A picture book story about the triumph of hope, love, and determination, Coming to England is the inspiring true story of Baroness Floella Benjamin: from Trinidad, to London as part of the Windrush generation, to the House of Lords. When she was ten years old, Floella Benjamin, along with her older sister and two younger brothers, set sail from Trinidad to London, to be reunited with the rest of their family. Alone on a huge ship for two weeks, then tumbled into a cold and unfriendly London, coming to England wasn't at all what Floella had expected.
Coming to England is both deeply personal and universally relevant - Floella's experiences of moving home and making friends will resonate with young children, who will be inspired by her trademark optimism and joy. This is a true story with a powerful message: that courage and determination can always overcome adversity.
Reviewed by Aimee Durning
Coming to England captures the heart and mind right from the turn of the front cover. The brightly designed endpapers encourage the reader to pause and consider what may be beyond the dense foliage. Beyond is the story of a child of the Windrush generation and her journey to the Palace.
Floella is known to so many and was regularly present in my own childhood. It was great to read this book and appreciate the sacrifices her family had made to move to England in the 1960s. The richly illustrated pages by Diane Ewen (illustrator of Never Show a T-Rex a Book) along with the personal narrative, documents each element of Floella’s migration. Firstly the separation from her Dardie and then her Marmie. Her hopes and constant dream of meeting the Queen. The contrasting countries Trinidad and England. And the long voyage to be reunited, in a cold Southampton, with her beloved Marmie. Floella writes that it took a while to settle, but eventually, England became their home.
This is a perfect introduction to the life of Floella Benjamin and the Windrush generation. Children of all ages could investigate her life in more detail and discover what lead her to meet the Queen. It is a story of success and courage in overcoming huge change and adversity.
The original children’s book of the same name is aimed at the junior age group, along with the more recent Windrush Child by Benjamin Zephaniah. Coming to England, the picturebook introduces the story of a child living through this momentous historical generation to younger children with charm and sincerity.