Daily Observer (Jamaica)

‘Kush Kush’ yam and ‘Ti Koko’ coconut as memory in new Caribbean children’s book

- Ti Koko and Kush Kush by Patricia G Turnbull House of Nehesi Publishers, 2018 Hardcover, storybook, illustrate­d. ISBN 9780997489­545 By Shasa Lake

Ti Koko and Kush Kush by Patricia G Turnbull is a storybook for boys and girls, ages four to nine, set on the lush bayside of Garden Bay on a tropical island paradise. Sounds familiar? If you have grown up on or near a beach, or wish that you did, this is sooo your story. If you’re from the countrysid­e or city it’s also off to a magical place for your children, and you too. Ti Koko and Kush Kush is about “a happy little coconut tree and a friendly, wise yam” in a small community, reviews Nicole Phillipdow­e on the book’s cover. What happens on the bayside is not all happy, however. The little coconut tree is soon physically crushed by “Brogudoosh!,” a big new developmen­t thing that bullies its way onto the beach. The coconut starts to bawl, “I’ll never grow tall to stir the breeze and brush the sky.” The breadfruit doesn’t know what to do, the calabash is crying. It’s Kush Kush yam to the rescue of Ti Koko and who rallies the neighbourh­ood: “Remember your roots,” she says, “or you will fall! You must stand on your roots to reach that high.” Turnbull’s choice of the yam as a culturebea­rer is brilliant. The yam has a royal origins legacy deep in the psyche of Caribbean people. It’s also a staple to “nyam” in our cuisine (yes, I’m a foodie), and a main survival food for over 300 years. As for the coconut, respect to one of the oldest living natives of the region. I’m always collecting children’s books for the beauty of the story and of the books’ design, which helps to make reading exciting in the home. So when I bought Ti Koko and Kush Kush for my girls, Amisha, and the youngest, Sanaa, it was because I loved its message in words and pictures. Strong roots define who you are, what you will become and keeps you grounded, literally. Amisha was the first to say that she loved the book. The easy reading means that she can also be the proud big sister, acting as a storytelle­r to Sanaa anytime. The colourful art by Reuben Vanterpool, exclusive for Ti Koko and Kush Kush, illustrate­s the poem-story’s talking plants and fruits, fishermen with their boat on the beach, farmers by moonlight, and children going home after school. This is the second oversized hardcover book from House of Nehesi Publishers that I’ve bought for children and fell in love with, to my own amazement. I’m happy to know that a Caribbean publisher and writers in the region are creating such wonderful work. Ti Koko and Kush Kush is available for Internet orders at www.spdbooks. org, Amazon, and from bookstores in the Caribbean and Canada.

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