New Video Clips

I have a couple of new video clips (well not new but newly uploaded as I was working on an essay about my life in mas for submission and I needed to upload the videos) from Grace’s Merrymakers 2017 debut and finale during Antigua and Barbuda Carnival’s 60th anniversary. Seriously when I play mas again I want to not have to worry about all the behind the scenes stuff – though my mas was micro I have newfound respect for the leaders of mas I’ve played with over the years, because seriously when is their Carnival. I’m half-kidding. I had fun. We all did.

For the backstory, read this previous post and for other video and images, check out this post.

This all relates, of course, to my picture book With Grace, which you can read about here and here.


My Rumpus Letter for Kids


What season is it where you are?

It’s mango season in Antigua where I live. I’ve got one in my mouth as I type this. Because here in the sun-blessed Caribbean we tear in to the orange mango with our teeth until nothing’s left but the whitened seed. E bang good (translation: it tastes so, so good).


Still from the mango eating contest during the Mango Festival (yes, we have a festival dedicated to the mango) in Antigua in the summer, mango season. (source: uncertain; shared purely for educational purposes. No profit made. No copyright infringement intended).

Seriously, there’s no such thing as a bad mango. Too soft, too hard, it’s all just right. Unless it’s picked too soon, in which case you have to set it; setting means sticking the not-quite-ripe mango in a brown paper bag and literally setting it aside until it ripens.  Why do we sometimes pick it before it has fully ripened? Well, the birds, the dogs, the mongoose, and the lizards might get them before we do. They love mangoes too. And can you blame them?

Bananas, oranges, they’re all good but the mango is, as we say in Antigua, sweet bad – that means very sweet. Though, like anything, it can also be bad for you if you eat too much…and the mango does tempt you to do that.

We love the mango so much, we even have a mango festival, with ice cream and mango eating contests, in the summer. The only summer festival bigger than that is Carnival and Carnival is pretty epic – costumes and music and parades and fireworks.

With Grace

A moment from the two day parade and mas showcase held during Antigua’s Carnival, in which some friends and I (as Grace’s Merrymakers) adapted and played the mango tree faerie from my children’s picture book, With Grace (2017).

Why am I writing about mangoes?   Ah, mangoes…because I wanted to share one of my favourite things. There is no best fruit, of course; they’re all good. *whispers ‘but mangoes are better’* I write about mangoes because I love them, maybe more than I should. I even have a poem about the mango and a book in which a girl sings to a mango tree and, unbeknownst to her, a fairy that lives there. Here it is:posing With Grace 5


See how pretty the mangoes are? Bet they taste good too.

*waving from Antigua* ~ Joanne


This letter was The Rumpus’ September 2017 Letter for Kids (I think it’s safe to share it here now). I wanted to make it fun for the kids and tie-in with the book, mangoes made sense. None of these pictures were used in The Rumpus letter.

ABOUT The Rumpus’ Letter for Kids: The has been sending letters from authors to kids around the world since 2012. I found out about this through one of the social media writers’ networks I belong to and pitched. The letters can be any thing – handwritten, typed, with hand drawings, doodles, photos, or without; as long as they are a personal note from the author to the children in the Rumpus’ mailing network. Thanks to them for scheduling this author from Ottos, Antigua in the series.

ABOUT With Grace: With Grace is a fairytale filled with magic, enchantment, and lots of heart.  Also mangoes, lots of mangoes. And a mango tree faerie.

ABOUT Grace’s Merrymakers: a micro troupe with a couple of my friends designed and built by my friends, inspired by and interpreting the mango tree faerie in With Grace, my children’s picture book. The troupe participated in Antigua’s Carnival parade in early August.

ABOUT the author: Joanne C. Hillhouse is an avowed mango lover. Carnival lover. book lover. Isn’t it lovely when those things intersect? She writes books and she cuts her own free.lancing path.

Links to research papers about my work, articles, reviews, interviews, reports, guest posts, shout-outs, and extras like this can be found in the Media room.

Pub Day is Not Over Yet!

You might have heard (because I told you) that today (November 30th 2017) is publication day for my latest book Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure. Stopped by my local bookstore to sign a copy for a buyer and found their first order had already (save the one) sold out – more on the way. I’m going to take that as an omen re international sales. My fingertips to God’s ears. Are you listening God? It’s me, Joanne.


Anyway, I just wanted to pop in to share my book trailer for Lost! – this is actually my first publisher produced book trailer (yay, me!). Big up to Caribbean Reads Publishing, a small independent press doing big things. This is my second book with them, the first was Musical Youth. Dem likkle but dem tallawah (yay, Caribbean Reads).

Trailer time.

Finally, I mentioned my interview re my Astrid Lindgren nomination on local radio, in this post, but I thought I’d direct link to the upload on my youtube channel as well.

