Meet Josephine, the most loveable mischief-maker in Barbados, in a magical adventure inspired by Caribbean mythology.
Eleven-year-old Josephine knows that no one is good enough for her daddy. That's why she makes a habit of scaring his new girlfriends away. She's desperate to make it onto her school's cricket team because she'll get to play her favorite sport AND use the cricket matches to distract Daddy from dating.
But when Coach Broomes announces that girls can't try out for the team, the frustrated Josephine cuts into a powerful silk cotton tree and accidentally summons a bigger problem into her life . . .
The next day, Daddy brings home a new catch, a beautiful woman named Mariss. And unlike the other girlfriends, this one doesn't scare easily. Josephine knows there's something fishy about Mariss but she never expected her to be a vengeful sea creature eager to take her place as her father's first love! Can Josephine convince her friends to help her and use her cricket skills to save Daddy from Mariss's clutches before it's too late?
A thoroughly enjoyable read that I wanted way more of, what an amazing read!
In Josephine Against The Sea we are transported to Barbados and we meet eleven-year-old Josephine who lives with her father who is a fisherman. Since the death of her mother its just been Josephine and her Dad… yes, there’s been women who want to date her dad…but Josephine manage to nudge them along. Josephine’s seem to be no match for Mariss… she will not leave and something is “off” about her.
Get ready for adventure, for laughter and super cute moments that will melt your heart. This book is perfect for middle graders and adults alike. I read it and was blown away by the writing and how the writer pulls you in and teaches you about Barbados’s culture, history and mythology.
It perfectly captures Father-Daughter relationship, we don't see a lot of that and I wanted more. It is truly a beautiful read.
Josephine is a mischievous little girl who lives in the seaside village of Fairy Vale, Barbados with her father. She has a habit of chasing away every woman her widowed father dates. She plans on it just being the two of them and this year is the year she will make the school cricket team.
One day a mysterious woman shows up on her father's arm. But for some reason this new woman, Mariss isn't succumbing to Josephine's attempted pranks. She immediately senses something is off about the way men and women bend to Mariss' will so easily. And what's with the way the fish act around her? This pushy woman has forced her way into Josephine's life fairly quickly and is positioning herself to be her new mother.
This book was a good read. It's been awhile since a book had me laughing the way this one did. There was this scene where Josephine tries to sabotage Mariss by pouring wiri wiri pepper into her soup and I was on the edge of my seat waiting for her reaction. If you've ever tasted it you know it is not for the weak!
I loved how well it showcased Josephine's father's heritage as well. He's an originally from Guyana and not to get too deep into it but some Guyanese people face discrimination in Barbados (Rihanna talked a little bit about it in an interview last year). I myself have Guyanese family in Barbados so it was a beautiful and familiar thing to hear her Josephine talk about her father's homeland and foods and traditions he brought from there. And there are many people in the Caribbean whose family has roots on other countries and they balance traditions and foods from both.
The characters use Bajan Creole freely and it's not explained or translated. Young readers who aren't of Caribbean heritage will just have to use context clues to figure it out. And they will see that though they live a little differently the children in the Caribbean have many similarities to them as well.
I'm also a lover of any water related mythos and was a big fan of mermaids as a child so that's one of the reasons I wanted to pick up this book.
This book also deals with grief but in a way that's not preachy while still showing how you never completely get over loss but slowly do heal. And I think the kids will enjoy the magic and the fast pace. Shakirah Bourne writes in a way that is guaranteed to easily capture even the most reluctant reader's attention.
If your children liked The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste they'll love this one. And if you're looking for more Caribbean folklore based books for your children be sure to pre-order A Comb of Wishes.
June 25, 2020: I mean, a young daughter saving her father is amazing but the fact that Jo plays CRICKET? Um, this is going to be the first time I'll see a protagonist love cricket in a story soooo BYE wake me up when it's 2021.
