NONFICTION

A Likkle Miss Lou: How Jamaican Poet Louise Bennett Coverley Found Her Voice

Owlkids. Aug. 2019. 32p. glossary. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781771473507.
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PreS-Gr 2–From an early age, Louise Bennett Coverley, later known as “Miss Lou,” loved playing with words. At school, she was taught to use “proper” English instead of the patois that she heard at home and on the streets of Jamaica. Although she could navigate the world of “sentences that should line up like the tramcar tracks,” it wasn’t until she incorporated the musical and free-floating cadences of Jamaican dialect that she truly found her artistic voice. Encouraged by a mother who provided love and support and teachers who recognized and nurtured her talent, Coverley grew up to become a celebrated poet and performer. In the 1940s, she was the first black student to be offered a scholarship to the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in England. Throughout her life, Miss Lou lived in Jamaica, the UK, the United States, and Canada. Her highly regarded efforts to honor Jamaican patois paved the way for others, including singer Bob Marley. The large full-color illustrations capture the beauty of the sun-drenched Caribbean island. Both the standard English words and the patois verses are written in different but very clear fonts, and there is considerable white space surrounding them. A note from the author, a glossary of Jamaican words, references, and a photo of Miss Lou are appended.
VERDICT Recommended for biography collections wishing to incorporate some lesser-known and inspiring persons

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