September 9th 2015
The Cushion Club, Wadadli Pen, and CaribbeanReads Publishing are pleased to announce Kevin McCalmon, a student of the Five Islands Primary School, and 15-year-old Shadae Williams as recipients, respectively, of prizes related to the Summer Reading Challenge and the Musical Youth sub-Challenge.
Young people in Antigua and Barbuda were challenged to add some reading to their summer adventures. The prize would go to the person who read the most books, submitting a mini-review as proof of completion. Among the books read by McCalmon was Chee Chee in Paradise, a CaribbeanReads publication featuring a monkey named Chee Chee. “I like that Chee Chee was the star of the book and his brothers were very nice to him,” McCalmon said in his mini-review.
CaribbeanReads is also the publisher of Musical Youth, a book by Antiguan and Barbudan writer Joanne C. Hillhouse, which was a finalist for the Burt Award for teen/young adult fiction. Williams, her submission decorated with a musical theme, focused her attention on this book, and, as a self-declared “musically inspired youth”, gave it a favorable review.
“I’m totally in love with this book … it took me on a roller coaster ride of emotions. I’m [definitely] looking forward to a part two,” she wrote, adding, “I really love how Zahara found herself [self-] confidence after all in both her looks and her guitar skills. It was really quite lovely.”
The purpose of the challenges was to acquaint young people with the joys of reading for fun, as they were encouraged to choose from a carefully curated list of children’s and teen’s favourites from Antigua and Barbuda, the Caribbean, and the world. Carol Mitchell of CaribbeanReads notes that it was also an opportunity to improve reading comprehension. “It is not enough to be able to decipher what c-a-t spells, but we need to be able to process what the words mean when they’re linked together,” she said.
The challenge was launched at the start of summer by the Cushion Club, a Saturday reading programme active in Antigua for more than 10 years. The Club was so eager to get as many people participating as possible, it partnered with book stores like Cindy’s Bookstore and the Best of Books in securing discounts for books on the reading list, and with these and other bookstores like Map Shop in making sure the list contained books of particular appeal to teens and children. “More encouragement from the parents and closer attention to the rules by the young readers would have been ideal, but we’re delighted with those who took the opportunity to discover new books and hopeful that if we do this again there will be even greater participation,” said Cedric Holder, Cushion Club volunteer and sponsor of the prizes for the main challenge. The challenge took place during the Club’s off season as the Club keeps pace with the regular school year. The prizes will be presented when the Club begins its new season Saturday 3rd October 2015. Regulars should note the date; normal meeting time is 10:30 a.m. to 12 noon and usual venue is the University of the West Indies Open Campus, located between Factory Road and Queen Elizabeth Highway.