My Fishy Stepmom is a middle grade, #ReadCaribbean read written by the talented Ms. Shakirah Bournes. It follows a girl by the name of Josephine, her best friend and neighbour Ahkai who does things in fives, her widowed father and her new potential stepmom, Mariss, who happens to overcome all the boundaries and traps she usually sets for all her dad's new girls. While trying to also be recognized to be a member of her school's cricket team, Josephine knows something is "fishy" about Mariss. Could all the stories and myths Ahkai's mom narrate actually be true?
A protagonist who loves cricket?!?!? SIGN ME UP! I absolutely loved the representation of all things Caribbean in this book. It truly felt like home. From the great sport, to the hills, to the sea, to the nice fruits, to the myths and folklores, to the fishing villages and so much more. I found myself laughing at and with Josephine and her Dad throughout this book. Other times, my hear ached for them as they both were recovering from the loss of their wife and mom respectively. What made it an even greater novel was the inclusion of the truths in the stories we tell. There may be falsity, but the truth is also hidden in plain sight. I loved the gender roles being displayed and how Josephine breaks those glass ceilings in something as small yet powerful as cricket. Lastly, the art on each chapter cover was well done! I absolutely loved it! A must read!
I cannot wait to read Ms. Bournes newest book releasing 2021.
How I read this: Free ebook copy received through Edelweiss
There is a lot of positive stuff about this one, but it didn't quite balance it out for me. I'll get the negative stuff out of the way and then mention what I did think was awesome.
I wasn't sure what to think of this book - I couldn't figure out for a long time whether we're supposed to hate this new stepmother character, or not. Because some of the times, she'd do something terrible or threatening, and you'd think she's a manipulator and a danger to Josie, the main character. Other times, she would do something positive or show understanding, and it was unclear whether she was going to come out positive after all. Is this a bad woman who Josie will have to beat? Or is it just a different point of view that Josie will have to overcome and eventually they will click and there will be learning? This wasn't clear way past even the midpoint, and it was driving me nuts. I do understand that in life things aren't quite black and white like that, but the reader, especially a middle grade reader, is usually being guided towards what they're supposed to feel. I couldn't pick that up here - it felt like the book isn't quite making up its own mind.
Another big trigger for me is irresponsible or bad dads. Unfortunately, this book had one. Absolutely not the book's fault and that's probably the whole point, but that's also why I didn't quite click with the story. While most of the time the dad is being manipulated by a woman, he is still... just not a very good dad. This made the story pretty hard for me to read. I guess I didn't expect the dad to not be on the side of the child, and it greatly upset me. But I realize this is all me - that's a valid plot and it's not the book's fault that it particularly triggers me because I had an absent father.
On the positive note, I have to mention that the book is plenty culturally genuine - I can't check the veracity of how accurate it is, because I am a person born and living in Europe, so I've never known much about the Caribbean. But the language in the book and some of the cultural details mentioned were interesting and really painted a picture for me. That's always great, and we should have more books like that.
Another thing that was great was that Josie really wanted to play cricket, and she was really good - but she was constantly being put down as a girl player, and not allowed to play with boys. A big part of the story was overcoming that and that's a good storyline for sure.
Unfortunately, that wasn't enough to carry the story for me. I would have preferred a clearer plot - if it's 50% in and you're still wondering whether the villain is the villain, I would say the story is being needlessly ambiguous.
It did get obvious later on, but I have to say, it kind of got terrifying after that. it was all a bit too scary and dark for a middle grade for me. Not to even mention that the ending read like a horror scene for me. I don't know if I would have wanted to read that as a kid. But maybe that's just me! I am a sensitive adult as well as I was a kid, so please consider other people's reviews too (especially if they're Carribean reviewers!)
I thank the publisher for giving me a free copy of the ebook in exchange to my honest review. This has not affected my opinion.
Shakirah Bourne’s Josephine Against the Sea is a marvelous adventure inspired by Caribbean mythology led by a spunky and lovable heroine, 11-year-old Josephine Cadogan. Josephine has two missions. One is to get on her school’s cricket team so she can meet the West Indies team and reignite her father’s love for cricket which he has lost after her mum died. And two is to make sure none of her father’s lady friends turn into girlfriends because according to Josephine, it’s pretty simple: All she and her dad need are each other and their love for cricket.
