The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste | SLJ Review

BAPTISTE, Tracey. The Jumbies. 240p. Algonquin. Apr. 2015. Tr $15.95. ISBN 9781616204143.

Gr 3-5 –A middle grade twist on a traditional Haitian folktale. Corinne and her father don’t believe in jumbies, malevolent creatures that come out of the island’s dark woods to prey on people. Then one dayJUmbies a strangely beautiful lady named Severine walks into Corinne’s house and takes over, her Papa begins acting weird, and evil creatures attack the village. Corinne and her friends approach the white witch for help but she can’t assist because it would affect the ancient balance between creatures and humans. However, the white witch does tell Corinne that she has a special power that can help. Readers will find Corinne engaging and her determination authentic. Corinne’s friends, Dru, Bouki, and Malik are also fully formed and believable characters whose loyalty and bravery help save the day. Even the evil Severine is drawn well enough to evoke empathy in readers. The story builds nicely to the inevitable confrontation between Corinne and Severine. Though the denouement seems a little too good to be true, the themes of fairness, justice, and retribution meld into a better than average evil witch story. VERDICT This is a well written tale full of action with enough scary elements to satisfy fans of Adam Gidwitz’s A Tale Dark and Grimm (Penguin, 2010) or Laura Amy Schlitz’s Splendors and Glooms (Candlewick, 2012).–Gretchen Crowley, Alexandria City Public Libraries, VA

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