family project with Celeste Pedri-Spade writing the story as told to her by seven year-old Keeshig Spade, and Robert Spade and six year-old Kiniw Spade creating the accompanying illustrations. Readers will find this story told through the eyes of a child a fun and accessible lens into Anishinaabe storytelling, and there are plenty of opportunities for educational tie-ins about Indigenous language, cultures, and geography, as well as storytelling and creative writing. The illustrations by Robert Spade are vivid and stunning, and those by Kiniw Spade help bring the reader back to Keeshig’s childlike perspective. This heartwarming story is an absolute treasure for any picture book collection. 

About the Authors

Keeshig Spade (Keeshigbahnahnkut) is a seven year-old Anishinabe from Lac des Milles Lacs First Nation and currently lives with his family in Sudbury, ON. 

Dr. Celeste Pedri Spade (Anang Onimiwin) is an Anishinabekwe from Lac des Milles Lac First Nation.

About the Illustrators

Robert Spade (Keeshigooninii) is an Anishinabe from Northern Ontario (Fort Hope First Nation).

Kiniw Spade (Nitaw Gamik) is a six year-old Anishinabe from Lac des Mille Lacs First Nation and currently lives with his family in Sudbury, ON.

Helpful Links

Anishinabek News: Sudbury-based family creates Indigenous children’s book, telling a simple, true story

Book Details

Title: Keeshig & the Ojibwe Pterodactyls

Authors: Keeshig Spade as told to Celeste Pedri-Spade

Illustrators: Robert Spade & Kiniw Spade

Publisher: Kegedonce Press

Year Published: 2019

ISBN: 9781928120209

Review: My Cat Looks Like My Dad

Summary

The narrator compares all of the ways their large fluffy yellow cat is similar to their light-skinned blonde dad (i.e. “They both love milk. And sardines. Ewww…”) and closes the story by showing how they themselves are similar to their mom. If readers are paying close attention to the illustrations, they might catch on to the twist that the narrator isn’t who we expect them to be!

Review

Thao Lam inserts so much humour in her papercraft-style illustrations — this simple but charming story showcasing the similarities between the narrator’s dad and their family’s large fluffy yellow cat is sure to leave readers with a smile. My Cat Looks Like My Dad offers opportunities for tie-ins with themes around family or pets and provides an excellent starting place for young readers to begin thinking about point of view in stories. A quietly funny book with a heartfelt message about families coming in all shapes and sizes that would work well in smaller group settings where children can more closely explore the illustrations, but could also be infused with extra energy for larger groups by having children repeating actions described in the book (i.e. stretches, belly rubs, etc.). 

About the Author-Illustrator

Thao Lam is Vietnamese-Canadian and lives in Toronto, ON.

Book Details

Title: My Cat Looks Like My Dad

Author-Illustrator: Thao Lam

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Year Published: 2019

ISBN: 9781771473514