Josephine Against the Sea

Scholastic. Jul. 2021. 304p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781338642087.
Gr 3-7–Eleven-year old Black girl Josephine has one duty—protect her father. That’s why she has successfully scared off all prospective girlfriends through pranks and trickery. Growing up in Barbados, Josephine thinks she’s more than enough for her father and even schemes to distract him with their shared love of cricket. Things don’t go according to plan and in a moment of frustration, she scratches her initials into a tree. She thinks nothing of it until her father’s newest girlfriend Mariss appears and is impervious to any of Josephine’s tricks. Turns out, Mariss is a River Mumma, a terrifying creature who can cause many good things to happen, but can and will easily take those things away out of spite or jealousy. Josephine and her best friend Akhai will have to figure out how to defeat Mariss, or it’ll be her father who will pay the price. This novel features many references to fascinating creatures from Caribbean mythology, including the protective baccoo and the scary vampirelike soucouyant. As if those two creatures don’t sound difficult enough to deal with, Josephine has to contend with what is probably the scariest of them all, the River Mumma. Josephine’s determination in the face of great odds is one to be applauded, as it seems there’s nothing too big for her. Josephine is not without her limitations, but she learns to do her best to overcome them, making her a character readers will want to root for every step of the way.
VERDICT An entertaining read featuring many references to creatures from Caribbean mythology; sure to be a great addition to any library’s middle grade collection.

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