Malaika’s Winter Carnival
By Nadia L. Hohn
Illustrated by Irene Luxbacher
Published by Groundwood Books
Age Range: 3+

Find a copy at Amazon | IndieBound | B&N | Worldcat

“…immersive and loving book that will benefit both young new arrivals to a country and those just meeting them.”  —Kirkus Reviews

Malaika is happy to be reunited with Mummy, but it means moving to a different country, where everything is different. It’s cold in her new city, no one understands when she talks and Carnival is nothing like the celebration Malaika knows from home!

When Mummy marries Mr. Frédéric, Malaika gets a new sister called Adèle. Her new family is nice, but Malaika misses Grandma. She has to wear a puffy purple coat, learn a new language and get used to calling this new place home. Things come to a head when Mummy and Mr. Frédéric take Malaika and Adèle to a carnival. Malaika is dismayed that there are no colorful costumes and that it’s nothing like Carnival at home in the Caribbean! She is so angry that she kicks over Adèle’s snow castle, but that doesn’t make her feel any better. It takes a video chat with Grandma to help Malaika see the good things about her new home and family.

Nadia L. Hohn’s prose, written in a blend of standard English and Caribbean patois, tells a warm story about the importance of family, especially when adjusting to a new home. Readers of the first Malaika book will want to find out what happens when she moves to Canada, and will enjoy seeing Malaika and her family once again depicted through Irene Luxbacher’s colorful collage illustrations.

Reviews & Accolades
“Malaika and her Mummy have a happy life in the Caribbean. But when her mother decides to marry Mr. Frédérik, a French-Canadian, and move to Canada, things change. Malaika finds herself in a blended family with a new sister, a new house, a new school—a new everything. She misses her old way of life. How could she not? Hardly anyone understands what she is saying. Things come to a head during the Canadian winter carnival, when Malaika lashes out in frustration and sadness. Will she ever fit in? This multicultural story, written in a combination of Standard English and Caribbean patois, will resonate with any child who has had to move to a different culture and climate. What distinguishes this story from so many other similar ones is that there is no dramatic climax in which the heroine makes a complete transformation. Instead, Malaika discovers that sometimes the little pleasures are all you need to make a happy life, and that perhaps big leaps of understanding can come from tiny steps. The illustrations are striking; of particular interest are the beautiful, expressive faces of the characters. The pages also have a heavier weight than normal, making it easy for little hands to hold. This is a gentle book with an important lesson that should be enjoyed by children and parents alike. A short list of words in the Caribbean patois, and their meanings in Standard English, is found at the beginning of the book.”
Children’s Literature

“Malaika is back and she is in for a change of scenery. In this follow-up to Malaika’s Costume, the girl is transported from her Caribbean community to Quebec when her mother meets and marries Mr. Frédéric. Mr. Frédéric is French Canadian, with “different talk” than Malaika is accustomed to and he comes with a daughter named Adèle. Malaika must adjust to many changes in Quebec, the biggest being loneliness for her family and culture. “When I get there, the children speak a different way. The teacher speak a different way. No one understand me. I hate it.” The story, written in a blend of English and Caribbean patois, includes vocabulary like breadfruit, chinep, and toque. The words are highlighted in a short glossary at the beginning of the book. The patchwork illustrations create a bright glimpse into Caribbean and city life.  Good introductory text to highlight the significance of moving, blending cultures and family, and life in a different country.”  —School Library Journal

“Malaika is delighted to see her mother again, but after a brief stay in Jamaica, she’s taking Malaika to her new home in Canada, along with her new, white French-Canadian husband, Mr. Frédéric, and his daughter, Adèle.  Though her new family is pleasant and welcoming, Malaika’s annoyed with the cold, the layers of puffy clothes she has to wear, the new language she has to learn, and—the last straw—when the family goes to a carnival, there are no bright, beautiful costumes as at Carnival at home (the subject of Malaika’s Costume, 2016). Malaika kicks over Adèle’s snow castle out of frustration. The next day, Malaika and her grandmother have a video chat, which lifts her spirts and reminds her of friends and family, and she decides to give this new home a chance. She starts with an apology to Adèle, who embraces her new sister and teachers her to catch the newly falling snowflakes on her tongue. As in the previous book, Hohn uses Malaika’s lovely patois to tell the story, which teaches Caribbean and French terms as well as focusing on the primary story of coping with a new country and a blended family. Luxbacher’s mixed-media collages are wonderful, vibrant, and expressive, and both the cover and final pages tell the happy ending without a word. Hohn contrasts Jamaican and Canadian cultures tenderly, with deep understanding of both, and she and Luxbacher have created a sweet, immersive and loving book that will benefit both young new arrivals to a country and those just meeting them.”
Kirkus Reviews

Groups Represented
French Canadian

Cultural Differences
Cultural Identity
Cultural Traditions
Family Relationships
Family Separation
Grandparents & Intergenerational
Migrant Life
Sibling Relationship

Canada (Quebec)

Engagement Projects & Resources
Share with us how you use the book! Leave a comment!