But a plot twist ensues! Ever since the day her father, a fisherman, returns home with a bejeweled comb caught in his fishing net, his luck changes for the better. And then, enters Mariss, a strange, alluring, and seemingly devious woman who has her father wrapped around her finger and is immune to all of Josephine’s tricks to keep her away from him. Josephine knows in her gut that Mariss is not who she says she is as odd things start to occur around her and much to Josephine’s dismay, the town seems completely oblivious to it while her father is quickly falling under her spell. As Josephine begins her own investigation into who Mariss truly is, we enter into the rich world of Caribbean folklore and dive into sea sprits of the underwater kingdom, mermaids with mind control abilities, shape-shifting snakes, and go on a treacherous journey with Josephine into the sea for a fighting chance to save her father.
Apart from the plot which fast paced and riveting, Bourne has created a triumphant character in Josephine. From the very first sentence in the book, “It’s 4:58 p.m. and Daddy still isn’t back from his date. I should have never allowed him to leave home,” the reader instantly taps into Josephine’s personality and loves her for it. The love for her dad and the jealously she has against any potential ‘girlfriend’ who she feels will replace her mother is heartwarming to read. Bourne adds humor to it as well with Josephine’s straight-shooting thoughts and commentary which not only lends a lightness to the more beautiful and poignant moments but also had me laughing out loud several times! However, the real adventure and the full force of Josephine’s personality come through as she begins her search for answers about Mariss and has to come up with creative ways to overcome the obstacles that thwart her at every step. You can’t help rooting for Josephine.
From vivid prose and hilarious one-liners like “Nice teachers don’t teach fractions on the first day of school’ and ‘I’m deathly allergic to being caught red-handed,’ to learning about duppies and River Mummas and reading about cricket terminologies like the Mexican wave and Howzat, this book was an absolute joy to read. As a cricket fan myself, you don’t get to read about cricket in too many books, not to mention a girl who is talented in the game. And I’m here for it!
But Bourne’s biggest strength lies in the characters she creates, and it is clear she spent time to develop the secondary characters as well—Miss Alleyne, Miss Mo (whose weird traditions and superstitions had me tickled!), Josephine’s father, and my favorite, Josephine’s best friend, Akhai—since they remain with you long after you’ve read the book. Ahkai is autistic and Bourne has woven that part of his personality effortlessly into his character. There is a sentence that informs readers that Ahkai is autistic, and I can argue few people could have done it better. In the book, Josephine thinks to herself, “He’s on the—what’s it called again? It reminds me of something wonderful—Awesome, Rhythm, Autism! That’s it. He’s on the autism spectrum, and I am one of the few people Akhai utters a word to.” A special shout out to Mr. Pimples, the angelfish, and the rickety, old Jalopy who make for memorable side characters as well!
Josephine Against the Sea has so much heart on top of dollops of adventure. It is a heartwarming, thrilling, and nail-biting story until the end, where the reader is immersed in Barbadian island life, can smell the sea spray in the air, and heart-thumpingly awaits what happens next when Josephine’s father does not return from his fishing trip. I cannot wait for the world to meet Josephine and go on this incredible adventure with her! Thank you to the publisher, Scholastic, for the eARC!
I really enjoyed Josephine Against the Sea and how the Caribbean mythology was blended seamlessly into a heartfelt story of a cricket-playing girl growing up with her single father.
I don't know anything about Caribbean folklore so I was definitely kept guessing about whether the antagonist was going to be a mermaid, or a sea spirit, or a shapeshifter, or some combination of all three. Josephine is guessing too and trying to find out so I love that we get to find out with her. There's great representation as well with Josephine's best friend, Ahkai, on the Autism spectrum.
Disclaimer: I was given a free review copy from the publisher as part of my participation with TBR and Beyond Tours on Instagram. It was my choice to read and I'm leaving this review voluntarily.
