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Some Reviews of Anna Carries Water!

Picture Book Treasures: Anna Carries Water
April 17, 2014 by wondersinthedark


The vital importance of water in everyday life is given center stage in a sublime new picture book authored by Olive Senior and illustrated by Brooklynite Laura James. Senior, born and raised on the Caribbean island of Jamaica, moved to Europe and then to Canada after the capital city of Kingston was ravaged by a hurricane in the late 80′s. Senior is renowned for her poetry and adult novels and short stories, but was supremely flattered when publishers chose Anna Carries Water and the 2012 Birthday Suit as worthy of the picture book treatment. Senior credits Laura James and Eugenie Fernandez -the illustrator of the earlier book- for transforming her material into such exquisite works, but the veteran writer is certainly to be credited for half the acclaim for her wholly exhilarating ideas.

School Library Journal
Review of the Day: Anna Carries Water by Olive Senior 2/24/14


I was recently engaged in a high-energy search at my library to locate as swiftly and surely as possible a listing of any and all children’s books set in the Caribbean. We were eventually able to locate 21 picture books in my system, but when you consider how many picture books are published in a given year it was hardly an overwhelming number of titles. This happened about a month ago, so maybe that was what first drew my attention to the book Anna Carries Water. Or maybe it was the starred review in Kirkus that was the first draw. Or maybe it was the book itself when I saw it firsthand and actually gave it a read. Beautifully illustrated, printed, and written, author Olive Senior and illustrator Laura James together have tapped into a story instantly understandable to a child from any culture in this wide world in which we live. Sibling jealousy, the desire to be more grown-up than you are, and a good old-fashioned ridiculous fear combine to make this one of the more charming books I’ve seen this year.

GoARTkids 2/21/14


What is the recipe for an unforgettable children’s book? Equal parts magical story and breathtaking images. This week a wonderful example of this magical combination arrived in local bookstores and on Amazon. “Anna Carries Water,” is written by Canadian-Jamaican writer Olive Senior, and illustrated by fine artist and Bronx resident, Laura James.
Ms. James, is known for her sacred paintings, that depict deities, angels and mortals as people of color. She invites viewers of all ethnicities to connect and become empowered, with spiritual narratives. For Ms. James, illustrating a children’s book felt like entering a new community, but her efforts are already receiving complimentary reviews. Each illustration is an acrylic painting, whose images are infused with intoxicating colors. All readers will be drawn into the world of Anna as she struggles to overcome her fear and reach her goal. Her story is takes place in a mountain Caribbean village. Typically her family goes to a spring to collect water. Anna wants to carry water with her family but she is afraid of the cows she must walk past in a nearby field. She eventually conquers her fears and takes her place in the important family activity of collecting water.
Art collectors: some of the original paintings for this book can be purchased at this time. For a look at more of Ms. James’s work go to laurajamesart.com. “Anna Carries Water,” is a Tradewind Books publication.
For a closer look click on the images. Enjoy!

Midwest Book Review 1/14

“Anna Carries Water” is a fabulous, vividly illustrated Jamaican folktale about a little water carrier girl who wants to learn to carry water on her head like the older children, All her family’s water for washing, drinking, and cleaning must be carried to the house daily from the well at the spring across Mr. Johnson’s field. When Anna is older, she will be able to carry a container of water on her head. But it is hard for Anna to wait and to have to carry her small coffee can of water with her hands because she is little. One day Anna was behind the other children carrying her can of water back and she was alone with the cows, who frightened her. Quickly she placed the can of water on her head and ran to meet her family who was looking for her. She was amazed to find that she did not spill a drop! Plus, she realized that the cows were not at all threatening to her. Because she was so happy to achieve her goal, Anna turned cartwheels in front of everyone to celebrate. “Anna Carries Water” is a great empowerment tale for children of all nationalities, ages 4-8. The creative canvas artwork in bright blues, browns, reds and yellows is especially arresting and effective in this charming Jamaican teaching tale.



