Rise of the Jumbies - Author Spotlight

Welcome to Teachers Who Read - we are students of Mrs. Thomas's class who have a love  of reading and want others to know about our favorite authors! 

Tell us about your most recent book.
Rise of the Jumbies is the sequel to The Jumbies. This time, when children begin to go missing on Corinne's Caribbean island she decides to take on a water jumbie--Mama D'Leau--to help her find them. But Mama D'Leau's help comes at a price, and Corinne finds herself on an adventure very far from home. In this story, readers are introduced to more jumbies, as well as some familiar mythical creatures: mermaids! Corinne works with the mermaids and her friends to complete Mama D'Leau's task. It turns out to be much more difficult than any of them realize.  

When did you decide you wanted to be an author? 
Probably since I was three and my mother handed me a huge illustrated copy of Grimm's Fairy Tales. It was so gorgeous, and I liked the stories so much. I tried to rewrite several Snow White stories to make the endings better. That's when I realized I might like to write my own stories. 

What were your middle grade years like? 4th, 5th grade? Did you enjoy reading or writing? 
I grew up in Trinidad & Tobago, which goes by the British system, so 4th grade would have been what we called Standard 5. That's actually a tough year for kids because there's a national exam that all the kids take and every kid is ranked publicly. The results come out in the newspaper with your name, your rank, and what school you'll go to next. The better your results, the better school you'll get into. It's very intense. I don't recall what my rank was, but I got into my first choice school, so that was great.

I loved reading and writing in those years. I read a British series called The Naughtiest Girl in School. 

When did you realize you were a writer?
 I think I always thought I was a writer, but I didn't really start taking it seriously until I was out of college.

Do you have any plans for continuing The Jumbies?
 We've been talking about doing a third one. At first I didn't think I could because I had such a big ending for the second one that I didn't know how I could continue the story. But I spent a month in Trinidad over the summer, and some ideas started to come to me. I might have a new story. But it's still too early to tell for sure.

In your words, how would you sell The Jumbies and Rise to students who are unfamiliar with the Caribbean? (We are from Texas!)
Kids who like action and adventure will like this series. There are cliffhangers with people hanging off of actual cliffs! Plus kids who love monsters and mythology will enjoy learning about the mythology of the Caribbean and the monsters we have in our stories. The series is fast paced with lots of adventure and monsters, but still has heart. At its core it's a series about love of family and friendship. 

Without giving away the plot to others, can you talk a little bit about the theme/lesson(s) that Corinne encounters throughout both books? How is this relatable to real life?
Corinne's story is really about not judging others you don't know. Corinne and the jumbies have very different languages and cultures, but they share the same island, and at their core, they want the same things. 

What was your favorite book as a child? What's your favorite middle grade book currently (aside from your own)? 
The Naughtiest Girl series for sure. Right now, my favorite MG is Kelly Barnhill's The Girl Who Drank the Moon. 

If you could recommend any books to us as 4/5th graders, what would it be? 
I'd recommend all of Kelly's books, as well as York by Laura Ruby. 

Last question, any advice as young readers and writers?
Good writers read a lot, and they read widely. That mean  they don't only read one type of book. There is a lot to learn from reading all kinds of different books.
Good writers also aren't afraid to rewrite things. Nothing comes out perfectly the first time.

Thank you so much for writing books that interest us to traditional folklore – we look forward to more from Tracey Baptiste!

Affiliate link to Amazon

The Jumbies, the 2015 novel by Trinidadian-American author Tracey Baptiste, introduced middle-grade readers to those titular creatures of Caribbean folklore. Celebrated as “spellbinding”(Parents) and “endlessly addictive and hypnotic” (Essence), the book garnered remarkable praise from national media like the Washington Post, pop culture websites, and more.

Now the jumbies return in an enchanting sequel that can also be read as a standalone adventure: Rise of the Jumbies (Algonquin Young Readers, September 19, ages 8–12). In this rich, colorful story, Corinne and her friends team up with Mama D’Leau, the fearsome jumbie of the sea, and her mermaids to rescue some missing children. Baptiste ingeniously blends a spooky, otherworldly fantasy with an engaging and accessible lesson on the legacy of the Transatlantic slave trade.

“In Rise of the Jumbies,” says Baptiste, “I take my characters back across the ocean to the storytellers who probably invented jumbies, in West Africa. Were stories of the Ghanaian goddess Mami Wata brought on slave ships to become the Caribbean jumbie Mama D’Leau? What else did the enslaved bring across the ocean? Which stories turned and changed with the tides? And more importantly, what was lost in them?”