Thank you to Edelweiss+ and the publisher for an eARC of this book.
Fans of The Jumbies will not want to miss this Caribbean-inspired story set in Barbados, where a young girl must figure out the strange magic her father's girlfriend is using on him and the people in their community before it claims a life.
Josephine wants to play cricket on the school team, and spend time watching it on TV with her dad like they used to. She doesn't think there's any need for him to be bringing home girlfriends, and she wants him to be able to come to her matches and spend more time with him. But when Josephine doesn't make the team, she takes her anger out on an unusual old tree that unleashes trouble beyond her expectations. The next thing she knows, her father has brought home a girlfriend named Mariss who won't fall for Josephine's tricks to chase her away. When strange things start to happen, Josephine realizes that there might be some bad magic involved, and she needs to figure out what Mariss's plan is, and how she can save her dad from falling completely under her spell. With the help of her friend, Ahkai, they set out to discover who Mariss really is, and and how they can send her back where she came from.
I enjoy reading stories set in other countries, and found Barbados an interesting and unique setting for this story. I loved watching Josephine come to terms with the loss of her mother, and finding a way to accept a new love interest in her father's life. I also really enjoyed Mariss's magic and how it related to the sea. Readers will be drawn in by the mystery surrounding Mariss, Josephine's fight for a spot on the cricket team, and the high stakes that as the story unfolds.
Thank you to the author and Scholastic for the opportunity to read an ARC of this marvelous MG debut! Set in a small village in Barbados JOSEPHINE AGAINST THE SEA is the story of Josephine who loves the game of cricket almost as much as she loves her widowed father. But since Jo's mother died, Jo's father lost his passion for the game. If only he'd also lose his interest in dating. With the help of her best friend Josephine hatches a series of brilliant and very fun plans to run off her father's girlfriends. Until Mariss comes along. There's something very fishy about this woman, and Jo is determined to save her father from the strange hold Mariss has over him.
Inspired by Caribbean mythology, JOSEPHINE AGAINST THE SEA is a funny and fast-paced mystery with a heroine to cheer for, and a world to get lost in. Bourne has created two worlds for her readers to explore: the real world of a small village in Barbardos and the mythological one where carving your name into a silk cotton tree can unleash sea demons. I loved Jo's determination, her sense of humor, and her friendship with her next-door neighbor. This is an un-put-downable story, and I cannot wait for MG readers to catch this treat of a book!
Such a treat to get to travel to Barbados in Shakirah Bourne's debut middle grade novel, JOSEPHINE AGAINST THE SEA. In the wake of her mother's death, all Jo wants is to play cricket - and to remind her daddy how much he loves the game. Maybe if he can remember that, he'll forget about dating... because Jo REALLY doesn't want her daddy dating anybody. Especially Mariss, his strange new girlfriend who... maybe isn't even human? The lengths Jo goes to in trying to drive away her dad's suitors are absolutely laugh-out-loud hilarious and delightful, and the world Shakirah Bourne builds here is just stunning. JOSEPHINE AGAINST THE SEA is rich with Caribbean folklore, and the mystery of Mariss' true identity will keep kids turning pages until the very end. I simply loved this book, and will shout about it to kids of all ages. Many thanks to the author and to Scholastic for the ARC.
This was a very cute read with a really touching father daughter bond at its core that I loved. It is set in Barbados and includes elements of Caribbean mythology.
Josephine is an 11 yo powerhouse who loves cricket and wants to get into the school cricket team and believes her single dad needs to be protected from all the women who are attracted to him. She intends no malice - she is just a child doing what she thinks is right for her own reasons and out of love.Most of the time, she succeeds in scaring away his suitors with her innovative methods but then he brings home Mariss who just won't go away no matter what Josephine tries.
