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Althea Trotman
Illustrated by Sasso
Toronto, Sister Vision Press, 1991. 32pp, paper, $6.95
ISBN 0-920813-85-2

Junior Kindergarten to Grade 5/ Ages 4 to 10

Reviewed by Lillian M. Turner.

Volume 20 Number 2
1992 March

This Canadian Children's Book Centre choice is another in the multicultural output of Sister Vision Press, which further defines itself as "Black Women and Women of Colour." Trotman was born in Antigua but has lived in Toronto since 1965. Her writings, published in various maga­zines and journals, include poetry, short stories and articles. She is currently working on a collection of short stories and planning to edit an anthology, Sing a Real Song. This is her first book for children. Sasso is a Jamaican artist 'living in hiding in Toronto, waiting for the light to change."

How the East Pond Got its Flowers, set in Antigua, is the story of Utah, born "small-small" with a caul or birthmark, which is a fat piece of loose skin that grew over her face and was removed by the "healing woman," Mother Sillah. She too had been born small-small with a caul. Cauls are really good luck charms because babies born with them grow up to be special people and do great things, but first must be taught to have self-respect and nurture their abilities.

Tulah is soon helping her mother with the household chores and cleaning the ground for planting produce seeds to be sold later in the market. Mother Sillah teaches her how to heal simple ailments and where to find seeds she can plant to make pond-flowers in the fast drying-up East Pond mud. Sasso's black-and-white drawings graphically express love, tenderness, despair, and finally happiness in the miracle of the beautiful flowers.

I have some reservations about the use of dialect in conversations, which can be confusing for children who are just learning to read or spell. Otherwise recommended for ages four to ten and can be used to stimulate discussion of customs and other life-styles.

Lillian M. Turner, Board of Education for the City of York, Toronto, Ont.
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