The images used are mostly book covers and scenes from my writing life, and the featured image (random, not me, but I’m okay with it) is from Grace’s Merrymakers Carnival 2017 debut. You may remember that Grace’s Merrymakers was inspired by my other picture book With Grace which is a Caribbean fairytale. I recently received my author copies of the special paperback edition done for the US Virgin Islands Governor’s Summer Read Challenge (shout out to the VI, and wishing them all the support they need to recover post hurricane). More on that meet up with my other dope Caribbean independent publisher in another post. Today is all about Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure.

Read the advance reviews here.

Read the first page here.

Order online or anywhere books are sold. If your bookstore doesn’t carry it, be sure to encourage them to. Let’s make this one a bestseller.

What the Kids are Reading

Update! I visited the school on October 27th. There were hiccups as there is with everything but the kids were a delight. All engaged and several bought books via the pre-order form I’d sent to the school. Two things that made my morning, hearing them sing the song from the book and the little girl who as I got in to my car called out to me “I love your book…and the song.” Life, you’re trying it but you don’t get the win, these kids do. Some parents were there and a couple took pictures of me with their child during the book signings; will share if I get my hand on any pics.

Earlier this year, I raffled three copies of my book With Grace for local school libraries – the winning schools were Villa, Foundation Mixed, and Kids Unlimited. Glad to see the kids are enjoying them. Images are from Kids Unlimited which I will also be visiting this week. I’ll report on how it went and, in time, if I’ll be able to resume school visits (which have been on hold for a while) using my new model.

Thanks for the pics, KU.

About With Grace



In the Race

I’m on this list nomsof 2018 nominees for the Astrid Lindgren prize.

First, happy dance!


(no I’m not a redheaded white girl but Charlie is a Supernatural fave plus I couldn’t find the Jessica James dancing gif)

Okay, reality check, I’m one of 235 candidates from 60 countries nominated …but a long shot is still a shot, right? Can’t win if you’re not even in the race and I am. Here’s a downloadable version of the nominated candidates: nomi_2018_web

Thanks to my nominator for taking the time to read the work (With Grace) and fill out the forms (I know it was a pain); you didn’t have to and I appreciate that you did.

FYI: The The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA) – named for the beloved Swedish author of Pippi Longstocking, Mio, and other great characters – and administered by the Swedish Arts Council, is the world’s largest award for children’s and young adult literature. Authors, illustrators, oral storytellers, and reading promoters are eligible for the award (I am nominated as both an author and reading promoter). An expert jury selects the laureate(s) from candidates nominated by institutions and organizations all over the world. Seriously, there are nominees from the US to the UAE. The winner will be announced on March 27th 2018 and, in the tradition of also-rans everywhere, it is an honour just to be nominated.

Yes-I, Reader Reviews, Keep ‘m Coming

This one from children’s author and publisher Carol Mitchell, shared to her blog and goodreads is much appreciated and has been added to the With Grace reviews page.

“Written in Hillhouse’s strong poetic voice, With Grace spins a magic-laden story of the universal battle between good and evil. But it is far from ordinary. An involved tale, With Grace takes the reader on a series of twists and turns as Hillhouse explores the limits of human capacity for tolerance and meanness.
Hillhouse skilfully evokes her Caribbean setting and the illustrations, beautifully painted by Barbadian illustrator Cherise Harris, complete the illusion.
Readers, children and adults alike, will be swept away into this fairy-tale and hold their breaths in anticipation of where the story will take them next.”

Out Dey!

Some days you just need to go back to your happy place (yes, there were bumps in the making and showcasing of Grace’s Merrymakers; but playing mas is still one of the purest pleasures there is because when the music hits you, you feel no pain).


on the road 2

on the road

This is me and a couple of friends playing the mango tree faerie from my children’s picture book for the 60th anniversary of Antigua’s Carnival.

Video taken by my niece (who was one of my banner holders) 20706223_1678542355489442_804926424_oduring our appearance on the stage – first ones on the stage (no warm up) – Carnival Monday, pictures plucked from the Antigua Carnival’s Facebook – Carnival Tuesday album. The song in the video is Out Dey by Claudette ‘CP’ Peters which went on to earn her the distinction of being the first female soca artiste to win the Antigua Road March title (i.e. most played song on the road for the 60th anniversary of Antigua’s Carnival).

For the back story go to the making of Grace’s Merrymakers and for the back story to that (i.e. the book itself) go to the With Grace first page and reviews page.

Yep, it may have been released in December 2016 but between being picked as one of the US Virgin Islands’ Governor’s Summer Reads and the tree faerie being Out Dey in de Carnival, it’s been the summer of Grace.

ETA: I’m also making this my Sunday Post (a meme run by the Caffeinated Reviewer) because, yay, I finished and blogged about Wide Sargasso Sea this Sunday. Read the review here. That means that I can add another book to my active reading pile and that book is – ta-dah! – Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith. Don’t judge me. Okay, judge, whatever but another blogger decided to mail it to me after I told her how much the movie sucked – either this is a case of the book being better than the movie or she’s trying to prank me. Either way, there’s a hurricane coming and I need the distraction. You know how this post opens with needing to go to my happy place, well…there you have it.