More Than A Literary Festival

Four Vie For Children’s Book Prize

Bocas Lit Fest Children's Book Prize sponsored by the Wainwright family.

Three local and one Jamaican writer are now vying for the 2022 Children’s Book Prize. The winner will be named at the end of November and is set to receive a cash prize of US$1,000, courtesy the Wainwright family.

The shortlisted authors’ books are the ones that most inspire young readers to love reading and storytelling while addressing contemporary issues and some of the unsettling experiences in children’s lives. 

The 2022 international panel of judges, comprising writers and literature experts is chaired by retired executive director of NALIS Joan Osbourne. Josse Franco, the young reader and putative writer who won the 2020 Dragonzilla’s Short Story Writing Challenge with his piece The Big Fight, joined the last stage of the adjudication process to select the winner. 

The panel chose Alake Pilgrim’s Zo and the Forest of Secrets, a thrilling Caribbean island adventure with a futuristic twist, suitable for readers aged nine and over; A Whisperer’s Warning by Danielle Y. C. Mc Clean that takes readers on an intriguing journey with her main character as he searches for his birth parents; and Aarti Gosine’s The Land Below, which draws the reader into a realm of two converging worlds and the possibility of peace or destruction. 

Joining the Trinidad and Tobago trio is Jamaican author, Nadine Johnson, whose I Write Rhymes is a story of a young boy who chooses to write poetry to build his confidence and help him cope with difficult encounters such as racism and microaggression.

The judges had high praises for this year’s entries. Imam Baksh commented, “The submitted entries cover a wide spread of genre, age suitability and polish and exhibited flair and serious thought.”   

Impressed by the imaginative and creative range of the books, Janet Smyth  said, “This reading age is one of the most challenging to write for, as ensuring suitability of vocabulary, plot complexity with engaging and relatable characters is a fine balance.”  Smyth added, “A number of the stories wove Caribbean myth and legend into contemporary tales, often using local words and dialect to bring to life the unique voice of the locale.

The Bocas Lit Fest Children’s Book Prize seeks to recognise and celebrate excellent writing and intriguing storytelling that can capture young imaginations and help establish a lifelong love and habit of reading in young Caribbean people.  It is awarded annually to one outstanding English-language children’s book for young independent readers, written by a Caribbean author. 

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