New Books from Papillote Press put Dominica in the Spotlight

The Caribbean island of Dominica is once again in the literary spotlight thanks to the UK-based Papillote Press which has just released two new books featuring the natural beauty, people and history of the island – Abraham’s Treasure and a Caribbean History: Hillsborough – a plantation in Dominica.  

A Caribbean History: Hillsborough – a Plantation in Dominica is a beautifully designed educational pack for children that tells the story Hillsborough Estate, one of Dominica’s most renowned sugar plantations, located near the estuary of the Layou River, the island’s longest river. The Layou River valley is an area of superb natural beauty and a favourite picnicking and swimming spot for locals and visitors alike. The pack comes in two segments,  12 illustrated cards with questions and activities for children and a 32-page booklet for teachers packed with information to complement the cards, all neatly packed in a plastic wallet.  

Written by Kathy Maclean and Karen Mears along with Papillote Press publisher, Polly Pattullo, the story of Hillsborough is also a Caribbean tale in that what transpired there was typical of other sugar estates in the region. It creatively captures all the socioeconomic dynamics that shaped the islands – from sugar to tourism, from slavery to revolt and freedom, and the effects of hurricanes on their economies. It also traces the roots of the estate’s original owners, the Greg family, who owned Hillsborough for 150 years and were also the owners of Quarry Bank mill, near Manchester, one of the largest textile mills in England. By the same token, the book links Hillsborough, and by extension Dominica, to the industrial revolution in England.

The pack was commissioned by the Ethnic Minority Achievement Service of Wandsworth Council in south London. Every school in the borough has a copy. The Dominican Association of Teachers also received copies for use by teachers in local schools.

“It’s a fantastic teaching resource that links with the national curriculum of England and Wales,” said Papilotte Press publisher Polly Pattullo.

Robin Richardson, UK educator and consultant, and author of the acclaimed Daring To Be a Teacher and Inclusive Schools, Inclusive Society, is full of praise for the Hillsborough pack.

“I commend this pack very warmly. The materials for pupils are attractively illustrated and clearly written, and the activities and research projects which they suggest are imaginative and thoughtful, and reflect substantial professional expertise on the part of the authors. The material for teachers is informative, engaging and stimulating. Throughout the pack there is a strong sense of narrative and chronology, and of personalities and real people, and there is a superb balance of particularity on the one hand and universal values and concerns on the other.”

Abraham’s Treasure, also published by Papillote Press. is a coming-of-age adventure story by award-winning children’s author Joanne Skerrett. Set in Dominica, it revolves around James and Jerome, twelve-year old twins who find life on the quiet and idyllic ‘Nature Isle’ too dull for their liking. They believe the best way to get some excitement in their lives is to move to America to join their Dad.

As luck would have it, they learn of treasure that was buried on the island by slaves and immediately embark on an action-packed journey that leads them to a fantastic discovery. The book has been hailed as an old-fashioned adventure story that “adds a dash of magical realism to a classic treasure-hunt plot.”

Joanne Skerrett was born in Roseau, Dominica and moved with her family to the United States as a teenager. She has worked on various news desks for several newspapers, including the Boston Globe and Chicago Tribune. She is the author of She Who Shops, Sugar vs. Spice and Letting Loose, published by Kensington Publishing Corp. She is also the author of My Best White Friend, which, along with Abraham’s Treasure, was recently released as an ebook on the Kindle. She lives in Boston.

These two publications follow on from the delightful children’s book, The Snake King of the Kalinago (2010). “This book deserves a place in any school library,” said the reviewer for the children’s books’ website Carousel. Based on an ancient legend of Dominica’s first indigenous settlers, the Kalinago (Carib) people, the book was written by children from Atkinson School, close to the Kalinago Territory. The Wandsworth Ethnic Minority Service of south London supported it for its primary schools. Copies were later bought by Dominica’s Ministry of Education for the island’s primary schools.

Visit Papillote Press for more details or contact Polly Pattullo at pollyp@globalnet.co.uk.

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3 responses to “New Books from Papillote Press put Dominica in the Spotlight

  1. Very exciting developments in material for children. I’ve been to Dominica and spent quite some time working with the development of educational material. So I feel very pleased about these; the connection to English schools in the first instance, is an innovative aspect; and with the second book comes renewed hope for Caribbean children’s literature. I hope that I can find the second book here in Jamaica.

    • I couldn’t agree with you more, Diane. If there could be more efforts to establish literary and book-trading links between the Caribbean and the more advanced literary markets like Britain and North America, particularly in large Caribbean and multicultural communities, it would be a step forward for our writers and publishers, especially of children’s books. The Papillote Press initiative with the Wandsworth Council in South London is a testament of what’s possible.

  2. Thank you Diane and Tony for your kind comments about these two publications. As the publisher I’m particularly pleased to be connected with both, in different ways. The educational pack has been received well in multicultural educational circles here in the UK and just as – if not more – important copies have been bought by the Dominican Association of Teachers for distribution directly to teachers there. Although the pack relates to an estate in Dominica, its story has relevance for the whole Caribbean.

    Joanne Skerrett, the author Abraham’s Treasure, the adventure story, was keen to write a novel that reflected her background and heritage. This she has well succeeded in doing – and with great panache.

    I plan to try to get Abraham’s Treasure distributed in Jamaica but as you will know it’s sometimes hard to get one Caribbean island to be interested in a neighbour’s literature. But I will persevere.

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