WOW Review: Volume XV, Issue 4

A young Black girl and her grandmother stand together smiling as they cook a large pot full of food.Granny’s Kitchen: A Jamaican Story of Food and Family
Written by Sadé Smith
Illustrated by Ken Daley
Feiwel & Friends, 2022, 32 pp (unpaged)
ISBN: 978-1250806338

Shelly-Ann lives with her grandmother on the sunny beautiful island of Jamaica. Her grandmother is a wonderful cook of foods based on Jamaican traditions–dumplings, ackee, saltfish, and plantains. When Shelly-Ann decides to try her hand at making these foods, nothing turns out right. Even though her grandmother reassures her, Shelley-Ann gives up. One day when her grandmother is too tired to cook, Shelley-Ann gives cooking another try and provides her grandmother with a perfect Jamaican breakfast.

This warm, inviting story is illustrated with vibrant, sun-soaked artwork that fits the Jamaican setting. The digital illustrations capture the bright greens and blues of the Jamaican countryside and pinks of Granny’s kitchen. They also depict the close relationship between Shelly-Ann and her grandmother and their facial expressions of discouragement and happiness. The book ends with recipes for the Jamaican dishes that Shelly-Ann learns to cook, encouraging readers to also give the recipes a try. The story of a determined girl and her love for her grandmother and Jamaican food is full of warmth and connection.

Books to pair with this picturebook include books set in Jamaica, such as Marley and the Family Band by Cedella Marley (2022), A Likkle Miss Lou: How Jamaican Poet Louise Bennett Coverly Found Her Voice by Nadia Hohn (2019), and J is for Jamaica by Benjamin Zephaniah (2009). Books about cooking and food with family members would also make great pairings, such as Plátanos are Love by Alyssa Reynoso-Morris (2023), Abuelita and I Make Flan by Adriana Hernande Bergstron (2022), and Black-Eyed Peas and Hoghead Cheese by Glenda Armand (2022).

Sadé Smith is from Toronto, Ontario and is of Jamaican heritage. Her books often involve food and recipes with colorful illustrations to capture the vibrancy and beauty of the Caribbean islands. Granny’s Kitchen is her debut picturebook. Her second book is Julie and the Mango Tree, illustrated by Sayada Ramdial (2023). Sadé is also a design technologist who practices the skilled trades of carpentry, flooring, and home renovations. She holds degrees in interior design, architectural technology, creative book publishing, and business marketing. She loves the beach and enjoys adventuring with her two boys and their dog Ziggy. She is passionate about literature and writing books with diverse representation for young readers.

Ken Daley was born in Cambridge, Ontario to parents who emigrated from Dominica, West Indies. He has exhibited his artwork in Canada, the U.S. and the Caribbean with his work featured in children’s books, print publications, and on television. He draws inspiration from his African-Caribbean roots, his life experiences, and his encounters with people and cultures. He explores art through different styles and materials, including oil, acrylic, ceramic tiles, wood, nails and found materials. His work is an explosion of color and emotion. He had illustrated picturebooks related to the Caribbean, including Auntie Luce’s Paintings by Francie Latour (2018), A Feast for Joseph by Terry Farish (2021), Joseph’s Big Ride by Terry Farish (2016), and The Legend of the Spirit Serpent by Adaiah Sanford (2022).

Kathy G. Short, University of Arizona

© 2023 by Kathy G. Short

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WOW Review, Volume XV, Issue 4 by Worlds of Words is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Based on work by Kathy G. Short at

WOW review: reading across cultures
ISSN 2577-0527