The 2023 Bocas Children’s Book Prize winner is Garnet Lawrence’s Anansi and the Fire Ants. The announcement was made on Sunday 10 December, 2023. Lawrence, a T&T playwright, poet, and screenwriter based in Barbados, will receive a US$1,000 cash prize courtesy the Wainwright Family, along with the coveted title.
In a highly competitive lineup of entries, Anansi and the Fire Ants captivated the judges with its imaginative narrative, cleverly concise dialogue, and detailed illustrations.
Judging for the 2023 Bocas Children’s Book Prize was overseen by a panel of literary professionals. Head judge Kevin Jared Hosein, a celebrated novelist hailing from Trinidad and Tobago, was joined by Desryn TA Collins, a talented Guyanese children’s author based in Antigua, and 11-year-old literary prodigy Josh Raphael Hansraj. Hansraj, a two-time-winner of the NGC Children’s Bocas Lit Fest Dragonzilla Short Story Writing Competitions in 2020 and 2021, also secured a Silver Award in the 2022 Commonwealth Essay Writing Competition.
Commenting on Lawrence’s victory, Hosein said: “In Anansi and the Fire Ants, the seemingly unstoppable plague of fire ants is analogous to a slowly spreading disease within the village, not unlike what the world had recently experienced. Garnet Lawrence turns this situation into a playful parable with a roster of entertaining animal characters.”
The judges also provided insightful commentary on the other two books previously shortlisted for the prize. They commended Hope McCardy’s Save, Share, Spend for its adept ability to introduce ideas of financial responsibility through simple storytelling and scenario setting. Zoanne Evans’s Tameisha’s Adventure received praise for its masterful storytelling, transporting pre-teen readers to 1840s Barbados and addressing the post-emancipation period with cultural significance.
The Bocas Lit Fest’s Children’s Book Prize, now in its third year, recognises English-language books for children, ages 7 to 12, written by a Caribbean author. The prize is administered by the Bocas Lit Fest, and sponsored by the Wainwright Family.
For more information about the Bocas Lit Fest and the Children’s Book Prize, visit www.bocaslitfest.com.