New Book Review: The Wonder of the World Leaf by Summer Edward, Reviewed by Josh Hem Lee
The children’s picture book The Wonder of the World Leaf is written by Summer Edward with illustrations by Sayada Ramdial. In the book, we follow the quest of Wygenia, a young girl who lives on the island of Trinidad. When her beloved Grannie falls ill, Wygenia determines to find a seemingly magical leaf called Wonder of the World after learning about the leaf in school.
The leaf is so named due to its restorative and healing powers for a variety of illnesses. In searching for the leaf we see both the importance of community to life in Trinidad and Tobago and the use of non traditional medicine as various community members recommend all types of remedies for Grannie’s ailment. Wygenia and her friend Sanjay use their own ingenuity however to come up with a solution.
The book’s illustrations capture the joy and vibrancy of life in Trinidad and Tobago as well as the diversity of the people as Trinidad’s two major ethnic groups are East Indian and African. Other elements of Trinidad folklore are also touched on throughout the novel and will provide lots of fodder for conversation and further reading.
Like many other islands, Trinidad has its own English dialect and most of the dialogue in the book is in this dialect which lends a real sense of authenticity to the story. In places where it is difficult to use context clues to decipher the meaning of words however, that text is in bold and Edwards includes a glossary at the end of the book.
This book would be a wonderful addition to a classroom library, public library or personal collection for people on the island and for expats who wish to share their culture with their offspring. It is well written, accessible and perhaps most importantly, culturally authentic.
Josh J. Hem Lee is a librarian and writer based in Denver CO. He and his wife Cecilia are the parents of two boys. He enjoys traveling and photography and also runs the Books, Crafts and Beats blog and the soon to be launched Tanka Lanka Tales podcast. He can be found on twitter: @joshelprofe Instagram: @escritor_jhl Blog: https://trinibrarian.blogspot.com/