Bocas Lit Fest Children’s Book Prize 2021 longlist

The writers across the Caribbean who made the Bocas Lit Fest Children’s Book Prize 2021 longlist were announced on October 7, 2021.

The Bocas Lit Fest Children’s Book Prize is a new prize that will be given to one English-language book for children, written by a Caribbean author. It is administered by the Bocas Lit Fest, Trinidad and Tobago’s leading literary festival, and supported by Unit Trust Corporation in Trinidad and Tobago. It will be awarded annually for the most outstanding contribution to Caribbean literature for young independent readers, ages 7 to 12 – when children move from “learning to read” to “reading to learn”. The award 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 our young Caribbean demographic. Caribbean-born authors, resident anywhere in the world, of English-language books which have been published between January 2020 and July 2021 were eligible.

The judging panel for this edition were Joan Osborne, Librarian and Storyteller (Trinidad & Tobago) as chair alongside Olive Senior, Author (Jamaica / Canada) and Johnny Temple, Publisher (USA).

Head Judge, Joan Osborne, renowned storyteller and retired deputy Executive Director at NALIS, commented that the selection process “was similar to trying to select six of the most beautiful flowers from a garden of rare blooms. Caribbean literature for young readers, while it is growing, is still not in great abundance, so the delicate offerings from our talented writers must be appreciated”.

The six writers with tales that bring magic, folklore, and real historical events to life for the region’s young readers are;

  • The Year I Flew Away by Marie Arnold (HarperCollins) (Haiti)
  • King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender (Scholastic Press) (U.S Virgin Islands)
  • Lost in the Cockpit Country by Billy Elm (Blue Banyan Books) (Jamaica)
  • When Life Gives You Mangoes by Kereen Getten (Pushkin Children’s Books) (Jamaica)
  • Chaos in Castries by Carol Mitchell (Caribbean Reads Publishing) (St Kitts & Nevis)
  • A Different Me A Better You by Janet Morrison (Blue Banyan Books) (Jamaica)

The prize shortlist will be announced later in October, and the winner who receives a US$1,000 cash prize will be made public in November 2021.