Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Children's Fiction Diversity & Multicultural

Anna Carries Water

by (author) Olive Senior

illustrated by Laura James

Tradewind Books
Initial publish date
Feb 2014
Diversity & Multicultural, Country Life, Multigenerational
Recommended Age
6 to 8
Recommended Grade
1 to 3
Recommended Reading age
6 to 8
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2014
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


Anna fetches water from the spring every day, but she can’t carry it on her head like her older brothers and sisters. In this charming and poetic family story set in Jamaica, Commonwealth Prize-winning author Olive Senior shows young readers the power of determination, as Anna achieves her goal and overcomes her fear.

About the authors

Olive Senior was born in Jamaica in 1941. She lives both there and in Canada. Her first collection of short stories, Summer Lightning (1986), won the Commonwealth Literature Prize. She has published two subsequent collections of short stories, The Arrival of the Snake Woman (1989) and The Discerner of Hearts (1995). She has two collections of poems, Talking of Trees (1985) and Gardening in the Tropics (1995). She has written on different aspects of Caribbean culture and was editor of Jamaica Journal.

Olive Senior's profile page

Laura James is an award-winning artist and illustrator of Antiguan heritage. She collaborated with Olive Senior on the bestselling Anna Carries Water, which was a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2014. She lives in the Bronx, New York.


Laura James' profile page


  • Commended, New York Public Library Best Books list
  • Commended, CCBC Best Books
  • Commended, Rainforest of Reading selection
  • Commended, Kirkus Reviews Best Books list

Editorial Reviews

"A gentle story about growing up. Anna's goal is simple, but the text doesn't trivialize her frustration at not being able to carry water the 'grown-up' way...James's stunning illustrations...capture the beauty and colour of the Jamaican landscape, as well as the warmth of Anna's family...Anna's triumph will delight young readers."

Quill & Quire

"Brilliantly illustrated."

Southern Maine Library District

"Simple, yet heartwarming...A good book to introduce how children live across the world. It is also a great book to start the conversation about how children have overcome their own limitations successfully."

Reading Today Online

"James's vibrant paintings will capture readers' eyes as they pore over minutiae, such as a fly on the kitchen table or brilliantly colored butterflies and birds in the fields. Little details...will enable children to realize those in other parts of the world aren't as dissimilar as they might believe."

School Library Journal

'The rhythmic and lyrical text and the brightly coloured and interesting illustrations will make this picture book a good choice for a read aloud."

Resource Links

★ "James, of Antiguan background, allows her bold acrylic paintings in tropical colors to sprawl across wide double-page spreads of lush Caribbean landscapes. The hummingbirds and butterflies add a bit of whimsy to Anna’s cover portrait...When water easily comes out of a faucet, young readers rarely think about the difficult chore of carrying water, but they will empathize with Anna’s desire to reach an important milestone."

Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Beautifully illustrated, printed, and written, author Olive Senior and illustrator Laura James together have tapped into a story instantly understandable to a child from any culture in this wide world in which we live. Sibling jealousy, the desire to be more grown-up than you are, and a good old-fashioned ridiculous fear combine to make this one of the more charming books I’ve seen this year."

School Library Journal blog

Librarian Reviews

Anna Carries Water

This charming and poetic family story set in Jamaica shows young readers the power of determination, as Anna achieves her goal and overcomes her fear.

This book will help students learn about a part of the world very different from their own, where children of the world are given the responsibility of carrying water to their family homes. Each of the illustrations in this book tells a story, conveys emotions, and provides tools for understanding community and culture and relationships among family and neighbours. For character education, this is a story of perseverance, responsibility and teamwork.

Source: Association of Canadian Publishers. Top Grade Selection 2016.

Other titles by

Other titles by

Related lists