Coming to England
by Floella Benjamin & Diane Ewen

Hands up if you’re old enough to remember watching Play School when you were a kid? I loved it and just seeing pictures of Dame Floella Benjamin makes me feel all warm and nostalgic! When I saw that she was releasing a children’s book I was very excited and I am so pleased that it is utterly wonderful.

Coming to England is a very personal story about the author’s own experience of the being part of the Windrush generation. The stunningly illustrated pages follow a young Floella as she makes the journey from Trinidad to England in 1960 to start a new life with her family.

Her family moved to the UK in stages so we see how difficult it was for her to deal with that separation and then travel for 15 days across the ocean with just her sister and two brothers for company. Whilst on the ship the children try to imagine what England will be like and on the day they arrive in Southampton they wear their best clothes in case they get to meet the Queen!

The family is very happy to be reunited but England isn’t at all what Floella and her siblings were expecting. It’s cold, they all have to share just one room and the people they meet are not very friendly. However the family pull together and make the best of their situation and little by little it starts to feel like home.

This is such a fantastic book for teaching children about Windrush and the prejudices and hardships which people faced when they arrived here. It has sparked so many discussions and because it is written from a child’s point of view it’s much more accessible than a non-fiction title would be. The vibrant pages shine with love, hope and expectation – and it’s extremely satisfying to see Floella meet the Queen at the end of the story when she was awarded her OBE.

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