Eight-year-old Sapphire Manley has authored a book to share the story of her visits to Jamaica and the time she spent reconnecting with grandparents, cousins, and the culture of the land of her ancestors. The book, “Jamaican Like Me” was published in January of 2022, but Sapphire actually wrote the original manuscript at the age of six after visiting her maternal grandparents in Jamaica during the summer of 2019. Bringing the book to publication took almost two years from the time when the story was written to when the book was completed with formatting and illustration.
“Jamaican Like Me” is set in Saint Andrew, Kingston, and Port Royal in Jamaica. It follows a girl as she navigates being a citizen of the United States with a yearning to connect to the culture and traditions of her Jamaican parent. It describes some of the author’s summer experiences with her cousins and friends on the island, including games they played, moments of fun and joy, and even some moments that frightened her. All Sapphire experienced during her visit are important to her because they help her to feel more connected to her mother by becoming familiar with the food, music, and outdoor games of
her mother’s childhood. The story illustrates the bliss of being a child in Jamaica and the beauty of being bicultural.
When Sapphire told her mother, Janique Daley, in 2019 that she wanted to make an “official” children’s book, Daley did not take her seriously. For about a year, though, Sapphire continued to ask if her story could become a book. A visit to Jamaica in 2020 was not possible because of the COVID-19 outbreak, but she did visit again in 2021 with her mother. When they returned from that visit, Sapphire again asked if her story could be made into a children’s book, and this time, Daley agreed. Because she wanted Sapphire’s story to be free of any influence from her, Daley hired QBN studios to help Sapphire to develop her story.
Her mother, Janique, was born and raised in Jamaica. She moved to the United States in 2014 and currently is a nurse who works with geriatric patients experiencing mental health issues. Sapphire was born in Jamaica, raised mostly in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and now lives in Glenside, Pennsylvania, with her mother, her step-father Daniel Pannella, her brother, and her newborn system. The entire family plans a three-week visit to Jamaica this summer. Daley plans to have her children christened there, and there will be an official book launch for “Jamaican Like Me” in Kingston.
Daley says that Sapphire wants to be a pediatrician when she grows up, but she also has plans to write two more children’s books in the near future.