Anna, the youngest in a large family, desperately wants to carry her coffee can of water on her head.
She doesn’t yet have this skill that all her siblings have mastered. Why, Karen can even read while she carries a water container on her head, a detail noted in the exuberant paintings accompanying the simple text, ideal for reading aloud. There is another problem. Anna is afraid of the cows in Mr. Johnson’s field, near the spring. One day, when she is trailing way behind the others, Anna just starts running away from her bovine enemies (very peaceful creatures, as depicted in the illustrations). Her whole family comes to find her, and they all witness a grand sight: Anna running with her full can on her head and not spilling a single drop! James, of Antiguan background, allows her bold acrylic paintings in tropical colors to sprawl across wide double-page spreads of lush Caribbean landscapes. The hummingbirds and butterflies add a bit of whimsy to Anna’s cover portrait. While not mentioned in the text, the Jamaican flag is seen on the wall of a country store, and the author was born there.
When water easily comes out of a faucet, young readers rarely think about the difficult chore of carrying water, but they will empathize with Anna’s desire to reach an important milestone. (Picture book. 4-6)

Quill & Quire, December 2013


“Anna lives with her family in the beautiful Jamaican countryside. Every evening she and her siblings walk to the spring, where they fill their containers with water for cooking, drinking, and washing. They always walk in a straight line: “First Doris then Karen then Rohan then Trevor then Robbie and last of all far behind came Anna.”

Anna, the youngest, is the only one who has not yet learned to balance her water container on her head. She insists on trying, but is frustrated when the can falls off and she gets wet. One day, as she lags behind, she becomes terrified by the cows in Mr. Johnson’s field and races home, only to be welcomed by her smiling family who point out that she has run all the way with her water can on her head and hasn’t spilled a drop.

This is a gentle story about growing up. Anna’s goal is simple, but the text doesn’t trivialize her frustration at not being able to carry water the “grown-up” way. Senior’s use of repetition keeps the narrative bouncing along and, though the solution comes a bit suddenly, the ending will encourage young readers who are struggling with similar frustrations and fears.

New York artist Laura James’s stunning illustrations, which include detailed backgrounds complete with vibrant birds, animals, and plants, capture the beauty and the colour of the Jamaican landscape, as well as the warmth of Anna’s family. We see the climax of Anna’s arrival home just as she does, with her whole family smiling in amazement and joyfully welcoming her. Anna’s triumph will delight young readers.”

Repeating Islands Recommendation 11/13


Olive Senior’s Anna Carries Water (2013) a children’s book for ages 4-8, beautifully illustrated by Laura James, has just been published by Tradewind Books. This inspiring story is set in Jamaica.
Description: Anna fetches water from the spring every day, but she can’t carry it on her head like her older brothers and sisters. In this charming and poetic family story set in Jamaica, Commonwealth Prize-winning author Olive Senior shows young readers the power of determination, as Anna achieves her goal and overcomes her fear.
Olive Senior was born and brought up in Jamaica and educated in Jamaica and Canada. She is the winner of many awards, including the Commonwealth Prize and the Institute of Jamaica’s Gold Medal for her poetry. She lives in Toronto.
Laura James is an award-winning artist and self-taught painter of Antiguan heritage. Working as a professional artist and illustrator for many years, she is best known for her illustrations for the Book of the Gospels: a lectionary, published by LTP Press. She was born in New York City, where she now lives.
For more information, see http://www.tradewindbooks.com/book%26Title=Anna_Carries_Water

Canadian Review of Materials, November 15, 2013


Anna wanted to carry water on her head. More than anything. Her family lived way out in the countryside Their water did not come from a tap. Every evening after school the children went to the spring for water.

Jamaican-Canadian author Olive Senior provides young readers with a delightful story set in Jamaica, the country of her birth. Unlike her older brothers and sisters, Anna cannot carry a container of water on her head when they fetch water from the spring after school each day. In spite of Anna’s determination, the small coffee can falls off each time she tries. Anna has another problem as well. As they walk to the spring, they must pass Mr. Johnson’s field where the cows graze, and Anna is afraid of the cows. Children will enjoy how an unexpected encounter with the cows helps Anna not only overcome her fear but also achieve her goal – carrying her container of water on her head.

The illustrations by award-winning artist Laura James will immediately capture the reader’s attention with the vibrant colours and the textural collage elements. The full-page illustrations provide the backdrop for the simple text. The frequent inclusion of short sentences and the use of repetition enable the emerging reader to read Anna Carries Water independently or with a little assistance. The story is also an excellent read-aloud.

Anna Carries Water uses the story’s setting to acquaint young readers with different daily activities found in a different country. At the same time, the story highlights the similarities that face people in all countries and how determination can help you reach your goal and overcome your fears. Readers of all ages will enjoy this attractive and entertaining book.
Highly Recommended.
Janice Foster, a former teacher and teacher-librarian, lives in Winnipeg, MB.

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