From the Publisher
"Sitting in the taxi from the airport, squashed tightly between his grandparents, Gregory wished he was back home with his mum and dad. Why did he have to come to Tobago? The air was stifling and the strange smells disturbed him. Gregory shut his eyes. All of a sudden he felt very tired."
from the book
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Binch (Amazing Grace) makes her debut as a writer with a well-told, if predictable, cross-cultural tale; it is her sparkling watercolors that steal the show. Brilliant blues, yellows and greens evoke the tropical splendor of Tobago, where an African American boy named Gregory is sent to visit his grandparents and cousin Lennox. The obvious issues of culture shock crop up right away-unfamiliar foods, no TV, different games-each magnifying Gregory's discomfort. When he tries to mask his uncertainty with indifference, Lennox shrewdly observes, ``You sure know it all, Gregory. You think you cool.'' A trip to the ocean with their knowing grandparents helps the boys discover some common ground and, as they romp in the water, they find the first threads of friendship. Binch's remarkably lively faces convey a wealth of emotions with which readers will immediately identify: shyness, fear, embarrassment, elation, love. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3-Gregory, a typically cool American kid, arrives in Tobago for a first-ever visit with his native grandparents and is simultaneously homesick, critical, and withdrawn. Cousin Lennox's cheery and helpful ways don't seem to make him feel any better. Everything is so strange and unfamiliar-food, games, and sleeping arrangements. Finally, a day at the beach turns the tide when a false alarm of sharks and the friendly guidance of some local fishermen help Gregory to appreciate his relatives. By the end of the day, the boys are friends and four-weeks vacation hardly seems long enough. Binch's story is thoughtful, and the multicultural message is handled with finesse, but it is the refreshingly clear and beautiful illustrations that make this book a delight. From the gorgeous turquoise-and-white water-filled endpapers to the poignantly alive faces of Gregory and his family, these pictures fairly burst off the page. Done in pencil and watercolor, they are similar in style to the artist's work in Mary Hoffman's Amazing Grace (Dial, 1991), but filled with tropical light and vibrant colors. Readers will feel the breezes and enjoy the tantalizing beach. A refreshing visit to a beautiful island with a good story to boot.-Beth Tegart, Oneida City Schools, NY
Read an Excerpt
“Gregory, you just like your photos,” cried Granny.
“It’s your Granny got to kiss you at last, an’ here’s your Grandpa!”
“My, we so pleased to have you home,” Grandpa said.
Sitting in the taxi from the airport, squashed tightly between his grandparents, Gregory wished he was back home with his mum and dad. Why did he have to come to Tobago?
The air was stifling and the strange smells disturbed him. Gregory shut his eyes. All of a sudden he felt very tired.
The taxi stopped outside a very small house.
“Do you really live here?” asked Gregory. Granny and Grandpa just laughed as they took him inside and showed him his room.
The last he saw before he fell asleep was a lizard looking down at him from the ceiling.
Gregory woke up next morning with just a sheet over him. It was hot! Sun poured in through the open window. There were no toys, no books, no carpet not even a proper door. Gregory scratched at his arm. Something had bitten him during the night. Was he really expected to stay here for four weeks?
In the kitchen, Granny was cooking breakfast and Grandpa sat at a small table with a boy Gregory hadn’t seen before. This must be his cousin. His mum had told him about Lennox, and how he loved with Granny and Grandpa.
“Good morning, Gregory!”
They all smiled at him.
“Come and have some food, boy, then Lennox will show you around,” said Granny.