Bocas Lit Fest

Josse Franco, winner in the 9 – 12 year old category.
Josh Hansraj, winner in the 5 – 8 year old category.

Eleven-year old Josse Franco and eight-year old Josh Hansraj top their categories in Dragonzilla’s Short Story Writing Challenge to win brand new laptops, courtesy the NGC Children’s Bocas Lit Fest!

Hansraj and Franco were among 22 finalists  – 11 in each age group, 5-8 and 9-12  – who advanced to the second round of the Challenge where they were granted creative license to submit videos of themselves presenting the stories they had written.

Over 100 children shared their 300-400 word story on the theme “My COVID experience in Trinidad and Tobago” in the first stage of the online Story Writing Challenge, hosted by the NGC Children’s Bocas Lit Fest in collaboration with NALIS. The entire judging process was managed by NALIS, who put together an expert panel of educators, librarians and storytellers.

“The Great Depression” by Josh Hansraj offers dramatic insights into his experience of the oppressive reign of “King Corona”, detailing its terrible effects on his daily life.  Josse Franco’s story “The Big Fight” is an imaginative account of a fight between a boy and the Covid-19 virus. Franco further impressed the judges with his video depicting a boxing match between the two.

At two separate prize-giving events held at the NALIS Port of Spain Children’s Library on Friday 11 December, the 22 finalists learnt of their placing and were awarded for their effort and creativity from a range of  electronic prizes, including tablets and laptops, courtesy the National Gas Company, title sponsor of the annual children’s literary festival.

In addition, People’s Choice Awards, provided by NALIS and determined by the number of social media likes and shares that counted as votes towards each video, were presented to Nivaan Ramjattan in the 5-8 age category for his 1,500 votes, and to Tahlia Ramsamooj in the 9-12 group for her 1,400 votes.

NALIS librarian Hazel Hazzard-Samuda, a judge in the final round, was pleased with the range of creative expression, where “some children used the format of presenting a documentary report, some the storytelling format, while others dramatized it. Creativity was evident in the interpretations of the theme: some chose to relate their experience during the pandemic, while others created an imaginative world, complete with a fairy!”

Another judge, storyteller and retired librarian Joan Osbourne commends the NGC Children’s Bocas Lit Fest for “a very thoughtful and excellent initiative to nurture the literary habit among children.”   She adds, “The depth of understanding of Covid 19 demonstrated in the stories and the videos submitted was remarkable. I was moved by the ring of sincerity which was felt throughout the reading and the viewing of the stories. I hope they all continue their writing.”

Happy with the successful execution of yet another collaboration, NALIS Corporate Communications Manager Debbie Goodman affirms the NGC Bocas Lit Fest as “a partner that shares similar goals of fostering a love for literature, promoting authorship and encouraging evocative discourse.  The last ten years of our partnership have been meaningful, constructive and fun, and we at NALIS look forward to many more.”

Danielle Delon, Children’s Festival Director at the Bocas Lit Fest, says, “We’re encouraged by all who responded to our bid to replace the 2020 nationwide NGC Children’s Bocas Lit Fest Storytelling Caravan with something that could engage and stimulate these young minds, not least of all our sponsors and partners,  the National Gas Company of T&T and NALIS, and, of course, the many children who took part, and their parents and guardians who supported them. It’s an honour to be able to do this work with you all.”

Visit the Bocas Lit Fest or NALIS facebook pages to view all of the 22 videos from the Challenge finalists.


Dragonzilla’s Short Story Writing Challenge Results

5-8 Group NAME 9-12 Group NAME
1st Josh Hansraj 1st Josse Franco
2nd Nivaan Ramjattan 2nd Jean-Louis Brown
3rd Hannah Caesar 3rd Amara Stoute
4th Jolene Bridglal 4th Dharshan Ramroop
5th Che Forbes 5th Subira Charles
6th Tasneem Ali


Bridgette Gopaul

6th Chelsea Guppy
7th Sriya Persad Maharaj
8th Nia Seerattansingh 8th Nenriki Lai Leung
9th Naima Hannibal 9th Risha Maharaj
10th Daniel Ryan 10th Anasuriya Seeram Maharaj
11th Vaishnavi Ramroop 11th Tahlia Ramsamooj



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