Man Man and the Tree of Memories

Publisher: Zephyr

Man-man, short for Emmanuel, is really excited for Carnival. He and his sister Pan will be dancing on a float to his father’s sound system, and this year’s theme is Let Freedom Rain. He’s been practising his moves, despite his Nan’s disapproval. She’s flown from Jamaica to London to look after Man-man’s mum, who is growing thinner and thinner, her voice fading. Man-man is desperate for his mother to be well again, and when he calls on the Queen of Revels during the parade, she materialises and whisks him away. But can Man-man really dance his mother better?

This is a story that moves from real life in London to the fantastical world of the Queen of Revels, back through time, and forward again. Calling on African myths and highlighting the misery of the slave trade, this is an emotional, poetic tale. It is illustrated stunningly by Joelle Avelino, the bright colours of Carnival leaping from the page. This is an unusual book – the colour illustrations suggest it is for younger children than perhaps would be able to follow the narrative. Readers of 8 and above will enjoy the energy of the characters and the recognisable sibling dynamic. An interesting read that explores family history and different Black cultures.

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