First day at school in Canada for Jamaica’s Leroy

By Stephen Weir

Sadu captures the voice of a young boy in a new country in this story about finding a new home while still staying proud of where you’re from. Haitian artist Alix Delinois shows the joy of making new friends with his vibrant, layered paintings.

The  United States administration of President Donald  Trump has come under fire for the separation of children from their parents at the Mexican border in the current crackdown on undocumented migrants.

As the subject becomes a hot button topic in Canada, a new children’s book  is creating interest. It  too is about immigration.

Toronto author, storyteller and bookstore owner Itah Sadu has written a  picture book ( her sixth)  – Greetings, Leroy -as an email to a friend back home about Leroy’s  first day at a Canadian school. His family has just moved to Canada from Jamaica. His new home is different. Even the sun feels cold.

His nerves ease, though, as welcome reminders of  “back home” follow him through his day. It begins when his neighbour gives him a Bob Marley button as a gift to get him through that stressful first day at school. The principal tells him about the soccer team and his new class makes him feel welcome.

Everything is looking up until Leroy looses his button. He looks all over, including the principal’s office, before finding it in an unexpected place and is able to show it to his new friends. The friendly people he meets, and their shared love of Bob Marley, make for a good start in his new country. By the end of the day, Leroy is happy to find a piece of his old home in his new home.

“ There are a lot of great books out there for kids in terms of their first day at school but this is unique in that it addresses the Caribbean Canadian story of Day One,” explained Sadu.

“Leroy is every child. I didn’t base Leroy on any one person but rather I’ve included stories that I have been told by  many adults (from Jamaica to Ireland) about their first experiences here.”

The book, published by House of Anansi Press, has been out for about six months and, is doing well.  With book fair season just about to begin in Canada, Greetings, Leroy will be making the rounds.

“ The funny thing is, I own a bookstore (A Different Booklist on Bathurst Street) and I haven’t done enough to promote it,” laughed Sadu. “ Been so busy pushing other authors and their events, that I haven’t gotten around to talking about mine.”

“That will change this summer, and we are hoping for good things,” she continued. “ Greetings, Leroy is a gentle story with a strong strong message. As Bob Marley says, One Love.”