Not only that, she seems to have a strange influence over her father who no longer listens to his beloved daughter even as his fishing nets are fuller than before(he is a fisherman) and he seems totally worry free and happy. Josephine worries that Mariss is not a regular human but is one of the 'river mummas' from the stories of sea creatures she has heard, with special powers that she is using to lure her dad away. She sets out to find the truth and once again save her daddy.
The moments of closeness between Josephine and her daddy are really beautiful. I also really liked the bonding Josephine has with her friend Akhai who is autistic. He has her back in everything she does and his scientific mind does not accept the superstitions his religious mother keeps trying to protect him from. His patient yet exasperated attempts to counter his mother's stories is sweet and funny.The glimpses of the culture and food of Barbados are interesting.
Josephine of course is the star of the show and the times her external facade of strength breaks and she misses her mother are heartbreaking. She is obsessed with cricket which naturally endears her to me!
Josephine is an 11 year old girl living in Barbados with her fisherman father. It’s just her and her dad since her mother passed away, and Josephine isn’t looking for any woman to disturb that dynamic. She just wants to play cricket and go back to enjoying that game with her dad the way they did as a family before she lost her mom. When her dad brings home Mariss, a new woman in his life, Josephine finds it much more difficult to get her to move along to someone else. Mariss may be more than she seems and it will take everything Josephine can do to protect her family. I really enjoyed the writing in this young reader novel. I appreciated both the part of the story that was tied to being allowed to play cricket as a girl as well as the elements of Caribbean mythology tied to Mariss. Really solid read that I would love to see more people talking about.
It took 8 y/o and I several months to get through this book, not because it wasn’t totally engrossing, but because we always read it at bedtime and one of us would fall asleep. We actually read an updated, re-released version of this book called Josephine Against the Sea, which i believe is slightly longer than the original though I don’t know how the story has changed. The story is about Josephine, an 11 year old girl who wants to join her school’s cricket team that has historically been made up of boys, and who lost her mother and chases away every woman that her father tries to date since the loss. I love the story, the mischief, and especially the ways the author deals with grief, spirituality, disability, facing fears, and embracing change. A really beautiful note to end this year on.
A fun little book, with pages of mischief and magic set against the backbones of Carribean folklore.
Very on the fence about this one because while I enjoyed all the separate components of the book – the exploration of grief, parenting, cricket, sea monsters, the Carribean, mischief – I felt that Bourne wasn't able to fully meld these elements into one coherent, seamless story. Very disjointed pacing which was distracting and not v emotionally fulfilling because of it.
My fishy stepmom was a wonderful book and a great start to Read Caribbean Month. Set on the island of Barbados, the story follows cricket lover 11 year old Josephine Cadogan, who along with her best friend Akhai and what I call their many "Operations" (You have to read the book to understand what this means. What I liked about this novel is that while it was hilarious and quite a light read it dealt with a serious topic in a very clever way and that is the loss of a parent.
Josephine had lost her mother, and she was intent on not allowing another woman to take her place. I think this was a nice theme for a children or a book for younger readers because it is a topic not often considered. As a teacher myself, I have had many students who would have lost parents and it was indeed difficult so Josephine's character to me was very relatable in that way.
Oh gosh!! The Fishy Stepmom Mariss, what a character. And as a lover of West Indian Foklore myself I loved how that element of mystery and fantasy was woven into her character. The ending as well was very nice.
All in all I liked this book and would recommend it.
This Caribbean-inspired story takes place in Barbados, which is a new locale for me in the reading world! Josephine is my favorite kind of character. She’s witty, stubborn, and full of love for her father and her family friends. Once she discovers that her father’s girlfriend isn’t quite what she seems, the story takes off and it’s a fun one! I love magical realism, and this is an excellent example of that. This is the kind of story that you can easily fly through in a matter of hours. I guarantee that you’ll be rooting for Josephine by the mid point of this story.
All Josephine wants to do is play on the school cricket team. She wants to find a way to bring her father out of his funk, after the loss of her father, and make him proud of her. I felt so hard for her, as she watched her father draw further and further into himself. By the time that Mariss enters the picture, and the magical aspect of this comes into play, there is already a beautiful family dynamic in place. As Josephine fought tooth and nail to save her father, and the people in her community, I was right there with her. Bourne has written the kind of character who is so very easy to understand. You can step right into her shoes.
