Reviews /

Jump Up! A Story of Carnival

Authored by Ken Wilson-Max
Illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max
Published by George Padmore Institute

Ken Wilson-Max has created a vibrant story with Jump Up! A Story of Carnival, all about the hope and connection which can be brought about by ‘Carnival’. An absolute must for children to explore Black History.

The story is told through the eyes of a child, Cecille. Cecille lives with her mother and father on a plantation where they are being held as slaves. The story opens with Cecille showing her mother a beautiful mask one of the ladies at the main house gave her. This inspires in her mother a desire to re-create a masquerade, typical of her village. She mentions her idea to her husband who then brings it to a meeting with their fellow slaves. What ensues is a beautiful telling of the creation of their own carnival and the excitement and thrill that goes with that.

The power of this picture book lies in the suggestion. There’s a great beauty in hearing the story told through the innocent eyes of Cecille. The themes of slavery and oppression seep through the narrative adding a tension and wealth of opportunity for exploration with older readers.

You know you shouldn’t be playing up by the main house after work.’ Mama looked cross but she sounded afraid.’

The storytelling opens the doors for some in-depth discussions about the impact of slavery and oppression. This is enhanced further by the themes of identity and background which resonate throughout the story:

‘Imagine, our own masquerade! We can show Cecille our own story… Her story!’

‘Everyone tried to remember things from the places which now seemed so far away.’

The illustrations in the book are stunning and inviting. The colour palette is bold and vibrant. A young reader will be transported into the world of the images and the sense of community and camaraderie they invite. The plantation workers work together to bring the carnival to life reminding us of the tenacity, resourcefulness and hope we humans can really demonstrate in the face of great adversity.

A stunning book for any year group. Definitely deserves a place in the younger year groups and can be a great point of discussion with children in upper KS2.