Ava and Granny enjoy spending time together, singing songs from Trinidad where Granny was born. When Ava needs to dress up as someone she admires for an event at school, Granny is just the person to help. She has a special trunk full of old clothes ‘you could dive inside and emerge as someone else.’ Granny finds accessories to suggest several significant black women, but Ava is not sure. Then she finds a small cardboard suitcase with some intriguing objects inside. It was the case Granny brought with her from Trinidad when she travelled on the Empire Windrush.
With the help of an empty jar, a pebble, a blue hat, and some lace gloves Granny begins relating her own story. A long journey on a big old boat, the cold ‘wrapping itself’ around her, her hard life working in a clothing factory and homesickness for the warmth of her island home and her family, eventually finding someone special to love in her new home. Granny’s story helps Ava reach a moving decision about the person she really admires and who to dress up as for the school event.
Beautifully written with bold, colourful illustrations, this picturebook brings a sense of the experience of the Windrush generation to young readers. The story context with Granny’s wonderful trunk, is a clever device allowing several significant historical figures to be introduced; notably Mary Seacole, Rosa Parks and less well-known Winifred Atwell. Full of the warmth of family love, it also includes an important insight, that the people we admire most may not those we encounter in history books but may be much closer to home and the people we love are more precious than all the gold in the world.