Saturday, March 26, 2011

Children's Book Awards 2011 BIAJ

The Book Industry Association of Jamaica (BIAJ) had its biennial Book Awards which focus on publishing, on Thursday evening, in what was a lovely gala event. When you hear the number of books submitted it really sounds as if we have a vibrant publishing industry. So that gives all of us a hopeful feeling. In addition, there were significantly more self-publishers than the last time. This also suggests vibrancy, and indicates that with increasing access to technology and the practitioners who use the technology, more authors are moving forward without a traditional publishing house. The pros and cons of this are an entirely different matter from the subject of this post.

This post is to tell you what happened with the children’s books, and I’m very pleased to say that I’ve highlighted these books before on my blog as being delightful, significant etc.

So here it is:

Best Children’s Chapter Book went to Carlong Publishers, Bernie and the Captain’s Ghost by Hazel D. Campbell
Best Children’s Picture Book went to Jackmandora for Little Lion Goes for Gold by Kellie Magnus

Of course, even for awards to the publisher we know that the authors first have to write a good story, so for me it is a joint award.

For the first time BIAJ had a Readers’ Choice Awards for the writers (as different from the publishers), whereby readers voted for one of the books submitted for this category.
The winners were:
Best Children’s Picture Book: Kellie Magnus for Little Lion Goes for Gold
Best Children’s Chapter Book: Billy Elm for Delroy in the Marog Kingdom, Macmillan Caribbean

Adult Creative Writing: to LMH for Inner City Girl, by Colleen Smith-Dennis

This last book is interesting as it was entered as an adult book, which it can be. I think of it as a young adult novel; however perhaps the publishers wisely entered it in the adult category in the absence of a young adult category. Will there be a young adult category in the future? Who knows? The BIAJ introduced a number of new categories this time, and one has to be mindful of the ability to cope with numerous categories. So ‘big up’ for BIAJ and ‘big up’ for the publishers and writers!

No, for those who are asking, I did not have any books entered this time around.

Today we had readings by prize-winning authors, but that’s another blog.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Style and Personality ... in illustrations in children's books

As writers we use description and dialogue (with peculiarities of speech) to differentiate between characters, to bring characters to life. Illustrators follow our descriptions in artwork briefs (or in the story for those who actually read the stories – very few, I gather) to bring the characters to life visually. They further illustrate the story by showing characters’ reactions to situations, with expressions of fear/fright, sadness, happiness, laughter, anger, frowns, scowls, smiles; there’s action and movement.

That’s it. Then I realised when I chose the illustrations for my last post that some artists have an additional gift/ability, and that is to show personality. Personality, while not essential, adds value to an illustration. And for no reason, I remembered a song from my youth, something like … ‘she’s got style and personality …’ (Lloyd Price, for those whose memory goes that far back) which I loved, hence the title for this piece. This does not have much to do with children’s literature except that it was a cool song. (Who wouldn’t want to have style and personality?) And it just seemed to suit the concept of personality in illustrations.

I’ve chosen to share examples from two different styles of work.

Cartoon style lends itself to mimicry, to laughter, but not necessarily to personality. So it’s delightful that from Cricket is My Game, written and illustrated by Jason Cole, (Barbados, 2006), we meet Rosie, the little girl with the personality on the cover. We know that she’s fun. Amongst the other characters we meet in the book, is Lucy. “Lucy’s spin bowling is really the trick….” We don’t’ need to read that Lucy won’t make any chance of an appeal pass her. We can see it in her personality.

In more realistic illustrations it should be easy to spot personality. It isn’t always. In A Season for Mangoes, set in Jamaica, written by Regina Hanson and illustrated by Eric Velasquez, (Clarion Books, New York, 2005) Sareen is a young girl you with style and personality; a little unsure of herself but she ‘s getting there.

Down by the River compiled by Grace Hallworth, illustrated by Caroline Binch, (Mammoth, UK, 1997) abounds with characters with style and personality. One image shows a girl who is Miss Personality herself. It is here also that I found illustrations of boys with personality (often hard to find). The front cover shows a lot of children and this artist has managed to capture the personality of each child, and each is different. Can you imagine the young reader ‘stepping into a book’ and discovering that he/she actually sees a character with personality, someone that it would be great to be friends with? (Or not.) Can you imagine that! That must rank right up there with recognizing yourself in books.