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Children's Nonfiction Diversity & Multicultural

The Possible Lives of W.H., Sailor

by (author) Bushra Junaid

Running the Goat, Books & Broadsides
Initial publish date
Mar 2024
Diversity & Multicultural, Cultural Heritage, Prejudice & Racism, General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2023
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Mar 2024
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 9 to 12
  • Grade: 4 to 7
  • Reading age: 9 to 12


“What truths would you utter from your mouth
If you could tell us your story“The Possible Lives of W.H., Sailor

In this powerful and deeply moving poetic narrative, author/artist Bushra Junaid gives presence to W.H., a mysterious nineteenth-century sailor whose remains were discovered in Labrador in the late 1980s. What little can be deduced about W.H. archaeologically is that he was of African heritage, and buried alone on the coast of a forbidding landscape. Junaid’s poem embraces the mystery of W.H., ponders his life—who he might have been, how he might have lived— and in so doing not only offers a daring look at the history of the African experience in North America, but claims as kin a man isolated, alone, and until now, forgotten.

The Possible Lives of W.H., Sailor was inspired by “What Carries Us: Newfoundland and Labrador in the Black Atlantic”, an exhibition that Junaid curated at The Rooms (St. John’s, NL) in 2020. The book includes a timeline about the Black experience in North America, as well as helpful material for further discussion.

About the author

An artist, curator, and arts administrator, Bushra Junaid was born in Montreal to Jamaican and Nigerian parents, and raised in St. John's, NL. She has exhibited her work across Canada, curated numerous exhibitions, and illustrated Adwoa Badoe's Nana's Cold Days (Groundwood Books, 2009). She lives and works in Toronto, ON.

Bushra Junaid's profile page

Editorial Reviews

I know that teachers will undoubtedly be using The Possible Lives of WH, Sailor for teaching purposes, especially for history–a list of discussion questions as part of an appended teachers' guide will be ever so useful–but this picture book should be seen as an exemplar for empathy and compassion for times and people gone and unknown.

Helen Kubiw

Soft, flowing, rhyming cadence abounds in the text and it reads like a beat poem. […] It’s historical relevance and its value as a teaching tool for both adults and children on the subject matter is unmatched in anything I have seen or read.

Lana Shupe

“One of the most delicately respectful yet robust yet intimate texts I’ve read in recent years. […] I do not see how any reader can go through this book without seeing the world in a richer, more nuanced, and more colourful way.”

Deborah Furchtgott

This volume is extraordinary on several fronts. [...] The narrative is told in a varied poetic style with frequent use of rhyme, and it includes invaluable end material. [...] Highly recommended

Val Ken Lem

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