Granny Came Here on the Empire Windrush
Patrice Lawrence, illustrated by Camilla Sucre
This wonderfully warm book follows Ava and her Granny as together they search Granny’s trunk one Sunday for a costume suitable for Ava to wear at her school dressing up event to represent someone she admires. Rummaging through the various items of clothing, jewellery and other objects Granny is reminded first of Winifred Atwell on account of the sparkling bead necklace, then Mary Seacole who sometimes wore a red scarf just like that in the trunk, a jacket makes her think of Rosa Parks. In each instance Ava’s grandmother tells her a little bit about each of the women mentioned: the glamorous pianist, the nurse who tended the wounded during the Crimean War, the brave woman who refused to give up her seat on the bus.
Then, hidden under all the clothes, Ava unearths something she’s not seen before: it’s a small cardboard grip in which Granny had carried presents she was given when she left her home in Trinidad and came to England on the Empire Windrush.
As she pieces together a story using the objects – a smooth grey pebble, an empty jar, a small blue hat and a pair of lacy gloves, we learn of the intense feelings of homesickness and loneliness her grandmother experienced; and how she built a life for herself in a new, chilly country, meeting and marrying the man who was to become Ava’s grandad. This woman – her own beloved Granny – is Ava’s real hero, the one she chooses to dress as.
With Patrice Lawrence’s perfectly paced telling and Camilla Sucre’s richly hued, vibrant art, this is a truly moving story that celebrates both the Windrush generation and their achievements, and the bond between Ava and her grandmother.
A superb book to share and discuss with young listeners at home and with primary children both in KS1 and KS2.