Floella Benjamin first wrote her personal story as a child of the Windrush generation in 1997. This picturebook edition brings her experiences to a younger audience.
A happy childhood in Trinidad, within a big and close family is shown in the early pages of the book. Trinidad’s links to England through the British Empire, leading to the decision of many including Floella’s father, to leave for a new life in England are suggested through interesting details. For example, the school day starts with the national anthem and Floella dreams of meeting the Queen. It must have been very upsetting when her mother and younger brother and sister followed her father to England too, though why her aunt, charged with looking after Floella and the remaining siblings is described as ‘wicked’ is left unexplained.
Details such as dancing under the huge raindrops in the wet season, seeing flying fish during the voyage bring the story to life. When Floella reaches England the family is reunited. The experience is chilly however and not only in terms of the weather; she experiences racism when she starts school.
Vibrant illustrations evoke the landscape and semi tropical climate of Trinidad beginning with the wonderful end papers and they add warmth and colour throughout the book.
This picturebook provides an insight into the experience of the Windrush generation showing the ups and downs of immigration and trying to forge a new life. It provides an accessible opportunity to talk about the reasons for migration, attitudes to immigrants and racism with young children. Overall, there is a message of hope and optimism as Floella gradually makes friends, her family fits in and through her achievements and she eventually realises her early ambition to meet the Queen!