Internationally recognised poet and Chevening scholar, Juleus Ghunta, returned to his home parish, Hanover, to launch his picture book, Tata and the Big Bad Bull. The launch took place on May 22 at 10 am at the Hanover Parish Library. After the formal event, at 1:30 pm, Ghunta lead a walk following the route from his childhood home in Pell River to his alma mater, Kendal Primary School. The purpose of the walk is to raise awareness about the negative impact that the almost decade–long closure of the Green Island Branch Library has had on communities in Hanover. Additionally, the walk will provide children with a unique opportunity to engage with the real–life experiences that inspired fictional characters in a book.
The events will be attended by teachers and students from several schools, as well as individuals from the public and private sector. There will be activities and crafts for the children and attendees will be able to interact with several of the people who influenced the story. The Director of the Institute for Gender and Development Studies, UWI, Mona, Professor Opal Palmer Adisa, will participate along with the Mayor of Lucea, Mr Sheridan Samuels, and the principal of Kendal Primary, Ms Karlene Wallace.
Tata and the Big Bad Bull is a fast–paced narrative poem of a young Jamaican boy overcoming financial challenges and bullying to achieve his goals. The book is loosely based on Ghunta’s childhood. Determined to go to school despite financial constraints, he took a shortcut through a pasture and encountered a fierce bull who charged at him. The story is amusing on the surface, but there is a lot to unpack in the simple rhyming lines. It addresses how to deal with bullying on individual and community levels and encourages children to embrace tolerance and problem solving. The book has received high praise for its handling of these issues. Jamaican author of Garvey’s Ghost, Geoffrey Philp commented that “in this delightful tale, young readers learn that perseverance is a gift in itself.” The Midwest Review called it “An island wisdom tale with messages of compassion for all,” and The Old School Magazine said that “There are so many huge life lessons tucked into this small children’s book that it is definitely one you’ll want to read multiple times.”
Publishing Tata is a great triumph for Ghunta who experienced many obstacles during his childhood, including being illiterate up to age twelve. Ghunta is delighted that his book will be launched in the parish of his birth. “This is a profoundly challenging time for Hanover. We need to do all we can to inspire hope in our young people. Tata is a story about hope and our possibilities. I would like to encourage everyone to participate,” he said.
Tata and the Big Bad Bull is illustrated by UK artist Ann-Cathrine Loo and published by CaribbeanReads. It is available at Kingston Bookshop and Kozy Korner Bookstore in Jamaica and at online retailers. Learn about this book and more at www.caribbeanreads.com.