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Greetings, Leroy

by Alix Delinois (ill.); Itah Sadu

Groundwood Logos Spine

The latest picture book from author, storyteller, and bookstore owner Itah Sadu is both a perfect gift for children making Canada their new home and a love letter to Bob Marley.

Written as an email to a friend back home in Jamaica, Greetings, Leroy recounts the first day of school in Canada for a boy named Roy. (The similar names are part of a joke: Roy asks Leroy to pass along his greetings to all the “other Roys” – Iroy, Delroy, Uroy, Stedroy, Buckroy, and Royson.) Roy shares that he was so nervous the night before his first day of school he could hardly sleep, and woke early in the morning to the sound of his father playing Bob Marley and the Wailers. Ms. Muir, Roy’s next-door neighbour, gives him the special gift of a Bob Marley button. Grinning from ear to ear, Roy feels his nervousness wane as he pins this small part of home to his jacket.

At school, Roy quickly spots reminders of Jamaica just about everywhere he goes. He’s astonished to find his principal has a picture of Bob Marley playing soccer in her office and his new classmates welcome him by saying “one love,” which just so happens to be the title of his favourite Marley song. Roy is eager to show off his new button, but realizes it’s no longer on his jacket. When he finally locates it and shows it to his classmates, the unexpected gift that symbolizes home becomes the perfect conversation piece.

Sadu – a recipient of numerous awards and honours for her work as a community activist promoting arts initiatives for Indigenous and racialized youth – treats a nerve-wracking time of transition for any child with honesty and understanding. Her story of inclusivity and adjustment suggests that newcomers to Canada are welcome and even encouraged to share their cultures with those around them because, in doing so, they will add to their new communities. New York artist Alix Delinois’s illustrations are rendered in a colour palette as vibrant as Roy’s Jamaican heritage – a rich background that Roy is ecstatic to discover is already part of his new home