Author and poet Juleus Ghunta releases his first children’s book, Tata and the Big Bad Bull. Beautifully illustrated by UK artist Ann–Cathrine Loo, Tata and the Big Bad Bull is a fast–paced narrative poem about a face–off between an angry bull and a determined boy. Tata is single–minded in his desire to go to school, but his grandmother is too poor to pay for the school bus and the route on foot takes him through a pasture guarded by a fierce bull. Tata’s pursuit of his education turns into an adventure involving other members of his anthropomorphic community as he searches for ways to circumvent the bull and his anger.
Tata and the Big Bad Bull is loosely based on the author’s childhood experiences and reflects his current career path as a poet, youth advocate, and speaker–dreamrighter. Like Tata’s grandmother, Ghunta’s mother struggled to pay his school bus fare to school in Jamaica. Determined to go to school, Ghunta took a shortcut through a pasture and encountered a fierce bull who charged at him. The story is amusing on the surface, but there is a lot to unpack in the simple rhyming lines. The bull and the other characters are metaphors for the challenges Ghunta faced as a child and the steps he took to endure and overcome them. In addition, readers may disagree over who is the real bully of the story. Tata and the Big Bad Bull reels children into a fun adventure and then encourages them to think about tolerance, friendship, and understanding. It introduces children to the idea that there may be more than one way to solve a problem.
Pre–publication reviewers such as educator and author, Loretta Collins Klobah, have touted Tata and the Big Bad Bull as a “highly entertaining story, [in which] readers see how Tata learns to capably work through his problem by asking the right questions, not prejudging a person based on first impressions and reputation, apologising when he is at fault, seeking advice from others, respecting people, and serving as a mediator in his community.” Other reviews have been equally enthusiastic. Geoffrey Philp, author of Garvery’s Ghost points out that “readers from the Caribbean will…be introduced to a young hero who resembles them” and author Roland Watson–Grant describes this book as “A classic, universal tale and a timely commentary on the challenges our children face on a daily basis and solutions that often go unmentioned.”
Juleus Ghunta is a Jamaican poet, speaker–dreamrighter and recipient of a Chevening Scholarship. He is pursuing MA Peace Studies at the University of Bradford, UK. In 2010, he earned a BA in Media from the University of the West Indies, Mona. Ghunta’s poetry has appeared in several journals including The Missing Slate, Moko, Spillway, Easy Street, Chiron Review, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, and has been anthologised in Cordite 81: New Caribbean Writing and In This Breadfruit Kingdom. He was awarded the Catherine James Poetry Prize by Interviewing the Caribbean in 2017. In 2015 and 2016 he was shortlisted for the Small Axe Poetry Prize. Tata and the Big Bad Bull is his first picture book.
Tata and the Big Bad Bull is published by CaribbeanReads Publishing. Books are available at bookstores and libraries across the Caribbean and the United States and at online booksellers. Visit www.caribbeanreads.com for details.
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