It’s too hard to write a long review for this one, because I don’t want to spoil anything for any potential readers. Suffice it to say that this is the perfect blend of magical realism and family dynamic. It’s sweet, suspenseful, and even a little sad. There is so much beautiful folklore woven in that I didn’t know about previously! I had an excellent time reading this, and highly recommend it!
A fun read based around Caribbean mythology. Readers will love spunky Josephine and will root for her as she tries to save her fisherman father from his latest catch - a sea witch in disguise! Now I need to visit Barbados. Thank you for sharing the ARC with #bookposse!
This book surprised me. I’m not a fan of YA or magical realism, and to say I enjoyed reading this book would be an understatement. Shakirah is a master storyteller and a talented writer - she is definitely amongst the most talented in the region, and I’m surprised it took me so long to engage with her work (thanks Rebel Women Lit). As a Caribbean person, it is always comforting to encounter elements of our folklore and culture on the pages of a novel, but I’m sure that readers outside of this context will also enjoy the references. I’m already looking forward to the sequel.
I read this book in two days. This was my first YA, Caribbean inspired novel based on the mythology of the islands. It takes place in and around Barbados. The story centers around Josephine, an 11 year old, who thinks no one is good enough for her father. She has two missions in her young life. One is to get on her school's cricket team so she can get her father interested in the sport again. The other is to make sure her father doesn't get involved with women who could end up his girlfriend or more. In comes Mariss and the trouble begins. With the help of Josephine's friend Ahkai, they set out tp see just who Mariss really is and how they can get rid of her.
Full of Caribbean magic and folktales about beings and creatures makes this book fun to read. Overall, it's a delightful, action filled book that is hard to put down and will surely spark the interest of any middle grade student or YA enthusiast such as myself.
Josephine's mum "heart skipped a beat and never found rhythm again". Now Josephine protects her father as much as possible. Then Mariss appears and something is just not right. In the middle of a cricket game the ball seems to pause in the air...WHAT?! Dad seems to be under a spell...Could Mariss be a River Mumma?
Loved reading this one while my students are studying mythology and writing their own. Shared some with my classes and they were immediately intrigued! Adding to my classroom library! Releases in July!
I devoured this book in two days! So fun so uplifting and...can I just say it was refreshing to have a little troublemaker kid as the lead? Because Josephine needed a time out and I loved her for it. Spilling fish guts on her father's love interests and getting away with it because she's daddy's girl? Um...lets just say these girlfriends had a reason to be mad 😂. I am looking forward to book 2!
Thank you to the author and publisher for sharing an early copy with #bookexpedition.
Set in Barbados, this Caribbean inspired story features 12 year old Josephine who loves two things: playing cricket and scaring away any possible love interests for her father.
She plans to make her school’s cricket team so her daddy will be so busy attending her matches that he won’t have time to date.
When Josephine’s plan doesn’t go as expected, she makes a wish on a powerful silk cotton tree that unleashes trouble beyond her wildest dreams. A beautiful woman named Mariss enters her daddy’s life, and this one doesn’t seem to scare off easily. Strange things start happening, and Josephine must figure out how to save her daddy from Mariss’s clutches before it’s too late!
With the help of her neighbor and best friend Ahkai, Josephine yearns to learn who Mariss really is and what she’s after.
Highly recommend this middle grade novel full of magic and Caribbean lore publishing in July.
Josephine has a vision. It involves cricket, Daddy, and little else. So when women begin vying for Daddy’s attention, she is determined to make sure they quickly change their minds. And they do! Until one day, Mariss arrives on the scene. Mariss is not so easy to scare away, and she brings a few scary tricks of her own. But 11-year old Josephine does not back down from a challenge. This delightful Bajan middle grade story, inspired by Caribbean mythology, is sure to leave readers turning pages nonstop.