By Author / Illustrator
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In this heart-stopping adventure, Benjamin Zephaniah shows us what it was like to be a child of the Windrush generation. Leonard is shocked when he arrives with his mother in the port of Southampton. His father is a stranger to him, it's cold and even the Jamaican food doesn't taste the same as it did back home in Maroon Town. But his parents have brought him here to try to make a better life, so Leonard does his best not to complain, to make new friends, to do well at school - even when people hurt him with their words and with their fists. How can a boy so far from home learn to enjoy his new life when so many things count against him? 'Zephaniah pulls no punches in his depictions of the racism that Leonard suffers both at school and in the streets in a powerful, moving account of family and fitting in' iNews 'An invaluable story for any young readers who enjoy adventure and want to learn more about the Windrush generation's experience. Essential reading' Alex Wheatle ABOUT THE SERIES: VOICES A thrilling series showcasing some of the UK's finest writers for young people. Voices reflects the authentic, unsung stories of our past. Each shows that, even in times of great upheaval, a myriad of people have arrived on this island and made a home for themselves - from Roman times to the present day. Perfect for teaching children about inclusivity and diversity
Benjamin Zephaniah's new book Windrush Child depicts the monumental journey that many commonwealth British citizens endeavoured to take in order to help rebuild Britain after World War II. This book portrays a truth that can only be told by a person who has experienced racism in its deepest forms and enlightens the reader to the reality of what the Windrush generation had to endure.
Through the eyes and thoughts of Leonard, the main character, we are introduced to the beautiful country of Jamaica, Maroon Town, where mangoes grow in Leonard's back garden and hummingbirds are a common sight. But life in Jamaica is hard, so Leonard's dad happily takes the opportunity to seek a better one for his family by boarding the Empire Windrush to start a new life in England. For years, Leonard is happy until the day comes for him and his mom to join his dad in England.
On arriving in England by boat, Leonard realises the days of basking in glorious sunshine and eating fresh mangoes have gone. He is exposed to the grim, grey weather of Manchester with its cold temperatures and people with sullen faces. Everything has changed. Over the next few months, life is hard, and although his family were lured to the country with a promise of a good life, this is simply not the reality. We are taken with Leonard on a journey; a journey that is unpleasant, yet must be told.
Leonard's life is full of trials and tribulations that make him grow stronger every time. He takes the reader on an emotional roller coaster. From the author's note to the endorsed notes by Amnesty International, we are given an insight in what it means to be British and how the rights of the British people were made unequal by the very people who wanted them to come - the British Government.
I was profoundly disturbed by the real truths that his story revealed about the acts of racism he was subject to, but I would truly recommend this book as an alternative perspective to teaching the post war years in Upper Key Stage 2. Leonard's story would provoke a different viewpoint about how British society evolved into the multicultural society we have today. It would be an excellent way to teach children the reality of racism, as well as the importance of black history within the curriculum.
208 pages / Age 9+ / Reviewed by Hayley Summerfield, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 9+