Fans of action-packed adventures with folkloric roots like Natalie Lloyds’s A Snicker of Magic and Grace Lin’s Where the Mountain Meets the Moon will be entranced by Rise of the Jumbies. I’m beyond thrilled to share this important book with the world, and I’d love to work with you to do so. Please see the full description below, along with previous praise and author info, and let me know if you might like to schedule an interview with Tracey Baptiste or if you already have plans for review. Need another ARC? Just ask.

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About Rise of the Jumbies
Corinne La Mer defeated the malicious jumbie Severine months ago, but things haven’t quite returned to normal, now that everyone knows Corinne is half jumbie. When local children go missing from their Caribbean Island home, suspicious eyes turn to Corinne. To rescue the missing children and clear her own name, Corinne goes deep into the ocean to find Mama D’Leau, the dangerous jumbie who rules the sea. But Mama D’Leau’s help comes with a price. Corinne and her friends Dru, Bouki, and Malik must travel with mermaids across the ocean to the shores of Ghana to fetch a powerful object for Mama D’Leau. On the journey, Corinne and her friends also learn about the legacy of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade through engaging, accessible storytelling. With its action-packed narrative, diverse characters, and inventive twists on Caribbean and West African mythology and fairy tales, Rise of the Jumbies will appeal to readers of A Snicker of Magic, A Tale Dark and Grimm, and Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.
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Kirkus Reviews (starred review):
Corinne La Mer has settled back into island life after her fight with the jumbie Severine (The Jumbies, 2015), but no sooner does normalcy arrive than it leaves again when an earthquake rocks the island and her friend Laurent goes missing. Other children start to disappear, and Corinne's only clue leads her to the water. With steadfast friends Malik, Bouki, and Dru, she sets out to uncover what mysterious force has taken the children and defeat it. She makes a bargain with the water jumbie Mama D'Leau for help, but even with a supernatural boost, Corinne will need all of her strengths to defeat the mysterious kidnapper and save her friends. Baptiste's colorful, rich Caribbean characters return triumphantly in this sequel, and the mythos of the island continues to expand. Baptiste deepens what could be a light and charming undersea adventure with ties to African religions and the historical legacy of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. As other young children of the African diaspora sort out their feelings about and relationships with slavery, so do Corinne and her loyal friends. While other tales may address it with a casual aside or scrub out the grimiest bits, leaving history in a shiny, tidy package removed from reality, Baptiste allows her characters to find and create ways to grapple with uncomfortable truths. A stirring and mystical tale sure to keep readers thinking past the final page. (Fantasy. 8-12)
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About Tracey Baptiste
Raised in Trinidad until she was a teenager, Tracey Baptiste is a former educator-turned-editor, with positions at McGraw-Hill and Scholastic. She earned a master’s in education at New York University and is on the faculty at Lesley University’s Creative Writing MFA program. She lives in New Jersey.
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Previous Praise for The Jumbies

“Endlessly addictive and hypnotic.”

“Tracey Baptiste scares up new audiences to learn about jumbies . . . She builds a fairy tale about a brave girl and her adventures among Caribbean creatures.”
Washington Post

“This spellbinding adaptation of a Haitian folktale is just scary enough.”

The Jumbies starts off with a chase and leaves the reader wanting more, in a very good way.”

“A scary but cheerful tale that draws on Caribbean folk traditions. A great update on the ‘town under supernatural attack’ story, with a marvelous setting.”
Baltimore Sun

“While this book is set in the real world of Trinidad, the story’s magical realism, rooted in Caribbean folklore, lifts it into an otherworldly realm . . . The Jumbies combines the right amount of fairy-tale magic, atmosphere, friendship and bravery.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“A slightly different take on a familiar genre [and] a very awesome example of a strong female . . .”
KQED Radio (San Francisco NPR)

“Baptiste’s story, based on a Haitian folktale, is action-packed and original with an appealing cast of characters.”
The Horn Book Guide

“This is a well written tale full of action with enough scary elements to satisfy fans of Adam Gidwitz’s A Tale Dark and Grimmor Laura Amy Schlitz’s Splendors and Glooms.”
School Library Journal

“This girl’s got guts. Even as she wanders the mystery-shrouded forest full of creepy-crawlies from Haitian folklore and faces up to the frightening newcomer to her village, Corrine La Mer brings badassery and wisdom beyond her years. Launching brave kids into the world of the horror novel, and leading them through it with lyrical prose, author Tracey Baptiste knows just how to seize kids’ attention.”
Foreword Reviews

“It’s refreshing to see a fantasy with its roots outside Europe . . . this is a book worth reading simply for its originality.”
Kirkus Reviews

Rise of the Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste
Hardcover $16.95
On sale date: 09-19-2017
Category: Children
Pages: 272
Trim size: 5.5 X 8.25
ISBN: 978-1-61620-665-9
Brooke Csuka, Publicist
Algonquin Books & Algonquin Young Readers
Phone: 919-913-3868

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