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Drummer Boy of John John

Drummer Boy of John John (hc)

By Mark Greenwood

Illustrated by Frané Lessac


Carnival is coming, and the villagers of John John, Trinidad, are getting ready to jump up and celebrate with music, dancing, and a parade. Best of all, the Roti King has promised free rotis—tasty fried pancakes filled with chicken, herbs, and spices—for the best band in the parade.

Young Winston dreams of feasting on those delicious rotis. But there’s a problem: he’s not in a band! Pondering his predicament as he wanders through the village junkyard, Winston makes a curious musical discovery that may be just the ticket to realizing his dream. With ingenuity and the help of his friends, Winston takes on the Carnival bands, drumming his way to victory—and to the Roti King’s prized treat.

Musical text and sun-drenched paintings joyously transport readers to the Caribbean, and to this exuberant story inspired by the early life of Winston “Spree” Simon, a pioneer in the development of the steel drum.

Booktalk with author Mark Greenwood and illustrator Frané Lessac

"Starred Review"
Kirkus Reviews

Best of 2012
Kirkus Reviews

Américas Book Award Commended Title

Cooperative Children's Book Center

Best Children's Books of the Year
Outstanding Merit

Bank Street College Children's Book Committee

Interest Level
Grades K - 5
Reading Level
Grades 2 - 3
African/African American Interest, Food, Historical Interest, Holidays & Celebrations, Music
About the Creators

Mark Greenwood is the author of numerous children’s books published in both the United States and his native Australia, several of which were created in collaboration with his wife, illustrator Frané Lessac. Greenwood is also an accomplished drummer. His interest in world music and his frequent travels to the Caribbean led him to this story of a drummer boy based on the life of musician Winston “Spree” Simon. Greenwood and Lessac live in Fremantle, West Australia. Visit his website at markgreenwood.com.au.

Frané Lessac has illustrated more than thirty-five books for young readers, several of which she has also written. Born in New Jersey, Lessac later lived on the island of Montserrat. Her time there inspired her to create many stories with Caribbean settings and themes. Working on Drummer Boy of John John gave Lessac an opportunity to visit the Caribbean again, to research her illustrations. She currently lives in Fremantle, West Australia, with her author husband. Visit her website at franelessac.com.

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