In today’s #WorldKidLit Wednesday review, let’s travel to the Caribbean island of Trinidad, where Wygenia uses bush medicine to help heal her Grannie.
The Wonder of the World Leaf is aimed at readers ages 6-8, who are reading confidently and fluently most of the time. My edition is a slim 32-page paperback with short paragraphs of text and bright illustrations on every page. Written by Summer Edward with illustrations by Sayada Ramdial, both Trinidadian-Americans, the story is infused with island culture, language and color.
The leaf of the title comes from the Wonder of the World plant. Wygenia, a young girl of around 7, comes home with one after learning about traditional healing practices at school. She believes that this special leaf could help her grandmother recover from an unstated illness. Indeed, so strong is Wygenia’s determination that she and her friend Sanjay decide to grow their own plants from the leaves, watering them every day until their dedication pays off!
Grannie regularly sips on tea made from fresh Wonder of the World leaves and, at one stage, tries a tie-head, involving—you guessed it—another leaf, this time applied to her forehead in a cloth wrap. Soon, Grannie is taking part in small social events with friends and responding with smiles to folktales. As neighbors stop to wish Grannie well, it is as if the whole community is supporting her through her illness. And readers will no doubt be hoping for a positive outcome to the story, too. Which there is (and it involves plenty of people, plants and sweet treats!)
The Wonder of the World Leaf is not only a heartwarming story of family, community and traditional healing; it also provides readers with fascinating insights into Trinidadian language and culture. The text is sprinkled with Trinbagonian words and phrases, such as “buljol”, “doux-doux” and “I never see more!” These are bolded and listed in a helpful glossary in the end pages. A further section invites readers to explore Wygenia’s feelings at different stages of the story; ideas for reading the book in more depth are also provided.
This is a wonderful book for readers who live in Trinidad or are familiar with the island but equally fascinating for readers from elsewhere.
The Wonder of the World Leaf
Written by Summer Edward
Illustrated by Sayada Ramdial
Collins Big Cat, 2021
You can buy a copy of The Wonder of the World Leaf here.*
Read an interview with author Summer Edward about The Wonder of the World Leaf here.
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Laura Taylor is the founder of world children’s literature blog Planet Picture Book. She is a small business copywriter, NAATI-certified translator of French into English and member of AUSIT. When she is not writing, she is reading, and chasing after her two young children. She tweets @plapibo and posts at www.planetpicturebook.com