Dr. Cherrell Shelley-Robinson's presentation on October 14, entitled A we dis? Cultural Representations of the Caribbean in Children's Books was very interesting and thought provoking. It was well done, and Hazel Campbell has given a comprehensive account of it, as well as her specific and insightful comments. I think you will find her blog on this most informative.: http://jambooks-fiction.blogspot.com.
1. I knew that there were many more books on the Caribbean in countries like the UK than we knew. I was astounded at the number that Dr. Shelley-Robinson discovered. No, I cannot tell you how much they were, because any time I hear something that totally astounds me, frightens me by its enormity, my brain locks down. It must be some mechanism to stop me from shrieking out with dismay. Suffice it to say that there is an enormous amount of books about which we know nothing. You could contact Dr. Shelley-Robinson through the Department of Library and Information Studies, UWI, for more information. She is retiring, to do more useful research, I think, and is donating her entire Caribbean children's book collection (collected from all over the Caribbean and other developed countries) to the University Library. So big up Cherrrell!
2. I knew that books produced overseas were giving a wrong impression of us, or as she said, a less than balanced view. I had become reconciled to that, in a manner of speaking. One has to be reconciled to some things, because one cannot fight on all fronts. However, I never thought about 'our children', the children of the children of those who migrated. They are ours because they are still seen as being descended from us, which is good. I had not thought as Dr. Shelley-Robinson pointed out, that they too are being given an unbalanced picture of the islands, a picture which might lead to them feeling 'less than equal' knowing that they are being viewed as 'less than equal'. And there is nothing they can do about it because they do not know otherwise.
This must be a call for some of our writers and publishers to try and penetrate this market with a variety of children's and young adult material. Not an easy task, I can tell you. Any suggestions, guys?