May 08, 2017

Greetings, Leroy

Written by Itah Sadu
Illustrated by Alix Delinois
Groundwood Books
978-1-55498-760-3
32 pp.
Ages 4-7
May 2017

Greetings, Leroy is one long email from a new Canadian boy named Roy to his friend Leroy in Jamaica, telling about his new life and first day at school.  But as the young boy tries to connect with his friend, missing so much of his Jamaican home, it becomes evident that his new life in Canada is already rich with Jamaican connections.
From Greetings, Leroy 
by Itah Sadu
illus. by Alix Delinois
Roy looks a little saddened sitting at his computer, trying to get a response from his friend Leroy, one of the many Roys on his soccer team.  There’s Iroy, Delroy, Uroy, Stedroy, Buckroy, Royson and, of course, Leroy.  With all the Roys back home in Jamaica, it’s no wonder Roy feels left out.  And it’s no wonder he’s nervous about the first day of school in Canada when his peer support system isn’t with him.  

But the day brings warm surprises of reminders of his Jamaican home, from his father playing Bob Marley and the Wailers, and their neighbour Ms. Muir giving him a Bob Marley button.  
I puffed out my chest big, big and grinned from ear to ear, because Bob Marley was Jamaican and I am Jamaican, too. (pg. 8)
At school, the principal has a picture of Bob Marley playing soccer and his new class greets him with “Welcome, Roy, one love” (pg. 13) channelling Marley’s song, “One Love.”  But when Roy realizes that he’s lost his Bob Marley button after showing it to the principal, it becomes a frantic search that ends happily, just as Roy’s email to Leroy does.
From Greetings, Leroy 
by Itah Sadu 
illus. by Alix Delinois
Storyteller Itah Sadu, much loved for her book Christopher, Please Clean Up Your Room (re-released in 2006 by Scholastic Canada) and known for her bookstore A Different Booklist in Toronto, creates effortlessly the voice of a young boy bridging two worlds: his former life in Jamaica and a new one in Canada. (Born in Canada but raised in Barbados and then returning to Canada, Itah Sadu would have first-hand knowledge.)  Greetings, Leroy is a story about moving and moving on, respectful of the two worlds from and into which Roy will grow.  Itah Sadu makes it clear that the two worlds are not separate entities but rather interconnected parts of Roy’s world, bringing him joy and memories and opportunities.  

Haitian-born artist Alix Delinois has already made a name for himself as the illustrator behind Muhammad Ali:  The People’s Champion (Walter Dean Myers, 2016), Eight Days: A Story of Haiti (Edwidge Danticat, 2010) and Mumbet’s Declaration of Independence (Gretchen Woelfle, 2014), all stories that celebrate Black culture and history. With Greetings, Leroy, Alix Delinois is able to apply his bold artwork to a similarly relevant story, though here focusing on a Jamaican boy’s new life in Canada, and honouring Itah Sadu’s story with pride and festivity for an old life lived and a new life’s promise.

As a story of immigration, of new experiences and first days at school, Greetings, Leroy may take many back to those uneasy days of newness but reminds us that, as Bob Marley sang, everything’s gonna be alright.  
From Greetings, Leroy 
by Itah Sadu 
illus. by Alix Delinois

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