Under the Breadfruit Tree: Island Poems

Overview


As in her award-winning Not a Copper Penny in Me House, Monica Gunning brings young readers back to the Jamaica of her childhood. The poems present intimate portraits of family and friends, as children see them in happy times and sad times. There are lively characters in moments both poignant and comical, such as Aunt Mae and her breadfruit trees, Stella-Sue walking like a ballerina to market, and Hilda the higgler, selling her spicy pies. Here is a book filled with the sights, smells, and sounds of the ...
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Overview


As in her award-winning Not a Copper Penny in Me House, Monica Gunning brings young readers back to the Jamaica of her childhood. The poems present intimate portraits of family and friends, as children see them in happy times and sad times. There are lively characters in moments both poignant and comical, such as Aunt Mae and her breadfruit trees, Stella-Sue walking like a ballerina to market, and Hilda the higgler, selling her spicy pies. Here is a book filled with the sights, smells, and sounds of the island, and illustrated with simple yet stunning scratchboard artwork by Fabricio Vanden Broeck.

A collection of poems about people and places that were part of the author's childhood in Jamaica.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Jeanne K. Pettenati
In these 36 poems, the author paints a portrait of her childhood in Jamaica. Her language conveys a gentle island inhabited by people who look out for each other in the true sense of community. This is especially evident in "One Hand Washes the Other." Characters come to life through a child's eyes; and we meet loving Grandma, generous Aunt Mae, mean old Aunt Aggie, graceful Stella-Sue, storyteller Nana, and a host of others. Her keen observances go to the heart of the matter. Distinctive black and white sketches enhance the musical text.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-7Gunning continues to reminisce about the island childhood she described in Not a Copper Penny to Me Name Wordsong, 1993. With sensitivity and candor, she describes life on the island of Jamaica as well as the people who inhabit it. She speaks of the down-to-earth honesty of poor friends and family. She tells of the generosity of Aunt Mae, who willingly gives away breadfruit, as compared to "Mean Old Aunt Aggie," who won't even give away fruit that is rotting on the vine. Readers meet the one person in town who makes sure that an old man is not totally abandoned and Uncle Viv, who offers plums to youngsters who ask because he can remember when he was hungry. The cadence of the poetry brings the sounds of the island to life. The cast of characters and the universal situations described make this at once a collection about all people and a look at a specific part of the world. Broeck's black-and-white scratchboard illustrations complement the poetry, creating a selection that would make a fine addition to any library.Renee Steinberg, Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
A moving collage of poems and illustrations recreates the daily life of a girl growing up in Jamaica, introducing friends and relatives in her life, and reflecting her observations. Readers will sense the narrator's exhilaration at splashing in the "water crystals" that spray out of Aunt Sue's hose, and will join in her adventures with her best friend, Connie. Sad moments come, too; when Connie dies, readers feel the loss acutely. Gems of human kindness shine particularly bright amidst the ever-present poverty of the island: Aunt Mae shares breadfruit with Grandma when food is scarce, and Uncle Viv can't stop giving away plums to hungry street children. Although a vendor of spicy patties appears to be selling doughnuts and cupcakes, the black-and-white scratchboard illustrations capture Jamaica through the textures of palm leaves, breadfruit, bird feathers, and the wrinkled skin of the elderly. Readers will learn more about Jamaica from these sensitive poems than many visitors to the island ever do. (Poetry. 7-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590782583
  • Publisher: Highlights Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2004
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.80 (w) x 9.80 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author


Monica Gunning is the author of the NCTE National Book Not a Copper Penny in Me House: Poems from the Caribbean. Ms. Gunning lives in Laguna Beach, California.

Fabricio Vanden Broeck has received recognition for his illustration from IBBY-Mexico and and Asian Cultural Centre for UNESCO in Tokyo, which awarded him a prize in the Noma Concours for Children's Book Illustration. He lives in Mexico.

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