cover image A Little Salmon for Witness: A Story from Trinidad

A Little Salmon for Witness: A Story from Trinidad

Vashanti Rahaman, Sandra Speidel. Dutton Books, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-525-67521-1

On Good Friday, Rajiv's grandmother laments that they cannot afford the smoked salmon traditionally served in Trinidad on this religious holiday. Worse yet, even a small tin of fish to serve ""for witness"" is beyond their reach. The boy finds no takers when he goes from neighbor to neighbor, offering to work in return for a tin of salmon; he is especially concerned because it is also his grandmother's birthday. His perseverance finally pays off, and the generous child returns home with a special offering for his grandmother. Unfortunately, Rahaman's narrative is wordy and lethargically paced, especially for younger members of the targeted audience. While lilting island dialogue and descriptions of dishes like pelau and bhaahee add a dash of local color, it is not enough to spice up a weakly told story. Warm hues-including rich salmon shades-dominate Speidel's (Clap, Clap!) soft, sketchy pastels. But the illustrations, despite the visual appeal of their multicolored crosshatching and smudgings, do little to individualize the boy or to ground the story convincingly in Trinidad-the reader gets little sense for what the island looks like. The good intentions here are obvious, but they can't carry the book. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)