I grew up in a house full of accents. Listening to old cassette tapes that my dad made while he was “interviewing” me, I can hear the Trinidadian lilt of my mom’s accent and the assuredness of my dad’s Tobabonian one embedded in my own little voice. To this day, hearing a Trinidadian or Tobagonian accent makes me feel comforted instantly, like I’m home.
In the house, my parents relaxed into their accents and patois. They used words that I never heard them say outside, and eventually, I knew not to use them either. Those words were for the house. That wild and reckless laugh was for the house. “Bacchannal” was a word that my white southern classmates wouldn’t understand. And the word “wotlessness” had no place on the playground, in the classroom, or in my parents’ professional circles.
I listened to my parents move from the comfort of their housebound dialects to the “Queen’s English,” without missing a beat.
Now it has a name – we call it “code-switching.”
Back then it showed me once again, that who I was at home wasn’t who I could, or should be outside.
Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of this book to review. All opinions are my own.
I so enjoyed reading A Likkle Miss Lou by Nadia L. Hohn.
The vibrant illustrations by Eugenie Fernandes, the mix of Jamaican patois and standard English, and the beautiful message about doing what you love and the power of the word, makes this book one that not only kids need on their shelves, but that we adults need as well.
Authors have written many books over the years about what our heroes might have been like in their youth, but this one is special to children of the Caribbean diaspora because it is written by the daughter of immigrants whose parents embraced her desire to stay connected to their culture.
Related: Join the Caribbean Book Club
The story is followed by a more in-depth history of Miss Lou and the author, as well as a glossary so that those who aren’t familiar with the patois can enjoy the book and have a starting point to get to know even more about Jamaican culture.
The book feels sturdy in my hands and the quality is fantastic. It would make a great Christmas gift for expectant moms from the Diaspora, or anyone looking to expand their collection of culturally relevant books for children. This is a new Caribbean children’s classic.
You can order the book on Amazon here – https://amzn.to/2Jvzyf6
Visit the author’s website – http://www.nadialhohn.com/ and follow her on Twitter and Facebook @nadialhohn, and at @nadialhohn_author on Instagram.
What biographical books inspired you as a child? Share in the comments.