Sweet Jamaican Summertime at Grandma’s is as sweet as its title. This heartfelt picture-book tribute to a much-loved Jamaican grandmother is also an introduction to the island of Jamaica and a fond recollection of perfect childhood summers long past.
The book begins by placing Jamaica geographically in the Caribbean, just 90 miles south of Cuba. It then delves into the author’s past. As a child, Brent-Harris visited her cherished grandmother on the island every summer. She remembers an idyllic time in a unique and special place defined by love and sunshine.
Her grandmother was a huggable teddy bear with “wrinkly soft brown skin.” Together with her brother and sister, the author learned how to make her grandmother’s recipes and searched the nearby river for crawfish and turtles. She learned to call the rain “liquid sunshine” and watched for rainbows she thought were meant just for her. As a little girl, Brent-Harris never tired of the seemingly endless bounty of the backyard, filled as it was with fruit bearing trees and plants of all kinds. The author remembers happily gorging on fruit and then napping in the afternoon heat.
Filled with bright and bold illustrations, the book ends on an especially delicious note with the inclusion of two family heirloom recipes: “Jamaican Coconut Drops” cookies and “Grandma’s Jamaican Bread Pudding.”
This is a personal and loving celebration of family, place, tradition and memory.
(Note: While Brent-Harris ends her book with a sincere tribute to grandmothers everywhere, the passage feels like a tag-on after the loving intimacy of the previous pages; also, the book is in need of a better copyedit.)