Black British Archive Publishes Children’s Book On The History Of Carnivals In The UK

Pioneering Black Archive Publishes Children’s Black History Tale
Publication Date: 5 April 2022

The George Padmore Institute (GPI) is delighted to announce the publication of Jump Up: A Story of Carnival for five-to-eight-year-olds, written and illustrated by award-winning author Ken Wilson-Max. It is the second book in the GPI’s new series of black history books, Reaching New Generations, which is helping to fill the void in reading material for younger children that the 2020 Black Lives Matter campaigns highlighted. 

Jump Up tells the story of Cecille, a young black girl living in the Caribbean, and how her community develops their very own Carnival, based on their long-remembered African traditions. For those who may wonder where our UK Carnivals – from Notting Hill to Luton and Leeds – came from, here’s an early origin story. Ken was inspired to write the book when he came across the GPI’s unique Carnival archive collection during his tenure as the Institute’s writer-in-residence. The story draws on the history of the festival and highlights one of the many contributions that Britain’s Caribbean population have made to our everyday cultural life. 

Ken Wilson-Max said: 

When the GPI asked if I was interested in doing a second book, I immediately thought of a story about the origins of Carnival that is also about the humanity of enslaved people, and their hope for building new lives, personified by a little girl, while celebrating what made them… them. This book, in a small way, connects the past with the present and hopefully helps readers consider a more inclusive future.’

Award-winning British–Trinidadian poet and musician Roger Robinson said: 

Having an eight-year-old son myself, I can attest that it’s important for every child to recognise themselves in what they consume. That is why Jump Up and other books by GPI are so crucial – so that black children can enjoy stories whilst recognising themselves as joyfully intelligent and also being a part of a strong, vibrant culture.’

George Padmore Institute Trustee, teacher, and editor Nisha Obano said‘With its luscious and vibrant illustrations, Jump Up! is certain to inspire young people of all ages, and serves as a reminder that, with the power of love and determination, anything is possible.‘  

The first book in the series, Dream to Change the World also by Ken Wilson-Max, was published on 25 October 2021. Based on the late John La Rose’s personal papers, it creatively depicts John’s early years in Trinidad. UK children’s book charity BookTrust selected Dream to Change the World as one its favourite books in January 2022, stating that ‘Ken Wilson Max’s captivating illustrations make this a lovely and inspiring book to read. It’s a beautiful book to make us think about how all great people start life as little children, and therefore that all little children can become great people, whatever their background. It’s a great introduction to a really interesting part of our history, which will hopefully lead to children asking more questions themselves.’  

In the coming weeks, the GPI will be hosting various online and in-person events to celebrate the publication of Jump Up, including with the children’s literacy charity, the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education, as the start of a long-term relationship between the two organisations. For more information, see www.georgepadmoreinstitute.org 

Written by:  Ella Desewu

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