Man-Man and the Tree of Memories

Notting Hill Carnival, which occurs annually in August, is one of the largest street festivals in the world and of huge cultural significance to British African Caribbean people. Its presence in this book is so strong that it feels like a character, not a setting. Man-man and his family are all busy preparing for Carnival and Man-man is particularly excited to dance at the front of the procession. There is just one shadow falling over his excitement; his mother’s ill health which prevents her from joining in with the festivities.

Carnival is not just a festival, though – in this book, Carnival is alive and mystical, its magic present in the enchanting Queen of Revels and the sacred Tree of Memories. To confront the hurt that still strongly affects his family in the present, Man-man has to face the devasting atrocities his ancestors underwent in the past – only then, can the present heal. Badoe skilfully writes about the difficult topic of slavery and generational trauma for a younger audience, emphasising hope and resilience without sugar-coating history.

The illustrations throughout this book are also fantastic. Avelino’s use of colour is wonderful, with bold yellows and reds striking across every page. From smaller visual motifs in the corners of pages, to beautiful full spreads of the Carnival festivities, the illustrations really feel alive as they dance across the page. Driven by heartfelt emotion, both written word and illustration shine with a joy and hope that makes this an enchanting read, particularly for middle grade readers.

Book Cover - Man-Man and the Tree of Memories
Author
Illustrator
Publisher
Reviewer
Publication Date
October 2023
Format
Hardback
Pages
192
ISBN
9781837930074