Staying True to Yourself

By: Donn Sawby

Illustrated by: Alejandra Barajas

Published: July 1, 2023

Publisher: Cardinal Rule Press


Cardinal Press is a new-to-me publisher that strives to publish “realistic, representative books for socially thoughtful children”. I’m excited to share a new book from them, IT’LL BE IRIE about a young boy who immigrates to America from Jamaica, based on the author’s own parents’ experiences.

Raymond finds out his family is leaving Jamaica for America. To prepare, Raymond learns American slang, watches American movies, and tries making American food. On his first day of school in Queens, Raymond tries out all his new tricks. He tries to talk like an American but overuses slang. He shows off his skills at recess by playing American games. But, his new classmates are confused and wonder if he is really from Jamaica.

At home, Raymond shares his frustration with his parents where he is encouraged to be himself rather than what he thinks his new American friends want him to be. He tries again the next day by sharing his family’s special Christmas Cake with his friends.

The end of the book includes an author’s note with talking points to discuss with your child and the recipe for his father’s Jamaican Christmas Cake. This book is great for families that are making a move to a new community, for kids who struggle with fitting in, and as a reminder to be your authentic self. The illustrations are excellent and show lots of diversity of characters and great reactions to Raymond’s silly behaviors.

Check out the book trailer below:

Donn Swaby has written stage plays, screenplays, feature articles, short stories, poetry, and children’s books, including writing and starring in the feature film, “Buds for Life”, available on DVD. Donn drew inspiration for his debut picture book, You’re Everything, Everywhere All the Time from the work of the artist Gerald Mc Dermott, who masterfully illustrated folk tales from cultures around the world. You can find more information on Donn and his at his website, HERE.

For more Cardinal Rule Press titles, be sure to visit their bookshelf!

We are an independent publishing company that produces a select number of books each year. We work diligently to release children’s literature that represents today’s diversity while remaining dedicated to messages that make a difference.

To purchase a copy of IT’LL BE IRIE, click the photo below:

Other posts you might like:

Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to make a purchase through the above links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase.
Posted in

Leave a Comment

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.