Saturday, January 26, 2013

Welcome New Series by Young Writer

And I am reading Coop Clan Term 1 by Kerine Miller. Over Christmas and January (my birthday month) I treat myself to books and more books. Even when they are expensive, I keep saying, "You are worth it.” It’s my book time, even more than the rest of the year, which is always book time. One of the books I bought was Coop Clan Term 1. And yes, I’m just reading it, but some books I keep and savour the thought of reading them, so I live in constant happy expectation. And I am enjoying this book. The blurb states:

Five different girls from different backgrounds enter seventh grade and find the one thing that may help them survive High School – each other! They form the “Coop Clan” and together experience the rigors and high points of high school in Jamaica. In only their first term at St. Viola’s, the “Coop Clan” play mischievous pranks in class, go on an adventure–filled field trip, take on the class bullies, participate in  the school’s carol service, and generally get into lots of mischief. Though each girl has her own personal struggles, they persevere and learn that though life (and high school) has its ups and downs, few things can compare with the power of true friendship.

This book seems to be self published as I do not see a publisher indicated. The book was launched at Bookophilia (a launch which I was sorry I missed). I love the cover design; I love how the girls are real to me ( I keep looking at the cover to see if I’m sure which girl is which, to sort of imprint them on my brain and get to know them better – a book-liking behavior of mine). I like how their conversation flows; I love how their lives are ours but also like other children in other countries who may be just entering high school. This is one of the things which I always want from our writing for our children, the fact that we are the same as other people but different/unique, just as each country is from the other. This is to be a series, an excellent marketing strategy, but I suspect also that the author has decided that there will be so many other stories to tell about these girls, that she’ll need more than one book. I know that I’ve not finished reading it, but I wanted to bring it to your attention now. A good combination; a young writer, writing for the high school group, where we need more contemporary books  about us, our children’s present day concerns; and a series. I wish this young writer every success.  

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Wadadli Youth Pen Prize - Antigua and Barbuda

Joanne C. Hillhouse, noted Antiguan writer, asked me to contribute one or two of my books to the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize. The guidelines for the 2013 competition state: Our goal is to encourage the literary arts and to create as many avenues as possible for showcasing some of the best young writing coming out of Antigua and Barbuda.  Joanne C. Hillhouse, the founder and coordinator  of the Wadadli  Youth Pen Prize, started this competition in 2003. The website indicates that originally it was for young people 18 and under, with special prizes for those under 12. The competition is now open to those under 35. Successful competitors may have their work published on the website or there may be audio and live recordings. Workshops have also been held.

I have had occasion to see work from this group, some from young people under 15, and was very impressed, and so was very pleased to be able to contribute in a way that I could. No, it may not seem to be about children’s literature ( this is a children’s literature blog, after all), but it is about young people writing, and this could be one more way of producing a greater belief in ourselves as writers of fiction for children.

I applaud this initiative by Joanne and the sponsors who have helped to keep this going, and wonder how many more such initiatives exist in the Caribbean. I had mentioned a previous initiative where the  Bocas Lit Fest , Trinidad and Tobago, had produced a publication of writing by young people and children. (See my post June 30, 2012: Stories written by children for children).
There are now many literary festivals in the Caribbean and this is very inspiring. They often have  a children’s section, which as far as I know, tends to be about reading/telling stories to children,  etc, rather than the actual celebrating of the writers of children’s literature, especially if these should actually be the young people themselves.  This would be an important development. Therefore if you know of any  more initiatives like these, please share it with me so that I can in turn share it with my associates/readers. Can you imagine across the Caribbean celebrating literature written by the young for the young. What a something!